Monday, July 27, 2015

WND's Subtle (Or Not So Subtle) Bigotry Of Placing Quotes Around "Gay"

You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat ~ Romans 14:10, The Christian Bible.

Has anyone else noticed that when the Rightwing site World Net Daily (AKA Wing Nut Daily AKA Black Mob Central) prints the word "gay", they place quotes around it? What they're saying is that being gay isn't a real thing. People aren't born gay, they choose to be gay (these bigoted nuts are saying).

"Christian Homosexuals" plot Church's transformation... Evangelist Ray Comfort issues warning: "Do not be deceived"... Christians considering how to respond to the Supreme Court's creation of "same-sex marriage" face a challenge from within – those who call themselves "gay Christians" and contend the Bible does not condemn homosexual behavior.

One of the most conspicuous figures in the movement is Matthew Vines, who has written a book arguing Scripture does not condemn same-sex sexual relationships. ... [sez Comfort] "Matthew Vines would do well to take notice that the verses begin with Do not be deceived. There's a reason for that. We mustn't be deceived of the fact that fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals and thieves will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Or to put it more soberly, they will end up in a terrible place called hell. ...

"So let's summarize. There is no such thing as a fornicator Christian, an adulterer Christian, a homosexual Christian or a thieving Christian. Those who call themselves Christians but continue to cling to their beloved sins will see their great deception on Judgment Day". (7/25/2015).

Ray Comfort is a Rightwing bigot minister demagogue who sez one of the ways we will know the end of days is upon us is that "homosexuality will increase [and] the institution of marriage will be forsaken". Which means we should all start preparing for the Lord's return, I guess. Although as a Progressive Christian I agree with Matthew Vines and categorically reject the irrational homophobia and hatred of those like Comfort.

In quotes (signifying they don't believe they are real things) are... "same-sex marriage" and "gay Christians". The Supreme Court "created" same-sex marriage... as opposed to recognizing that the 14th amendment protects marriage equality. And, of course there are no gay Christians, just sinners who are going to burn for eternity in hell. Huh. Sounds more like "hate the sinner" to me than "love the sinner, hate the sin".

Personally I think these un-Christian bigots are going to be muy surprised when they stand in judgement before the Creator. Specifically, The Lord is not going to be pleased that these "Christian" bigots judged their gay brothers and sisters and treated them with contempt (by condemning them to hell). Judgment is the Lord's alone (James 4:12).

In regards to Comfort's anti-homosexual propaganda film Audacity, WND notes that he sez "homosexuals and those who consider themselves supporters of homosexuality will... be pleasantly surprised [because] there's not an ounce of hatred or stereotyping in it".

Sure, I can believe that. It's pretty easy to put on a different face in order to soft-sell a message of hate that has gay people burning in hell for all eternity. In interviews conducted within the film, Comfort asks his dupes if they think adultery and fornication are human nature, to which the dupes reply "yes". Then Comfort sez "But even if it's human nature, we don't act on that, because we know it's bad".

Presto, being gay is a "choice". Because, even though it's human nature for people to want to fornicate or adulter, good Christians suppress these desires. Thus gay people can suppress their "sinful" desires as well.

Except that when people are married they usually AGREE to be faithful to one another. Unless you and your mate agree that your marriage will be an open one, you are betraying the agreement you made when you got married. It is the betraying of your mate's trust that is sinful, not the acting according to your nature (straight or gay).

Being straight or gay is not a choice. Acting on either behavior is a choice. Although this "acting on" is not a sin. The sin is hurting a person you love deeply by betraying their trust.

Regarding Comfort's interviews, one critic says, "in these manipulative, cringeworthy clips, he tricks people into saying that being gay is a choice through a series of faulty comparisons and leading questions". The people being manipulated are "random LGBT people and allies on the street"... so, yeah, that's why they don't ramp up the hate and stereotyping. It wouldn't work with the people being interviewed. But just about anyone can be manipulated.

I would strongly disagree, however, that there is "not an ounce of hatred". There is hatred present, it's just subtle and the interviewees are manipulated into accepting it. Which stands in stark contrast to the up front hate presented on WMD. Because that's the audience they're catering to (the rabid haters).

Which doesn't mean they can't utilize subtlety as well (such as the quote marks around "gay"). WND-types can appreciate the subtle stuff in addition to the front and center hate. Although I'm not sure how subtle the quote marks are... I mean, it's pretty obvious what they're implying when they use them. It's just a tad less obvious than most of the hate WND peddles.

Video: Matthew Vines, the gay Christian that has Ray Comfort and other Christian bigots freaked out, speaks on "the Reformation Project" (AKA "plot the Church's transformation"). Published on YouTube on 11/7/2014 (5:45).

See Also
[1] The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality by Matthew Vines. (Hour-long video w/transcript).
[2] Willis Hart sez "I strongly suggest that you check out the black on gay violence chapter in Colin Flaherty's disturbing volume, White Girl Bleed a Lot". The reason Willis recommends Colin Flaherty's work of demagoguery is because it, in addition to revealing the "disturbing" extent of just how violent Blacks are, also covers Black homophobia. BTW, concerning WND (the bigot online rag Flaherty works for), the Rational Wiki says, it "regularly runs stories that engage in base racism, often focusing on white fears of violent blacks. The website regularly features the work of journalist and alleged human being Colin Flaherty, who has done more reporting than any other journalist on what appears to be a nationwide trend of skyrocketing black-on-white crime, violence and abuse". Yea, figures Willis would be a fan, given that he regularly traffics in this kind of demagoguery on his blog. Although he calls it "a fuller rendering of the narrative".

SWTD #299

Friday, July 17, 2015

Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains Why Government Investment In New Technologies Is So Important

Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it's not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout our history, our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need ~ Barack Obama (dob 8/4/1961) 44th POTUS (1/20/2009 to 1/20/2017). Excerpt from his 1/25/2011 State of Union Address.

Back during the 2012 primary season, a 1/23/2012 GOP NBC debate featured a Newt Gingrich moment that had him proposing the construction of a permanent base on the Moon. Newt said that by 2020 (the last year of his *snicker* administration provided he *snicker* served two terms), private sector businesses spurred on by government-provided prize money would accomplish the task.

At the time I wrote a short commentary of a humorous nature on Newt's proposal titled "A Winning Strategy: President Newt". (Follow the link to read my side-splittingly hilarious laugh-a-palooza from 4/3/2012).

Following this unlikely proposal by Newt (unlikely that we'd build a Moon colony and unlikely that we would have elected Newt preznit), astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson appeared on MSNBC with Martin Bashir to discuss how probable the building of a base on the moon by 2020 might be.

During the 1/26/2012 airing of Bashir's eponymous MSNBC program, Mr. Tyson pointed out that, aside from the technical and scientific hurdles that would have to be overcome, the political climate would have to change. Simply put, the political climate makes this proposal very improbable - or it would have been improbable if Newt had improbably been elected and we had actually pursued it.

Mr. Tyson went on to explain why government investment in new technologies is so important (something those on the Right who believe the "market" should decide don't cotton to).

NDT: There is rampant delusion out there about what the future will hold for us. One of the problems is, the expectation is that the private sector will just advance the space frontier. No, they're not going to advance the space frontier. Because the frontier of space is expensive, dangerous, with unknown risks and unknown costs. That is not ripe for capital markets to value, OK.

The history of human exploration is one where governments take the first step. They pay for the first patents, they draw the maps. Government paid for Columbus' voyage. Magellan's voyage. Louis and Clark. That's who figures out what's going on out there. Then private enterprise comes in afterward. ...we are receding while the rest of the world is advancing. Because they realize the value of such investments. (MSNBC's Martin Bashir 1/26/2012: Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson explains why the Newt Gingrich vision for space is too grand of an idea).

Conservatives HATE this idea, even though it is the model that has worked time and time again, as Mr. Tyson points out. Conservatives and Libertarians say this is government "picking winners and losers" and they strongly oppose it.

They object despite the fact that, without this model (where government leads the way when it comes to new technologies), the Internet would have never been invented (for example). The internet began with a government investment when "the US Department of Defense awarded contracts". Later, legislation championed by future president Al Gore led to the development of the interwebs as we know the series of tubes today (for which I thank him).

When I pointed out how crucial government investment is when it comes to new technologies (in the context of the green economy and the government loan program to support companies who invest in green energies such as solar), a whiny Conservative complained about "taxpayer funded gifts to wealthy investors and corporations".

But the evidence shows that when We The People intervene to "advance the frontier" (when the private sector is too timid to take the risk), the American people choose themselves as winners. When we fail to do this we chose to be losers (which is what the whiny guy I mentioned earlier would have us do).

The trick, of course, is to not let the corporations corrupt the system by bribing our elected officials in order to select them (the plutocrat business owners) as the winners. This crony capitalism problem is what greatly concerns Libertarians.

The solution, however, is NOT to do as Libertarians wish and give up because the wealthy special interests will always corrupt the system (that's what they say, at least). But it does not have to be this way! What we should do is reform the system (by getting rid of Citizens United and publicly financing elections, for example) and get down to picking the winners that will benefit We the People.

Unfortunately there is more and more of this defeatist Libertarian loser attitude going around today, and this is why other countries are surpassing us in the areas of green energy and high speed rail, for example [1+2].

Newt's campaign might have been a joke, but at least he was concerned about us losing our status as the cool country (despite being an uber-nerd), which we might have been able to recapture if gwb had not said NO to human-animal hybrids. If not for that bush decree we might have been on our way to a real Planet of The Apes! How cool would that have been? (Are "Humanzees" Possible?).

On second thought, high speed rail would definitely be a lot more gnarly, and more practical than a base on the moon (not that we couldn't do both). But Republicans hate high speed rail. Why? Because rugged individuals drive gas guzzling SUVs, that's why. Or coal rollers, which "are diesel trucks modified with chimneys and equipment that can force extra fuel into the engine causing dark black smoke to pour out of the chimney stacks... as a form of protest against environmentalists and Obama administration emissions regulations".

BTW, in regards to Gingrich being an "uber-nerd", how could he not be with a name like "Newton Leroy"? He also has several degrees in History and was previously employed as an assistant History professor before being elected to Congress.

Although he has had 3 wives, the 1st 2 of which *HE* dumped for a newer model. But that comes with the territory of being rich and powerful. You can be a nerd and get hot women. Not that I'm saying Callista is hot, only that she is surely hot when compared to Newton.

Footnotes
[1] China's Renewable Energy Revolution: What Is Driving It? (article excerpt) China is building a renewables energy system that is now the largest in the world. ... In terms of generating capacity, by 2013 China's WWS sources (water, wind and solar) accounted for... close to 20% of energy generated... China now has the largest electric power system in the world, rated at 1.25 trillion watts (TW), exceeding the US power system's capacity at 1.16 TW (and German at 175 GW). China added more capacity in 2013 sourced from WWS than from fossil fuels and nuclear sources combined. ...our conclusion is that in 2013, China's leading edge of change in its electric power system is moving in a green direction, away from fossil fuels dependence. (Article by John A. Mathews and Hao Tan. GlobalResearch 11/17/2014).
[2] China has the world's longest HSR network with over 16,000 km (9,900 mi) of track in service as of December 2014 which is more than the rest of the world's high speed rail tracks combined. Since high-speed rail service in China was introduced on April 18, 2007, daily ridership has grown from 237,000 in 2007 to 2.49 million in 2014, making the Chinese HSR network the most heavily used in the world. Cumulative ridership had reached 2.9 billion by October 2014. (Wikipedia/High-speed rail in China).

Video1: Martin Bashir and Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson discuss Newt Gingrich's intentions to colonize the moon by 2020, and to the funding of space exploration in general on MSNBC. Video posted to YouTube on 1/27/2012 (6:47).

Video2: With planet Earth in turmoil, Newt Gingrich leads a GOP-filled colony on the Moon. SNL 2/4/2012 (Season 37-Episode 13, Hosted by Channing Tatum).

SWTD #298

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Is Removing The Confederate Battle Flag A "Solution In Search Of A Problem"? (Addendum)

By Tuesday afternoon, sales of a 3x5 Confederate flag on Amazon had jumped nearly 4,600 percent, presumably in response to the controversy generated by the shooting and its aftermath. Sales of a similar flag rose nearly 3,300 percent ~ Quote from a HuffPo article by Andrew Lord, Amazon Bans Confederate Flag Merchandise. 6/23/2015 would be the Tuesday in question as well as publish date for the article.

With my prior commentary (SWTD #296) I addressed the question of the removal of "Confederate Flag items" from retail stores, including major retailers such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. My conclusion was that this was the right decision.

Well, it appears as though I spoke too soon. I sell on Amazon, and today I was notified that an item in my inventory is now prohibited.

Hello from Amazon. We are writing to let you know that the following detail pages have been removed from our catalog:

ASIN: B0015J9TU2, SKU: MN-5P28-QCML, Title: "the blue and the gray [soundtrack] [audio cd] bruce broughton".

This item has been identified as confederate flag merchandise. Amazon policy prohibits the listing or sale of confederate flag merchandise.

For more information on our policies, search on "Restricted Products" and "Listing Restrictions" in Seller Help.

**Action Required: Within 48 hours of this notice, please review your remaining listings and make any changes necessary to ensure compliance with our policies.

Failure to comply with this request may result in the removal of your selling privileges.

We appreciate your cooperation and thank you for selling on Amazon.com.

Amazon Services.

I should have said that I thought removing "Confederate Flag merchandise" was a good idea - if they did the removing intelligently. The item in question here, a film score to a TV mini-series about the Civil War that features the Civil War as a backdrop, does feature an image of the Confederate battle flag, but it is mostly obscured, in the background, and below an image of the American flag (see pic below).

This isn't even the mini-series itself, but the orchestra score from the mini-series. I took out my copy and an listening to it right now (as I type this). I am in no way offended (although I'm not African American).

Removal of actual flags, or of clothing items that featured the flag is what I thought they were talking about. Removing movies on DVD or blu-ray (or the soundtracks from movies) is pure stupidity IMO.

In any case, the reason Amazon notified me of this is because the item is in my inventory... although it is an "Inactive/Out of Stock" item... because this film score on CD is a sold out (from the manufacturer) limited edition (2000 copies) that I sold out of. I did sell it (and made a profit due to it selling out from the manufacturer), but I shipped my last copy awhile ago. So, luckily, I'm not now stuck with a bunch of copies and no forum through which to sell them (I'm guessing it's banned on eBay as well).

I would be mad (instead of just shaking my head in regards to the stupidity of this) if I had any copies left. On the other hand, they may now be more valuable... if I could find a way to connect with a buyer who really wanted it. But, like I said, I don't have any more - except my own personal copy, which I kept because I am a fan of the composer, not because I am a fan of the 1982 miniseries.

Which I do believe I saw when it aired, but on which my memory is very foggy. All I remember is that one of the actors was Stacy Keach... and that's about it.

Synopsis of the miniseries from Wikipedia... although, remember, what Amazon is objecting to is not the miniseries, but the score (orchestral music) from the mini-series (as released on CD).

The Blue and the Gray is a television miniseries that first aired on CBS in three installments on November 14, November 16, and November 17, 1982. Set during the American Civil War, the series starred John Hammond, Stacy Keach, Lloyd Bridges, and Gregory Peck as President Abraham Lincoln. It was executive produced by Larry White and Lou Reda, in association with Columbia Pictures Television. A novel of the same name by John Leekley, Bruce Catton and Ian McLellan Hunter was published as a companion to the series in 1983. The colors in the title refer to United States Army and Confederate States Army uniforms of the period, respectively.

The plot revolves around the families of two sisters; Maggie Geyser and Evelyn Hale. The Geysers are farmers from Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Hales own a small newspaper in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Geysers are generally indifferent to the issue of slavery, but are sympathetic to the Southern cause. The lone exception in the family is son John, an artistic young man who becomes sympathetic to the plight of Southern slaves and free Negroes. The Hales are pro-Union and anti-slavery, but, like many Northerners at the time, they hope for a peaceful solution to the nation's problems.

Even stupider (?), the DVD of the actual mini-series (not the film score) *is* still available on Amazon (here, as a 3-DVD set). I do not, however, see a Confederate flag included in the cover image (including in the background)... which must be why you can still buy it.

I have to confess that am no longer sure if Amazon (and other retailers) getting rid of merchandise featuring the Confederate battle flag was a good idea. If Amazon had banned actual flags (full size or mini) and (perhaps) clothing items... I think that would have been enough. But a movie score CD being banned? That is ridiculous (IMO).

Also, Amazon is still selling (via a 3rd party vendors as well as Amazon itself, depending on the item) an actual flag, this Rebel Flag Notebook, a 1969 General Lee Dodge Charger Model Kit, a book titled "The South was Right" which features the Confederate battle flag on it's cover (although the content is likely a lot more offensive), another (Kindle) book titled "A Confederate Flag Turned Me Gay" (again, with an image of the offending flag on the cover), etc, etc.

Why haven't these items been removed, Amazon?

Image: Front cover image from the "Blue and the Gray" audio soundtrack CD (2-disc set) by Bruce Broughton. Released by Intrada Records as a part of their Special Collection (Volume ISC 57). Sale of this 2-CD set of orchestral music is now prohibited on Amazon.

SWTD #297

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Is Removing The Confederate Battle Flag A "Solution In Search Of A Problem"?

"We have decided to prohibit Confederate flags and many items containing this image because we believe it has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism", eBay said in a statement, echoing the sentiments of others in the aftermath of the fatal shooting last week of nine black parishioners in a South Carolina church and the arrest of a white suspect. (Confederate Flag Sales Soar as Retailers Pull Stock, the NYT 6/23/2015).

According to the Libertarian blogger Constitutional Insurgent it is. Or, removing it from retail stores is.

Constitutional Insurgent: So retailers from Walmart to Apple to Amazon to the National Park Service are falling over themselves in an attempt to not be the last entity selling or displaying the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. Oh the horror...

Attempting to erase history to soothe the intellectually frail and those prone to the vapors isn't going to solve problems of racism or violence. The flag in question plays no role in these problems. It's an inanimate object and should be treated as such. But that's how our society reacts... erase a symbol and it will be proof of "doing something!" That's all that matters... the optics.

The battle flag should no more be flown over a government facility, nor incorporated into a state flag. (Erasing history: Solutions in search of problems 6/25/2015).

This is a strawman that the blog host is using to bash people he calls "assclowns". As far as I know, most people are arguing that this flag should be moved to a museum. And nobody has suggested that private citizens be ordered to turn over their flags for destruction ("erasing").

So what the hell is this doofus whining about? He doesn't like it that PRIVATE businesses have decided to no longer sell the flag? I thought that what PRIVATE businesses sell is their prerogative? If retailers from Walmart to Apple to Amazon to the National Park Service have decided they no longer wish to sell the flag (because it is a divisive representation of discrimination), do they not have the right?

And, businesses usually pay attention to public sentiment. If these retailers have come to the conclusion that they might lose business if they continue selling this flag, then it is purely a business decision to pull it (and who would expect a business to NOT make a business decision?).

As for those who are "intellectually frail", the Insurgent is referring to people who might protest this symbol of racism continuing to be sold? Screw him. The flag is an "inanimate object", but that does not mean it plays no role. It absolutely does. Removing a symbol of hate is a good thing. A step toward fixing the problem.

Yes, the Insurgent refers to removal from retail stores (and agrees it should be removed from government property), but retailers no longer selling this flag is the right decision, IMO. Does this mean the flag will be "erased"? No. There are plenty of them out there, I am sure. And other retailers and manufacturers will likely continue to manufacture and sell the flag. And they will continue to exist (in museums and in private hands) for a very long time to come. This is hardly "erasing".

Of course "doing something" involves more than removing a symbol from government property. But it is a good start. As is large retailers removing them from their stores.

The Insurgent is wrong on removing the flags from retail stores, and wrong when he says (later, in the comment thread of his post) that "the left has given the Battle Flag far more prominence and import than racists could ever have". What utter bullshit.

It's prominence is being greatly reduced, dipshit. Further dipshittery is the claim that the Confederate battle flag "honor[s] the courage and sacrifice of Americans". The flag is a symbol of hate and oppression, proof that is the case is why and when the South began flying this flag over government buildings.

The Confederate battle flag is about to be taken down in South Carolina, but as it comes down, it seems important to remember when and why it was put up in the first place. Ostensibly it was raised to celebrate the centennial of South Carolina starting the Civil War with its attack on Fort Sumpter.

But... that centennial just happened to coincide with an increase of civil rights protests in the Palmetto State. In January 1961 a group of 10 black students sat in at a lunch counter in Rock Hill, S.C. Nine of them refused to post bail, and they became known as the Friendship Nine. If the flag were raised only to commemorate the centennial of South Carolina's leading role in the Civil War, we can imagine that it would have been taken back down at the end of 1961. (The Confederate flag was raised in S.C. as civil rights movement began by Jarvis DeBerry. NOLA.com & The Times-Picayune 7/9/2015).

The flag was raised to send a message to the Ni**ers who might protest for their civil rights. The flag is a symbol of racism, not a symbol that honors those who fought for South, or a symbol that honors "heritage". That retailers are not going to sell them any longer has nothing to do with "intellectually frailty" and *does* represent "doing something".

More must be done, of course, but we don't need to continue making any more of these symbols of hate. Those who belong to private citizens are private property. They can keep them. I surely do not care if anyone wishes to fly them on their private property (and advertise their hate). But make more of them? I say no. And I say retailers who decided not to sell them any longer made the right decision.

This in no way qualifies as a "solution in search of a problem", nobody who pushed for removal of this flag from retail stores is "intellectually frail", the symbol isn't being "erased", and optics are an important part of "doing something".

SWTD #296

Saturday, July 04, 2015

My Message From The Land Of Nightmares (Part 2)

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare ~ Japanese Proverb.

Despite the pitch blackness that prevented me from viewing my surroundings, I did as the disembodied voice instructed and moved forward. My arms outstretched, I baby-stepped my way toward a door or wall the voice said was dead ahead. Eventually I felt my palm touch a cool hard surface. Running my hand back and forth and up and down I concluded I had reached what was probably a stone wall.

"Feel for a knob down and to your right" the raspy voice that was instructing me directed. I felt around in the location described and found a cold metal knob. Twisting and pulling resulted in a door banging into the tips of my shoes. Stepping back I swung open the rectangular barrier on hinges, revealing a dimly lit passage. Stepping through the egress I pulled the door shut behind me. "Er, wait a minute" the voice that had led me to the door squeaked. The knob was pulled from my grasp.

Surprised, I jumped away from the door into the passage. The door reopened and a small imp hopped over the threshold into the corridor. A old-timey oil lantern swung from a hook on the wall when I backed into it. The blood-red horned imp with talons protruding from it's leathery wings barred it's fangs and hissed at me. "Keep back human" the demonoid warned. "My purpose is to bring you to my master, he who summoned you here".

"Is that so?" I asked, not trusting this evil-looking creature. "Yes, Mr. Charles is waiting for you" the imp replied. "Who is Mr. Charles?" I inquired. "Enough!" the imp shrieked. "My purpose is to guide you, not to respond to your inane chatter". The imp flicked the door shut with it's tail. It slammed closed and I heard a click. "Yes, the exit is locked" the imp confirmed. "Not that it would matter. The portal that brought you here is one-way". The imp cautiously passed by me, keeping close to the opposite side of the corridor.

"This way" the imp said, motioning me to follow with one of it's talons. Not seeing any other option, I followed. Soon we came to a four way junction, oil lanterns hanging from the wall illuminating the way. The imp turned right and I continued to follow. Hours passed and the imp and I trudged along through the dimly lit subterranean corridor. Growing tired I asked demanded of the imp "how much further"? Stopping short the imp turned. an angry look on it's face.

"Not that far now" he said. "Although we should have been there long ago" the creature muttered under it's breath. "What's that?" I inquired, growing exasperated in addition to exhausted. "I misremembered the way" the imp concluded after standing there motionless for some time (apparently he had been pondering). "You mean we have to return to the 4 way juncture we encountered so many hours ago?" "Indeed, the devilkin affirmed.

"M-effer" I groaned, contemplating giving the small creature a shift kick. But the imp (reading my body language?) hissed and bared it's fangs. "It has been many years since I have been in these particular corridors" he explained. "Not that I need to excuse myself to human scum" he added. "Back!" he commanded, raising his small (but viciously clawed) hand, motioning me to press myself against the cool rock wall. Which I did, not wanting to tangle with a creature possessing razor sharp fangs and claws.

The imp passed by and we headed back toward the 4-corridor junction. Many more hours passed until we made it back to where the wrong turn had occurred. "Now which way?" the deviling hellion murmured softly. Minutes passed as the creature contemplated. "Well, we came from that way" I said, indicating the passage that led back to the room this journey began in. "And we went this way before turning around" I said, referring to the passage I was still standing in. "That leaves two options". "One must be the way to... wherever it is we are going".

"Obviously" the imp agreed. "But I can't recall which one". The imp was looking quite frustrated. "Damn!" he screamed suddenly after several more moments of silence, causing me to jump. "Mr. Charles is not going to be pleased". "Wait", the devilkin finally concluded. "If we return to where we started... there is a map there".

"But didn't the door lock when we left" I said, remembering hearing a click. "Shut yer yap, mortal" the demonoid growled, pointing a sharp talon at me as a warning. "Don't you worry about that". And, as it turns out, there was no need to worry, despite the door being locked. When we got back to where we had started our journey the devilish sprite stuck a sharp nail into the keyhole and picked the lock. "Bring a lantern" he instructed as the door to the black room reopened.

Bringing a lantern with me into the inky darkness illuminated the room. "There", the imp indicated, gesturing to the wall to the left of the door after we had entered. There, affixed to the stone wall, was an engraved map. A you are here arrow pointing to where we were. "That cavern is where we are heading" the imp said, pointing to a enormous blank space near the top of the map. "I'm not sure of the scale, but this appears to be many miles from where we are" I deduced while examining the map.

After tracing back the route to where we were, I concluded that we should have turned left at the 4-way juncture. There were, however, many other junctures along the way to the enormous cavern. "Perhaps we should take this map with us?" I suggested, reaching for topographical depiction affixed to the wall. "Oh no, that map is firmly attached" the demonoid moving toward the exit. "No need to worry any longer, human" the creature assured me. "I shall recall the way, now that my memory has been refreshed".

And apparently he did remember, as - after following him down the left corridor, we made our way with no hesitations at any further junctures. The imp knew where he was going (now). Or acted with confidence that suggested he did. And, after many more hours, the corridor opened into an enormous football-field-sized cavern (or many foot-field-sized, to be more precise). The cavern was lit brightly... and also quite warm.

In fact the temperature, before quite cool, increased to a degree that soon had me sweating profusely; and it was immediately apparent what the source of the heat was; a large burning lake of fire! "I do not wish to go any closer to the fire" I protested, feeling almost as if my clothing could burst into flame at any second. But the imp beckoned me on, pointing to the right. "There your host awaits you" he explained.

I looked in the direction the imp indicated and saw a long (60 foot?) wooden table surrounded by many chairs. Dinner plates, forks, spoons, goblets, bottles of wine and platters of food (down the center) rested atop the extended buffet. Approaching the far right end of the enormous feast, I was disgusted to find the food - large platters of roasted chickens, bowls of creamy mashed potatoes, cheesy green bean casseroles, large brown gravy boats and various other dishes - was rotten and squirming with maggots - reminding me of that pizza I had almost consumed in my kitchen (so long ago now it seemed).

The worms slithered in and out of the decaying putrid feast. "Ugh" I muttered as the stench invaded my nostrils. The stink did not seem to offend the imp, however, who hopped up on the table. His wings flapping a few times as he hovered briefly over the mess, then touched down on the table top. "I am so famished" the imp exclaimed, grabbing a green chicken leg, tearing it off, and chowing down.

"Disgusting" I exclaimed as the imp devoured the remainder of the decomposing grub-infested poultry - an act that almost caused me to vomit. "Over here" a gravely voiced proclaimed loudly. I turned and peered down the length of the table. At the other end a cowled figure was seated. This must be my host, I thought. Despite the intense heat a cold chill ran down my spine. Was this the mysterious Mr. Charles? The individual who had commanded my presence?

Image: The lake of fire.

SWTD #295, MES #4.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

George W bush And Dick Cheney Responsible For Today's Surveillance State

We can't go around telling people we're a free country when either the government or the corporate world knows every damn thing about you - that's not really freedom ~ Bernie Sanders (dob 9/8/1941) the Junior Senator from Vermont and 2016 Presidential candidate on the 6/1/2015 airing of of Late Night With Seth Meyers explaining his NO vote on the USA Freedom Act.

America's Surveillance State is a six part investigative documentary series currently airing on Free Speech TV [1]. During part 2 of the series, "Inside the NSA: How Do They Spy?" (which examines who is watching whom and why) retired CIA employee Ray McGovern says he became disillusioned and retired early.

According to McGovern the CIA conducted themselves "with respect to what they called the first commandment out there at Fort Meade, the NSA [which was] thou shalt not collect information [or] eavesdrop on Americans without a court warrant".

But McGovern says that changed after the election of gwb, "when Cheney came in he called [former Director of the NSA from March 1999 to April 2005]General Hayden and said "I know about that first commandment at the NSA. Forget about it". And that was before 9-11.

Then the interviewer asks, "so the decision for the NSA to begin collecting information on everyone and everything started with an order from above?", McGovern answers "oh sure, it was Dick Cheney and George Bush".

So this massive expansion of the surveillance state started before 9-11 and before passage of the Patriot Act. And it was so ordered (before 9-11) by bush and Cheney. Yes, Barack Obama has continued this unconstitutional (under the 4th amendment) collection of data, but that is hardly surprising, given that presidents rarely give up power. Not that this, in any way, excuses Obama, but still... I think it is noteworthy that it was bush and Cheney who began this unconstitutional data collection... and did so not in response to 9-11 (as many probably think).

Yet more proof that bush was one of America's absolutely worst and most lawless presidents!

The USA Freedom Act (legislation that modified the Patriot Act) supposedly puts an end to bulk data collection. However...

...the USA Freedom Act... gives the government a six-month period to transition to the new system, under which telecommunications companies would hold onto the data, only handing information over if the government has a targeted warrant. (Thought bulk data collection was gone? Think again by Jeremy Diamond. CNN 6/2/2015).

So the NSA will continue to bulk collect data for the next 6 months (so, to the end of 2015), and then the bulk data collection will continue... but be stored with the telecommunication companies and only handed over with a court order. But the data is still being bulk collected in violation of the 4th amendment. I mean, so what if it isn't the government directly that is collecting the data, but the telecoms at the direction of the government?

The Patriot Act is now repackaged with a new name, The USA Freedom Act and unfortunately government's unwarranted and indefinite storage of private records and communications continues. The new spy law, as was its predecessor, remains an attack on the 4th Amendment. Unfortunately for big government advocates, collecting and storing data on its citizens is not cited or even alluded to in Article I, Section 8 where the powers of the federal government are itemized. ...

Actually such activity is specifically forbidden in the 4th Amendment which reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized". The amendment was specifically designed to prevent government spying on its own.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated" is the strongest possible language conceivable. ... Moreover, the new USA Freedom Act violates the 5th Amendment as well in that the accused is, in a very real sense, forced to be a witness against himself... (The USA Freedom Act is an attack on the 4th Amendment. From the website Before It's News 6/19/2015)

Wikipedia says that "Before It's News" was started by Jake Kettle, and that Kettle is "self identifies as a social democrat, advocating for a combination of direct democracy and socialism", but this particular article is categorized under "Opinion, Conservative" (BIN is "a community of individuals who report on what's going on around them, from all around the world which anyone can join").

But that this article is written from a Conservative/Libertarian viewpoint is obvious, given the insertion of an "enumerated powers" argument (in purple). The enumerated powers argument says what the government does is limited to the "list of items found in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution".

Although, being a Progressive Democrat, I reject that argument. As a Progressive I believe in an expansive interpretation of the General Welfare clause. An interpretation we are currently operating under and which the Supreme Court has upheld (DSB #6).

So, given that reality I think the reference to "Article I, Section 8" in the BIN article is not relevant. It is Conservative/Libertarian baloney that has no bearing on whether or not data can be bulk collected. One only need look to the 4th amendment for WHY the Patriot and USA Freedom acts both violate the Constitution [2].

Randal Paul, who voted NO on the USA Freedom Act, said "Congress may just be replacing one bulk collection program with another". This he is correct on, given that now it the telecoms bulk collecting our data (and storing the info if the government requests it).

Note that this would be one extremely rare instance when I would agree with Mr. Paul, although (my choice for our next president) Bernie Sanders also voted NO. (see final roll call here).

Hillary Clinton, the other major Democratic candidate for US president, tweeted her support, writing "Congress should move ahead now with the USA Freedom Act - a good step forward in ongoing efforts to protect our security & civil liberties".

Clinton voted for the initial Patriot Act during her time as a senator from New York in 2001 and again in 2006. Sanders voted against the Patriot Act as House member in 2001 and 2005, then again refused to back its re-authorization when he arrived in the Senate. (excerpted near-verbatim from here).

Footnotes
[1] View the entire documentary miniseries America's Surveillance State (2:45:14) here. To watch individual episodes, follow this link.
[2] The USA Freedom Act does not violate the 4th amendment says the editorial board of the Washington Post. They say that Randal Paul "is the one misstating constitutional law. [T]he phone records of law-abiding Americans are none of the government's business! his campaign Web site declares. Actually, the Supreme Court held 36 years ago that there is no constitutional right to privacy in phone records (as opposed to phone conversations). The court reasoned, realistically, that customers willingly convey numbers and times to the phone company each time they dial, knowing that the company retains the information for business purposes (excerpt from Rand Paul should stop stalling the USA Freedom Act. 6/1/2015).

Video Description: Bernie Sanders on the 6/1/2015 airing of Late Night with Seth Meyers (3:51).

SWTD #294

Saturday, June 27, 2015

On Vilifying Americans Unwilling To Assent To The New Orthodoxy (i.e. Calling Out Bigots Who Won't Stop Discriminating)

The decision will also have other important consequences. It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent ~ Samuel Alito, in his Obergefell v. Hodges dissent, 6/26/2015.

Friday June 26, 2015 will be recorded as an historic day for equality! On that day marriage discrimination was ended by a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling [1], making the US the 21st country to legalize same sex marriage [2]. The majority ruled bans on same sex marriage are unconstitutional due to such bans being in violation of the 14th amendment's equal protection clause. Marriage equality is now the law in all 50 states, to the horror of the Religious Right bigots.

I have no doubt, that if you were to check out message boards where these types preach their hate, you would find many people speaking about how this is a victory for Satan! I consider this to be the opposite. God does not sanction hate in response to love. Love is not a sin. When "traditional marriage" laws are compared to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women, the comparison is accurate and the people making them SHOULD be vilified for their bigotry.

Religious Right bigots like televangelist James Robison [3], who warns that... legalizing same-sex marriage is part of a satanic intent to take away freedom". Robison further warns that we should "keep in mind the enemy of God – Satan himself – is the father of all lies" [4].

With the first warning I disagree. Allowing gay people to marry has no effect on straight marriage at all. Suggestions that they do are made only by people who are stupid. With Robinson's 2nd warning, however, I agree! Satan, I believe, is deceiving those who oppose marriage equality. That many of these televangelists have accumulated vast personal fortunes is proof of who they serve [5+6]. Preaching the word of God should not be a path to enormous wealth. These preachers are being deceived, and are deceiving their flocks.

Now it might be amusing to witness how these Religious Right bigots react. Although, let us pray there is no violence. According to what I've read, signatories to a "defend marriage pledge" have been instructed by Rick Scarborough, a prominent Baptist pastor in Texas and one of the authors of the pledge, to resist all government efforts to require them to accept gay marriage. He said some, including himself, would accept any fine, arrest or even jail time to protect their religious freedom [7].

There will be no constitutional amendment banning gay marriage as desired by Mike Huckabee [8] and others. Nor will there be any amendment kicking the decision back to the states, as called for by Scott Walker [9]. This issue is now settled! There is no going back. Hopefully the bigots will accept this sooner than later.

And now that the marriage issue is resolved, hopefully we can put an end to all the other areas in which LGBT people face discrimination? The idea of a comprehensive bill covering discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, credit and federal programs is gaining traction. A bill that does not allow discrimination under the ruse of a "religious exemption". Or we could simply amend "the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - which provides protections based on race, color, religion, sex or national - to include the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity".

Whatever the approach, it is past time to completely ban discrimination of any kind in these areas. But Congressional Republicans will no doubt stand in the way, just as they have done in the states (Republican-controlled state legislatures being responsible for all these anti-gay state laws).

Footnotes
[1] Marriage discrimination was ruled unconstitutional in the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges on 6/26/2015. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the majority opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
[2] See here for listing of all 21 countries with marriage equality.
[3] James Robinson's Wikipedia page and Huffington Post bio.
[4] Robison: Satan himself and Demonic forcers are behind push for marriage equality by Brian Tashman. Rightwing Watch, 6/11/2013.
[5] Wikipedia notes that Robison's Christian relief organization "Life Outreach International" (which he is the president of) "third-world mission outreaches include distributing emergency food, drilling water wells, establishing orphanages, rescuing girls from sex trafficking, and providing medical care". However, his organization does not meet charity accountability standards. The author of the article "Beware of James Robinson's Ministry, David J. Stewart, says the reason for this warning (that LOI does not do proper disclosure) is "to expose the greedy televangelists who exploit Christianity to make money".
[6] Greedy Televangelists! Where is all that money going?
[7] Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum among anti-gay marriage pledge signees by The staff of The Guardian, 6/21/2015.
[8] Mike Huckabee: I will not bow to the Court on this gay marriage decision any more than the Founders bowed to British tyranny by AllahPundit. Hot Air 6/26/2015. My commentary: This dum-dum is equating the SCOTUS judge ruling for equality to British tyranny pre war for independence? What a frigging moron.
[9] Scott Walker calls for Constitutional amendment to let states define marriage by Daniel Strauss. Politico 6/26/2015.


SWTD #293

Friday, June 19, 2015

America Great Due To Easy Availability For Purchase Of Firearms By Racist Rightwing Gun Nutty Murderers Sez Dennis Marks

...there's no serious case that President Obama is trying to take people's guns. Guess what grade the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave Obama after one year in office? He got an "F" for his gun stance, or lack of same. This after the NRA predicted that he would be the most anti-gun president in history ~ Timothy Egan, writing for the NYT opinion pages. Excerpted from the article Gun Nuts in a Rut 12/1/2011.

Yes, you read that right... Dennis Marks (AKA dmarks) believes America is great because of the 2nd Amendment. Specifically the misinterpretation of it by the gun nut Right... via a pretending that the phrase "well regulated" is absent from it.

First, before the gun nuttery from the confirmed gun nut Dennis, the news story that prompted said nuttery.

Charleston SC - A 21-year-old white man [Dylann Storm Roof] has been charged with nine counts of murder in connection with an attack on a historic black South Carolina church... and media reports said he had hoped to incite a race war in the United States. ...U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday the attack stirred up "a dark part" of U.S. history and showed the continuing dangers of liberal gun laws. ( by Edward McAllister, Harriet McLeod and Alana Wise. Reuters 6/19/2015).

In response to the comment by our president concerning our liberal gun laws, a Libertarian gun nuts blogger posted an angry commentary on his gun nut blog.

Constitutional Insurgent: Waving the bloody shirt... The bodies in the tragic South Carolina shooting have barely cooled, when POTUS took to the airwaves, and without a shred of reporting as to how the firearm in question was obtained, lambasted the allegedly "easy availability of guns" and went on to use the event as a lazy political jab at those who would see our Constitutional rights infringed beyond recognition.

The jackass couldn't even follow his own script when he stated "Now is the time for mourning and for healing". Apparently not Mr. President... apparently its time to play politics. Stay classy Obama... (6/18/2015 AT 4:19pm via the blog Libertas And Latte).

And, in a comment attached to this blog post is where Dennis made his comment about what he thinks makes America great.

Dennis Marks: Like the rest of the Bill of Rights, [the 2nd amendment is] what makes this country. great. What's a shame is that some very wrongheaded politicians act with apparently glee when incidents like this happen and try to use them to push their agenda of confiscation, and harassment of people who never did anything wrong. (6/19/2015 AT 7:05am via the blog Libertas And Latte).

What utter nonsense. Exceeding offensive nonsense. Dennis and the Insurgent believe that the 2nd amendment allows for no restrictions on gun ownership AT ALL. And Dennis and the Insurgent go after our president with a vile lie about the agenda of the non-gun-nutters including them being "gleeful" at the loss of life? OK, so the Insurgent draws a line at "gleeful", he simply says the "jackass" (President Obama) is "playing politics".

The "agenda" being a life-saving agenda, BTW. Although Dennis refers to this agenda aimed at saving lives (by decreasing gun violence) as "harassment of people who never did anything wrong".

Our president pointing to the easy availability of guns as playing a part in yet another gun massacre is NOT "playing politics"! And pointing to the fact that we should do something about the gun violence surely does not make Obama a "jackass". The actual jackasses are those who say people concerned about gun violence and think we should do something about it are "playing politics" or "gleeful" about the deaths (gleeful because they think it will further their gun confiscation agenda, I gather).

Except for the fact that the side that wishes to reduce gun violence is losing. Even after the slaughter of 20 children and 6 adult staff members at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on 12/14/2012 in Newtown CT - nothing was done. There was talk of closing the gun show loophole, but in the end the NRA and it's agenda of selling as many guns as possible (and lying about gun violence being a price America must pay due to the 2nd amendment) won out.

This continued failure as a result of the NRA bribing our elected officials to further their money-making agenda of death brings SADNESS, not glee! And, for an extreme gun nut like Dennis to proclaim that our president felt GLEE over these death is beyond sickening.

That the pro-gun-murder lobbyists (lead by the NRA) and their dupes (gun nuts like Dennis Marks and the Insurgent) have the gall to suggest that the anti-gun-murder side is "gleeful" or "playing politics" when their agenda is saving lives is something the rest of the world does not understand.

World shocked at enduring racism, gun violence in US (article excerpt) ...the attack renewed perceptions that Americans have too many guns and have yet to overcome racial tensions. ... Especially in Australia and northeast Asia, where firearms are strictly controlled and gun violence almost unheard of, many were baffled by the determination among many Americans to own guns despite repeated mass shootings... "The USA is completely out of step with the rest of the world. We've tightened our gun laws and have seen a reduction", said Claire Taylor, the director of media and public relations at Gun Free South Africa (AP article by Christopher Bodeen. 6/19/2015).

We're "great" because the gun plutocrats and gun nut dupes have perverted the 2nd amendment to our Constitution to protect (1) their ability to make money off death, and (2) insane nuttery that involves tossing "well regulated" from it? This is not a "greatness" the rest of the world agrees with. It is also not a "greatness" the let's-do-something-about-all-the-gun-murdering-already contingent within the US agrees with.

A contingent that is a majority, according to the polls. Yet the gun plutocrats, due to their money, are forcing their agenda of death down our throats. One (deliberately?) flawed Pew poll not withstanding, Americans support reasonable gun control regulations that save lives... as such laws have done in other countries.

Yet it will not happen. This act of racist terrorism - the attack on a Black church by a White shooter who said he was there to kill Black people (which Fox Nooz attempted to spin as an attack on Christianity) - will not result in any change in our our gun laws at all. Because of the power of the NRA, but also due to some whining by extremely duped individuals like Insurgent and Dennis. Which, while I agree that our Bill of Rights does make us great, is not great (that the NRA has so much power). It isn't great at all that big money interests have perverted one of our Bill of Rights amendments to further an agenda of profit and death.

It is, in fact, the exact opposite of great. Also far from great is this regurgitation of NRA talking points by dupes like Insurgent and Dennis. If anyone is gleeful it is the gun manufacturers and their lobbying arm, the NRA. Gleeful that they have been able to exert so much control over the US political process, and gleeful over their duping of the gun nuts. Nuts who race out to buy more of their product because they fear Democratic/Obama "confiscation". F*cking dumbsh*ts.

Image1: The portion of the 2nd amendment the gun nutters ignore.

Image2: A cartoon depiction of the Constitutional Insurgent worrying that Obama is coming for his guns? Or is is dmarks?

.

SWTD #292, dDel #19. See also TADM #68.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Trump Announces Preznit Run! Will RN Hold Willis To Eating His Hat, Tie & Trousers? (Also, Trump Right On Trade Albeit Wrong On Everything Else)

Ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for president of the United States... ~ Donald Trump (dob 6/14/1946) an American business magnate, television personality and professional blowhard in a 6/16/2015 speech from Trump Tower in NYC.

During a discussion concerning The Donald "savaging" the current Republican POTUS hopefuls and the possibility of Trump himself declaring a run for the White House, the small "L" libertarian blogger Willis Hart made a promise to do something if Trump actually ran for president. And the Objectivist/Libertarian "fiscally conservative" blogger rAtional nAtion replied by stating that he'd make sure Willis followed through with his promise.

Willis Hart: I'll eat my hat (along with my tie and trousers) if this guy [Donald Trump] runs [for president]. (5/24/2015 AT 08:13:00 PM EDT).

rAtional nAtion: I'll hold you to it Will. (5/24/2015 AT 10:35:00 PM EDT).

Willis Hart: I thought that the odds of Palin running in o-12 were zero and if I could come up with a lower number than that for Trump running this go around I would. This is all about publicity I am sure. (5/24/2015 AT 11:19:00 PM EDT).

OK, so The Donald, contrary to the prediction offered by Mr. Hart, is now running for preznit (a prediction that Willis also made on his blog with a 6/7/2015 commentary titled "On Why Donald Won't Run").

Real-estate mogul and television personality Donald Trump announced his 2016 presidential campaign Tuesday morning [6/16/2015]. "Ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for president of the United States, and we are going to make our country great again!" Trump said. The Republican businessman made the announcement at the namesake Trump Tower in New York City. In his wide-ranging and, lasting about 45 minutes, lengthy speech... [insulting Obama as well as GOP POTUS hopefuls while letting everyone know how amazing he is] ...Trump flirted with previous campaigns for higher office without ultimately running... But Trump has taken numerous steps that suggest he could be much more serious this time around, including hiring staffers in key primary states, forming a political fundraising committee, and setting plans to release financial disclosure documents. (Donald Trump is running for president by Colin Campbell. Business Insider 6/16/2015.

So... will Mr. nAtion hold Mr. Hart to his promise to eat his hat tie and trousers now that the Trumpster said he's running? He may drop out fairly quickly, but now that there has been an announcement that he is indeed running, I seriously doubt zero running will follow. He will at least have to run for a shot period to not look like a total fool. So I say this qualifies as "running" and Willis now has to make good on his promise.

I suggest Willis film his eating of the articles of clothing he said he would and post the video on Youtube. Otherwise he can SAY he ate those clothing items while not actually doing so. Although I suspect nothing will be said and Willis will simply expect nobody will hold him to his promise.

Is rAtional prepared to fly to Willis' state in order to hold him to it? Otherwise I don't think Willis will follow though.

As for this Trump-tastic announcement, the previously quoted Business Insider article says "Democrats seemed amused by Trump's candidacy". I'd wager that many Independents and at least a few Republicans are amused as well (although I am NOT going to be eating any non-food items if anyone proves me wrong on this).

As for Trump's financially disclosing his net worth to be 9 billion, upon hearing this my reaction was one of disbelief. I Googled "Trump" and "9 Billion" and found an article from the Washington Post that says... probably not. This figure (they say) probably comes from taking the value of his properties, overestimating how much they are worth, and also not subtracting what he owes (a mind blowing 5 billion). His actual net worth is likely closer to 4 billion... which is still a hell of a lot of money.

(Which, by the way, illustrates why the real estate market is so heavily regulated. Because there is a lot of money to be made in it. Something Willis Hart apparently does not understand, as he attempts to push the discredited meme that it was OVER regulation that lead to the financial crisis in a recent blog post.

ThinkProgress notes that "The CRA has been in place since 1977, while subprime lending only skyrocketed in the 2000s" and that "Fannie and Freddie [did not purchase subprime loans] due to their fairly strict underwriting requirements [until they] lowered their standards in 2006 to buy riskier products [but] they were too late to the game to cause the subprime frenzy". Yet Willis is among the idiots who point to both the CRA and Fannie/Freddie specifically as strongly contributing to the crisis).

So Trump is a very wealthy man and he (as a result) has an extremely big ego. Which might explain how he's deluded himself into thinking he has any chance at all of being elected preznit. Or maybe he's just doing it for the attention and he'll place the blame elsewhere when he inevitably has to drop out (others made a huge mistake in not getting behind/supporting The Donald).

Although, while I disagree with most of The Donald's ideas on what policies would lead to increased economic activity for all, I must say that when it comes to free trade... The Donald is on the right track.

...in order to create more American jobs; mandate a 15% tax for outsourcing jobs and a 20% tax for importing goods... I'm for free and fair trade... But look at... the trade imbalance... [the trade deals Obama is making] will further erode American manufacturing and kill more American jobs [as NAFTA did and the TPP will]. I'm sick of always reading about outsourcing. Why aren't we talking about "onshoring"? We need to bring manufacturing jobs back home where they belong. Onshoring, or "repatriation", is a way for us to take back the jobs China is stealing. We know that China's wages are increasing. Also, China lacks certain natural resources that we have in abundance. If we exploit those two key facts, we can begin making the case to companies that they should bring their manufacturing facilities home to America.

You only have to look at our trade deficit to see that we are being taken to the cleaners by our trading partners. We need tougher negotiations... We need to ensure that foreign markets are as open to our products as our country is to theirs. Our long-term interests require that we cut better deals with our world trading partners. (Donald Trump on Free Trade 2000 Reform Primary Challenger for President).

Note that this information is from 2000, but I think Trump still hold the same positions on trade, given his recent slamming of the TPP as a "disaster" and he (correctly) noted that "They're not addressing the number one cause of the unfairness which is the currency manipulation". So... Trump is right on trade, even if he is wrong in his other economic prescriptions which include traditional Conservative plans to "kill the death tax, lower the tax rates on capital gains & dividends, [and] eliminate corporate taxes".

Here Trump is in agreement with the other bad plutocrat-enriching ideas every other Republican endorses. Including the idea that the Affordable Care Act needs to go, because as Trump says in his announcement, "Obamacare really kicks in in 2016. Really bigley".

"Bigley"?

Anyway, these other positions are why I would never vote for him (if, by some miracle, he were to win the GOP nomination). But he might get quite a bit of support from blue and white collar Republican voters based on his stance on trade, which is that we should bring back American jobs destroyed by bad free trade agreements championed by both Republicans and Democrats.

Remember that Ross Perot ran on opposing the outsourcing of American jobs and (as Wikipedia notes) "was the natural beneficiary of populist resentment toward establishment politicians". Due to the establishment politicians' support for job killing free trade agreements. As a result of his stand on this ONE issue "in the 1992 election, he received 18.9% of the popular vote, approximately 19,741,065 votes, making him the most successful third-party presidential candidate in terms of the popular vote since Theodore Roosevelt in the 1912 election".

A feat that NO Libertarian candidate for president has EVER come close to matching (Gary Johnson received 0.99% of the popular vote in 2012, amounting to 1.27 million votes). I'd eat MY hat if Gary Johnson declared he was running again, entered the race as a Libertarian, and ended up winning as many votes as Perot did in 1992.

I make this bet ONLY because I am one hundred percent positive there is zero percent chance of this happening. Also, I do not own a hat. But I'd eat Willis' hat if Gary were miraculously able to accomplish what Ross did, given the fact that Gary is FOR destroying American jobs (Johnson supports free trade and opposes tariffs, "period").

Frankly, I'd bet that The Donald could get more votes than Gary if he ran 3rd party (nobody would take the bet if he ran as a Republican, if he somehow managed to win the GOP nomination, because OF COURSE he'd get more votes under that unlikely scenario). I would not promise to eat a hat, however, as I only think it likely that he'd get more votes (due to his stance on free trade). I'm not as sure about that as I am about Gary not ever receiving as many votes as Perot did (I'd never make a bet concerning eating a hat unless it was a sure thing).

Which Willis apparently thought not Trump entering the race was (a sure thing). Now we know he was wrong. And now we await the eating by him of his hat. In addition to his tie and trousers. Or rAtional nAtion (if he is a man of his word) and I await this eating of clothing by Willis (who I suspect is not a man of his word).

Update 7/20/2015: Some report that Trump said "big league, not "bigley". I'm not sure. Sounded like "bigley" to me.

Video Description: Donald Trump (a really, really successful person) announces that he's in the race for the 2016 GOP nomination for POTUS. Published on Youtube 6/16/2015 (1:26).

SWTD #291, wDel #60.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Adventuring Companions Depart With Haste

The devil takes a hand in what is done in haste ~ Turkish Proverb.

"So, what you're saying is that William has been arrested for murder?" an incredulous Olaf asked after Suri briefed the assembled adventurers of what had transpired earlier in the day. "Last I saw him he was running from the officers of the Lord Mayor's police force. I don't know if they took him into custody or if they connected him to the dead cleric at the temple of the oracles, given that they were chasing him for punching a shopper in the bazaar", a shaken Suri explained, recounting events that took place earlier in the day.

"I think we should assume, given the fact that they are oracles, William is definitely being sought by the authorities, possibly along with myself. Which is why I've decided to scarper ASAP", the mage added, looking visibly worried.

"Well, let's get going then" Olaf interjected. "Now wait a minute" Barry the Botanical (the party's cleric) protested. "I thought we were going to hang around the city for awhile. After all that time trekking through the wilderness ol Barry needs a little time to take it easy and recharge before heading out again". "Indeed" the fighter Steve said, concurring with Barry. "None of us murdered anyone, let alone a priest from the temple of the oracles! You best be going, but the rest of us are staying put".

"Hold on Barry", the bard Ceraifiot cautioned. "We need to stick together. With the exception of William. Screw him. Sure, I'm proficient when it comes to illusions, but we need the combat magics of a mage like Suri to complete this mission", Ceraifiot concluded. "Well, after all I've been through I'm surely not going to be cut out of the final payment" Barry objected, referring to the reward promised by the geriatric and infirmed sightless wizard who had hired them to retrieve a certain item located within the lands of the minotaurs of the Northern Isles.

"Yes, everyone will receive the agreed upon share of the reward promised by our employer, the uncle of our former mage Morton The Magnificent, for delivery of the item he tasked us to retrieve. Including Suri, who shall receive a quarter share for her help in completing the mission" the bonny bard said, reminding all of their (amended) agreement. Suri, who wasn't entirely opposed to leaving William behind, still thought it unfair to completely abandon him... and said so.

"I say that we get out of town ASAP, but wait for William at our camp just outside the city walls". "Makes sense" Ceraifiot agreed, "given that we did agree to meet up there if something happened that caused us to split up. We shall depart immediately and make camp outside the city walls at the agreed upon location tonight".

"And how long do we wait for William to show?" an exasperated Steve demanded. "Let us not concern ourselves with the details right at this moment" Ceraifiot countered. "What is important right now is that we make haste to depart before any of us are detained by those seeking William, if anyone is". Ceraifiot decided not to mention the fact that it was his preference to leave without William, given the obvious but inexplicable attachment Suri seemed to have to the warrior. But then he really had not known Suri for but a few months, while William was an old friend, and possible former lover, according to what Suri had told him.

And so they all agreed to depart before the sun fell. Steve noted that he wasn't about to stay behind while Ceraifiot left the city with the gnarled staff of green wood, possibly to hand it over to their employer, the Wizard Farber, and collect the entire reward for himself and Suri, whom Steve suspected the bard was crushing on.

The staff being the item Farber had hired them to retrieve. It was a magical item of intermediate power, that much both the magically inclined Ceraifiot and Suri had been able to discern. Beyond that, nobody knew what it did. And Mr. Farber was clear in his instructions - none were to attempt to use the staff, as any discharge of it's power might drain it and make it useless to him. Deliver a useless item and there would be no payment.

And so everyone retrieved their belongings from their rooms, paid their bills, and met at the stable. "Damn innkeeper said I had to pay for the night despite not staying the night!" Steve complained. "A-hole said it was past checkout time" he grumbled under his breath when he realized nobody was paying attention to him. After paying the Stable Master everyone mounted up and headed out.

Night had almost fallen as the six adventurers approached the gate, which was clearly closed. And guarded by more police officers than was customary in Paulina's opinion. This she whispered in Suri's ear after the mage lowered her head to hear in response to the gnomish rogue tugging on her robes. "Wait a minute" Suri declared, alerting the others to the fact that something was wrong. The companions guided their horses down a side street where they dismounted. "What's the problemo?" Steve of Anonymous inquired, visibly agitated.

"Paulina says something is up", Suri explained. "Indeed, while nightfall is almost upon us, it is still too early for the gate to be closed", Ceraifiot the Bonny agreed. Just then Suri noticed a man wearing the uniform of a member of the Lord Mayor's police force walking down the side street toward them. "Hello there!" the man shouted. Barry the Botanical panicked and jumped back on his horse, intending to quickly depart, but Ceraifiot grabbed the reigns, preventing him from doing so.

"Hold up, I need to talk to you!" the officer shouted as he trotted toward the group, increasing his pace when Barry mounted his horse. "He's on to us!" Steve hissed loudly, a look of fear on his face. The adventurers, unsure what to do, watched as the officer approached.

"Hey, I noticed that you were approaching the gate" he said when he reached the party.
"I thought I should check and see why you turned away, given the fact that we are currently seeking a duo of killers lose in the city". The officer stood before them, starring at the group, eyeballing each of them in turn.

"Ah, no, we weren't..." Steve stammered, his voice trailing off. The officer did not look convinced. In fact he looked quite suspicious. Steve, noticing that the officer was reaching for a whistle on a chain around his neck, went for his sword. Acting swiftly, Ceraifiot stepped between Steve and the officer, an action that clearly alarmed the man. The officer grabbed his whistle and placed it between his lips. Ceraifot lunged and grabbed the man's hand, ripping the whistle out of his mouth before he could sound the alarm.

"Excuse me, friend" Ceraifiot said, addressing the man using dulcet tones, a broad smile on his face. "Is there something I can help you with?" Ceraifiot inquired, charming the officer who, instead of responding with anger as might be expected given how rudely he had just been treated, inexplicably and suddenly regarded the bard as a trusted ally.

"That woman, I think she might be one of the killers we're looking for" the officer answered, starring past Ceraifiot, his eyes obviously indicating he was referring to Suri. "No, I'm sure you're mistaken" the bard said, correcting his new buddy. "You may be right" the policeman agreed. "Yet, the left side of her face is disfigured, which is a characteristic of the woman we are seeking... according to my captain".

"F*ck!", Suri cursed under her breath. She should have cast a minor illusion to alter her appearance prior to approaching the gate, the magic-user now realized. Raising her arm to conceal her face, Suri recited a few words, then lowered her arm and flipped down her hood, her legerdemain complete.

"I am not disfigured" Suri said, smiling as she approached the officer. "My mistake" the fooled man replied, noticing that the lady's face wasn't scarred as he first thought. She was, in fact, quite gorgeous. "Wow!" the enchanted officer exclaimed. "You are a beauty" he observed, his eyes moving from Suri's face down to her ample bosom. "Nice to meet you, my name is Allyn" the officer said, addressing Suri warmly. "My shift is ending soon. Care to accompany me to the local tavern for some libations?" Allyn inquired, propositioning the blond bombshell before him.

"Excuse me, friend" Ceraifiot interjected. "My wife and I were wondering why the Northgate is closed. Is it not yet too early for that?" the bard inquired, distracting Allyn as he ogled Suri. "Ah..." the officer stammered, dumbfounded by the young lass's beauty. "Oh, excuse me" a disappointed (in hearing the woman was married) Allyn replied, refocusing his attention back to his new buddy.

"As I already said, we're looking for two individuals, a man and a woman with a disfigured face are being sought in regards to the murder of a priest earlier today" Allyn reiterated. Then, thinking he should be as forthcoming as possible with his new friend, added, "if the two killers attempt to flee the city they will surely be caught, as one of the Mayor's council of mages has been dispatched to each of the city's five gates, in order to see though any disguising illusions the criminals might use in attempting their escape".

The man before him was quite handsome, Allyn thought as he spoke. Perhaps if he was helpful his charismatic new BFF and his bewitchingly alluring mate would be interested in a three-way? I'm not that shabby in the looks department, Allyn assured himself, running his hands though his thick amber locks.

"Sorry that I propositioned your wife earlier" Allyn apologized. "You're both welcome to join me at the tavern for drinks, my treat" the officer implored, wondering if his strong desire to sex up both of these good looking people meant he was bi.

The situation, which had become quite uncomfortable, ended when Steve, who had been slowly maneuvering himself behind the officer, wrapped his arms around the man's neck and twisted. A loud snap later and Allyn's thoughts of a night of three-way passion were cut short. "You went to far in accentuating your looks, f*cking succubus" Steve growled, admonishing the magic user as Allyn's lifeless body crumpled to the cobblestone.

"Gods damn it", a shocked Ceraifiot cried. "There was no need to kill the man, he was under my control" the angry bard barked, referring to the success of the charm magics he had used to befuddle the policeman. Then, wondering if any passerby had witnessed the murder that had just occurred, glanced about worriedly. Seeing nobody, Ceraifiot turned his attention back to the brash fighter.

"It needed to be done" Steve explained. "The pig obviously wanted to screw both of you, and we need to get the f*ck out of here before any of his fellow cops show up wondering what happened to this guy" Steve said, nudging the body of the dead policeman with his boot.

SWTD #290, WTM #12.