Wednesday, September 30, 2009
And I was going to link to and comment on this item supporting a military coup to solve “The Obama Problem” but all the attention Newsmax has gotten over it I guess moved them to take it down. Still much of the key text is available through the link above.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
What comes to my mind is the smoking ban debate we had first here in Springfield and then statewide in Illinois. Naysayers predicted massive economic disruptions, slippery slope civil liberty violations and a plague of locusts. While they were making these silly arguments, we had living examples of this NOT happening in other states and even entire countries, some with rich smoking traditions. But somehow none of that real-life evidence counted.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Michael C. Finton, aka "Talib Islam", seems like the type who might have been an able foot soldier in a plot organized by non-morons. But left to his own devices his lack of operational secrecy somewhat undermined his endeavors.
According to the FBI release, after the Bureau learned of Finton's apparent interest in becoming a jihadi, the Bureau learned he was on parole and contacted his parole officer to find a parole violation that would allow them to search his home.
Agents found what seems to have amounted to a small literary shrine to John Walker Lindh. And then after Finton was released from jail, in a January 2008 interview with the FBI, Finton explained that he idolized Lindh. Faced with this evidence that Finton not only had an interest in becoming a terrorist but was also an easy mark, agents preceded to draw him into his own private terrorist plot that led this week to his arrest.
It makes perfect sense for the FBI to look for and try to roll up people looking to blow up buildings in the US. But these anti-terrorism cases are certainly more comforting when the would-be terrorists turn out to have been in league -- pretty much from the word go -- with government informants rather [than] actual operatives the government has never heard of.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I'm not completely convinced this guy was actually smart enough to have ever pulled off an act of terror. No that it matters anymore because he was criminally willing to join in on someone else's plot. Even if it was fake.
Which brings me to Congressman Aaron Schock. According to the SJ-R, Schock's office released this statement:
My office was notified today of the attempted terrorist attack on both the Federal Building and my Congressional Office in Springfield. I am incredibly grateful to the FBI for their fine work in preventing this terrorist attack.Italics mine.
Ummm, Mr. Schock there was no terrorist attack to prevent. It was a sting. Your office was never in any danger. If you can't tell the difference between a threat and a plot, please resign and we'll get someone in there smarter than you.
Update 09/25/09: Lead story on a WMAY newscast this morning started out something like “Springfield could have been another Oklahoma City…” Sigh. Yes, if Oklahoma City had been hit with a fake bomb. At no time was there any real danger. AT…NO…TIME. Just because one guy believes he’s committing an act of terror does not mean an act of terror was really ever going to happen.
NEW ORLEANS – Bullet-makers are working around the clock, seven days a week, and still can't keep up with the nation's demand for ammunition.And, of course, a certain percentage of all this extra firepower is going to wind up on the streets. Some will get there by being stolen from law abiding citizens and some will get there more directly from less-than-law-abiding citizens. More guns! More ammo! Woo-hoo!
Shooting ranges, gun dealers and bullet manufacturers say they have never seen such shortages. Bullets, especially for handguns, have been scarce for months because gun enthusiasts are stocking up on ammo, in part because they fear President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress will pass antigun legislation — even though nothing specific has been proposed and the president last month signed a law allowing people to carry loaded guns in national parks.
Jason Gregory, who manages Gretna Gun Works just outside of New Orleans, has been building his personal supply of ammunition for months. His goal is to have at least 1,000 rounds for each of his 25 weapons.
"I call it the Obama effect," said Gregory, 37, of Terrytown, La. "It always happens when the Democrats get in office. It happened with Clinton and Obama is even stronger for gun control. Ammunition will be the first step, so I'm stocking up while I can."
So far, the new administration nor Congress has not been markedly antigun. Obama has said he respects Second Amendment rights, but favors "common sense" on gun laws. Still, worries about what could happen persist.
Demand has been so heavy at some Walmarts, a limit was imposed on the amount of ammo customers can buy. The cutoff varies according to caliber and store location, but sometimes as little as one box — or 50 bullets — is allowed.
At Barnwood Arms in Ripon, Calif., sales manager Dallas Jett said some of the shortages have leveled off, but 45-caliber rounds are still hard to find.
"We've been in business for 32 years and I've been here for 10 and we've never seen anything like it," Jett said. "Coming out of Christmas everything started to dry up and it was that way all through the spring and summer.
Nationwide, distributors are scrambling to fill orders from retailers.
"We used to be able to order 50 or 60 cases and get them in three or four days easy, it was never an issue," said Vic Grechniw of Florida Ammo Traders, a distributor in Tampa, Fla. "Now you are really lucky if you can get one case a month. It just isn't there because the demand is way up."
A case contains 500 or 1,000 bullets.
Been wondering what those pesky bugs are that have been dive-bombing your eyes, flying up your nose and into your mouth as you try to enjoy your child's soccer game or a simple walk around the block?
And why they seem to be just everywhere?
Those pesky critters aren't just regular gnats, they are soybean aphids.
"They are a nuisance," said Dean Johnston, a naturalist with Forest Park Nature Center. "We just have to put up with them."
Johnston said the aphids seem in abundance because of the cool weather central Illinois has experienced this summer. And it's also the time of year when vegetation is beginning to rot.
"They like rotting vegetation," he said. "September typically is a high insect time, but when the frost comes, that ends it."
When aphids land on something, they probe it with their sucking mouthparts to see if it is good to eat. People with sensitive skin may feel a slight prick, but it is unlikely to leave a mark. Others are unlikely to feel anything at all.
However, Phil Nixon, an entomologist for the University of Illinois Extension Office, advises people not to wear yellow, or else they will attract even more of those tiny swarming bugs.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I'll feel better if we find out this was just an unusual suicide, but I'm not betting on that being the case.
A U.S. Census worker found hanged from a tree near a Kentucky cemetery had the word "fed" scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday, and the FBI is investigating whether he was a victim of anti-government sentiment.
The law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and requested anonymity, did not say what type of instrument was used to write the word on the chest of Bill Sparkman, a 51-year-old part-time Census field worker and teacher. He was found Sept. 12 in a remote patch of the Daniel Boone National Forest in rural southeast Kentucky.
The Census Bureau has suspended door-to-door interviews in rural Clay County, where the body was found, pending the outcome of the investigation. An autopsy report is pending.
Investigators have said little about the case. FBI spokesman David Beyer said the bureau is assisting state police and declined to confirm or discuss any details about the crime scene.
Recently there have been proposals floating around that would raise taxes on sodas and some other kinds of sweetened drinks to both help fight obesity and possibly to help fund healthcare reform. Count me as on board. Sure, it’s easy for me to say that since I drink about three sodas a year. But, as I said, I am already subjected to the sin tax on beer and I’m fine with that.
Of course, the soda industry is very much opposed to this idea and has been airing commercials reflecting this opposition. The one I’ve been seeing lately has a frazzled looking mom unloading the minivan while decrying the tax proposal. She says that while it’s just a few cents, that money adds up and it’s already hard enough to feed a family. Get that, FEED a family. When the fuck did giving your family soda constitute “feeding”. Lady, if you are “feeding” your family soda, you’re an idiot. Maybe they can drink water with the meal of Twinkies and Funyuns you “feed” them.
And here’s another consumer tip for those having a hard time “feeding” their families soda: you could save way more than the extra tax if you just buy off brand or store brand soda rather than one with a big name. You pay for the name. More than any sin tax.
Monday, September 21, 2009
92 percent of Iowans "say gay marriage has brought no real change to their lives.…but how have the other 8% been affected? Maybe they're all wedding industry workers who have seen a substantial uptick in business.
BUT: 40% say they would vote for a gay marriage ban. I guess because that too has no effect on them. No bigotry involved there.
Friday, September 18, 2009
My friend Dan and I are sitting in front of the green canvas tent we used camp in out in my backyard. I remember frequently not wearing a shirt in the summer as many boys and not a few men didn’t back then. You don’t see that nearly as much anymore.
BTW, I did not crop the photo to center myself, that's just the way it was taken. I'm glad I got it scanned before it completly faded away.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
What’s impressive is that Obama seems to understand the proper stance to be taken by a true Jedi Knight. Lesser presidents might have held the lightsaber awkwardly, conveying vulnerability to our enemies.
Medicare’s overhead and administration costs (as a percentage) are actually a small fraction of the overhead and administration costs (and huge profits) of private insurers. Depending on how you calculate it, only 3% to 7% percent of Medicare money is spent on overhead and administration. The rest goes to paying for medical care. Insurance companies have overhead and administrative costs running in the 15 to 30 percent range.
Most things the government pays for are things the private sector isn’t all that well equipped to do. A private road system would be a messy, wasteful, redundant jumble, for example. Sort of like our current healthcare system. Conversely, there are things government would really suck at and it should stay away from. Making and selling TVs, for example. And while not getting a new plasma TV won’t kill you, not getting healthcare just might.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Harsher discipline for next noose, Davlin vowsNEXT noose? I guess it’s not so funny considering a second noose appeared after the firestorm over the first noose. And it’s even less funny that top city officials need to contemplate the response to yet another noose incident. What the fuck is wrong with people in this city?
The other odd thing is that Mayor Davlin is suggested a graduated punishment scale not for the same people breaking the same rule but for anyone who breaks the rule. That’s weird. It would be like the fine for speeding going up a dollar every time someone (else) got a ticket.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Look at the world's big tea drinkers, like Japan and China. "They have much less heart disease and don't have certain cancers that we in the Western world suffer," says Weisburger.Yes but there are a lot of dietary differences between the cultures, not just tea.
Still, I’ve never read anything that says that tea is anything but good for you. Its just a matter of how good. So I’ll stick with it.
Monday, September 14, 2009
There is no good place to start, so let me begin with a few personal stories on how crazy our current system is.
After getting out of college at age 22, I had no health insurance. At first, I worked a few labor and retail jobs, none of which offered any kind of insurance. I was making no money so I couldn’t afford to buy my own either. I was lucky and didn’t need any medical services during that period.
About five months after graduation, I got my first professional job and it offered a health plan. Hurray! Except that once I started working the boss explained to me that there was a three month waiting period before I could actually use the insurance. His advice was, and I quote, “Just don’t get into a car accident for three month. Heh, heh.” OK, never mind that my job would require a medium amount of driving. I supposed that if I got into an accident on the job I could sue, get workers comp or something. No big deal, I thought, I’ve gone five months without insurance I can go three more. I’m young and healthy!
Well, a few weeks into my new job I discovered I had developed a medical condition that would need attention. Attention as in surgery. I was smart enough to not go get it diagnosed right away because then it would never be covered by the company insurance. So I lived with the condition for until my insurance kicked in. I went to the doctor right away and sure enough he scheduled me for surgery. The surgery was minor and successful. I got the bill and the total cost was between seven and eight thousand dollars, if I recall correctly. The insurance picked up most of that and I think I wound up owing just under a grand. Now keep in mind that I was making a whopping $9,600 A YEAR at that time so even the 1K I owed was going to be tough (I made payments). So all’s well that ends well. Still, I feel I got lucky.
A couple of years later at that same company, a member of our small staff had a heart attack. After paying for most of his care, the insurance company dropped us (or raised rates so high that a new plan had to be found, I can’t remember which). So the boss got us into a new plan. And guess what? Another three month waiting period! Exciting! For us, the employees, this was out of blue. This time I managed to stay healthy and did not need to use any medical services. Whew!
After leaving that job to relocate to Springfield, I was again intermittently employed and did not have any insurance for nearly nine months. Again I got lucky.
The only other time since then I’ve been without employer insurance was when I worked for a consulting company for a year and they didn’t provide insurance as a benefit. I was paid enough (and single enough) that I could afford to buy my own but I still paid a hefty price for pretty crappy insurance. Not being in a group hurts –a lot. The funny part about that was my insurance company required a physical from one of their own nurses before my insurance would be applicable. So they sent a nurse out to my apartment which was essentially the second floor of a house that had been divided into an upstairs and a downstairs apartment. When I answered the door, and invited the (female) nurse “upstairs, she kind of freaked out and wanted to do the physical on the front porch. OK. That’s what we did right there on the front porch. I had a physical. On the front porch at a semi-busy intersection for all to see. Exciting!
Those are just a few of my own experiences with “THE GREATEST HEALTHCARE SYSTEM IN THE WORLD”. I did OK throughout but I was lucky. And the things I described above are not things you will see happening anywhere else outside of the third world.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
With Glenn Beck and Stossel finally coming home, it’s good to know I can now find all my TV wingnuttery all in one place now. Stossel, unlike Beck, occasionally (when he isn’t flat-out lying) does make some sense. I suppose his libertarian credentials will serve him well at Fox. However, I look for him to become less and less reality-based over time there.
You note…that Joe Wilson's angry outburst was wrong on the substance. And that's an important point.This is very true of the right’s healthcare argument. I’ve been party to discussions with wingers on this subject who just can’t be reasoned with. They start from a set of preconceived notions that bear no relationship to reality. The sad part is, this mentality seems to go way beyond just healthcare. There is a wingnut alternate universe that “exists” out there that only they can see. Fox News, talk radio, e-mail forwards all validate this other universe. Having a point of view or an opinion is one thing, living in a fantasy world is just dangerous.
But I think it's worth contemplating that for a moment. What led Wilson to allow his "emotions get the best of" him and break with centuries of protocol to declare the president a liar? Innumerable presidential speeches have made selective claims or been parsimonious with the truth. And in this case, the claim actually bears up under scrutiny. So why this particular claim, and why now?
Wilson's outburst reflects something deeper. One recurrent theme of extremist assaults on the president has been the deep, visceral conviction that he's hiding an extremist agenda. The more moderate his rhetoric, the more reasonable his tone, the more detailed and specific his claims, the deeper this conviction grows. If you start with the presumption that the president is trying to foist his socialist agenda on an unsuspecting nation, then his apparent moderation and civility is actually further evidence of his duplicity. When nonpartisan groups substantiate his claims, it's because they're swallowing his transparent lies instead of revealing his real, hidden agenda. Every bit of apparent evidence that the president is reasonable only makes the situation more desperate - how to break through the illusion and reveal him for what he is?
We saw this dynamic recur again and again throughout the month of August, as anger boiled over at town hall meetings. Right wing activists insisted that they knew, to a moral certainty, what the plan was actually about, and demanded that their representatives acknowledge the truth. Such arguments are immune from rebuttal; at their very heart lies the esoteric contention that the real agenda is only implicit, hidden within the bill's provisions, and that seemingly benign clauses actually contain loopholes that will be nefariously exploited following its passage.
So when the president stood up and declared that the bills means what they say, Wilson simply couldn't contain himself any longer.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
However, the people that kill me are the folks who triangulate to the exact center of any controversy for the sake of being dogmatically moderate. If the argument is whether the sky is blue (left) or the sky is yellow (right), these people will know that the sky is green. It has to be, it’s right in the middle!
I’m not sure where this mentality comes from. In some cases, I’m pretty confident it’s some sort of conflict avoidance device. “Look, you’re both a little right and both a little wrong, let’s hug!” Other times I think it’s a thought avoidance mechanism. “That issue sounds complicated; it’s easier not to think on it too much, back to the game!”
How about instead of instinctively running to the middle, you look at an issue, research it and form an opinion based on the facts you uncover. Yes, it sometimes takes some work and, yes, that means sometimes people are going to disagree with you and argue with you about it. Stand your ground. Or be persuaded; that’s OK too.
Anyway, everyone enjoy yet another syndicated wingnut blowhard!