Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season

The time between now and Xmas has never really been my favorite time of the year. My childhood memories of that time are, shall we say, less than idyllic... Only in America do we have national holidays dedicated to celebration of the Seven Deadly Sins...

Plus it's always cold and wet and dark, and that all gets exacerbated by all of the cloying commercials for greed satiation that seem to start earlier every year.

This year we are not going to do anything with family for the holiday. Half of my kids are not speaking to the other half and my cousin who usually hosts these dinners is in treatment for leukemia (not the wackjob cousin, unfortunately...); my IBIL* will have to get by on his own, without me as a foil. Instead we are going to go out to our local excuse for a fancy restaurant and get the Gluttony Special (i.e., their all-you-stuff-in buffet).

For those of you who are still stuck with some of your Republican relatives, though, here's some good advice from Care2: 10 Ways to Deal With Conservative Relatives During the Holidays.

Me, I will probably be lying low for a few days...

[*IBIL = Idiot Brother-In-Law]

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Real Job Creators

Just in time for that dreaded yearly ritual, the Thanksgiving meal with your Idiot Brother-In-Law! Over at News Corpse, the always-valuable media criticism site, they've got this terrific graphic that shows, in basic Econ 101, who the real job creators are.

Monday Music Break

Way back, in what seems like a couple of lifetimes ago now, the spring of 1974, in the "lovely seaside resort" of Isla Vista, California (actually home of the University of California Santa Barbara), my wife at the time decided, fairly abruptly it seemed to me, that she no longer wanted to be married to an impoverished graduate student and would rather be married to ... an auto mechanic(?!).

I was suddenly left in the lurch, with nothing to my name except an aging, wheezing, valve-clattering VW microbus, a modest VA disability pension, and a staggering amount of student debt (none of which she could get her hands on -- hey, I was willing to share the "debt" part of it with her...no takers, though).

Fuck, who could concentrate on graduate courses in English Lit and the whole what-did-Wordsworth-REALLY-mean-by-daffodils at that point? I spent that summer in a sort of impromptu commune of fellow long-haired music-jammin' cheap-wine-drinkin' dope-smokin' macrobiotic hippie types at the Pendola Hot Springs campground in the mountains above Santa Barbara, and this song really spoke to me and helped me to get through that whole thing. (Hmmm...am I beginning to see a pattern here with these music breaks? Fuck it, that's what I'm paying my therapist the big bucks to figure out...)

Back in the day I used to be able to pick out a decent rendition of this on a blues harp, but that was then and this is now...

Anyway, here's Carole King and The Old Ferguson Road:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fun Stuff for the Weekend

Epic Fails. Fun stuff for the weekend. See you on Monday.

[Yes I think that some of my relatives are in this video... Why do you ask?]

Thursday, November 15, 2012

No More Swiftboats: Keep Kerry in the Senate

Over the past few days there's been a raft of speculation floated by the media that John Kerry, the senior senator from Massachusetts, will be offered a cabinet position, either Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense.

Here's why that is a very bad idea.

First of all, if he gives up his seat in the senate, what are the chances that it will be picked off by the opportunistic Republican hack and recent loser Scott Brown? Given the closeness of this year's race, I'd say his chances are pretty good. We need to keep the senate in as many Democratic hands as possible, and work to increase that number. Sorry Senator Kerry, I know that you have ambitions beyond the senate, but you need to take one for the team.

Second, we don't need a redux of 2004's  Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Swiftboat Liars for Bush. I was a member of the Washington State Veterans for Kerry Steering Committee in 2004, with a front row seat to the show, and I don't want to go through that again.

The Swift Boat group, you may recall, was an astroturf organization which had at its head a guy named John O'Neill, who had apparently been carrying a hardon against Kerry since that time years ago that Kerry made him look like a fool on national television (Dick Cavett Show in 1971).

The fact that the video of Kerry testifying to Congress seemed to show that he had been involved in war crimes -- not so, he was speaking for veterans who had claimed that they had, reading from their testimony at the infamous Winter Soldier Investigation, and while it later appeared that some of them had not been truthful, Kerry had no way of knowing that in 1970, but act contributed to the perceived need to "get" Kerry with O'Neill and with some of the brass who had been above Kerry.

Combine that personal vendetta with a virtually unlimited amount of money to create a controversy where there wasn't one, and Kerry's apparently inability or unwillingness to fight that. I've personally met Kerry several times and one time I asked him about the whole Swiftboating episode; he said that it was one of the big regrets of the 2004 campaign that he didn't fight back immediately against the them, but he said that he didn't think that the voters would give any credence to their -- what seemed to reasonable people -- outrageous lies. Turns out he wasn't right about that...

When you drill down deep enough into the whole Swift Boat thing, you find that, although they were able to get a bunch of Navy Vietnam vets on board with their slander, the closer to Kerry you got, the fewer people you could find who were willing to join the Swifties. The men on Kerry's boat, who presumably knew him the best, almost to a man joined with Kerry and worked on the campaign. I also met several of these guys and they were effusive in their praise of their former commander. They were certainly under no compulsion to do that, and to a veteran like me, it means a lot that the men under his command were so supportive of him.

A Very Big Deal was made about Kerry's medals as well, but it must be kept in mind that a soldier can't just give himself a medal, and especially not one as prestigious as a Silver Star. There is a process of  nomination and approval that includes several layers above the rank of the recipient, and those people are career military who can't be "bought". With a Silver Star, it goes all the way to the Pentagon. In the Navy that was especially true, as verified by one of my closest friends who is a retired Navy Captain (the equivalent of a bird colonel in the Army) and is also a Vietnam vet.

So no, I don't want to refight that whole Swiftboat thing again. I lost a couple of "friends" last time around when they loudly proclaimed that Kerry didn't deserve his medals. Neither of them had been in the military service, of course, and I may have been a little too ... insistent ... in telling them that they were full of shit.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Democalypse 2016: It's Not Too Early

After much serious thought and contemplation, I've already decided on who I am supporting for the presidency in 2016:

Blunt-Boehner 2016 -- The GOP: Sticking it to You Since 1980

Once again I am throwing my not inconsiderable support behind a couple of candidates who just happen to have perfect names for the 2016 Republican nomination.

Okay, this isn't really new. I first supported these guys way back in 2009, and the reasons I'm beating the flogs for them now are the same ones as before:
Missouri's Senator Roy Blunt and Ohio's Representative John Boehner* are both good foot soldiers in the GOP. As a former GOP senator Roman Hruska said in a different context (the attempt by Tricky Dick Nixon to elevate G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court), "...there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance?"
Indeed. Are you listening, Republican National Committee? This is a free-for-you idea, and I won't even sue you if you do it. All I want is a little recognition and gratitude (okay, and maybe a little money if it's successful -- after all you paid Karl Rove zillions for nothing...).

Even if you don't end up nominating these guys, you can still have the slogan for free. After all, you earned it.

[* Okay, Constant Reader, don't get your panties in a bunch; I know that Boner likes his name to be pronounced something like "Beyner", but come on, who can really pass this up...?]

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Oh Woe Is Me ... Ten Things That Spell THE END of America

Well, the election was over just one week ago and here's what's already happened to me:


  1. I have had to submit to Sharia Law, instituted by the Chief Muslim-in-Charge Barack HUSSEIN Obama. I don't really know what that means exactly, unless it has something to do with the following:
  2. My wife and I are getting a divorce because gay marriage is now legal in the state of Washington and has, therefore, destroyed "traditional" marriage.
  3. I've already had to give up my guns to the Fascist/Communist/Socialist/Atheist UN gun-grabbers who kicked in my door in the middle of the night and gave me a mighty smite upside the head.
  4. Since $750 billion has been stolen from Medicare to pay for Obamacare, I can't go the doctor to have the severe head wounds inflicted by those gun-grabbers taken care of.
  5. My job (that I didn't have because I am retired) has been outsourced to Kenya, where some shiftless, lazy and undeserving (i.e., "black") person is now lounging around and watching television, when he is not shopping at the WalMart that I didn't shop at and wearing the made-in-Indonesia-by-slave-labor sneakers that I didn't have.
  6. My other job (that I also didn't have because I am retired) has now been taken over by an illegal alien from somewhere south of the border, who is now able to stay here legally and take jobs away from "regular" Americans. (Actually, I don't know where he is from, really, but he looks "Mexican" and that is close enough..)
  7. All existing copies of my book will be burnt on a Sharia bonfire, and this blog and my page on The Facebook will be summarily executed.
  8. As will, sadly, two of my three cats because, while they were raised to be 100% American, they are suspiciously foreign: Siamese (Thailand) and Burmese (Myanmar). Apparently Obama's Islamist generosity to swarthy foreigners does not extend to the feline members of our society whose roots are in the wrong countries. But at least the Persian (Iran!) will be left alive, since he has obviously been a one-cat deep cover sleeper cell for Al Qaeda, and now he can enjoy his rewards from a grateful Muslim president, including a daily supply of mice from Israel to torture and kill.
  9. And if all that isn't enough, the god damn Fascist/Communist/Socialist/Atheist/Islamist gov'ment has put its lousy stinking hands on my Medicare and my Social Security and my Veterans benefits, and gotten them all dirty and greasy and stinky and fingerprint-y. I really can't cope with all of this, so all in all it's probably a good thing that:
  10. I've been informed that because I am an old white guy who, statistically at least, voted straight Tea Party Republican, I am to be taken away to live out the meager remainder of my pathetic days in a FEMA concentration camp somewhere in the desert of Arizona, where, in an ironic twist, I will be forced to wear official Joe-Arpaio-signature-brand pink underwear.
Oh, the humanity...


Monday, November 12, 2012

Romney and the Mormon Vote

Okay, I know that it isn't cool to kick a man when he's down, but fuck, you just gotta love it that Mittens got fewer votes from his fellow Morons Mormons than, of all people, George W. aka "Shrubby" aka "Baby Doc" aka '"War Criminal" Bush did in 2004.

I mean, what's up with that? Maybe that the rank and file members of the Moron Mormon church have gotten a little more liberal than those 13 Old Men (12 "apostles" plus one "prophet, seer and revelator") who are at the top of the church hierarchy? Or could it be that the True Believers in the church saw what they feared as the beginnings of the Apocalypse and the rise of the White Horse and they just weren't ready for it yet?

After all, if you are a Moron Mormon, and the End of Times comes before you've had a chance to amass all of the worldly wealth that you can scrape together, you might end up in one of the lesser levels of heaven, for example, the "Telestial" instead of the "Celestial". (Once again, no I am not making this up.)

At its core, the Mormon church is as Calvinist as any of them, with its belief that Success equals Piety. Evidentially, the more success you achieve, the more pious you have to be (because god has smiled on you in the "preexistence" or whatever...), so the higher you will go in the afterlife. Shit, you can even become a god yourself!

So, for whatever the reason, Romney lost a bunch of LDS votes. But maybe it's just because they know him, and one thing we've heard over and over in this campaign is that once you get to know Romney, the more you dislike him.

A Worthy Petition: Macey's, Dump Trump!

Here's a worthy petition to sign. It urges Macey's Department Stores to disassociate itself with The Donald:

Macy's: Donald Trump does not reflect the "magic of Macy's." We urge you to sever ties with him. Macy's says it has a strong obligation to be "socially responsible" and that "actions speak louder than words." Indeed. It's time to act.
You can sign it here, and please pass it on to your friends.

Did Petraeus Betray Us? Nailed It!

A long time back, I was the first person to use the doggerel rhyme Petraeus Betray Us.

Turns out I was right, but for the wrong reasons. The general couldn't keep it in his pants, and ended up spilling some pillow talk to his "journalist" biographer that appears to have gone against the national interest. So, yeah, Petraeus betrayed us.

Jeez, what is it with these guys? And why did Obama put him in charge of the CIA? Was it one of those "better inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in" things?

News of the Weird

Everyone knows about McAfee virus protection for your computer. Every time you download something like Adobe, you have to be on your toes or you'll also download a "free" copy of McAfee virus protection.

Well, it turns out that the Big Daddy of McAfee, one John McAfee by name, is now wanted for murder in the tiny Caribbean nation of Belize.

Read the story and marvel at the depths one man with an unlimited amount of money and an inexhaustible taste for recreational sex drugs can sink.

Must be That Home Schoolin'

The Twitterverse is ablaze with the recent post of Georgia teenager Kristen Neel's twit tweet after the election: "I'm moving to Australia, because their president is a Christian and actually supports what he says."

Poor little Kristen apparently didn't have a clue that Australia doesn't have a president, it has a prime minister, and she is a woman who is an atheist. Who is "living in sin" with her boyfriend. Jeez, that's three strikes right there, Kristin. Goodbye and thanks for playing.

Yep, must be that good ole home schoolin' at work here. She probably even thinks she can drive there.

Monday Music Break

In honor of Veteran's Day yesterday and all of my fellow Vietnam vets, here is the Monday Music Break, We Gotta Get Out of This Place by The Animals.

This song was the anthem for every soldier in Vietnam. Special Services was responsible for morale in Vietnam, and they made every effort to bring some of the comforts of home to the soldiers, including hiring a large number of local Vietnamese rock and roll bands to entertain the troops. Most of the band members spoke limited English and learned the songs by listening to the records and memorizing the words. Sometimes this turned out to be unintentionally funny, but mostly not so much...

These bands could be found everywhere in South Vietnam, from huge installations such as Long Binh to isolated single-company outposts such as the transportation unit where I was stationed. Every band that showed up was required to have this song in its repertoire, and it never failed to bring down the house when they played it.

And kudos to YouTube's schultz234, who put this video together using photos and films from the war, for a high school class in US history. Thank you.

Portland Oregon's Liberal Talk Radio Stifled

I suppose that it had to happen. KPOJ, Portland's liberal talk radio station, was owned by rightwing masters of the universe Clear Channel Communications, which is in turn partially owned by ... [cue spooky music] ... Bain Capital! So, just three days after the election, it was announced that KPOJ was going -- and going immediately -- from talk radio to sports radio, Fox Sports Radio, in fact.

I guess KPOJ's voice of reason was starting to get through to the knuckledragging wingnuttery so much that the overlords had to shut it down to shut it up. The only thing that's surprising is that they waited until after the election to do it.

KPOJ was a premier voice in the northwest countering the alternate reality of the wingnut fringe. I would listen to it regularly when I drove south from where I live, since my own liberal talk radio station, KPTK out of Seattle, fringes out about ten miles from here, but I could pick up KPOJ loud and clear all the way to where I was going. So I am personally going to miss it a lot.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Take That!

Whew, the election is over and while the Washington State Secretary of State race has still not been decided, all of the rest of my candidates in this watershed election won.

So take that, Mitt Romney! Take that, Lyin' Ryan! Take that, Tea Party! Take that, Rethugs! Take that, Citizens United! Take that, Supreme Court! And take that, Wackjob Cousin!

In 2004 Shrubby Bush, on much shakier grounds, claimed that he had a mandate, and that he had political capital that he intended to spend. It was a sign of his utter cluelessness that he even thought that.

Now Obama really has a mandate, and since he doesn't have to worry about getting re-elected, he's got a ton of political capital. Start spending it and let's send the Rethugs to the ash heap of history where they belong.

And me? I'm tired, so I'm going to take some time off. Catch up with you later.

--The F Man

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

It's Election Day

Get out and VOTE!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Monday Music Break

Dedicated to the memory of failed presidential candidate Willard Mittens Romney, here is the incomparable Bob Dylan and Like a Rolling Stone:

I can't imagine a more fitting set of lyrics to describe Romney on the morning of day after tomorrow:
Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?
People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"
You thought they were all kiddin' you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin' out
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.
How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone? 
Go ahead and check out all the lyrics to this great song -- they are fittin'  Mittens all the way.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Will There Be a Revolt?

Assuming that Nate Silver is correct and Obama wins re-election, then what are the Rethugs likely to do? Given that this is likely their last hurrah -- the demographics are simply not with them -- will they simply fold their tents and slip gently into that good night?

If the past is any indication, that's not likely. They are hoping for another very close election, and they would not be above staging another astroturf Brooks Brothers riot, the way they did in Florida in 2000, but this time in battleground state Ohio.

The SCLM* is acting as their handmaidens, playing it up as a statistical dead heat when in reality it is already a done deal for Obama (according to Nate Silver, anyway). In the old days we would have said that it sells more papers. We can't say that any more, since paper is going the way of the Dodo Bird, and it's all electronic. Which means that they want to gin up more viewers; more viewers = more advertising revenue; it's simple Econ 101 stuff, people.

But the average member of the Moron-American Voting Bloc has no way to know that, which is why they are willing to buy into the "dead heat" meme, and the more people that buy into that, the less shocked they will be when the Rethugs start that revolt.

I agree wholeheartedly with one thing: They are revolting.

May you live in interesting times...

[* SCLM = So Called Liberal Media]

Friday, November 02, 2012

Rethug Extortion

Where I come from this is called "extortion". It's no different from some knuckle-dragging guido with a baseball bat strolling into your convenience store and saying, "Nice place ya got here. Be a damn shame if somethin' should happen to it, wooden it? Maybe somethin' like, I dunno, a baseball bat breakin' out ya front window? Tell ya what I'm gonna do. Gimme fifty a week and I'll make sure that don't happen."

Romney today issued his own version of this:

In what his campaign billed as his “closing argument,” Mitt Romney warned Americans that a second term for President Obama would have apocalyptic consequences for the economy in part because his own party would force a debt ceiling disaster.
See the whole story over at TPM and tell me where I'm wrong.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Check the Day Count

Hey, I just noticed that the day count in the right column, days since John Boner became Speaker of the House, has just today reached ... [cue scary music] ... 666!!!

Make of that what you will...

It's Official: I am Damned

Mike Huckabee says so, so I guess it must be true:

HUCKABEE: Many issues are at stake, but some issues are not negotiable: The right to life from conception to natural death. Marriage should be reinforced, not redefined. It is an egregious violation of our cherished principle of religious liberty for the government to force the Church to buy the kind of insurance that leads to the taking of innocent human life.
Your vote will affect the future and be recorded in eternity. Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire? This is Mike Huckabee asking you to join me November 6th and vote based on values that will stand the test of fire.
Yep, when I dropped that ballot marked for Obama and all Democrats into the mail, I sealed my fate. But, as Billy Joel put it, "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with saints -- the sinners are much more fun".

BTW, did you get that "every sperm is sacred" reference to birth control insurance leading to the taking of innocent human life? What does Huckabee do when he has a "wet dream"? Even though it potentially has a totally awesome "ecccchh!" factor, I'd kind of like to know what measures he takes to ensure the sacred motility of those otherwise wasted "pre-humans" that he inadvertently sploogied onto his pajamas.

Okay, now I'm grossing myself out...

Book of the Month: Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences

The book of the month for November is Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences by John Allen Paulos.

Watching all of the campaigns and the debates between the Romney team and Team Obama, I've noticed some very large numbers being thrown around kind of haphazardly, used as weapons, and rejected dismissively. And it got me to thinking back on something that I've believed for a long time, and that's that Innumeracy is far worse than Illiteracy in this country and it has far-reaching negative effects on the body politic.

Read this book and it will be an eye-opener for you, and you will "know the code" when those numbers start to fly.

From the publisher's description:

Why do even well-educated people understand so little about mathematics? And what are the costs of our innumeracy? John Allen Paulos, in his celebrated bestseller first published in 1988, argues that our inability to deal rationally with very large numbers and the probabilities associated with them results in misinformed governmental policies, confused personal decisions, and an increased susceptibility to pseudoscience of all kinds. Innumeracy lets us know what we're missing, and how we can do something about it. Sprinkling his discussion of numbers and probabilities with quirky stories and anecdotes Paulos ranges freely over many aspects of modern life, from contested elections to sports stats, from stock scams and newspaper psychics to diet and medical claims, sex discrimination, insurance, lotteries, and drug testing. Readers of Innumeracy will be rewarded with scores of astonishing facts, a fistful of powerful ideas, and, most important, a clearer, more quantitative way of looking at their world. 
I know what you are thinking: the book is a dry recap of math crap that you'd forgotten since high school and never want to be reminded of again. Not so! The book is in an easy-to-read prose and it contains a lot of telling anecdotes -- from wrongful criminal convictions to false-positive drug testing to lottery winnings -- to illustrate its lessons in numerical intelligence.

Next time some politicians starts quoting "averages", you can fire back with real math and make them understand that there are several ways to compute averages, including mean, median and mode, each of which will give you a different answer.