Friday, July 29, 2011
ARe There No Proofreaders?
Heck, I make mistakes (lots of 'em) but I don't get paid to write.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
State of the Security State
The American Revolutionaries were long revered in our political culture because -- by risking everything, including their lives, to wage war against the most powerful empire on Earth -- they chose liberty and freedom from state intrusion over personal security.
Multiple provisions of the U.S. Constitution reflect this same prioritization of values. The Fourth Amendment bars the police from entering our homes without search warrants and probable cause even though that restriction means that some of the most heinous and dangerous of criminals -- from mass murderers to child rapists -- will remain un-apprehended. The Fifth Amendment bars imprisonment without due process and the Bill of Rights imposes a slew of restrictions on the state's power to convict accused criminals even though it means that those same horrific criminals may sometimes go free, able to commit their crimes again. This subordination of security to other values was long the defining attribute of the American political identity, because we didn't want to live in a Singapore-like Security State or an East-German-like Surveillance State.
All of this has given way -- among the political class in the U.S. -- to a supreme fixation on safety at the expense of every other value -- a fixation that is in equal measures cowardly, authoritarian and exploitative. Patrick Henry's long celebrated tribute to courage has been turned on its head by the degraded cowardice of GOP tough-guy leaders -- such as Pat Roberts, John Cornyn, and Rush Limbaugh -- shrieking that civil liberties are worthless if you're dead: i.e., that safety is the paramount goal.
This is the ultimate issue. Is it better to be safe, or free? The modern Republican party, while couching its rhetoric in the mantle of liberty, says its better to be safe. Safe from various, nebulous external and internal threats. But if you want to be safe from hunger, or homelessness, the Republicans say, "that's your problem."
Its an interesting philosophical dichotomy. Democrats feel you should be safe from hunger an poverty, Republicans say you should be safe from violence. However, this dichotomy assumes that Democrats think you should not be safe from violence, and that Republicans think you should be safe from poverty, which is a false assumption. The real question here is, how much personal liberty are you wiling to surrender for personal security?
Monday, July 25, 2011
If you take the Republicans' goals as avoiding a deal in which they have to vote for tax increases and denying Obama a political victory, it looks like they have succeeded. That success has come with costs -- they've done themselves political damage, are risking a crisis that could do the economy tremendous harm, and have left the Bush tax cuts unresolved, which means they might end up watching taxes rise much higher than if they'd taken Obama's offer -- but it's still been a success.
The question is, what happens if they don't stop pushing?
Essentially, the question is, do the Republicans realize they've won? My guess is "no" as they're being driven by the teatarded faction of the party, and no one wants to risk being primaried, since well know that if there is one thing a congresscritter doesn't like, its being a not-congresscritter.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Adventures in Heat Exhaustion
Knowing how hot it was going to be, I spent the preceding week hydrating. On the way down, I think I stopped at every other 7-11 off I-68 to slug down a water and a Gatorade. By the time I reached the Sidling Hill rest stop, I was full in the cellular sense, and needed to hit the Little Corporals Room. When I stepped out of the air conditioned Scion, it was like stepping into a furnace. The radio man said it was 105 degrees. Oh. My. God.
Pulled into Manassas around 3pm Friday, to find we were camped just across the street from the Brawner Farm, very, very cool. We couldn't be ON the battlefield, but we were very, very close, and there is no doubt that this was hallowed ground.
Unfortunately, this was not a re-enactor event. It was organized by Prince William County as a historic/commemorative/moneymaking event. The camp maps were horrible. After checking in, I found my brigade and regiment were not where they were supposed to be. Wound up parking, and searching on foot. Ran into George and Chris, our Canadian Police contingent, who were just as lost as I was. We asked at several camps, and were pointed in the general direction. After about 20 minutes, we saw Corporal Don. YAY!! We found our company street. Learned from him that the Cumberland Guards (a rather farby outfit) mismeasured their camp, and threw the entire Federal bivouac out of whack. I've fallen in with the Cumberland Guard a few times, and frankly, I wasn't surprised, they're clowns.
Moved the car to the company street, got unloaded, tent set up, etc in 105 degree heat. Sweating profusely. Moved the car to re-enactor parking, A MILE AWAY. Walked A MILE back to camp, too hot and sweaty to change, stayed in civvies, popped a beer, chatted with Don and Keith.
Knowing how hot it was I passed on the beer and dug into the water and Gatorade supplies. The rest of the crew shows up, sun sets, temps get reasonably acceptable, head to bed on a pile of straw covered by a ground cloth. No need for a blanket. Sleep reasonably well. Reveille is at six.
Wake up at five when the Confederates start beating and tweeting. Assholes. Get the fire going so folks can get breakfast started. Those who managed to sleep through the Confederates early wake up call are jolted out of bed when some idiot decides to test their cannon at five-thirty.
Five-forty five. Sgt. Craig tells me and Sgt. Dave to get 'em up. Redundant. Almost everyone is up. Have to kick one private. Attribute the ease of getting everyone on their feet to the lack of boozing the night before, it's too hot to drink.
Six AM. Roll call. Everyone is here! Find out I've been designated Safety Officer. We should probably have one at every event, but with the extreme heat, one today is a necessity. I don't mind, I'm the only person in the company with medical training, although at the lowest level. No matter, I know heat exhaustion/sun stroke and today, that is important. An angry sun is rising.
Nine AM, form up, march out. The guys look good. Pause at the treeline to let the Marines pass. One Marine drops out, already down from the heat. I saw her as she passed, red faced, panting. RN attached to brigade has ice packs and water as we wait for PW County Medics. Looks like she'll be all right.
Form up on far side of the battlefield. One of the vedettes (these are women attached to the various commands who bring water and ice to the combat troops at reenactments) is down. She's young, maybe 15, and scared. I, another 116th man, and an RN working the treeline try to cool her off while awaiting the medics. Medics arrive, she's evacuated, and will be ok.
March to the right flank. Advance to the treeline in the center of the battlefield, the only shade for the event visible to the public who've paid a hell of a lot of money to watch this. Learn that Prince William County has a 32 page script we're supposed to follow. Um, that's not going to work.
Becky is a vedette from the 30th PA. She's with Vincent's Brigade, but attached herself to us, the National Regiment. Perhaps 14 years old at the most. She's supposed to stay in the trees, but advances with us and keeps us well supplied with ice and water. She's awesome. Everyone loves her.
Find out the battery we're supposed to support is no longer on the right flank, its been moved to the left flank to give the spectators a better view. Now we have to countermarch across the front to get where we're supposed to be. To reenactors, it looks stupid. The public likely loves it.
Confederates take the battery. We charge, retake the battery, just like the script demands. Confederate cavalry fails to materialize. Communications on the command level truly suck. We retire, pretending to fend off the Invisible Pink Unicorn Cavalry. God, what a cluster.
March off after clearing weapons. As safety officer, saw two men off the field, no real problems. Cleared three weapons of obstructions, and helped a Fresh Fish with proper musket use.
Back to camp. Crack and guzzle a Gatorade. Sgt. Craig asks if I'm OK. Yep, I'm fine.
Check out Sutler's Row. Nothing I feel like buying. Head to the food vendors. Get a hot dog and a water. Consume both.
Back at camp. Legs weak. Alternately hot and cold, feel my pulse racing. No women around, so I know there is something wrong. Wave down Medical. They transport me to the medical tent. Get signed in and hooked up. Turns out I'm on the edge of heat exhaustion. Medics commend me for recognising the symptoms and getting help before it became serious. Spend the next hour packed with icepacks to lower my pulse rate. Many people come in in much worse shape than me. Released.
Consensus in the reenactment community is that the event sucks. Thousands bugging out. PW County did a good job with support, but the actual scenarios are a bust. Everyone is leaving. See no reason to say for Sunday, get the car, pack up, and leave. Freaking exhausted. Stop in Breezewood at 6PM, get a room and sleep for 12 hours.
Get up, go home.
The suspect in Norway’s recent bombing and shooting attacks has acknowledged to police that he carried them out, but he insists he is not criminally responsible, his lawyer said late Saturday night.
What a senseless act of terror. Why do these loons always turn to violence when they don't get their way?
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks was making his way to the dugout after being out in the field, he tossed a baseball in the direction of a Ian, a young Brewers fan, sitting in the stands at Chase Field. But instead of the ball remaining in the possession of the designated fan (Ian), the ball ultimately ended up in the hands of Nicholas. Nicholas, a young kid in his own right, was obviously thrilled at scoring the treasured souvenir, made his way back up the steps in jubilation. But then he realized that the ball wasn’t meant for him – it was meant for Ian, so Nicholas did the honorable thing and gave it to the dejected and heartbroken Brewers fan Ian.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
A No True Irishman Fallacy??
SWATTING Comes To The 'Burgh
it involves calling 9-1-1 and faking an emergency that draws a response from law enforcement—usually a SWAT team.
Yesterday in Green Tree:
Green Tree police Lt. Chad Rannigan said police received a 911 call about 11:30 a.m. from a man with a foreign accent who said he was holding hostages at 1118 Greentree Road. He said the man was demanding a ransom or he would begin shooting hostages.
After surveying the home, setting up a command post at a nearby church and blocking traffic into the area, Allegheny County police deployed a robot and found no sign of anyone inside.
About 2:30 p.m., officers with the Critical Incident Response Team then entered and verified the house was empty.
Deploying SWAT teams, calling out the bomb squad, and shutting down roads involves a pretty significant cost to the taxpayers, but more importantly, consider the public safetly angle. Officers and other resources are being drawn away from their regular duties. Any emergency response involves a degree of risk, to officers and the public, as teams deploy to where there may be a life threatening situation. Hopefully they find the dork responsible for this hoax and throw the book at him.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Don't Look Now, But....
Friday, July 15, 2011
Big Lizard In My Backyard
A Pennsylvania man took his dog out for a walk -- and found a 3-foot alligator in his back yard.
Of course, I cannot use that headline without a link to The Dead Milkmen.
Why I Had No Idea They'd Gone Insane!
A number of commentators seem shocked at how unreasonable Republicans are being. “Has the G.O.P. gone insane?” they ask.
Why, yes, it has. But this isn’t something that just happened, it’s the culmination of a process that has been going on for decades. Anyone surprised by the extremism and irresponsibility now on display either hasn’t been paying attention, or has been deliberately turning a blind eye....
First of all, the modern G.O.P. fundamentally does not accept the legitimacy of a Democratic presidency — any Democratic presidency. We saw that under Bill Clinton, and we saw it again as soon as Mr. Obama took office.
As a result, Republicans are automatically against anything the president wants, even if they have supported similar proposals in the past. Mitt Romney’s health care plan became a tyrannical assault on American freedom when put in place by that man in the White House. And the same logic applies to the proposed debt deals.
Put it this way: If a Republican president had managed to extract the kind of concessions on Medicare and Social Security that Mr. Obama is offering, it would have been considered a conservative triumph. But when those concessions come attached to minor increases in revenue, and more important, when they come from a Democratic president, the proposals become unacceptable plans to tax the life out of the U.S. economy....
Here’s the point: those within the G.O.P. who had misgivings about the embrace of tax-cut fanaticism might have made a stronger stand if there had been any indication that such fanaticism came with a price, if outsiders had been willing to condemn those who took irresponsible positions.
But there has been no such price. Mr. Bush squandered the surplus of the late Clinton years, yet prominent pundits pretend that the two parties share equal blame for our debt problems. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, proposed a supposed deficit-reduction plan that included huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, then received an award for fiscal responsibility.
So there has been no pressure on the G.O.P. to show any kind of responsibility, or even rationality — and sure enough, it has gone off the deep end. If you’re surprised, that means that you were part of the problem.
I've frequently typed that the Republicans in Congress, and lately pretty much anywhere they hold elective office, simply aren't interested in compromise. Its their way or nothing, and as a result, its pointless to even attempt to negotiate with them. Reasonable Republicans are well aware that failure to raise the debt ceiling is a disaster, but they're now essentially an ultra-conservative rump party, completely beholden to the teabaggers and Christianists. A vote to raise the debt ceiling invites a primary challenge, and if there is one thing a Congresscritter will put above doing what's right for the country, its being a Congresscritter. They'd rather blow it up than be turned out of office.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Choot-spa. Bachmann's minions will now undoubtedly hurriedly attempt to "correct" on-line pronunciation guides, rather than have her admit an error. (via 2PJ's)
Ruh Roh Rupert
An Austrian atheist has won the right to be shown on his driving-licence photo wearing a pasta strainer as "religious headgear".
Niko Alm first applied for the licence three years ago after reading that headgear was allowed in official pictures only for confessional reasons.
Mr Alm said the sieve was a requirement of his religion, pastafarianism.
(hat tip to LSqrd for the link)
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
What Its All About
Meanwhile, the House complains about unemployment, and has yet to propose a jobs bill. They do, however, have time to fret about lightbulbs.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper reported on Monday that News of the World journalists had offered to pay a New York police officer to retrieve the private phone records of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Citing an unidentified source, the newspaper said journalists had wanted the phone numbers of the dead as well as details of the calls they had made and received in the days leading to the attacks.
Eli N. Avila, Gov. Tom Corbett's secretary of health, has ordered up new blue windbreakers on the taxpayers' dime, with Department of Health emblazoned on the front and back. The windbreakers, for Dr. Avila and his executive staff, also display the state seal on a retractable flap.
The cost of these windbreakers isn't all that much, just a few hundred dollars, but you gotta wonder why on earth Avila would order up these things when Harrisburg is saying "Everyone must suffer, unless you're a gas driller." I alos have to wonder what the heck the health department would need what is commonly known as a "raid jacket?"
The answer may be found further in the P-G's story.
Dr. Avila also dipped into his own pocket this year to have a badge made for himself, with Secretary of Health around the state seal -- until Mr. Corbett's office nixed this idea.
Aha!! He's a wannabe!But wait, there's more!
In May, his actions became fodder for watercooler talk after The Inquirer and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the argument with the diner owner over the freshness of the eggs in his egg sandwich.
Weeks after the argument, a city health inspector descended on the diner at Dr. Avila's request. The health secretary later issued a statement saying he had felt a duty to report what he believed were unsanitary cooking conditions.
So he's also a pushy jerk who uses the authority of his office to enact revenge on those who he feels wronged him.
Time to give this guy his walking papers.
Thursday, July 07, 2011
Its A Trap
Meanwhile, since the budget woes are almost entirely the result of the Bush tax cuts (we went from surplus to deficit almost immediately after they took effect) and unpaid for wars, seems to me the logical thing to do would be get out of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya while allowing the Bush cuts to expire.
We'd probably still be in deficit due to the weak economy, but the red ink would be greatly reduced, unpopular wars (and the drain on the economy caused by them) would be ended, and popular programs that help keep the elderly out of poverty would be retained.
Oliver Willis has some thoughts on this matter:
We’ve broken enough stones in America on the backs of the middle class and the poor. We bailed out the uber-wealthy and didn’t attach any strings as they collapsed the global economy.
I can't see why the Republicans so dislike President Obama. He's accomplishing everything they've ever wanted.
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Everything I Like
While I expected the team to be vastly better than last year's edition, I never expected them to be in the thick of things in July. Let's go Bucs!
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Monday, July 04, 2011
Happy Fourth of July!
Sunday, July 03, 2011
Police say a motorcyclist participating in a protest ride against helmet laws in upstate New York died after he flipped over the bike's handlebars and hit his head on the pavement...
Troopers say Contos would have likely survived if he had been wearing a helmet.
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) challenged on taxes, oil subsidies
Wingnut PA congresscritter skewered on his own petard.
Saturday, July 02, 2011
...the AT&T case will make class-action suits vastly less likely, as Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out in his dissent: "What rational lawyer would have signed on to represent the Concepcions in litigation for the possibility of fees stemming from a $30.22 claim? The realistic alternative to a class action is not 17 million individual suits, but zero individual suits, as only a lunatic or a fanatic sues for $30."...
Corporations will now be able to decide on their own which civil rights and consumer protections they want to obey, knowing that there will be no effective means available to their victims to find redress. Even worse, not only has the radical conservative majority damaged the ability of consumers or employees to find justice, it has effectively removed any incentive for corporations to behave within the law in the first place. Why act lawfully if your victims are helpless, especially in cases like this when the harm to each individual is small but the potential for profit is huge?
As they say, read the whole thing. And be happy and grateful they allow you to live in their world.
Via "A Spork In The Drawer."