A Diplomatic Incident

As outrageous as it might have been, who was surprised to see the British Embassy complex being overrun in Tehran? Anyone?

A large number of very comfortable Iranian diplomats are now on their way home, or, barring that, on their way to somewhere else. I would imagine that a number of them would end up in other posts or in France; will the French throw them out as well? With other European nations start throwing out diplomats as well?

Iran seems fairly unstable right now. Or, is Iran stable but playing games? I can't tell what they're doing, but I'm sure that they are finding away in Iran's government to blame all of this on the U.S., on Israel, and on whoever else fits the bill.

America's Strange Alliance With Israel

In the Atlantic, Jeffery Goldberg has a firm handle on what is happening inside of Israeli society. Israel's current government does not think too highly of Americans. Goldberg unleashes a torrent of anger at the ads that are embedded on his site; I urge you to read the whole article and, if you like, take a gander at the ads.

This is a strange kind of xenophobia, and it undercuts one of the basic tenets of American foreign policy. We are, on a permanent basis, aligned with the foreign policy interests of Israel. American foreign policy often locks itself in step with Israel's foreign policy, and this is done through the establishment of clear lines of action. No American President would dare break from Israel. No Congressman would dare propose cutting off aid to Israel. No U.S. Senator would ever, under some bizarre system of penalties, consider holding hearings to determine whether or not America's foreign policy should place Israel above all others.

This thinking has hurt American foreign policy for my entire lifetime. Of course, we should guarantee the survival of Israel. But, shouldn't a thinking person conclude that Israel's possession of nuclear weapons (over 150? who really knows?) is the fact that guarantees it will survive any attack?

We now have yet another example of Israel's firm rejection of American culture. When will we begin to separate our own foreign policy from Israel's and start the process of treating Israel like any other nation/state that has similar goals? Our goals are similar, but our methods are vastly different. Something about the way Americans do things has caused Israelis to conclude that they should not intermarry with us. Are they any groups in America who would dare suggest that intermarrying with Israelis would be a bad thing? They'd be drowned out in denunciations if so. And rightly so. Marry whomever you wish; that's the way a free society should operate.

Are we really that bad? I guess we are.

God Returns to the National Football League

Tim Tebow is no threat to the National Football League; in fact, he's merely another manifestation of the openly-religious player being singled out for being himself. Throughout Football and Baseball, there are players who voice their opinions on religion and speak about how religion has improved their lives.

I think there is a fear that Tebow will succeed in motivating his team to win; and if he wins with the Denver Broncos, other religious players will tell their agents to get them traded to Denver. Teams that don't do religious activities will add them in order to buy in to the winning tradition of Denver. After a while, we might even see crosses emblazoned on the back of their helmets, signifying that a Christian player is underneath that hard piece of plastic.

Eventually, football and baseball players will come to realize that their religious speeches and their demonstrative religious activities will win them better and better endorsement contracts. The shocking fall of a religious player, who goes from a goody-goody with clean, white shoes to a club-hopping meth-head with a thing for booty calling the wives of other players, will only enhance this sort of thing. It makes for millions of views on ESPN and Deadspin; alas, what could have been for player x if he hadn't used all of that codeine-laced Gatorade.

Religion in sports is a huge pain in the ass, by the way, if you're secular or some religion other than Christianity. But, when Christians win, it HAS to be because God favored them. That, in turn, drives people nuts.

The British Are Still Not Welcome in Iran

Who is crazy enough to allow themselves to be stationed at an embassy in the capital of Iran? Sure, the diplomatic life is a good one, but Iran has a track record. Here, we see thugs storming the Iranian embassy compound (or one of those compounds) in Tehran. Remember the revolution?

Diplomatic engagement means that countries will exchange ambassadors. The Iranian ambassador in Great Britain enjoys perks and privileges and a way of life his diplomatic brethren probably envy. Getting posted to Mali probably isn't as pleasant, but I'm sure that it was its benefits.

Does this mean that Iran is headed for another revolution? No, Iran is headed for a showdown with the West, and one that happens, the current regime will have a bogeyman bigger than all creation to use in order to hold onto power. A velvet revolution would have been fantastic a couple of years ago. I'm afraid that something like that is probably not going to happen so long as there are enough fools in the West who will legitimize the current Iranian regime by promising to hit them.

Here's a great idea--leave them alone. If, and when, they obtain nuclear weapons, promise the Iranian people that if their government exports or uses such a device, they will face annihilation. Get along with everyone else and we'll trade with you. How hard would that be?

Book Cover Design Example



Here are a pair of images from a blank book that I recently purchased. The inside is ruled paper, bound up in a book that has a glued binding. The book is sealed with a magnetic flap, and I think this is a fantastic example of design and art.

Stay Away From Ponzi Schemes and Poker Games

Now, what's the lesson here? Is there one?

I don't think Tobey Maguire is exhibiting a gambling addiction or a problem of that nature. But, then again, I don't know if he is going to casinos at three AM in order to play a bucket of quarters. What I think went on here was the classic example of how socializing with friends got out of hand.

Maguire really just wanted to hang out with friends and throw some movie actor money around. He has the right to do that. There's a bit of ego involved as well--taking a large amount of cash off of a fellow actor or celebrity is like parasailing naked over the crowd at the Rose Bowl. Whatever he was chasing, forget about the settlement. What matters is that Maguire now has to find a safe, legal, and secure way to play poker with his buddies. That's all.

Kurt Busch Says He is Sorry

Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images North America

Just another day in competitive whatever, right? This doesn't have to be about racing, but it is about a growing problem--fans with cameras, catching things that would never have been caught twenty or thirty years ago.

At some point, someone will get tired of writing these stories. I don't mean to select this story and single out Kurt Busch; I mean to single this out as being a nothing story. This is driven by technology. Without an outlet, no one would see this and no one would care.

So what if he was upset, abusive, and used the finger? Did he assault anyone? No. He's a race car driver, under a tremendous amount of pressure, and his car was messed up. Have you ever been in an automotive repair shop and seen someone get upset because their car is messed up? But for the grace of God go us all.

When a fan captures video of someone doing something wrong, by all means, put it out there. But why condemn Busch for acting like a human being? He was not "out of control." He didn't run anyone over and he didn't punch anyone. He expressed his frustrations in a less than positive way. And if you can't understand why, you should probably note that those cars go really fast, and there are millions of dollars at stake. I wouldn't want that pressure, and I don't know if I would be as restrained as Busch actually was.

At Some Point, People Will Stop Caring About This Stuff



Bear in mind, this is just stuff.

People need stuff. They need comfort and they need consumer goods. But they are now realizing that this stuff is drying up. The money isn't there anymore. The goods aren't as necessary anymore. People are going to turn on this kind of thinking and figure out something else.

It won't be an austerity kick or a threadbare sort of vogue. People will realize that they just need less stuff. Information wakes people up, almost intrinsically. You can do more with less. You can have a comfortable, joyful life. You just need to do it without as much money and with less crap. Everyone can get there. Hopefully, someone will show the way.

What empowers the 1% is the fact that they have spent the last few hundred years figuring out how to tame and placate the populace. That opiate for the masses? It isn't religion anymore. It's stuff.

What broke about five years ago was the mechanism through which the 1% would stop absorbing wealth and allow some of that comfort and that "stuff" to filter back down to the masses to keep them fat, dumb and happy. The mechanism snapped, breaking itself into a multi-trillion dollar loss that no one knows how to adequately explain. Well, I know--your home value, your 401K, and all the raises you're not getting--that's where those trillions went.

I don't condemn these people for fighting over stuff. Everyone needs to get just a little bit of it. We're talking about a basic human need. But when people get smart and start doing more with less, the 1% will have a little less leverage. That is the price of breaking the mechanism.

Rick Moody Gets it Completely and Utterly Wrong

I realize that you should not expect a novelist to "get" what's happening in America, but still. I can't imagine getting it more wrong that Rick Moody. Dealing with his entire diatribe would take weeks. But there are two things worth dealing with here, and then we'll leave it at that. The novel is dead; the practitioners are fools; we live in an age where books aren't real but they sure sell a lot of them as E-books and as abstractions and things like that. Does anyone still read?

Frank Miller can say or write whatever he wants. I don't agree with anything he says about Occupy Wall Street, but he has a right to say what he wants to say. He has a right to enter the discussion and then let the marketplace accept or reject his ideas. Occupy Wall Street is about a lot of things, but one of the things it is really all about is allowing a debate over the future of this country happen in the open and without the media filter and the poison of money in American politics clouding everything. The One Percent control the media apparatus, and that same media apparatus is dishonestly trying to paint Miller as a crank or as a fraud. He makes art, he puts ideas out there, and he says what he wants to say. He is very much a victim of the machinations of a system that will either crush or exalt whatever he does for reasons of profit and nothing else. Once Miller runs afoul of the same system keeping the 99% under the boot heel of a firmly entrenched establishment that wants to maintain the status quo, Miller will probably have a change of heart.

You see, Miller is an artist. Artists challenge the status quo. He'll wake up one day and he'll get it. If not, oh well. But he has every bit as much of a right to be the old man yelling at the hippies to get off his lawn as the hippies have when they're beating the drums and protesting the death of the American dream. If Miller thinks there isn't a war on the American dream right now, then he's less informed than he lets on.

So, Moody gets that wrong up front. No one wants to censor Miller for saying what he has said. The marketplace of ideas will either accept it or reject it and it has nothing to do with an inherent "mindset" of Hollywood. Hollywood is about making deals and money; nothing else. I cannot figure out why Moody just cannot conceive of a marketplace of American ideas. Americans don't do propaganda; Americans do profits. And if propaganda leads to profits, so be it. But when propaganda doesn't sell, Americans will shift to telling the truth or escaping into fantasy or look for a rogue cop with a heart of gold to sell sugar water and bullshit. All of it, coming soon to a theater near y'all.

The second thing Moody gets wrong is the entire plot and reason for the film Under Siege. Conceived as a vehicle for an action star, the movie has almost no political bent to it whatsoever. The presence of an actual President was designed to pay homage to the fiftieth anniversary of Pearl Harbor in 1991 and to a fading symbol of American military history, the vaunted battleship Missouri. Bush's presence as a fatherly Presidential figure was popular in American films in the late 1980s and early 1990s; see the Tom Clancy films of that era as well. This was not so much an embrace of Reaganism or the Bush I Administration as it was a lingering bitch about Jimmy Carter. This was a mindset that survived the times and manifested itself when Clinton became President and it wasn't so much about politics as it was about how the popular culture viewed American political history.

Under Siege had some of this undercurrent in it, but the story itself becomes a race against time to stop the bad guys from stealing nuclear missiles. It becomes a story about greed and it becomes a story about a hero who has to fight terrorists; it was probably pitched as "Die Hard on a Battleship" and that's how it got made. I mean, Gary Busey? The bad guy? Martial arts, Tommy Lee Jones stealing scenes, and some good, old-fashioned ass kicking?

Overtly political films don't sell in America. But there are definitely successful films that have some sort of cultural reference or point of view that can touch on politics without being too in-your-face about it. And so, what Moody doesn't get is that Hollywood, and figures like Frank Miller, know that they won't be able to sell bullshit if it comes wrapped in a political diatribe. Films must entertain and appeal to broad audiences. If they don't, that's the end of your career.

Egypt Flirts With Absurdity

This is an extremely sad and an extremely hilarious headline.

How does a democracy allow a Field Marshal to choose a Prime Minister? The answer to that lies in the fact that democracy, as an idea, is a great thing if people are willing to embrace it. Egypt wants no part of "Western" democracy. To let the people vote would be insane, apparently. What Egypt wants is for everyone to go home and stop protesting.

This is what the Arab Spring was supposed to lead to? A failed government fails some more, people protest, the government represses those people, and then we see the military choosing a Prime Minister?

I guess people will have to get on Twitter and Facebook and stop this.

Don't Mess With Sienna Miller

Now, this is the important part--Miller's personal life was invaded, and she ended up accusing her family and friends of betraying her. I cannot imagine how much personal trauma that caused her, and I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to straighten out her her personal affairs once it was revealed that the News of the World was compromising her cell phone voice mails.

This sort of thing should lead to a serious reappraisal of the laws concerning the media in Britain, and it should give people pause when they read celebrity news. How much is real and how much of it is information that has been stolen from others?

Stay on Your Well Manicured Lawn




College: Obama effigy burning 'not intentionally racist'
A Conservative party college student association in Britain will send a written apology to Barack Obama after its members burned an effigy of the U.S. president.

It may not have been racist but it certainly sent a message. Burning the US President in effigy is all well and good, but writing a letter of apology smacks of being asinine. Who cares what a group of college students at Andrews University have to say about an American president? These are the same "elites" that are screwing up Great Britain and these are the same pampered and ridiculous kids who will go on to do monstrous things to the working classes. Their opinions are irrelevant, their apology is conjured and phony, and their futures mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. 

And, what's more, things are so bad in Great Britain right now, Scotland and Wales should think seriously about independence; and Northern Ireland would be better off reuniting with the Irish.

These Are Some Great Fans

Times are tough, and if people have a chance to sue someone and get rich, they're going to take that chance every time.

What's difficult for me to understand about this is the liability. Clearly, if a 60mph gust of wind comes up, that's an "act of God" and I doubt very much whether there is any real liability of the riggers or the organizers for something like that. Demonstrating clear incompetence or culpability for this accident is going to be difficult.

Having said that, these are actually fans of Sugarland that are suing; loyalty means nothing, I guess. And, so much for all of that praying Sugarland likes to do. No amount of piety will get you past a legal nightmare nowadays.
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A Right to Protest or a Right to be Assaulted by a Police Officer?



There are a lot of problems with this video, and the main problem is this--the Portland Police Department is refusing to acknowledge that citizens have a right to protest.


As far as being a savvy piece of public relations, this is an attempt by this police department to justify the use of pepper spray on a protesting citizen. This is the press release for the video above. In it, the department claims that it was justified in using pepper spray on Elizabeth Evon Nichols because she would not disperse.


Her right to protest was violated because the order to disperse had nothing to do with maintaining public safety. The police, in their riot gear and in their numbers, were the ones creating the public safety issue. Had the police surrounded and contained the protesters and had they not pushed against or tried to disperse the protesters, there would be no reason to use pepper spray against Nichols.


So, the real question is--do these people have a right to assemble peacefully and protest? Absolutely. And if you accept that, then there is no justification for any police officer to use pepper spray against a protester. If these were Tea Party protesters, the police would let them walk around with their weapons and their signs and they wouldn't go near them. But these are people from the left side of the political spectrum, and that means that they must be crushed with the violent power of the police. See: American History 101.

A Brilliant Moment of Civil Disobedience


This is what the end of University of California Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi's academic career looks like. Katehi walks through the silent lines of her own students, unassailed and without the usual fanfare or greeting one would see in a university setting.

Katehi is proof that there really are universities out there where the reason for their being--the free exchange of ideas--has been lost. Katehi went corporate, and marketed herself and her university as a place where you could go to get a degree and then get a job. I'm sorry, but that's what a vocational school does. A university does not do these things.

Anyway, she knows that now. She has had a long and distinguished career in academics and science, but she now knows that she lost her credibility and her ability to lead a university when she decided to call in the cops.

This Nation is on Fire


And brutal cops are just the tool of the establishment. What we need now are for policemen and policewomen to put down their batons and riot gear and pepper spray and follow their conscience.

When Will the Police Brutality Wake Up a Sleeping Nation?




At some point, enough people will wake up to the fact that their right to protest is gone. We have a little more than eleven months until election day, 2012. Is that the day when the people will take back their country? Take it back from whom? I don't know, either.

Knowledge is For Suckers

These are the sorts of gaffes that would have destroyed a candidate a generation ago. Now? This is the age of Wikipedia and gut instinct. Knowledge? Substance? Reading? Comprehension? Herman Cain has none of those things. But the people who love him don't care if he cannot string together basic facts known to anyone who can read. They want him to do their bidding and stick it to the liberals! That's a sound basis for governance--vote for the guy who will stick it to the liberals! Well, I hope that works out for you.

You gotta be a sucker to believe in any of that. As long as you look good, stand tall, and smile a lot, you'll go far, my friend.

Police Brutality in New York City



This is where we are as a country. The police are now smart enough to stop brutalizing small women when they realize that there are people filming them and the people now know that, unless they say something, this will continue.

The Key Words Here Are Mentally Ill

As soon as Nrkumah Tinsley went on his rant about burning New York City to the ground, I dismissed the video as being one of two things. It was either the work of a nut or it was the work of a planted operative and it wasn't worth getting worked up. Why?

Because the Occupy movement has done a lot of things to change the narrative about wealth, poverty, and ethics in this country. It has helped us understand that one of the biggest things it has done is to expose the incompetence of our elites. That is why they are panicked in city halls all over the country. That is why the cops are angry because they're being told to solve the problem without being given a clear idea as to how to solve a problem that America hasn't had to deal with since the early 1970s, and that is, how to deal with mass protests and civil disobedience. This is why a clearly out of touch media personality like Erin Burnett can go out and, with her first few shows on CNN, look like she's been living on another planet.

Nobody gets what is going on except a very well informed and very small group of people who understand that we are living back in the Gilded Age of robber barons and confiscated wealth. Democracy doesn't work without participation; markets don't work without regulation; and capitalism does not work without someone watching what happens with the power to stop what's happening when predators start to run wild.

So, while everyone is screaming about the law, let's put things into perspective. Tinsley is a mentally ill individual, and his terroristic rant should earn him equal parts scorn and denunciation. No one needs to talk like that. He deserves to be arrested and he needs to be treated for his mental illness. But if we're going to apply this concept of the rule of law, we have to remember that what brought him and many others out to the protests was a complete and utter breakdown of the rule of law which allowed predatory capitalism to run wild throughout this country and devastate our economy. We have banks that are stealing homes, investors that are gaming the system, companies that are screwing everyone but their shareholders, politicians who are exempt from insider trading rules, and a media that can't get the story about what's happening straight.

Oh, and we have cops acting like Rent-a-Cops. Can't forget to denounce that.

The solution is to let democracy work. Only through the healthy exercise of free speech and democracy can we let the pressure out of the system and make the will of the people become the law of the land. Of all of the things that our elites are terrified and confused about, the notion that peaceably assembled citizens will gain enough influence to make a hidebound Congressman change his or her vote and make a stunned commentator change his mind and make a cop with a conscience look the other way at an eviction notice from a public place is the thing they fear the most.

Change is coming. And change means the gravy train has come to a shuddering stop for the one percent.
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Brave


One question, though. Why is Billy Connolly the only male Scottish voice actor in existence?

Franco Harris Loses His Gig


If a harness racing and slot machine casino thinks that what you said in public is too controversial for them to associate their good name with you, your name isn't worth a hell of a lot.

Tell Me Again How Newt Gingrich is a Smart, Capable Man

Perhaps the greatest hypocrite of the modern political era, Newt Gingrich, et al. Whatever he says about someone, bet on him having done whatever it was they supposedly did but far worse, naked, screaming through a haze of confusion and bewilderment, with a far uglier grin on his mug, with overpriced jewelry spilling out of his gob, with too much cash in his pants and a gurgling, evil laugh in his throat.

This is a man whose shame has never met his modesty because both were crushed by his massive intellect and his razor-sharp political instincts.

Next Come the Boot Heels and Brass Knuckles

I'm sure that that 84-year-old woman had it coming, what with tough times for bankers and lean times for hedge fund managers right around the corner, but still. A smarter and savvier elite would crush these people and ensure there were no cameras around. Perhaps it really is true--the people calling the shots really are as stupid as they appear to be.

Whenever the American people stand up to the elites, there is a period of this kind of violence. It usually looks far worse and far more absurd than pepper spraying old people. We've seen some major, major abuses of police power and we will probably see a lot more head cracking and shoulder separating. In New York, they have no compunction about punching women in the face. This is the price of democracy.

Like a Criminal or Like an Attractive Young Woman?


I think it is entirely possible that Miss Farley was pulled out of the line and treated like a "hottie" and given special attention because that is how they do things at that particular airport. That may or may not be the case. Either way, I think she has a great point. She is a frequent traveler and this "stood out" to her as strange behavior.

Now, her clothing could have been a factor here. The thing is, it's practically winter, she was in North Dakota, and I doubt she was in her usual state of undress. Which is fine--she is entitled to make a living. But clothing should not warrant an invasion of privacy unless that clothing signals a threat. The only thing Miss Farley threatens is to show a little too much cleavage and I don't know where you'd hide explosives on her body. I mean, well, okay. I've said too much.

We have not adequately professionalized the position of TSA screener. This should be a job where the pay is outstanding, the benefits amazing, and the requirements to hold the position very strict. We should have people fighting to get these jobs and we should hold them to rigorous standards. That would solve a lot of these problems. But, until that happens, there are going to be more stories like this.

Advertisers Bail on the Penn State Brand

I think that this will help start the discussion as to whether or not the "death penalty" should be given to the Penn State football team. I firmly believe that the NCAA needs to take Penn State off of the football field and help clean house in Happy Valley. No amount of bleach and industrial cleaning solvent can really ever remove these horrible stains. No amount of money will ever clean up this mess. Might as well start pinching off Penn State's supply of filthy lucre.

This also hurts the schools that have to play Penn State. That's a damned good reason to end Penn State football for a while, if not permanently. They can use that stadium for urban blight experiments or track meets for all I care.

Democracy in Action

Now We Can Help Homeless People As Well, Right?


If successful, this is how the authorities will begin to dismantle and disrupt the Occupy movement--by claiming that there are sanitary reasons for taking down any encampment in a public place.

When they're done, I'm sure they'll help out the folks living under bridges and underpasses all over the country.


We simply cannot allow any human being to live in filthy, unsanitary conditions, right?

It's nice to know that people care.

Jerry Sandusky Doubles Down and Denies Being Guilty


"I have horsed around with kids."

Really? Who is advising this man? Who told him it would be a good idea to get on the phone? And I have always admired Bob Costas for what it is he does, but how did he get to be the one to have to sit through this? Costas is entitled to a free pass into heaven after having to sit and listen to this man lie.

This is the sound that evil makes when gyrating in the wilderness, unafraid of being revealed for what it is. This is the horror of American society right now--the predator being allowed, on national television, to sit at home on the phone and describe how he didn't actually rape the boy he was showering with. Sandusky is taunting everyone with his denials. He's saying "fuck you" to everyone who had to sit and recall what it was he did to them when they were vulnerable.

There's a reason why predators choose at-risk children--they have little or no credibility. And in the face of that, Sandusky is betting on being able to impeach the credibility of each and every witness against him so that he can continue "horsing around" with kids and taking showers with kids. Amazing.

All you can say after this is, goddamn. He is entitled to a presumption of innocence, but at what cost to the community? Should he be allowed to walk around a free man until something happens in the legal system to warrant his incarceration? I just don't know. At some point, you have to fall back on the idea that the courts know what they're doing. Are they moving glacially slow in this case, and is that threatening kids? Where do you err on the side of caution?

This is What Happens When You Chase the Crazy Vote

This stage of the campaign is supposed to separate the candidates who can consume vast amounts of information and give the public a coherent message from the pretenders and the charlatans. What we are seeing is that there are serious deficiencies on the Republican side. A misstep or a gaffe is one thing; this is a full-blown collapse of the collective intellect. Herman Cain is a fool in over his head.

In order to win the crazy vote, which is what the Republican primary vote really amounts to, Cain has to always be mindful that if he says anything even remotely complimentary to President Obama he will be screamed at by the howling madmen of the conservative movement. They are unhinged and broken souls, shouting down every reasonable shred of polite discourse. Cain has to struggle to find the answer that will get the crazies to continue loving him. That answer is this:
The President was wrong to hold back because he should have found a way to solve this problem that he created himself without spending one single American dollar. This was all his fault and I would have handled this ten or twenty times better. But that's my secret and I'm not giving it up until after the election.
This would necessitate forgetting that the Libyan problem was created by President Bush's decision to bribe the Libyan dictatorship into abandoning a non-existent nuclear weapons program and it would require acknowledging the fact that the only reason why NATO got involved was because of the vast reserve of sweet crude oil trapped in Libya's collapsing oil extraction infrastructure.

Cain, in other words, would have to present himself as informed, and the Republican Party can't handle informed comment or debate. They see blood red rage, and nothing else. They want red meat served raw, and they want their candidate as crazy as the proverbial shithouse rat.

Shut Up About Your Unpicked Pickles


Oh, cry me a river:


How much do you want to bet that Mr. Jerry Danforth will go right back to voting for Republicans? Because that's what people in Alabama do--they consistently vote against their own economic self-interest and give the Republican Party a pass on all of the anti-business and anti-common sense things that they do.

The problem is, people are too busy screaming about "the law" and "what part of illegal don't you understand" so there's no point in discussing this issue. Millions of dollars in produce are going to rot in the fields, driving up the prices. Next season, expect even higher prices and more profits for these farmers, who will cut down what they plant and hedge their bets.

The people who will suffer are the ones who should be eating healthier foods. America's refined sugar and enriched flour interests win again.

This is What They Mean by Serious Journalism

There are more than a few serious conflicts of interest at work here. First of all, former President Clinton is still a part of the international dealmaking scene. He runs around doing all sorts of things that take advantage of his name, globalism, and raising money, not all of which is bad. I think he should be given a position above that of a jobs czar and given some power to get America working again. But Chelsea Clinton's proximity to him creates a conflict of interest. I would think that none of her contributions will touch on what her father does.

Second of all, she is the daughter of the sitting Secretary of State. There are conflicts of interest there that run the gamut from economic policy to foreign policy. Those conflicts of interest are more than evident. I would think that she would avoid anything on that front as well. She should not be allowed to do anything on NBC that promotes what her father or mother are doing in the public arena. That would be unethical.

Third, where on her resume does she have professional experience as a correspondent? Is she really that good? Or are they hiring her for her name?

If so, then those of you who aspire to work in that industry should pray that you have parents connected to our elites. If not, screw you. You're not getting the job.

America is now so blatantly nepotistic that it's a wonder we haven't already collapsed.

Austerity or Good Government

The only thing that "austerity" does for the world economy is "more of the same." We need to encourage spending in order to kickstart growth and get people working again. The same is true no matter where you live--if your government is paralyzed with austerity programs, you won't see any growth. If people are incentivized to risk and spend money and enter into agreements that are based on getting positive economic behavior to flourish, then we might have a chance.

Irrational, wasteful spending is the problem. There used to be a thing called good government. You know, where the government actually does what it is supposed to do in order to right the ship and get people working again. But what is irrational and wasteful to some legislators is actually corruption, fraud, and unnecessary military spending in the eyes of others, and they aim to keep it that way. Our global governing elites love spending money. The problem is, they're spending money to enrich themselves, their clientele, and they're doing it by stealing everything that isn't nailed down.

Crony capitalism begets revolution in three, two, one...

Elite Journalism Dies a Little More


So-called "elite" journalism takes another hit. Instead of celebrating the work of Jim Romanesko, the Poynter Institute crapped all over him and now they're being roasted alive for it. So much for the careful hand of experienced management. Everyone loves a purity troll, especially one with a penchant for scolding the hired help.

The science and practice of journalism is dying so quickly that I cannot imagine what will happen when someone finally realizes that no one can make a living practicing it in any form below that of an elite writer or broadcaster with a six-figure contract. Twenty years ago, I had to make a choice--stick with radio broadcasting and journalistic endeavors or find a way to make a living. I chose the latter, and I have never regretted my decision. A journalism degree is worth what now? How would you like to be a 22 year-old kid, leaving college with a journalism degree and eighty thousand dollars of student loan debt?

The Jill Geislers of the world are killing what is left of what used to be the decent practice of journalism. A lot of people are leaving the Poynter Institute off of their blogrolls and feeds. Why were they there in the first place? Because of what Mr. Romanesko was providing, which was a valuable aggregation service that was conducted from an expert point of view. You cannot just create ten or more years of providing that service out of thin air. Romansesko survived multiple evolutions of the Internet and how we gather information. I'm sure that the site will survive in some way, but not without taking some form of a hit.

This is yet another example of how our elites fail to see what is of value to a marketplace that is filled with people who are more informed than ever and more discerning than previously predicted. Blast away, elites. See what's left when you're done "managing."

MF Global Holdings Terminates Everyone

I think it's a fairly safe bet that a lot of those people were prepared for this to happen. I don't think it was quite the "aftershock" that they are making it out to be here. When the whole rotten edifice collapsed at the end of October, John Corzine was the one holding the bag.

It is highly likely that he will be the face of this collapse, but was he the person with the sole responsibility for what happened? Probably not. I do not think he's going to walk away from this and go back into politics any time soon.

The end result is that a lot of people are thrown out of work. How do you muster up feelings of sympathy for people who worked for a firm that basically placed bets on what was going to go seriously right or wrong for various economic systems around the world? How do you feel anything for an employee of a brokerage firm that played a small part in helping to further wreck the economy of the world by placing bets on whether or not this bank or this country would get a bailout?

I suppose there were people at the bottom of the spectrum from Corzine who were not involved in the crapshoot. Feeling sorry for those people is admirable. I still don't know how to muster up that kind of sympathy, but I'll try.

When a Wonderful Piece of Technical Writing Looks a Little Off


This image is excised out of a random piece of "do it yourself" work found on Scribd. It's a teaser designed to get you to pick up a book about home improvement through craft ideas. Books like this one in particular are a great place to find design and technical writing ideas. Each piece is designed to tell someone how to do something for themselves. That's tough to do well.

This particular preview was designed to market the book and entice people to get involved in making their own home improvement ideas come to life. Putting racing stripes on plain white towels is a great way to add color and detail to a simple bathroom decor. In and of itself, it's a great idea (never mind that you would need a lot of free time to do something like this).

What stands out in this piece is that the mirror appears "off." The appearance of the towels beneath the shelf doesn't line up well with the mirror, which is angled downwards a bit. In the context of the bathroom, that's perfectly fine. But when presented here, it just throws the angle off and makes me wonder, "why didn't someone fix that?"

Racing Stripe Towel Project From Fresh American Spaces

A Damned Good Reason to Care About the Oscars Again


Billy Crystal is the closest thing we now have to Johnny Carson. He represents "old" show business but in a way that makes you not hate show business. He represents the entertaining aspect of show business.

You'll note that Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Conan O'Brien were never considered for the job (I would have given it to Jimmy Kimmel above those three). And why are any of those men still working as talk show hosts?

If you're going to have the status of Leno, Letterman, or O'Brien, then I think you should have, as your professional calling card, the possibility that you could be a viable host for the Oscars. They don't have that, and I doubt any of them ever will have it.

Why, Eric Holder Really is Just like Jerry Sandusky


Second banana Smitty takes a mighty wingnut leap and compares the Attorney General of the United States of America with noted Penn State child molester Jerry Sandusky.

As far as I know, that's a real post. It doesn't seem like it could or should be, but, wow. There you have it. The conservative mind, circa 2011, has settled on the notion that child molesters and Democrats are pretty much the same thing. There isn't anything a Republican blogger wouldn't say or do at this point, so let's applaud Smitty's brave resolve to be the one to take that step into the brave unknown. When he says that he is "not equating professional incompetence with being a sex offender," you have to say, well, then why write the post at all? Because that's exactly what you know you're doing when you make that comparison.

That's the very definition of intellectual dishonesty. It's a point being made solely because Smitty can't think of a better way to smear the Attorney General with a random blog post.

And it's also a little like accusing your opponent of being a child molester so that he or she has to go out and say "I am not a child molester." Oh, wait. It's a lot like doing just that. See how that works? So, big blog fail to Smitty, who doesn't even get a photo of his mug put up (that's how that works when you're the flunky whose name isn't on the blog).

Of course, no sensible person would point this, this, or this out, but I digress out of disgust.

At Least They Have Their Priorities Straight at Penn State


It's always a good idea to publicly vandalize private property when your favorite football coach is fired because he did nothing to stop his close friend from raping children, especially when there are cops everywhere and witnesses all over the place. Relax. This is why they invented community colleges so that kids could get thrown out of public universities and have somewhere to land.

Clifford Hoelz Puts Up Another Phony Website

Yes, this is from A PHONY thing called CAIN PAC website, and some would say that this speaks volumes about the mentality of those who support Herman Cain AND about who would want to embarrass him in favor of another candidate. The truth is, you can find a lot of this sexist sort of material everywhere, and it is really a stark reminder that the destruction of serious discourse begins and ends with the people who think that the Internet is for everyone. Clearly, it isn't. And the website is actually registered to someone named Clifford Hoelz. What's going on here?

Anyway, this is UPDATED to reflect that the CAIN PAC website is a fraud. More information here.

Clifford Hoelz has a long history of creating fake, fraudulent or phony websites that purport to inform the public about conservative causes. He is, apparently, behind this site and a site that purports to support Herman Cain, called IslandADV.com. He is a serial registrant of websites and has a vast presence across the "Tea Party" Internet. Here is his abandoned blog (not updated since July of 2010.)

Here are just three more captures of his fraudulent websites:




You gotta love the smell of astroturf in the morning. And, no. I'm not redacting IP Addresses. He's a fraud. Sensible people should be able to identify frauds and expose them as such.

And, yes. It is hilarious for me to post this on this particular blog. That's what I was going for, homes.

The Lady Does Seem Crazy

Due largely to the fact that no one running for the Republican nomination for the Presidency seems competent, sane, or popular enough to win, we have these sorts of pieces. Ugh.

This one, by Dorothy Rabinowicz, is one of the crazier ones that I have seen. The pundit/writer/delusional fool usually summarizes the other candidates with cheap put-downs and then settles on the breathlessly brilliant performance of "their" candidate. This is a pro-Newt Gingrich piece.

Yes, that Newt Gingrich.

Rabinowicz argues that he can "win." Well, win what, exactly? The nomination? Never. The Presidency outright? Absolutely not. A bunny? No, Newt Gingrich couldn't even win a bunny at this point.

You see, the man is crazy. And, by extension, so is Rabinowicz. The America they're living in right now is one of their own personal imaginations. It doesn't take into account that Gingrich is a lazy, incompetent campaigner who is beholden to his high-maintenance wife and her expensive tastes. It doesn't take into account that his cheap grasp of American history is a mishmash of nonsense that begins and ends with the Civil War and always, always, always ends up with him being masterfully in charge of the details and with him at the center of being right about why the South should have won so that we could all now be enjoying a stress-free life without race, poverty, or elections.

The America that exists right now is economically troubled and desperate for a fix. Do you really think Gingrich has that fix? He can't even manage his own affairs. He can't keep people working for him. He can't help but screw up his own one car parade. How is he going to fix America's economic problems? Cutting taxes and getting rid of the government? Haven't we tried that for the last thirty years or so?

Conservative economic policies are now dead in the water. Low taxes have brought us economic ruin, unemployment on a massive, permanent scale, and a moneyed elite that is prepared to fight it out from behind their hired personal armies inside of their walled compounds. The Gingrich of 1994 would shit his cheap pants if he could see the state of the country that the Gingrich of 2011 is trying to take under his wing. A decent man would have taken a step back and said, "whoa, we messed all of this up, didn't we?" Well, Gingrich isn't that decent man.

Shall we discuss a charisma gap? Because Newt Gingrich hasn't caught fire with the American people since the brief honeymoon that they enjoyed between the fall of 1994 and the shutdown of the American government. Why? No charisma, no presence, no fire. He's the knowitall technocrat who wants to tinker with the government like a crazy uncle, only this one spouts rehashed history and failed economic theories. Gingrich has been irrelevant when it comes to American politics since being booted out of his job as the Speaker of the House. The most devastating thing you can say about him is that he has never given up trying to fail. He has run various things, tried to hold on to whatever power he once had, and he has failed, utterly, to accomplish much. He has written unreadable books, spoken at length about how intelligent he is, and he has blown the dog whistle again and again. The American people aren't buying what he's selling and they never will.

Rabinowicz is hearing that call, and she, along with a handful of other hopefuls who cannot stomach Mitt Romney or Rick Perry, have begun writing fitful pieces about how they can "win."

Bullshit.

Newt Gingrich cannot win the Presidency.

Beat Nebraska

Scott Paterno is as crazy as his father is feeble and confused. There is no way Penn State can allow this to happen. The crazy train has to be stopped. Someone needs to step in and deliver the coup de grace. The end of Joe Paterno's career cannot come fast enough. The decade or so since he learned that his own guy was raping children in the Penn State locker room shower and did nothing about it has been a tragic lie and a farce. Legacy? Record? Meaningless now. Absolutely meaningless.

These are people who are heavily in denial and cannot see past their craven love of college football. When your perspective is as warped as this--when the only thing you can say when you come out of your house to acknowledge the misguided efforts of a few hundred morally bankrupt individuals is "beat Nebraska"-- then the final, merciful blow cannot come soon enough. What happens over the next few days will decide the fate of Penn State University. Is it about football? Or is it about decency?

I'd be willing to bet that there isn't an ounce of decency left in the Paterno family. How is it that no one has noticed that the old man is a figurehead?

Leipzig and a Flashback



The Battle of Leipzig is where three of my characters were subjected to a harrowing retreat and the defeat of the French Army in which they served. Oh, sure. They're dogs. But this snippet from the book by Sir Walter Scott is exactly the sort of tone that will be set when I introduce a kind of flashback.

Scott's book is very interesting, but it is, of course, the sort of history that the victor writes.

Yes, the Redskins Really Did Fight Over Strippers


A lot of people are going to make fun of poor Bart Scott for revealing that the Washington Redskins are a "stopover" franchise. I don't know how to phrase this any better, so I'll explain what I mean by stopover.

Essentially, a player goes to Washington in order to receive a outsized payday and understands that the hopelessly dysfunctional franchise is a place where an NFL player can mark time until the next contract or until a better offer to play for a real football franchise can be procured by an agent. No one plays hard in Washington unless they are trying to get injured on purpose and avoid having to play for a losing team. For help, see the career of Albert Haynesworth.

Are there enough strippers to go around in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area? I have no idea. But if NFL players are fighting over strippers, I think it means that there aren't many strippers who rise to the level a multi-millionaire is accustomed to when he wants to show the world how classy and respectable he can be.
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