Monday, February 29, 2016

The end is upon us!

Every so many years, some Harold Camping-type nutty preacher will come up with a date for when the world is supposed to end. Inevitably, that nut is incorrect. Which leads to the prophet's dilemma. Once your date has come and gone, how do you keep the true believers believing? Do you a) admit you don't know what the hell you're talking about? b) Say you miscalculated? c) Say that God has changed his mind? There really aren't any good options.

Right-wingers in this country have a similar problem. They promised everyone that if Barack Obama was elected President, the entire nation - nay, western Civilization - would collapse around our ears. Then they swore that if President Obama were RE-elected, then for sure this once great nation would plummet into the dustbin of history along with the Roman Empire and Nicholas Cage's acting career. But it's been 7 years and so far the US doesn't seem to have teetered into the abyss. So what to do? Right-wingers looked at the above options and said "none of the above." They came up with a new strategy: pretend it did.

I didn't get it at first. I saw clips of the various GOP candidates making speeches and doing their little debates and they all promised to "re-build" our military if elected president.

Rubio: That's why when I'm president we are going to rebuild our intelligence capabilities. And they're going to tell us where the terrorists are. And a rebuilt U.S. military is going to destroy these terrorists.

CRUZ: Chris, in 1981, when Ronald Reagan came to the Oval Office, he encountered a military that had been debilitated just as the current military has, just like Jimmy Carter weakened our readiness, undermined our ability to defend this country, so too has Barack Obama.
BUSH: The question that you asked was a really good one about what you would do — what three things would you do.
I would restore the military. . .

I didn't really get why they were all pretending that we don't have the largest, most powerful military the world has ever seen. You'd think they'd be proud of that. You'd think they'd be proud of the fact that our military might dwarfs every other nation on Earth.
(Click to embiggen)

 And there's other things that are just factually and obviously untrue, like:

The ad is titled “Second Amendment.” In it, Trump says:
So important is our Second Amendment. The politicians are chipping away at it day by day, night by night, [and] it gets weaker and weaker.

“In the past month, we have seen religious liberty under assault at an unprecedented level,” Cruz told the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition outside Des Moines in April.

But I think I finally see what the strategy is here. 1) They've been predicting doom and gloom for several years. 2) Doom and Gloom have failed to materialize. 3) They aren't capable of admitting they were wrong. So. . . they just pretend that they're right.

It's like one of these cult guys takes all his followers up to the mountaintop and says "the world will end tonight!" Then the next morning, when the flock says "Hey! The world didn't end last night," he says "yes it did."
And won't let it go.  The prophet is just walking around saying "boy, can you believe how much Heaven looks just like a mountaintop in North Carolina? That's unexpected! Hey, brother Jim, did you hear Gabriel's trumpet last night? You slept through it? Haha, your wife said you sleep like a log, she wasn't kidding!"
Oh, look, there's the saints and apostles, um, dressed up as deer and rabbits for some reason. Hi, Saint Paul! Great costume!"

I guess the only difference is that the cult members probably wouldn't buy this much bullshit. Republicans eat it up.

Friday, February 26, 2016

I swear to God, the more I hear about Ted Cruz, the scarier he gets.

Sorry, I've been away for so long. I've been sick. So very, very sick. I still am. I'll tell you what, this is the last time I don't get a flu shot. I mean, sure, a flu shot is technically a vaccination, so there's a good chance of catching autism from it, but this is just awful.

Anyway, here's the latest Cruz News you can use

Ted Cruz's Dad: My Son Ran for President After God Sent His Wife a Sign

Here's the story, according to Rafael Cruz:
My son Ted and his family spent six months in prayer seeking God's will for this decision. 

 Okay, you know from the get-go that this story is bullshit, because even if God himself came down from Heaven, walked straight up to Ted Cruz and said "I, the Lord thy God, forbid you, Ted Cruz, to run for president," Ted Cruz was gonna run for President.

 Also, I know God's a busy guy, but it really took 6 months to get back to him?

 But the day the final green light came on, the whole family was together. It was a Sunday. We were all at his church, First Baptist Church in Houston, including his senior staff. After the church service, we all gathered at the pastor's office. We were on our knees for two hours seeking God's will.

 Oh my god, give it up! He doesn't want to talk to you! You've been leaving him messages for 6 months, now you're bothering him for 2 hours straight. This is stalker behavior. God is probably at the courthouse getting a restraining order.

Really, if you're "seeking God's will," why would you have to work that hard? I mean, if you're asking God for a pony, sure. Then I could see why you'd have to wheedle and plead for a couple hours until God finally just goes "fine, if it'll shut you up, here's your stinking pony!" But if you're asking him "what is your will?" "what would you have me do?" why would it take that much arm-twisting to get him to tell you? I mean, it's what He wants. Is he God or Laura Petrie?

Well, if you don't know I'm certainly not going to tell you!

At the end of that time, a word came through his wife, Heidi. 

Was that it?
Was that the problem the whole time?
Like God keeps trying to get back to Ted, but he never picks up and his voicemail is always full and so after 6 months God says "hey, does anyone have Heidi's number? Maybe I can just call her and she can tell Ted. I'm sure as hell not gonna talk to that lunatic father of his, but her I can deal with."

Oh, also if some psychotic had me spending 2 hours on my knees waiting for a message from God, I'd probably do the "oh. . .um, yeah, I totally just got a message, Ted. Um, he says to get off the floor and take me to Waffle House."

At the end of that time, a word came through his wife, Heidi. And the word came, just saying, "Seek God's face, not God's hand."

What? After all that time and knee damage, that's the message? What the fuck is that even supposed to mean?  Why Would God take time out of his busy busy day running the universe to deliver a message that doesn't even make any sense? And how do you hear "seek God's face, not God's hand" and get from that that yep, he definitely wants me to run for President. I mean,sure you're Ted Cruz, so you've made up your mind long ago that God wants you to be president, so God could have said "buy low, sell high" or "always bet on black" or "I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!" and it would have sounded to you like "Yes, Ted, run for President, but you gotta realize that to the rest of us this doesn't really sound like an endorsement.

And the word came, just saying, "Seek God's face, not God's hand." And I'll tell you, it was as if there was a cloud of the holy spirit filling that place. Some of us were weeping, and Ted just looked up and said, "Lord, here am I, use me. I surrender to you, whatever you want."

To which God apparently responded "anything I want, hmm? Oh, you know I would like for someone to make sure that the people of Flint don't get any non-poisonous water ever."

Ted Cruz Singlehandedly Blocking Aid to Flint, Michigan

Ohhh, you know what? I think I see the problem here.

Ted, when you talked to this "God" person, um, did he by any chance look anything like this?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Saturd80's - misc

Here are a few songs that were a bit silly, but were still enjoyable

Let's see how they hold up.

The Dumbest Campaign Promise in History

Ted Cruz vows to nix gluten-free meals for military as stand against Pentagon ‘political correctness’

Was there anyone out there, trying to decide on a candidate, thinking "I just wish someone would do something about the lack of gluten in our soldiers' diets?"

"Oh, if only one of our politicians would have the guts to stand up and say 'if you've got celiac disease, stay the hell out of our military, you commie!'"

Whose support could he possibly hope to gain by making such a stupid promise?

I've known a couple of people with gluten allergies, and it's serious fucking business. Our friend's little girl nearly died because someone inadvertently gave her a cracker to eat. I know that gluten-free diets are kind of fashionable right now, and if soldiers were demanding gluten-free meals becasue it's the latest health craze and last year they wanted paleo MREs and before that it was Atkins or whatever then I could see where you might feel like you need to put your foot down and say "enough! Just eat the damn food already!" But gluten sensitivity is no fucking joke. People really do get sick, some, like my friends' daughter, dangerously so. I knew a guy with celiac and he not only had to remove the dinner roll from his plate, but had to cut away and discard the part of the meat that the roll had touched, lest he have digestive tract issues for the next several days.
I don't know about Ted, but I feel that anyone who voluntarily signs up to risk his life for his country should at least get food that won't sicken him.

So why would a presumably troop-supporting Republican candidate want to deny healthy food to the troops? The only thing I can think of is that it's just an instinct that these people have to attack and ridicule anything that they see as weakness, and an inability to digest certain proteins looks like a weakness to a loathsome narcissist like Ted Cruz.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Douche of the day

Keller recently penned an open letter to the mayor and police chirf of SanFrancisco, whom he inexplicably believes should care about his dickish opinions.

Open letter to SF Mayor Ed Lee and Greg Suhr (police chief)

I am writing today, to voice my concern and outrage over the increasing homeless and drug problem that the city is faced with. I’ve been living in SF for over three years, and without a doubt it is the worst it has ever been.

 Ooh, three whole years? Well, you've clearly established yourself as one of the city's most prominent residents, let's all begin hanging on your every word!

You've been in SF for 3 entire years. Wow. I lived in San Francisco back in the 1990's and I promise you that the homeless were already there long before you arrived. Some of them had been there since the Summer of Love. You moved into their city, what did you expect? It's like moving to Paris and then asking "what's with all these freakin' patisseries?" Why not write a letter to the mayor of London asking him to do something about the warm flat beer? (seriously, England, get your shit together beerwise. It's pretty much your only cultural drawback besides your smug sense of superiority.)

 Every day, on my way to, and from work, I see people sprawled across the sidewalk, tent cities, human feces, and the faces of addiction. The city is becoming a shanty town… Worst of all, it is unsafe.

Oh, unsafe? Really? Have you been attacked by homeless people?

 This holiday weekend, I had my parents in town from Santa Barbara and relatives from Denver and Rochester New York. Unfortunately, there was three separate incidents and countless times that we were approached for money and harassed.

 Oh, my God! No wonder you're upset. there is nothing more terrifying than having a dishevelled man hold his hand towards you and ask "spare some change, man?"

The first incident involved a homeless drunken man in the morning coming up to their car and leaning up against it. Another bystander got frustrated with the drunken man, and they got into a heated pushing and shoving altercation.

Leaning? Against their car? How inconvenient! I mean terrifying! Good thing there was a bystander there to escalate the situation!

The second incident occurred as we were leaving Tadich Grill in the financial district. A distraught, and high person was right in front of the restaurant, yelling, screaming, yelling about cocaine, and even, attempted to pull his pants down and show his genitals.

Are you sure about that? Because I gotta think that if this man had attempted to pull his pants down, he probably would have succeeded. It's not all that tricky to lower one's trousers. And if being high on cocaine could prevent you from  removing your pants, how would any Wall Street guys ever mange to reproduce?
Did you not see Wolf of Wall Street?

Finally, last night Valentines, I was at Kabuki Theater inside watching a movie. About two hours into the film, a man stumbled in the front door. He proceeded to walk into the theater, down the aisle to the front, wobbled toward the emergency door, opened it, and then took his shirt off and laid down. He then came back into the theater shielding his eyes from the running projector. My girlfriend was terrified and myself and many people ran out of the theater.

You ran out of the theater? Because a drunk guy passed out then "shielded his eyes from the projector?" I mean, ganted, this is definitely going to diminish your movie-watching enjoyment, but making a mad headlong dash for the exits seems a bit of an overreaction. 

Aieeeee!! A shirtless man! And he's shielding his eyes!!!

What are you going to do to address this problem? The residents of this amazing city no longer feel safe.
 No longer feel safe?
Oh, I remember the good old days of THREE FUCKING YEARS AGO, when a man could stroll down any dark alley from the Western Addition to Polk Gulch in complete safety and serenity. Why, n o one even thought twice about leaving their doors unlocked, and Sheriff Taylor only gave Deputy Fife a single bullet in case of emergency. Why, we'd saunter out of Slim's or the DNA lounge at 2:00 am and Promenade along the sidewalks of SOMA with a song in our hearts and a spring in our step!

It's a big city, you're not supposed to feel safe, idiot! You want to feel safe? Move to Sausalito, or Woodside or Atherton. The City is supposed to be at least somewhat gritty, that's half the appeal. (The other half is nudie bars)

  I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.
 Well, cry me a fucking river, douchenozzle!

Okay, we live in a "free-market society." (For now. #FeelTheBern) So you and your fellow techbros are free to move in to a city, gentrify, drive up prices for everyone else, causing them pain, struggle and despair, but you think you shouldn't have to see the results of your actions? You want to live in a "free market society" but when you find the unintended consequences of your free-market actions unpleasant, you want the big, bad government to step in and make things better for you, so your delicate sensibilities don't get offended? 

 I am telling you, there is going to be a revolution.

 Right, because no one grabs torches and pitchforks and mans the barricades like high-tech startup entrepenuers and venture capitalists!

 Storm the capital, my fellow programmers! 

I am telling you, there is going to be a revolution. People on both sides are frustrated, and you can sense the anger.

 Um, both sides of what? You mean the pro-kill-the-homeless side and the anti-kill-the-homeless side? are they both that angry?

The city needs to tackle this problem head on, it can no longer ignore it and let people do whatever they want in the city. I don’t have a magic solution… It is a very difficult and complex situation, but somehow during Super Bowl, almost all of the homeless and riff raff[1] seem to up and vanish. I’m willing to bet that was not a coincidence. 

Sure, let's do what countries like Russia and China do during the Olympics and just start rounding people up and, what, putting them in camps?  Imprisoning them? Dropping them off in Tiburon?

Money and political pressure can make change.

Yeah, in most places that's known as corruption, but whatever.

 Democracy is not the last stop in politics. In-fact, the order of progression according to Socrates via Plato in the Republic goes: timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, and finally tyranny. Socrates argues that a society will decay and pass through each government in succession, eventually becoming a tyranny.

 Tyranny. Like the kind of government that would arrest and imprison people for being too poor to have homes? Because some rich scumbags who have enough money to exert pressure don't like their morning commute sullied by the sight of the less fortunate? Is that the kind of tyranny Plato warned about? In a book written in the 4th Century BC, so it's totally relevant to 21st century political landscape?

[1] I want to apologize for using the term riff raff. It was insensitive and counterproductive

Right. Because when you're making the case that a group of people should be disappeared from your city like a leftist under Pinochet, you certainly wouldn't want to come across as insensitive!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I swear to God, the more I learn about Ted Cruz's family, the more they creep me out!

So apparently, the entire Cruz family is baboon-ass crazy.

I mean, I get why Ted is disturbed. He was raised by this lunatic:
 Fly, my pretties! FLY!

But what's Heidi's excuse?

Explaining why she is supporting and campaigning for her husband, Heidi Cruz said "we are at a cultural crossroads in our country" and that she feels she and her husband "can be in this race to show this country the face of the God that we serve."

What the hell does that even mean? The face of God?

For one thing, maybe Heidi ought to brush up on Exodus chapter 33:

18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Honestly, after looking into that mug, I'm not sure I want to live.

Also, that's not the way that a woman talks about her husband. That's the way an acolyte talks about a cult leader. It's the sort of thing you would have expected a Branch Davidian to say about David Koresh. It's not what you'd ever think you'd hear anyone saying about the junior senator from Texas.

"[T]his Christian God that we serve is the foundation of our country, our country was built on Judeo-Christian values, we are a nation of freedom of religion, but the God of Christianity is the God of freedom, of individual liberty, of choice and of consequence."

Okay, first of all, Chtistianity is a monotheistic religion. There's no need to talk about "this god that we serve" or "this Christian God." If you are a Christian, there exists but one God. You don't have to differentiate Him from any other gods.

Second, it's nice to know that your god is pro-choice. I guess his views have evolved on that subject?
 Just curious, does the "individual liberty" that your god advocates include the liberty of two men or two women to marry? Because if not, I'm not sure he really deserves the title "God of Freedom."

She went on to say that, "I think that’s something that this country really needs to be reminded of, is that Christians are loving people, are nonjudgmental people, but there is right and wrong,

Riiiiight. Non-judgemental. Totally. 

 Although, to be fair, there are loving, non-judgemental Christians out there. They do exist. they're called Quakers. But there aren't nearly enough Quakers in the world.

 Although, I guess we could've done with one fewer.

". . . there is right and wrong, we have a country of law and order, there are consequences to actions and we must all live peaceably in our own faiths under the Constitution. And Ted is uniquely able to deliver on that combination of the law and religion."

 Oh, fer fuck sake. . . You know he's running for President, right? Not Pope? President of the United States?  A job which not only has no "religion-delivery" aspect to it, but which is forbidden by the Constitution you supposedly love so much from advocating for religion at all? You really don't get that?

 Right Wing Watch, which first reported Cruz's comments, notes that Cruz’s father Rafael has implied Ted Cruz "was chosen by God for the White House," and said his so is "running for president to 'share the love of Jesus Christ' with “every person in America.'"

Jeezus, this isn't a family. It's a goddamm cult.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

So this is a thing that exists

So I heard about this weird thing called "Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty!" in an article on Raw Story.

The first thing I saw on their website was a video of a couple talking about how they met and married and it seemed like yet another dating/matchmaking site. But no. That video, which is labeled as the group's promotional video is a bit misleading, considering that it's meant to be shown to potential customers to interest them in your services. Because things get weird pretty quick.

Like this:

Vision Statement: Delivering “True Love’s Kiss” to awaken and empower nations!

Okay, "True Love's Kiss" sounds like Disney.

Sounds like something you might market to tween girls. But then "to awaken and empower nations?" That got pretty crazy pretty quick!

And on their Facebook page, they use weirdo terms like


Which seems pretty creepy.

Anyway, it takes a bit of digging to find out what this group actually  is about.  But I finally did find a video on their Facebook page Where a man pushes a girl of maybe 5 or 6 on a swing while talking about preserving her "purity."

So it's one of those.

Two other promotional videos have been removed from the website, but according to Raw Story:

In promotional videos on the Wake Up Ministries website, Fellhauer warns girls about the “gag reflex” caused by kissing with your tongue. 

Yeah, just because everyone you ever kissed threw up on your shoes doesn't mean that other girls will have that experience.

Oh, and there are testimonials:

June’s Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty is unique! It capitalizes on the universal romantic outlook of all teenage girls. Her exceptional ability to correlate the wistful longing of a modern young woman to find the husband of her dreams to the Old Testament story of King Solomon is the reason this Bible study is distinctive.
Yep, nothing will inspire a young lady to search out an ideal husband like telling her the story of a man with 700 wives and 300 mistresses!

The challenge on fasting brought me closer to the Lord. I had very good and long conversations with my Lord. 

Okay, if you're hearing the voice of God, you've been fasting too long. eat something now before you pass out and die!

I loved writing the letter to my future husband. I felt as if I was talking to God more than the guy I’m going to marry. 

--Michelle-Age 13

Well, yeah. Since future guy, if he even exists,  isn't going to see this letter, you are talking to God at least as much as imaginary future man.

Also from RS:

“I think ‘Wake Up Sleeping Beauty’ is an amazing program,” one girl declares in the video. “Especially going through the time that I was, being cheated on. That was really hard for me but it also made me realize a lot that I needed to forgive him and he didn’t have the qualities I was looking for in a husband.”

 So, you're dating a boy. He's cheating on you. And it takes a seminar with a weirdo anti-sex lady for you to get the idea that this boy might not be good husband material?

Oh,but anyway, the reason this organization merited an article in the first place was because of this:

Parents in Colorado have complained that a school district used its email system to advertise a Christian event which uses Bible lessons to encourage girls as young as 11 to stay “pure” while looking for a husband.
Colorado blogger Anne Landman first reported that the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers had been contacted by parents after Mesa Valley School District 51 sent out an email promotion for an event called “Wake Up Sleeping Beauty: Worship At His Feet.”
The flier includes the silhouette of a girl’s face with a Bible verse from Luke 7:38.

Geez, what are they smoking in Colorado?

Oh, right!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The most bizarre moment from New Hampshire

I was falling asleep when the various candidates started making their post-primary speeches, but I caught bits and pieces. And I got to tell, you, in an election with Trump, Carson, cruz, et al i was shocked to hear the most bizarre moment come from governor John Kasich. I can't find a transcript on line, so I'm paraphrasing a bit, but the story basically goes like this:

After one of Kasich's town halls, a crying man walks up to him, throws his arms around Kasich and says "it's my son. He has cancer, and I feel as if I didn't warn him." What the fuck the guy means by that is anyone's guess. But Kasich says to him "that's horrible. But it's not your fault." The guy goes back to New York, where he lives, and somehow through some third party communicates to Kasich that this conversation has taken a huge weight off his shoulders.

So Kasich wants us to believe that this father somehow blamed himself for his son's cancer because he failed to warn him that cancer was a thing that people get? Anyway, the father blamed himself for some inexplicable reason until he travelled from New York to New Hampshire to unburden himself onto the governor of Ohio who told him what had apparently never occurred to this strange strange man who doesn't exist that his son's cancer was not his fault. How many years had this man been feeling guilty about his son's cancer and no one told him it's not  his fault? Or maybe they did and he said "that's nice of you to say, but unless I hear it from the governor of Ohio, I won't believe it." And then, after he goes back to New York, he fortunately knows a guy who knows a guy who can get a message to John Kasich so that Kasich could use this story in a campaign speech to make the point that. . . um. . . I have no idea what point he was trying to make. That we should vote for him because he's a sympathetic shoulder upon which to cry? Vote for him and he'll absolve us of any irrational guilt we may be feeling? I don't know. I thought maybe I was half dreaming, but I found a video of the speech online, and that is actually the story he told.

Video of the speech is here: The story starts right around 07:30.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Oh, this should be good!

Saw this on Tumblr:

Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Know Diddly-Squat About Wall Street →

A: yes he does. And B: you can tell this guy is a serious writer because he borrows phrasing from Ned Flanders.

Senator Sanders has gotten a lot of mileage by bashing Wall Street “billionaires.” His call for a “political revolution” usually includes a reference or two to how Wall Street is full of greedy bankers who “drove this economy to its knees” in 2008 and should return the favor of being bailed out by transferring some of their wealth to the struggling American middle class.

And so now I assume you're going to explain why he's wrong?

These are great applause lines, and it’s easy to see why. Since the full extent of the financial crisis began unfolding eight years ago, the general public has come to view bankers as a group of reprobates who, for large fees, packaged up shoddy home mortgages as securities and sold them off around the world as good investments—even when, in many cases, they knew full well that they were not. The fact that the Department of Justice let the wrongdoers off scot-free has only exacerbated this ire.


Is the general public incorrect in these beliefs? Did the banksters not actually do all that?
(spoiler alert: Yes, they did.)

Sanders is right that Wall Street still needs reform. The Dodd-Frank regulations fail to measure up; Wall Street lobbyists and $1000-an-hour attorneys work away each day to gut the meager reforms signed into law by President Barack Obama in July 2010. It is also unconscionable that Wall Street’s compensation system continues to reward bankers, traders, and executives to take big risks with other people’s money in hopes of getting big year-end bonuses. Thanks to this system, which has been prevalent since the 1970s, when Wall Street transformed itself from a bunch of undercapitalized private partnerships (where those partners had serious capital at risk every day) to a group of behemoth public companies (where the risk is borne by creditors and shareholders while the rewards go to the employees), Wall Street has become ground zero for one financial crisis after another.

So. . .  Sanders is right? So he does know at least Diddly if not squat about Wall Street?

But Sanders never talks about the compensation system on Wall Street. In fact, he rarely mentions anything concrete at all. Instead, he dwells on bizarre and nebulous notions such as imposing “a tax on Wall Street speculation,” as he did during his speech on Monday night.

How is a tax on Wall Street speculation "bizarre?" And do you even know what the word "nebulous" means?

It took me about a minute on Google to find this:

Washington, D.C. – A broad coalition of nurses, students, religious and civil rights groups, environmentalists, labor and housing advocates today enthusiastically welcomed plans by Sen. Bernie Sanders to introduce two new Senate bills Tuesday that would impose a small fee on Wall Street speculation to pay for college education for all and other critical community needs.

Both bills set a nominal tax – 50 cents on every $100 of stock trades on stock sales, and lesser amounts on transactions involving bonds, derivatives, and other financial instruments.

How is that not a "concrete" proposal?

It spells out exactly what he proposes to do, a 50 cent tax on every $100 worth of stock trades. I'm sorry if that's confusing for you, but I don't think anyone else finds it "nebulous."

But what exactly is Sanders proposing and does it make any sense?

Um, we already covered that and, um, yes.

The answer to the first question is: it is difficult to tell. The candidate’s website does not really flesh out the idea, other than to say that the tax “will reduce risky and unproductive high-speed trading and other forms of Wall Street speculation.” If one goes back to a bill that Sanders introduced in the Senate last May, there is slightly more meat on these bones; still, the proposed legislation seems to have very little to do with actually taxing “Wall Street speculation” and more to do with taxing every trading transaction—the buying and selling of stocks and bonds and derivatives—that Wall Street and hedge funds engage in.

Yeah. that's speculation.


     engagement in business transactions involving considerable risk but offering the chance of large gains, especially trading in commodities, stocks, etc., in the hope of profit from changes in the market price.

 Everything Wall Street does, if it does it honestly, is speculation.

This, of course, makes no sense whatsoever—why tax the very behavior the system depends upon?

Um, because we need the money? I mean, what's the downside here? Oh, no, Wall Street is being taxed on the very behavior it depends on! Oh, no, whatever will we do if Wall Street gets hit with a one-half of one percent tax on their behavior? How will they survive? And what would we ever do without them? Imagine the horrors of a world without Goldman-Sachs!

Even if Sanders eventually elaborates on his plan more fully, does taxing Wall Street speculation even make any sense? That one is simple: nope,
[italics in original]

Oh, sure, yeah, a one-word answer is totally sufficient. No explanation needed. Why back up your assertion with evidence or statistics or anything?

That one is simple: nope, and it actually reveals the candidate’s ignorance about our banking system. Simply put, Wall Street’s purpose is to re-allocate capital from people who have it (savers) to those who want it (borrowers) and then use it to grow businesses that employ billions of people around the globe and help give them a modicum of wealth that they did not have before.

Well, okay, that may be its purpose but that is not the function it serves. Wall Street is just as likely to be involved in helping Bain Capital-type outfits buy up businesses, strip them for parts, throw the employees out of work and stash the profits in the Caymans than growing businesses and employing billions of people and everyone gets a little bit wealthier and we all live happily ever after.

Ooh, look at me. I'm Wall Street! I'm making everybody rich!!!

One man’s speculation, in other words, is another man’s risk-taking.

It's -- it's the same thing! Speculation and risk-taking are exactly the same thing! It's like saying one man's idiot is another man's imbecile.

Without people willing to take those risks, and having the chance to reap their reward, there wouldn’t be an Apple, a Google, a Facebook, or countless other large corporations. The billions of people around the world who are employed by thriving companies would lose their jobs.

And do you honestly think that, say Steve Wozniak, when he was creating Apple Computer, would have gone to Wall Street looking for investors and they would have said "Sorry Mr. Wozniak, but if we invest money in your company, we might have to pay a one-half of one percent tax on the transaction, and even though this looks like a million dollar idea you've got there, well, we just can't afford to take that kind of hit. In fact, we're mainly in the business these days of stuffing cash under mattresses!"

I don't know why right-wing corporate apologists always expect people to believe that if the "job creators" are taxed at all on their enormous income they will simply close down shop and stop making money at all. Like someone is offered an executive position with a seven-figure salary and says "sounds great! Oh, wait. I'm going to have to pay taxes on that income? No thanks, I'll just go be poor and live in a box somewhere." Or that if Wall Street firms have to pay a tiny tax on the one thing that they do to make money, they're just going to say "fuck this, I'm closing the brokerage and getting my old band back together. We'll play for spare change in the subway and we'll never make enough money to have to pay taxes. Hahahahaha! Take that, United States government! I win again!"

But sure, it's Bernie Sanders who doesn't know diddly about Wall Street.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cliven Bundy rears his ugly, stupid, crazy head again.

This is what happens when you let this braying jackass get away with it once. He comes back for more.

So with Almond Bundy behind bars, Cliven has apparently stepped up to fill the void, sending this letter to the sheriff of Harney County:

It begins "We, the people of Harney County. . ."

Um, no, dude. You don't live in Harney County. You are not one of the people of Harney County. And the actual people of Harney County have been very clear that they don't want you or any of your family/gun club/Constitution misinterpretation society playing out your civil war fantasies in their county. They want you to stay in your own damn county. Where do you get the balls to act like you're speaking on their behalf?

And he gives notice that the few straggler nuts left in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge "will retain possession" of it.
 Yeah, you'll retain possession as long as the feds are willing to tolerate you pretending to possess it. Once they decide they've had enough of your childish and illegal bullshit occupation, it's game over for you. You think you're going to fight off the Federal Government of the United States of America? There's what, like 5 of you not behind bars? You're going to fight off the FBI, the ATF, the BLM  and whatever other law enforcement agencies the feds can throw at you? You don't have a snowball's chance in hell, you delusional ass.

And then he has the temerity to start issuing demands of the County Sheriff, the Governor and the President of the United States of America! What the hell kind of leverage do you think you have? What makes you think you're in a position to demand the removal of all state and federal policing agents? Why would you think that any of these officials would possibly listen to your demands or take them seriously? Oh, right. Because they did last time. last time you had a run-in with the federal government, you got a bunch of loonies to come to your ranch with assault rifles and the feds backed down. So of course you're going to try it again.

You know, all this could have been prevented if Bundy and his accomplices had been rounded up and jailed in the first damn place. I get that the feds were afraid of having another Waco or Ruby Ridge on their hands, but you can't just do nothing. You could have waited until the minions began to drift away then arrested them individually in their hometowns. You could have thrown the Bundy clan in prison, seized all their assets and auctioned off their livestock. But no. You let them think that they had won. So they did it again. And it's going to keep happening unless Bundy and his cohorts do serious time for this. And, yes, they'll be seen as martyrs by the fringe elements on the right that are a danger to us all, but it's better than letting them look like heroes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

It's the stupidest day of the year,qw=300.pagespeed.ic.qoCOJTh4Ax.jpg

Everything about Groundhog day is mind-bogglingly stupid.
For starters, where in the world did anyone get the idea that whether or not  a certain small fuzzy animal sees its shadow  is somehow predictive of anything? What is that even based on? I'd Google it, but I'm sure it's stunningly stupid and  I just don't care enough. Also, how in the hell would you know whether this particular cute fuzzy animal has seen its shadow or someone else's shadow or a blade of grass, or. . . how could you possibly know what an animal has seen or not seen?

And yet, every year, these idiots dress up in formal wear and watch this rodent pop up out of some hole and pretend that they're doing meteorology.

Which is bad enough, but every year every goddamm news agency in the country sends reporters, actual reporters who probably went to journalism school to report on this stupid waste of everyone's time. And they're not allowed to report what actually happened. They're not allowed to say:

Dateline: Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
A strange ritual occurred today in this quiet little town as a douchebag in a top hat held aloft a large rodent while pretending that it had some effect on the weather patterns of North America. People who had gathered around for some reason that this reporter could not fathom began to cheer inexplicably as if they had witnessed some sort of actual event. No word yet on whether the top-hatted imbecile has been committed to a mental asylum, but he clearly seems to be a danger to himself as well as not doing the local woodland creatures any favors.
No, they have to go on camera and, with a straight face, talk about how we're going to have a longer or shorter winter this year based on some idiot's idea of what a cute fuzzy animal may or may not have seen. And they have to act like there's something to it. "Well, Bill, it looks like old man winter's going to be around a few more weeks since this overgrown chipmunk seems to have seen its own shadow. reporting live from Pennsatucky, I'm Joan Smith. Please give me a reason not to slash my wrists right here on the air."

I mean, I get why they go on the air and pretend that there are radar sightings of a flying sleigh on Christmas Eve. That's to make children happy. But no child gives a fat fuck about Groundhog Day. Even the smallest child isn't stupid enough to think that a fuzzy animal has any bearing on the climate. So who is it for? There can't possibly be adults who enjoy pretending that an oversized squirrel can predict the future, can there?

Also, the groundhog's name is "Punxsutawney Phil." Who came up with that? If you're going to give the animal a name that starts with "P" to go along with Punxsutawney, why not use a name where the "P" is pronounced as a "P," not an "F?" Why not Punxsutawney Pual or Punxsutawney Pete or Punxsutawney Pat? How hard is that?

Also, what is "Gobbler's Knob?"

A crowd gathered at Gobbler's Knob early this morning, awaiting the emergence of the groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil. After a tap of a cane on Phil's tree-trunk cage, his door was opened, and the animal emerged.

The town is Punxsutawney, PA. Why do they say it happened at "Gobbler's Knob?" What is Gobbler's Knob? Never mind, I'm pretty sure I don't want to know.

Gobbler's Knob is a pretty stupid name for a town or a neighborhood or geographical location, but it's probably the least stupid thing about Groundhog Day, the stupidest day of the year.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Bad Decision

Look, I get it. Every network programmer is looking for the next anti-hero. the next Tony Soprano or Walter White, or Jax Teller. I understand that. And I understand if you're WGN, a network best known for being the station that I think still shows the Cubs games? Maybe? Anyway, I get why you'd want to make a big controversial splash for your foray into original programming. I get it. But honestly, this seems like the exact worst time possible to start running this:

Given recent events, is it really a good idea to run a show glorifying anti-government gun nuts? People who have decided that the laws don't apply to them because they're off the grid or they live off the land or are just special somehow?  And do we really want to have as the protagonists of our show a group of heavily-armed rednecks who threaten the lives of law enforcement personnel?

From what I can tell, this show seems to center around a group of people living on land that someone else owns who have decided that their own personal moral code supersedes the actual laws of the land.  And they are willing/eager to take up arms and violently repel anyone who tries to enforce the actual law.

So, WGN, are you really sure that now is the time you want to romanticize these guys? Not that there's ever going to be a good time, necessarily, but still. This really seems like the exact worst moment in history to be celebrating this kind of mindset.