Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'll be chucking out my copy of Ringworld...

via SadlyNo, I read about this adhoc group of "advisors"
Now a fixture at Department of Homeland Security science and technology conferences, SIGMA is a loosely affiliated group of science fiction writers who are offering pro bono advice to anyone in government who want their thoughts on how to protect the nation.

Don't raise your hopes, its not Ken McCloud or Neil Gaiman. It these frakking jokers:
Among the group’s approximately 24 members is Larry Niven, the bestselling and award-winning author of such books as “Ringworld” and “Lucifer’s Hammer,” which he co-wrote with SIGMA member Jerry Pournelle.

Pournelle, according to covert operatives of the Mojowire, is renowned for cranking at Science Fiction conventions about Government involvement in Space Exploration, or some such libertarian nonsense. Apparently, he's the more liberal of the famed Pournelle/Niven pairing. This is the part that made my cranium explode:

Niven said a good way to help hospitals stem financial losses is to spread rumors in Spanish within the Latino community that emergency rooms are killing patients in order to harvest their organs for transplants.
“The problem [of hospitals going broke] is hugely exaggerated by illegal aliens who aren’t going to pay for anything anyway,” Niven said.
“Do you know how politically incorrect you are?” Pournelle asked.
“I know it may not be possible to use this solution, but it does work,” Niven replied

hahahahaha. Oh Larry, you are so cuuutte when you are politically incorrect. Oh wait, you're not being politically incorrect, you're being an ignorant racist FrakFace. Um, Larry, maybe you should consider the following facts:

Hospitals are not losing money because of "illegal immigrants". They are losing money because the business model of Health Care is broken and needs to be fixed. A key aspect of that. which you are vaguely and inaccurately alluding to is the burden the uninsured place on the dwindling number of Hospital Emergency rooms, where the law and all standards of human decency require they treat and stabilize everyone who shows up. A relatively small percentage of these are illegal immigrants. Most of them are legal immigrants or citizens who do not have health coverage, and show up with acute health problems that cost astronomicly more to treat in the ER than they would at the Doctors office. Maybe you should get your facts straight Mr. Ringworld, before you pop off to a government agency with your too maverick for the room ideas.

By the way Larry, terrorizing sick people to get them to avoid the ER will result in otherwise preventable serious illness and death. Some of whom are children, since they comprise a sizeable number of the people illegal immigrants and uninusured citizens bring to the ER. Little else other than sick kids or debilitating illness brings people to the ER who don't have insurance. It's too expensive. And Larry, someone walking around with untreated influenza or tuberculosis could turn in a bigger national security threat than any of the others your overheated imagination can conjure up. Think 1918 Larry. And crack a book other than one of your own sometime about the history of pandemics.

And just for the record, Editor Biz works in a Southeast Los Angeles Hospital at ground zero of the Latino community which shelters many of these terrifying illegal immigrants. You know why our ER is full all the time? Hmmm...? It's not the dreaded illegal immigrant. It's because a huge Public hospital located in Central Los Angeles closed down, and we're the closest ER for people in this part of town. Relatively few of them are here illegally. They are the working poor of Los Angeles, mostly uninsured, many of whom are African American. Is their legal status good enough for you Larry? The huge pool of urban working poor will still be here to inconvience your trips to the ER to be treated, even if the Larry Nivens of the world hermitically seal the United States off from the rest of the world.

It kills me to find out that Larry Niven is just as big an ignorant crank as Pournelle. Even Orson Scott Card is sounding rational next to these dufes.

Oh, before I forget, let's chat about this genius idea:
David Brin, keeping on the topic of empowering citizens with mobile phone technology, delivered a self-described “rant” on the lack of funds being spent to support citizen reservists to back up the military, homeland security officials and first responders in times of crisis. “It is impossible for you to succeed without us!” he shouted at the assembled officials, while banging his fist on the table and at one point jumping off his chair to wave a mobile phone in their faces.

Citizen Reservists?? uh oh...
Pournelle said that once mobile phone technology and the devices tacked on them to take pictures and record video become more ubiquitous, then ordinary citizens will be empowered to take security into their own hands — a prediction some have said already has come to pass.

you mean, like a Lynch Mob? What *exactly* will waving cell phones and taking picture do for the security of the Fatherland? Let me tell you, people sending DHS pictures of the neighbors dog peeing on their lawn, and pictures of people of color walking in suburban neighborhoods, spooking terrified white people. Can you tell the difference between a second generation Middle Eastern Amerian citizen, and a covert Al Queda operative. I'll give you a clue, you will never see the Al Queda operative at the mall.

Cell phones would not have prevented 9/11 , nor would have "citizen reservists" stalking American streets looking for Al Queda devil robots. Coordination among the agencies charged with foreign and domestic intelligence, accompanied with a radical culture change that would enable better cooperation. Oh, not to mention that Senior leaders like the President and the National Security Advisor should maybe pay closer attention when CIA briefers give them memo's with titles like" Al Queda likely to attack U.S.," or things to that effect. Without that, we can put a cell phone in everyone's hand, and it won't really change the odds.

Oh, and Larry, Ringworld Throne sucked.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fat Tony Speaks...

Is Antonin Scalia the most dishonest person in America? [c.f. Fat Tony Scalia Pimps Book, Sensitive Side on NPR]

If not, then he's certainly in the running.

Fat Tony has been granting select interviews with tame reporters to pimp his new book on courtroom persuasion. The first thing that really strikes the listener is his almost apologetic approach to the Constitution, as if he knows he's completely full of shit. My initial reaction was: "what a tool..."

To illustrate... in the interview, he says:
"My Constitution is not living, it is dead," Scalia says.

As an "originalist" and a "textualist," to Scalia the Constitution means what the framers intended back at the founding of the republic.

"Whatever they understood then is, in my view, the meaning ... and it's not up to me to say it really shouldn't mean that any more, it should mean something different. Once you get into that boat, you have no criterion," he says.
Forget the horrible fornication of actual history he engages in there for a moment, if you can, and focus rather on this:
"[It is] entirely clear from our Nation’s historical practices that the Establishment Clause permits this disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities, just as it permits the disregard of devout atheists.”
So quoth The Tool in McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky

This is directly at odds with what the primary framer of the First Amendment intended. We know it specifically because James Madison commented frequently upon it; not merely relying on Jefferson's "wall of separation" letter to the Anabaptists. Madison writes:
“Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and government in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history”

“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.”

“And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together”

“The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state”

“Religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Government”
In another example of Fat Tony's questionable judicial honesty: In 2000, he wrote a majority opinion regarding federal port fees in Charleston, South Carolina. The organizing principle of his take was that those kind of administrative functions had no business being done by the Feds. It was tantamount to federal interference with a state activity and of course the federal government couldn’t do that.

In less than 90 days, his ideology swung around 180 degrees and he ruled that the Federal Government had every right to stop a state from recounting votes and overturning a Republican victory in a state election, and that the state had no business interfering in such a critical federal function. And he did it quoting the same phrase of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution both times...

So, yeah, his commitment to his ideology and his honesty is somewhat questionable.

Moreover, I am extra-unimpressed with his assertions that he is really sensitive and he personally suffers from criticism. This from the guy who routinely adds little digs and insulting quips about his fellow justices' reasoning and even their fitness as jurists in his opinions.

Memo to Fat Tony: Hey Jackass, if you don't want people to react to you like that, then don't provoke them in your writing. You are a legal bully, and we all know Mojo's patience for bullies. So spare me your "but I'm really just a sensitive troll..." routine. You are a swaggering thug, and swaggering thugs get run, here.

Look, let's just get to the essence of my take... Justice Scalia, you are a tool, a liar and a hypocrite and -- left or right -- you are the worst thing to happen to American jurisprudence in my lifetime.

I look forward to seeing your half-bright screeds being relegated to the scrapheap of dead letter legal history.

mojo sends

Friday, April 25, 2008

The March of War

[c.f. here and here]

It would appear that there is a dead-ender gang in the Pentagon and in the basement crypt of the White House that is continuing to push for military confrontation with Iran.

I hear you now: "'military confrontation?' what kind of tosser magazines are you readin'... just call it war!" But that's just the thing, though. These people don't really want war, they want War™ not actually war but an incredible simulation...

Okay, enough of the dispassionate sarcasm. But in the last few weeks, it would seem like the anti-Iran rhetoric has been ratcheting up; reports of secret Iranian death squads planting bombs in Iraq, Joint Chiefs openly talking about how they are going to bomb Tehran back to the stone age, Bob Gates still out pimping the "Iran is hell bent on getting nuclear weapons" rap, although it seems like fewer and fewer people are buying...

Now a merchant vessel "under contract" to the U.S. Navy are getting involved in confrontations in the Persian Gulf. I have always had my questions about the "chaos build-out" theory popular with s9. To my mind, incompetence is still a better explanation for the way things turned out.

Yet, that does not make what s9 says untrue. In this context it would not surprise me that the Bush Administration would be willing to start some shit with Iran and dare the next President and Congress to have to deal with it. They are just realizing their idiotic comic plans for world domination will take longer than the standard 48 minute Tee-Vee drama format, more like a 112 minute made for Tee-Vee movie of the week...

My government sucks like sucking right now.

mojo sends

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Religion of Peace, My Ass!

Watch it! Learn it! Live it!

When the Angry Sky Fairy says "smite" the only thing I wanna hear outta y'all is "how many?"

mojo sends

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Just Burn It Down, Baby!

Tanta over at Calculated Risk writes about an IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT in the unfolding housing and credit market crisis:
I have no evidence that lenders are out torching homes instead of foreclosing on them, but then again I bet I could get an unnamed source to opine that it's possibly a dangerous trend...
I can arrange that.

Hell, I'll go farther, and assert categorically, without a shred of evidence, and pseudonymously to boot, that it's happening now, it's a huge problem, and it's only going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

It doesn't have to be true. That's the beauty of it. It's truthy in a good way. Spread the word.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I truly despise the fact I was not too terribly shocked to read this article about the propaganda campaign employed by the White House and the Pentagon.

My first impression, beyond the usual sense of horror and anger I usually experience when I read one of these Bush Administration classics, is simply this; I am consistently amazed at the disparity between what can only be characterized as an innovative, sophisticated, propaganda scheme cooked up by this Administration and the Pentagon, and the utter incompetence bordering on stupidity that goes into planning all that other minor stuff, like the war in Iraq and dealing with the threat posed by Al Queda.

Just go ahead and read the article if you haven't and tell me you aren't struck by how slick that campaign was and is, and how botched up the actual military mission is. Let's look at an example:
Again and again, records show, the administration has enlisted analysts as a rapid reaction force to rebut what it viewed as critical news coverage, some of it by the networks’ own Pentagon correspondents. For example, when news articles revealed that troops in Iraq were dying because of inadequate body armor, a senior Pentagon official wrote to his colleagues: “I think our analysts — properly armed — can push back in that arena.”
[emphasis mine]

And they did push back, very skillfully and effectively. But, did they respond to the body armor and vehicle armor issue with that same level of skill and competence?


Instead, they concentrated on the political element, the pushback in the media. Body armor and vehicle armor issues persisted for years to come. That's swell guys. Thank goodness you managed the all important media war and allowed the tangential shooting war to dissolve into chaos and cause all that death. Too bad about the dead people. We'll have to make sure anyone upset about that is Swiftboated or has their right to vote stripped from them in some electoral scheme.

I think these people actually might have made me despise them more. Good Effort Bush Team! Way to keep it up right to the very end!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pierce speaks, you listen...

Charles Pierce puts his finger on an aspect of the torture debacle that managed to truly astound me:

via Altercation:
I was away from the Intertubes for several days and, therefore, I am just now catching up to the whole "Bittergate" controversy. (I actually heard a TV drone say that.) I also am just now catching up with the fact that the president of the United States is proud to have hosted meetings in which specific techniques of torture were discussed in the presidential mansion. Forgive me if I am not yet up to speed on the two stories, but having a candidate for the presidency say something that virually anyone who's spent any time in the region in question knows to be true -- which, I will admit, leaves out almost all of the people covering national politics these days -- seems to me rather less of a story than the fact that a giggling unemployable spent time pretending to be Henry VIII down the hall from a gathering of bloodsoaked, pathetic wannabe tough guys. (I mean, lord save us, but is there a more obvious dweeb than Douglas Feith?) I have no illusions about the dirty deeds that were plotted and executed in the Executive manse down through the years, but this thing? Smarmy little bureaucrats exchanging their favorite episodes of 24, the way the late Chris Farley used to host "The Chris Farley Show" ("You remember when Jack shot the guy in the kneecap? That was awesome.")? CIA guys brought in to "demonstrate" the subleties of each method? This wasn't national security. This was porn, plain and simple. Everyone of these criminal bastards should have been wearing a raincoat.

To be specific, he is referring to this Vanity Fair article which discusses how torture advocates at Gitmo and in Washington used A FREAKING TELEVISION SHOW as a direct guide to their policies on torturing detainees. How is this possible?

Put aside the gut wrenching idea that this country, after the War Crimes of the Nazi's and the Japanese, the use of horrific techniques to break our soldiers in captivity in North Korea and Vietnam, and this nations post war commitment to the establishment of binding agreements on all nations on the rights of detainees, that we would even consider the torture of human beings as policy. Let's just try to come to grips with the sophomoric, almost insouciant manner these immense moral questions are dealt with. So will video games be next? Will our nations next major conflict be guided by the Presidents strategic experience that he gained from Super Mario Bros? What the f*$k is this crap?

I understand that television shapes our views and world outlook more that we might want to admit. But this way beyond that. At first the faux tough guy crap of David Addington and the draft dodgers like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Karl Rove making fun of Colin Powell when he expressed his objections to the torture policy seems like more of the Frat Boy posturing which has come to define this Administration. But this whole enterprise goes beyond that. Pierce is right, this is pornography. I mean that in the sense that this was not an effort to simply gain information. This was revenge. Revenge against Al Queda and anyone remotely Arabic, Islamic, or even from that part of Asia. It's sadism pure and simple.

There is not enough raincoats in the world to prevent the splatter on the rest of us.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Cavalry has arrived!

Fafblog is back!

You know, for a while I was getting worried, what with the Democratic party circular firing squad and annihilation of our financial system unfolding before our eyes. But now, I know that Giblets, the Medium Lobster, and Fafnir will make it ALL better.

"The triumphant cry of revolution will call out through the streets: Vive Fáfnir! Vive Gibléts!" says Giblets. "Radical Fafbloggists will demand a new era of Fafno-Gibletsian rule over the cosmos, and none will be able to stand in their way!"

P.S. Fafblog gives us a link to a fine update on the latest from a Mojowire favorite Jack Chick. Enjoy...