Thursday, May 29, 2014

Web Privacy

Click here for a Bob Rankin article about web secrecy; especially the use of Tor to keep your Internet activity private.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dylan At Newport Festival, 1964

Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sinister Genius ...

Click here for an excellent article by Hunter at Daily Kos entitled "How Karl Rove, Rich Lowry and Politico are damaging America."

In short, the execrable Karl Rove lies, and says that those lies cast doubt on Hillary's fitness to be president. The execrable Politico gives the execrable Rich Lowry a platform to say that if you disregard the lies, Rove's underlying point -- Hillary may be unfit to be president -- is a good one that deserves honest debate.

The correct response? "Karl, you are telling obvious lies, easily debunked; your argument is without merit, unworthy of public debate."

But no, now that the question has been raised, "debate" has actually begun; Fox News and others chime in to amplify what Rove and Lowry have said. So Rove's lies have created a "debate" on Hillary's fitness to be president -- and the right-wing position in the "debate" is premised on lies. Nevertheless, the nattering nabobs of negativism bring the debate to a crescendo. In the words of that silver-tongued orator George W. Bush: "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

So blatant lies prompt earnest discussion among the pundits. Hunter says:
And this is how it works, chapter and verse. The professional liar pipes up with a bald-faced lie. Though it is quickly and easily disproven, other professional liars pipe up to say that if we ignore the fact that the liar is lying, the liar raises a good point. The liars take to the op-ed pages to note that the liar is just asking the question, and now the question is out there. And they will make damn sure the question is out there for as long as it takes to get a flock of morons and dunderheads to believe that there is a conspiracy to not answer the question, even though "the question" was a lie to begin with and no less a lie through each of the various iterations meant to sanitize it enough for the public to forget that the whole thing was a fiction from the start.
He concludes:
This is how it works, and this is why we are now a nation that sees the ghosts of conspiracy in every corner. This is why there is a Bundy ranch standoff, and why Benghazi! will get more hearings than all other attacks on American diplomatic outposts combined, and why climate change will continue to be disputed even as large parts of Antarctica cave off into the rising seas. This is why we fought a war in Iraq, and why those that peddled it have faced no professional repercussions. Because we continue to treat truth and ideologically laced falsehood with exactly equal merit, as if they are two equally worthy opponents for our attention and our respect, and govern ourselves with notions taken just as liberally from the falsehoods as from the facts.
This attitude permeates public discussion. A widely accepted figure is that 97% of publications in peer-reviewed scientific papers support the position that significant harmful climate-changing effects are man-made. No matter; right-wing politicians, bereft of scientific knowledge, their wallets stuffed with petrodollars, loudly trumpet a contrary view based on ... nothing. An overwhelming body of scientific evidence shows that dinosaurs first appeared 230 million years ago and ruled the earth for 135 million years; Christian fundamentalists thunder from their pulpits that the earth is 6,000 years old, a belief based on ... faith in the Bible. Rather than dismiss these radical, baseless views, pundits "evenhandedly" give them equal space in public discussion.

Such is the state of American journalism today.

UPDATE: Here's a segment I transcribed from a Fox News clip on Crooks & Liars. I don't know the names of the Foxers, but they're clearly quite happy with the situation:
FOXER 1: Michelle, of course Hillary Clinton's health and her age are fair game, like anybody who runs for president, if indeed she does that. But did Rove go further than that, and did he overstate the case?
FOXER 2: It's what he does. And I think there is a certain sinister genius to it. He'll get a lot of blowback now, but the issue will be out there, and people will focus on it, and they'll forget why they even brought it up to begin with. And as we go along, it will be in there, and people will discuss this -- a lot.
FOXER 3: I couldn't agree more with you, Michelle. Because what they did was they floated -- he floated a trial balloon for political coverage for 2016 elections, and even though that balloon was being shot down by liberals, it's still -- the issue is still being talked about. Politico, on the day that this happened, had eight different stories talking about this. And I checked, and MSNBC, as of Thursday night, in its prime time schedule, was still talking about it on four of the five shows.
I rest my case.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Operation American Spring - Comedy Gold

Such an easy target for mockery, but just irresistible. Click here for an article entitled "35 Top Excuses for What Happened to the 29,999,000 People Who Didn’t Show Up for Operation American Spring," by Dan Simpson. (The "leader" of OAS, a nutbar ex-officer, Col. Riley, apparently didn't show up; one suggestion was that he was home burgling the houses of the people who came.)

Here are the top 35 excuses for the missing 29,999,000 freedom-loving patriots who were nowhere to be found today.

1. President Obama ordered FEMA to round them up and put them all in concentration camps.

2. President Obama declared martial law and ordered them to be herded and executed.


4. It’s meth-cooking season, so couldn’t leave their meth labs.

5. They all went to Washington state, instead of Washington D.C.

6. They used Apple Maps and ended up protesting in a corn field in Iowa.

7. They couldn’t figure out a way to get there without using a government-built road.

8. Cliven Bundy’s cattle was blocking the roadways.

9. It was national discount day at Golden Corral.

10. There were too many puddles to navigate around.

11. The 15 or so big rig drivers who showed up for Truckers for Truth back in October are still clogging up the interstates in the area.

12. They tried to make signs to bring to the protest, but couldn’t get all the words spelled right in time to show up.

13. They were all looking for that Ben Ghazi fella they always hear about on Fox News.

14. They found out that neither Ted Cruz nor Sarah Palin would be there, and didn’t bother.

15. COPS was being filmed in their trailer park that day and didn’t want to miss an opportunity to be on television.

16. There was a Duck Dynasty marathon on A & E all day.

17. They couldn’t get their tractors started.

18. They couldn’t miss their weekly KKK meeting.

19. Same reason why every other previous battle for freedom and liberty was halted – it rained.

20. Saw a rainbow over Washington, and turned around, thinking that getting near it might make them gay.

21. They were given ultimatums by their cousins that they’d break up with them if they left for a day or two.

22. They all accidentally shot themselves.

23. Had to stay home to defend their trailer parks from a rumored Bureau of Land Management takeover.

24. Washington-area stores ran out of Twizzlers, so they panicked and went back home.

25. Cliven Bundy gave a live lecture on the Negro on the same day, couldn’t miss the chance of being enlightened.

26. Found out that Washington-area liquor stores don’t carry Old Milwaukee or Pabst Blue Ribbon.

27. Illegal to ride lawn mowers on the streets of Washington.

28. They couldn’t find their teeth, and they don’t go out without them.

29. If you count the voices in the heads of the people who showed up, there were 30 million people there.

30. It’s square dance night at the VFW hall, and they promised their sisters they’d take them.

31. Got caught up at Waffle House, had their buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

32. Their dogs were in heat.

33. Can’t leave Cliven Bundy’s ranch quite yet.

34. They were all raptured.

35. Their government disability checks weren’t enough to get them to Washington, which is all Obama’s fault.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

America's Secret War: U.S. Bombing In Laos

Click here for an article at Mother Jones entitled "Watch the US Drop 2.5 Million Tons of Bombs on Laos," by H.F. Bhojani. An excerpt:
Between 1964 and 1973, the United States dropped around 2.5 million tons of bombs on Laos. While the American public was focused on the war in neighboring Vietnam, the US military was waging a devastating covert campaign to cut off North Vietnamese supply lines through the small Southeast Asian country. The nearly 600,000 bombing runs delivered a staggering amount of explosives: The equivalent of a planeload of bombs every eight minutes for nine years, or a ton of bombs for every person in the country—more than what American planes unloaded on Germany and Japan combined during World War II. Laos remains, per capita, the most heavily bombed country on earth.
And people are still dying in Laos as a result of those raids:
More than 100 Laotians fall victim to unexploded cluster bombs annually, delayed casualties of Operation Barrel Roll and Operation Steel Tiger, which dropped 270 million cluster bomblets. Packed by the dozens or hundreds in canisters, cluster bombs are designed to open in midair, scattering small explosives across a wide radius. Yet not all of them detonated, and today, 80 million live bomblets lurk under Laos' soil.
The article contains this astonishing video:

Descending Mt. Eiger

Once upon a time, I dreamed of climbing the Eiger. But I never thought of doing this:

Happy Mother's Day?

This little gem is from opponents of gun reform.

Cat To The Rescue!

This is a cat chasing off an 8-month-old Labrador-Chow cross that attacked a 4-year-old boy in Bakersfield, California.

The dog will be euthanized after a 10-day quarantine.

Thank God There's No More Racism, Billie.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

25 Bushisms

Hard to believe this man was president of the United States for eight years.

1. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."—Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

2. "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family."—Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000

3. "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"—Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000

4. "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country."—Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004

5. "Neither in French nor in English nor in Mexican."—declining to answer reporters' questions at the Summit of the Americas, Quebec City, Canada, April 21, 2001

6. "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.''—Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001

7. "I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."—Washington, D.C., April 18, 2006

8. "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."—Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005

9. "I've heard he's been called Bush's poodle. He's bigger than that."—discussing former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as quoted by the Sun newspaper, June 27, 2007

10. "And so, General, I want to thank you for your service. And I appreciate the fact that you really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who are trying to defeat us in Iraq."—meeting with Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Washington, D.C., March 3, 2008

11. "We ought to make the pie higher."—South Carolina Republican debate, Feb. 15, 2000

12. "There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again."—Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

13. "And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it."—speaking on National Public Radio, Jan. 29, 2007

14. "We'll let our friends be the peacekeepers and the great country called America will be the pacemakers."—Houston, Sept. 6, 2000

15. "It's important for us to explain to our nation that life is important. It's not only life of babies, but it's life of children living in, you know, the dark dungeons of the Internet."—Arlington Heights, Ill., Oct. 24, 2000

16. "One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures."—U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 3, 2000

17. "People say, 'How can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil?' You can do so by mentoring a child; by going into a shut-in's house and say I love you."—Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2002

18. "Well, I think if you say you're going to do something and don't do it, that's trustworthiness."—CNN online chat, Aug. 30, 2000

19. "I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep on the soil of a friend."—on the prospect of visiting Denmark, Washington, D.C., June 29, 2005

20. "I think it's really important for this great state of baseball to reach out to people of all walks of life to make sure that the sport is inclusive. The best way to do it is to convince little kids how to—the beauty of playing baseball."—Washington, D.C., Feb. 13, 2006

21. "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."—LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000

22. "You know, when I campaigned here in 2000, I said, I want to be a war president. No president wants to be a war president, but I am one."—Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 26, 2006

23. "There's a huge trust. I see it all the time when people come up to me and say, 'I don't want you to let me down again.' "—Boston, Oct. 3, 2000

24. "They misunderestimated me."—Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000

25. "I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office."—Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008

h/t to Digby, Hullabaloo.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Words To Live By

(Larry Hardiman's is my favorite.) Thanks to "Bill in Portland Maine":

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary." ---H.L. Mencken

“True happiness in politics is a wide open hammer-shot on a poor bastard who knows he’s trapped, but can’t flee.” ---Hunter S. Thompson

"Politics is like football. If you see daylight, go through the hole." ---John F. Kennedy

"Politics is more difficult than physics." ---Albert Einstein

"There is no more independence in politics than there is in jail." ---Will Rogers

"Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich by promising to protect each from the other" ---Oscar Ameringer

"The word 'politics' is derived from the word 'poly', meaning 'many', and the word 'ticks', meaning 'blood sucking parasites'." ---Larry Hardiman

"In politics, stupidity is not a handicap." ---Napoleon

Friday, May 9, 2014

World Trade Center BASE Jump

Not the best BASE jump video ever. Three guys jumped off the World Trade Center tower and are now facing felony charges of some kind. It's at night, and the view from the top of the tower is pretty good -- not great, but pretty good.

I don't know why these guys have to use bad language when they know the footage is going to be widely viewed on the Internet, but ... oh, well.

And I don't know why the guy dumped so high -- no freefall at all. The canopy is open almost before you realize he's jumped. Why not fall for a while? Youère only -- mon dieu! My keyboard has switched to francais! (No cedilla under the Èc,È though -- maybe itès only the apostrophe key thatès gone weird.

Anyway, as I was saying, youère only wearing one parachute, so itès not like you can deploy your reserve anyway.

Some of the canopy-ride footage is really pretty.

Death Panels!

Click here for a story on Politico (Or as Charles Pierce calls it, "Tiger Beat on the Potomac") by Harold Pollack entitled Death on the Installment Plan, with a subtitle, Now we know: Rejecting the Medicaid expansion could kill nearly 6,000 people each year. A study of the Massachusetts (Romney Care) system published in Annals of Internal Medicine showed that
Insurance coverage reduced mortality rates by about 30 percent. For every 830 people newly insured, Massachusetts prevented one death per year.
The last paragraph of the article:
One thing is for sure. If anything close to these results apply, the ACA is saving many lives every year. The new law is projected to cover more than 20 million adults who would otherwise go uninsured. The Massachusetts estimates imply that the ACA will prevent something in the neighborhood of 24,096 deaths every year (simply: 20 million divided by 830). That’s more than twice the number of Americans killed in gun homicides. It’s considerably more than the number of Americans who die from HIV/AIDS.
So when Republican-dominated state legislatures refuse federal grants to cover 5 million of their poorest citizens with Medicaid insurance, doesn't that make them -- DEATH PANELS?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Joe Biden, Superstar

With help from Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and John Boehner: