Friday, August 31, 2007


Will be back Tuesday. I will *not* be carrying a computer with me.

-- Badtux the Recharging Penguin


Dear Leader's minions claim that because the "terrorists" are making ranting videos, they're "desperate". Hmm. Any more "desperate" and we'd have three less Senators and one less Representative.

Said Senators, since they are Republicans, will of course now hold a news conference stating that Iraq is no more dangerous than a housing project in Chicago. Because, of course, every plane taking off from O'Hare has to dodge missiles being fired from the Projects. Alrighty then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Friday cat blogging

Since I gave both Mencken and The Mighty Fang top billing yesterday, I'll let you look at their dignified photos from yesterday. In the meantime, from the poll it is clear that The Mighty Fang's fan club is, well, mighty (heh!). Mass grooming of blog patrons shall NOT be instituted. Do not fear the pink tongue of mass grooming! As for Mencken, he's like, "bah, who cares." His expectations are low for the two-legged monkeys called "human beings", and he is rarely disappointed. Sometimes pleasantly surprised, but rarely disappointed. Sometimes being a misanthrope is a blessing, I suppose.

- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, August 30, 2007


The educated Mencken says if you don't vote for him, he'll write snarky posts about how no one ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American public, or impassioned newspaper editorials about the cretinism of inbred Southern crackers.

Hmm, be groomed to death by The Mighty Fang, or suffer the acid tongue of a known misanthrope. Choices, choices...

-- Badtux the Choice Penguin

You know who you're supposed to vote for

I am appalled, appalled I say, that someone might actually vote for the wrong cat in my poll to the left! You know who you're supposed to vote for. Or The Mighty Fang will... will... GROOM YOU TO DEATH! (Or at least to dampness).

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Kudos to the pink-hooved one

Princess Sparkle Pony, (s)he who follows Condi's hairdo so you don't have to, has incredibly snarky coverage of the Larry Craig beat-down, including details on, err, "tea-room trade", that lead to me wanting to wash my eyeballs afterwards. It starts here with a laugh-and-point intro. Then moves on to info about Larry Craig's favorite public restroom, which is, apparently, err, infamous. Add in a Republican hairdresser joke, hilarious commentary on Larry Craig's "wide stance" news conference, and yet more reports from the infamous restroom. So, what was with all that cryptic foot tapping? The Princess has the sticky details (ick, I need to go wash my hands!). And of course what's a good sex scandal without video?

Now, lest it seem that those of us who are, err, not deranged right-wing ideologues with no connection to reality, are piling upon this poor man for being gay... err, no. We're piling upon this poor man for being a closeted t-room queen who stridently claims he isn't gay. It's as if the Rev. Jesse Jackson held ridiculous news conferences where he claimed he wasn't black, or if Senator Hillary Clinton held news conferences where she claimed she wasn't a woman. That would be funny, and of course anybody with any kind of sense of humor would point and laugh. As for what Larry Craig does in the privacy of his own bathroom, well, that is of no concern to me. I do wish he'd keep it in his own bathroom though, rather than in a public restroom where he can irritate people who just need to take a dump. That's why he got arrested -- using a public restroom as his own personal bordello -- not for being gay. Being gay is just what he is, whether he wants to hold news conferences denying it or not.

- Badtux the Pony-admirin' Penguin

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Just another day in New Orleans

This isn't any day special for New Orleans bloggers. They don't need to remember Katrina's effects. They're still living it, and paying the price. They are tired. New Orleanians angrily blast zealots and bigots who blame local politicians for the failure to rebuild public infrastructure, pointing out that a) local politicians haven't gotten anything other than a couple of small loans from the federal government to rebuild with, loans that, unprecedentedly, the feds are requiring to be repaid (disaster loans to cities for rebuilding infrastructure have traditionally been forgiven by the federal government), and b) the problem isn't corruption because New Orleans government is now cleaner than is the norm for U.S. politics thanks to a vigorous and energetic reform movement that has thrown the bums out and put in vigorous safeguards. New Orleanians are angry. They were flooded out by flawed levees designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which were not overtopped (and we have video to prove it) but rather collapsed due to design flaws, and now are being required to pay the whole price of a disaster created by the U.S. government and its incompetence and penny-pinching. And to add insult to injury, Dear Leader showed up in New Orleans and caused traffic mayhem in order to perform his little stage-managed photo-op where he lied his ass off about the amount of money given for rebuilding to the City of New Orleans (which is $0 -- ***ZEEEEROOOOO***, folks, just those two small loans which have to be paid back).

Yessiree, just an other day in New Orleans. And, for that matter, on the rest of the Gulf Coast, which, outside of the casinos, is just as much a shambles as New Orleans, but with one important distinction: The very survival of southern Mississippi isn't dependent upon creaky levees designed and maintained by the provably incompetent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, thus more rebuilding can be done there. In South Louisiana nothing could be rebuilt until the incompetent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released new floodplain maps, and even then the maps they eventually released were completely bogus -- New Orleanians complain that in some places the maps will require them to elevate their homes ten feet above the high water mark, while in other places the maps have them underwater if the levees break again. And to add insult to injury, Mississippi, which at least is above water without the need for levees, got far more money to rebuild than Louisiana...

Anyhow, enough ranting. Today, we're all Louisianians. And we're all just as fucked as Louisianians if we rely on our federal government, which we pay money to in order to protect us, but which apparently prefers to send that money to Bush cronies instead of giving us what we pay for.

-- Badtux the Louisiana Penguin

When the levee breaks

It has been two years since New Orleans was flooded by defective levees, levees that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has now admitted were defective.

Today, two years later, New Orleans and the Louisiana Gulf Coast is still a mess. The utilities company, Entergy New Orleans and Entergy Gulf Coast cannot provide reliable power or gas service and has filed for bankruptcy despite the fact that their parent company, Entergy Corporation, is recording record profits. If they cannot provide services then government should step in and provide services (that's the whole point of government -- We The People band together and provide services for ourselves that for some reason private enterprise can't or won't provide), but local governments are bankrupt because stores cannot operate without electricity and property taxes cannot be paid without income from jobs that can't be there without electricity, and the federal government refuses to give them any money unless they provide matching funds and besides the federal government won't allow them to provide electrical service to replace the service Entergy isn't providing using these funds.

So now people have moved back, but they're not getting the services they spent so many years paying for -- no fire protection, no police protection, no flood protection (the levees are sitll broken, the U.S. Army Corps of engineers says it will not be until 2011 that the levees are even to the level of protection that they were *supposed* to be at in 2005). The Republican response is, "well who needs government?". But the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Louisiana Gulf Coast will have an easy answer to that, as they show you the remnants of fire stations and police labs, the roads washed away that can't be rebuilt because the federal government won't provide money, the mountains of trash from gutted homes that FEMA is legally responsible for removing but refuses to see... they need the government they spent so many years paying for, the government that is supposed to provide public services like roads, fire protection, and disaster management. Unfortunately, recovery money is largely going to Bushevik cronies instead. What the people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are getting is the sort of "service" that a stallion gives to a mare, right up the ass...

-- Badtux the Louisiana Penguin

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mrow! Mrow! Mrow! Mrow!

The fur-bearin' varmints were irate. I just got in maybe ten minutes ago -- yep, after 9pm -- and of course their food bowl had been empty for hours. They immediately set up a caterwauling that was, well, a caterwauling. Here they peruse their empty food bowl while howling at the top of their lungs about the injustice of the situation. I fed them immediately afterwards, of course. Flightless waterfowl should not tempt hungry kitties...

-- Badtux the Lucky-to-be-here Penguin

We've seen this game before...

It's all Malaki's fault. The problem is that Diem err Malaki has not managed to bring unity to South Vietnam oops Iraq. The Buddhists oops Sunni in particular seem rather disgruntled with his rule, burning themelves to death in the streets oops blowing people to death in the streets in protest. Given this, if we do not want South Vietnam agh Iraq to fall to the Communists oops Islamists, there is only one choice, which is to depose Diem oops Malaki and replace him with Thieu whoops Allawi.

Sorry about getting confused about the players in the above paragraph, it's just that this game has been played before, and we all know how that worked out...

- Badtux the History Penguin

Monday, August 27, 2007

Katrina 2 years later

Little rebuilding money has reached individuals displaced by the storm. The levees are still a mess. Major portions of New Orleans and surrounding coastal areas are still deserted ruins. And now Dear Leader is going to New Orleans to talk about how, two years after he left them to die, Mission Accomplished: It's no wonder the ratbastard isn't announcing his itinerary in New Orleans. Given how people feel about him down there, there ain't 'nuff Secret Service agents on the planet to keep him safe if there's even one sniff of his evil smirking ass in the air.

-- Badtux the Louisiana Penguin

The Gay Agenda gets another Republican!

Yessiree, Mustang Bobby tells us that the GOP tea-room gets another member. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was apparently arrested for soliciting sex in a public restroom, pled guilty, and paid a fine. Balloon Juice comments, Why is everyone soliciting sex in bathrooms, for chrissakes? Is there some underground bathroom/gay sex culture out there? Sorry, John, I don't know the answer to that question. Maybe Mustang Bobby will answer it for us. On the other hand, maybe not. Maybe it's all the fault of that dastardly villain The Gay Agenda, who for some reason has been shooting Republican anti-gay activists with his Gay Ray of Gayness. But never fear, I'm sure that Senator Craig will shortly check into Jesus Camp and be cured of his gay-ness thanks to the intercession of the Lord. Hey, it worked for Rev. Ted Haggard, right?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Gonzo Gone

Why does this feel almost anti-climactic?

Good riddance to a man who made John Friggin' ASHCROFT look like a super competent Attorney General. At least Ashcroft wouldn't sign off on illegal wiretapping and otherwise had at least some respect for rule of law despite his awkward habit of holding prayer meetings in the Justice Department conference rooms. Gonzo, on the other hand, had only one legal philosophy in his quiver: "If the President does it, it's not illegal." Y'know, I wasn't a big fan of John Ashcroft, so when I say that Alberto Gonzales makes Ashcroft look good... that makes Gonzo really, really awful.

Oh, about the timing: Expect Dear Leader to make a recess appointment of another Bushevik ideologue shortly. That's why Gonzo resigned while Congress was out of session. I'm surprised the announcement hasn't already been made. It's not as if Dear Leader is fearing being un-electorated, after all. He done got electorated. What's Congress gonna do to him, pelt him with bad words? As Momma used to say, "Sticks and stones break bones but words will never hurt you." Yeah, like Dear Leader is real scared of Congress... as long as there's not 66 votes for impeachment in the Senate, he's just gonna smirk 'till he leaves office. (And unlike some, I believe he WILL leave office -- Dear Leader is just the "face man" for the con, and has outworn his value to the con, it's time for a new "face").

-- Badtux the Politics Penguin

Sunday, August 26, 2007

This is NOT what you want to see...

So yesterday at around 6pm I was walking across the parking lot towards the mailboxes, which are on the side of the next apartment building, when I looked up and there was a skunk walking across the patio/sidewalk in front of that building. The skunk heard me, and presented its tail. Being not insane, I slowly backed away, and the skunk then hurried off to the left -- where the mailboxes are.

I decided I didn't want to pick up my mail that badly. I went through the building and went a different route to the complex office to handle some business, and came back that other route and picked up my mail at that time.

As for where the skunk came from... who knows? Probably he was displaced by one of the new condo projects around here. Skunks are carnivores that eat bugs and grubs and such so basically all they need is a big field to live. This guy, apparently, had discovered that this apartment complex is overrunning with snails, and was here to get his escargot fix. More power to him. At least he doesn't make a mess like the raccoon that I've also spotted hanging around, who tears into the garbage cans looking for tasty morsels. I don't know where they're going to live now that the last condo project has taken the last field in the area though. I suppose they'll wander a block to the railroad tracks and live along there, or wander two blocks to the Guadalupe River greenbelt, that's a long way for wildlife to go to look for free food but I don't put it past 'coons to do that.

Meanwhile UPS did a dump-and-run of some camping gear that I'd mail-ordered despite lack of the "No Signature Required" on the label, and it wasn't there when I got home. GRRR!!! Only good thing is because there is no proof of delivery (no signature or anything), UPS is liable for the contents of the package, not me or the guy who mailed me the gear. Only problem there is that because this is hand-made custom stuff, I now have to wait a few weeks for him to make me another set (sigh!). UPS freakin' *sucks*, their little tablet's software should not even allow the driver to claim that something has been delivered without a signature unless the label specifically says "No Signature Required".

- Badtux the Wildlife-co-existing Penguin

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Oil for blood

In yet another of those brilliant marketing ideas gone horribly wrong, Texaco is offering oil (changes) for blood. Hmm, given the number of protesters chanting "no blood for oil!", maybe they would like to reconsider?

-- Badtux the Helpful Penguin

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Guest Cat Blogging

This is Oreo. He looks fat, but he's actually mostly fur. The cat under that fur is quite a bit thinner, though because he mooches food from all the neighbors he's a bit fatter than his owners suspect. He's still half the weight of my cats even so. Not that this means much, when Mencken weighed 16 pounds and Fang weighed 18 pounds last time they were weighed at the vet's office...

Both Mencken and Fang, when they spot Oreo through the door, hiss at him. That's expected behavior from Mencken. Mencken hates everything. I was surprised when Fang did it, though. Fang's usual response to strangers is to attempt to groom them (he's such a vicious putty tat!). Maybe with all the fur, Fang thought it was a tribble come to eat all his food or something...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

These people have no shame

So David Horowitz sends me an email, "How you can help stop terrorism!". I opened it with baited breath. (Note: I'd been eating herring, so that is not supposed to be "bated"). So how could I help stop terrorism? Maybe enlist in the Army? Send cookies to our soldiers overseas? Send money to teachers trying to educate young Muslim children into not becoming terrorists? Join the CIA and infiltrate a madrasa on the Pakistani-Afghan border? Hmm?

Err, no. Three guesses. Heck. Two guesses. Oh come on, you know you'll only need one guess to know what good ole' Horrorwitz says is the most important thing to do to stop terrorism.

While you're formulating your one guess, more about the email. It contains a propaganda drawing that's hilarious in its content. The powerless elected ceremonial president of a country Horrorwitz doesn't like is airbrushed onto a photograph of a dead German dictator, and the word "Islamic" is prepended to the name of the dead German dictator's best-known book. Sadly, there are dumbasses who'll actually think this means something, because after all, if it's in print surely it's the truth right? Would David Horriblitz lie? But he looks so sincere!

Anyhow, are you ready for Horriblitz's answer to the question of "how can you help stop terrorism"? Well, the answer is clear. It's not enlisting in the Army, sending aid packets to our soldiers overseas, or anything like that. It's sending Horriblitz some money. duh. Remember, refusing to send Horriblitz money makes baby Jesus cry and just emboldens the terriers. Or something like that. Send Horriblitz some money, and he'll don his famous blue and red tights with the "H" on the front, flex his mighty muscles of steel (the ones in his head, I suppose), and go stop the terrorists all by himself, single-handedly. So did you guess right? Well, duh! He's a Republican, of course you guessed right!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The coddled children of unreality

Back when I was a kid, we didn't have video games. Television was two channels of grainy black-and-white network television plus one very fuzzy almost-out-of-range network on a 19" console in the living room and frankly except for Saturday mornings none of it was really interesting for a kid.

Instead, we played outside. We had imagined kingdoms in our back yard, complete with soldiers, cop car chases (hey, we did watch SOME television in the evenings after it was too dark to play outside!), pretend wars complete with dirt clods, and so forth. We roamed the neighborhood like little savages, forming up into groups of kids that would be called "gangs" nowdays. We found buried treasure in the drainage ditch behind our house (okay, so it was another group of kids' "secret stash", not much interesting in there except the Playboy, which was avidly perused for clues to the mystery of why older kids and grown-ups were always talking about girls when from our perspective as pre-teen boys girls were boring), we cut down bamboo poles using saws sneaked out of our parents' houses and went fishing and caught snapping turtles instead (or rather the snapping turtles took away our hook and sinker when they snapped through the line). We climbed trees, shimmied across sewer pipes laid across creeks, and rode our bikes all over. We learned some things about reality then. We learned that when it started raining outside and you were way back in the "wilderness" and got all wet, you wouldn't melt but you'd get pretty cold and start shivering if it was cool outside. We learned that you could cut yourself with a knife and bleed and it hurt. We learned that if the sun was really, really hot, you got out of the sun and went into the shade. We learned the hard way that falling out of a tree you might break your arm or collarbone or leg.

All of us managed to survive to adulthood despite the occasional broken bone, sprains, cuts, whatever. Pretty much all of us are productive citizens of the nation. And we had a blast, while learning a bit about reality, about what it's like to be thirsty, hot, hungry, tired, hurt, and how to be comfortable in our own skins because there wasn't anything other choice. I feel sorry for today's kids, who are protected, coddled, allowed no freedom, prevented from having all those bumps and bee stings and other minor tragedies of childhood that help you figure out what's real and what's, well, bullshit, who instead spend most of their time in a bullshit world of television and video games.

Which is why I can't get upset about the fact that CBS apparently shot a reality TV show involving kids that was at least borderline illegal. From everything I remember from being a kid, from everything I've heard, the kids involved in "Kid Nation" must have had a blast. Talk about your summer camps on steroids! And six weeks of that is hardly going to harm a kid. If they learned a bit about themselves and about what life is really like, in my opinion what they got from the show is worth far more than the six weeks of school they missed.

Indeed, the only real beef I have is that if the show actually gets good ratings, well, the kids get zilch. That's the kind of exploitation that child labor laws were created to avoid, and apparently CBS took advantage of a loophole in New Mexico law to say that they were just running a "summer camp" rather than a television production in order to avoid having to deal the kids in on the show's profits. That bit of child exploitation, rather than the show itself, is the only thing that gets me irate. If it's true that this is what happened (i.e. that the kids' parents got paid a flat $4,000 for their kids' participation in what was billed as a "summer camp experience"), CBS ought to be ashamed of itself for their crime of child exploitation, and the government of New Mexico ought to head after them with all legal guns roaring until a settlement is reached that properly compensates the kids for their time. Other than that... where's the beef?

-- Badtux the Heretic Penguin

Symbolic gestures and the needs of the few

So some banks symbolically buy money from the Federal Reserve to show that there is sufficient liquidity in the market to avoid galloping deflation due to the collapse of the mortgage-backed securities market. Why is the Federal Reserve giving this money to banks, rather than mortgage lenders or mortgage holders? And why is everybody worried about inflation anyhow? I mean, wouldn't one way to get out of the mortgage crisis be to inflate the currency until the incomes of the mortgage borrowers rises enough to meet their mortgage obligations?

But that is assuming that we have a government whose job is to ensure the well-being of as many Americans as possible. We do not. We have a government whose job is to ensure the well-being of the wealthy elites who run our nation. And inflation is very, very bad for them, because they own a lot of debt instruments (bonds) and the interest paid on those bonds is not going to rise if the inflation rate rises, rather, the bonds will become worth less and less (in real terms). The ideal, for our elites, is to keep inflation at a positive but relatively small and stable amount.

The converse, deflation, is not good for these elites either, because then the debtors paying them money on those bonds cannot meet their payments (due to the bonds being denoted in the older cheaper dollars and now expected to be repaid in newer more-expensive dollars). Thus the Fed policy over the past 25+ years, which has been to tweak money supply to insure a small and predictable amount of inflation. This is what is best for the elites, and the people who run our government have had the philosophy for the past 25+ years that, "what is good for the elites is good for the people." Rather self-serving, but so it goes.

Anyhow, things have been wobbling out of control recently. The collapse of the housing securities market risks galloping deflation, which is not good for either the holders or payers of debt instruments, though it is good for the elites in the sense that they'll be able to pick up a lot of rental properties for cheap via buying the loans for pennies on the dollar from bankrupt lenders and then foreclosing on the properties. Thus the recent attempts to inflate the money supply to prevent galloping deflation, while not doing so in a way that would bail out the mortgage lenders or borrowers. It's uncertain what will happen here, but it's a risky high-wire act that if it works will be very, very good for the elites who rule us, and pretty bad for the poor suckers who just lost their homes or for the middle-class 401(k) holders and foreign investors who are the principle holders of mortgage-backed securities. Which is, I suppose, the best that can be done in a nation where the wealthy elites choose who we are allowed to vote for in all national elections, meaning that We the People have no voice in our governance (and don't seem to care, strangely).

- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

And on the domestic front...

Mencken just threw a catnip mouse up onto my computer desk. Yes, threw. As in, with his mouth grab it via its tail, and with a toss of his head fling. Poor innocent me is just sitting there staring at my computer, and something goes "whack!" against my monitor, and I'm like, "WTF?!" until I figured out what happened. I think he's saying I haven't been giving him his full-body massages enough lately, what with traveling and all. He certainly complained bitterly when I left this morning. Hmm...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Woo! Lookit the skary terrist!

I'm so skared! It's clear that this boy is an evil terrorist who just is pretending to be seven years old so he can sneak into our homes at night and *KILL US ALL!*.

Is it any wonder that tourism is up all over the world in the past four years, except in one nation: The United States of America? Duh!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The humanitarian argument for staying in Iraq

I am an American, not an Iraqi. I pay taxes to the government of the United States of America, not to the government of Iraq. I expect my government to take care of me and mine, not of some people overseas who, well, aren't American. Yanking money out of my pocket at gunpoint to benefit people who aren't American (even if it were true) is theft, and sending poor young men like the brave Marine above into battle for reasons that have nothing to do with America and Americans is a crime at best, murder at worst.

I'm going to channel Pat Buchanan here and say "America for Americans", albeit not in quite the same spirit. Or as Merle Haggard sang it, "Rebuild America First". While I believe that we owe the Iraqis a lot of money for the damage we've done to them, we do not owe them the blood of one single American boy or girl, and we certainly don't owe the Bush crime syndicate yet more blood to vindicate the blood they've already spilled. It's long past time we got out of Iraq. America for Americans, and Iraq for Iraqis. Fuck yeah!

-- Badtux the Grim Penguin

Withdrawal from Iraq will cause humanitarian disaster

That is what Dear Leader said yesterday -- that, as with U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, withdrawal from Iraq will cause a massive refugee crisis with millions of refugees fleeing to neighboring nations, millions of civilians dead (note -- the figure on that site, based upon data available, is two years out of date and that many more have died since then), and religious persecution.

Given the facts at the links above, there is only one conclusion to be made: That we have already withdrawn from Iraq. I'll expect my terrorist to show up at the door any moment now, since Faux News breathlessly proclaims we must "fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here." Funny, forty years ago it was "we must fight them over there" (the Communists) "so that we don't have to fight them over here." Yeah, those Viet Cong really followed us over here and started slaughtering Americans on the streets of Houston, didn't they?

Meanwhile, Dear Leader might want to go a little less blatant on the Vietnam-Iraq comparisons. After all, in Vietnam, we lost. Not exactly what you want to remind people of, when folks are already using the word "Iraq-nam" to describe how Iraq is destroying our Army in an endless and futile guerilla war...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Happy Iranian Coup day!

On August 19, 1953, the U.S. and British intelligence services bankrolled a coup that removed the democratically-elected President of Iran and replaced him with a totalitarian monarch. Over the next few decades, until January 1979, the Shah ruled Iran with an iron fist, regularly calling out the army to shoot demonstrators dead in the streets and running a brutal police state (the secret police, SAVAK, were notorious for their brutality) until finally mixed messages during the Carter Administration (which alternately condemned him for human rights abuses, then condemned him for not having his soldiers open fire upon student demonstrators) ended up with his confused army refusing to enforce his rule any longer and the Shah being forced to flee.

Folks wonder why the Iranian government distrusts us and rants about how the U.S. is the "Great Satan". Given that the blood of thousands of Iranians are on U.S. hands, thanks to a state of war funded by the U.S. people upon the Iranian people (via our puppet the Shah) for over 25 years, is it any wonder that they think the U.S. is evil?

Oops, gotta go, got a wingnut at the door calling me a self-hating American. Remember, facts are hate, in Orwell's America. Happy 1984!

-- Badtux the Patriotic Penguin

White House moves to limit health coverage for children

The headline says it all. Republicans don't want health care for children. Because of course the children must be punished for the sins(?) of their parents. It's in the Bible in the Beatitudes, I'm sure, right there between "blessed are the merciful" and "blessed are the peacemakers"... "blessed are the poor, for theirs is a nightmare on earth." Yessir, that's it, at least in the Republican Bible, why, everybody knows that Republican Jesus loves the little children...

What next, the Bush Administration is going to go out and gut health care for veterans, or health care for active duty military, or ... oh yeah that's right they already done that. I guess widows and orphans will be their next targets. Drat those orphans, they ought to have just gotten good-paying jobs with the Bush Administration or with a right-wing thinktank (Wingnut welfare) rather than bother us with their care!

Badtux the "Can these people get any more evil?" Penguin

Feel the Surge!

Oooh, feel the surge. So powerful. So manly. All the surge reports are positive. I know this is true because Faux News and Fred Thompson (R-goddamn fuckin' crazy) tell me so, and they wouldn't lie, would they?

After all, if the media doesn't report it, bad stuff isn't really happening, right? I mean, c'mon. It's not as if car bombs going off and killing hundreds of people doesn't happen in every major city of the USA every day the way it happens in every major city of Iraq. And every American city gets mortared with explosive shells every day. I mean, just open your local newspaper and read about the car bomb that went off in Houston today. Or the explosive mortar shells that fell in Times Square in New York City yesterday. Or....

Oh yeah, that's right. There wasn't a car bomb in those cities. Or, indeed, in any American city since 1995 when the one and only car bomb/truck bomb in U.S. history went off in Oklahoma City. And the last time anybody fired any artillery shells at an American city was that time that a Japanese submarine surfaced off the shore of San Francisco Bay in 1941 and lobbed a few shells in the general direction of the mainland. Hmm...

-- Badtux the Surging Penguin
No, not surging THAT way, penguins don't have a, err, surging tool.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cool Bible stickers

Now, I won't urge you to go to your local book store and put these stickers on all the Bibles there. For one thing, if you like buying books as much as I do, that might crimp your future book-buying, what with being kicked out and banned from the bookstore and all. But wouldn't it be cool?!

PS: See his public art suggestion too. Just not immediately after you eat, please!

-- Badtux the Truth-in-advertising Penguin

Yet more moonbats sighted

Yessiree, yet more of them lefty Commie moonbats have been sighted saying that our Dear Leader's Iraq policy is, err, still a mess with no end in sight. As usual, they are uniformed soldiers. Obviously left-wing anti-war types who signed up to make war in order to fight war. Why do our troops not support our troops?!

In other news, reports that irony is dead have been rebutted by, err, irony.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Warning, penguin driver on board

I think what I need is one of those radar thingies that sits on your front bumper and jams on the brakes if you get too close to the car in front of you. Because this is just getting ridiculous. Out of the last four cars I've had, three have managed to somehow ram into the tail end of another car. And I think the fourth one didn't do it only because I traded it in on a pickup truck before it got a chance to do its heat-seeking missile imitation.

At least my Jeep basically shrugged this one off without a scratch on the bumper (not to mention that at under 2mph, the only damage to the other car was some crushed styrofoam in his bumper and a split bumper cover). Still, now I get seven years of bad luck (a.k.a. "enhanced insurance points"). Oh well.

Maybe penguins shouldn't drive. But how else is a desert penguin to get around in the desert? Not much water to swim in out there!

-- Badtux the Bad Driver Penguin

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Death of a small-time scam artist

A man died a couple of weeks ago. That's not unusual. Lots of men died a couple of weeks ago. You didn't know him. That's not unusual either. You don't know many people who died a couple of weeks ago. For that matter, I didn't know him. So why was a desert penguin gathered with a bunch of crusty old desert rats in the middle of a desert on a 105F degree day to celebrate the dead man's life?

Now, this guy was bright as hell, a wizard with electronics and his trailer was full of books when he died, but he was pretty ornery. When he was growing up, he simply refused to clean up his room, for example. Refused. He wasn't going to do anything that anybody told him, no matter how sensible. Then he joined the Navy. He liked the Navy, he didn't like the following orders bit. Then he moved on to the Merchant Marine. He liked sailing, he just didn't like the following orders bit. So he moved to the San Diego area and started selling insurance. He made lots of money selling insurance. But he hated it. Because insurance, mostly, is a scam. The insurance companies try their hardest to not pay off on anything. So his customers would come to him in tears because their home burned down and the insurance company wouldn't pay, and there wasn't a damned thing he could do for them.

At some point he visited the desert, and got the desert bug. He sold his insurance business, and moved into the various mining and tourism-oriented scams available there. Because what he'd figured out was that civilization, as a whole, is a scam. You can't help but be a scam artist in life no matter what you do, because whatever you're doing, you're pretending that it actually means diddly in the greater scheme of things. Unless you're some sorta great person, nothing you do means a shit. All that matters is whether you're giving folks something that they want. Which is the whole essence of the art of the scam: giving folks something they want.

Now, he wasn't a mean-spirited person. He wasn't going to take folks for their last dime or nothing. That takes evil shits like Ken Lay, and while this guy was ornery, he wasn't mean-spirited. And what he sold them generally was genuine. It was just sorta augmented, if you wish. The worthless mining claim became the next big gold strike when he'd give a guy some high grade ore and say, "I wonder if my mining claim is worth something?" and the greedy bastard would look at the ore and see dollar bills and pay the guy a few bucks for the mining claim, chortling all the way... until the greedy bastard got to the claim and discovered it was worth exactly what he paid for it. This guy viewed his job as removing money from the greedy and, well, moving it to him and his general community of desert rats. Said one of his former employees, "he never stiffed me. He'd run a scam on flatlanders, but he always paid up what he owed us."

Now, if there's anything that desert folks admire, it's a scam artist. Look at Death Vallety Scotty, for example. Have a colorful, larger-than-life scam artist who's also good-hearted? Who was a popular tourist attraction in and of himself at a privately owned ghost town until the pressure got to him and he quit and took off with $10,000 of the owner's money? And the funny thing about that is that for the past six years, years after he took off with that money, he'd been living in a trailer behind the house of one of the owners of the ghost town, for free, because, well, that's just how it works in the desert. The owners hadn't set out to make the ghost town a tourist attraction. They wanted to fix it up as homes for themselves, just couldn't get the permits for the sewer system and such that would be needed to subdivide it. They couldn't hold it against the guy for ripping them off of money which, well, wasn't really theirs in the first place. They laughed about it, and moved on, and when this small-time scam artist needed a place to stay, well, there was a place.

Two days before he died, this man pulled his last scam. This confirmed atheist who believed all religion is a scam (which is true, but in some cases a well-meaning and worthwhile scam), told his best friend in the world, the man whose house he'd lived behind for six years, that he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. His best friend, a born-again Christian, was happy. And that's all that this man ever wanted from his scams -- to make people happy. He couldn't avoid dying, but at least he could make his best friend happy for a little bit.

And that is why I was at a rememberance today. Not for the man who is dead. He's dead, and he ain't coming back, he willed his body to science and his ashes will be back in six months time to be scattered upon the desert, and his will specifically said "No funeral, my dead corpse is just dead meat, pack it off like raw hamburger when it's done." I wasn't there for a funeral. I was there for the man's best friend, a long-time desert rat who isn't going to be around for much longer. And for myself, to listen to the stories of the desert, stories that bite deep into a desert penguin's soul. So now you know why I was sitting around in the desert in 105 degree heat for most of today.

-- Badtux the Desert Penguin

MRE Review: Chicken Cavatelli

Menu #23.

Snack: Bacon cheese spread with wheat snack bread: The bacon cheese spread tasted like, well, Cheese Wiz. About what you'd expect from a pasteurized canned cheese spread. Pretty good, if you like Cheese Wiz. It ain't the Ritz, but then I was camped at 6,000 feet, so whadya expect? The wheat snack bread is, as usual, pretty good. It's actually more of a snack wheat cookie because it is rather dense, but nicely moist, not crumbly.

Snack: Fig newtons. I don't know how they got this to be so yummy. They came out of the package nice and moist.

Main dish: Chicken Cavatelli. Yummy. Another reviewer has said "better than Chef Boy-ar-dee but not as good as Olive Garden." Probably about right. A word of warning: It does need the little bottle of hot sauce.

Gripe: No cracker! The Chicken Cavatelli really needs a cracker! Thankfully I saved a cracker from one of the other MRE's I've eaten. MRE crackers are the hardest substance known to man, but do manage to taste decently despite that (just a very, very slight stale taste to them).

Pound cake: Meh. Somewhat dense. Needs peanut butter. Borrow peanut butter from another MRE. With peanut butter it is edible. That's the best you can say for it. Not bad, not great, edible.

All in all, if someone wants to trade you their Chicken Cavetelli for your Meatloaf (a.k.a. "cat food"), jump at it. Good stuff. Just look for a cracker and a peanut butter from another MRE for best results with the Chicken Cavatelli and the pound cake.

-- Badtux the Culinary Penguin

Jeep jeep!

Wherein I get the tires of the Jeep dirty, first camping at 6,000 feet, then visiting the sights at 1500 feet.

I spent most of the day sitting outdoors in 105 degree heat. Desert penguins do things like that. Bet you didn't know that things like desert penguins existed, eh? More on why, exactly, I would sit outdoors on such a warm day, later...

-- Badtux the Desert Penguin

Friday, August 17, 2007

How much for that kitty in the window?

Sorry, no sale: The kitties sun themselves. You can tell which apartment is mine because the kitties have smudged the window with their nose, hmm, time for me to wash it! The reason the window is all smudged is because there was a bird's nest in the tree right outside the window, and they pressed their nose up against the window trying to get close to those alluring birds flittering right outside their reach...

I bought the kitties one of those "Super Scratcher" thingies. As usual, I took catnip and rubbed it all over. Mencken immediately ran to it and started rolling over and over on it, he is a real catnip fiend. The Mighty Fang came over to see what all the fuss was about, and decided that Mencken's ear needed to be groomed. Mencken was not amused. Share his fix, his catnip? The audacity!

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, August 16, 2007

That new checking account is, like, the bomb!

When the bank manager heard this on his voice mail, he did what any right-thinking American would do -- he called the bomb squad. The bomb squad found a suspicious package in the bin for donated eyeglasses and evacuated the area then opened the package using a remote robot. Inside the package they found... eyeglasses.

Have Americans become a nation of paranoid ninnies, or what?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Like Mexico

When folks ask me, "what kind of nation do the Republicans want us to be?", I point towards the Mexican border. You have the places like Acapulco where the rich and wealthy play in fabulously expensive resorts. The workers in those resorts are paid a pittance and go home to one-room dirt-floored tar-paper hovels with no electricity or running water. That is the Republican vision of the future of America -- an America with winners and losers, where the winners are filthy, filthy rich and the losers... meh. Losers.

I live down the road from Shallow Alto oops Palo Alto, where Stanford University is located. The upper-middle-class parents who live there know this future in their bones. Children there are under tremendous pressure from an early age to excel academically, play the "right" sports, do the "right" extracurriculars, that will get them into the "right" college. Some of them crack and commit suicide under the pressure -- Palo Alto has more kids committing suicide than any other community its size that I've ever heard of -- but most of them buckle down and obediently put nose to grindstone. Palo Alto has been rocked by cheating scandals also, because if it is a choice between being that peasant in the one-room dirt-floored hovel and a winner, anything is justifiable, including cheating or in some cases false accusation thereof. And while pretty much every student in Palo Alto will graduate and qualify for a decent four-year college, going to San Jose State is not good enough. You have to be accepted by the "right" institution, the institution that is number one in the field you're going into, because as the cabbies with four-year degrees will tell you having a degree nowdays isn't good enough to ensure you become one of the winners. It has to be the "right" degree.

The sad thing is that it doesn't have to be that way. There is no fundamental law of nature that says that America must invariably slide into being just another third world nation with super-rich rich and super-poor poor and nobody inbetween. There is not a scientific law that says that a poor kid cannot graduate from a middle-tier state university in a poor state and become a well-paid engineer with a six figure salary. Indeed, for a brief moment in the late 60's and 1970's it seemed that real progress was going to be made in insuring that all Americans, regardless of whether they were lucky enough to have upper-middle-class parents in Palo Alto, would have a chance to maximize the talents with which they were born. I know. I am one of the last generation of poor kids who had the total cost of his college tuition and textbooks paid for via federal grants. So where I once would have been just another construction worker adding no more value than a nailed 2x4, nowdays folks appreciate my talents enough to pay big money for it. As one of my bosses told me, "you are critical to the success of this company and the new product we are developing and we are going to pay you accordingly" (leaving unstated the "so you don't leave" bit :-).

Thing is, that's not true in America anymore. The elite figured out that they could get their technology workers cheaper by importing them from India and the rest of the world, and now poor kids can't go to college without running up gigantic debts which are not dischargable via bankruptcy if the kid can't pay it back. Who's going to go to college with that kind of burden hanging over them, unless they have a near-guarantee of a job at the end? Thus the emphasis upon the "right" college, the one whose entire graduating class of MBA's or whatever gets jobs on Wall Street or wherever. Meanwhile, millions of American kids with smarts and talent are saying "Will there be fries with that order, sir?" because they can't justify the risks of taking on enormous debt for an education when few recruiters visit the colleges that they can afford to attend, generally low-ranked state colleges. It's a tragic waste, and one that's not necessary. I know it's not necessary, because I was one of those kids, in a kinder gentler America that did not have the edge of cruelty and sadomasochism that today's America has, and America has more than made back the money it invested in my education, hell I pay more taxes in one single year than every dollar that America invested in my education, something that wouldn't be true if I were working multiple part-time odd jobs like most poor kids today have to do to keep body and soul together. But Mexico keeps sliding northward, and most Americans, it seems, have forgotten that it doesn't have to be that way -- and once wasn't.

-- Badtux the Social Observer Penguin

Forty percent

That's how much of the U.S. Army's equipment has been destroyed or disabled over the past five years.

Bush's "War Czar" says that a draft should be considered to solve the Army's manpower issues. But what are we going to equip the new draftees with? Rubber bands and water pistols? And I'm not even going to talk about the fact that it will take at least a year to get the first draftee divisions into the field, unless the first people we draft are former soldiers who already have the management skills to manage a division...

Madness. Sheer madness. And the morons talk about staying in Iraq for another ten years? Crap, in another three years our guys are going to be shooting AK-47's and RPG' just like the bad guys -- and dying at the same rate. Either that, or we're going to have to contract with the Chinese for more equipment for our troops, because the hollowed-out remnants of our nation's manufacturing sector certainly doesn't have the capacity to keep up with how fast the equipment is being destroyed. What was once the greatest nation on the planet can't even manufacture tanks anymore... we're operating on stored-up remnants of the Cold War arsenal, and those remnants are running out fast.

-- Badtux the Logistics Penguin

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Karl Rove's legacy

John Cole over at Balloon Juice blames Karl Rove for the attack politics that eventually alienated so many people that the Republican Party is unlikely to win anything bigger than dog catcher in the next election. The problem is that Rove's politics were not invented by Rove. I remember Rush Limbaugh viciously attacking opponents of Ronald Reagan back in the 1980's, and anybody remember Lee Atwater and the Willie Horton ad? That ad got Poppy Bush elected, and was as vicious a slander as anything ever put forth by Rove.

You can blame Rove all you want. But the fact of the matter is that Rove was a symptom, not a cause. The principled Republican Party of Barry Goldwater was dead by 1968 when the vile, venal criminal Richard Nixon got elected over LBJ Lite Humphrey, dead of a disease that says, "the end justifies the means." Once you fall over that waterfall, there ain't no swimming back up it -- you're going down, down, down into the moral abyss. The whole Iran-Contra thing, where we find out that the CIA was helping the Contras smuggle crack cocaine into Los Angeles in order to fund their activities (if you wonder what I'm talking about, the DEA was closing in on some of the Contras and the CIA ordered them to back off, which implies that they knew darn well what the Contras were doing) is just an example of the kind of moral abyss that you end up in the moment you start with "the end justifies the means". The entire Bush II administration just went over the waterfall with the rest of the party, it is only the fact that there is no strong leader at the top (unlike the Reagan and Bush I regimes) that makes it so clear and obvious.

The problem is that Goldwater was a miserable failure. Americans don't seem to want principled politics, was the lesson that the Republican Party took away from the 1964 election. Americans want attack politics, like LBJ's famous "Daisy" ad. And for 40 years, the Republicans have given Americans what the Republican Party thinks they want. And for most of those 40 years they've done quite well at it. The departure of Rove, methinks, changes nothing in that regard. All this was true before Rove showed up, and will be true on September 1 when Rove leaves the building. All that changes is the face at the top, not the entire strategy of dirty politics and the end justifies the means.

- Badtux the Morality Penguin

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Last throes

Bill Kristof sez things are getting better in Iraq. Boy, I'd hate to see things if they get any more better. Wow, "better" means hundreds dead in a single set of car blasts? If things get any better, why, Saddam's missing weapons of mass destruction might even get found and kill us all!

Wingnuttily yours,
Badtux the Snarky Penguin

"Our mission is to drive around and get blown up"

"We haven't done anything here. We'll go for 24 hours and we'll see nothing," said Sgt. Josh Claeson, a radio operator, as he waited with nearly 200 soldiers under the glow of an orange moon for helicopters to Khidr. "Our basic mission here is to drive around and get blown up."

Clearly Sgt. Claeson is a liberal anti-war activist who signed up to fight in a war to, err, fight war? Alrighty, then!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Duncan Hunter is a true American

Gordon over at Alternate Brain sees that Tom Tancredo wanna-be Duncan Hunter (R-Nuttyville) has hired an Elvis imitator to help with his campaigning, and basically says, what an asshole.

Okay. He's an asshole. True dat. But he is an asshole who fairly represents his constituency, who are themselves, well, assholes. I've talked to a few of his current or former constituents, and to a man they insist that Duncan's a good guy who always has time to meet with his constituents and understands where they're coming from. Compare to, say, Nancy Pelosi, who walls herself off from her constituents with a haughty "Let them eat cake" attitude, and you can see why Duncan gets re-elected by huge margins every time.

So yeah, Duncan is an asshole. But the dirty little secret is that so are most Americans. Or as Gandhi replied when asked what he thought about Western civilization, "it would be a good idea".

- Badtux the Asshole-spottin' Penguin

(Note: Penguins don't have assholes. They have cloaca).

Monday, August 13, 2007

But he volunteered!

Yeah, he volunteered... to defend our nation. He didn't volunteer for this.

Why are his mother and father having to empty their savings and sell their home in order to care for this poor soul? Why isn't the Department of Defense and VA taking on all the costs of his care? Oh nevermind. Support the troops. Unless the troops are injured or disabled or homeless. In that case, fuck the troops. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarkless Penguin

A model for the Bush Administration

In China, a failed chief executive doesn't desperately cling to power with feeble excuses and desperate attempts to blame others for their problems. I hereby call on every senior official of the Bush Administration, especially George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, to follow the example of Zhang Shuhong, a man who truly put his neck on the line for justice.

C'mon, Busheviks. Save us the trouble before rope goes up in price after the war crimes trials. Sheesh!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Another hero rides off into sunset

Mimus Pauley euologizes a real hero -- Oliver Hill, a Virginia lawyer who filed one of the lawsuits rolled into Brown v. Board of Education that resulted in the end of legal segregation. Remember: this is why Republicans hate lawyers. Because every single court ruling in every single court ever that has ever helped protect, defend, or define our rights is the result of a filing by, and arguments by, a lawyer.

- Badtux the Law Penguin

Monday News Blog

World Nut Daily ("We're bat-shit crazy so you seem sane by comparison!") isn't entirely blind. They note that information regarding the location of 29 Taliban bases, ID'd by U.S. intelligence and shared with Pakistan, has lost its targeting value for Islamabad's promised offensive against the militant group with the apparent evacuation of 28 of the training camps along the country's northern border with Afghanistan. Gosh, you think the Pakistani military might be, like, infiltrated by the Taliban? Could that be why Osama bin Laden is sitting in a cushy condo in Islamabad right now rather than hiding in a cave? GASP!

Meanwhile, ding dong, the witch is dead. Karl Rove is skeedaddling out of town, officially resigning as of the end of this month, unofficially he's already gone. Karl Rove claims "family reasons", but likely is skeedaddling out of town to keep ahead of the process servers trying to serve him with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury in Washington D.C. on contempt of Congress charges. He's probably headed to the Bush ranch down in Paraguay right now (you know, the one that the Bushies bought to stash any family members facing war crimes charges?). ¿Como se hablo "War Criminal" en español?

Finally, those dastardly darkies don't need medical care, the federal government tells Los Angeles County. How *dare* those darkies think that they deserve the same kind of care that the elite get! But we'll teach'em. First we'll cut the funding for public hospitals to the point where public hospitals can't function properly. Then we'll cut off the funding for public hospitals entirely because they're so underfunded that they can't function properly, so that they're forced to close altogether. Oh, those darkies who can't get medical care now? Let them eat Band-aids!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Which man would you buy a cigar from?

Would you buy a cigar from one of these well dressed polite young men and women protesting in favor of equal rights for all Americans regardless of color? Or would you buy a cigar from this circus freak dressed like a goddamned hobo with hair down to his fuckin' ass protesting the war in Vietnam?

It has always seemed arrogant to me that the boomers claimed that they ended the war with their ridiculous protests. All they really ended up doing was looking stupid, unlike an earlier generation of protesters, who were clean-cut, wore suit and tie or nice dress, and walked hand-in-hand with similarly clad black men and women down the streets of the South to protest unjust laws. They looked like nice young people getting beat up by a buncha Southern cracker assholes, and an embarassed nation gave them what they wanted -- an end to Jim Crow. But the anti-war protesters who came after them... what the fuck does looking like a goddamned bum do except make your whole cause look stupid?

Seems to me that the protesters actually *extended* the war. By 1968 it was pretty damned obvious that the war wasn't going to get won without invading North Vietnam, and the Chinese and Soviets promised to send combat troops to North Vietnam to help them if we did that. We'd seen in Korea just how bad it could get if the Chinese sent, say, ten million troops across the border as "volunteers" to help the North Vietnamese. The Joints told LBJ that he'd basically have to put 50% of the U.S. GDP into a gigantic army and fight WWIII if that happened, and LBJ turned several shades of white and basically resigned and Nixon beat the hack Hubert Humphrey (who was basically LBJ Lite and everybody was sick of LBJ by that time). But Nixon had to run for re-election. And since he was a vile little man, he had to run for re-election on something other than his non-existent personality. So he ran for re-election on two things -- he was a law-and-order president cracking down on "those vile hippies" who obligingly showed up stoned and with hair down to their fucking ass dressed like goddamned hobos to prove his case, and he was a war president who was gonna get us outta Vietnam but "with honor", and so he had to keep the war going until 1971 so he could start pulling down troops in 1972 immediately prior to the election. Once the election was won, there wasn't any reason at all to even think about Vietnam -- Vietnam has no oil, or any other resources of interest.

In short, we got out of Vietnam because:

  1. We couldn't win without invading North Vietnam, and the cost of invading North Vietnam would be WWIII (turns out the Chinese and Russians were bluffing and we suspected they were bluffing, but we couldn't know,
  2. It was expensive as hell to stay there and it was causing economic pain, and
  3. Nixon didn't need the war anymore after 1972.
It was a combination of things, none of which had a damned thing to do with protesters except that they made it easier for Nixon to extend the war into 1972 in order to help his re-election campaign.

At least, that's how this history penguin sees it, reading up on the history...

-- Badtux the History Penguin

The War on Drugs at home

Just poured my daily coffee ration into one of my big coffee mugs. Said mug is only two/thirds full, despite there still being coffee in the pot, but that's all I can drink in a day due to health reasons, and shortly I will be cutting down to half that. Sigh. Now I know what nicotine addicts feel like when they're trying to give up smoking. I still get the cravings for something hot after meals, so I've moved to herbal tea. Sipping a hot mug of herbal tea (gasp! I'm a yuppie now!) is kinda like sticking a toothpick in your mouth to substitute for sticking a cigarette into your mouth, but what is a penguin to do when his bird metabolism simply won't tolerate that evil stimulant drug caffeine anymore?

-- Badtux the "Glass is 1/3rd Empty" Penguin

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Cold War icon returns

Russia announced that they flew two TU-95MS bombers near U.S. military exercises in the Pacific as well as over Guam. The U.S. denies those claims, saying the two Russian bombers never got within 500 miles of Guam.

So,what is a TU-95? That is an interesting question. The TU-95 is basically a contemporary of the B-52 bomber, although it's maybe 3/4ths the size of a B-52. Like with the B-52, the Russians have spent the past 50 years trying to replace it with a newer better bomber, and not succeeding. Some aircraft simply hit the "sweet spot" where there is no possible way to replace them with anything better. You can revise and refine them a bit -- but for some aircraft, they are so ideally suited for their mission that it's just impossible to do anything better. The Soviets realized this and built more TU-95's during the 1980's and 1990's -- every TU-95 currently flying was built during the 1980's and 1990's and has updated avionics and engines compared to the originals . If only Reagan had realized this during the 1980's and built more B-52's rather than the awful B1 bomber (which is a hangar queen par excellence that takes far more maintenance and upkeep to keep flying than the reliable old bomb truck B-52, and won't fly as far unless you replace one of its bomb bays with a fuel tank at which point it has only 2/3rds the bomb capacity of a B-52).

The TU-95 has three major distinctions. First, it is the only turboprop-powered strategic bomber ever produced, and while its performance is similar to the B-52 it probably has a longer unrefueled range because of that (if the B-52 was ever upengined with modern turbofan jets engines that would probably cease to be true). Secondly, it is probably the loudest aircraft ever built. Finally, it has never dropped a bomb in anger.

Compare that last to the B-52. The B-52 has dropped bombs on: Vietnam. Cambodia. Laos. Kuwait. Iraq. Afghanistan. The B-52 has dropped thousands of tons of bombs on all those places. The B-52 is still dropping bombs on Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the TU-95, the Soviet equivalent, has never dropped a single bomb in anger.

Who was the evil empire, again?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Why I do not fear censorship

I talk to counterparts in China on a regular basis. We talk via mechanisms that are encrypted and unlikely to be monitored by the Chinese government, but I do not talk politics with them. I talk only about professional matters. I do not talk politics with them not because I fear getting them in trouble, or because of language barriers, or a lack of opinions. When I talk to my Chinese counterparts, I do not talk politics because, frankly, our own society is just as controlled as their society.

If we did talk politics, it would only be for me to condemn their government’s heavy-handedness as being counter-productive. The best form of control is the kind of control where the person being controlled has to look hard to know that he’s being controlled. The best form of control is where the person being controlled believes he is free. We are licensed, herded, numbered, and worked like slaves by our masters, we live in a nation where more of our citizenry is enslaved behind bars than in any other nation on the planet (with the exception perhaps of China), but like a toddler being given a choice between drinking his juice out of the red sippy cup or the blue sippy cup we are given various meaningless choices so we believe we are “free”. One of those meaningless choices is to have blogs like these. It is no threat to the Hegemony, but it allows us to cling to our precious delusion of freedom, so it is of more value to allow us to rant than to shut us down.

I have no doubt — zero doubt — that if any one of us were perceived to be any threat to the Hegemony, we would be splatted like a bug. The evening news the next day would have breathless prose about a “terrorist” who was arrested for “planning deadly attacks against XYZ” (pick your XYZ, it doesn’t really matter whether XYZ is the Brooklyn Bridge, an airport, or anything else). But the apathy and ignorance of the majority means that we pose as much a threat to the Hegemony as a mosquito buzzing at a window screen. As long as the majority believe they are free, as long as the majority believes that being given a choice between the red sippy cup and the blue sippy cup for eating their daily gruel means they're "free", there is no threat to the Hegemony. And as long as preserving our voices here in the wilderness helps foster that illusion of freedom, we will be allowed to buzz as much as we wish, free to buzz meaninglessly in ways that will never change a thing.

- Badtux the Orwellian Penguin

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Apple Tax

I have had my Macbook for six weeks now, and still love it. In fact, at work I no longer try to run a monitor switch to switch between my Macbook and my desktop Linux machine with its gigantic 21" XVGA LCD screen. I just hook the monitor up to my Macbook via a MiniDVI-to-XVGA adaptor, hook up the USB keyboard, shut the lid on the Macbook, and the Macbook does the Right Thing (tm) i.e. switches to using the monitor as its primary display. Then I use vnc to get into the Linux machine.

But my happiness has its limits. Tuesday Apple released a new version of iLife with some significant updates to iPhoto and less significant but still good updates to GarageBand. In particular, the changes to iPhoto should make it much easier for me to locate and organize my photos, and the changes to GarageBand should make the initial setup for a new project much easier. I have to pay $79 for it. Of course. Despite owning my Macbook for only six weeks now. And in October comes OS X-10.5, a.k.a. Leopard. There goes another $129. For a by-then three month old Macbook. Bastards.

Oh well. It's just money, after all...

-- Badtux the Soon-to-be-poorer Penguin

As usual, screw the little guy

As I mentioned before, the major hirers of illegals use the "labor contractor" cutout to insulate them from legal repercussions. That is, they hire temp workers from "labor contractors" (one guy with a disposable cell phone and pickup truck) in order to avoid having to pay employment taxes on the worker or have any knowledge of the legal status of the worker. No knowledge = no liability. The "labor contractor" has the liability, but good luck tracking him down -- he's one guy with a pickup truck and a disposable cell phone.

So anyhow, the Bush Administration has released their illegal immigration crackdown plan. Go read it, then come back and tell me which of the items in that plan address the "labor contractor" loophole.


I'm waiting. C'mon, which item addresses the "labor contractor" loophole?

Still waiting!

Uhm, alrighty then! As usual, the big guys are gonna skate on this one. Some guy with a pickup truck and a throw-away cell phone might (or might not) get busted, and poor sods who tried to do the right thing and hire people as full-time workers with benefits are gonna get reamed, but the big guys? Oh come on now. You didn't think the Bush Administration would really go after their big contributors, like the Halliburton subsidiaries who imported thousands of illegals into South Louisiana to "rebuild", did you?!

Indeed, the only decent thing about the plan is that it does include revisions to the H2A and H2B programs (for hospitality, restaurant, and agricultural temp workers) so that there is a reasonable legal means for Mexican immigrants to come across the border and work. Other than that, it's a joke.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Where are they now?

The awesome T. Rex. updates his list of where people or, err, stuff, related to war and terrorism are now. The list of mass murdering thugs that the Bush Administration has not brought to justice is especially enlightening. Especially the last mass murdering thug on that list :-).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Friday Guest Cat Blogging

The Mighty Fang lurks atop the refrigerator...

Today's guest cat is Old White Lady's kitty Cotton. Cotton is sorta the anti-Fang. The Mighty Fang is so black that fireflies follow him around in daylight. Cotton is so white that he blinds passing drivers. The Mighty Fang is the sweetest kitty you'll ever run across. Cotton hogs OWL's computer chair :-).

-- Badtux the Cat Penguin

Thursday, August 09, 2007

OMG! Britney!

Today's important gotta-report-on-it news is Britney Spears hits a parked car. Now, I don't know why that's important, but Fox News tells me it's, like, the most important thing in the world, so it must be, y'know? Sorry, gotta go. I think we ought to, like, support our President because, like, he's our President and stuff, see?

-- Badtux the Vacuous Penguin

New tars

Gave baby some new shoes -- BFG's on black steelies. All I need now is the hub covers, I didn't like the ones that the tire dealership had. Oh, also have to shim the brake light pedestal up by half an inch so I can fit the new spare on the back (it's taking up all my cargo space!).

-- Badtux the Jeepin' Penguin

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Blogger appears to have forced me to move to, it refuses to publish to GAH! I *HATE* getting what I pay for! (I.e., nothing). Oh yeah, my template seems to have gotten buggered too. Don't ya love these gawdy colors?!

-- Badtux the Bloggered Penguin

Dastardly darkies break the law!

Yes, they do illegal stuff, like give an incorrect social security number to employers in order to get jobs, and we should send'em all back to where they came from. Why, just the other day, those dastardly darkies drank from the whites-only fountain, sat at the front of the bus rather than the back of the bus, walked into a whites-only school and expected to be educated, and so forth. How dare those darkies demand that they have the same rights as, say, immigrants from India, who are allowed to come here on H1B visas while there is no such visa for farm-worker immigrants from Mexico! The audacity of those unseemly darkies, disobeying an unjust and discriminatory law that gives some people more rights than they have based only on their color or nation of original origin!

Let's deport all these illegal immigrants back to where they came. Let's deport all those Negros back to Africa. All those Mexicans back to Mexico. All those honkeys back to Europe. All those Asians back to Asia. America for Americans! America for the Apache/Navajo/Pima/etc.! Send all the illegals back from where they came!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
Err, does that mean I need to return to Antarctica? Sigh!

Okay, here's the deal, folks. This so-called 'stepped up enforcement' of the SSN requirement doesn't mean a goddamned thing. Most of the "illegals" work temp jobs -- they're employed by fly-by-night temporary agencies that then contract their services to the "real" employer. They are not employees of their "real" employer, and thus their "real" employer never has to check their social security number. The labor contractor legally has to do so, but he's one guy with a pickup truck with no fixed address, so how is the IRS going to track him down? All this does is hurt small businesses that are trying to do the right thing. It doesn't affect the major employers of the "illegals" at all, since they use the labor-contractor cut-out to avoid having to do things like, e.g., pay social security taxes to the temp workers. It only affects the employers who give real paying jobs to people rather than temp jobs.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Social Security is going bankrupt!

Uhm, no. Social Security is not going to go tits up. Without tax hikes or sale of lots of Treasuries on the open market to pay back the bonds in the Social Security trust fund it’s not going to be able to pay all the promised benefits, but frankly even the 60% of the promised benefits that it will be able to pay worst case is more than enough for me to live on in retirement (granted, I qualify for the maximum benefit due to years of six-figure salaries and have modest needs for retirement income since I own my retirement property clear and outright and it’s in a state with no property tax on most residential property and thus need money only for utilities and maintenance, but even folks with more modest income will still get a good shake from Social Security).

Medicare is not going to go tits up either. Before the Baby Boomers allow Medicare to go tits up, they’re going to mandate it as the single payer health care insurer for America, and thus use payroll taxes on the young to pay for their retirement health care. On average the typical person will be paying less for Medicare than they currently pay for private insurance even with the subsidy of the prunes so it’s a win-win all the way, nevermind that the health insurance companies hate the idea (duh, they’d be like buggy whip makers in 1928 after the automobile had displaced horse and buggy nationwide!). So it’s going to happen. If you work in the health insurance business, I suggest that you do like the buggy whip makers and get another job, yours is going to get obsolete as soon as the boomers realize they need young farts to subsidize their Medicare and that the only way they’re going to get that without a revolution is to extend Medicare to all.

In short, whining about how Social Security is a "scam" and that there is a Social Security "crisis" is bullcrapola. Just typical scare tactics by people who know only the bullshit talking points handed down to them by their Party commissars on Faux News and Talk Radio…

– Badtux the Party Penguin

War is Hell

Wikipedia's Page of the Day is William Tecumseh Sherman, the first modern general -- the first general who truly understood the nature of war in the industrial age.

Read. Discuss. Understand why there was not a single general in the U.S. Army advocating invading Iraq prior to being ordered to do so by Herr Bush.

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Monday, August 06, 2007

Don't cry for Hiroshima

So, 62 years ago, Hiroshima went up in smoke, and thousands of her citizens too, in the world's first use of a nuclear weapon against a civilian population.

That's supposed to be a bad thing. Like, I'm supposed to feel sad about it or something. But I don't. You know why? Because of the Rape of Nanking. The Bataan Death March. The forced prostitution of women in conquered populations. Military attacks upon every single one of their neighbors except the Soviet Union, generally without provocation or any justification other than a desire for empire and conquest.

What you sow, thus shalt thou reap. If you kill hundreds of thousands of people, do not expect sympathy from me. A government serves only with the consent of its people, for if a people do not consent, if a people refuse to work and pay taxes and enforce the rulings of the government, the government falls. Sympathy when such a people receive in kind what they have sown elsewhere is not in my nature.

What that says about my opinion of my own government and my own people... I shall not go there.

-- Badtux the Bloody-minded Penguin

Another one bites the dust

Hmm, how's that housing bubble doin'?

Yeppers, another home loan vendor bites the dust. But unlike the others, this one wasn't a sub-prime lender. This one is an "alt-A" lender, someone who lends money to folks who have good credit but maybe are buying a little more house than they can afford or something like that. The failures are moving up the home loan lending food chain.

So what does it mean to you? Well, that's still unclear. You can bet that housing prices are going to be down. The assets of these lenders are being picked up by vultures for peanuts. The vultures take the proceeds of the performing loans, but the non-performing loans go into foreclosure. Where the mortgage lender was willing to work with homeowners in hopes that either a) housing prices would rise enough to make it worth foreclosing at some point in the future, b) the homeowner would somehow start paying his loan on time, or c) cows would fly, the vulture is going to foreclose and sell the house at auction to the lowest bidder and write off the loss. That's why he paid only pennies on the dollar for the portfolio of the failed lender, after all -- so that he could wring a few pennies more out of the deal. If it was a $500K loan and he sells the house for $200K after repo expenses, but he only paid $150K for the loan, he's still ahead. But other folks in the neighborhood with $500K houses suddenly just had the values of their homes reduced to $300K, and are underwater on their loans now, and can't get the promised re-fi to deal with their ARM that's about to re-adjust to 13.5% interest after 5 years because their house is no longer worth enough to re-finance the loan with... so the troubles spread.

The eventual result, if too many of these lenders fail, is galloping deflation similar to that in the period 1929-1932. Now, galloping deflation is great for millionaires. It means their millions are worth more (in real terms) because their millions will buy more. It's horrible for working people who have a bit of debt, because they can't sell their services in the open market for enough to service that debt, and end up with all their possessions repossessed by (duh) the wealthy. The period 1929-1932 was probably the greatest transfer of real wealth (land and goods) from working people to the wealthy in the history of the nation, because that's what deflation does -- it transfers wealth from people who owe money (generally working people) to people with lots of money in the bank (generally the wealthy).

So the next question is, "will the U.S. government bail out the lenders?" In a word... no. The only outfits that the U.S. government is going to bail out is going to be Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who are too big to allow to fail. If individual mortgage lenders fail, that's disappearing dollars from the economy (since those assets are suddenly worth only 20% of what they were once worth), but given that the Federal Reserve has been cranking out dollars with all the avid fervor of a Weimar Republic finance ministry over the past six years in order to finance the horrible federal balance of payments imbalance, it could be said that what the Fed giveth, the Fed now taketh away. But if Fannie and Freddie go under, the government will have to step in and guarantee those mortgage-backed bonds because if those disappear, then we are truly in the deflationary death spiral because too much money will vaporize out of the economy. The problem is that the U.S. government itself is not exactly in a fiscal situation where it is flush with dough. What that means is that the printing presses will have to be cranked up even more. Now, the printing presses actually have been cranking for a while now to finance the current federal balance of payments deficit (thus why food and fuel have been going up in price -- too many dollars from those presses cranking away chasing too little food and fuel), but if we go the Weimar Republic route we'll all be hauling bales and wheelbarrows full of cash out of the bank every day to buy a loaf of bread and a gallon of gas.

So what's going to happen? Fuck, you're asking a penguin what's going to happen? I haven't the foggiest clue what's going to happen. Galloping deflation (good for rich, bad for working people) is one possibility. Galloping inflation is unlikely -- hurts the rich, y'know, and this regime is all about helping the rich. Lots of working folks losing everything they own to sharks... well duh. This is the Bush Administration, bay-bee! You can bet that whatever happens, Vice President Halliburton will protect his own. Ah gher-uhn-TEEE! (With all due respect to the late Justin Wilson). In the meantime, if you're thinking of buying a house, I recommend doing it only if the payments (minus the interest and property tax deductions) will be the same or lower than what you're paying as rent. Because housing prices are only going one way for the next few years, and that is down, D-O-W-N, bay-bee!

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin