Category Archives: Why So Stupid?

A Principled Left Should Tell You What To Go Do With Yourself.

Over at Common Dreams, there is a piece titled “Why a Principled Left Should Support the Benghazi Inquiry” by Ajamu Baraka.

And if you thought that didn’t bode well, here’s the subtitle:

The GOP want to destroy Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in one fell swoop, but there’s a deeper issue to investigate that deserves public scrutiny: How the US/Nato invasion of Libya unleashed widespread violence across North Africa and beyond.

So basically let me sum this up for you. You can’t understand Boko Haram without understanding how the operation against Qaddafi’s Libya and the weapons we provided the rebels energized all sorts of crazy radicals in Africa. Oh, but Boko Haram is older than that operation. Also, there are emails that may indicate the administration mislead the public, if by “mislead” you mean “pre-emptively PR spin to counter any possible assertion that the attack was a direct result of U.S. policies,” which I guess is true because nothing is completely a result of U.S. policies. Also, if by “the administration” you mean “one guy in the administration.” Oh, and if by “emails” you mean “an email.”

He also says that… oh fuck this, I’ll just quote him.

The response from the Democrats has been predictable. Democrats already lined-up behind a Clinton campaign understand that no matter what comes out this inquiry, Benghazi has the potential to become a permanent yoke that wears down the Clinton candidacy. But in another bizarre display of political and ideological subordination to the Democrat Party and its rightist elite, elements of the left have also expressed opposition to this inquiry.

One would think that those on the left would support this inquiry, as limited and partisan as it will be, on the democratic principle that the people have a right to know what occurred before, during and in the aftermath of the attack. But even more importantly, by demanding a more comprehensive examination of all the activity of the U.S. in Libya in the aftermath of the destruction of that state, including the mission of the CIA in Benghazi, the left can and should raise serious questions that expose the dangerous strategy of empowering anti-democratic, right-wing forces, from al Qaeda-connected jihadists in Syria to neo-fascists in Ukraine.

Holy fucking shit I can not believe a Lefty human being living in the U.S. over the age of 40 actually wrote that. Limited? Really? Like Ken Starr was limited to investigating Whitewater, then spent YEARS digging into every orifice the Clintons had in order to come up with SOMETHING they could use against him? Partisan? You’d better fucking believe it’s partisan. The only difference now is this has race mixed into it, something you’d think Mr. Baraka would understand, since he’s done a whole lot of work talking about racism in the U.S.. He honestly tries to convince us in this essay that he thinks this is aimed at Hillary Clinton, but not at Barack Obama. Then he flips it around again.

I welcome the hearings and could not care less about the implications for the candidacy of Hilary Clinton or the reputation of Barack Obama.

Neither do I.

I am more interested in curbing the right-ward militarist trajectory of U.S. policy.

You’re a little late for that, and if you think that trajectory is going to be changed by a Tea Party-driven investigation centered in the Republican Majority in the U.S. House, you’re out of your goddamn mind.

As an African American the plight of the more than 200 school girls captured by Boko Haram holds a special outrage for me. But I am also outraged by the murder of people defending their rights to self-determination at the hands of U.S.-supported thugs in Odessa Ukraine, outraged by the fact that people are daily terrorized by the constant buzz of U.S. drones that kill women and children in wedding parties and individuals who may “act” like they might be so-called terrorists, outraged that people can call themselves moral and even progressive and support the brutal Israeli occupation and de-humanization of Palestinians.

Yeah, you’re a goddamn clear-eyed humanitarian. Except for the continued inability of minorities in the U.S. to get the benefits they need, especially in states that (in a shocking coincidence) not only have shitty Medicaid benefits, they also refused the Medicaid expansion and are suppressing the shit out of minority voters! By the way: before someone accuses me of valuing the lives of people in the U.S. over people outside of it, read on, there’s a little lesson for you at the end here.

And I am outraged knowing that U.S. policy-makers don’t give a damn about the school girls in Nigeria because their real objective is to use the threat of Boko Haram in the Northern part of the country to justify the real goal of occupying the oil fields in the South and to block the Chinese in Nigeria.

You display a stunning ignorance as to why this is happening, even as you’re so outraged by it.

Exposing the whole sordid story of the destruction of Libya and the role of Al-Qaeda as the “boots on the ground” for U.S. geo-strategic objectives in North Africa and the Middle East represents the only strategy that an independent and principled left could pursue in wake of the fact that the hearings are going to occur. Anything other than that is capitulation, something that the left has routinely done over the last six years, and some of us still struggle against in the hope that one day the “responsible” left will eschew the privileges that stem from its objective collaboration with the interests and world-view of neo-liberal white power and re-ground itself in authentic radical principles and the world-wide struggle against Western domination.

Let me say this in the clearest, most concise manner possible.

ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL.

The Benghazi hearings are about electing Republicans and defeating Democrats. Period. The overthrow of Qaddafi was as much about local politics in the EU as anything else (a big part of it being an attempt to bail out BP because of their massive losses in the US after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which was destroying pension holdings in the UK). We pulled out of Viet Nam because a domestic political shift made it politically untenable to remain there. Same for Iraq. Same for Afghanistan. If you want to make a long-term change in the behavior of people towards something that’s far away from them, find the intersection between the effects that thing produces and how they live their lives and hammer on that. You do not do it – ever – by giving political cover to your enemies.

All that the Left would do by supporting the Benghazi investigations is help the GOP to continue bashing anyone to the left of Ted Cruz. Assisting the party that is actively encouraging the disenfranchisement of your base is not the way to win in politics unless you are attempting to start a revolution. If that’s what you’re trying to do, you’re a horrible human being because you’re (from a position of authority and privilege yourself) saying that you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, and by eggs you mean people who have virtually no power or voice in this world. Way to go!

Finally in the spirit of the title, I’d just like to say this:
bagofdicks

Thursday Morning

I’ve felt for a long time that “Being There” (and the novella that inspired it) was unintended prophecy.

More self-inflicted fresh-water poisoning.

Increasingly, to have an understanding of science is to realize how poorly the profit motive is serving us in our interactions with reality, especially when combined with the failure to remember that governments are the entities funding forward-looking research.

There are few if any replacements for carbapenems in development, says Elizabeth Jungman, director of drug safety and innovation at the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington DC. Companies lack economic incentives to develop new antibiotics, she says, and researchers have found it difficult to find new ways to get Gram-negative bacteria to take up antibiotics.

This makes me feel stabby.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court takes an interesting approach to “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” An excerpt (linked from the story):

In sum, our review reveals no compelling reason to
interpret Article I, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution as providing greater protection with regard to warrantless searches of motor vehicles than does the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, we hold that, in this Commonwealth, the law governing warrantless searches of motor vehicles is coextensive with federal law under the Fourth Amendment. The prerequisite for a warrantless search of a motor vehicle is probable cause to search; no exigency beyond the inherent mobility of a motor vehicle is required. The consistent and firm requirement for probable cause is a strong and sufficient safeguard against illegal searches of motor vehicles, whose inherent mobility and the endless factual circumstances that such mobility engenders constitute a per se exigency allowing police officers to make the determination of probable cause in the first instance in the field.

SB: Egg on my face. According to ProfMTH (link to YouTube channel):

…it is well settled that people have a diminished expectation in privacy in cars and other vehicles. While the automobile exception is new to Pennsylvania law, it is not new to federal 4th Amendment jurisprudence–it’s been around since the 1920s. The federal bench realized long ago that if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe a vehicle s/he has stopped is being used in the commission of a crime and/or contains evidence of a crime, it is unreasonable to send the officer off to obtain a warrant since the vehicle and the evidence it may contain are, to understate it, unlikely to be around when the officer returns. One of the hallmarks of the 4th Amendment is reasonableness.

Well all right then. Sometimes when I think things are getting worse, it’s just that I’ve become more aware of it as I grew older. Well that, and sometimes I’m just ignorant.

Rob Ford… just… stop, already.

Australia, what the hell are you doing?? Besides punishing the average person for putting all your chips on the commodities boom in China, of course. Note that the title syas “Wealthy to pay for own health care costs,” but the first sentence is “The middle class would be forced to cover their own health costs and Medicare would be left as a basic safety net under the commission of audit’s plan, cleaving universal healthcare in two.” Is this called “breaking it to you slowly?”

Grifters gotta grift. For the children!

TEPCO: Failing upwards in Japan.

Anybody else think the private sector could learn a few things from NASA’s unmanned flight operations team? Still going strong.

Some dark humor to start your day.
pikachu_taser

A Simple Answer to a Stupid Dilemma

As I’ve discussed before, as election season approaches and every voter faces the prospect of looking at what they have (or haven’t) done, many are facing this moment of truth with wailing, gnashing of teeth, wearing of hair shirts and public penitent flagellation. Today’s example is as follows:

The time has come again for the liberals to attack those on their left. Such things are cyclical, like the coming of the cicadas. This is interesting timing because the liberals I know and read are very, very confident that Obama is running away with the election. And this itself is interesting, as the typical justification of the rampant redbaiting and Peter Beinart-style calls for purges of the unfaithful is that we’re in a trench war, here, people, and Charlie is everywhere, and so if the Democrats were to nominate Zell Miller your job would be to shut the fuck up and support him as he destroyed everything we believe in, because it’s a two party system. But, now, see, because they think that their guy is winning, it’s also not the right time because… well. You know. It’s never the time. They are, in every sense, kept people, owned by a party and its leader, and they have given away every part of themselves that is capable of critical thought.

I don’t know how else it say it, considering I’ve said it a thousand times. I want my country to stop killing innocent people. I want it so bad I don’t know how to act or what to do. I want it so bad I can’t sit still or sleep at night. I want it with everything I have that’s capable of want. And I know that this is the kind of talk that invites pure contempt from those like Tbogg, who have only the idiom of sarcasm and derision and cannot imagine straightforward moral sentiment. But that’s the truth. I want my country to stop killing innocent people. And the innocent people we kill the most, these days, are Muslim. And the policy of the Obama administration has expanded the zone in which we kill innocent Muslims, they have shown no interest in stopping killing innocent Muslims, and in fact their campaign constantly brags about the drone program which kills innocent Muslims. That’s just true. All of it is just true. Obama is directly responsible for the expansion of hostilities against Muslims targets which result in the death of people who have taken no violent action against the United States. Voting for him cannot, does not, and will not challenge that reality.

I don’t know who is telling him not to challenge this outside of the voting booth, because that’s a stupid thing to say (and I believe him that people are saying this; I’ve gotten shit myself for not being sufficiently pro-Obama), but guess what: politicians have absolutely no way of connecting your motives for (not) voting as you choose to with the outcome of the election. It’s a stupid, pointless gesture to not-vote in protest unless your sole goal is to make yourself feel good, unless you don’t live in a swing state. I live in VA, so this race is very contested here. If you live in state that’s heavily weighted one way or another, then feel free to sit it out (or better yet, vote for a third-party candidate), but the action will be meaningless without more action outside of election season to back it up. To paraphrase Noam Chomsky in the video below, of course you can fucking vote for the lesser of two evils, because you get less goddamn evil!

And let’s get back to this little gem from the comment above, because I want to highlight it:

I don’t know how else it say it, considering I’ve said it a thousand times. I want my country to stop killing innocent people. I want it so bad I don’t know how to act or what to do.

I’m sure these people could use some help. Or these people. Do you vote in your primary elections? Do you donate money outside of election season (and include a note as to why you’re donating or why it’s not more, or why you’re donating a goddamn penny because you’re so pissed off)? If you don’t know how to act or what to do, then ask people who are doing something and be willing to follow through. Find some way to help and do it, but don’t pretend that casting a ballot is the time to make that difference. From my earlier post:

Think of it this way. You’re on a large train, and the track divides at regular intervals. During the ride, you can contact people who are building the line ahead of you to influence the way the tracks are going to go, but once the tracks are built, nothing can change them short of a natural disaster. Just before you get to the switch where you can go in one (or more) possible directions, everyone on the train gets a vote as to which way the train will go. No matter what you do the train is going on one of the tracks that have already been laid out. If you wanted a different option, your only time to influence it was the long ride before the vote (write-in candidates just do not win without considerable groundwork; think of Lisa Murkowski in Alaska). Whether you spent this time slamming down drinks in the lounge car or frantically calling ahead to try and change the direction the rails are being laid out, at this point it doesn’t matter. The options have now been decided, and the train is not going to stop. With considerable difficulty you can get off the train, but that can be a complex (and sometimes dangerous) process that can be hard to reverse if you change your mind, but the train will not stop.

So the question on a ballot is, “which way will the train go?”

And once again DJW’s re-telling of hilzoy’s wonderful response:

I can’t recall when or where, but I believe it was hilzoy who gave the best answer I’ve ever heard to this kind of question, which I wholeheartedly endorse. It was, essentially, that she would be indifferent to voting for the least bad viable candidate when things had gotten so bad that she was actively involved in violent rebellion against the government. Significantly, this is a higher threshold than “things are so bad violent revolution is justified in the abstract, but I’m not currently doing it”, but actual active rebellion. This seems exactly right to me. Either you should use the tools available to make better/reduce the harm of the current state, of you should begin engaging in a plot to overthrow it, or find a way to contribute to an ongoing one. If the latter is not to your taste because you have other priorities, or you (probably wisely) deem it unlikely to be unsuccessful and as such not a reasonable risk of life and limb, you have no reason to avoid the first strategy, and you get no credit for moral high ground for avoiding it.

And if those are too complicated for you, then I offer you the simple, traditional response: “don’t mourn, organize!

Phishing for Stupid Students

So in a serious case of “why was I right about this and not about something fun,” student loans are building up into the next (make that current now) big speculative bubble. As with any trend, there is spam sent attempting to capitalize on it. My notes are in italics.

Greetings, dear Rhuffman

That’s not a name, that’s a login id.

What’s the profit of higher education in Colledge?

College? Colander? Coleridge? WTF?

Is the diploma with higher qualification worth time and money spent for study? The difference in income is incredible…

Only one qualification? Difference between what and what??

Specialists with degree will always have higher salary and higher rating in labor market

Generalists, however, are screwed.

Difference in lifetime incomes of people with different education level was analyzed within the state program “Lifetime Earnings Soar with Education”

That was an about.com webpage, not a state program. Thanks for showing us your only source for this, though.

So do I need to read the rest of this now?

Sigh.

It was found out that specialists with degree or diploma have wages several times higher than employees without such a diploma.
Here are some simple and clear examples showing what income education brings
These are real numbers, which you can expect earning, if you contact us.

And, of course, if you pass this letter on to seven friends. If you don’t, then C’thulu will come to you in the night and eat your face.

HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA – High school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million in lifetime income.
BANCHELORS DEGREE – Those with a bachelor’s degree, $2.1 million over a lifetime
MASTERS DEGREE – People with a master’s degree earn $2.5 million
DOCTORAL DEGREE – Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life:
PROFESSIONAL DEGREE – Those with MD or JD professional degrees (medicine, law) do best with an average of $4.4 million dollars in lifetime earnings:

Okay, why is the colon at the end there? Never mind. From the source linked above:

The report titled “The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings” (.pdf) reveals that over an adult’s working life, high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor’s degree, $2.1 million; and people with a master’s degree, $2.5 million.

Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life, while those with professional degrees do best at $4.4 million.

So what are your thoughts on plagiarism in higher education?

The fact is that you have a wealth of experience in your sphere but no diploma confirming this. Do you want to change your life and social status? We can help you! In a month we will send you a diploma confirming your higher professional level.
Invest your money in diploma today, pay once and get profit for many years after.

That was the bait, and now for the hook…

Buy your diploma by calling us on: USA: 1-6-035-092-001 and Outside USA: +1-312-260-7939 and expand the horizons of your future.

That is how it ended, which is sloppy. NEVER let the last thing your mark sees be something anomalous; you should always leave someone you’re trying to fleece with something that feels familiar and right, such as a sincerely yours, [respectable name] [respectable title].

So what’s odd here? Why would a number inside the U.S. be broken up that way? To hide it from search engine results. I guess they got lazy with the second one (not that moving dashes around is industrious, but).

Anyhow, now that I’m done looking at the fail of the scam, I just want to express my deepest, fondest wish that if anyone finds the people perpetuating this scheme (which will only add to the pain and misery of the student debt bubble, which has been made even worse by the fact that ALL student loans can not be voided by either bankruptcy or death, not just federal ones – so do not get any student loan but a federally subsidized one, PERIOD), please smash the bones of their limbs with hammers. If you have an extra hammer, give a call. I’ll come help.

Much appreciated!

We’ll kill us all, and you’ll help us!

Well, the climate change meeting in Buenos Aires produced some interesting results for a conference that was supposed to be only a set of informal discussions. In addition to hamstringing the meeting itself, the U.S. did its best to make the meeting, and Kyoto itself, irrelevant (Bush likes making things irrelevant):

The Americans also objected to mentions of the need to tackle global warming as opposed to adapting to it, and backed an extraordinary demand from Saudi Arabia that oil-producing states should receive billions of dollars in compensation from the rest of the world if they burned less oil.

Pure, naked greed. Don’t you love it?

Get over yourself.

Apparently, Mr. Perle has decided that Colin Powell is to blame for the current situation in Iraq. Nevermind that for whatever reason, Colin Powel did exactly as he was ordered to as best as humanly possible? Yes, Powell did refuse to use the “Niger Connection” and also did push aside his notes on that second speech, but I suspect that what was in the back of his mind was “Okay, I’ll follow orders, but I will not get out here with metaphorical a Bozo wig and clown nose and become the laughingstock of the world. Everyone knows the score here, but I’m not going to sacrifice the very last shreds of my dignity just to make you look good.”

Ah, it’s that time of year again…

Again it’s nearing the holiday season, and a quick Google search reveals a wealth of Christan Persecution. No, really, have a press kit!

Puh-leeze, people. Why can’t you take off the hair shirts, stop flogging yourselves, and show a little common sense like many of your bretheren? Trust me, as one of the unwashed heathen, there is no lack of religious input into the public square that does not happen when people who AREN’T believers are paying for it, little Timmy is not going to be deprived because his public school teacher won’t lead the class in a rousing chorus of the greatest hits from the psalms. LIght an extra candle for the unsaved and leave it at that. You’ll feel better, we’ll feel relieved, and lots of lawyers will get smaller Christmas bonuses. Wouldn’t that be nice?