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Friday, September 24, 2010

Wingnut Logic

I knew it. From my entanglements in the comment section at Outside the Beltway, I guess I should have seen this coming. Here's the Washington Post on how federal workers are becoming targets of a certain political constituency. (Hint: It's the one that is constantly scapegoating someone, whether it's Muslims, Mexicans, gays, or federal employees.)
In their campaign blueprint released this week, GOP lawmakers proposed a hiring freeze on non-security federal workers to help slash $100 billion in government spending. On Capitol Hill, they've tried to block President Obama's proposed 1.4 percent pay increase, to furlough federal workers for two weeks to save $5.5 billion, to fire workers who owe federal taxes, to shrink the pool of political appointees, to freeze bonuses and even to shut down the government. None of these ideas has gotten much traction in the Democratic-controlled Congress, but the resurgence of a GOP majority after the November elections could change that.
Now I know I'm the weird one, but I don't trust the party who perfected the concept of no-bid contracts to "reform" the federal workforce, but then again...I listen to music on the radio rather than the velvety smooth voices of right-wing blowhards.

Let's go through them one by one.

The hiring freeze. Leaving aside the question of whether a federal hiring freeze is really the message you want to send during a period of high unemployment, how is this going to be feasible? Like it or not, there are jobs for the Feds to do. From park rangers and meat inspectors to groundskeepers and accountants, things must be done. A hiring freeze only ensures that they'll be done by contractors. You don't like paying the payroll? Try paying the payroll and the profits.

Blocking the pay increase. Again, leaving aside the question of whether that's a good message to send during a down economy, how is this going to help us? I'm not denying that ditching this pay increase won't save money. That's a mathematical fact. But is the money we'll save worth the lack of incentive? Incentives matter.

The two week unpaid vacation. I wouldn't mind two extra weeks off and if I knew it was coming, I think I could jigger my finances around enough to cover my bi-weekly mortgage payment, but still. Things must be done, remember, and we can't keep closing the courthouse on Fridays. If we aim to save $5.5 billion, let's just cancel a contract with Accenture or something.

Firing workers who owe federal taxes. Hell, let's not stop there. Let's fire everyone who owes federal taxes. That way the taxes never get paid. But seriously, why would you do that? There are many ways you can owe federal taxes, and not all of them make you unfit for employment. Maybe you got a windfall. Maybe you put the wrong number in the wrong box. Owing federal taxes does not make you a bad person, so let's stuff this idea back in the box.

Shrinking the pool of political appointees, alright, whatever. I say expand it. The pool, that is. Political appointees shouldn't be chosen from no shrunken pool.

Freeze bonuses. Leaving aside whether that's the message you really want in an economic downturn, do we really need to deprive the workforce of even more incentives? We're already snatching their pay raises, making them take an unpaid vacation, digging into their bank accounts, and making them do more work because of this stupid hiring freeze. Maybe we should beat them with a stick, too.

A Wealth of Vegetable Matter

I have to say, it's too bad that the economy doesn't suck so bad that non-hybrid seeds haven't overtaken gold or silver in value. If that were true, I'd be a very rich man.

As the season winds down, I've got plants going to seed all around me. Just in the past few weeks, I've accumulated enough seed to plant not only a 1 acre survival garden, but enough to pepper this city with seed bombs next spring.

Which I will do.

Um Yeah

Matthew Yglesias observes a flaw in the right wing's fixation on illegal immigration:
But it’s obvious that someone genuinely interested in the “avoid lawlessness” aspect of fighting illegal migration as opposed to the “I don’t like all these Mexicans” aspect would be trying to create better legal channels.
George W. Bush got it. Now someone tell Tom Tancredo.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Invisible Empire Sucks, Or What Hath Morgan Spurlock Wrought?

Today I saw my brother "likes" Alex Jones on Facebook. When I saw that, I did a face-palm and groaned. A month ago, I never heard of Alex Jones. I'm not a big believer in the right wing and I think that most conspiracy theorists are cranks. Talk radio? I'm too busy forming my own opinions to listen to those on the radio.

But at the Slayer concert, someone was giving out free DVDs at the back door. I'm open-minded and I love free stuff, so I took one. But when I watched it later...er, started to watch it, I was a bit dismayed. Called "Invisible Empire," it's produced by the same guy who made that "Loose Change" documentary that posits 9-11 as an inside job. I haven't seen "Loose Change" and don't really want to, but I have seen the first few minutes of "Invisible Empire" and I can tell you two things:

1) Morgan Spurlock should be shot.

And

2) The people who made "Invisible Empire" just aren't very bright.

Morgan Spurlock, of course, gets the blame for making any windbag with a laptop into a "documentary filmmaker." Stylistically, "Invisible Empire" scoops Spurlock's game almost entire, the voiceover delivery, the emphasis on subjectivity rather than objectivity. It's kind of sad, really.

The guy who made "Invisible Empire," a cat named Jason Bermas, couldn't find anyone better to emulate? "I wanna be just like the guy who made Super Size Me," he says. Really?

As to the brightness of Bermas, let me just say that he seems to believe that the "New World Order" is not just some meaningless cliche, endlessly repeated in news clip after news clip, or even just a kind of formless idea that only exists during a discussion of the world order.

He actually seems to think it's a Thing, a proper noun, an actual organization, apparently with a corporate headquarters and letterhead that has NEW WORLD ORDER plastered on the top and a pretty little receptionist who answers the phone, "New World Order, how may I direct your call?"

Check out the first ten minutes and see if you don't groan, too.

This kind of stuff is just ignorant, not just of the facts of history and current events, but of basic human nature. You know who wants a one-world government the least?

The people who would have to run that one-world government.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bad Karma

I'm going to hell because this made me laugh my ass off. Part of me feels bad for these people. They're on a cruise, having a good time, and then rough seas turn the room into an amusement park ride.

But there's another part of me that wants to ask some of these people what they were thinking. You're in a room where furniture is being flung from side to side in very scary and unpredictable ways...and it never occurs to you to get the fuck out of there?

There is a hallway RIGHT there with no sliding furniture. I mean, look at the fat guy in the striped shirt. I don't know what's funnier, when he gets swept off his feet or when he comes sliding back.

Suicide or Murder?

My first thought when I heard of Kenny McKinley's suicide: It wasn't suicide. Someone murdered him.

I'll admit, I have no evidence of this and I certainly don't know better than the police and medical examiners, but there's something fishy about this.

From a report in the Denver Post:
The report said McKinley was found in his upstairs bedroom with a pillow over his head. The gun, a black, semiautomatic Taurus, was inside the pillow case, and McKinley's right hand was just below the gun's grip. The TV in the bedroom was on the NFL Network. Police said the second floor was "very smoky," and the attending officer "could smell a strong odor of marijuana." A bag of leafy substance was found in a shoe box that was in the bedroom.
The marijuana angle is interesting.

Consider the timeline:
The report said officers were told that Shantell Smith and Brittany Boyd went with a person to get lunch at 12:15 p.m. When they returned, they went upstairs to McKinley's room and saw a sheet pulled over his body.

They decided to let him sleep, but then both women went upstairs around 3 p.m. and pulled the sheet down from his body.
Something's not adding up here.

Who was smoking the pot? Assuming that McKinley smoked a bowl before shooting himself, how would the second floor still be "very smoky" hours later when his body was found? Bad air circulation at the McKinley house?

Add to that the fact that he was found with a pillow over his head, the gun was inside the pillow-case, and he was so covered in a sheet his companions couldn't tell that he was dead.

Why would someone put a pillow over their head before they shoot themselves? Why would they put the gun in the pillow case? Why not just put your head on the pillow and the gun to your head? Why complicate it by doing things a murderer would do if he was A) trying to muffle the shot and B) trying to leave no fingerprints on the weapon?

If it's revealed in the coming weeks that police suspect this might have actually been a homicide staged to look like a suicide, I won't be surprised.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On Being Young and Dumb

This is a partial transcript of a conversation I had last night with my cousin:
Me: What are you doing?
Cousin: Im at the strip club, with no ride
Me: Ah shit. You got two bucks?
Cousin: Of corse
Me: Then you got a ride
Cousin: From who
Me: RTD homes
RTD is better known as "The Bus."

I'm not sure why my barely-employed cousin spends so much time, and presumably money, at strip clubs but I always get the invite and I always decline.

The great thing about strippers is that they'll get naked for you. The bad thing about strippers is that they demand cash and won't let you touch them.

If you've had experience with women who will get naked for free and will actually let you touch them, then strippers just aren't that impressive.