April 30, 2010

Overnight Open Thread
— Maetenloch

Friday, Friday, Friday and not a moment too soon.

Capturing Somali Pirates: The First Person Shooter View

Here's some video of the Dutch Marines re-taking a German container ship that had been captured by Somali pirates. The narration is in Dutch and the footage was taken using a helmet camera worn by one of the Marines. I'm not sure why they were firing in the first part unless the pirates were fighting back for a bit before they surrendered. Ten pirates were captured and taken back to the Netherlands for trial.


Posted by: Maetenloch at 04:38 PM | Comments (1298)
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Wuck? Boehner Tosses Out New, High Number of Possible Republican Pick-Ups: One Hundred
— Ace

Swingin' for the fences, as far as speculation:

House Republicans could win 100 or more seats in this fall's elections, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Friday.

Boehner said he believes there is no seat that the GOP cannot win during this election cycle, judging by Sen. Scott Brown's (R) improbable win in January's special election in Massachusetts.

Reflecting Republican optimism that they can win back control of the House this fall, Boehner said 2010 has the widest playing field for Republicans in a while.

"Let me remind you that Scott Brown won the Ted Kennedy Senate seat in Massachusetts," Boehner said during an appearance on National Public Radio. "If Scott Brown can win in America, there isn't a seat in America that Republicans can't win."

When pressed for a number, Boehner said he believed the GOP could win as many as 100 seats in this fall's elections.

"At least 100 seats," Boehner said when asked how wide the playing field for districts is. "I do," the top House Republican answered when asked if he thinks there are 100 seats in the U.S. "that could change hands."

I suppose it's a good idea to expand the field of seats in contention as wide as possible.

When the time rolls around, I'm going to get a list of the second thirty most competive seats around and promote donations there, because I figure 1-30 will be widely publicized already and besides, might turn out to be gimmes/races where too much money is flowing in. 31-60 sounds more important to me.

Posted by: Ace at 01:07 PM | Comments (369)
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Damnit: Judge Rules That Obama Does Not Have To Testify In Blago Case
— Ace

Not even by videotaped deposition, it seems. Though I am guessing at that, based upon the completeness of the judge's statement quoted here:

"The testimony of the president is not material to this case," U.S. District Judge and noted curmudgeon James Zagel said today in issuing the ruling.

If anyone knows for sure -- if the judge meant in-person testimony (as Blago moved for) wasn't material, but is still allowing videotaped questioning -- please let me know.

Posted by: Ace at 12:27 PM | Comments (88)
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"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters"
— Ace

Mjim linked this in the comments.

I saw this a few years back, and I strongly recommend you watch it. It's a very silly documentary about an utterly trivial matter -- who will win the "Classic Arcade Games" official record for Donkey Kong? -- but it's just great. One of the most enjoyable documentaries I've seen.

Actually, it's a little more like a reality tv show than a documentary -- there is definitely a hero and villain here -- bust still, it's great.

Especially the political intrigues. Yes, there are political intrigues. Because the main story is about the goofball committee which officially recognizes Donkey Kong records corruptly denying the record to the real holder, in order to keep the record in the hands of their buddy, who's actually on the board of the record-certifying committee.

And also is a "Cool Dude," and therefore considered a "Good Ambassador" for classic gaming because he's so coool. At least he's cool in the minds of these other certified geek mutants. He's like their Golden Boy, and seriously, I think they think he's so cool because he's actually had sex with a woman. So of course that makes him King of the Geeks.

To the rest of us, to normal people, he just seems like another geek, except with a +5 Mullet of Douchebaggery.

Goofy as it is, this is still essentially a story about political corruption, and the "establishment" (such as it is) consipiring against the little guy to keep him out of the club, and even though it's about such a trivial matter, it still gets you going. Corruption is always dramatic, even if it's about a stupid insignificant video game record.

The cool thing is, you can actually watch the whole movie on YouTube, at least, I guess, until they figure out that a bunch of people are now viewing pirated material and shut it down. That's a link to part 1.

If it gets taken down, or you like basically like what you see, rent it. These guys made a good product and deserve a little somethin'-somethin' for that.

Spoiler below. Highlight with your mouse to see after you've watched it.

If you watch the whole thing, you should probably click on the Wikipedia entry, to find out what was true here and what wasn't.

Oh, 96% of it is true, but there is a little deceptive editing and withholding for dramatic purposes, especially near the end.

I sort of don't even want to mention this, and that's why I'm calling it a spoiler, because it sort of will spoil your fun to know that there is some manipulation at the climax.

But if you wind up being as nuts for this movie as I was, you'll probably want the full, real story.

As I said, it's almost all true. The falseness near the end is just a matter of withholding or deceptively implying, not really lying. But you do need to check the record for the actual facts.

If you care enough. But this dumb little documentary will probably make you care enough about exactly what happened in this weird mutant subculture digital duel.

Billy Mitchell Really Is a Douchebag: So says "fartbubble," and you can trust him, because his screenname is "fartbubble."

Billy Mitchel, Douchebag of the Century: As FUBAR, I think, said, "So he's good at video games and sells some hot sauce for chicken wings and he brings that much attitude to the table?"

Yup. It's not that getting a perfect score on Pac-Man isn't impressive, in a way. Not super-impressive, but I would have assumed it was impossible. It's... something.

It's just that... Dude, you can't talk with this much swagger over a freakin' arcade game score.

Just to recommend this again: If anyone doesn't want to watch it because they figure it's a dumb movie about video games, it's really not.

It's a movie about people.

One of whom is a douchebag. And several of whom are defective mutants and weird gamer-groupies who worship that douchebag.

Posted by: Ace at 11:15 AM | Comments (208)
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I've Got Some Good News and Bad News
— Ace

It's hard to convince people that, even though I'm a conservative, I actually like animals and nature. I'm demeaningly noting the otter is cute and fuzzy, thus ridiculing those who put too much stock in that, but the fact is, I like cute and fuzzy critters too.

Otters are swell. It's heart-breaking that they should die. I'm generally a fan of higher mammals.

Especially the cute and fuzzy ones.

I mean, look at hedgehogs! I mean -- just look at 'em!


On the other hand, it does make sense to have a sense of proportion about these things, a perspective.

The explosion that destroyed that rig killed 11 human beings -- cute and fuzzy mammals, too, you know -- and yet is not the human death toll causing Obama's inevitable walkback of his previous weak-sister oil exploration policy.

It's the otters. 11 people? Who cares. No one for one second talked about shutting down oil exploration when it was only 11 people who died.

But otters?

Otters? Oh, now it's on like Donkey Kong.

It reminds me of the joke about the guy who was watching his friend's dog for him. The dog died while the owner was away.

The man explains:

I've got some good news and some bad news.

The bad news is: Your dog died.

The good news is: It was just a fucking dog.

I love dogs-- I mean, seriously, I love dogs -- but there's a sickness in the American mind when animals are so routinely elevated above human beings.

It's terrible that so many otters are going to die, or at least be slicked over and inconvenienced, by this disaster.

There is an upside, though: They're just fucking otters.

I've got news for people: They were going to die anyway. At most they were going to live for 25 years.

In the long run, as they say, we're all dead. And otters even in the medium-run.

I know it sounds like I really don't care about otters. I do, though. I am a sucker for these sorts of animals.

I just don't understand how human beings are so routinely derogated as being less important than otters.

Human beings are cuter and fuzzier than any otter. I wish people could keep that in mind.

Oh, Dear: Halliburton was servicing the rig when it exploded.

The problem may have been the cementing of the pipe, something that experts (I don't know if we're talking about real experts or "experts" who just show up to claim that all of human activity harms the environment so we should just ball up in the fetal position and die) criticize as a poor manner of handling things.

Posted by: Ace at 10:38 AM | Comments (245)
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The Government Created Dustbowl & Depression
— Ace

As I was saying: choices.

The delta smelt, I'm sure, is a fine, upstanding fish, and I certainly have no racism against the delta smelt. Indeed, some of my best friends are delta smelt, and I mean "friends" in the traditional sense of "money-grubbing accountants."

Still, as wonderful as the delta smelt is -- I hear they are hard-working and have strong families -- I sort of think that human beings are more important.

It started with a 2008 federal court order that stopped water flowing from northern tributaries on a supposed need to protect a small fish — the delta smelt — that was getting ground up in the turbines of pump stations that divert the water south. The court knew it was bad law, but Congress refused to exempt the fish from the Endangered Species Act and the diversion didn't help the fish.

After that, the water cutoff was blamed on "drought," though northern reservoirs are currently full. Now the cry is "save the salmon," a reference to water needs of the state's northern fisheries.

Whatever the excuse, 75% of the fresh water that has historically irrigated California is now being washed to the open sea. For farmers in the southwest part of the valley, last year's cutoff amounted to 90%.

"It's pretty hard to keep crops alive at 10%," says Jim Jasper, who runs a 62-year-old almond farm in Newman that employs 170. "That's one irrigation, and trees take 10 to 12 over the growing season from March to October." Almond trees cost $8,000 per acre and take six years to start producing, so farmers reserved their 10% allocation for mature trees first.

The cutoff didn't kill just trees, however. It also devastated the area's economy. Unemployment in some valley towns has shot up to 45%. Mortgage defaults are on the rise, and food lines are lengthening.

If I could choose the Miracle Solution in which no delta smelt were harmed and farms weren't destroyed, and human lives weren't left in wreckage and ruin, sure, of course I'd choose that, and protect the delta smelt.

But that option is not on the table. We can choose between protecting a pretty minor fish, or allowing farmers to actually live, and not see their farms destroyed in a government-mandated dustbowl.

Of course we've chosen to destroy people's lives.

Am I allowed to say that it's a lot like Stalin's rule to decide that common people should be destroyed in order advance some abstract, speculative goal that has seized the imaginations of the political class?

They're just dirty, low-education farmers anyway. Who gives a crap about them. Eggs, omelette, break.

Sometimes I think the biggest cleave in politics is between the Abstract Party and the Concrete Party. The Abstraction Party is largely, but not entirely, the liberal Democrats, and the Concrete Party is largely, but not entirely, the conservative Republicans.

The Abstract Party thinks, of course, in abstractions, and elevates these abstractions -- often speculative or plain fantastical -- over real-life human lives, the concrete, the real, the demonstrable, the solid. And part of what sustains the Abstract Party is their faith, a religious faith, really, that what they "know" abstractly they know with 100% surety, so if they're told by their priests (their politicians and pundits) that it's better in a the long run that some dirty farmers are bankrupted and die penniless than we allow the delta smelt to die off, then they just believe that, on faith (as it's speculative, and who has anyway of knowing what's best in the long run; in the long run, as they say, we're all dead), and simply push forward with plans that result in catastrophic ruin for real-life people because they are so damn sure their belief in a speculative abstraction trumps any of that.

As a member of the Concrete Party, that gives me great pause. I don't really possess that level of intellectual arrogance. I can't believe in speculation and abstraction enough to think that, when the rubber meets the road, I can choose obliterative poverty for an entire region of the country with the confidence that I'm doing the right thing by basically ending human lives.

The Abstract Party has done an awful lot of evil in the world. I'm going full Godwin here to note that the Nazis were a party of abstraction, fueled by the unproven belief, which they nevertheless were willing to kill for, so sure of it were they, the Jews were somehow responsible for just about every ill in Germany and that some abstract and speculative Utopia would arise if only the lands could be purged of the Jews.

Elevating, again, a belief in some dreamy abstraction over the real and inarguable suffering created by it.

You've got to be borderline crazy to do this. Seriously. I'm sure Lee Harvey Oswald had some belief he was quite sure of -- Kill Kennedy and the World Becomes A Wonderful Place -- and you have to be pretty insane to be sure enough of that proposition to kill someone you've never met and have no actual quarrel with.

At some point you'd think that the testimony of their own eyes -- seeing people suffer and die in the real world -- would shake them out of their unshakable belief in the abstract "Good" they're pushing for, but you'd be wrong.

They have a religious conviction about it. They are religious zealots-- lunatics, cultists -- who believe in Paradise on Earth and if you have the chance at Paradise on Earth human lives are small potatoes in the scheme of things.

And they tend to call this lunatic religious passion "reason" and "science." And they're quite serious about that.

I don't mean to suggest that actual reason and actual science are bad. I just mean that when they follow their religious-maniac dogma, they call it reason and science.

As with Marxism. The doctrine that's killed... what, 100 million? That was, of course, a scientific analysis of history. It was scientific. It was a critique, as they say, of pure reason.

You can murder an awful lot of people when you're religiously-convinced you're doing God's work.


Posted by: Ace at 10:01 AM | Comments (169)
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Cute, Fuzzy Animals Doom America to Energy Dependence
— Ace

As "Drill, Baby, Drill" gains in popular support, stupid fate intervenes, and now we have friggen otters getting slicked by oil.

This is going to retard efforts immensely to expand domestic drilling. The Democrats have gotten lucky with a propaganda coup. Conservative politicians are going to de-emphasize this, and even run away from the issue for a time, and that's going to enrage many conservative voters, but that is life.

Pelicans, otters along La. shore in path of spill

Pelicans. Generally, Who cares about birds?, but pelicans are ugly-cute and thus have personality. And otters -- cute and fuzzy, forget about it.

Well-played, AP.

Oil from a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico was starting to ooze ashore, threatening migrating birds, nesting pelicans and even river otters and mink along Louisiana's fragile islands and barrier marshes.

Crews in boats were patrolling coastal marshes early Friday looking for areas where the oil has flowed in, the Coast Guard said.

The leak from a blown-out well a mile underwater is five times bigger than first believed. Faint fingers of oily sheen were reaching the Mississippi River delta late Thursday, lapping the Louisiana shoreline in long, thin lines. Thicker oil was about five miles offshore. Officials have said they would do everything to keep the Mississippi River open to traffic.

The oil slick could become the nation's worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening to eclipse even the Exxon Valdez in scope. It imperils hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast, one of the world's richest seafood grounds, teeming with shrimp, oysters and other marine life.

And this is all happening as Graham wins on his desire to push a "bipartisan" climate/energy bill in the Senate which has lots and lots of establishment praise as a good bill. I doubt very much the establishment even knows what the hell is in it, but that has become the conventional wisdom.

And Bill Nelson of Florida says that any energy plan which expands off-shore drilling is "Dead on Arrival." So... it will be all restrictions on energy production, all taxes on legitimate, real energy production, all useless subsidies for fake energy production, and not a damn bit of actual increased domestic production to offset this stupidity.

This is a major spill and it is doing great damage. The environment may not be as fragile and exquisitely sensitive as the tree-huggers swear, but obviously pouring millions of gallons of oil on top of the ocean, where 90% of all sea life lives, is a very bad thing.

It's the childishness of this all though that bothers me, the refusal to accept the simple proposition that in life, there are choices, and choices have consequences, and sometimes it's necessary to accept some downside to get a lot of upside. People don't seem to acknowledge the upside of petroleum -- like being able to drive places, or having heat and electricity in their homes, and so on -- because it "just happens," by magic, I guess.

On the other hand, show them a dying otter and they want to stop this all.

People always want the ideal solution -- all upside, no downside -- and it is a politician's job to con them into thinking that such a thing is possible (and of course that such a thing is possible only if you elect them and their party into a position of power where they can execute their magic formulae and arcane rituals).

A substantial portion of the public doesn't think critically, has no functional bullshit detector whatsoever, is incapable of balancing downside and upside, and thus is forever gulled by promises of the Miracle Solution in which they are disburdened from ever having to make tough choices.

The Miracle Solution, you see, doesn't require a choice at all, because you never have to choose between cheap, reliable energy and a pristine environment, because the Miracle Solution promises both.

So much of politics -- God, 95% of it -- is the positioning of one party or another to sell a gullible segment of the public (the swing segment, unfortunately) on fantastical Miracle Solutions.

The Exxon Valdez disaster ushered in a new, bad era of restrictivist energy policy, and higher-than-it-ought-to-be dependence on Middle East oil, and just as we're finally getting past that, oh, look, dead otters.

Wonderful. Just wonderful.

Of course, the Valdez disaster was due to transhipment of oil, which our zero-new-production policy will cause more of, and thus more spills in the shipping process, but the Stupid Segment of the public has a memory only extending back a few months, so now, shipping oil is the greatest thing (until we can all get our solar on, at least) and domestic drilling is just awful so by all means let's continue increasing the portion of oil we get from Iran. (And we do get it from Iran -- these commodities are fungible, after all. If we don't get it from Iran, that's just because China is buying our portion of Iran's oil at a slight discount. On the net, it's just like we're paying for Iran's oil any way you slice it.)

And the Miracle Solution will be just peachy, because, after all, it's working so well in Spain (which, by the way, is on the verge of financial collapse). So, as the President says, yes, let us look to Spain for our future:

“Think about what’s happening in countries like Spain.” It seems so long ago that Barack Obama thus instructed us — eight times — to ponder his model for a “green jobs” economy.


It’s been an eventful week in Spain on the issue, so allow us to gloat.
On Tuesday, the story finally made it onto the front page of Expansión (their equivalent of the Financial Times) — earning coverage by an editorial and two opeds, as well.

The paper’s front page screams: “the cost of renewables skyrockets to 6.2 billion euros” — though that number refers only to the feed-in tariffs of last year alone. (Hey . . . skyrocketing. No wonder Obama cast his longing gaze Spain’s way!)
The title of one article inside is “To subsidize the renewables costs 250 euros [appx. $335] every year in electricity to each consumer.”

The editorial decries “the unsustainable cost of renewables.”


Further, the president of Gas Natural has decided to attack the renewables scheme directly, as revealed in a Libertad Digital article titled “Gas Natural criticizes the government for investing in renewables that we do not need.” He is quoted as asking, “Are we so rich as to invest in something that we do not need? Do we have so much extra money?”

Calzada informs me that the precipitating event for this outburst of honesty was that, in recent weeks, the government has recognized that electricity costs went up 23 percent last year due to subsidies for solar power.

Also helpful was a solar scandal that Calzada described to me a couple of months back but that could not be established as fact at that time: Owners of solar fields had placed oil generators next to their solar fields to simulate more electricity production from the solar panels, for which they were reimbursed at the highly subsidized solar rate.

The scandal was finally uncovered because, after years of conducting this fraud without inspections, the greedy rascals were doing it even at night. Now, no matter what sort of absurd cheerleading President Obama engages in about Spanish technology — similar to his inanity about windmills being “new technology” (yes, he says that) — I am certain that even Spanish solar panels are not so advanced as to produce electricity at night.

There's our future. And a lot of our representatives will now run away from pushing back against this bleak future of ever-escalating energy prices and resultant diminishment of prosperity and opportunity, and, we might rage against them for that, but you know what? What can they do? They can only go forward if we have their backs, politically, and while we do have their backs, about one-third of their necessary level of public support just peeled off from them (Think of the otters), and so they now have to choose between doing the right and winning and election, except that's not even really the choice, because they can't do the right thing if they're not elected in the first place.

I never mind useless, wasteful spending on renewable research because when the Stupid Segment starts demanding that Something Stupid needs to be done as stupidly quickly as possible, the only way to appease them is to throw them a Bone of Stupidity and try to craft something that sounds like your own Miracle Solution (hey, let's research and then in five years we'll all have our own operational fusion reactor in the basement) that at least does the least harm possible.

I hate this spending, and believe it is all a waste of money, except when you compare it to the alternative of draconian reductions in energy production and skyrocketing power costs. Better to vote for ten billion in wasted money than allow a the waste of hundreds of billions.

But those who want to waste as much American money as possible are now going to win. As that Spanish guy said, "Do we have so much extra money?" Well now I guess we do, and we can afford to burden an economy already on the rocks with additional waste.

And anyone who opposes this is racist against otters.

Last link thanks to EdwardR., who kept sending it, even though I didn't post it, but finally got my attention.

Posted by: Ace at 09:11 AM | Comments (268)
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ObergrupenFhurer Reich Pollster: most think "deficit commission" is a crock
— Purple Avenger

The public is showing shocking levels of lucidity these days.

...most Americans view the commission as cover for Congress to raise taxes...

Only 30% think Congress is at least somewhat likely to actually make the spending cuts the deficit commission proposes...

78% think it’s at least somewhat likely that Congress will raise taxes if the commission proposes any tax hikes...

67% say there should be more spending cuts than tax increases. Just 15% think the panel should propose more tax hikes instead...

Even if the president and Congress raise taxes to reduce the federal deficit, 58% of voters think they are more likely to spend the money on new government programs...

What we're seeing here is a serious decline in government credibility among the public. That last 58% number has to include a lot of 52%ers who have given up on Hope and Change, or at least believe this administration isn't the vehicle to deliver it.

[UPDATE] Lefty blog opposition mounts against national ID card. Eschaton and Balloon Juice have weighed in. Incredulousness that their beloved democrats would try such a thing seems to be the mood so far.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at 06:44 AM | Comments (196)
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AZ Tweaks Immigration Law, Hysterical Critics Unlikely To Be Satisfied
— DrewM

They've tightened up some of the language about "lawful contact" and the role race can and cannot play.

One change to the bill strengthens restrictions against using race or ethnicity as the basis for questioning and inserts those same restrictions in other parts of the law.

Changes to the bill language will actually remove the word "solely" from the sentence, "The attorney general or county attorney shall not investigate complaints that are based solely on race, color or national origin."

Another change replaces the phrase "lawful contact" with "lawful stop, detention or arrest" to apparently clarify that officers don't need to question a victim or witness about their legal status.

A third change specifies that police contact over violations for local civil ordinances can trigger questioning on immigration status.

The law's sponsor, Republican Sen. Russell Pearce, characterized the race and ethnicity changes as clarifications "just to take away the silly arguments and the games, the dishonesty that's been played."

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said allowing immigration-status contacts for civil violations such as weed-infested yards or too many occupants in a residence could spur complaints of racial profiling.

Some critics will simply say it changes nothing in reality. Cops can still "invent" reasons to stop people they think are illegal aliens based on nothing more than skin color.

Might this happen? Sure. But every law is subject to this type of abuse. You deal with that when it comes in the form of an 'as applied' challenge.

It would be better for all of us is most (not all but most) of the critics of the law just admitted they aren't so much worried about civil rights but ensuring that no action is ever taken against illegal aliens in this country. If you are an open border/amnesty type, have the courage to say it.

Related enough: Congressman Duncan Hunter really needs to consider what he says because stuff like this is not helping anyone.

An audience member asked Hunter, "Would you support deportation of natural-born American citizens that are the children of illegal aliens?"

Hunter responded, "I would have to, yes."

The congressman continued, "It's a complex issue and ... you could look and say, 'You're a mean guy. That's a mean thing to do. That's not a humanitarian thing to do.' " Hunter added, "We simply cannot afford what we're doing right now. We just can't afford it. California's going under."

...At the Saturday gathering, Hunter said, "It takes more than just walking across the border to become an American citizen - it's what's in our souls."

Perhaps the Congressman can explain to me how exactly you deport American citizens from America. You may not be a fan of birthright citizenship but it's been the law of the land since 1868 and was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 1898. Look, feel free to argue all you want against this interpretation but it's simply the law of the land and has been for quite sometime.

And what is this nonsense about American souls? I agree that being an American takes more than getting a passport but he's talking about kids who have lived their whole lives in this country.

The children of immigrants, legal or illegal, who are born and raised in this country are every bit American as any child of a family that's been here for generations. We don't visit the sins of the parents on the children in this country. If Hunter doesn't get that, than maybe he's a little unclear about what the soul of America is.

(Arizona story via Byron York)

Posted by: DrewM at 05:42 AM | Comments (262)
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Demokraten: Erzeugnisse ihre Dokumentation Arschloch!(1)
— Purple Avenger

See, what we really need is a national ID card you'd have to produce to get a job bagging groceries. Of course it would include fancy, expensive, and less forgeable high-tech biometrics. Reich Bundeskanzler für die Bevölkerung unter Kontrolle zu halten(2) Durbin is spearheading this "heroic" effort to purge undesirable illegally operating subversive elements from the American workforce.

I'm sure all patriotic citizens can see how critical and necessary it is for us to implement these measures to maintain the purity of the taxpaying workforce! The voting electorate? Well...not so much.

(1) Produce your documentation asshole!

(2) Reich Chancellor for keeping the population under control

Posted by: Purple Avenger at 05:10 AM | Comments (112)
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Top Headline Co- FRIDAAAAY
— Gabriel Malor

What it says on the tin.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 04:30 AM | Comments (136)
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April 29, 2010

Overnight Open Thread - Happy Thursday Edition
— Maetenloch

Happy Thursday all.

The Hippie Endurance Test

This is 101 minutes of hippies beating drums and singing hippi-fied folk songs. It's horrible. And also perfect for measuring your HEF (Hippie Endurance Factor). 3 minutes is average, 10 minutes is manly, and 45 minutes is positively Bronsonesque. And if you can make it through all 101 minutes, well that's a mandatory drug test.

So how long can you go?

27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" >


Posted by: Maetenloch at 05:09 PM | Comments (942)
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Right Network Premiering Reality Show About Six Newbie Politicians Running For Congress
— Ace

Well, at least some of them are running for Congress. One guy is running for... Nancy Pelosi's seat.

Also over there, a trailer for Evan Sayet's Right 2 Laugh comedy show, which seems to be stand-up from conservative-leaning comics.

If you like Sayet -- and remember, he's the guy who did this viral "How Modern Liberals Think" speech -- he's got a Right 2 Laugh stand-up show (him and a posse of conservative comics) at JR's Comedy Club in LA this Sunday.

Posted by: Ace at 03:16 PM | Comments (88)
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We Just Have Different Ideas About Why Government Exists
— DrewM

It's often the little things that illuminate big differences on important topics. This post by Joshua Green of The Atlantic nicely illustrates the extent to which some people want government in our lives.

When Government Works

I closed on a house this morning--a process that was markedly different than when I last bought a house in 2003. One of the most pleasant ways in which it was different was the ease of shopping for a loan. This was the result of new HUD rules standardizing what lenders must disclose to buyers in their Good Faith Estimate to make it easier for buyers to compare offers, which it certainly was for me. In 2003, I remember poring over lenders' estimates for hours trying to spot the junk fees and figure out which deal was best. This time the key factors--interested rate, lender fees, etc.--were easy to spot because the forms were identical. It took all of three minutes to figure out which was the best deal and then to call the other lenders to ask if they could do better.

Look, congrats on the new home and all but the government doesn't exist to make it easier for people to understand what they are getting themselves in to when they are buying a house.

A home is one of the biggest purchases and important undertakings most people will ever be involved in. It can be complicated and you certainly want to make sure you don't get taken to the cleaners. Still, all of that is on you. If you aren't ready to put the effort into making sure all the paperwork is in order, that you've cut the best deal possible and aren't getting ripped off, then maybe you aren't ready for the responsibility of owning a home.

I bet there are banks or lenders out there that would provide this kind of service if requested or because that kind of customer service is a selling point for them. Why should the government take away their competitive advantage by mandating everyone provide the same information? How do we know the bureaucrats mandated the right information be shared? There's no feedback like in a market place, simply commands.

Keep in mind, HUD had plenty of regulations and programs in place for the last 20+ years designed to help people buy homes. Government doesn't always know better.

And don't forget the monetary costs. Sure when you amortize it across a big department like HUD and a whole nation of taxpayers this kind of program costs very little per person. The thing is behind that regulation is vast bureaucracy that studied the issue, promulgate the regulations and eventually enforce compliance.

Eventually, like a horde of locusts they will move onto the next subject. Their hunger to regulate never satiated.

But all this guy knows is he was relieved of responsibility and it didn't cost him anything. What's not to love?

You know what else is confusing and potentially expensive? Home repairs. What exactly is the proper role for government in ensuring this guy gets the best deal from a plumber, electrician or carpenter?

There are a lot of things that are important we get right on a daily basis. Expecting the government to help us navigate the complex choices of life infantilizes the very citizens who are supposed to be the ones in charge.

I don't want to rain of Green's parade but being relived of individual adult responsibilities is not a triumph.

As I said, it's a little example but they add up. Pretty soon you have a government involved in 'helping' with everything and a people incapable of functioning without it.

What could go wrong?

Posted by: DrewM at 03:06 PM | Comments (211)
Post contains 631 words, total size 4 kb.

The Red Queen and The Drunkard
— Monty

[I gotta make this quick. I lifted Ace's key while he was sleeping one off in the alley behind Seamus's Irish Pub. Before I start going through his shit to see what's pawnable and what isn't, I wanted to post a little piece that was prompted by Doctor Zero's essay "The Dreadful Equation". Anyone who narcs me out gets his ass busted.]

Evolutionary biology adopted the metaphor of Lewis Carroll's "Red Queen" in Through the Looking-Glass to explain the necessity of organisms adapting to ever-changing environments. Every organism must evolve to keep pace with other organisms in their ecosystem to maintain their evolutionary fitness. In other words, you have to run very fast just to maintain you evolutionary position. Losing your evolutionary "fitness" means losing out to (or becoming lunch for) fitter organisms.

This concept works in economics as well. Money (and other financial instruments) are really only batteries, a way of storing energy -- if that energy is not husbanded carefully, it can "bleed away" and be lost to entropy. But since additional energy is required to maintain that existing store of energy, it becomes a problem of efficiency and scale: how you do get more out of the system than you put in? What makes it all worthwhile? more...

Posted by: Monty at 01:57 PM | Comments (146)
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Crist, What a Douchebag: Live Announcement
Holy Crist: He's Apparently Running on a "Hug Agenda"

— Ace

Via Hot Air.

So far he's playing Springsteen's Born in the USA Because he's like a patriot or something.

Okay -- now he's going to rock us.

Now it's Van Halen's "Right Now." It's a smoghastborg of stupidly obvious repurposed rock songs. Can you feel the excitement? Check out his tiny crowd. You can sure feel the adrenaline from them.

The Hug Agenda: His Democratic endorser kept mentioning hugging Charlie, and how wonderful it would be to hug the president.

"I'm Not Mad As Hell And I Probably Will Take It Some More!!!" His Democratic endorser also took a swipe at tea partiers, saying there's some "angry talk" that shouldn't be said, which makes Crist the insurgent, third-party candidate who's not angry and who wants to maintain the establishment status quo.


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Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Posted by: Ace at 12:35 PM | Comments (184)
Post contains 174 words, total size 3 kb.

Tiger Goes 121 Over Par In Marriage
— Ace

His marriage was supposed to be par one, but he had a little trouble in the rough and dick-shanked into a few strange-bunkers and wound up up at +121.

121. In five years. Though he says he can make up for some of that by being disciplined on the back nine.

The odd thing is that his wife would have forgiven him, apparently, if he had just kept it to 120.

Legal sources told US paper the National Enquirer: “When Tiger was in rehab for sex addiction, he filled out four pages, listing the amount of women he’d had affairs with – there were 121 in all.”

Now, after talking to top US divorce lawyers, Erin, 30, has reportedly drawn up divorce papers. They are said to cite his confession, made when she joined him for his rehab clinic “family week”.

This included a “disclosure day” when a tearful Woods allegedly owned up to the flings as part of his treatment.

But legal sources say it is the failure to name his claimed youngest one-night stand, 22-year-old Racychel Coudriet, that is said to have finally prompted the former model to file for divorce. This reported romp with a neighbours’ daughter later made headlines to add to a string of affairs which had become public, including one with New Yorker Rachel Uchitel, 34.

The source went on: “Raychel Coudriet was not on the list. After Elin found out about her she told Tiger their marriage is definitely over. There is no room for reconciliation any more.”

How the hell did he remember them all?

Hey, Check This Chick Out: Pretty nasty, but she has Tiger Woods beat.

She's charged with having sex with a horse. Also, she gave a sexually transmitted disease to a guy, and also, to his Jack Russel Terrier, too, and not through petting, either.

In related news, she'll be competing on Rock of Love next season.

Thanks to DC.

Posted by: Ace at 11:46 AM | Comments (260)
Post contains 336 words, total size 2 kb.

Detroit Deals With Depopulation By Demolishing Derelict Domiciles
— Ace

Mentioned a while back -- Detroit is depopulating, with one-third of its residential homes simply abandoned. Their big idea is to demolish dying neighborhoods and turn them into farmlands, and condense the city into living (and more easily policed) neighborhoods.

The problem is that even in blighted areas some homes are occupied, and the owners don't want to move.

Frankly, I suspect for most this is a bargaining position -- hold-outs tend to get paid more. I don't imagine many people are actually super-psyched to live in a ghost-town of abandoned, decaying, burned-out homes.

I think one way the city can deal with this is to not be so insistent that every home in these dying neighborhoods be demolished. If they want to stay, let 'em stay -- you can build farmlands around them. Maybe they like the idea of being surrounded by farms. And who does that hurt, really? The only problem is police power, having to run cars out to far-flung houses, but that's a pretty small cost in the scheme of things. And it's not as if we're talking great distances.

But I Detroit only has $40 million for this project. The math seems difficult to me -- how does a dying city without much money adequately compensate people for all the seized homes? I've got a sneaking suspicion they don't have nearly enough and will be mulcting the feds for money every year.

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More at Hot Air. It's an interesting question, as it pits the power of the state against individuals who refuse to go along with the plan. And it implicates zoning, which is one of the hottest-button issues around.

I don't know, though. At some point the defense-of-the-individual position crosses over into actual anarchism if taken too far. People tend to be property-rights absolutists right about until the time their neighbor, also believing in absolute property rights, wants to erect a fat-rendering plant, a slaughterhouse, or a porno emporium.

As I said, I think the hold-outs just mostly want better terms. If you can buy them off, fine. If not, avoid using the state power to snatch their land -- just demolish all the homes you do can buy out and turn just that land into farm. Again, I really don't see the big problem with having farmland studded with the occasional house (and connecting road). If people want to live the boonies, that's their right. The boonies have a lot to recommend.

But taking that option also gets people to stop holding out, because, in the end, most of these folks don't want to live in desolation. Again, they're mostly just holding out, so if you just tell them you'll build a road to their house and otherwise convert the neighborhood to farmland, they'll come to terms.

Posted by: Ace at 11:25 AM | Comments (175)
Post contains 480 words, total size 4 kb.

A Guest Post by Charlie Crist
— Jack M.

Many of you are wondering what I am going to run on should I declare an independent candidacy for the United States Senate.

I think the most compelling issue is abundantly clear. Quite simply, I am going to run on the platform of Repeal & Replace!

Seriously...doesn't that link prove my conservative bona-fides to you wingnuts? What more do you want out of me?

Oh...and maybe I'll try to get Bill Clinton a Congressional Gold Medal for sending that Cuban punk back to Havana. During the primary campaign, I came to appreciate just how prudent and farsighted a gesture that was. In fact, as I gazed upon the increasing distance between myself and Speaker Rubio in the polls, I often found myself asking "Where is Janet Reno when she's really needed?"

So, that's pretty much it. Repealing the tanning tax and deporting inconvenient Cubans before they have a chance to grow up and run against you.

That's really all I got. Obama's stimulating everything else just fine, I think.

Well, that's not really true. I do have one other selling point.

I blow one mean Conch! That's important to Florida's voters, especially those who live in the Keys. Why, on a good day, one can see virtually unlimited conch roaming wild and free in their native habitat!

See...here I am putting my talent to full, effective use.

People tell me I have a natural talent for it. "Charlie," they say "you seem like a guy who's blown a lot of conch." I also hear voters tell me that "Washington is full of conch-suckers like you" and that makes me confident that I'll fit in just fine! Unlike my two opponents, Rubio and Meek, who I have never seen blow a conch. I don't think anyone's ever even alleged it.

I mean, that has to count for something, right? My "learning curve" will be much shorter than theirs, and I will be able to get to work on behalf of Floridians that much quicker.

The more I think about it, the more excited I get! I can see it now....hanging out in the cloakrooms, voting with the Democrats 95% of the time, and transforming myself into a one man Chamber of Commerce for Florida Conch.

I have to end this post now, as I have a phone call from Senator Graham to return. He wants to discuss a "comprehensive conch cap and trade" bill, and I am eager to show my ability to reach around the aisle.

See you fine folks in November!

Charlie "a conch in every pot" Crist.

Posted by: Jack M. at 11:13 AM | Comments (48)
Post contains 441 words, total size 3 kb.

Rush to Obama: The Debate Is Over on Arizona Bill; Get Over It
— Ace

Isn't that what Obama said regarding health care?

Posted by: Ace at 10:56 AM | Comments (93)
Post contains 34 words, total size 1 kb.

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