Shorter Ben Carson

I am not a crank. Also, there are too many states these days. Please eliminate three.”

Rare, un-retouched photo of Ben meditating.

[Credit to, well, everybody since we’re laughing all over the internet, but AFAICT, a M. Bouffant comment at alicublog was the first reference to Ben’s wonderful idiocy.]

‘Shorter’ concept created by Daniel Davies and perfected by Elton BeardWe are aware of all Internet traditions.™

 

David Brooks is in Love with a Straw Man

So, life continues to be rough, although ever so slightly smoother than a week ago. Someday I hope to be able to visit South Africa in time to eat the strawberries. That day will not be soon. Unless one of my loyal readers is able to hire me for the all expenses paid position of world traveling seasonal produce taster. Which would be a pretty good gig, I imagine. However, here, in this world, I get the opportunity to offer my thoughts on one of David Brooks’ latest columns

A sensible version of…

David Brooks wants to vote for a political outsider. But not the actual political outsiders that are running, No, they are far too populist, far too crass, far too willing to try and get actual Republican voters to send them money and eventually vote for them. David Brooks has fashioned a Mary Sue political outsider that has all of the opinions and policy preferences of David Brooks, and he’s eager to throw his vote for this being of pure David Brooksian wish fulfillment. So let us play in the ivory tower of David Brooks’ fondest imaginings and track mud all over the carpets.

As a Broderesque windbag from way back, David Brooks has a naive faith in the power of bipartisanship, that would be understandable in a bright ten year old, but is utterly inexcusable in someone who has watched politics in action in the US for more than one election cycle. As he imagines candidate Totally not David Brooks would say:

But I’ve been paying close attention and it seems to me that of all the problems that face the nation, two stand out. The first is that we have a polarized, dysfunctional, semi-corrupt political culture that prevents us from getting anything done. To reverse that gridlock we’ve got to find some policy area where there’s a basis for bipartisan action.

The second big problem is that things are going badly for those in the lower half of the income distribution.

Well, there’s his first problem. He thinks that the two big problems in the US are 1)bipartisanship and 2)tough times for the poorest half of Americans. The big trouble is, no one agrees with him. Republicans variously think the biggest threat to America, is in no particular order: the perfidy of Democrats, secular humanism, socialism, immigration, ISIS and or Muslim terrorism, Obamacare, Social Security and Medicare, etc ad nauseum. Democrats tend to think the biggest problems are in no particular order: the terrible state of education, the terrible state of infrastructure, income inequality, the corruption of Republicans, racism & sexism, maintenance and expansion of the social safety net including the expansion of Medicare, Social Security & Obamacare. David Brooks imagines there is a broad overlap of issues upon which legislators of good will can agree. The biggest mistake of this approach is that he imagines there exists a majority in congress of legislators of good will. Legislators of good will can’t get the time of day from much of the American electorate. There is much less agreement on the issues facing America than he imagines. Hell, even the conservative half of the lower 50% of incomes in America probably think they are a lottery ticket or one oppressive government regulation away from getting rich.

He goes on to say that getting families out of “bad neighborhoods” and into good ones will improve their incomes. You know what? he says a lot of superficially sensible horseshit. He found a study that says taking people out of bad neighborhoods and putting them in more affluent neighborhoods eventually makes them more prosperous. Which he thinks is some kind of answer to poverty. And it might be if poverty in America was a guy named Doug and his wife and two or three kids. But the poorest half of Americans number over 150 million people, and people live where they do for reasons sometimes they’d be delighted to move to a place with more economic opportunity, sometimes they will cling to their homes with a tenacity that borders on suicidal. What do you suppose David Brooks has to say to convince people to move whose families have been living in the same house for more than a century? What could he offer to induce people to move away from their beloved relatives? People aren’t as mobile as some giant bank’s hedge fund’s investment portfolio. There are non-trivial barriers to moving, and its rare that households can pick up and go on a whim (or on the advice of David Brooks which amounts to even less than a whim). Mr Brooks imagines that there is bipartisan consensus on improving the lot of the poorest Americans when an entire party gets reelected in landslides promising to cut services to that exact same demographic. Has he ever lived in a suburb? Has he ever heard the term ‘block busting’? how does he imagine the wealthy suburbanites will react to the arrival of the very same people their parents and their grandparents fled the cities to avoid?

He spouts more advice:

This will mean doing some things Republicans like. We’ve got to devolve a lot of power from Washington back to local communities. These neighborhoods can’t thrive if they are not responsible for themselves. Then we’ve got to expand charter schools. The best charter schools radiate diverse but strong cultures of achievement. Locally administered social entrepreneurship funds could help churches and other groups expand their influence.

Where the hell does he get this? How does he go from wanting to improve neighborhoods to imagining that charter schools are the answer? And as an atheist, I gotta object to his “empowering churches” crap, churches already get far too many giveaways from the government, and in any kind of benevolent utopia such as David seems to want to construct, they’d be paying income and property tax just like everyone else. If churches want to do things commonly described as charity like feeding the hungry and healing the sick, that’s fine they can get a tax deduction for that, just like everyone else.

I could fisk the whole thing, but I find the thought more than a little depressing. His whole dream could be popped by watching 10 minutes of C-span when they show congress in session, but he can’t be bothered. He’s like professor Harold Hill in the ‘Music Man’ only instead of bewailing the morals of a pool playing public and trying to sell musical instruments, he’s bewailing the fact that society doesn’t mirror the land of frictionless sphere-people of uniform density that live in his head and trying to sell us straw men.
So, play to your strengths David Brooks, go in with a computer game publisher and write sim-suburb where the only way to win is to build the most heteronormative, theocratic, charter-school-attending, gated community, little Galt’s gulch that you can. In the meantime, could you stop telling us how to win the game in your head?

 

How does morality work?

It’s time again. Victor Davis Hanson wrote another column. To be fair, he writes columns faster than I can compose my criticism of them, but I never said he was lazy. His most recent column “Moral Equivalence in the Middle East” Moral Equivalence in the Middle East should start ringing warning bells at the first word. If VDH has shown any understanding of morals more sophisticated than “winners write the histories” I haven’t seen it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that’s his only understanding of morals, and he thinks it’s a statement of how reality is defined rather than a sad commentary on the veracity of the histories we read and a reminder that the so called ‘bad guys’ of history rarely get a chance to put their version of events in front of the serious student of history. So anyways, VDH is very concerned that when Palestinians assault Jews in Israel, and are machine gunned down in response, that it makes Israeli security and police look like bloodthirsty butchers in the eyes of the newsreading public. Here is a representative paragraph from the column, it will provide us more than enough to go on.

In short, the present U.S. government — which is subsidizing the Palestinians to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year [1]— is incapable of distinguishing those who employ terrorist violence from the victims against whom the terrorism is directed. [2] But why is the Obama administration — which can apparently distinguish those who send out drones from those who are blown up by them on the suspicion of employing terrorist violence — morally incapable of calling out Palestinian violence?[3] After all, in the American case, we blow away suspects whom we think are likely terrorists; in the Israeli instance, they shoot or arrest those who have clearly just committed a terrorist act.[4]

So [1] since when does the US government send a dime to Palestine? OK, fine 20 seconds with google tells me that in recent years we send about $400 million in foreign aid annually to Palestine. But to be fair, we have to look at the other side too, because right now we are in the middle of a ten year aid package to Israel with a total value of $30 billion, much of which is allowed or even encouraged to be spent on weapons.

[2] Now we go to his claim that the US can’t tell the difference between terrorism and victims of terrorism. Has he seen what Gaza looks like these days? Do a Google image search for Gaza. you’ll see piles of rubble, you’ll see explosions, you’ll see corpses, and you see victims. How are they terrorists and the Israelis that are determined to level the place terrorists? Is he letting the victors write the histories again? does he think that the Israelis can magically turn the corpses of families into dead terrorists with a single disingenuous press release? Dead civilians are dead civilians and no amount of Palestinians attacking Israelis with knives is going to turn them into the Wehrmacht part II. But what about the rocket attacks? don’t those count as terrorism? Well they sure are scary. But when hastily erected launchers manage to do more than wreck someone’s garage give me a call. The Gaza strip is tiny. If Israel spent a tiny fraction of the money they spend on “Iron Dome” and air raids on a few hundred guys with binoculars and maybe night vision goggles, they could stop each and every rocket attack in the setup phase.

[3] He’s got the Obama administration dead to rights here. Drones are even less discriminate that some goon with a machine gun. Killing the occasional wedding party or family gathering is too high a price to pay for maybe killing a some guy unreliable allies tell us is a terrorist once in a while. Even VDH isn’t wrong all the time.

[4] Way to hand wave away the difference between assault and attempted murder and terrorism. Or better yet, show that there isn’t a difference. The press are highlighting a pointless murder circle jerk where radical Palestinians react to violent oppression with violence and inspire even more violent reaction from their oppressors. This is the kind of violence that would have made Al Pacino’s Scarface call for a time out followed by a nap and some level headed discussion.

VDH is trying to explain that genocide is a perfectly acceptable response to terrorism. VDH is not using any kind of moral code that I would recognize as such. According to him, the only answer to violence is more violence. And to him I say “Way to go, jackass.” Now it’s Palestine Delenda Est. What’s next, Lebanon, North Korea, Russia? Way to excuse conquest and oppression, and way to call for the peace of “no one left alive.” That isn’t peace, that’s a call for the war to end all wars, and human life on earth.

 

Not quite dead

I’m having a rough time. but enough about me, how are you doing? And more importantly, how are the people to whom we entrust the solemn duty of serving us the preferred propaganda of their corporate masters and the crackpot billionaires that own them?

Here’s Jonah Goldberg being a hack again.
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425158/obama-gun-control-politicizing-not-politics?target=author&tid=897

Obama has called for us to take common sense measures to reduce gun crime, especially mass shootings. He points out that Great Britain and Australia have virtually eliminated gun crimes, and have had no mass shootings in decades. Jonah correctly points out they did this by registering all firearms, banning most handguns and “assault” rifles, and confiscating all of the ones they could find. Jonah argues that somehow this isn’t a common sense solution, because a few hundred thousand Americans would disagree. So, in Jonah’s world, the rest of us must remain hostages to the paranoid fantasies of the NRA who see tyranny hiding behind every effort to reduce the 30,000 gun related deaths every year.

Victor Davis Hanson has looked in his tea leaves and discovered that the Iran deal guarantees war in the middle east. Of course this is VDH we are talking about, to him everything means war in the middle east, oil prices going up? war in the middle east. Oil prices going down? war in the middle east. the sun rises in the east? war in the middle east. Lunar eclipse? war in the middle east. And while it pains me to say it, given the history of the last 3000 years, he may not be wrong. There will be war in the middle east. It’s kinda their thing. Historically they haven’t been helped much by the successive invasions of Egyptians, Romans, Mongols, French and English, and any others I may have missed. But Obama has done nothing uniquely dangerous. He’s taken an increasingly unpopular and unsustainable sanctions regime and ended with a multilateral commitment to an inspection regime that will verify the cessation of Iran’s nuclear weapon program. That was probably the best deal Obama could get. Iran has convinced the international community that the sanctions were unjust and it was only a matter of time before the already creaky sanctions regime would have collapsed completely when Russia or China decided to trade openly with Iran.

http://victorhanson.com/wordpress/?p=8704

There will be war in the middle east for a long time. Off the top of my head, there’s a civil war in Syria, there’s a civil war in Yemen, there’s Sunni/Shiite strife, there’s Israeli/Palestinian strife, there’s Wahhabi/21st century strife and that’s without checking any sources. People are dying in the middle east because of oil, because of colonialism, because of religion, because of realpolitik. If Obama nuked Iran to glass on his first day in office, Israel would be no “safer”, the middle east would be no more peaceful and the only person in the world who wouldn’t be horrified would be VDH, who would be screaming to nuke China or Russia next. I worry about him, really I do. The VDH I know from his columns is a man who see no use for humanity other than as toy soldiers to fight his fantasy battles. He seems to only understand politics through the lens of 2000 year old triumphal propaganda. I’m going to blockquote his last sentence:

In sum, the region is North Korea cubed, an Islamic shoot-’em-up Tombstone or Dodge City where punks with nuclear six-guns, not sober classical deterrence, will make the rules.

This is not a man from whom anyone should be taking military or political advice. This is a man who has learned everything he knows about politics, psychologoly and the military by reading the 2000 year old equilavent of SGT Rock comic books.

 

Look what the Cat Dragged In…

So, I had thought to do a monumental takedown of this excrescence Which is just a lengthy litany of reasons in which the Liberals and Democrats are the real racists, including, of course, a reference to the Democratic party as a Plantation and suchlike other IsoTropes™. What the hell then, take a look at the opening:

If black lives matter to liberals, they sure aren’t showing it.

Really caring would require treating African Americans as fully capable citizens, and liberals have never been willing to do that. Feeling sorry for blacks is far more rewarding, especially at the polling place.

And it gets ooogahdee booogahdee all the way down.

Anyway, I’m checking the site notice something in moderation, and thought, “Damn, what have we here?” And thought, “Fuck that other thing, this will do just fine. I’ll let Praetorian Prefect take it away…

You liberals are society’s lowest common denominator. You and your ilk believe all of the ignorant lies the leftwing media sprouts, particularly on the issue of race.

Right outta the gate with the othering, insults, condescension, and presumption of a hive-mind. Well done, you hit the wingnitwit perfecta!

But now that you mention it Sparky, a handfull of leftwing media sprouts sounds like an excellent addition to my arugula salad with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette that you know all of us Liberals are gonna eat tonight.

Now that we have been properly addressed, and dressed down, grab your hair-shirts and lets see if there are any other nuggets of wisdom *cough*dingleberry comb*cough*.

But just for fun lets look at America without most of the black population.

Not only does this promise to be educational, it promises to be fun, and you know how wingers love their fun, also, too, how clever, insightful, and yes, funny, they are. So lets play now!

taxes would be minute compared to what they are today because most of the handouts are given to blacks.

If this wasn’t an exercise resembling a cat playing around with a mortally wounded mouse, I might actually bring up the hard and fast numbers. Stuff like the military budget for example, or the fact that vastly more welfare, I mean handouts go to white people in this country than black people, including I am nearly certain people in the Prefect’s own family, and possibly even under his very own subsidized roof.

Gotta say, if there is anything I have learned from this Praetorian feller, is how much fun it is to pull shit out of my sass! I suspect an OOOGGGAAAASM coming on.

The violent crime rate, including murders, would be cut in almost 2/3. The school systems would be so much better because the the teachers wouldn’t have to teach down to their level. The number of children living in poverty would be cut by 2/3. People like the Clintons and Obama’s couldn’t win an election for dog catcher.

Yayup! So it has been said, so therefor it must be. To ask for any citation supporting any of these claims would be ridiculous, but I have a game of my own in mind. If Praetorian Prefect actually wants to back up the assertions pulled out of his personal Library of Asselexander, with something that we all can review, he will be welcome to do so in the comments below.

Also noted: 2/3rds is the new 3/5ths

Obviously these are horrible Racist statements in todays world but can only state the facts. Maybe if blacks and liberals would spend half the time that they spend on worrying about racism on these issues the country would be a much better place to live.

Because of your candor PP, you get a cookie. Everything that appears after the word world, resembles something that flies out of the salad shooter that writes for Sarah Palin.

Oh and PP, just to flip it back at you with a bit of truth; if you conseervatives would not spend so much time worrying about what people chose to do with their pp’s and hoo-haws and got some of their own from time to time, the world would be a much better place to live.

Thanks for dropping by. It is not often that one walks in through the back door in this place only to end up on the front page, so pat yourself on the back.

Meanwhile, I gotta salad to make….Mmmmmmmmm Liberal media sprouts….

 

Still not fixed

I am very disappointed. I wrote, what I thought was a stirring and insightful blog post, and here we are two weeks later, and the world is still gripped by a refugee crisis. It’s almost like the most powerful minds in the world don’t hang on my every word. In any case, now that I have a little more time, I was hoping to include a little more actual data with my invective.

But first, an example. One hundred fifty years ago a country crushed by oppression and wracked by famine, lost a million people to hunger and sent a further million out into the world to make their way as best as they could in the face of the rest of the world’s hostility and indifference. That country was Ireland, and my three-greats-grandfather came here to the United states, put on a blue uniform and fought for the union in the civil war. He’s buried today in a soldier’s cemetery in Milwaukee Wisconsin. And it is because of his service and the service of thousands more immigrants like him that there is a United states of America today. Even in the the 1840s 50s and 60s in a country far more dependent on immigration than the America of today, the Irish were not welcomed with open arms. As a group they were called ignorant drunken violent and worse, Catholic. But where there was a railroad to be built or a mine to be dug, or a fight to be fought, the Irish were right there in the thick of it.

And that’s why we need immigrants today. To help us face the challenges we don’t even see coming. To help us actually be the country we have claimed to be all along, a shelter for the oppressed and an example of freedom to inspire the world.

So, I’m not a reporter, and I am probably no better at searching google than any of you. But here’s a few informative links that show the scale and context of the problem right now:

Some quality reporting from the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/04/syrian-refugee-crisis-why-has-it-become-so-bad

CNN if you must (warning, video may auto-play): http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/07/europe/europe-migrant-crisis/

Here’s a person that wants to defeat both Assad and ISIS as a military “solution” that would be similar in magnitude to the previous two gulf wars I included this because another war on the scale of the second Gulf War would cost another $6 Trillion. Which makes the $8 billion price tag the UN puts on dealing with the refugee crisis a bargain by anyone’s accounting.

And given that Carly Fiorina has been wrong on every issue in her professional career, the fact that she wants us to highly restrict the number of Syrian refugees we accept is a convincing argument for throwing the gates open: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/09/06/fiorina-warns-us-be-very-careful-about-keeping-out-terrorist-while-allow-in/

And here’s the ever more useless New York Times focusing on the difficulties of accepting more refugees instead of making the case for accepting more refugees: ttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/05/us/many-obstacles-are-seen-to-us-taking-in-large-number-of-syrian-refugees.html?_r=0

And lastly, here’s what Mercycorps has to say, and how you can help.

Even if it’s just five or ten dollars, that buys more grain or rice than you’d think when you’re buying in bulk. Think of it as picking up lunch for a friend you haven’t met yet.

 

Phoning_IT_In Or looking for WingerWelfare

The need to feel productive for a minute, because reason, is the germative inspiration for this post.

Was hanging out at Edroso’s basement and ran into a kid who left a link written by one of his favorite writer of sports It’s a piece in the Hill and squeals of “let me in the fucking club already.” Accompanied by the pounding of fists on the door.

Anyway I gave the piece a graph to capture my attention before deciding that the only reason to read more would be to deride the fucking everlasting shit out of it. My initial reaction follows:

Barack Begat Donald

Thats the title of the piece, now granted, he may not have come up with the quip, but that nearly stopped me at the gate.

First Graph:

Barack Obama was in a bad mood.

It was early April 2008 when I
took my 7-year-old daughter to see presidential candidate, and then-Sen.
Obama (D-Ill.), in downtown San Antonio. The election was months away,
but there was a palpable sense of inevitability in the air and I wanted
my daughter to soak in the evening’s historical significance perched
atop my shoulders while we listened to Obama speak.

Perfect, right out of the gate with an unprovable assertion, pivot to daddy’s little darling on the shoulder, which really is all about me, me, me.

So admitting to not having read past the first graph which proves to some of our favored trolls, something…I have the piece in another tab and we shall begin the eviscerations….

Graph the second:

Perhaps it was his loss to Hillary Clinton in the state primaries contested on that warm April evening, but there was very little inspiration in his words. Instead I felt a baritone anger booming from the giant speakers. In that moment, the “change” so often promised morphed from hope into something darker for me; something more ominous.

Damn, straight in we have busted out the Foghorn whistles ala Leghorn. “Angy Assed, Sore Loosing, Uppity, Fucking Nigger, is harshing my buzz.” Tarted up nicely for polite company, but damn, if I can’t smell the desperation to get off of the sports beat and into some wingnut sinecure.

Shaking head, I have to admit on some level to being impressed with the bravado…Any way on to graph three:

Snipers were perched atop the courthouse in the distance while upbeat music from Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield wailed. It all served as a fitting sensory contradiction and the diversity in the crowd was a sight to behold: young, old, brown, black and white, all together, all surging toward the stage.

OK, It is gonna take a minute or two for my eyes to adjust to this trainwreck of a, um, not even fucking sure what to call…I mean word salad seems a bit kind…I’ll leave “…fitting sensory contradiction….” to our resident genii.

The surreality of the evening were prelude to his delivery, which was more Willie Stark than John Kennedy. I noticed the contrast of his slow-burning, elegantly coiffed power, pitted against the crowd’s unadulterated joy for him.

“…were prelude…” “…slow-burning, elegantly coiffed…” WTF? If gifted/afflicted with synesthesia, this shit might make sense.

On to the fourth, where hopefully the train re-rails:

It has been seven years and many miles, but as I consider Obama’s presidency, I think about that night. My optimism dissipated while listening to raucous chants of “Yes We Can!” and I left with the inescapable sense that Obama, soon to be the most powerful man in the world, wasn’t speaking to me. In fact, he had no interest whatsoever in winning me over. He knew already that he could succeed without me.

Would somebody please hand this wank a Fleshlight™, a fucking mirror in which to indulge his inner Narcissus, and a fucking Ham sandwhich to replenish his Me-ness after finishing.

I deeply wish every election, every referenda, every decision made was always and forever about Me. Then, only then, would the world be set right. I am beginning to feel the gordian knot closing around me as if I stumbled into a nest of hungry Pythons.

Five:

Gonna skip that one and I’ll just leave my impression:
Aside from the lies, fanfic, and projection, there is an odd coherence to the bit.

Six, nearing the point:

And now, here we are, hurtling along with our hair on fire in the summer of Donald Trump. I’m captivated by his speeches — not for his eloquence or oratory, but more for his inability to explain anything beyond how rich and smart he believes himself to be.

And…The let’s see if I can justify my thesis, or is there anything left in the gaping hole of my tortured ass that I can grab…:

On the surface, attempting to compare the two is a fool’s errand. Trump is the chainsaw to Obama’s scalpel, but dig deeper and the similarities are there: both rhetorical methods serve their purpose, both get the job done. The vacuousness of Obama’s — “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal” — has been trumped by Trump’s clumsy “whatever it is, I know how to do things. I just want to make this country so great, and that’s what’s going to happen.”

Jesus…Next stop, a fine toothed comb and a dingleberry harvest….

And, ironically, most of those who chose to sit out the last two presidential elections — thereby accelerating Obama’s ascension — are responsible now for the rise of Trump. In this tragic comedy, Obama’s narcissism, his polite classlessness, his ruthless pursuit of largely unpopular ends that so fueled his supporters for the better of the last decade, have all comically transformed into the vehicle driving Trump’s summer success. All things considered and rhetorical prowess aside, there is little separating the abiding philosophies of Obama and Trump. Strangely, Trump unequivocally owes his early campaign success to Obama.

Sorry folks, this is where I start dreaming of sitting in my chair watching a documentary, or putting a bullet through my fucking skull knowing that this shithead lives in my world and got paid to write the last bit that I will share:

As a conservative, I can reconcile my disconnect with Obama and those that support him. And while not pleasant, knowing that the current president never attempted to persuade me is understandable.

Sure it is dude-bro, sure it is…

 

The race to be the muddiest pig in the wallow

I’m upset about the so called “immigration debate”. The conservative position seems to be various shades of “no”, “fuck no!” and “launch them all over the Rio Grande via catapult”. Rod Dreher recently wrote a column that Roy at Alicublog tore apart with extreme prejudice. Trump makes ever more outrageous claims of deporting millions, and the rest of the Republican nominees trip over themselves trying to catch up. The US is built on the ruins of dozens of Native American nations, and on the graveyards of millions of Native American dead. It is a country born of conquest, extermination, subjugation and slavery. So to me at least, we as a country have a duty to make restitution as far as we can for the ugly crimes of our nation’s founding and continued existence. If we don’t we are no better than the bad old empires of Europe that so many of our ancestors fled to come here. There’s nothing unique about American resistance to immigration, certainly Mexico and Europe are no picnic for immigrants that show up without a loaded bank account, but we are a nation of immigrants. Immigration built this country for good or ill, and if we turn our backs on immigrants, we turn our backs on one of the few ways our country really can lay claim to “American Exceptionalism”. Here’s an example of a country that’s doing it right: Iceland.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/more-than-11000-icelanders-offer-to-house-syrian-refugees-to-help-european-crisis-10480505.html

Those immigrants also represent our responsibility. Our responsibility to do something to help the people our foreign policy has victimized in the name of fighting communism, or in the pursuit of ever higher profits. They represent our responsibility because climate change is caused by burning hydrocarbons, and we’ve been burning more for longer than any country on earth. They represent our responsibility to prevent or at least minimize the potential for disease and war and genocide. We can’t go back in time and stop the Rwandan genocide, we can’t go back in time and prevent the Armenian genocide, we can’t go back in time and save the Jews, the Roma and the gays from the holocaust. But we can do our best to shelter the people who need our help and are dying without it right freaking now.

Climate change keeps me up nights. Climate change is already redrawing the map of the world. According to a quick google search, over 3 million Syrians have fled the country, and over 6.5 million are internally displaced. That’s just one country. A decade of drought, and a civil war, and 9.5 million people pick up and move. 9.5 million people who want to eat 3000 calories a day. 9.5 million people who want to buy food, feed their families, sleep indoors, and work to build their dreams. 9.5 million people that have left everything behind because they had to, and now they need every bit of help they can get. That’s only a problem for a country that can’t harness that energy for constructive ends.

Yes, it could be said that thousands of immigrants are a problem. But they also represent an opportunity. They are thousands more customers for businesses, thousands more potential employees, thousands more soldiers if it comes to that. I keep thinking that it would be a great idea to restart the CCC and employ not just immigrants, but anyone who wants to work at park maintenance, trail building, erosion prevention and similar tasks And not just in parks, anywhere a person with a shovel is useful an immigrant would be useful too. And it would just be in parks and forests. How many new miles of dykes are we going to have to build to keep New York City or Boston or Miami dry? If we as a country can start being proactive with regard to the challenges we face in the next ten years, I think we could find a place to stay and a job for every American, and every refugee and or immigrant we can find.

 

Asshattery or Nothing New

John Cole who happens to be an ex republican that I can respect put the following up:

I know for many of you, there has never been a time that the Republican party was not fully evil. With my current political feelings, I can look back and understand your perspective. At the same time, I still think that the Republican party has become demonstrably worse in the past decade to the point that I don’t even recognize them. People who were too fringe to be the fringe are now elected Senators, and the whole thing party is just a freak show.

It was at around that time that the scales fell from his eyes, and I say good for him. Another BJ front pager Anne Laurie follows up in the comments thusly:

Hate to break it to you, but: I’ve been keeping an eye on the Repubs for more than fifty years, Cole, and during that period they’ve always been more venal than not.

You & the rest of the Sane GOP Minority had the chance to take back “your” party during Watergate, but you chickened out & let the CREEPsters sacrifice Tricky Dick while scuttled into the darkness. (Hi, Cheney… Rumsfeld… Wolfowitz… ) “You” still could’ve carved out the rot when Reagan bumbled onto the stage, but noooo, Jimmy Carter was a wussy peacenik who wore cardigans. By the time Dubya’s handlers staged the Brooks Brothers riot and Poppy’s hand-picked SCOTUS decreed that the popular vote only mattered when the “right” people were popular, anyone with an IQ over room temperature and a soul not thoroughly corrupt was hunting for the exits.

We all did stupid shit when we were young & angry, and I’m glad you grew up and refudiated the whole GOP crime cartel. But saying that the rot started recently is like insisting that your friend didn’t die of AIDS, he died of Karposi’s sarcoma or pneumocystic pneumonia — those may have been the proximate causes, but they wouldn’t have gotten a foothold if the HIV virus hadn’t destroyed his immune system already.

The current batch of GOP office-holders and office-seekers are every one the political equivalent of an opportunistic infection.

I was happy to see this as I had showed up too late to the party to make any realtime contributions to the thread in question. And it sums up nicely my feelings on the matter.

I’ll have to admit that I find it a bit difficult to understand the willful disregard of the obvious among people like Cole, who finally came round on their personal “Road trip to Damascus.”

I was always predisposed to be a raging lefty. Getting chased around the playground, during every recess, by a group of rednecks calling me a nigger probably had something to do with my political persuasion. As a result, I can smell hate from a mile away, and the republicans have always had that reek about them.a quick and

I’ll posit my thesis; a quick and dirty short trip through about the last century. We should be approaching or have just passed the centennial of “Birth of a Nation.”

The KKK was rebranded in the ’50′s and became the John Birch Society, which rode Goldwater to crushing defeat in ’64, but by playing the long game they slowly took over the GOP. Now they are the GOP.

 

Left Field part Two.

Posting this from Windows, which I abhor with the fire of a thousand suns. Near as I can tell the thing is riddled with malware out of the box, and while I have managed to get a couple of linux distros going, the last one did not want to play and the muse is speaking and you have to roll with it.

A couple of days ago a post attracted the attention of a visionary with whom I was familiar, one of the founding fathers of the Mountain bike, one I have referred in passing as the Jefferson of the concept.

This post is gonna include a great deal of inside baseball, and if you are completely uninterested in the subject feel free to wander to more comfortable climes.

Speaking of climes, here in south central Indiana, Bloomington to be exact we are having a most magnificent day. It is around 70 degrees (freedom), low humidity with wisps of clouds painted upon a robins egg blue sky. A day that one would design for every day of the year if one had the power.

OK, now begins the part where regulars might not find an Interest.

Mr. Kelly,

Since you asked for a trading of stories, I will begin with the development and design of my first bicycle frame.

I had purchased my first, a mid range Nishiki in 1983. Later a top end fillet brazed Ross (a model whose name I have forgotten.).

I started work in a bike shop, in fact I was recruited by the owner of said shop in ’85, but I had known the dude within a week of opening his shop because as a teen, when I was not riding I visited every shop in town nearly every day.

Fast forward to the fall of ’87. we had a torch, and the boss showed the man I consider my best friend and a phenomenal mechanic to boot, how to use it. We also had a supply of thin walled tubes on which to practice, from that point on it was off to the races.

My fighting/raciong weight was 140 lbs. we tore up everything resembling a trail we could find, mostly singletrack, went on the equivalent of raiding parties all over the county to discover more places to ride, It may have taken nearly a decade to discover the wonders of fat tires and hill bombing (as is usual in this state before the internet, the lag time of cool things that is.)

Point being is that I suspected that the commercial offerings vis a vis Mountain bikes were heavier than necessary. So I set out to see if that was in fact the case.

My primary ride at the time was a Holdsworth Professional, a High end British road bike. It occurred to me upon close examination that I could fit 26 x 1.5 inch mountain bike tires on both ends, and so I had the platform of discovery. A lightweight road bike built with Reynolds 531, and a torch.

I fired up said torch to solve the primary problem, brakes. I brazed cantilever bosses on the fork and seatstays, knew that drop would be an issue, but one that I could work around. I beat the shit out of that mongrel contraption on many of our discovered trails and to my satisfaction the road, cum mountain bike performed admirably. I did plant a pedal in a few tight corners, but hell you gotta roll with what’s at hand.

Satisfied with the durability of 531 road tubing (at least for a guy of my size) an order was placed, and a box of gleaming silver tubing arrived. I also ordered the two investment cast lugs and fork crown, that would work with my design, from Henry James, a lugless bottom bracket from Quality Bicycles.

For those who might still be following and know not so much we will cover wheels.

The front wheel on nearly every bike on the planet is dishless. What that means is that the rim is centered between the flanges of the hub and thus symmetrical. Like an arch in architecture it is a very strong and stable structure. The rear wheel on most geared bicycles on the other hand is asymmetrical. The spoke tension on the geared, or freewheel side is considerably higher than on the other side. Generally speaking it is not a problem, but I had an Idea.

I am designing and building my first frame and the idea of a dishless rear wheel creeped into my brain. While it would have been easier to recreate a standard frame, I just can’t help myself. I wanted to try something no one else had. At least to my knowledge of the state of the art at the time.

The problem with the offset rear triangle involves bottem bracket width, q factor, and crank clearence, but after a couple of drawings it seemed that I could manage with a rear hub spacing of 126 millimeters with an 8 speed cassette.

During the spring of ’88 my best friend and I both launched into our unique designs. As he was a bigger guy, 6’2″ 200 lbs, and also very bright in the amateur engineering department, had different needs and opted for different parameters to serve his needs.

Forty hours later two new bikes were properly kitted and ready to roll. We had spent an all nighter at the shop and managed the initial parking lot tests abt 20 minutes before we were supposed to open the shop.

To my amazement, the fillet brazed bottom bracket did not fall off, and around mid day, after getting another dose of needed cafiene from a shop across the way, I witnessed one of my co-workers on my newly minted machine executing a perfect Rockford maneuver (a full on tailslide with the front wheel at 90 degrees to the rest of the frame) with horror. I had not had a chance to do anything but a ride around the parking lot, was not still convinced of the soundness of my design and felt that I should have been the first to pull that move. At the same time I have to admit that the Horror was accompanied with a bit of pride.

At the end of the day, I pounded the shit out of that ride for nearly a decade, only had to touch up the rear wheel with a spoke wrench on two occasions, set the big ring hill record (a really short, really steep traverse of a ridge around a tree with a very short run, in short, an extremely technical exercise) with a 48×14.

The thing worked, and well. One of these days you might hear of the heartbreaking collision into the back of a parked car at speed, cratering the front end, and of the means that resurrected the sled.

If anyone has a copy of the January ’93 issue of Winning Magazine, you will find a picture of me riding that steed at full speed in my last race. You will find it in the weekend warrior section.

And if anyone has a copy…I no longer have one of my own…I would love a scan….

To the regulars, thanks for your forbearance, I’ll be back to mocking wingnuts soon enough.

To Mr Kelly, thanks for the inspiration.

OBS Edit:

If you haven’t checked it out yet, you need to look at Mr. Kelly’s website to get a true feel for what kind of legend we have here. This dude was there at the beginning of the revolution. We’re extremely happy to have you here good sir.