Archives for: June 2013

Save your money and avoid the stupid.

I went with my kid to watch “White House Down” despite knowing it was gonna suck ass from what little I head read about the plot. I am glad to see it is bombing at the theater. That’s because not even all the action and violence can save this idiotic Hollywood paean to the myth that “The Won” is a great peace maker. Seriously, when are the leftists going to give up trying to help a guy we would all be calling the worst president of the last century if it wasn’t for his skin color?

Spoilers to follow.

There aren’t many movies that will make me care one way or another about how stupid the premise is, but this one drove me to do some writing, because it was so fucking idiotic. Let me admit that I am a painful person to watch movies with. I usually figure plots out within the first few minutes – the stories have all been told – and I can see those twists that are supposed to surprise people coming a mile away. And nothing causes a movie to piss me off more than Hollywood’s liberty with reality and how things work I real life. Yeah, I know it is a movie and that I should chill, but man does it piss me off when you have a gasoline explosion that mushrooms hundreds of feet into the air when a few grenades go off. WTF? I can pretend all car accidents end up in such explosions for the sake of movie action, but grenades? Jesus-titty-fucking-Christ! This movie is replete with such idiotic shit, but that’s not what pissed me off.

It’s the idiotic plot. President Obam.., erm I mean Sawyer has basically gone to Iran where he brokered a deal that he claims will bring peace to the Middle East as soon as the US pulls all its forces from the area. Never mind that the Iranian thugs, like the old masters of the USSR in the days of the Cold War which would sport boners every time these morons talked about unilateral nuclear disarmament on our part, would welcome such a move, not because it would bring peace, but because it would basically leave them free to do whatever the fuck they want. It looks like the children of the nuclear disarmament movement learned nothing, because the current crop of idiots on the left and in Hollywood still are naïve enough to believe the bad guy is always us. It’s the military-industrial-complex in the US and the politicians that are beholden to that entity, that’s the root of all evil. Iran would all but turn into a peaceful paradise if the US but left the area and we stopped selling weapons to them all. Yeah, talk about being a fucking unicorn worshipping idiot if you buy this kind of nonsense, but here is Hollywood again selling this bullshit even after the end of the Cold War.

Anyway, the naïve and benevolent Sawyer gets in big trouble as the WH comes under attack by a cabal comprised of the retiring chief of the Secret Service, some angry mercs, and of course, the evil Rethuglican Speaker which is in the pocket of the military-industrial-complex, and unable to see that if the US but leaves and stops selling arms peace will suddenly follow, and all that money his buddies will stop making selling arms, now can magically be used to pay for free healthcare! Fuck, this plot is too stupid to fool anyone but an imbecile. Of course, the good guys win, and in the end China, Russia, Israel, and yes, even Iran, all agree to the deal, and not only that, they all want peace on earth. Queue the “Kumbaya” theme and the cheesy ending that should convince anyone currently thinking it was bad idea to give that pre-emptive peace prize to the Community Organizer in Chief that he deserves it and should be handed another.

Seriously, save your money and avoid this thing. It’s not even worth paying for it to just watch the lame action sequences. I think you can get a better political philosophy and a more pertinent moral message from episodes of “Jersey Shore” than you will from this leftist fairy tale with the twisted and idiotic notion that we should give peace a chance because violence never solves anything, except, that is, from the massive amount of violence in the movie that’s needed to get rid of the bad and evil capitalists, that is. Hollywood is so fucking passé. If you want a real idea of what the age of Obama looks like, read this instead.

We Are Shocked, Shocked! To Find Out That There Is Spying Going On In Here

That European governments are shocked is literally the headline over at CNN:

European officials reacted with fury Sunday to a report that the U.S. National Security Agency spied on EU offices.

The European Union warned that if the report is accurate, it will have tremendous repercussions.

“I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in a statement. “If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations. On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the U.S. authorities with regard to these allegations.”

The scale of the US spying operations is quite huge. EU buildings in the US and Belgium, millions of phone lines and data connections in Germany. But … on some level, I have to wonder if this is a bit of diplomatic kabuki. As I said before, I assume that our government spies on other governments, including friendly ones. And I assume other governments spy on us. And not always for security purposes. France’s intelligence agency used to conduct industrial espionage for French corporations.

I find myself agreeing with Michael Hayden:

“I’ve been out of government for about five years, so I really don’t know, and even if I did, I wouldn’t confirm or deny it,” he said. “But I think I can confirm a few things for you here this morning. Number one, the United States does conduct espionage. Number two, our Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans’ privacy, is not an international treaty. And number three, any European who wants to go out and rend their garments with regard to international espionage should look first and find out what their governments are doing.”

Spying on other countries is part of the President’s job description. To not do so would be a dereliction of duty. As I said in a previous post, even our allies keep secrets for their own reasons. And we zealously guard our secrets even from those allies (which is why Pollard is in jail).

Suppose a friendly country found out about a potential terror attack on the United States. And suppose that country did not want to reveal this information for fear of compromising a critical source. Would it not be the President’s duty to find this information out?

This is one of the problems I have with those embracing Edward Snowden. As time goes on, it seems that his problem isn’t just with spying on Americans but with spying at all. That’s not a purism I can embrace. Because spying is necessary.

Even on our allies.

Hey Mr DJ: Fly Spy Edition

I put this post off until the last minute this week. Worse, I’m feeling a bit ill today.

Therefore, I am punishing everyone with a brief post. Yes, betraying the trust you have in me to safeguard this top secret playlist.

This week’s theme centers around Snowden. I’m surprised by how neutral I feel about him. Neutral as in “in between”. It’s not that I’m indifferent about the story–I’m not at all–it’s just that I simultaneously think it was pretty awesome that he struck a blow for privacy rights in the most public and grandiose way he could and also that it was a despicable crime for him to do. I’m delighted that he’s embarrassing the President and disgusted that he’s shaming his country.

Strange to think that by making us aware of how closely Big Brother is watching us, Snowden has guaranteed that the US Government will never stop watching him and waiting for the chance to grab him. He does seem to have thought every aspect of this through, so it’s safe to assume that he understands the fact.

Yet he’s so calm about things. Does he have a clear conscience or is he just so self-absorbed and self-righteous that he is accustomed to acting proud of things he should be ashamed of?

Meh.

Music:

1. Absconding for Asylum: Some good travelling music, escape, or songs about getting over on The Man.

2. Pole-dancing for Privacy: That doesn’t make any sense now that I read it. Still…it’s about picking some good stripper music for the girl he left behind.

3. Cloak and Flashdrive: Cunning spy shit. Get the drop on me, if you can.

Wackyleaks Bonus: Songs with Too Much Information. This is open to interpretation.

WVR: Roam by The B-52’s (1)

stogy: Around the World by Daft Punk (1)

Biggie G: Airport Taxi Reception by Sondre Lerche (1, 3)

Mississippi Yankee: The Shocker by Steel Panther (It’s very underhanded, in a manner of speaking).

InsipiD: Easy Way Out by Gotye (1)

pfluffy: You Know My Name by Chris Cornell (Casino Royale. 3)

Santino: Let’s Take a Trip Together by Morphine (1)

Iconoclast: Flying North by Thomas Dolby (1)

Time is now 8:45 PM, CDT. I can’t believe I bothered with dedications. Off to lie down…

Duckworth Kicks Some Ass

I don’t agree with Tammy Duckworth on a lot. But holy shit, did she bring it to yesterday’s hearing about a man claiming a prep school injury qualified him for contracts and benefits aimed at disabled veterans.

Context here. Like I said, I disagree with Duckworth on some political stuff. But I’ve always admired her service to her country. And yesterday, I was proud to have her in Congress. People who fraudulently take advantage of programs to help disabled veterans can’t be pilloried enough.

Is anyone really surprised by this anymore?

“UNEXPECTEDLY!” There is that word again. We find out that first quarter GDP numbers were again revised downwards, for whatever reason, as has been the case now for going on 5 years. I think the big story here is the fact that Team Blue government types and the LSM, which polls friendly economists to get the result they want, have been telling us for years now things are looking up & getting better, front page news every time, only to later, on some back page, have the numbers revision downward. That things are getting better meme, is just that: a meme. And with Obama now hoping to deflect from all his scandals by going back to using the EPA to destroy the economy in the name of saving Gaia, and healthcare regulation driving businesses to scale back drastically to avoid getting shafted, expect a lot more and far harsher downward revisions.

Someone Messed With Texas

If you were awake late last night, you saw something pretty extraordinary unfold down in Texas. The legislature was attempting to pass a bill on the last day of the session that would have restricted abortion by (1) limiting it to 20 weeks; (2) requiring that clinics meet medical clinic standards; (3) requiring that abortion providers have hospital admission privileges. Opponents said the latter two would shut down all but five clinics in the state.

A building protest caught spark when Wendy Davis began a 13-hour filibuster to try to prevent a vote. When she was ruled to have broken the rules a third time — once for getting a back brace adjustment and twice for talking about topics deemed irrelevant — her filibuster was ended. What followed was two hours of parliamentary debate. At 11:45, the gallery erupted, shouting down the legislature. They voted for the legislation. But this morning, the Lt. Governor ruled that it had passed after the midnight deadline. For the moment, the bill is dead.

Many thoughts and I’ll have to go with bullet points that sum up much of what I said on Twitter.

  • Once again, the MSM fell flat on its face. Twitter, Facebook and blogs had copious coverage of what was going on. At the precise moment the vote was happening, CNN was highlighting … the calorie content of muffins. I’m calling it: 2013 is the year the MSM died. Almost all the big news — the IRS scandal, the NSA, last night in Texas — emerged from outside the MSM. And their typical reaction has been to either dismiss it or be snide about it, culminating in David Gregory pondering if Glenn Greenwald should be prosecuted for breaking the law (note to Gregory: I don’t think journalists breaking the law is a can of worms to you want to open, asshole). The MSM is still relevant, a little, for foreign news. Or at least they could be. Some journalists, like the ones who exposed the abuse in Bell, California, still fill a role. But the big news houses are nothing but fluff.
  • Probably the most amazing, if unsurprising thing, was the complete reversal of people’s attitudes on the particulars. Liberals who had spent years denouncing the filibuster suddenly thought it was the most awesome thing ever. People who had denounced peaceful Tea Party protests as display of thuggery and racism suddenly decided that shouting down the legislature was good citizen participation.
  • Me? Even though I’m mixed on the abortion issue and prefer the more dignified, restrained and lawful tactics used by the Tea Party, I am encouraged when I see citizens paying attention to what their legislatures are doing. I am always impressed by real filibusters not the bogus “we’re pretending to talk” kind.
  • The law itself, however, is not the most ridiculous thing. As pointed out, many countries have more restrictive abortion laws than Texas tried to pass, including western European ones. France, for example, only allows abortion on demand through 12 weeks, with exceptions for health of the mother or fetal illness. I really think, after the Gosnell horror, abortion clinics should be held to higher standards. And now that we’ve had fetuses survive after being born at 21 weeks, the push to move viability back was not unreasonable. However, the GOP has been winning legislative victory after legislative victory on the abortion issue. Something like last night was inevitable.
  • The victory abortion proponents scored last night may be temporary. There is no force on Earth that can stop Rick Perry from calling a special legislative session today to pass SB5. However, I suspect that the law is dead for now. The GOP, if they are wise … stop that snickering … will take their wins on abortion law and wait for passions to cool.
  • In the end, despite the extremely boring parliamentary debate that pushed SB5 past midnight, I found last night kind of riveting. Not because I am particularly sympathetic to the protesters, but because I am sympathetic to anyone pushing back on government. I want people protesting, calling legislators and getting involved because so many of us have fallen asleep at the switch. Our Republic only functions if we hold our leaders responsible for the decisions that they make and the laws that they pass.

    So my challenge to those who participated last night, even it was just a “StandWithWendy” hashtag is this: are you willing to keep this up? Are you willing to push back on NSA abuses, even when it is the eeevil libertarians raising awareness? Are you willing to protest the IRS targeting groups based on their politics, even when it’s groups you don’t like? In short, are you going to stay involved when it’s not your pet issue? When it doesn’t involve aborting fetuses?

    Because if you’re not willing to stay involved; if you’re going to bash the Tea Party when they do something like this; if you’re going to decry the filibuster when Rand Paul uses it, then you are not a participant, a protester, a citizen, a revolutionary, a patriot or someone who “stands” with anything.

    You’re just a partisan.

    VRA On Its Last Legs

    SCOTUS delivered an important decision today, basically striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. A little history:

    When the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965, almost no African-Americans were registered to vote in the Deep South due to brutal repression and sickening legal chicanery. Civil rights litigators and the Department of Justice were doing their best to help. They filed lawsuit after lawsuit to make it possible for blacks to register. But every time a court deemed one discriminatory practice illegal, local officials would switch to another. Literacy tests, poll taxes, burdensome registration requirements—these techniques were all used to prevent African-Americans from voting. Southern voting registrars would even resign from their positions as soon as a lawsuit was on the cusp of succeeding, thereby sending the case back to square one. The Voting Rights Act aimed to change all of this.

    Section 5 was the most important and imaginative provision in the law. It required certain states and jurisdictions, mostly in the South, to ask the federal government’s permission before making any change—no matter how small—in the way they run elections. Until a rule was “precleared,” it could not go into effect. This unusual provision solved the central problem of voting-rights enforcement during the civil rights era—keeping up with the increasingly creative strategies recalcitrant state and local governments used to disenfranchise voters. Section 5 shifted the burden of inertia, allowing the Department of Justice to get one step ahead of local officials.

    In what is becoming a trend for the Roberts Court, the judges declined to strike down the entire VRA. Instead they struck down Section 4, which defines which areas need to preclear their election laws based on voter registrations and restrictions as they existed in 1972. This is an incremental step, building on criticisms the judges leveled at Section 4 four years ago. They warned Congress then that Section 4 was becoming outdated and needed to be replaced. Congress didn’t listen. And while I expect Congress to make a lot of noise, I don’t expect any action. Section 4 and, to a large extent Section 5 are effectively dead.

    The reactions from the Left, as you can imagine, are a bit apoplectic. The most common argument is that the VRA has done a good job (African American registration is now comparable to white registration in many VRA-affected areas) so why scrap it now? But to me, that’s the argument for scrapping it. I can see the argument for having passed the VRA in the first place, over-riding states’ rights temporarily because the extraordinary circumstances of institutionalized and unremitting racism. But that was a temporary measure. At some point, we shouldn’t simply assume states are racist monsters because of conditions older than I am. Comparing this to Dred Scott or Plessy is simply ridiculous, especially since most of the VRA remains intact. In fact, this very Court, earlier in the session, threw out Arizona’s proof of citizenship requirement by a 7-2 vote, agreeing that it was over-ridden by federal law. There is nothing whatsoever to stop individuals or the Justice Department from challenging any state law they think is designed to surpress minority voting. I find it very unlikely that states will start playing the legal games they played in the 60’s to surpress the vote.

    You can read more from Mataconis and Joyner at Outside the Beltway. The upshot — one I agree with — is that the Court made the correct decision: chip away at the VRA but leave enough intact so that discrimination can not rear its ugly head again.

    The most amazing part of SCOTUS watching is the whipsawing of the pundit’s attitudes. When the Roberts Court made the Citizens United decision, all the liberal pundits rent their garments. Then the Obamacare decision came and suddenly the Roberts Court was awesome! Now they chip away at a dubious part of the VRA and they’re worse than the Tanney Court. If the Court overturns Prop 8 or DOMA tomorrow (I expect them to punt), then they’ll be awesome again.

    Me? I think it’s been a mixed bag. The Roberts Court has made some critical inroads in Second Amendment Rights and property rights. They’ve made some poor decisions on civil liberties, Obamacare and criminal defense rights. But the thing they’ve mostly done is show restraint: knocking down parts of laws instead of entire volumes of law, deferring to the legislative process when they can and making changes in a manner consistent with judicial history and our Constitution.

    That’s not perfect. I think judicial activism is a good thing when our liberty is at stake. But it’s an improvement over the radically activist Courts of the past.

    More Time on the Climate

    I thought I would put this in my own post rather than respond to Alex’s because it crosses af few points that have been bobbing around my head for a while. And since we’re having an AGW fight anyway…

    The President released his climate plan today. It is a lot less ambitious than his previous plans. No cap-and-trade or anything. It does quite a bit by executive order. I expect legal challenges but Congress punted much of its regulatory and law-making ability on the environment to the EPA long ago and the Courts have, so far, not reined that power in.

    However, even this plan, flawed as it is, is a huge pullback from the President’s earlier promises for “decisive action”. The pullback is partially a result of the GOP opposing his climate plans. But it is also a recognition that the political landscape has changed. Over the last few years we have seen:

  • A slower rate of warming than the previous 20-30 years (which I’ll address in more detail below).
  • A rolling disaster in Europe where climate change policies have resulted in higher energy bills, outsourcing and little to no reduction in CO2 emissions.
  • A huge drop in American CO2 emissions thanks to better efficiency and fracking.
  • As Alex noted, the Obama plan includes heavier regulation of existing power plants. This is probably DOA but it isn’t entirely a bad idea. The oldest plants are the most polluting — not just in terms of greenhouse gases but in terms of everything. Replacing them with cleaner plants isn’t the worst idea to come out of the Administration but one could choose a more economically strong time to do it.

    But the plan includes two steps that I think are in the right direction:

    The White House is hammering out an agreement with China and other countries to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas used in everything from soda machines to many car air conditioners. The administration will also develop a plan for curbing methane emissions from natural-gas production.

    I’ve talked about this before. Methane and HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases that don’t have to be emitted. They are a result of waste, outdated technology and poor maintenance. Curbing those emissions wouldn’t hurt the economy; it would benefit it. George W. Bush pursued agreement on these pollutants with almost no recognition from the supposed greens. Maybe they’ll acknowledge it now that their hero has embraced the policy.

    There’s also this:

    The White House also plans to help state and local agencies prepare for the impacts of climate change that are lurking in the near future, such as sea-level rise or flooding or extreme weather. An example: All federally-funded rebuilding after superstorm Sandy now has to take the risks of future flooding into account.

    Bjorn Lomborg has been on the adaptation crusade for years. The idea is that even if we stopped emitting CO2 today, temperatures would continue to rise. We’re going to have to adapt to a warmer world no matter what. Acknowledging that and doing something about it may be much smarter than ham-fisted caps on carbon. In fact, much of our infrastructure isn’t up to the challenge even without global warming. Sandy was an event that could happen even in a cooling world and one for which much of the East Coast was unprepared.

    Now to return to one subject. The fact that global warming has slowed for the last decade is moderately interesting. It doesn’t “disprove” global warming any more than a stock market crash disproves capitalism or an 0-4 disproves Miguel Cabrera’s ability to punish baseballs. If you look at the temperature record, you’ll see times when global warming has slowed, times when it has gone faster. Complex systems never behave monotonically. But the 100-year trend is toward warmer temperatures and every piece of information we have indicates that rise should continue.

    However, it is true that the last 10-20 years have seen temperatures rise at a slower rate than the previous 30 and the rise has been toward the lower end of climate model predictions. And the last year has come out with a number of studies that may show exactly why:

    A major new study published in Nature Geoscience reports that future global warming is likely to be significantly less than many climate model projections have suggested. The authors cannot be characterized by opponents as climate change “deniers.” Using recent data from the continued slowdown in global temperature increases, the researchers estimated new equilibrium climate sensitivity and transient climate response numbers.

    Their calculations hint that, on the current course, the 21st century should see a warming of 1-2 degrees celsius, rather than the 3-4.5 degrees the IPCC predicted in their last report (and rumors are that the next IPCC report will also lower their predictions). That seemingly minor change is important: most climatologist believe that two degrees would not be a gigantic problem. And they’re known to be pessimistic.

    Now I should stress that these analyses may be missing low on climate sensitivity just as the old ones missed high. But similar results have been showing up in the literature all over the place. Moreover, the data are showing that the climate sensitivity may have been overestimated. If these lower estimates of climate sensitivity are accurate and if the slower warming of the last decade is more indicative of the true climate sensitivity that the rapid warming of the 80’s and 90’s, it means we have a lot more time than anticipated to solve the problem; decades longer.

    What this supports is what I’ve said before: governments need to abandon the idea of hamstringing the economy and pouring subsidies into marginal technology like electric cars. The problem of global warming can not and should not be solved today. Instead, we should be investing in basic research to discover new technologies. When these technologies are developed, the only mandate we will need is for people to form an orderly queue to buy and use them.

    Think about where we were fifty years ago, technologically. No internet. Television was coming into its own. Computers were confined to major universities and businesses. There were still epidemics of measles, mumps and rubella. Not small epidemics from idiot parents but massive ones. The typical car got about 10 miles per gallon.

    In fifty years, we might have nuclear fusion.

    The slowdown of global warming buys us time. It extends the point at which warming would potentially become dangerous decades into the future. And the parts of the Obama climate plan that aren’t stupid also extend the time baseline. Cutting down on HFC’s and methane emissions would buy more time at no economic cost. Adapting cities to rising ocean levels buys more time (and is a good idea anyway). Putting in better flood building codes buys more time. All of this buys us the critical time that is needed to develop real alternatives to fossil fuels.

    Obama’s climate change plan shows a faint sliver of reality. At this rate, he might actually propose a sensible climate policy sometimes around 2145.

    Can I say “I told you so” yet?

    I, and many others that argued this point, were once demonized for pointing out that the Obama administration’s green agenda amounted to all but a war on fossil fuels and would sooner than later result in higher energy prices. Surprise, surprise, now that they have been getting away with murder and any and all abuses of power are ignored or explained away through insane donkey talking points by their shill in the LSM, these green warriors no longer feel any need to hide the fact that they meant to have a war on coal.

    Daniel P. Schrag, a White House climate adviser and director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, tells the New York Times “a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.” Later today, President Obama will give a major “climate change” address at Georgetown University.

    “Everybody is waiting for action,” Schrag tells the paper. “The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”

    The war on coal has been going on since 2009. Don’t be fooled. They are just finally admitting it was going on. This is part & parcel of the Obama administrations campaign to throw some red meat to their constituency in the hopes of getting their help to deflect from the plethora of scandals the WH is now playing damage control with. At a time where the economy is taking another hit, these fucks are yet again targeting good jobs. Don’t worry: I am sure they will come up with some shovel ready stimulus jobs that will only cost tax payers a million dollars, or more, per unsustainable job created. Just like they did back when they convinced us to let them funnel a trillion dollars to their buddies, special interests, lobbyist friends, and own campaign coffers under the guise of stimulus.

    At a time when more an more facts come out showing how ludicrous and stupid the whole man made climate change crisis nonsense is, they are doubling down on the stupid. Get used to European level of unemployment, anemic growth, if any growth happens at all, and even more intrusive control of all aspects of our lives. For our own good of course. Our elite masters know what’s best for us after all.