Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Last Call

More on New Hampshire tomorrow morning.  Meanwhile, in Pakistan the President's "pause" in using drones in the country came to a rather abrupt end today.

A suspected U.S. drone aircraft fired missiles at a house on the outskirts of the town of Miranshah in the North Waziristan tribal region on Wednesday, killing at least three militants, local intelligence officials said.

There was no independent confirmation of the incident. Militants often dispute official versions of such attacks and death tolls.

This is the first such strike since November 17 last year, and comes at a time when anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistan is running high after a November 26 NATO cross-border air attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Well, so much for that.  I may joke about DROOOOOOOOOONES IN MY ERRYWHERE but the reality is in Pakistan, they are very real.  And neither side at this point benefits from telling the truth about the body count.

I See You've Got A Little Santorum On You There

Donate $100 to Rick Santorum and you too can get an official Santorum sweater vest.

Rick Santorum told CNN’s Erin Burnett the sleeveless top is his “Second Amendment vest” because it offers the “right to bare arms.”

That alone should disqualify him from polite company.  And Project Runway.

Ten Years Of Gitmo

Guantanamo Bay has been used to house terrorists for ten years now, and the White House still insists President Obama wants to close the facility.  The problem is of course that there's barely a member of Congress alive that agrees with that, much less one will stand for putting a prison full of terrorists in their district and state.

“The commitment that the president has to closing Guantanamo Bay is as firm today as it was during the (2008) campaign,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

“We are all are aware of the obstacles to getting that done as quickly as the president wanted to get it done … but the president’s commitment hasn’t changed at all.”

Carney said that Obama, top national security officials and senior members of the military still believed that closing Guantanamo was in US interests.

“We will continue to abide by that commitment and work towards its fulfillment,” he said.

Given staunch opposition to closing the camp at the US base in southeastern Cuba, and pressures of election year politics, there does not appear to be a viable route to closing Guantanamo in the near future.

That's putting it mildly.  And yet there are people who will stay home and not vote for President Obama because he can't make Congress do his bidding on closing Gitmo.  Kinda funny that way.  They're the same folks who complain that President Obama is an imperial leader with too much power in the executive branch, and then scream he won't do an end run around Congress.

Hey folks, if Romney's elected, do you think he'll close Gitmo?

BS, I Am Really Tired Of Calling You

Forget murderers and thieves. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and police Chief Paul Rooney are using their resources — and your money — to go after a 25-year-old who was brandishing a writing utensil.

One that washes away with the rain.

Check out these bizarre and unusual destinations around the world.

Just before Christmas, OPD arrested 25-year-old Timothy Osmar for "writing or painting advertising matter on streets or sidewalks."

The criminal "advertising" in question?

Slogans like "Justice Equals Liberty."

Obviously, he had to be stopped.

The man I will call the Pastel Menace is still in jail. Though nobody has ever been arrested for the law that nixes "advertisement" on the sidewalk, it's convenient that he has been stopped. Advertisement is defined as any writing that is intended to communicate a message. What words aren't designed to communicate a message?

This message is loud and clear. Speak your mind and watch your back.

A Swing And A F*****G Miss

Network television stations have a convincing argument saying they are unfairly held to another standard than cable networks.  Because they are restricted by the FCC, they say it is impossible to compete fairly with the raunch of late night cable.  There is a perfectly logical counter-argument saying that some channels should be kept at a reasonable roar at reasonable times.  However, that side of the line seems to forget that shows can be ranked, and technology can help parents place filters.

So why not let networks have full freedom?  Somebody is going to appeal to the crowd control and keep it PG-13, it's not like bare asses and nipples will suddenly appear on every show.  The "kid-friendly time block" approach also makes sense.  It could even be done with forethought and parental blocks can be adjusted.  If you told the big networks they could have programming freedom if they found a system to filter shows, there would be an affordable option within months.  Ranking shows by content so people can choose and controlling the airwaves are two different things.  There is also the difference between images and word usage, as an F-bomb is nowhere near as damaging as a crime scene or boundary-pushing comedy could be.  But see, that's where they Miss It.  Really, what's in a word?

Oh cluck you, you freaking miserable beeyotch.  Stick it up your rump.  Seriously, what the fudge?

Is a logical adult going to say that the intent came out different based on my choice of words?  Is "freaking" so clever that it masked the F word?  I didn't think so.  Maybe we should teach kids manners and when it's appropriate to use those words instead of pretending they don't exist.  Perhaps we can finally grasp that it's what we mean, not the words we choose.  Do we think Family Guy is going to singe their little virgin ears?  Maybe parents should actually be involved in what their kids watch instead of expecting the networks to filter it to suit them.  Are we even going to pretend that the word "shit" has the ability to actually hurt someone?  Most important of all, do we still need an organization to decide what is appropriate for us to hear or see?

I guess what bothers me is that we spend an awful lot of energy dancing a stupid little dance, to impress nobody in particular.  We are exhausted, burning out, weary and frustrated.  In a thousand little ways, we spend resources appealing to a standard that doesn't really benefit anybody.  If you take their power away, these words of the devil don't mean a thing.  I've heard sweet people cuss and cruel people use flowery poetry to deliver their daggers.  Words are for communication and we own them, not the other way around.

It bothers me to see animals hurt. therefore I refrain from watching the Outdoor Channel.  It really bothers me to see certain types of crimes because I have experienced some violent crime firsthand.  There are certain times what I see causes me to flinch and even shudder.  Nobody ever promised me I would always be happy or completely non-offended.  I don't have that expectation.  I do expect that I can speak freely, not just so I can say the naughty words when the mood strikes but so I can be freed up to deal with bigger things in life.  By refusing to jump through the stupidihoops, I can put so much energy back into my day, and spend it on what I consider truly important.

Click here to listen to the Family Guy FCC Song and make Bon happy.

A Not-So-Revolting Development

Pentagon chief Leon Panetta admits that the US doesn't believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons, in what will surely be grounds for his immediate termination in the eyes of most Republican lawmakers.

Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Panetta admitted that despite all the rhetoric, Iran is not pursuing the ability to split atoms with weapons, saying it is instead pursuing “a nuclear capability.”

That “capability” falls in line with what Iran has said for years: that it is developing nuclear energy facilities, not nuclear weapons.

“I think the pressure of the sanctions, the diplomatic pressures from everywhere, Europe, the United States, elsewhere, it’s working to put pressure on them,” Panetta explained on Sunday. “To make them understand that they cannot continue to do what they’re doing. Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that’s what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is, do not develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us.” 

That is a major development.  If Iran isn't developing nuclear weapons, then the sanctions don't exactly make a whole lot of sense. On the other hand, Republicans will complain about President Obama's handling of Iran anyway, even as they continue to call him weak on the Warren Terrah even after getting bin Laden.

There's more at play here, and I think it has a lot to do with wanting to get Iran to the table than it does wanting to get them in the crosshairs.  We'll see if the pressure cause them to want to deal.

Fired Up, Ready To Lose

That sound you hear over the next 17 seconds is Mitt Romney failing like it was Buy One Fail, Get Three Free Day at Mama Jo's House Of Homemade Pies And Failure.  Still, Greg Sargent explains there's more to this video that does put it in context.

Because really, who can resist free pie?   Not Mittens!  Sargent explains:

Romney was saying he likes to have the option of replacing his health insurance if he judges it to be sub par.

Of course, by Romney’s own standard of accuracy, clipping this down to “I like being able to fire people” is completely fair game. As you’ll recall, the Romney campaign boasted about their ad ripping Obama’s words out of context in order to show him saying it’s politically dangerous for him to talk about his economic record, when in fact he was quoting a McCain adviser saying this. Indeed, one Romney adviser even justified this move by claiming that, hey, Obama did say those actual words, and a second adviser said using the snippet is justifiable, because “all ads are propaganda.”

So by Romney’s standard, it wouldn’t be questionable at all to whittle Romney’s quote down to a claim that he enjoys the act of firing people. However, by more conventional standards of accuracy, it would be misleading to do that.

It's using Romney's own standards against him.  I don't really have much of a problem with that, especially since Mitt keeps lying about his record constantly.   James Fallows points out that context or not, who actually says they enjoy firing people as a presidential hopeful?

It's the word fire. I have fired people, and I have been fired -- and there is no comparison in how much more excruciating the former process is. I know, agree with, and have even written a book about all the reasons why "flexibility" in the labor force is a good thing for companies and for the overall economy. People need to be held accountable for good or bad performance. Economies need to be able to move from the old -- old markets, technologies, regions, emphases -- and open up to the new. Companies very often need to "right-size" to survive. We all understand these truths. They are part of America's strength.

But people with any experience on either side of a firing know that, necessary as it might be, it is hard. Or it should be. It's wrenching, it's humiliating, it disrupts families, it creates shame and anger alike -- notwithstanding the fact that often it absolutely has to happen. Anyone not troubled by the process -- well, there is something wrong with that person. We might want such a person to do dirty work for us. (This might be the point where the Romney campaign wants to take another look at Up In The Air.) We might value him or her as a takeover specialist or at a private equity firm. But as someone we trust, as a leader? No - not any more than you can trust a military leader who is not deeply troubled when his troops are killed.

Here's a test: If you were making the point about the need for competition, can you imagine yourself saying, "I like being able to fire people..." ?

It's triply bad for Romney, when the big issue among voters is unemployment, and his major weakness is having run Bain Capital for 15 years, Romney's record on jobs speaks for itself.  When it speaks, it says the word "asshole".

The Wall Street Journal, aiming for a comprehensive assessment, examined 77 businesses Bain invested in while Mr. Romney led the firm from its 1984 start until early 1999, to see how they fared during Bain’s involvement and shortly afterward.
Among the findings: 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses. An additional 8% ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost. [...]
The Journal analysis shows that in total, Bain produced about $2.5 billion in gains for its investors in the 77 deals, on about $1.1 billion invested. Overall, Bain recorded roughly 50% to 80% annual gains in this period, which experts said was among the best track records for buyout firms in that era.

So yes, if you think government should be run like a business, where the 1% gets all the money and the rest of us get shafted and lose craploads of jobs, then Romney's your man.

Romney the "Job Cremator" is going to haunt him in 2012 and far beyond.


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