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?

Friday, December 12, 2014

In case you need further evidence that the concerns of Wall Street have nothing to do with you or me…

Why is Wall Street frowning? Because things
seem to be going better for the average 
As of late the morning of Friday, December 23...
  • Oil prices have plunged to the lowest level since 2009, below $60 a barrel. This means that ordinary Americans will be able to spend less on gasoline and heating oil, and therefore will have more money to spend on other things, a spur to the economy.
  • A long-expected increase in interest rates by the Fed is now less likely to happen, making borrowing cheaper for consumers and growth-minded businesses as well.
  • Consumer confidence, a measure of the ordinary American’s willingness to spend money, is above expectations. And it’s at an eight-year high. This ought to result in more money getting poured into the economy, fueling further growth.
Pop the champagne corks, right?

Well, not on Wall Street where, as of 11:40 a.m., the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 17,399, a tumble of 196.63 points since the day before.

However, perhaps Wall Street won’t be unhappy for very long.  The latest budget “compromise” in Congress changes parts of the Dodd Frank financial reform law that banned crazy derivatives trading. 

So now bankers will be able to recreate the same financial meltdown we had a few years ago, with the bland assurance that you and I will once more be forced to bail them out. Either that, or we collapse into another Great Depression.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The exquisite torture of the CIA torturers’ double-talk

This is a scene from a Medieval torture chamber. It very closely
resembles  what documented evidence indicates the CIA has 
done. And worse.
You’d have to be living on Mars to miss the news. The United States Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture is out, although only a mere 406 page summary of the full 4,600 page report is available to  everyday citizens.

Now the CIA chiefs, present and past, and their supporters, are turning inside out and backwards to deny everything while defending everything that the CIA and its contractors have  done – horrid, disgusting, inhuman, sexually perverted things clearly documented by the Senators.

The arguments of those defending perversion in the name of patriotism seem to boil down to these basic points
  1. In the first place, we didn’t do it.
  2. In the second place, we had to do it because 9-11
  3. In the third place we were given the legal authority to do it, even though when we did it, we didn’t do it.
  4. In the fourth place, even though we didn’t do it, what we did yielded valuable intelligence that interrupted plots against America – plots that we can’t tell you about because otherwise the people who are plotting against us would find out what their own plots are.
  5. In the fifth place, the 4,008-page report is “oversimplistic”.
  6. In the sixth place, the report is “analytically offensive,” whatever that means.
Flipping television channels last night and this morning, you could watch these creeps nearly gagging on their own tongues trying to make themselves look good. Or at least not like the liars, sadists, perverts, and most damning of all, the intelligence incompetents that they are.

Perverts? Well here’s a tidbit from the stern nurse-with-enema-bag sadomasochistic fantasy that, if you do a great deal of hunting around, you might find on some of the S&M porn movie sites somewhere on the Internet. And no, I'm not going to direct you CIA defenders to those websites, so you can drop your pants and masturbate to them.

"At least five CIA detainees were subjected to 'rectal rehydration' or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity," the report said. More specifically, "Majid Khan's 'lunch tray' of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins was 'pureed' and rectally infused.”

The torturers from the CIA, or CIA-supervised weirdos "had among other activities, 
engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault,” according to the report.

When I was a kid, I read – in a 1942 issue of the pretty conservative Readers’ Digest of all places – the summary of a then best-selling book by someone named Jan Valtin, who described how he was tortured by the Nazis in an SS dungeon.

You could take excerpts from Valtin’s book, and excerpts of the report from the Senate. and you almost couldn’t tell which is which.

We hanged most of the Nazis we caught as war criminals. That’s all I have to say on the matter.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

I know, I’m late on this. But the grand jury decision concerning officer Darren Wilson is a crock. A big one. Here’s why.

During the facedown with Michael Brown
Officer Darren Wilson had several options
other than shooting. But oh hell, bang bang!
I’m not going to go into any depth on how a prosecutor can impartially indict a cop from a department with which he has to work on a daily basis.

I’m not going to go into why he didn’t stand aside in favor of an outside prosecutor with no axes to grind.

I'm not going to ask why he put Darren Wilson on the witness stand at all, much less why he put him there before anyone else.

What burns my butt is that the prosecutor didn’t ask simple followup questions as Wilson testified.

So  it started we had officer Darren Wilson in a car and he spots some Black dude jaywalking. I’m also not going to go into whether the cop ever before enforced a jaywalking statute in his life.

And let’s grant, for the sake of argument, that as Wilson and some – not all – witnesses say, Brown reached into the cop's car, and somehow or other got his arm in deep enough to reach down, across the seat, and into Wilson’s holster for the weapon. And let's also grant for the sake of argument that Brown had the strength of a make-believe comic book hero. And let’s also grant that Brown had indeed shoplifted some cheap cigars and straight-armed a store clerk who tried to stop him. And that furthermore, Brown was committing that most grave of all crimes, jaywalking.

And then let us grant that according  CNN...

Wilson told the detectives how he ran through in his mind what he could do -- mace, baton, flashlight -- before going for his gun. To the grand jury, he expanded, describing a "use of force" triangle as to what reaction was appropriate. 
To the grand jury, Wilson also described his fear. He told jurors Brown was so powerful that when he grabbed the 18-year-old's forearm, "I felt like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan." 
That’s where a prosecutor who wasn’t sleepwalking, phoning it in, or more probably making damn sure he wouldn’t tempt a grand jury to indict might have jumped in and asked a few revealing questions. Like these two:
  • “So why, officer Wilson, didn’t you just roll the window up on Mr. Brown’s arm? With a piece of glass jamming his arm against the top of the window space, don’t you think you could have bent back his fingers and made him let go?
Or alternatively:
•So why, Officer Wilson, didn’t you just step on the gas and drive a short distance away from Mr. Brown, so that he couldn’t reach your gun? Or are you arguing that his “Hulk Hogan” strength would have been enough to stop several hundred horsepower of police vehicle in its tracks?
I know, I know, former cop Darren Wilson said, “I didn’t want him to run away.” Which raises some more questions:
  • Is it worth drawing your weapon and firing bullets into the body of a human being to keep him from running away from a charge of shoplifting?
  • Assuming Mr. Brown had run, and for the sake of law, order and the future of Democracy you had to catch this sticky-fingered thief, couldn’t you have followed him in your car until police backup arrived? Or if he took shelter in a house, simply waited for backup and then gone and arrested him inside?
It’s interesting how prosecutors will withhold  or ignore exculpatory evidence, frame people in death penalty cases, and get a conviction at all costs in murder trials – all completely unforgivable but rarely punished crimes of prosecutorial misconduct. Yet in this case prosecutor McCulloch did his damnedest to exonerate  before a grand jury – which was there simply to indict – an officer on what was at the very least a case of coarsely mindless police brutality.

In my own opinion, Wilson is most certainly not guilty of murder in the first degree, possibly not even of murder in the second degree. There's no evidence that he spotted Brown and set out to kill him. But there’s a strong cases that Wiilson's actions and reactions in this case were tantamount at least to criminal negligence and wanton disregard for life.

Wilson according even to his own testimony, is a killer, if only a manslaughter killer. And what does that make so-called Prosecutor Bob McCullogh? I leave it to you to find the correct adjective. The ones that occur to me are unprintable.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Silicon Valley exec threatens the journalists who cover him. Where does the financing behind him come from? Round up the usual suspects.

Are the fat cats financing Silicon
Valley predators?
Who would finance corporate desperadoes who flout the law in a variety of localities – and then threaten to dig up dirt on journalists who report on their shenanigans?

Who would in effect say, by handing largesse to the same desperados, “Go ahead. Thumb your nose at the law. Stick a finger in the eye of the public. Just make sure you return the vig on the money we put up for you.”

No, I’m not talking about the Mafia. The Tony Soprano types are small potatoes in comparison to these guys. I’m talking about some of the financial folks whose names pop up whenever the outrageously rich demand personal tax breaks for investing other peoples’ money if they’re hedge funders, or try to beat publishing houses and authors into submission if they’re silicon savages.

Here’s a list of the money sources reportedly behind the threat-makers. It's taken from a Silicon Valley online journal called Pando Daily, a watcher and critic of today’s new breed of highwaymen. 

Menlo Ventures
Google Ventures
Kleiner Perkins
Summit Partners
TPG Growth
Jeff Bezos
Troy Carter
Goldman Sachs
Scott Banister
Alfred Lin
Lowercase Capital
First Round
Naval Ravikant
Jason Calacanis
Shervin Pishevar

But let’s take a step back and explain this. 

Recently, the editor of Pando, and other journalists, began reporting on how Uber, a Silicon Valley disruptor company financed by people on the list you've just read, is muscling its way into various municipal markets with the equivalent of unlicensed  taxis. There’s big money in those smartphone-linked cabs, folks. And Uber didn’t like the negative publicity that some of its shadier activities were generating.

So at the Waverly Inn in New York City, at a dinner at which the the guests included the actor Ed Norton, the publisher Ariana Huffington, and the journalist Michael Wolff, Uber’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Emil Michael, performed the communications equivalent of what a gangster signals by drawing his index finger across his throat.

Specifically, according to the online journal Buzzfeed, he “suggested that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company.”

I see two possibilities here. One is that Michael expected the word to get out and scare the living crap out of journalists, especially the intrepid reporter Sarah Lacy, editor of the website Pando Daily. This would have had the effect of – shall we say “discouraging?” –  further criticism of Uber. Michael later defended himself by saying he thought he was speaking “off the record.” To which my cranky reaction is, so what?

If a hit man, off the record, says he plans to terrorize the local police chief and and is looking to find machete with which  to commit the crime, his remarks have no right to privacy. I would submit that Michael’s threat to in effect terrorize reporters and critics into silence through implicit blackmail are equally unprotected.

This is all the more newsworthy not only because of the big financiers behind Uber, but because, according to Buzzfeed, Michael sits on a board that advises the Department of Defense. I leave it to you to imagine where his kind of mentality could lead a key department of our government. And why does the government, or the board, tolerate his proximity to the Pentagon?

Moreover, The CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, has refused to fire Michael. That’s no big surprise.  Kalanick himself is no sweetheart either. The Financial Times reported in May:
…in January, Uber apologised after its New York team was busted for repeatedly calling and cancelling rides from a rival car service. Kalanick would not discuss the incident on the record but Uber admitted at the time that this method for getting drivers’ details, hoping to poach them, was “likely too aggressive a sales tactic.”
Right. Or as Tony Soprano might have said, "I told you guys just to bust the guy's kneecaps. What's with all this getting  aggressive and strangling him with a piano wire?"

It all makes you wonder if our former democracy, which has already devolved into a corruptocracy, is now sinking even further, into a state of anarchy where only big money sources like those on the list, and big bad guys, can win.