Monday, February 23, 2015

‘Pologize now. You hear me? I demand you ‘pologize.

I suspect it was down in Texas, where according to sardonic lore, “He needed killin’” can be raised as a valid defense against murder charges, that a new life form was born. 

Moreover, this oozing, disgusting, abrasive, rapidly multiplying new thing has spread nationwide (and now across the seas)  with the rapidity and strength of an ebola pandemic on steroids.

I’m talking about apologizing and the demand for it, or as they call it somewhere, ‘poligizin'.” The apology is now so overused it appears to be a meaningless act, as in, “Everybody’s all over me for shooting that guy in the head. What are they getting so riled up for? Heck, I already ‘pologized for it.”

More disconcerting are the myriad of demands for apologies  and occasional deliveries thereof from the left.  from the right, from the sports world, from military leaders, from small New England town zoning commissions, from riled up nuns, and now even from the Philippines. Did I mention Newt Gingrich?

What got me set off was a report that the people running Mother Jones magazine and its website are all over Bill O’Reilly, the impossibly biased broadcast gas bag, for lying about his so called combat correspondent experience in the Falklands War of 1982. Moreover, he seemed to recommend that somebody kill the reporter who broke the story.

Heck, all my strings vibrate in sympathy with Mother Jones. Except for one thing. Let’s cut out the demands for an apology crap. O’Reilly shouldn’t apologize. An apology does nothing except add more putrid gas to the already fetid air. Besides, the din of meaningless apologies and demands for apologies is so thick, you can’t tell them apart.

Instead, O’Reilly should have his ass fired off the air, and that’s what the editors of Mother Jones should be demanding. They should be demanding it of O’Reilly’s miserable employers. They should also be demanding it of the FCC.  That's also what the rest of us should be demanding, for acts O'Reilly committed ranging lying to soliciting murder when he suggested that the reporter whose reporting O’Reilly doesn’t like should be “in the kill zone, where he deserves to be.”

And no, I ain’t gonna ‘pologize for harping on the subject.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Jim Wright versus the mighty ayatollahs of Texas

Jim Wright, the best damn writer in 
the blogosphere. Go now and read 
Sorry folks, but I’m currently wrestling with the angst of Blogger Burnout. That, I insist, is an authentic medical condition. Sooner or later it will surface in DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. 

But while my writing muscle has gone more or less catatonic, I can still read. And never have I read a better, more fanatic-busting blog post than the current one by Jim Wright on Stonekettle Station, called the Camel’s Nose.

So head straight over to his post, sit down, and prepare to feel the outrage that will begin boiling up in your chest and eventually sizzle up through your brain, and make steam jet out of your ears.

Yes, it’s about Republicans. And about the religious right. And about what “freedom” means and doesn’t mean in the hands of power-hungry religious fanatics – to children, babies, the unborn, their mothers, and society. In the end, you'll want to toss the Texas ayatollahs in the same stinking sewage pit with the executioners from ISIS and the bombers from Al Qaeda.

Just go here now, and read the damn piece.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

There's money to be made selling dunce caps in Vermont

From The Paris Review's website:

The English language has been in decline for a long time—a very, very long time, in fact, and along the way plenty of people have seen fit to remind us that we’re swirling in the toilet bowl. “It was William Langland, author of Piers Plowman, who wrote that ‘There is not a single modern schoolboy who can compose verses or write a decent letter.’ He died in 1386.
But then there's this from the Vermont Political Observer (Tipoff courtesy of Underbelly-Buce, who I wish would start posting again.)

Monday, February 09, 2015

No no, you people who don’t trust government. You’re only half right. You can’t trust anybody.

Listen, you can’t really hate people for not trusting government. Just look at Congress. 

The most useless people in that useless body are the ones who got into office by running on an anti-government platform. And since Congress is part of government, and the people who ran against useless government are equally useless, you can assume that Congressmen don’t even trust each other. Or themselves.

 So I wasn’t exactly flabbergasted when a publication called Target Marketing reported this morning that people trust business more than government. 

Target Marketing’s report was based on a survey released by a PR firm called Edelman. But in attempting to dig deeper into the report, which wasn’t easy on Edelman’s hard-to-navigate web page, I learned  that just because a lot of people hate Congress more than business, it doesn't mean any love is lost on business, either.

In fact,  “government is still distrusted in 19 of the 27 markets surveyed,” and also, “trust in business is below 50 percent in half those markets.” So people don’t see business as all that trustworthy, either. 

And since business now exerts undue influence on government, by lobbying their bought Congressman – Washington’s favorite indoor sport  – we now have Congress and business slithering  around, building distrust on top of distrust, and chasing chasing their own tails. 

With any luck Congress and business will catch and eat themselves like this snake, that evidently doing a pretty fair job of digesting its own body in its own stomach. (WARNING: Some people may find this video disturbing. Some snakes, Congressmen, lobbyists and business moguls may, as well.)
But Congress and business aren’t the only ones oh the public’s poo list. In addition, “sixty percent of countries now distrust media.” Thanks to all of you who are the ilk of Fox News, Brian Williams, Breitbart and its wannabe pimp and news fake James O’Keefe, and all others who play fast and loose with the facts.

And speaking of mistrust in business, there was yet another story that caught my attention in Target Marketing this morning, and that one was a hair-raiser. It had to do with Dish Network, which evidently has about as much respect for consumers or the regulations of the U.S. Government’s Federal Trade Commission as ISIS does for Charlie Hebdo.

Seems that people have been, and may still be hounded beyond all understanding, even after they put themselves on the Federal Trade Commissions’s Do Not Call List and informed Dish Network of the facts

Target Marketing’s Jeremy Zimmerman reveals:
One FTC report details one woman's struggle:
"One consumer works the night shift at a North Carolina hotel. Turning the phone off when she tries to sleep during the day isn't an option. Her husband has a serious medical condition and she needs to be available in case of emergency. After getting repeated calls about Dish service, she took steps to put an end to the annoyance. She listened to the whole recorded sale pitch, hoping a live person would pick up so she could beg them to stop calling. When she finally got somebody on the line, she told them to put her on their Do Not Call list. She started sleeping on the couch with pencil and paper in hand so she could document the calls when they woke her up. Ultimately, she filed two complaints with her State AG. Dish responded that she probably already was on the company's entity-specific Do Not Call list, but she would be added "in an abundance of caution." But despite all that, the calls kept coming—and according to the government's motion, she was never put on the entity-specific list.
Zimmerman speculates that since Federal Trade Commission rules call for fines of up to $16,000 per violation “Dish will most likely be learning a very pricey lesson on how to treat its customers.”

If I were you, I most likely wouldn't count on that. Maybe some lobbyist will lean on somebody in Congress, to lean on the FTC,  to reduce those fines down to a piffle, and those annoying S.O.B.s at Dish TV will just chuckle. 

Or maybe Zimmerman is merely speculating just as the qualifier he used “most likely” might indicate. (Could Zimmerman's choice of  the phrase “most likely” actually indicate “sorta likely?” Or could Zimmerman be whispering, sotto voce,   “maybe, I hope, I hope.” Or even, “I can’t predict what the FTC will do , but let me throw out a big number and see if it shakes anybody up.”

Meanwhile, I counsel you to trust but verify. And that includes verifying my own stuff, which you can do by following the links in this story.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Satan has a secret plot to enlist Henry Kissinger to poison your child with vaccine. Yeah, I know it’s crazy. That’s my point.

Dr. Len Horowitz promotes the notion that 
vaccination causes autism, and that Henry 
Kissinger  is in a secret cabal with Satan.
Warning: stare too long at Len's T-shirt and you

may become hypnotized, hypnotized, hypnotized.
Look, the whole measles vaccine controversy is getting out of hand. I don’t mean a little bit out of hand. I mean it’s so out of hand that it’s time to call in the people with the white coats and the butterfly nets.

Yeah, children who are immunologically compromised should not be vaccinated. But there’s no good reason for healthy kids not to get the shots, and lots of good reasons relating to public health and pandemic control to make sure kids do get immunized.

But then, we get Jim Wilson of the New York Times reporting on numerous parents like Crystal McDonald:
…here in California, anti-vaccine parents whose children have endured bouts of whooping cough and chickenpox largely defended their choice to raise their children on natural foods, essential oils and no vaccinations.
     “There is absolutely no reason to get the shot,” said Crystal McDonald, whose 16-year-old daughter was one of 66 students sent home from Palm Desert High School for the next two weeks because they did not have full measles immunizations.
     After researching the issue and reading information from a national anti-vaccine group, Ms. McDonald said she and her husband, a chiropractor, decided to raise their four children without vaccines. She said they ate well and had never been to the doctor, and she insisted that her daughter was healthier than many classmates. But when the school sent her home with a letter, Ms. McDonald’s daughter was so concerned about missing two weeks of Advanced Placement classes that she suggested simply getting a measles inoculation
     “I said, ‘No, absolutely not,’ “ Ms. McDonald said. “I said, ‘I’d rather you miss an entire semester than you get the shot.’ “
Right, keep the kids out of school. Better they grow up ignorant than that they have boogeyman toxins in their blood.

Who are these people? Crazy, Tea Party wingnut no-nothings, right?


I am sad and embarrassed to say that these are the people who are usually in synch with the kinds of common sense thinking that this cranky blog supports. They are  well-educated, comfortably well-off – but when it comes to matters of vaccination, they are as whacky as a wing nut on a whipping post.

They all adhere, whether they realize it or not, to the teachings of Dr. Len Horowitz, who is sometimes reported to have a degree in Public Health from Harvard, and sometimes reported to be a dentist. If that latter is true, he has progressed remarkably, and I suspect quite profitably, from filling teeth to filling gullible minds with claptrap.

Let me offer you just one exhibit, a quote from an article Horowitz is promoting about himself in which he reports (and hang to your shorts for this one)…
     …Dr. Leonard Horowitz, a Harvard-trained researcher, discovered a foreboding fact while analyzing the code-the words "Kissinger" and "Vaccination" both decipher to "666," the infamous "mark of the beast.”
     In a prophetically titled book, released three months before 9-11, Death in the Air: Globalism, Terrorism and Toxic Warfare (Tetrahedron Publishing Group; 1-888-508-4787), Dr. Horowitz explained that several of the largest multi-national corporations, and Anglo-American intelligence agencies (i.e., MI6 and U.S. Special Services) often use letters such as "S," as Hitler did with his "SS," to signify the number "6." The researcher determined this designation reflects an alphanumeric code where multiples of six are assigned to each letter in the English alphabet from A to Z (e.g., A=6, B=12, C=18, . . . S=114, . . .Z=156). When these numbers are added, the words "Kissinger" and            "Vaccination" both decipher to "666"-the biblical "mark of the beast."
     Many argue this association reflects mere chance, but Dr. Horowitz, who has been studying these codes and associations since 1998, and Kissinger's links to the vaccine industry since 1993, says serendipity cannot logically account for this shared infamous identity.
So there you go. If you have any doubt whatsoever that measles vaccine is not really there to fight a measles epidemic but instead to wipe the world clean of tiny toddlers so that Beelzebub can reign triumphant, all you have to do is attach various multiples of 6 to each letter of the alphabet. Go ahead and take the trouble to do it, then add them up and see for yourself that they all add up to 666, which is clear and incontrovertible proof that vaccines cause autism and that Satan entertains himself by dressing up like Henry Kissinger.

But let's be fair to the gullible dunderheads who insist on turning their own kids into a generation of ignoramuses by keeping their kids out of school if Devil Vaccine is raising its autistic horns. There was, once, an article in the respected British medical magazine, The Lancet, suggesting that MMR vaccine (a measles, mumps and rubella triple header) might be unsafe. Trouble is, that article was later retracted after  the author’s work was shown to be fraudulent. 

What about that retraction, and oodles of other studies that have concluded there just ain’t no connection between MMR vaccine and autism? Well, all you have to do is consult Dr. Horowitz, who will tell you that it's all part of a cabal among Satan, globalists, Big Pharma, and Big Chemistry.  Listen, I dislike Big Pharma and some aspects of Big Chemistry myself. But that that doesn't mean I'll suck up and swallow the crazy concoction of idiot pills dissolved in pseudo scientific treacle that Dr. Horowitz is cooking up in the lab of his distorted mind.

Did I mention that Doc Horowitz also  has a plan “to prompt world peace” by, uh….Well, there’s no way I can paraphrase this, so let me give it to you in the words of  part of a press release distributed on behalf of one of his books: 
The book, by award-winning humanitarian author, Dr. Leonard Horowitz, addresses Lennon’s persecution by American intelligence agencies opposed to world peace to sustain war commerce. The text proposes a plan to prompt peace on earth by retuning music to play in the frequency used by military technicians to tune sophisticated instruments, that is, 528Hz, used by Lennon to record the peace protest classic Imagine, among the most popular recordings of all time. Horowitz’s peace plan is simple–tune Western music to the “frequency of LOVE/528Hz, used by an increasing number of recording artists, including famous ones like Paul McCartney, that resonates “the energy of love, peace, and health” versus the current imposed “standard tuning” that research indicates generates “fear, stress, and disease.” The “sound of the sun,” for example, and the color of chlorophyll–528Hz and 528nm, respectively–  fills the air with electron-rich energized oxygen. The O2 vibrates at the rate measured at the heart of rainbows, fundamental to organic chemistry and restoring balance, health, and harmony to dissonant systems lacking electron energy, according to Horowitz’s hypothesis being acclaimed as valid by international reviewers. “The Western medical paradigm is terminally ill,” says author Horowitz, “and it’s time for a ‘miracle’ to takes its place.” That miracle happens to be the “MI” frequency of the ancient Solfeggio musical scale–528Hz frequency, he argues.
“The planet has been poisoned by spiritually-deprived psychopaths lusting for power, profits, and the most effective methods to covertly control populations through petrochemical-pharmaceutical intoxications, and distressing musical vibrations, endangering everything,” he asserts.
Right, ya gotta love that pseudo-science. Hey, if the whacko right can believe that Moses drank out of the same well as his pet brontosaurus, why can’t I believe that kids are dying around the world because your guitar is out of tune, which gives Satan the opportunity to instruct Henry Kissinger on how to give your kids a vaccination. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Parse this, liberal scum!

Sarah Palin graffiti in Paris, a few year ago. The graffiti looked crazy then. Sarah sounds crazy today.

I know, I know, I'm late with this. Others have already commented, but Sarah Palin gave a speech in Iowa the other day that made her sound as if she had been stuffing magic mushrooms up her nostrils while simultaneously trying to inhale some mysterious white powder through her eyeballs.

My favorite sample of Sarah's wit and wisdom, in which she referred to the fact that a lot of other crazy Republicans keep telling us that they want to be president, was this:
“It is good that we have a deep bench and its primary competition that will surface the candidate who’s up to the task and unify and this person has to because knowing what the media will do throughout all of 2016 to all of us it’s going to take more than a village to beat Hillary.”
Right, Sarah.  It's going to take armies of men with butterfly nets scooping up and carrying away anybody who can think clearly, understand logic, and speak a coherent sentence.

 And to think the Republicans wanted you for vice president. Sometimes I think our elections are blessed.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pssst! What's gonna happen in the hush-hush meeting between Mitt and Jeb?

The New York Times reports this morning that Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush are on the verge of, as they  used to say in Hollywood, taking a meeting. I wonder what that could be about? My imagination runs wild.

• In one scenario, Mitt and Jeb decide one will run for President and the other for Vice President, but then beat each other to death with their bare fists in an argument over whose banana will be top banana. Chris Christie delivers eulogies at the funerals of both, but inexplicably gains so much weight and girth despite his lap band surgery that he becomes unelectable, leaving the nomination to a runoff between Rick Perry and opportunity-seizing Joni Ernst.

• In another, Mitt and Jeb iron out the vice president issue and decide they'll play good cop/bad cop, with one of them acknowledging citizens' concerns over wages and global warming and the other denying the same and declaring that the only way to save the economy and the planet is to put all unemployed Americans to work laying Keystone XL oil pipe for less than minimum wages.  The idea is, whatever you're for or against, you can find somebody on the ticket who'll make you want to vote Republican.

• In yet another, the purpose of the meeting turns out to be that Bush merely wants to rent some of Mitt's residential garage space when Jeb goes on fund-raising visits to Malibu. In exchange for parking in Mitt's elevator-accessed garage, Jeb offers Mitt a percentage of the fund raising proceeds.

• Or perhaps it's just this: both admit at the meeting that neither of them can beat Hillary, but instead plan a post-election joint career for themselves on FoxTV – an hour of weekly wit and wisdom called The Mitt and Jeb Show. Their long-term aim: to turn the TV talk show into a Broadway musical with songs that have titles like: "If it's getting so hot, how come everybody tells me I'm cold?" And "My solution to pollution is a coal mine in Wyoming." Plus the big, bring-down-the-curtain romantic song at the end of the first act: "I'm 47 percent in love with you."

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Swiss gnomes blow a hole through their own economy’s head, creating a bloody object lesson that American conservatives will almost certainly ignore

Conservative economic theorist
at work
“A strong dollar is one of our greatest weapons against inflation. Anyone who doubts the value of a strong currency should look at the postwar performances of Japan, Switzerland and West Germany.”
-Ronald Reagan, economics genius of 
sainted memory, March 2, 1984

There’s got to be a secret Holy Place somewhere. You know, deep underground, in a steel vault, a shrine where the cult worshippers of Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan go to wave their hands above their heads and speak in tongues.

I’m almost certain that, mingling in the crowed of worshippers with Tea Party congressmen and conservative presidential candidates, there is a clutch of grim-faced Swiss gnomes who fall into trances during which they see heavenly visions of gold bars and tight money.

Intoxicating vapors

This week, no doubt high on the fumes given off by a moldering copy of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the Swiss set the Swiss Franc  free from its limits in relation to the weakening Euro.  Why?

Chris Bailey’s Tumblr suggests, “ What they are worrying about in reality is that as the European authorities appear to have little option but to push the euro down further. Do the Swiss really want to follow the euro down and down and down progressively cutting their international purchasing power? Not at all.”

That’s the reasoning. It was about as strategic and insightful as your run-of-the-mill winner of the Darwin Awards, given to “individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives.” They do this through their "astoundingly stupid judgment."

Who qualifies for
a Darwin Award?

One example of a potential Darwin Award winner might be this guy, who blew his own brains out while while trying to demonstrate gun safety to his girlfriend by putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger. 

If they ever create a Darwin Award for the suicidal economic consequences of a financial decision, I would plead with the nominating committee to move the Swiss to the head of the list. The fallout from their economic decision came as quickly as a bullet out of the muzzle of a Mauser.
LONDON (Reuters) - Frantic foreign exchange trading after the Swiss National Bank scrapped its euro cap on the franc took $100 billion(65.52 billion pounds) off the value of Switzerland's blue-chips on Thursday, putting them on track for their biggest one-day fall in at least 25 years. 
The Swiss SMI index (.SSMI) slumped 10 percent, with stocks including Swatch (UHR.VX), luxury-goods firm Richemont (CFR.VX) and cement-maker Holcim (HOLN.VX) down between 11 and 15 percent in what some traders described as "carnage" 
Swatch Chief Executive Nick Hayek called the SNB's decision "a tsunami" for Switzerland's economy.
Hey, to paraphrase the late Senator Everett Dirksen, lose a hundred billion bucks here and another hundred billion bucks there and pretty soon you’re talking real money.

So now the much richer Swiss can afford anything they want from abroad with the savings they have in the bank, but it’ll be harder and harder to earn a dime's worth of Francs, as the price of their goods soar out of control on international markets. Which is actually going to make them a lot poorer.

Uh, Tea Party folks? 


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

One of the great curmudgeons of the ad biz now advocates throwing corporate CEOs in the slammer. Good for him!

This is Denny Hatch. Don't 
mess with him.
Unless you were in what used to be called the “junk mail” end of the advertising business before it went all electronic on us, you may not have heard of Denny Hatch. He’s an iconic direct marketing consultant and business magazine publishing pioneer, celebrated for his marketing insights and knowhow.

Like many of the rest of us, he also really wishes he were a full time novelist. Well, there's nothing you can do about that, so let's get on with the story.

In recent years, Hatch has also been a columnist for Target Marketing magazine.

If you’re in the business of highly targeted direct response advertising and marketing, you’ve not only heard of him, but also know he gets pissed off easily.

Rage, rage against CompuServe

For example, back in the 1990s, when the Internet was new and most people simply dialed it up via their ISP provider, which often was a now-defunct company called CompuServe. Hatch ran a CompuServe online direct marketing forum. He quit in an explosive fury after the CEO of CompuServe dared to describe what his customers on that forum produced  as “junk mail.” (These days everybody calls it "junk mail," including – at least once in a while – Denny Hatch.)

Ya gotta love Hatch, if only because he not only says what he means, but also because he says it with a sledge hammer.

Currently, Hatch has a column in Target Marketing online called “Denny’s Daily Zinger.” Most of the time, he points and shoots lightning out of his finger at marketing incompetence, but from time to time he goes beyond that.

Today, January 13, 2015, he went after fat cat corporate CEOs. The source of Denny’s rage is the policy made by corporate chieftains who place profits and their own bonuses above the financial security of their customers. These are customers who entrust the multi-billion dollar companies with personal information such as credit card numbers.

Here’s Denny Hatch on the subject:
My opinion: greedy CEOs whose organizations are entrusted with our actionable data—and then allow thieves to steal it—should go to jail along with the thieves. 
I'm not talking pieces of paper. 
I'm talking jail time for James Dimon (JPMorgan); Craig Menear (Home Depot); Karen Katz (Neiman Marcus); Gregg Steinhafel (former CEO, Target); and Tim Cook (Apple). 
Only when prison stripes replace pinstripes will the nabobs of corporate America be scared so witless and they'll stop treating their customers like dog turds.
Now mind you, Denny is not some crazed political radical, or a left winger. I doubt he'd normally spend ten seconds of his time at a blog like The New York Crank. I’ll bet that when he saunters out of his Philadelphia town house on Election Day, he generally votes Republican.

Slammer time for CEOs and
the politicians who suck up to them

But when corporate behavior becomes so egregious that even generally-pro-business Republicans want to throw the bums in the slammer, you know it’s actually time to really throw them in the slammer.

Congress? Want to act on this, Congress? 

Oh, sorry, I forgot. Nearly all of you Congressional and Senae imbeciles are on their payrolls via campaign contribution scams. Which means nearly all of you ought to be behind bars, too.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Isn’t there anybody left on this planet with a sense of humor?

They’re all interconnected: Charlie Hebdo, Kim Jung-un, the script writer of “The Interview,” and Cho Hyun-ah. (Who? Keep reading.)

Let’s start with the fact that morning’s news was anything but funny. A bunch of Islamo-terrorists in Paris invaded the offices of a satirical magazine called Charlie Hebdo and opened fire with automatic weapons. As of noon today, the body count of their victims was 12.

I’ve become somewhat familiar with Charlie Hebdo during several more or less recent visits to France.(Hebdo is short for hebdomedaire, or weekly). Its covers stand out on French newsstands because of their sock-in-the-eye cartoon humor. Sometimes they’re downright funny. Sometimes, you might find them not-so-funny, despite their satiric intent. 
Charlie Hebo is an equal opportunity 
insulter of religions

Yes, they take on and mock Islam and those who commit terrorism in its name. Yes, they’re crude and insulting. But let it also be said that when it comes to religion, Charlie Hebdo is an equal opportunity insulter. 

One example is the magazine cover at right, in which three major religions demand that Charlie Hebdo should be hidden behind a veil. There have been multiple attacks of gross humor on both Catholicism and Judaism as well as Islam in Charlie Hebdo, as well as stinging mockeries of French government officials. 

Overall, is the publication funny? That’s a question that demands a subjective answer. I’ll just say it’s no less funny than “The Interview” the movie that the FBI claims provoked a recent web attack on Sony Pictures – an attack that revealed employee memos, internal sniping, and finished with a flourish that promised violence against the patrons of any theater showing the new Seth Rogin flic. 

That movie, The Interview, is about an American attempt to assassinate Kim Jung-un, the young North Korean head of state. You know,who I mean – the fat dictator with the terrible haircut. (Not to be confused with Chris Christie. Not yet, at any rate.) 
And you thought your barber is bad?

What is it, by the way, with bad hair, dictators and other disagreeable personalities – from Kimg Jung-un’s father Kim Jung-il, to Donald Trump? Is there a single gene that generates both autocratic behavior and a penchant for lousy-looking hair? But I digress.

The truth is, that had North Korea (or whoever it was) not hacked Sony, the film would have passed through the theaters (I borrow the next phrase from the author Tom Robbins) “like thin shit through a tall Swede.” It generated reviews that were not calculated to bring crowds running to the theaters, like one in Variety that called it “a terror attack…against comedy,” and “about as funny as a communist food shortage…half-baked burlesque.” The put-down went on and on, but you get the idea.

However, the hackers forgot that nothing focuses public attention like an out-of-proportion attack. This film has earned $31 million in streaming revenues to date, “becoming  Sony’s number one online film of all times,” and has been rented or purchased a total of 4.3 million times. So much for the economic impact of terrorist intimidation in this era of streaming technology. If Kim Jung-un was behind the Sony hack, he should know that the financial fallout of this caper makes him look like a bigger schmuck than the movie does.

Although finding a theater that plays the film isn’t easy, my cable channel offered me the opportunity to see it on demand for $5.95. I bit. My own review?

In my personal opinion, the movie isn’t quite as bad as Variety would have us believe. The Interview is really not a fourth rate film, although it is most certainly second- or third-rate. It starts out entertainingly enough, with a bunch of school children singing an engagingly insulting song about the United States that is so ridiculous it could make a fanatical patriot chuckle. It introduces us to a couple of amusing TV jerks working on the fringes of TV News. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there to base sophomoric yuks pretty quickly.

However, you don’t have to be either an outraged terrorist or a fat dictator with a bad haircut to have no sense of humor and behave outrageously these days. All you need is lots of money and connections.

A case in point has to do with Cho Hyun-ah, the rich, self-important, and evidently vicious member of a family that controls Korean Air Lines via a family-owned conglomerate. She was also a vice-president of Korean Air. The New York Times reports:
Ms. Cho’s father, Cho Yang-ho, the chairman of the Hanjin Group, has placed his three children in executive perches in the conglomerate, which also runs shipping, logistics and hotel businesses.
Well, see, if you’re born rich and connected, in South Korea (or North Korea, or here for that matter) you don’t have to start at the bottom and work your way up the executive ladder. Or know how to behave.

Seems that after boarding a flight from New York to Inchon, Ms. Cho became extremely pissed off (“irate” is the polite word that the New York Times used) “after a flight attendant served nuts without first asking her, and in an unopened package instead of a plate.”

So of course, she did what any rich, overprivileged, brat with unearned power would do. She ordered the plane, which had already left the gate but not yet taken off, to return to the gate, so that the steward could be kicked off, the insolent serf!

Yes, there was some backlash, not to mention that Ms. Cho’s fellow passengers were rankled by the delay. South Koreans began calling their own national airline “Air Nuts.” Ms. Cho was eventually forced to resign as head of the airline’s flight services, although for some curious reason she remains a vice-president of the airline. Draw your own conclusions.

There seem to be several morals in all this. Those that occur to me right off the cuff:

1.   Beware of rich or powerful people with bad haircuts.

2.   Every country in the world should have an excess wealth tax and other reins on excess power. I wish we could have that here. (Are you listening Donald Trump? How about you, Koch Brothers? And you, Bush Brothers?)

3.   There would appear to be an inverse relationship between violence and a sense of humor, as the Paris massacre demonstrates. Which makes me terribly worried about Chris Christie’s evident interest in running for President next year.

4.   If anything violent happens to me, or if I should suddenly and unexplainably disappear, round up and question the usual suspects. Those would be anybody mentioned in this post.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

John McCain, Drill Baby Drill, and the Law of Unintended Consequences

Remember when John McCain was agitating the right wing masses with chants of “Drill baby, drill?”

Oh yeah, he quickly gave lip service to alternative energy sources – a sort of kiss before sending alternative energy to the gibbet with a hooded executioner. The emphasis was clearly on getting all the filthy fossil fuel we could out of the earth and sending it up the chimney for the enrichment of oil interests that were backing mostly the candidates of the right.

Here’s a reminder if you need it, but keep reading after you watch.

Now, from the New York Times, comes this:
HOUSTON — States dependent on oil and gas revenue are bracing for layoffs, slashing agency budgets and growing increasingly anxious about the ripple effect that falling oilprices may have on their local economies. 
The concerns are cutting across traditional oil states like Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Alaska as well as those like North Dakota that are benefiting from the nation’s latest energy boom 
“The crunch is coming,” said Gunnar Knapp, a professor of economics and the director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Right-O John. The oil’s gushing like water and it’s the oil producing states that are getting screwed.

Of course, in a way everybody’s getting screwed, even as cheap oil for as while produces some prosperity. With oil selling for less than – well certainly less than bottled water – the impetus to turn to alternative fuels has gone up the chimney. So you can expect the auto makers to sell more SUVs this year and fewer fuel-efficient cars. You can expect the solar and wind industries to wither. And eventually, when somebody tightens the oil spigot, everybody’s screwed and we’ll all be right back to where we were a few years ago.

One way to ameliorate the situation at least a little bit – and to get some desperately needed infrastructure repairs financed at the same time – would be to slap cheap gasoline with a five cent, or maybe even a ten cent federal gasoline tax.

With a Republican Congress? I have to be kidding, right?

Right. So we might as well all lie back and enjoy getting scewed. Long live St. Ayn. Forget I said anything, kiddies. Go back to your economics textbook. You know the one I mean. “Atlas Shrugged.” The current situation gives new meaning to the title. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Young black man shot dead by cops for shopping in Wal-Mart

A young black man wanders into Wal-Mart, walking up and down the aisles while chatting on a cell phone. He finds an air rifle left out on a counter top and picks it up. He continues shopping – or doing the Wal-Mart version of window shopping, eventually wandering into the pet department.

There, still holding the rifle – perhaps he’s on his way, eventually, to the checkout counter – and still chatting on the phone, he seems to be looking at merchandise on a dog food rack.

Meanwhile, a vigilante do-gooder calls 911 and reports he sees a man with a rifle loading the weapon in the store and pointing it at people. None of which is corrrect, store surveillance videos and later investigation show.

The cops arrive. They have real weapons that really are loaded. They dash into the store. Later they claim they told  the young man, who was still talking on his cell phone, to drop the gun. Even assuming that they are telling the truth, he clearly doesn’t hear them. His head doesn’t appear to  turn their way. He still continues chatting on the phone. About one second later, they blow him to kingdom come.

Cops, desperate to justify the shooting, bully the dead man’s girlfriend, still in shock from learning of his death, first trying to get her say that her boyfriend had the gun when he arrived at Wal-Mart, then accusing her of drug use, and also threatening her, “You lie to me and you might be on your way to jail.” You can watch a small piece of this disgusting interrogation here:

A grand jury convenes. Need I tell you the outcome? Right. The grand jury decides the police were “justified” in ending the young man’s life. 

If you’re from Ohio, you already know this story. It’s been in local papers, including the Dayton Daily News, and others for weeks. But although the shooting has had some television airtime and some play in The Guardian and The Huffington Post, similar events in Missouri and New York, with bigger media presence, have drowned out the story for most of the rest of the nation.

So here’s another dead body to add to the growing mound of young black corpses, on top of the second corpse within a few miles of Ferguson.

The rage in America is growing. Keep it up, cops. Get just a little more trigger happy and we all might get stuck with a full blown revolution on our hands. The American revolution started with a “justified shooting” by British troops and created a massacre in Boston. Study the history or repeat it, as the police and prosecutors seem hellbent on making sure happens.

And with that said, Merry Christmas. I suppose.

Cross-posted at No More Mister Niceblog

Friday, December 19, 2014

Taking hostages: ISIS, Kim Jong-un, Norman Seabrook and Viral Bad Behavior

Seabrook – you'd better
read about him below
Dear Leader Kim fattens while his people starve
Let’s start with the firm premise that I have no use for any of the entities mentioned in the headline or depicted above. Each, in his own way, represents something disgraceful about the human race. 

But what I’ve noticed lately is that vile behavior is spreading like a virus, thanks to guys like these.

I don’t need to explain much about ISIS, the organization whose trademark outrage, among its many outrages, is capturing innocent strangers and cutting off their heads.

Nor do I have to explain Kim Jong-un, the fat North Korean dictator in a land of starving people. He’s the one who just made a name for himself by bringing Sony to its knees for daring to make a film that satirized him. In the course of it he threatened the lives of any person who dares – dares! – to see the movie. He’s threatening violence in the style of 9-11. 

The silence from Congress is deafening. Our lawmakers seem terrified to so much as speak a word against him. He may be the most powerful influence on Congress since the NRA. Sometimes I wonder if he has bought as many legislators as the NRA.

But unless you live in New York – in fact,  even if you live in New York but don’t read the papers closely, Norman Seabrook’s name may leave you scratching your head. Norman who?

Seabrook is head of something called COBA, a renegade union called the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, and although his photograph makes him look affable enough, he is your worst nightmare. His sociopathic excuse for a labor union has demonstrated that he will shut down the city’s courts and criminal justice system if anyone dares challenge the brutality of the prison guards who form his union’s membership.

 They beat up teen-agers and allow or encourage others to do the same. They continence prison rape and sodomy and have been known to participate in it themselves. They smuggle contraband in to prisoners who pay off. They allow prisoners to bake to death. And then they lie, in incident after incident, to cover up the true facts.

And should anyone dare to bring individual officers up on charges, the union shuts down the courts by preventing the transport of prisoners from the Riker’s Island prison complex in the East River to any of the city’s courtrooms. The New York Times reports:
Last year, the same union effectively shut down the court system in the city for a day, an exercise in a different kind of power. Led by Norman Seabrook, the president of the union, correction officers claimed every single bus for transporting prisoners was unfit to drive or could not be moved. What were they up to? Well, the shutdown took place on the day a man being held at Rikers Island was supposed to be delivered to the Bronx courthouse to testify at the trial of two correction officers accused of assaulting him. The prisoner, and 750 other people due in courts throughout the city, were not able to go.
Each time brutal or justice-evading tactics are used – whether by ISIS, tinpot dictators, a corruption-tolerating union chief who is giving the many good unions a bad name, another stake is driven into the heart of civil society.

It’s all hostage-taking, whether you’re ISIS and you behead them, or you’re COBA and you take the entire criminal justice system hostage while you beat prisoners to death, some of them mere kids.

Hey, if they can get away with it, then why not me or my organization, too? And so brutal, thuggish, corrupt bad behavior grows viral.

Norman Seabrook is no better than Kim Jong-un, or the ISIS murderers. If he and his people get away with it, there will be another group perpetrating a new group of outrages, for sure.

A bill, egged on by Seabrook and Coba,  is coming before New York State Governor Cuomo. It will move the venue for cases brought against out-of-control brutal prison guards to Queens, from the historic and legal venue of The Bronx, where at least the distract attorney seems to have a spine. The question is, will Governor Cuomo also have spine – or at least spine enough to veto the bill? 

Or will he let the unions get away with it because they’re big campaign contributors – having “donated” $300,000 to state elected officials from both parties.

The New York Times reports:
The two prosecutors signed a letter stating their vigorous opposition to the bill’s purpose and language. 
“Remarkably, in one short sentence, this bill manages to be ambiguous as to its meaning, potentially unconstitutional and at odds with the surrounding provisions of Criminal Procedure Law,” they wrote. 
The state district attorneys association is opposed to it; the Legal Aid Society is opposed; Mayor Bill de Blasio is opposed; so is the New York Civil Liberties Union. 
“It’s rare that you’ll see those individuals and groups coming together on one side of an issue,” Mr. Brown said. 
Governor Cuomo’s office did not reply to a question about his intentions.
Eh, Governor Cuomo?