March 25, 2014

The Obamabots Are Out to Get Me !!!

It seems that Star Reporter and Brave Defender of Noble Whistleblowers everywhere Glenn Greenwald is in fine fettle today. Apropos of nothing, he takes on his favorite StrawMan, the mythical character who defends Barack Obama at all costs, no matter what he does, without giving any examples of the creature. This time, it's in the context of the President's apparent decision to discontinue the collection of metadata, while still allowing the government to get permission from FISA to review said data. I have no idea how any of that is really a reform or will bolster my right of privacy, but Greenwald seems to be getting some serious wood about this, less because the President has proposed such a step as that his "supporters" (ie., African Americans, feminists, MSNBC watchers, Latinos, etc.) will now have to back this apparent change in policy. Of course, I love a good old-fashioned "Everybody is a Hypocrite Except Me" rant as much as the next guy, except our Intrepid Junior Chomsky in Rio doesn't provide any examples of this misbehavior, not a single "defend-Obama-at-all-cost cheerleaders" who has publicly defended a decision by the Administration, then flipped after the President has had a change of heart. Not one link, not an anecdote nor quote. Nothing. Nada. The article begins with a long dissertation on the Obama Administration's decision not to release additional Abu Ghraib photos in 2009. Greenwald points out that the initial decision, popular with progressives, was to go ahead and publish the pics, but that public outcry forced a reversal. Greenwald claims that the decision was met with a similarly dramatic reversal among Obama's supporters, but provides no examples of same; in fact, he does link to an old Salon article which shows quite the opposite, with people like Andrew Sullivan, Dan Froomkin, John Aravosis and the proprietors of Talking Points Memo all attacking the President for the flip-flop !! This has been a recurrent habit of Mr. Greenwald, a self-righteous tone that demands that we acknowledge not only his bravery and intrepid defense of our Liberties and Freedoms, but that those who disagree with him aren't simply hypocrites, but even worse, Partisan Hacks. That he doesn't see fit to provide any evidence that these people exist outside of a blog's Comments Section ultimately weakens his ability to speak to the undecided, but in the end, that isn't important to him, since the issue, whether it be NSA spying or drone attacks or torture, isn't really important to him either.

June 13, 2013

Just going to show that for all the recent hyperventilating about the NSA, there is no more intrusive snooper and violator of privacy than the free market.  Websites are now proliferating that enable third parties to post their neighbors' criminal arrests, expunged convictions, mug shots, bankruptcies, and the like.  To be removed from such a site, a monetary fee is required; if you refuse to pay, and naively believe that the website's proprietors should do the right thing anyway, you are greeted with this cheery mission statement of the website: "(it) strongly believes in freedom of speech and nothing will ever be censored on our service for any reason. If you don't like freedom of speech, we encourage you to either contact lawmakers and voice your opinion or move to a communist state."

Ah, the liberty of the private sector....

February 14, 2013

Triumph of the Will

Triumph of the Will: As yet another nightmare pleasure cruise comes to a bleak end, now is probably as good a time as ever to revisit my 2011 post, much-beloved by libertarians, on the stupidity of the current federal laws and regulations regarding the cruising industry.  Although much has been noted about how foreign-flagged ships do not have to obey American labor and safety practices, the significant barrier to any cruiseship flying the Stars and Stripes is the requirement under American maritime law that it be built domestically, a sop to a non-existent American cruiseship building industry.  Since cruiselines have no capability of complying with that requirement, they have no incentive to obey any other American laws as well.... 

November 06, 2012

O-2 !!!!!!!!...the second time is always better !!!

September 03, 2012

Mac Thomason, R.I.P.

When I first began blogging, I originally intended to have both a journal that focused on politics and current events, and another on college sports.  The college sports blog, named Condredge's Acolytes (after the first African-American year-long starting QB for an SEC school, Condredge Holloway), was intended to be open, inviting other contributors.  The most enthusiastic contributor was Mac Thomason, who worked as a librarian in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and he provided invaluable analysis of SEC football, as well as personal encouragement to me in pursuing this interest.  He had started his political blog, War Liberal, at roughly the same time I did, and we had exchanged links early on, so inviting him to participate was a no-brainer.

It is with great sadness to report that on Saturday Mr. Thomason has lost his battle with testicular cancer.   This tribute, by sportswriter Joe Posnanski, who like myself never had the privilege of meeting him, but who also enjoyed the clear prose he brought to the blogosphere, beautifully describes the loss that those who loved and admired Mr. Thomason feel today.

August 03, 2012

Best Springsteen commentary ever:  And one in which the writer doesn't feel the need to point out the hackneyed use of the sexist term "baby" in every song...someone has noticed that the last twenty-five years haven't been all that great:
The musical decline of Bruce Springsteen has been obvious for decades. The sanctimony, the grandiosity, the utterly formulaic monumentality; the witlessness; the tiresome recycling of those anthemic figures, each time more preposterously distended; the disappearance of intimacy and the rejection of softness. And the sexlessness: Remnick adores Springsteen for his “flagrant exertion,” which he finds deeply sensual, comparing him to James Brown, but Brown’s shocking intensity, his gaudy stamina, his sea of sweat, was about, well, fucking, whereas Springsteen “wants his audience to leave the arena, as he commands them, ‘with your hands hurting, your feet hurting, your back hurting, your voice sore, and your sexual organs stimulated!’ ”, which is how you talk dirty at Whole Foods...
Nothing has damaged Springsteen’s once-magnificent music more than his decision to become a spokesman for America. He is Howard Zinn with a guitar. The wounded workers in his songs do not have the authenticity of acquaintance; they are pious hackneyed tropes, stereotypical class martyrs from Guthrie and Steinbeck. Springsteen’s sympathy is genuine, but his people are not. His 9/11 and recession songs are bloated editorials: “where’s the promise from sea to shining sea?” His anger that “the banker man grows fat” is too holy: “if I had a gun, I’d find the bastards and shoot ‘em on sight” is not a “liberal insistence.” I prefer Dodd-Frank. The drawl in his voice is a production value, the grit a mannerism. A few minutes with one of Johnny Cash’s last records and it is impossible to take Springsteen’s vernacular seriously.

June 28, 2012

For those who desire that we have the best judicial system in the world, and not see the Supreme Court as just another partisan branch, that was a close call.  Here's the decision.  I would like to see the Constitution amended at some point to prevent narrow 5-4 decisions being used to invalidate laws passed by Congress, a preference on my part for the elected voice of the People over an unelected elite of law school profs and former corporate appellate litigators, but thanks to the Chief Justice, that's a problem for another day.

May 09, 2012

Another fake Pulitzer "nominee" gets busted !!!

This time, it's the appropriately-fake LA Times pundit Jonah Goldberg....

February 21, 2012

Since Charles Murray's book about the so-called "white working class" is getting a lot of press, I thought I'd repost my responses to the cliched questions he proffered two years ago as a way of distinguishing class differences.

November 28, 2011

LinkWorking Class Zero: Early on in an analytical piece about the President's reelection strategy comes this little nugget:

For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.

All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.

It is instructive to trace the evolution of a political strategy based on securing this coalition in the writings and comments, over time, of such Democratic analysts as Stanley Greenberg and Ruy Teixeira. Both men were initially determined to win back the white working-class majority, but both currently advocate a revised Democratic alliance in which whites without college degrees are effectively replaced by well-educated socially liberal whites in alliance with the growing ranks of less affluent minority voters, especially Hispanics. [emphasis mine]

I wonder when the term "working class" went from being a description of those who engage in manual labor for a paycheck, to a somewhat dispargaging term referring to educational underachieving. The use of the term "working class" to describe anyone who lacks a college degree seems rather arbitrary, and doesn't provide much in the way of analytical value, since it includes Bill Gates, Gwyneth Paltrow, the late Steve Jobs, and the Kardashian sisters as "working class," while expelling any autoworker with a degree from Wayne State from the ranks of the proletariat.

As a demographic term used in political analysis, I fail to see why this term is useful, unless one wants to make the elitist argument that white people who aren't well-educated lean Republican. If there is one group that has been most dramatically impacted by the Great Recession, it's low-to-medium wage college graduates, a group that is particularly susceptible to an appeal based on economic populism. On the other hand, if you want to dig deeper and understand the political biases of those who work for someone else for a living, merely using a label based on educational accomplishments won't get you there.

October 24, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Haka:

Unclear whether the French were preparing some sort of response along the lines of the can-can, but thought better of it at the last minute. The All Blacks ended up winning the WC Final, 8-7.

September 16, 2011

Solyndra, solyndra....

I suppose there's no point commenting on the faux-outrage about this story, but it is interesting (at least to me) that there seem to be people who are under the impression that it is a horrible, beastly thing for the government to have lost money on this sort of investment. Solyndra was involved a business that is typically high-risk, so any sort of investment was going to be iffy; the fact that it (and other businesses like it) went under isn't a surprise. The free market is inefficient when it comes to picking and choosing the sorts of new technologies that have a socially useful benefit in the future, since it's all about maximizing profits, right this minute. If the government was basing every decision on what to subsidy as a guaranteed profit center, it wouldn't be serving the public.

For emerging technologies, that's always the case: fifty years ago, similar investments by Big Gub'mint were made on new-fangled devices known as "computers," which were necessary because the free market hadn't really figured out a way to make a profit out of the gadgets. Later, the internet emerged out of similar risk-taking, unprofitable investments by the government. Society as a whole benefits when there is a tension between the free market and government, with the latter making the former more creative and less destructive.

August 21, 2011

Another legacy brat falls: With the pending fall of Tripoli to the rebels comes word that Saadi Gadhafi, idiot son of the dictator, and the subject of this piece from the early days of my blog, has been arrested. Interestingly, after his soccer "career" ended, he had been investing in the moving pictures, with little luck, before events in the homeland compelled his return earlier this year.

UPDATE [9/16/11]: As it turned out, young Saadi had not been captured by the rebels, and as of this date, is reportedly exiled in the West African nation of Niger, a nation best-known for not providing Iraq with yellowcake uranium, contrary to an infamous set of forged documents.

August 11, 2011

Something to know about the Kings of the Jungle:
Researchers plotted the timing of nearly 500 of those lion attacks against the phases of the moon. And they found that the odds of being devoured by a lion were highest on nights following the full moon—nights when the moon rises late, providing hours of darkness for lions to stage a strike.

And previous studies have found that the fatter the moon, the slimmer the lion. Probably because the bright nights make hunting harder. So lions are hungriest around the full moon, too—and more willing to pounce on two-legged prey, as soon as they're provided the cover of darkness.
So says a recent study. Also something important to know: the global population of lions living in the wild has declined by nearly 95% in the past fifty years, before, during and after full moons. Thoughts?