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2 months Ago

Is America Psychopathic?

Published by marco on

I’ve just about finished reading The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. He’s a humor writer with a penchant for interviewing odd people. In the book, he discovers a checklist for determining whether someone is a psychopath. Throughout the book, he notes which checklist items a particular conversation with an interviewee triggers, even when that person is clearly not a psychopath. He gets kind of carried away with it, which is pretty funny.

It’s kind of easy to start doing it yourself, too.

We’re... [More]

Because she’s a woman

Published by marco on

The article Democrats Will Learn All the Wrong Lessons From Brush With Bernie by Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone) includes this passage, right at the top.

“The arrival of the first female presidential nominee was undoubtedly a huge moment in American history and something even the supporters of Bernie Sanders should recognize as significant and to be celebrated.”

I can’t agree with this facile lip service to political correctness.

How can it be a huge moment when nothing has changed except for the genitalia? The ideas are the... [More]

Hillary is the real Republican candidate

Published by marco on

Politics in America

When a politician sways with whichever wind blows hardest, it’s called triangulation. They try to find the combination of positions most likely to yield enough votes to win election. Those of us who don’t run for office call it being dishonest and unprincipled.

Americans have been told for years that such judgment is idealistic, that in real-world politics, there is no room for a person with principles. We are even happy to see our candidate doing what we interpret as... [More]

4 months Ago

Trump’s reason to run

Published by marco on

I was digging and sorting and deleting old bookmarks the other day and came across this clip from the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. I don’t want to take anything away from him with the analysis that follows: Seth Meyers really knocks it out of the park for his whole 20 minutes or so. Really good material.

But there’s something I noticed. I’ve cued up the following clip at the point in his presentation where I feel he may have influenced the future of the U.S. of A. without even... [More]

5 months Ago

Trump wouldn’t be the first fool, psycho or moron

Published by marco on

Since Trump won the primaries, the press and representatives on both sides of the aisle in America have stepped up their level of panic to at least DEFCON2. Nearly everyone who’s anyone is pulling on the handbrake as hard as they can to prevent the ever-more imminent disaster of a President Trump. At this point, the entirety of the press has nearly forgotten that Hillary and Sanders are even running in the other party’s primary because Trump is doing such a good job making Trumpzilla/the... [More]

The Winning Ticket in 2016

Published by marco on

The Trumpdozer rolls on, showing the world the real America. The article How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable by Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone) makes the case that Trump is the logical result of the American electoral process, which is not to be confused with the presidency itself, which while often cruel and capricious is not really a joke. People die because of it. As Taibbi says,

“The presidency is serious. The presidential electoral process, however, is a sick joke, in which everyone loses except the people behind the... [More]”

The FBI vs. Apple

Published by marco on

The news is that the FBI has requested that Apple comply with a court order to crack a single iPhone—that belonging to one of the suicide killers at the San Bernardino massacre last year.

A lot has been said about this case that is wrong. I’ve read a few articles and comments from relatively knowledgable sources and what they have to say makes a bit more sense than the typically hyperbolic interpretation in the major media—and, of course, social networking sites.

The Law is Bigger than You... [More]

6 months Ago

Problems with Kunstler’s social politics

Published by marco on

I find James Howard Kunstler to be worth reading more often than not. He writes engagingly and his insight into the devolution of capitalist society can be quite valuable, But he’s been more and more prone to going off the rails when he discusses issues of race. It’s usually not out-and-out racism; there’s a kernel of an idea that’s worth discussing, but usually not the way he’s discussing it. His phrasing betrays a tone-deafness that underlies much of his opinion in these areas.

For example,... [More]

7 months Ago

Occupy Wildlife Preserve

Published by marco on

I haven’t read much about Ammon Bundy and his gang’s standoff in Oregon. I’ve read so little about it that I had to look up where it was actually happening (other than knowing it was “somewhere in the U.S.”). So it’s some Arizona ranchers occupying a federal building in Oregon. This is definitely a step up from the domestic terrorism of the Unabomber or Timothy McVeigh because at least fewer people are being killed. Still, armed men have occupied federal property and are demanding the release... [More]

2 years Ago

The West deigns to help Islam modernize

Published by marco on

In defense of Islam (3QuarksDaily) cites a same-named blog post by Ross Douthat (New York Times) in which he uses quite-dense prose to obfuscate the central message: he argues that the fanaticism of ISIS rises directly from Islamic scripture and shouldn’t be treated as necessarily crazy. The first step in ending a needless war is the recognition that the enemy is not crazy, but Douthat’s interpretation is more insidious, I think.

“Western analysts tend to understate not only the essential religiosity of ISIS’s worldview, but the extent to... [More]”

Human Rights Watch is not credible

Published by marco on

HRW is clearly in the pocket of the U.S. government. From a recent tweet, which linked to the article Saudi Arabia: King’s Reform Agenda Unfulfilled (HRW),

“King Abdullah’s reign brought about marginal advances for women but failed to secure the fundamental rights of Saudi citizens to free expression, association, and assembly. […]”

 King Abdullah's Twipitaph from HRW

The verb employed here is not accurate. You cannot fail at something without actually trying it. In the main tweet, they do it again, characterizing a purely... [More]

Using American Sniper as a microscope to examine America

Published by marco on

I have not seen American Sniper for the same reason that I have not seen Act of Valor, Zero Dark Thirty or Lone Survivor. I did watch one season of Homeland and lasted that long only because my watchin’ buddy refused to stop mid-season. This type of entertainment is mostly just the U.S. military advertising itself through Hollywood’s mouth. I’d rather read the news and come to my own conclusions without the hagiographies.

I watched Battleship ‘cause it had aliens and The Hurt Locker ‘cause the... [More]

Some thoughts on reactions to Charlie Hebdo

Published by marco on

After a few days of coverage, the Charlie Hebdo attack had already started to resonate with the same vibrant religious fervor in France as the 9–11 attacks quickly did in America. Through the entire (mainstream and largely fringe) spectrum, though, there was an utter lack of awareness that what happened at those offices was just another normal day in the many places where the West exerts its influence.

Just how sympathetic do the French suppose an average Libyan would be to Parisian wails... [More]

Stop blowing other people up #1342

Published by marco on

A few month ago, a friend sent a link to this article, The Islamic State Panic by Michael Brenner (Huffington Post). I found this response in my inbox.

tl;dr: Michael Brenner makes the point that the West—especially America—simplifies foreign policy to the detriment of all. He argues that they should stop doing this. I heartily concur and feel that they should, in fact, stop blowing things up entirely.

HuffPo? Really? Ok, fine. Ignore stupid chain of articles littering the right-hand side. Avoid long diatribe about our... [More]

Relating to Race with Chris Rock

Published by marco on

I’d heard that the article In Conversation: Chris Rock by Frank Rich (Vulture) including some groundbreaking statements on race by Chris Rock. I like Chris Rock and I like his standup. He’s a comedian, though, so while his niggers vs. black people bit was funny at the time, in retrospect, it’s a savage attack on the poor and uneducated. Still, admittedly funny at the time.

On Bill Maher

Seeing that Frank Rich of the New York Times had interviewed him was not encouraging. So let’s see what Rock has to say. It starts... [More]

Michael Brown and Ferguson

Published by marco on

I haven’t really weighed in on this topic because I’m still digesting it. There are so many interlocking parts and so many reasons for why things are not right that an off-the-cuff article just doesn’t do the topic justice. A lot of what you read gives the impression that the fact that people are rioting in one town in the Midwest is a good excuse for trotting out more unsavory opinions in the guise of chastening those thugs and hoodlums who can’t abide by the rule of law.

If you assumed that... [More]

Workfare instead of welfare

Published by marco on

I received the post Maine Just Changed Their Food-Stamp Policy… Every State Should Do This (Conservative Tribune) from a friend.

The friend wondered whether the following was a good idea. They thought it might be, but asked if I could confirm.

“[…] adults 18 to 50 years old with no children and who are able to work must do so or volunteer for 20 hours each week. Otherwise, their benefits will be limited to three months over a three-year period”

This is one of those superficially seductive ideas that keeps coming... [More]

The Obama Question

Published by marco on

“What do you think of Obama?[1]

He is Barack Hussein Obama,

44th—and first black—President of the United States of America.

Nobel Peace-prize winner.

So-called leader of the free world.[2]

O-bomber.

The Drone Ranger.

Mr. Guántanamo.

Mr. extraordinary rendition.

Mr. N.S.A.

The whistle-blower hunter.[3]

Defender of the 0.1%.

The question above is posed in different ways, in different tones. It depends on the person posing it. If the person hates Obama—for any of a variety of reasons,... [More]

John Oliver on the power of state legislators

Published by marco on

Congress may be at an ineffective standstill and the next two years are a legislative wasteland stretching before America and the world. The state legislatures, though, aren’t sitting still. Instead, they’re filled with the crème de la crème that America has to offer: from mildly racist to super-racist, from batshit crazy to crazier than a shithouse rat.

After introducing many of the lunatic creatures that will have an inordinate effect on ordinary citizens’ lives, Oliver notes that they are... [More]

Ukraine Update

Published by marco on

The article The IMF’s New Cold War Loan to Ukraine by Michael Hudson (CounterPunch) provides some interesting insight into the IMF’s machinations on behalf of its masters in Europe and the U.S.

“[…] the IMF signed off on the first loan ever to a side engaged in a civil war, not to mention rife with insider capital flight and a collapsing balance of payments.”

The IMF has hard and fast rules for loaning money and is famous the world over for being an exceedingly unforgiving creditor…unless the creditor is the European... [More]

Criminal Justice in the U.S.

Published by marco on

The article Theater of Justice by Molly Crabapple (VICE) is an article by an artist who also occasionally does courtroom sketches.

She tells of Cecily McMillan, who was beaten into a seizure by police offers and who two years later stands trial for assaulting a police officer, facing seven years in prison. The officer’s record of having beaten other suspects was deemed inadmissable.

Or there is the other recent case of a black woman who tried to stand her ground, as others have successfully done. She fired a warning... [More]

Russophobia: the Lunatics are at the Helm

Published by marco on

I am so tired of hearing of scintillatingly smart people who can’t seem to ever say anything that is even tangentially well-informed. We knew that the Bush administration was a booby-hatch full of cantankerous old farts who hadn’t been right about anything or even had an original thought since before it became illegal to beat your wife and black people, not necessarily in that order. That doesn’t excuse them in any way at all, but they didn’t even really have a veneer of intelligentsia to them.... [More]

Truthiness in Ukraine

Published by marco on

As you can well imagine, this is an exhaustive topic. Trying to get a handle on it is like drinking from a firehose. My style of research involved a lot of reading, evaluation and collection of interesting tidbits, some of which are contradictory to previous bits. Interesting for me does not mean “believable” or “true” but that it was well-written, intriguing or contributed to my knowledge. This piece will start with an attempt at an overview with some interwoven notes, followed by a lot of... [More]

3 years Ago

Police stories from the trenches

Published by marco on

The first rule of policing

The post Dallas Cops Fight For the First Rule of Policing by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) defines that rule as “make it home for dinner”. No matter what else is going on that day or how a given situation develops, the first rule is self-preservation. Everything else—including gunned-down innocents—can be handled later and usually papered over with the help of others, both on the force and on the bench.

This post discusses a shooting incident in Dallas, in which a 48-year–old officer was,... [More]

The constitutional professor

Published by marco on

Cartoonist Ted Rall published the following cartoon at the end of 2013:

 On Sec. 107(a) of the NDAA

The first couple of panels document the most recent transgressions that the Obama administration has made under the auspices of the NDAA—the National Defense Authorization Act. These include sweeping away constitutionally guaranteed rights in a manner breathtaking even for citizens who survived eight years of the Bush/Cheney administration.

The final panel shows a soldier wondering how this can be, while another... [More]

Maybe it’s as bad as they say?

Published by marco on

Purely out of morbid curiosity, I visited Healthcare.gov to see what’s going on over there. I’d heard so much.

Here are some comments additional to those embedded in the screenshot:

 Home page is decent, if a little careless

  • It did not reject me because I’m browsing from a foreign country. +1
  • It redirected me from www.healthcare.gov to healthcare.gov. Canonical name is the short one. +1
  • It loaded quickly. +1
  • It’s pretty light on graphics. +1
  • There are way too many fonts and font sizes. –1
  • Stop using small-caps for anything other... [More]

TED talks about city design and capitalism

Published by marco on

Why buses represent democracy in action by Enrique Peñalosa (TED)
The title is a way of saying that building bus lines before four-lane highways for cars is inherently more democratic because more people use the buses. It has less to do with democracy and more to do with social fairness and providing for the basic rights to which civilized peoples are entitles. We are talking about a form of socialism here. Instead of letting the elites bend the will of the market with their gravitational wells of overwhelming buying... [More]

Free Speech != Right to Airtime

Published by marco on

So there is, apparently, a redneck actor on a fake-reality show called “Duck Dynasty” who turns out to be, in real life, an anti-gay bigot with completely humdrum and bigoted ideas of everyone’s place in society.

I’ll let you gather your wits as you recover from your shock.

Also unsurprisingly, he thinks that white guys with beards, guns and inappropriate sunglasses sit at the top of the heap.

A&E, which broadcasts this paragon to culture, pulled on his leash and suspended him for a little... [More]

There is no such thing as objective journalism

Published by marco on

Whether there is such a thing as truly objective journalism—reporting without any explicit or implicit bias—is the subject of the article Is Glenn Greenwald the Future of News? (New York Times). It’s a conversation between Bill Keller—editor of the New York Times—and Glenn Greenwald—currently of the Guardian and, most recently, the driving force behind reporting on NSA spying and distributing Edward Snowden’s revelations.

Greenwald argues quite convincingly that there is only journalism and... [More]

Why do you hate democracy so much?

Published by marco on

Russell Brand has been in the media of late, the first time because of an acceptance speech at an awards ceremony sponsored by Hugo Boss, during which he reminded everyone from whom their sponsor had gotten his inauspicious start (the S.S. in the 1930s).

In response to that hullabaloo, he responded with the relatively well-written essay Russell Brand and the GQ awards: ‘It’s amazing how absurd it seems’ (Guardian), in which he wrote,

“I could see the room dividing as I spoke. I could hear the laughter... [More]”