Friday, April 30, 2010


Via Watertiger.

Secession talk is only patriotic if you are an angry, white person.

This is from John Cole at Balloon Juice:

Just a week after signing the country’s toughest immigration bill into law, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer now must decide whether to endorse another bill passed by her state legislature — one that outlaws ethnic-studies programs in public schools.


Arizona’s superintendent for public instruction, Tom Horne, has said he’s backing the measure because ethnic-studies programs encourage “ethnic chauvinism”; he’s also suggested that such programs could breed secessionist sentiment among Hispanic students.

By gosh, we can’t have that. We can’t have people of Hispanic ancestry wanting to secede from the United States. That’s treason! Anarchy! That’s….

Uh, wait a second…

Gov. Rick Perry: Texas Could Secede, Leave Union

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry fired up an anti-tax "tea party" Wednesday with his stance against the federal government and for states' rights as some in his U.S. flag-waving audience shouted, "Secede!"

Perry called his supporters patriots. Later, answering news reporters' questions, Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union, though he said he sees no reason why Texas should do that.

Georgia Secession Talk?

Almost a third of Georgia Republicans appear to be willing to break ties with their country.

A new poll by the Daily Kos finds 32 percent would favor seceding from the United States. 18 percent of Georgians overall favor separating from the union.

Last week, Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, a Republican candidate for governor, said that, if he was elected, he would reaffirm Georgia sovereignty under the 10th Amendment.

In Texas, a full 48 percent of Republicans polled favored secession.

I am so fucking confused.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I think we have hit fifth gear on the crazy bus.

Let’s talk about the Arizona “Show me your papers!” law first. First off, I will say that immigration is a national problem and that the federal government has failed to act. There are many reasons why that is so, such as crazy Republicans who don’t really want to do anything except round up everyone who even looks to be here illegally and drop them off at the border. They really won’t accept any other alternatives. So, there’s that.

I am not really going to try to recap the entire story here. It’s been done many times before. What I would like to talk about for a minute is this. There are a couple of provisions in this law that I find absolutely astounding. The first is that even legal immigrants who don’t have their papers on them can end up in jail for 6 months and a hefty fine. That requires people who are here legally to have their immigration papers with them at all time. This is a bit of a sensitive topic for me. I just completed a several year process to adopt a young girl from overseas. She’s Asian, so maybe she wouldn’t be a target of overzealous police. But still, I keep thinking, what, she’s supposed to carry her passport and her I-20 student visa form on her at all times? Would they arrest a 13 year old girl if she didn’t have them on her when she was walking to the store to get some ice cream? I don’t put anything past these lunatics these days. And I am not at all sure this couldn’t happen to an actual citizen of the United States. I have already seen a story about a truck driver who couldn’t produce anything more than his commercial vehicle driver’s license and his social security card. Nope, that wasn’t good enough, and he found himself in handcuffs. And this guy was a citizen. Please tell me again how this law won’t be abused and people won’t be targeted unfairly. This is going to be an absolute fu*kin’ disaster. (Being a fan of classic movies, I keep seeing the beginning of Casablanca running through my mind, where the police stop someone who wasn't doing anything wrong at all, ask for his papers. He gives them out of date ones, then tries to run away before he is gunned down in front of about 200 people.)

The other part of this law that I find amazing is that it allows regular “citizens” (or perhaps militia or vigilante groups) to sue law enforcement officials or offices if they believe those law enforcement personnel are not going after people who they suspect may be here illegally. Again, talk about a nightmare scenario. All it takes is one or two overzealous nutcases and the courts would be clogged with cases against law enforcement personnel. Orly Taitz, anyone? This is pretty insane.

I am a firm believer in the Law of Unintended Consequences. Hopefully, I don’t need to explain that one. It’s pretty evident from the title what it means. This law, if left to stand, is going to have some wide reaching impacts that even the most cynical didn’t see coming. The only upside of this that I see, at all, is that the Republican Party is looking so unhinged these days that they are going to drive everyone away from them who isn’t white and over 45 years old, and they will probably drive off a lot of those people as well. If Republicans are trying to make themselves into that rump, regional political party that we heard a lot about several years ago, I can’t think of a better way of going about it.

The next thing I was going to talk about is the Goldman Sachs hearings. Many, many things came into my mind when I saw some of the clips. But one big one is, “THESE are the titans of our financial industry? These people represent the financial engine that drives our country’s economy? They can’t even explain what they were doing without implicating themselves! They don’t even have a story that would stand up to any sort of scrutiny! All they can do is pretend that they don’t understand the question or else be surprised why anyone would think they might be doing something underhanded.”

I am of two minds again, like I am with many issues today. Are these people that absolutely clueless about their own actions and how they are coming across? Do they really think that everything they did was on the up and up and their actions had absolutely no impact on the biggest financial mess this country has seen since the Great Depression? Do they really think that? Are they so immersed in their own culture of greed and avarice that they don’t even understand why they are in front of a Senate panel? Or, on the other hand, are they so crooked that they feel they can do anything with impunity because they know they can and there won’t be any ramifications? Do they really have no conscience, and that they only thing that matters is that “they get theirs?”

Which is it? I really can’t decide. It doesn’t say much about human nature, in general, no matter which way it goes. Psychopaths? Or really bright morons? Either way, I am in shock that we can have people like this in a country that everyone likes to hold up as the “beacon of democracy and freedom.” Yeah, freedom to sack and plunder, regardless of the impact on the economy and every single citizen of this country (and many others besides, of course). These people are really no better than Vikings, who would storm into unsuspecting villages, loot everything of value, rape the women, kill the men and burn the town. These pigs are the 21st Century equivalent of Vikings. My apologies to anyone of Norwegian ancestry. That’s the best analogy I could come up with.

There’s so much insanity going on today that we can’t even keep track of it. Something may make an impression for a day or so, and they the next outrage comes steaming through. For example, I can’t get over the fact that, a few months ago, a lunatic who was mad at the IRS actually filled up his small airplane with fuel and crashed it into a federal building in Texas, killing one unfortunate person who was just doing his job. If nothing else, the symbolism of this act and that of the 9/11 hijackers is so hard to miss. Yet, many people on the left either didn’t blame this guy for what he did (because killing people when you are mad at the IRS is perfectly legitimate and understandable) or else he was some sort of underground hero. That’s what our country has come to. But how long did that event resonate in the press and in everyday discussions? A week? Maybe two at the most. And then it is gone. Move along, nothing to see here…

I am truly having a difficult time reconciling the fact that I live in a time when anywhere from 25% to 40% of our country seem to have totally lost all ability to think, speak and act rationally. We are collectively losing our minds, and hardly anyone even notices. I find this incredibly difficult to reconcile with the image of the United States that I was taught in school. Where this is all going to end up, I have no idea. Maybe if these lunatics get back in power, like they seem to believe they have a God-giving right to be, then maybe they might calm down and start acting somewhat rationally. Until the next 9/11, of course. On the other hand, they might just ratchet up the craziness to 11. Who knows what people like Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint would really do if they had control of the government? What I can imagine isn’t really pretty.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Well, this photo certainly destroys some of my most cherished childhood memories.

When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I would stay up late on Friday nights to watch Creature Features, excited at the prospect of seeing Godzilla ravage cities and fight other frightening monsters to the death. But this? Sheesh. A parasol? Really? What a poof. No wonder Ghidrah kicked his ass.

Godzilla is much shorter than he looks on screen.

Photo from Picture Is Unrelated.

Friday, April 23, 2010

We are all Cthulhu now.

Wellpoint Executives are soulless ghouls.

I usually do not wish physical harm on anyone, even those who would seem to most deserve it. However, I am making an exception with the monsters who came up with this one. From Watertiger.

One after another, shortly after a diagnosis of breast cancer, each of the women learned that her health insurance had been canceled. First there was Yenny Hsu, who lived and worked in Los Angeles. Later, Robin Beaton, a registered nurse from Texas. And then, most recently, there was Patricia Relling, a successful art gallery owner and interior designer from Louisville, Kentucky.

None of the women knew about the others. But besides their similar narratives, they had something else in common: Their health insurance carriers were subsidiaries of WellPoint , which has 33.7 million policyholders -- more than any other health insurance company in the United States.

The women all paid their premiums on time. Before they fell ill, none had any problems with their insurance. Initially, they believed their policies had been canceled by mistake.

They had no idea that WellPoint was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted them and every other policyholder recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation, as the company searched for some pretext to drop their policies, according to government regulators and investigators.

Once the women were singled out, they say, the insurer then canceled many of their policies based on either erroneous or flimsy information. WellPoint declined to comment on the women's specific cases without a signed waiver from them, citing privacy laws.

I do not know how these people live with themselves. This is what we have come to? Making as much money as they can now requires that insurance companies find excuses to drop people from their coverage just when they most need it? Oh, we all knew that is what the giant insurance companies were doing all along, but this really hit home. These women are suddenly faced with the fight of their lives, but one that they have reason to think they will be successful, and they find their insurance has been cancelled. Even if they find a way to pay for extended and expensive treatment and they successfully fight their disease, their entire family may end up being bankrupt. No home, no savings, probably no job. Just so some giant insurance company can make just a bit more money on top of the billions and billions they are already earning, and thereby satisfy their “shareholders” and their CEO and executives can get their blood money bonuses? That’s what this is all for? And this is on TOP of the fact that Democrats are trying to change the system and these insurance companies know that the Obama administration has asked them to stop doing inhuman crap like this. They KNOW this is wrong and people want them to stop it, and they can’t help themselves.

These people have no souls. They are inhuman monsters.

And I will bet that Sarah Palin will continue to talk about “Obama’s death panels.”

I hate this country.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where's Buffy when you really need her?

We certainly could use a slayer or forty about now.

Dramatic photo of Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

Looks a bit like Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings, doesn't it?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Peak oil may only be a few years away, according to the U.S. Army..

There was discussion of this subject a few years ago, when gasoline was running around $4.50 a gallon. However, since then, things seem to have eased up and bit and there were more important subjects to talk about, like death panels and whether or not Barack Obama is really an American.

But it appears that the concern regarding the world’s oil supply is back, in a big way. When the U.S. Army starts warning about something (other than potential military targets, I mean), we should probably start paying attention.

From Susie Mandrak at Crooks and Liars:

The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.

The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.

"By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day," says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.

It adds: "While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India."

The US military says its views cannot be taken as US government policy but admits they are meant to provide the Joint Forces with "an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concept to guide out future force developments."

The warning is the latest in a series from around the world that has turned peak oil – the moment when demand exceeds supply – from a distant threat to a more immediate risk.

[...] Future fuel supplies are of acute importance to the US army because it is believed to be the biggest single user of petrol in the world. BP chief executive, Tony Hayward, said recently that there was little chance of crude from the carbon-heavy Canadian tar sands being banned in America because the US military like to have local supplies rather than rely on the politically unstable Middle East.

But there are signs that the US Department of Energy might also be changing its stance on peak oil. In a recent interview with French newspaper, Le Monde, Glen Sweetnam, main oil adviser to the Obama administration, admitted that "a chance exists that we may experience a decline" of world liquid fuels production between 2011 and 2015 if the investment was not forthcoming.

I was hoping, in a very selfish way, that our current situation regarding energy would stay pretty much status quo for the next 10 to 15 years. I would have been long retired. I would not be commuting to work anymore and I wouldn’t have to be concerned about my job, given that it depends rather heavily on the availability of oil. Very selfish of me, I know, but I am not sure what else I could do on a personal level. Our society is based on the premise that no problem is too large to ignore completely until it becomes a huge crisis. That is what is going on with our dependence on oil, foreign and otherwise. Given how much of the stuff that the world’s countries use on a daily basis, it is a foregone conclusion that it was going to run out sooner than later. But this report from the Army is pretty frightening. Two years and all surplus capacity will disappear? I happen to remember the OPEC oil embargo of the 70’s, and it wasn’t pretty. This would make that look like a picnic.

It is unfortunate fact, but I think many of the conservatives and proponents of “drill, baby, drill” are correct. It is going to be much easier to keep trying to tap into more pockets of oil to keep our society, as we know it, going. It is much more difficult to come up with completely new and large scale energy sources. That’s the problem, you know. It isn’t so much that we don’t have the knowledge to do solar power, wind power and hydrothermal power. We just aren’t going to be able to do it on a large enough scale to actually matter before the crisis point hits.

That’s pretty scary.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Goldman Sachs executives charged with defrauding investors by SEC; Republicans vow to oppose Wall Street reform by any means.

How very unusual. Who could have possibly seen this coming? We are perhaps, finally, getting to the point of holding some of these monsters accountable for their part in the financial meltdown of a few years ago, for which the American taxpayers are still paying for, and the Republican Party unanimously opposes any sort of Wall Street Reform.

For the first part of the story, here’s a sample from Yahoo News.

WASHINGTON – The government on Friday accused Wall Street's most powerful firm of fraud, saying Goldman Sachs & Co. sold mortgage investments without telling the buyers that the securities were crafted with input from a client who was betting on them to fail.

And fail they did. The securities cost investors close to $1 billion while helping Goldman client Paulson & Co., a hedge fund, capitalize on the housing bust. The Goldman executive accused of shepherding the deal allegedly boasted about the "exotic trades" he created "without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstrosities!!!"

The civil charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission are the government's most significant legal action related to the mortgage meltdown that ignited the financial crisis and helped plunge the country into recession.

The news sent Goldman Sachs shares and the stock market reeling as the SEC said other financial deals related to the meltdown continue to be investigated. It was a blow to the reputation of a financial giant that had emerged relatively unscathed from the economic crisis.

And, for the next part, from Talking Points Memo:

Every member of the Senate Republican Caucus has signed a letter, delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, expressing opposition to the Democrats' financial regulatory reform bill, which they all claim will lead to more Wall Street bailouts.

"We are united in our opposition to the partisan legislation reported by the Senate Banking Committee," the letter reads. "As currently constructed, this bill allows for endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street and establishes new and unlimited regulatory powers that will stifle small businesses and community banks."

My, my. Their strategy seems to be, now that the Dems do not have (and really never had) a filibuster-proof majority, to not even let the subject be debated. However, they apparently realize the slippery slope they seem to be on. Therefore, they want to try to couch their opposition to any sort of reform as opposition to “endless taxpayer bailouts.”

Whenever I think that the Republican Party can’t go an lower, they come up and show me wrong. They really don’t even care that they have been called out on several fronts about how stupid this characterization is of the Democratic proposals. They just want to oppose it, because any sort of “win” for President Obama is a loss for them. And, of course, it follows that any sort of loss for Obama is a win for them, regardless of what it means to the health and well being of the United States of America. They don’t care that people are already calling “bullshit” on this. They do not care their actions have shown to be totally misguided by the SEC charges, on the very day that they came out with their unified opposition.

All the Republican Party wants, at this point, is to have the support of their tea-partying, Obama hating base. That’s all they want, because Republicans are obviously looking forward to the next election where they believe their energized base will vote Republicans back in power. What actually happens to the United States, as a whole, matters very little to these… people. I was trying to come up with an appropriate adjective to describe what these people truly are, but I failed.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thought for the day.

Do you suppose Sarah Palin could get the presidents and leaders of 34 countries, including Russia, China, Pakistan and India, to come to the United States and talk about how to protect the world against the threat of loose nuclear bombs and weapons grade plutonium, and then come away with a number of significant agreements?

No, I don't really think so either.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

News Of The Future: Robots Win Right To Keep and Bear Arms.

The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, found in favor of the plaintiff, The National Rifle and Particle Beam Destructor Association (NRPRDA), that robots should be considered to be citizens if they were built in the United States of America and therefore should be allowed to possess and carry firearms. The NRPRDA released a statement hailing the decision as "a victory for all Americans, whether they are mechanical, carbon-based or multi-national corporations." Opponents of the ruling predicted an increase in firearm and particle beam destructor deaths, due to the fact that a majority of the mechanical persons designed and built today run Windows 2030 Excelsior! (TM), which some software designers stated has a tendency to randomly jump between applications. Ex-half-term President Sarah Palin and current spokesperson for Clairol Hair Products, stated that she "was thrilled, you betcha, because Russia has millions of robots just waiting to march into Alaska."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

People with an alternative reality.

The title, I believe, is an apt description of many conservatives these days. Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand that there will always be differences of opinions and there is more than one valid viewpoint to any particular issue. I am also of the opinion that this country is in dire need of two political parties. The caveat to that last one is, however, that these two political parties, while they are not expected to agree with each other on particular points of policy, are expected to find common ground with each other so that issues can be worked to the betterment of all the American people. Currently, this is not true, as one of the main political parties has been taken over by people who are unable to accept reality.

I will attempt to explain my point. It rather well documented these days that conservatives desire to make events and situations in the world palatable to them in order to make everything that occurs in the world support their peculiar worldview. To whit:

• President Obama is a socialist and a terrorist-sympathizing Muslim who was not born in the United States and is therefore unfit to be president.
• The only reason Barack Obama was elected president is that he is black, because black people always will vote for a black man and white people only voted for him because they felt guilty.
• Healthcare reform is an effort by the government to take over the country’s healthcare system and, by the way, will kill old people.
• The census is a government plot to put conservatives into interment camps.
• Any bad press for any Republican is proof of a liberal media.
• Fox News really is fair and balanced.
• Sarah Palin really didn’t quit halfway through her term as governor of Alaska.
Global warming is a myth.
There really were WMD’s in Iraq and Saddam Hussein was indeed responsible for 9/11.
• Torturing suspects is patriotic, provides useful, actionable information and, if given a chance, Jesus would have supported torturing suspects as well.
• All Muslims are terrorists, regardless of whether or not there has ever been any direct proof against each individual, but white Americans who are upset with the duly elected government of the United States, who are upset with the IRS and fly small airplanes into federal buildings are now some sort of folk hero.
• The residents of New Orleans were scum and deserved to have their homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
• If you don’t teach teenagers sex education, they won’t have sex.

But wait, there’s more. Conservatives are not content to limit themselves to viewing current events through their special “conservative” lens. They also insist on rewriting history in order to make it more palatable. I suppose this is an effort to use “history” to “prove” the correctness of their current position.
Woodrow Wilson caused the Great Depression.
The American Civil War was not about slavery and was a direct result of “northern aggression.”
Joseph McCarthy was a hero and deserving of praise.
Thomas Jefferson was not influential in determining the course of the government of the United States.

And, of course, there’s religion…
• God and Jesus hate gay people.
Christianity is older than Judaism.

It goes on and on. I could write a lengthy post about each and every one of those items above. Many others already have. My point here should be more than obvious. Conservatives these days have devised their own reality. Hard core conservatives live in a universe where their facts are not the same as everyone else’s facts and are, in reality, 180 degrees in the opposite direction most of the time. When they are confronted with proof that their views are incorrect, they have absolutely no problem with discounting that proof because their “facts” show them to be correct.

This is why there cannot be and will likely never be any cooperation or even understanding between the left and the right. We are operating on two totally different planes. We might as well be inhabiting two alternate but parallel universes. Instead of one being made of matter and the other composed of anti-matter, our universe is made from facts and theirs is composed of anti-facts. Two totally separate realities, each one self contained, but will anniliate each other when they come into contact.

That is what is going on in the United States today, and frankly, I see no way to ever alter it. Pandora’s Box has been opened and it is not going to be closed without a severe disruption to the time-space continuium.

Warning: You may not want to click through some of the links I have provided. They go directly to the anti-fact universe.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Republican employers now laying off Democratic employees?

Via Steve Benen:

Last Friday, someone going by the name "dermdoc" posted a thread on a message board for Texas A&M students and alumni with this topic: "Laid off my first Obama voting employee today."

"Our reimbursement rates are spiraling downward, taxes are projected to go up with Obamacare, so I did it," the person wrote. He later added: "I made this decision because I can."

"It is kind of interesting watching their face as you explain to them the economic consequences of the policies of the guy they voted for," wrote dermdoc. [...]

"Elections have consequences," wrote dermdoc. "If you vote for someone who raises my taxes and lowers my income, you pay the cost."

Wow. He did this because he can. That's a great reason. Last week, we had the Florida doctor urging people who voted for Obama to go elsewhere for their urinary care. Now, we apparently have some employer laying off employees who voted for Obama. And, of course, we had the incident of the lunatic repeatedly running into another person’s car because it had an Obama/Biden bumper sticker on it.

And these are the same people that are worried that Democrats want to use healthcare reform as a way of not giving care to Republicans and the census is really a plot to identify Republicans so they can be put into interment camps. Are these people even awake?

It's one thing to make mistakes. It's altogether something else when you don't learn from your mistakes.

The general consensus emerging about the elections this year is that Democrats are poised to lose big. How big, no one really knows for sure. But it appears that the Dems may lose control of the House of Representatives.

How could anyone living through the eight years of the Bush presidency and the first years of the Obama presidency think that Republicans can govern the country? The is incomprehensible to me. But then, I am trained as an engineer and scientist, so I am used to dealing with observable facts and making informed judgments based on those facts. That ability seems to be quite beyond a large percentage of the people in this country.

This is going to be quite a mess if the Republicans get back in control of the levers of power. I really cannot believe we are looking at this as a reasonable probability.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Hey, Virginia designates April to be Confederate History Month.

“Confederate”, as in “Confederate States of America, where a large number of the population of the United States committed treason against the lawful government of the United States of America, and whose principle reason for existence was the continuation of the institution of slavery.” That “Confederate.”

Via John Cole at Balloon juice.

Gov. Bob McDonnell® has quietly declared April 2010 Confederate History Month, bringing back a designation in Virginia that his two Democratic predecessors—Mark Warner and Tim Kaine—refused to do.

Republican governors George Allen and Jim Gilmore issued similar proclamations. But in 2002, Warner broke with their action, calling such proclamations, a “lightning rod” that does not help bridge divisions between whites and blacks in Virginia.

This year’s proclamation was requested by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. A representative of the group said the group has known since it interviewed McDonnell when he was running for attorney general in 2005 that he was likely to respond differently than Warner or Kaine.

“We’ve known for quite some time we had a good opportunity should he ascend the governorship,” Brandon Dorsey said. “We basically decided to bide our time and wait until we had more favorable politicians in Richmond.”

To which John replies:

If someone can explain to me why it is so important for people on the losing end of a war they fought to perpetuate an evil institution like slavery to be “recognized,” I would really love it. Why would anyone willingly be associated with that?

Totally agree. I sometimes wonder what would be the response, other than insane laughter, if one of those original CSA states would actually pass some sort of resolution to secede from the United States. This absolutely kills me. These are the people who call other people traitors and accuse everyone of “blaming America first” when anyone offers any sort of criticism toward the U.S. government (current or past). But boy, something happens that THEY don’t like, “Goddam it! We won’t stand for this! Let’s secede from the U.S.!”

Lunatics. Bloody lunatics.

UPDATE: Lawyers, Guns and Money (We are aware of all internet traditions) has a good rejoinder to Gov. McDonnell.

Well, sheeeeeeeeeeyit. It’s Treason-in-Defense-of-Slavery Heritage Month again, so I suppose we need to remind people like Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell what the “shared history” of Virginia’s Confederate heroes actually entailed. Here’s a choice excerpt from a speech given at Virginia’s February 1861 secession convention by the South Carolinian John Preston, one of the Confederacy’s great apostles of disunion:

You may, as you are at this moment doing, centralize a coercive power at Washington stronger than the Praetorian bands when the Roman eagles shadowed the earth “from Lusitania to the Caucasus,” but you cannot come nearer coalescing the people of Virginia and the people of Vermont, the people of the St Lawrence and the people of the Gulf, than did Rome to make one of the Gaul and the Dacian, the Briton and the Ionian. No community of origin, no community of language, law or religion, can amalgamate a people whose severance is proclaimed by the rigid requisitions of material necessity. Nature forbids African slavery at the North. Southern civilization cannot exist without African slavery. None but an equal race can labor at the South. Destroy involuntary labor and Anglo Saxon civilization must be remitted to the latitudes whence it sprung.

Um..... Ouch? That would seem to put to rest what the Great State of Virginia (or was it a Commonwealth?) thought of the reason behind seceding from the United States of America.

UPDATE II: Crooks and Liars had a good one.

"A modest proposal: no one displaying the Confederate flag gets to lecture any American about patriotism - ever."

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Delusions of grandeur much?

Nine members of a militia group who named themselves the Hutaree have been arrested for, among other things, sedition and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

From the NYTimes:

The indictment said the Hutaree, in anticipation of a war against its enemies, had been engaging in “military-style training,” from weapons proficiency drills to “close quarter battle drills” and the use of “ambush kill zones.” The small group had acquired guns, ammunition, medical supplies, uniforms, communications equipment and “explosives and other components for destructive devices,” it said.

After attacking the police, the members planned to retreat to several planned “rally points” and wait for the authorities to come after them. They were preparing fighting positions as well as “trip-wired and command-detonated” bombs, it said.

“It is believed by the Hutaree that this engagement would then serve as a catalyst for a more widespread uprising against the government,” the indictment said.

In addition, Mr. Stone had announced, “a covert reconnaissance exercise” in April, during which “anyone who happened upon the exercise who did not acquiesce to Hutaree demands could be killed,” the indictment said.

The United States attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Barbara McQuade, said the government raided the group this past weekend because that exercise would have “had the potential of placing an unsuspecting member of the public at risk.”

The Hutaree Web site features the motto “Preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive” and a video showing rifle-toting men in camouflage running through woods and firing weapons.

“Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment,” the Web site says, adding, “The Hutaree will one day see its enemy and meet him on the battlefield if so God wills it.”

By Monday, the Stones’ house stood empty, its front door ajar and two dogs still tied up in the were.

The Stones’ two sons were among those arrested. Joshua, the eldest, left the local school system after the fifth grade in 1999 to be home-schooled, and the younger son, David B. Stone Jr., 19, had never been enrolled, an official said.

Also charged were Joshua J. Clough, 28, of Blissfield, Mich.; Michael D. Meeks, 40, of Manchester, Mich.; Thomas W. Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind.; Kristopher T. Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio; and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio.

They could face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

There are so many aspects of this story that are so disturbing and raise so many questions. One of my first reactions, and I will just get this out of the way now, is that I feel very sorry for the two kids involved. They never had a chance. They were indoctrinated with their parents’ craziness from the time they could walk. They were “home schooled”, which ensured that they would never receive any learning that would contradict that craziness. Really, they never had a chance. But by now, it is probably too late to hope that they might be rehabilitated and become productive members of society, rather than someone on the outside trying to tear down that same society.

My very first reaction, however, was one of absolute horror. What could possibly be wrong with these people that they would think that killing a policeman would help them in their fight against the ultimate fictitious enemy, the Antichrist? These people saw themselves as “God’s Warriors”, and they couldn’t even keep their stupid yard clean? If there ever were a good example of “white trash”, it would seem to be these people. I don't believe in God, but if there is such a being, I would really hope that He would be truly offended that people like this believe that they think they can speak for him and murder other people in His name. But, throughout history, there have always been such people and there always will be. God thinks exactly like they think. What a coincidence.

Without knowing any of this group personally, here is my take. These people have so little self-worth and extremely few prospects for the future, they had to come up with this crap about being “God’s warriors” in order to give their feeble lives some meaning. It’s a grown up version of having some sort of “secret club” when you are a kid, with secret signs and a secret hideout, and a big plan about something or other that gives membership in this club a reason to be proud of. It’s also all about blaming others for their troubles. In today’s society, it’s always someone else’s fault for whatever problems you have. It’s never your fault. These people are losers in the biggest sense of the word, and they couldn’t accept that. So they anointed themselves as “God’s warriors”, doing God’s bidding and going forth to fight the Antichrist. What b.s. Yet, this concept is what ruled these people’s lives, and continues to rule the lives of many more people just like them.

I really try not to make many inflammatory statements here on this blog. I don’t like to use the anonymity of the blogsphere to be a jerk on purpose with the intent of attracting readers. I’ll leave that particular to trick to the followers of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. But I see one possible future of this country as an armed revolt of stupid people. But you know what would happen? If successful, it wouldn’t be the stupid people who would end up on top. It would be the bright boys and girls who manipulate the anger of those stupid people. No, I am not going to get into comparisons with Nazi Germany. That always has a way of clouding the point anyone is trying to make. But the Russian Revolution, that might be an apt comparison. Look who ended up in change, Lenin and his gang. It wasn’t the proletariats. They were just the tools for the unscrupulous and power hungry to gain control.

If these people really wanted to give their lives purpose and be able to legally run around trying to kill the bad guys with really big guns, why didn't they all join the military? But no. That would be actually hard work and they would have other people telling them what to do. This way, they get to play soldier (and God's soldier at that) on their own terms. When they get tired at the end of the day, they can tell themselves they did a wonderful job in support of a great purpose and then go home and watch Fox News on television, so they can renew their anger at all the people in the United States who make them mad.

Friday, April 02, 2010

What is it with our society that DEMANDS you conduct financial business electronically?

I dislike this trend a lot. Yeah, call me a dinosaur or a Luddite. But I have already had one instance of someone scamming my wife's Paypal account and running up thousands of dollars of charges on it. In the last couple of weeks:

- I have tried to use a iTunes gift card I got as a Christmas present. They demand that you give them all your personal information, like address and telephone number, in order to redeem something that has already been paid for. Why is this necessary?

- I have tried to sign my daughter up with the AAU website so she can play on an AAU basketball team. It appears there is no way you can pay the fee without giving them your credit card number.

- I have already complained about the fact that eBay now requires you to have a Paypal account to do the transactions. The only benefit is to them, of course, since they own Paypal and charge $45 yearly to have such an account. There is no other reason.

This is stupid, unnecessary and absolutely dangerous. I work for a government agency and have gotten briefings about safeguarding personal information. We even got an FBI agent to come out from the local office to give us a briefing once. She said something like, "If people really knew how all this worked and knew the risks involved, no one would ever use a computer again." I just had my yearly required security briefing that made me just absolutely despondent about how many frikkin' crooks there are out there in the world, waiting to pounce.

I am refusing, as much as I can, to play along with this trend. Why am I being required to open up my personal and financial information, in a world we know is full of risks regarding identity theft, just to do the simplest transactions?

I am not sure what to do yet about my daughter's desire to play AAU basketball. I may have to go ahead and bite the bullet. But I really, really hate this.