Saturday, August 1, 2015

Why Cecil the Lion matters

By now, everyone has heard of Cecil the Lion. Once famous only in the deep heart of Africa, Cecil has been the name on everyone's lips.
Cecil was the head of a lion pride at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. He was a major tourist attraction, and could be regarded as the Zimbabwean version of Flipper or Skippy the Kangaroo. Cecil had previously been collared by scientists from Oxford University as part of a study of African wildlife.
Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer paid a professional hunter $50,000 to shoot a lion and lured Cecil out, wounding him with a bow and arrow. After that, they tracked the big cat for 40 hours before shooting him with a rifle, killing him.
Palmer has previously taken part in rhinocerous hunts. Rhinos are on the endangered list.
Palmer has stressed that he did not know that the lion he shot was valued so much by the locals and tourists alike. Investigation by Zimbabwe National Parks has revealed that the hunters Palmer paid did not have the correct permit for hunting a lion. Meanwhile, Cecil's brother has since taken responsibility for looking after his cubs, keeping rival males from killing them.
British Prime Minister David Cameron was among the big names who condemned Cecil's killing, stating that the U.K. has "a leading role in preventing illegal wildlife trade." 
Walter Palmer has abandoned his dentist office and gone into hiding after a furious backlash. Even the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not been able to track him down. Is it right that Palmer should be facing such rage?
Absolutely. I've had it with these twats pretending to be adventurous by shooting an animal with an arrow or a bullet and claiming their sick "trophy". Wrestle a bear, a lion or an elk and win—and then I'll be impressed. Sad for the animal, but impressed. When you as a human being track animals down to shoot them for the mere fun of it—don't even dare to call it a sport—or for food that you don't require because you're not trapped in the middle of a wilderness and starving, you're a coward, plain and simple. You very likely have psychotic tendencies as well.
These people aren't Lewis and Clark, braving unknown, unmapped territory. They get transport to the site and expert guidance through it. An animal appears, they shoot it. Where's the risk? Where's the danger? What makes this undertaking so brave?
Conservatives and liberals alike have reacted by saying, "With everything else going on in the world, everyone's getting worked up over a lion?" The politically minded allege that the media concentrating on Cecil takes away from the rage that should be felt toward illegal aliens or Planned Parenthood, according to conservatives, or gay rights, Islamophobia or eight-year-olds not getting free and easy access to condoms, according to liberals.
Yet, sadly, this is not a conservative versus liberal issue. I agree, the media will distract you with fluff whenever they can—it's all part of its "dull the masses with bread and circuses" agenda, all part of their game. But the news of Cecil's killing is not fluff. The media has highlighted Cecil's death because it represents the fight against illegal wildlife hunting and poaching.
There is life on this planet other than human that deserves to live. And if Walter Palmer must be the current cowardly face of a sick, barbaric practice, then so be it. The media, in this case, has gotten it right and is doing its job.
In a world dominated by humans, animals are at our mercy. They need us to leave them alone. If we do get involved in their affairs, it should be to help them not further dwindle their numbers just so some inbred cunt can hang another head on a wall and impress other brainless wonders willing to listen about his "courage".
Zimbabwe has reported a drop in tourist numbers since Cecil's killing. Cecil was worth a lot more when people shot him with cameras. Since getting shot by an idiot with an arrow and then a rifle, suddenly there's not such a big draw for tourists anymore. I hope Cecil's brother, and his cubs, once they've grown up, will provide the incentive for a spike in visitor numbers. Only time will tell.
I have no problem with scientists using tranquilizer guns to stun animals so they can collar them and study their movements and habits.  We need to better understand the creatures we share the planet with.
And it's not that human life is not precious, I am not saying that. But we are in control of this planet. We are largely responsible for our own affairs. I can feel very bad for a guy who gets knocked off his motorcycle by a car and dies. News like that depresses me. But the man made a decision to ride a bike, to compete on the roadway with much bigger vehicles, and accepted the risks. Cecil did not choose to get shot. He simply stepped out to into the clearing to get what he thought would be an easy meal.
I am not going—in fact, I refuse—to feel sorry for all these migrants amassed in Calais. If the conditions they fled from were so bad, why risk their lives to get into the U.K. illegally? Why can't they happily settle in whatever European country they reach first? One letter writer to The Metro recently wrote:
I woke up to a media expressing more concern over the death of Cecil the lion than over the death of a migrant from Sudan killed overnight by a truck as he tried to cross from Calais. He was the 11th refugee to die at Britain's border in the past two months. How can the lives of these desperate people be deemed to be of less worth than a lion?
Really, now? Yeah, that's all we need, a migrant from Sudan. Someone whose way of life is extremely foreign to us and who might just pay us back for our generosity by being a welfare-dependent nuisance or, dare I say, slashing a soldier's throat as he walks down the street in his uniform in broad daylight?
These men—and they're always young men—trying to get into Britain don't have to risk their lives. They fled war-torn areas to only to endanger their lives a second time? Are you kidding me? I don't care if one hundred and eleven migrants die trying to get into Albion. It's their choice to try. I'll still sleep quite comfortably at night.
What threat did Cecil the lion ever pose to me? None. Therefore, he's much more important to me. Sorry, bleeding-heart letter writer, but it's the truth.
And as for you, Walter Palmer? Now you know what it's like to be endangered. I hope that never changes. You will get caught someday, and if it's by the authorities, consider yourself lucky. I hope they slap you with a punishment so back-breaking it'll make you weep in despair on the spot. Maybe you'll get extradited to Zimbabwe. Perhaps you'll face Robert Mugabe himself. An imperialist, insensitive white man like you? Mugabe will have a field day on your worthless ass. Let us see how brave you'll be then, mighty hunter.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The death of Boston 2024 a rare victory for taxpaying hosts

The news broke early on Monday, July 27. Boston would not have the Olympics in 2024. Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced that he would not place the burden of overruns on the taxpayer and, hours later, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) cancelled the bid.
Ah, gee, you mean that only a decade after The Big Dig project disturbed life for everyone in the city—and whose lasting image is that of Milena Del Valle, crushed when the ceiling of the Ted Williams tunnel collapsed—Boston residents won't be subjected to yet more union thuggery, corporate kickbacks and legislative hijinks, all in the proud name of the World's Greatest Spunkfest?
I'm so depressed overjoyed. 
It's not often that the libertarian right, such as Citizens for Limited Taxation, and the loony left, the Black Lives Matter rabble, come together, but they did in Boston to oppose the business elites who wanted to foist the Olympics on the city and deny those who live and work there a say in the proceedings. 
Progressive Boston city councillor Tito Jackson was one of the biggest heroes behind Boston 2024's collapse. On July 20, Jackson ordered a subpoena of documents from the USOC. The subpoena was approved by the City Council and this was the beginning of the end of the bid. 
"Why are you asking the citizens of Boston and the Boston City Council to go forward without complete disclosure?" Jackson demanded as he requested the subpoena.
In desperation, the USOC asked Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker for his position on the Olympics and to let them know immediately. Baker, however, was still working out the figures and could not give them a yes or no answer.
In the end, it came down to Boston mayor Marty Walsh who, on Monday, put the kibosh on the whole sordid affair by announcing, "I cannot commit to putting the taxpayers at risk. If committing to signing a [taxpayer-backed] guarantee today is what's required to move forward, then Boston is no longer pursuing the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games."
The people behind the Boston 2024 partnership were not exactly what you would call transparent. They endorsed a referendum for the city in 2016, but then downplayed it by telling the USOC that it would have cost too much money to launch a ballot initiative and that the opposition consisted of just a small group of whiners on social media. In other words, money was talking too loudly for it to ever have been a reality. Boston 2024 would have collected signatures for the ballot, but then feigned an ink spill had destroyed them. They would have gone to the state Attorney General Maura Healey and asked how much she enjoyed her job, then sided up to judges and schmoozed the Legislature in opposition to the ballot. Referendum? What referendum? We don't need no stinkin' referendum.
To parse Boston 2024 chairman John Fish: "Now just sit in your cars in four-hour traffic jams, you silly little serfs, and think about how lucky you are. You're getting the Olympics! Whattaya' got to complain about?"
The whole Boston Olympics was a sham. Boston, while a big city, does not have the space to support the infrastructure for such a huge undertaking. As the city's Seaport development during the Big Dig proved, space comes at a huge premium. The Olympics would have ignored, and continued to delay, the city's need for affordable housing and school renovations. It would have snatched private land for public use, an act known as compulsory purchase or eminent domain. And, as all Olympics do, it would have raised nowhere near the revenue needed to break even on the billions spent on the travesty, never mind make a profit.
To neatly sum it up, as Howie Carr told a caller on Tuesday, "Can you imagine what it would be like when the Olympics are going on, and you are pushed over to the side of the road while stretch limos are going around you on a lane your tax dollars built? And in return, you, your children and your grandchildren are going to be saddled paying off the bonds that these rich bastards used to put this Olympics in Massachusetts. And then on top of everything else, the rich bastards are going to get the land that had been taken from other less affluent citizens by eminent domain."
I saw those priority lanes during the London Olympics. How much clearer of a message do you need that three weeks worth of corporate sports competitions are more important than you and the time, effort and investment you make everyday by living and working in that city?
It is time to do away with the Olympics. We're not the Athens of antiquity. We don't have ampitheatres to watch guys in togas grapple. So of what use, exactly, are the Olympics in this modern world?
You want to know what the Olympics are good for in this day and age?  Big business/sponsorship, big labor and their bum-kissing acolytes in government.  That's all.
Cities and countries all over the globe are either kicking the can down the road, saying they're not ready yet, but are pursuing a bid for the future. Or they're saying, no way, we're not prepared to deal with all the corruption that this event invites on a massive scale. I around during London 2012. Why would I wish that on the area I was born and raised in and where my relatives still live?
And don't give me any nonsense that it would have created jobs. If a normal schmuck like me approached a job site and asked about employment, I guarantee you that the first words out of the foreman's mouth would be, "what's your local?" No, these jobs were in the satchel. Only the illegal aliens standing on street corners every morning, chanting "¡trabajo!", would have gotten the non-union work.
Isn't it remarkable that the city in which an Olympics event is being held is called the "host city" and that the mayor of said city is required to sign a "host contract"? In what context is the word host so often used? That's right, in the context of another word: parasite. A parasite sucks your life blood and weakens you and puts you in a fragile state. A most fitting analogy for the Olympics, wouldn't you say?
How do you kill a parasite? You deny it its source of sustenance. In the case of Boston 2024 and the USOC, it was by withholding the money.
Good riddance to this Olympics bid.  May it never darken the city's doorstep again. Boston is famous on a global scale; it has never required the debt the Olympics would wish to saddle it with just so it can have a velodrome and a track stadium that will be nothing more than crumbling "legends" by the end of the decade.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

For every imbecilic parent, there should be a Darla Neugebauer on stand-by

Damn. So much has happened over the course of the five weeks since the last time I reported on here:
Dylan Roof and why it is criminal to give your inbred, severely troubled son a gun as a gift.
The senseless, discriminatory and insensitive ban on the Confederate flag.
CIA diversity training.
The trendy Supreme Court decisions on Obamacare and gay marriage.
Ariana Grande's bratty "I hate Americans" comment.
The continuing, self-aggrandizing saga of Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner.
The severe beating of a white man by black youths in Cincinnatti on Independence Day that predictably enraged no-one in the Obama-media or our liberal elite.
The Chattanooga recruitment center shooting by yet another American Muslim terrorist.
The judicial tyranny in Oregon gagging the owners of the now-closed Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery—shut down because of gay bullies—who now can't even speak about their ordeal.
MTV airing a show called "White People", engineered to make Millennial Caucasians feel guilty and hate themselves.
Donald Trump and the flak he has had to endure for telling the truth about how Mexico deliberately takes advantage of a complete breakdown in U.S. immigration policy to offload their troublemakers on to us.
The fallacy and danger of sanctuary cities, and how it cost Kathryn Steinle her life.
The continued spinelessness and uselessness of the Republican "opposition".
And, the most humorous topic among them, Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy not knowing how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere when asked by a senator. (The answer, as any competent third-grader could tell you is 0.03 percent.)
All good topics, but if you know me, then you should know where I stand on every single one of them. The hot-button story I want to comment on here involves one moonbat couple from New York and their two-year-old daughter, who had apparently never experienced a disciplining, in a Maine diner.
Tina Carson and her husband brought their young daughter into Marcy's Diner in Portland. The girl whined, cried and hollered for not just a few minutes. By most accounts, the child screamed non-stop for about 40 minutes, by which time patrons of the diner had definitely taken notice.
The Carsons' daughter was causing a ruckus because the parents ordered pancakes but wouldn't give her any. The situation was so bad, driving customers out of the diner, that the establishment's owner, Darla Neugebauer, eventually stormed over to the Carsons' table, slammed her hands down on it and shouted at the kid, "This has to stop!" The young girl immediately stopped her bawling.
Predictably, the parents were outraged. Tina Carson said in an interview that she had never before witnessed behavior like Neugebauer's. Yes, Tina, we can tell. I believe you. Your parents obviously let you scream your head off too.
Neugebauer said in her defense, "It made her shut up, which made me happy, it made my staff happy, it made the 75 other people dining here happy." Hallelujah, sister.
Despite the outcry manufactured over this "incident," Neugebauer has, refreshingly, received the support of thousands of people on Facebook and Twitter. The inanity of not giving the pancakes they ordered to their obviously hungry daughter was not the central issue. It is rudeness, plain and simple, on the part of the parents to not even try to calm their daughter down. Could they not have had some Cheerios on hand (as one Facebook post suggested) to feed her or taken her outside until she did settle down?
Why have we become a society in which we are expected to accept squalling infants as part of the background wherever we go? Because of hippies like the Carsons who wouldn't dare tell their precious angel to pipe down. Let them scream, it's natural, they say. Yep. And so's the end product of angelcake's digestive system in her diaper. Why don't you just let her smear that all over the walls, you brainless breeders? That, apparently, is natural child behavior as well. Then you will have something else to kvetch about to the media when the restaurant's owner understandably loses her temper.
People like the Carsons are the reason why I don't like to go out. You would think a dinner and a movie would constitute a great night out, but then you have airheaded so-called parents who ruin both excursions for you by tagging along their cantankerous progeny. When exactly did we become a society that apparently regards babysitters as obsolete? Why do the rugrats have to go EVERY-DAMN-WHERE with mommy (and daddy, if he exists) these days?
There are other types of morons who will easily ruin a day or night out for you as well (I submit Exhibit A for proof of that), but people who lose all sense of the world around them the moment they have a kid are the worst.
Just yesterday, after checking out at the supermarket, I had stop short for a woman who decided, in the middle of the store's exit corridor, to feed her child in its pushchair. When I said "excuse me," she pulled the pushchair away the tiniest bit. I only just got through with my carriage. You see what I mean? These people are either certifiably cretinous or they no longer acknowledge the world going on around them.
Or they are quite possibly just arrogant and self-entitled and need the unapologetic ass-whooping of a Darla Neugebauer delivered to them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

TPP: Hammer time!

Here we go on the free trade merry-go-round again. Please grab your hammer and join me for the ride, won't you?
Let me explain:
Last Friday, the Trade Adjustment Assistance portion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership bill received a 302-126 thrashing in the House. Although Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) passed 219-210, action on the Trans-Pacific Partnership bill cannot go ahead. The TAA is connected to the TPA which is connected to the TPP. If one falls, it all crashes down.
What sense it made to approve TPA while rejecting TAA is beyond me, but my guess is that the TAA concerned welfare to labor in the event that they will—not might, will—lose their jobs and was a sticking point for Big Labor. TPA is about giving the President authority to negotiate and proceed with trade agreements, something the House is almost evenly divided on. That passed by only eight votes.
The options now available for TPP are for a House and Senate conference to strike the TAA from the bill or for John Boehner to allow a reconsideration vote on the TAA. This last option was supposed to have taken place last night, but in a fashion all-too-typical of the political elite, the House instead voted to delay the second TAA vote for a while, possibly for as long as six weeks.
You guessed it. Their refusal to let this beast die gives Obama and his donor sycophants and cronies many chances to try to flip the tens of dozens of votes needed to pass the stinker and shoe-horn it in before the August recess. Isn't this fun?
It's apparent to everyone by now that John Boehner Bonehead and Mitch Squish McConnell are the respective kings of the RINOs in their chambers. They are the President's puppy dogs. They care about nothing more than being regarded by the Prez in the same way that the Prez regards Bo. A scritch here, a scritch there. Doesn't help that Bonehead is so plastered on a routine basis that he'd roll over for anyone as long as they didn't have principles.
What is super amazing to me is that the TAA got shot down by the wrong people: Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, et al. The hard-Left progressives. More Republicans voted against TAA than did Democrats (158-144), but more Republicans also voted for TAA than did Democrats (86-40). We had Paul Ryan, usually a stand-up guy, arguing passionately in favor of passing TAA, thus the entire trade bill. Bad enough he was one of the most useless veep candidates in modern American history, a puppet who just stood there going "ah der der der" in response to attacks by Obama and the Democrats. He now wants to save Barry Hussein's skin. What have the Dems got on this man?
Then there's Ted Cruz, who has set himself up as a warrior for free trade. During an interview with Jeff Kuhner on WRKO in Boston, Cruz spoke in defense of the TAA/TPA/TPP.
"I fully understand because we do not trust this President and because, idiotically, the text is secret," Cruz said. "People are naturally believing it does all of these terrible things."
Terrible things. Y'know, like giving up American sovereignty and allowing for foreign committees to make binding law in the U.S., impacting our labor, immigration and environmental policies.
I feel bad for Cruz, because I do believe he's an honest guy, and I would like to take him at face value on this subject. He means well, and he tried so hard to convince us that we can trust him on the trade bill, citing the following:
When I was the Solicitor-General of Texas, the chief lawyer for the state of Texas, I stood up and fought the World Court and the United Nations which had issued an order to the United States to re-open the convictions of fifty-one murderers, and I went before the U.S. Supreme Court. On the other side was the World Court, was the United Nations, were 90 foreign nations and was the President of the United States who, I would note, unfortunately, was a Republican—George W. Bush—and I stood up to my own party and to the World Court and the U.N., defending U.S. sovereignty and we won 6-3. And the Supreme Court rightly concluded that World Court and the United Nations have no authority to bind the United States, and the President of the United States has no authority to give up our sovereignty. So when it comes to defending sovereignty, there is no-one who has fought the fight longer or harder than I have, or more successfully.
Cruz also said, "[W]orking men and women have been hammered across this country." What the ...?  He isn't referring to a countrywide trend that the current Speaker of the House inspired. Does this remind anyone of another politician? Say, Fauxcahontas, who once said that the middle class in this country was getting hammered? "Hammered" had to be one of the most overused words of 2012. Every Democrat used the word as if it was a vital part of some sonnet they were composing in that foul election year. Why was the senator from Texas channelling his inner Elizabeth Warren?
But here's the thing: If Elizabeth Warren was to walk by me on the street today, I'd give her a high-five. Actually, I'd ask her what she was doing in London first. Then, I'd high-five her. Cruz, though I give him props for finally clarifying his position with Kuhner during the hours before the vote, would get a dressing down from me.
Cruz gets it partly right when he says that free trade is not the central issue as to why job opportunities have not materialized nationwide. "You want to know why we've got job losses?" Cruz asked Kuhner. "We've got job losses because of Obamacare. We've got job losses because of crippling regulations. We've got job losses because of zealots in the Obama EPA that are destroying small businesses, that are hammering jobs."
If I had a hammer ... I'd use it to knock out every single member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the people who have bought off our lawmakers and own them, lock, stock and barrel. 

The real hammering involved when it comes to the TPP *
 
The (Un-)Affordable Health Care Act and powerful anti-business regulations have crippled job creation in the U.S., no doubt about it. But I don't buy for one moment all the job creation that the White House claims will flourish in the wake of the passage of TPP. I cringe to hear Cruz parroting the same line.
We've had free trade agreements up the ying-yang for twenty-five years now. NAFTA, GATT, CAFTA. TAFTA, a free trade treaty with the EU, and TPP are currently being discussed. Every time you turn around, there's yet another alphabet soup-like acronym for a free trade agreement in the news and it's always the same story: We've gotta pass this for jobs and for prosperity and for our standard of living.
And what have we got to show for it, even long before Obamacare went into effect? A decline in jobs, a decline in prosperity, a decline in our standard of living. All we have is an outsourcing of jobs and labor. You have to consider yourself lucky if your salary stagnates or even decreases given the alternative. These are the robust trappings of free trade that our political class expects us to support prostrate ourselves for?
Free trade used to be simple. I have something I want to sell you. You have something you want to sell me. We agree to lower import and export fees to deliver our stuff to each other. If you renege on your agreement to lower tarriffs, then we bring this before an impartial trade commission, an authority to declare decisions on trade policy and trade policy only. We settle our dispute without trumping other laws or meddling too much in the affairs of either of our people.
Let's dial up the spirit of Adam Smith and see if he agrees with the highfalutin, overreaching, bureaucratic, New World Order-style garbage that makes up the text of so much of our current FTAs (free trade agreements). Something tells me he would not only disapprove but blow a gasket.
Oh yeah, the text: I beseech thee to not forget that it was a complete secret, as Cruz said. Locked away in a room in the basement of Capitol Hill. Lawmakers who wanted to read it had to sign in, sign out and promise not to leak to the press or anyone else what they read. Jeff Sessions read all 800 pages. So did Rand Paul. Cruz read a bit. Now, who do you trust? Sessions and Paul who say this bill is dangerous or Cruz who glosses over the devil in the details and declares free trade über alles?
Sorry, Senator Cruz, but it is not Mr. Sessions who is misrepresenting the TPP.
This is an issue on which I'll happily side with the far-Left. They want it defeated for labor and environmental reasons. So do I. I also want it defeated for nationalist reasons. I'm sick of the sovereignty that our elites constantly chip away at and of jobs disappearing and being replaced by welfare dependency and bureaucracy. That is all that free trade has given us.
Show me a genuine free trade agreement. Not a treaty. An agreement, containing no by-laws or stipulations or anything else pertaining to other areas of American law or policy, and then we'll talk.
Until then, SCREW "free trade" and screw anyone who defends this monster. That includes you, Ted Cruz. You have the right to your opinion.  Just don't expect me to fall in line with it like a good li'l citizen peon.  I assure you, I will not.
Take your hammer and nail that one to the wall.

* Illustration from The Wall (1982). Animation by Gerald Scarfe.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Queen's new subjects

After we said good-bye to her natural sister Twix in April, Crunchie spent nearly another two months with us before herself succumbing to a pituitary tumor.



"I love Papa's scritches."

In those two months, Crunchie and Gwen had grown close:



Crunchie: "What will you do later today?"
Gwen: "Same as always. Collect my magazine pages and arrange them behind the sofa."

Now we had just "the Queen" on her own:



"Hey, wait a minute, I have no subjects left!"

Although we know the risks inherent in introducing new rats to an incumbent who only knew the rats she grew up with, we decided to get two new girls.

Elsa:



"Hewwo. I'm Elsa."

and Marshmallow:



"I'm Marshmallow, wheee!"

The introductions have gone better than we anticipated. Gwen has surprised us by being quite tolerant of the new girls. If anything, rather than being aggressive, Gwen—who we've regarded as rather high-strung—appears to accept that Elsa is younger, therefore more powerful.
It is apparent that Elsa is the dominant rat in this colony. Gwen has already become best buds with Marshmallow, as she is often at the mercy of Elsa's shenanigans as well.



Marshie: "What are we going to do about Elsa?"
Gwen: "I'm thinking, I'm thinking."

But at the end of the day, it's nothing that food can't fix:




Elsa: "Nom, nom, nom ..."
Marshie: "Nom, nom, nom ..."
Gwen: "OK, time to split!"

Friday, June 5, 2015

Rand Paul's true act of freedom

If Rand Paul hasn't earned his meal-ticket to the Oval Office for 2016, then it can only mean that the American public really is as fat, happy and ignorant beyond belief as I have for a long time now believed them to be.
Earlier this week, the senator from Kentucky blocked a vote in the Senate on authorizing the extension of the Patriot Act, the "watered down" version favored by some Republicans and the White House, known as the USA Freedom Act. Nothing had been passed by the time the midnight deadline came and went.
Rand's attempt at lifting the surveillance yoke off the backs of Americans was short-lived as the USA Freedom Act eventually passed its second time around in the Senate and Obama signed the bill, allowing the National Security Administration to get back to work fighting terror—or so that's what we're expected to believe.
At least the bulk storing of phone call data has been halted. Authorities now have to obtain information with a warrant from a counterterror court in which a specific person or group has been identified.
The FBI has admitted that the bulk data collection which occurred under section 215 of the Patriot Act has not, in the space of fourteen years, led to one arrest. It did not prevent Ford Hood, it did not prevent the Boston Marathon bombings, it did not prevent the beheading in Moore, Oklahoma. No terror plots uncovered or halted for the fourteen years and billions of dollars worth of metadata storage. Isn't that groovy?
Neither, incidentally, has the TSA prevented any terror either. Agents from this offshoot of the completely corrupt Department of Homeland Security—the boobs who tell us that Tea Party members and returning veterans represent the terrorist threat to America—failed to detect bombs and other weapons on inspectors a whopping ninety-five percent of the time. This is your (big) government "protecting" you. Liberals may think a score of 5 percent is an acceptable passing grade, but I, and people who are actually normal, do not.
Do you want to know how section 215 of the Patriot Act worked? Say you have a street of eight houses. It is apparent to everyone, including local law enforcement, that house number eight is occupied by radical terrorists. But local authorities can't do anything because the law of the land, the Patriot Act, spies on houses one through seven, collects data from their phone calls, leaves house number eight alone and declares that there's not a problem on this street. In other words, it operates just like "security" at the airport: Your 80-year-old grandmother gets pulled aside, patted down, her luggage rummaged through and then she is eventually taken to a screening room to perform a geriatric strip act while Ali Baba, possessing a keffiyeh, luxurious dark beard and two gym bags, strolls through unaccosted and without a second glance from the high school dropouts in charge of deciding whether or not the rest of we poor working citizens make our flights or not.
I supported the Patriot Act. In the wake of September 11, 2001, it seemed like the right response. But the same folks who complained about the surveillance conducted under Bush and cried that it was unconstitutional (which it was) said nothing under Obama's continuance of such. It was only when Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the program and review panels found it completely ineffective at preventing terror that the President began to pivot on the issue. An overturning of the data collection clause, however, he preferred to leave in the hands of lawmakers. No executive order issued to prevent bulk phone call data collection from a man who releases EOs like Saddam Hussein launched SCUDs.
This recent history has changed my mind. The Patriot Act was something all good neocons could rally behind, but it stood in direct conflict with the Constitution's 4th Amendment. I can only shake my head in despair at people who continue to think that a nationwide police state is the answer to combating terrorism. I can hear them now: "What, it's safe! It's keeping us safe! Ah der der der ... Do you want da terrorists ta win?!"
Well, numbnuts, how about just some good old-fashioned detective work to capture miscreants as with the dispatching of Usamma Rahim in Boston? What's wrong with that? Maybe if we didn't saddle the FBI, Homeland Security and other authorities with political correctness, we'd have no need for agencies that watch you and me and pass that off as "fighting terror".
Benjamin Franklin said that those who are willing to give up liberty in the name of security deserve neither.  I concur. 
Rand Paul knew that a genuine freedom act would be one that completely overturns the Patriot Act, not just removes section 215, and single-handedly stood up to it by using his Senate perogative by blocking the vote and ensuring no action would be taken by the midnight deadline. A temporary victory it may have been, but it has solidified his Constitutionalist libertarian credentials beyond reasonable doubt.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

News catch-up, part deux: The 'control freakery' of assisted dying, Caitlyn Jenner and the killer DJ

Commentator Charles Moore has written about the decision ("Arranging an assisted suicide is the ultimate in control freakery") by 54-year-old businessman Jeffrey Spector to end his life at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. Spector was in a state of paralysis due to an inoperable tumor.
Shadow justice secretary Lord Falconer has vowed to introduce a bill that would allow for assisted dying, or "dying with dignity" as it is sometimes called. He has pledged to work around the Suicide Act of 1961 which makes the assistance in or encouragement of a suicide illegal.
Moore, however, whose piece is subtitled "The rising calls for 'Dignitas dying' are symptoms of a very modern disease," sees it as a duty to keep those alive who have no zest for life anymore and do not wish to prolong the pain or the indignity of seeing themselves in a vegatative state. Spector feared living as a quadriplegic. But Moore views this assault on Spector's future dignity as a "rhetorical trick which sympathy for Mr Spector should not force us to accept." Moore appears to step off the deep end when he writes:
In the modern world—especially the rich Western world—people—especially successful people—want control. We are used to owning things and making consumer choices and switching careers and partners and taking out life insurance policies and investment plans and issuing orders instantaneously and remotely via the internet. We feel our peers judge us by how much we control things and people. We judge ourselves in this way. So what we most dislike is whatever escapes our control. Small examples of this are road rage or people who have a tantrum when their flight is delayed. Big examples are people who cannot accept the mental illness of those close to them, or people who try to prevent themselves ageing. Not for nothing has the phrase "control freak" been invented in our time: it is the disease of power which destroys many a marriage, blights many children's lives and turns office life into a misery.
Dude, seriously? I don't wish to take you out of context, but you're starting your argument off by comparing one's desire for relief to the careers or commercialism of high-flying occidentals? Wishing for a dignified death is akin to the "control freak" tantrums of a road rager or power-hungry narcissist whose marriage breaks down? Did you rip off some nerd's book report on Bonfire of the Vanities or what? Moore goes on to assert that the control freakery rampant in society allows people the fantasy that they can book their deaths as they can a holiday or a restaurant table. Ker-plunk!
After lecturing us on the benefits of being old and happy—hey, screw you, Charles Moore, I was planning on being curmudgeonly in my twilight years, goddamnit!—he opines:
The rising calls for assisted dying, however powerful some of the hard cases seem, are symptoms of a pointless defiance of the nature of human life. They attempt to master what cannot be mastered.
Yep, there's that awful control thing again, rearing its ugly head.
They are very bad for our peace of mind.
Ummm, whose peace of mind, Chas? Ours, did you say? You must be mistaken, old boy. Surely you meant "your". It's bad for your peace of mind that the possibility of liberating one's self from the prison of their unrepairable body exists. This is hardly the same as the "self-slaughter" category of suicide to which Moore refers.
I know that the duty of care inherent in the health care system stipulates that the life of a patient requires preserving and that our lives are not ours to take when there is no compelling medical reason to justify it. Terminal illness is, however, a game-changer. I don't believe choice is a bad thing. It's usually what human beings thrive on.
As a "control freak" Westerner (according to Moore), I'm allowed a free market for most things as a living, breathing consumer. Why not at my most desperate hour? 
How can we have regulations as thick as an encyclopedia for most government bodies, but somehow it's impossible to stick in there a rule which states that assisted death is permissable if requested by the patient. Coersion by doctors, nurses or health professionals would be illegal. The patient must, in some concrete manner, and with a solicitor present, communicate his wish to die and grant permission for it.
Is this honestly so hard to work into existing health care legislation? No-one wants death panels. Nobody is saying that you should be coerced into ending your life. The Dignitas clinic exists because the people who seek its services, if I may be allowed to call it that, know what they are requesting and they have given their assent for it.
Moore concludes with:
People speak of "the right to die". It is a strange idea to try to turn a certainty into a right. This is not an area of mere personal choice: it is a predicament, the predicament of every human being. We are all in this together.
No, we are assuredly not "all in this together", Mr. Moore. You want to deny what I do consider a right to end my life on my terms, to withhold from me and others what should be an ability to declare "enough is enough" and end the pain for good. I assure you, I will fight you and all those who think like you tooth and bloody nail on this. If we are not to accept death on anyone else's terms, then that can only mean that we decide that for ourselves. To compare those terms to a "modern disease" is not only callous but reduces the pain of the terminally ill to a red herring. 
Speak for yourself in wanting to exist in a vegetative state for years, Mr. Moore. If I end up that way, I grant permission for anyone to drag me into the woods and shoot me. But I'd prefer the environment of the hospital or clinic, thank you very much, and a needle in my arm to settle it forever.

She's always a woman to herself

Bruce Jenner is now known to the world as Caitlyn. She has come out as her new self on the cover of Vanity Fair in a shot taken by Annie Leibovitz.

 
Jenner has said that while Bruce always had secrets, Caitlyn has none. Jenner tweeted: "I'm so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world, Caitlyn. Can't wait for you to get to know her/me."
Jenner is now even more popular than she was in 1976, when the whole world, golly gee, thought she was a man and she won a Gold medal in the Montreal Olympics.
I think we encourage the alternatives to the heterosexual, solidly male or solidly female world a little too much in today's society. We have glamorized deviancy and it is getting to the stage where if I said I was perfectly happy as a natural-born male, I'd be considered the weird one. I mean, if I haven't figured out that I'm actually a woman by now, or that at the very least my gender was fluid, then I must be insane. Either that, or I'm a threat to the psychological and emotional well-being of others struggling with their sexuality or gender identity by flaunting my comfortability with my gender or willingness to accept gender roles inherent in the term "man".
We have all heard that many transsexuals have known from a very young age that they did not feel right in the bodies they were born with. That could very well be, but why the urgent need to put transgender awareness in schools? Can we not leave these individuals to sort this business out for themselves? Do we have to shine the spotlight on them or put them up on a pedestal with the greats of the civil rights movement? Isn't this a deeply personal avenue to travel down? Why should it involve the entire country?
We act as if one's gender identity or sexual preference is the end game to an über national consciousness, as if once Americans have been brainwashed and/or browbeaten into accepting every difference imaginable then we will have ushered in a utopia. My definition of such would be defeating our enemies and having a robust, job-creating economy. But that's just me.
I don't know anything about the stability of the input connection to Jenner's brain, so I'll just congratulate her on her transformation and leave well enough alone. Bruce Jenner was a running hero to me and still is. That won't change—regardless of how much she has.

File under "duh" for DJ

Last week, a deejay in Denmark caused a storm of outrage after killing a nine-week-old rabbit named Allan while on the air. Asger Juhl from Radio24syv was, according to reports, trying to provoke a debate on the "vast hypocrisy" concerning human relationships with animals. Juhl beat the young rabbit to death with a bicycle pump and later took the body home to skin and cook.
Actor Ricky Gervais responded by writing on Twitter: "I just battered a Danish DJ to death with a bicycle pump to show how terrible murder is." Juhl responded to the comedian's jibe by saying the rabbit "didn't suffer." How exactly would he know?

Allan the rabbit: "Were you aware that I don't feel pain? It must be true because a radio big-mouth said so."
 
You see, this is exactly the problem dictating human relationships with animals. Far too many people believe that animals do not feel pain. Did Saint Francis of Assisi visit these people in the middle of the night and assure them that animals lack pain receptors or what?
If you pull a cat's tail, it'll likely yowl at you in response. Why? Because you caused it pain, dumbkopf.
For instance, if I was to envy my neighbor his BMW convertible, do I smash it up to show the evil of coveting his goods? Who'd defend me on those grounds? 
You just can't defend stupidity.
Juhl's cruel roundabout way of trying to make a point is as sensible as an "artist" soliciting the shooting of a pet rat to protest the use of military drones. Yet, that's exactly what Florian Mehnert of Germany attempted with his ridiculous "11 Days" experiment. Mehnert was later arrested.
Mr. Juhl, for your next stunt, I suggest you bring in Mike Tyson as a guest and call him the n-word, y'know, to demonstrate the awfulness of racism.