Friday, August 31, 2012

The Hope & the Change

You have to hand it to Hannity. I don't see his show a lot, because generally when I go that far right on the dial I only do it to see what the big dog is up to.

That would be Big Bill O.

So it was just by sheer dumb luck that I happened onto this episode of Hannity, where he's given over the entire show to what is clearly one of  the most compelling and moving and heart-rending political documentaries of all time.

The Hope & the Change.

Now, I'd assumed that was an infomercial cooked up by one of the GOP super-PACs, but turns out it's a legit doc, at least as legit as anything by Michael Moore. I think the fact that Moore's name was mentioned on air pretty much proves that point.


What I love about this sort of thing is that it lets you walk away feeling like there's a democratic process working here at some level. There really is a difference; look at those Republicans going at the Democrats... it's cats and dogs!

The system works!

A message from BP

How ya'll doin' folks!

I'm here to tell ya'll that as we approach the second anniversary of shutting down that ole rogue well out there in the Gulf, things are better than ever!

BP has committed 23 billion dollars to making sure that the Gulf area is cleaner and more prosperous than ever!

And it is!

The fishery has come back better than ever!

Tourism is setting records!

Here at BP we'd like to remind tens of thousands of you where your paycheck comes from! We create hundreds of jobs on the gulf coast, and through multiplier effects known only to professional economists that translates into tens, even hundreds of thousands of jobs!

Yup, things have never been better here on the Gulf Coast!

God-damn, I'm thinkin' we done ya'll a favor with that oil spill!

Clint Eastwood's sad public slide into dementia

The reviews are in, and they're not flattering.

Except at Fox News, which found Eastwood's semi-coherent rant at the RNC last night "epic".

Elsewhere Eastwood is being discussed in the hushed tones one uses when a favored elderly uncle soils himself in public.

The claim that America needs a "businessman" at the helm reveals that both Clint's awareness of reality and his judgement are slipping badly. While this blog has often commented on Romney's loot 'n plunder practices, you can find a nice summary of Mitt's "business" career here.

Yes, Mitt Romney was a highly successful businessman of the post-modern era, the era when the social contract and the greater good have been declared dead, and the only thing that matters is stuffing one's own pockets to bursting and beyond.

That's where Mitt excelled.

Does that qualify him to be the President of the United States?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mitt in Tampa

Was that not a great speech? I thought Mitt hit all the right buttons for the dumbfucks who filled that arena tonight.

And where the hell did they get those people? Why so few faces of color? There are more black folks in that arena for hockey games for fuck's sakes!

And the speech... that must have taken a huge panel of professional turd-polishers to hone to such a high gloss. My favorite part was when Mitt was going on about how great it is that when an American loses his $22.50 an hour job he will fight back by getting two $9.00 an hour jobs!

The problem, you see, is that Obama has fucked the economy so bad that when today's hedge-fund sharpies eliminate the $22.50 jobs, there are no longer enough $9.00 an hour jobs left for every hedge-fund victim to get two of them.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg here in Tampa. What was that crap about "North" America being energy self-sufficient by 2020? Canada and Mexico are already net energy exporters. What's he saying? The US intends to expropriate Canadian and Mexican energy resources?

Quite a long pitch on American Exceptionalism too. An unshakable faith in American Exceptionalism is the least of what's required from the American people before they'll go along with the next disastrous but very profitable war.

Which he seemed to hint might break out in Iran for some reason.

And how did you like his warm-up acts? Rubio was pretty much what you'd expect; Obama is soft on communism because he is one, and like all commies he is against success.

The best thing you can say about Clint is that he looks damned good for a man of his age. This blog broke the story of his struggle with dementia weeks ago, and it's sad seeing the man make a public spectacle of himself.

Keep in mind that THE GREATEST REALITY SHOW ON EARTH, aka election 2012, is all about convincing the viewer that there is in fact a contest between competing ideas in progress here.

There isn't.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

One Christian boycotts another

I see where Archbishop Desmond Tutu has pulled out of a confab in South Africa because fellow man of faith Tony Blair is to be featured as guest speaker.

This must pain our Lord something fierce. Oh, maybe not... we're all God's children after all, and quite a lot of us can't stand our fellow children, or some of them at least.

Tutu's got his robes in a twist because in his mind Phoney Tony's support for the war on Iraq was morally repugnant. Well, it was, but doesn't your holy book teach that you should forgive? Sure it does!

Forgiveness isn't something the believer can be selective about. In fact, the greater the forgivee's moral turpitude, the more gracious the act of forgiveness, so from that perspective Blair represents an opportunity for a major gesture of grace on Tutu's part.

Then again, maybe Tutu's just pissed that Tony gets a bigger speaker's fee.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ann Romney's speech

She loves you women and she hears your voices!

My God is she good!

What the hell is she doing with that asshole?

She's singing the praises of America's women... why couldn't Mitt do that?

All those little things that just used to be free... like school sports...

Oh, you mean back in the day when people paid taxes?

Ya, we should get to know Mitt. We should get to know his tax returns too. Why does your hubby have so much to hide, Ann?

And your father-in-law never went to college, and instead became a carpenter and then the head of a car company and then Governor of Michigan!

Just like that!

And she's still in love with the boy she met at a high school dance.

No one will work harder to make America a better place to live. For him and his family at least.

Do we want our children to be afraid of success?

Of course not!

Values, hard work, and HE BUILT IT!!!

She was there when Mitt and a small group of friends had a dream to start a business. With the financial backing of some sketchy South Americans with lots of extra cash, they set up a hedge fund.

Give, and it shall be given unto you.

That small company they started has helped so many Americans. It has helped even more Mexicans. This is the man America and Mexico needs.

This is the man who will help others so that we don't have to help ourselves...

Say what?... you're losing me Ann...

This man will not fail?.... this man will lift up America?.... you mean lift it up and set 'er down south of the Rio Grande?...

I can trust Mitt?....

Give Mitt a chance... he took me home from the dance and got in my pants... hey wait a minute...

Do I really want Mitt in my pants?

Smoking pot makes teens retarded

That story was on every major news outlet all day. CNN, BBC, CBC, all the European majors.

They didn't use the word "retarded" of course, but they did say that smoking marijuana in one's youth would lower one's IQ.

I thought it was odd that in all the commentary about this so-called study, nobody raised the issue of the legal prescription drugs that pediatricians and schools are so eager to pump into our children.

Marijuana bad.

Ritalin good.

Fuck you.

Towelheads vs. Hairheads

I got to thinking about this after I wrote about the Salafi on Sufi violence  in Libya.

To me, and I hate to sound like some sort of retrograde redneck, they all look the same.

And I think I mentioned at the time that from my point of view it's no different than Catholic vs. Protestant. They all look the same to me as well.

But obviously they can tell one another apart in places like Ireland, where until the recent respite they've been busy killing one another for at least 500 years.

So I went and had a chat with my old pal Abbie, which is short for Abdul.

Abdul is an old-school toweller who I've known for years and years. His family washed up on these shores when he was but a toddler. He was forever inscribed onto my besties list when he successfully sued A&P after he slipped on a grape in one of their stores in Guelph.

Told me he was trying to get the start-up capital for his own variety store, which he did.

He also had a reliable line on really fine Bekaa Blonde.

I don't see Abbie as much as I used to, so it was nice to get caught up. He's not in the store anymore, but his granddaughter gave me the home number.

Long story short, he's still got the Bekaa connections and he's still an unapologetic toweller. I'm like, "dude, you been in this country fifty years, when are you gonna lose the hat?"

"Ya man," he says, " you just don't get it. I mean hair is hair, and you get half the deal. I mean everybody here covers up their pubic hair. Why is it OK to have your head hair hanging out in all directions?"

Have to admit he had me stumped with that one.


Tampa blockbuster: Romney dumps Ryan for Jacob Zuma!


Reliable sources have revealed that Romney is planning to dump his running mate of two weeks when he makes his acceptance speech on Thursday.

Romey's advisors believe that with only two months to go before the election Ryan hasn't caused enough of a bump in polling numbers, and it's not too late to correct the Ryan mistake.

The decision to draft Jacob Zuma will be controversial among some, probably because he's a foreign national. This is not necessarily true. Independent researchers have proof that Zuma was actually born in Hawaii.

Furthermore, Romney will be comfortable with the fact that Zuma has four wives, which is in keeping with Mitt's religious tradition.

Zuma also has an outlook on gender relations that should appeal to the conservative base of the GOP. Just a few days ago he claimed in an interview that it is not right for women not to have children.

The fact that Zuma presents as a black man won't hurt either. Not sure what the advisors were thinking when they chose a guy even whiter than Romney as a running mate. That is so 1956.

Look for the polls to show a "Zuma bump" in September.

Why the establishment hate Ron Paul

And not just the Republican establishment.

American foreign policy has for some time been firmly in the hands of that complex that Dwight warned us about in his farewell address.

The incestuous closed loop that has captured the upper echelon of the armed services, the senate, the house, and all the major think-tanks has become a world unto itself.

They can get America mired in one misadventure after another that is nothing short of disaster for the country but oh so profitable for all of them.

Iraq? A greater victory for our supposed enemy, Iran, would be hard to imagine. Their Shia brothers in Iraq now run the country that was their most serious opposition in the neighborhood. For this the American taxpayer is on the hook for a trillion dollars.

But it was an adventure of unprecedented profitability for the private side of the military-industrial complex.

Afghanistan, ditto.

Syria? You can bet the policy wonks are drooling over the possibilities.
Yes, it will be a big mouthful to chew, way costlier in lives and dollars than the last two misadventures, but way more profitable too!

So when Ron Paul comes along and promises to end the party, we should not be surprised that he is treated like a leper at an orgy.

Tea PArty parttty

oh my holy mother of vishnu i hanvet been so drunkfer foe r so ling since i took that all incluussive haliday in jammayaca. i shit you hnot. i Have been mmeetting rebulpilcans from all over. om stying at john gboltons aseeet at the intercontinental and holy shit the    parety hasnpt stopped since I got haqrewe.

thr  other dya there was like 4ty or 5ty people in hgere and most offfff them wer mo4re fissed than me, ifg sucha thign can even be imagggiined. sptj the jighlighat for me was when I meet ann coulter bhcauxe she is a hottie if youi ihnknow what I mean so i was in the bathroom standing on ythe toilet seat burnnin g one undr the fan becajse therews no balconys on fht intercontiantintel and in wlakds annCoulter and di sewr she saysssssssssss hey are  you gonna shaare thatt or whattt? so i got hi with ann coulter

welL thereall off too the conbeetioin so hoooly shit maybe I can get some rest after 3 days of acess.



















Pinkos for Ron Paul

On the face of it you wouldn't think that a small "c" commie like myself would see much positive in Ron Paul. In many respects he stands apart as a reactionary among reactionaries.

There is one issue, however, that is qualitatively different than any other issue in this election, and on that one issue Ron Paul is a potential world-changer.

That issue is undoing America's self-defeating role as Global Cop. If Ron Paul ever succeeded in closing those 900 or so foreign bases in 130 countries, we'd find ourselves in a brand new world overnight.

The massive amount of money pissed away on maintaining that empire could be used at home looking after Americans.

With his principled stand on that one issue, Ron Paul is the only candidate who could make a difference.

Libya: heavily-armed militias out-gun government forces

Don't take my word for it; that's from Interior Minister Fawzi Abdelali.

According to Reuters, there's nothing the government can do about it. This is worth keeping in mind as certain members of the Nations of Virtue gang edge closer to getting directly involved in Syria.

Wouldn't it be a good idea for NATO to clean up after its last mess before striking out on a new adventure?

Monday, August 27, 2012

I've got three balls and none of them work

Been having a hell of a time here at Falling Downs. Trouble flared up when I tried to move the wood-splitter from behind the woodshed out to the laneway.

When me and Junior assembled the wood-splitter last year, we never had occasion to test out the hitch. We just man-handled her up the grade behind the shed and she's been sitting there ever since. So I was perplexed when I backed up the F-150 and I couldn't get the hitch down on the ball.

Well, we were only going a hundred yards or so, and none of it on the public roadways, so I just had Junior stand on the tongue while I towed the splitter around the garage and down the lane.

The reason we needed to be on the lane was because I'd dropped that almost-dead elm tree I was fretting about a couple weeks ago. Brought her down within a few degrees of where I'd intended. Missed the house by miles.

It was all good.

But we had a whack of trunk sections that needed splitting before they went in the basement. So we got the splitter moved and got the wood downstairs and everything was good, and my next job was getting more of the deadwood out of the back woodlot. I figured I'd hook up the trailer to the F-150 and fill both the truck and the trailer on a single trip!

So now I can't get the friggin' trailer hitch to drop on the ball! And reaching the back woodlot does require a brief passage along public roads, so having Junior stand on the tongue was a non-starter, mainly because his mom was home at the time.

Now, with the wood-splitter I'd just figured that the hitch was faulty. But this trailer I've towed around all over the place. How can the hitch suddenly be flawed?

A thorough investigation revealed the problem. The ball I had in the receiver was a 2". Both the wood-splitter and the trailer had 1 and 7/8"
couplers.

No wonder I couldn't get them to drop!

But I had a 1 and 7/8 on the tractor!

Unfortunately I haven't so much as moved the tractor in a month and a half, and in my absence a colony of wasps have built a nest just below the back window of the cab. That would be just above where I have to remove the ball that might work... 

I hear they go dormant in the cold weather. Maybe I'll revisit this conundrum in November.

Everything won can be undone

I remember 1973 and I remember Roe-Wade. For the longest time I believed that Roe-Wade was an incontrovertible moment in American civil rights and feminism.

I was wrong. Forty years later the holy-roller wing of the Republican Tea Party has their teeth into this issue as never before.

Todd Akin is not an aberration. He speaks for the grassroots. Mitt doesn't.

And look at Tom Smith in Pennsylvania.

Sooner or later you're going to see these guys win democratic elections and then what are you going to say?

That's a risk you take with democracy. If the the majority of voters exercise their franchise in favor of a Smith or an Akin in their constituencies, well, shut-up and let them govern according to the will of the people. You'll have a chance to undo the damage in a couple of years.

That's democracy.

That's also a searing indictment of America's downward spiral these past few generations.

Iran calls for nuke-free planet by 2025

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi opened the 16th summit of non-aligned nations by calling for a world-wide ban on nuclear weapons.

Sounds fair to me. His is by no means the first voice to make such a plea, a plea that is routinely ignored by those countries that already have nuclear weapons.

If you look at who is attending the Tehran conference you'll find at least three countries who already posses them and a lengthy list of countries that have "civilian" nuclear programs that could conceivably be weaponized in short order. That's how India and Pakistan joined the nuclear club.

Insofar as we can believe the fear-mongering, that's the path that Iran is taking too, which is why we have been treated to an endless stream of "all options on the table" rhetoric for the last twenty years. If we hypothesize an actual strike on Iran to prevent this, what do we suppose will happen afterward?

Regardless of whether such a strike sets back Iran's nuclear ambitions by two years or twenty, there are at least a dozen other countries who will take away the lesson that they'd better have the ultimate trump card in their decks sooner rather than later. Nuclear proliferation will proliferate as never before.

What kind of a world will we have then?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Armstrong vs. Armstrong

It's a day of hero worship and hero trauma in America.

The top stories all across the spectrum were about what a hero Neil Armstrong was. Everybody is leading with that and probably will for a couple of days, unless we get another mass shooting or Israel's attack on Iran interrupting the news cycle.

Not to take anything away from Neil; he was the first man to set foot on the moon after all. But in what way is he more courageous than Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon? And how were either of them more courageous than Mike Collins, who stayed back in the orbiter?

I think it takes courage to sign up for the astronaut program. Once you're there, whether you're the first guy or the second guy to walk in space or play golf on the moon is pretty much up to the luck of the draw.

So let's dial back the hero worship.

Meanwhile, former hero Lance Armstrong is busy putting a happy face on his situation. He is rising above the fray, which some of his critics find disturbing.

Frankly, I think Lance is every bit as heroic as Neil. The only thing that disturbs me about Lance's "cheating" is how he pushed denial way past any decent limit. Every reasonable observer of Lance's career hasn't believed those denials for years.

My question is this; if Lance Armstrong, who was cheating, beat out 150 other guys who were also cheating, is he still a cheater?

Or was there a de facto level playing field?

Would-be Pussy Riot svengali makes most of his 15 minutes

Pyotr Verzilov, or "Pete" as he was known when he was growing up in Canada, is certainly milking his association with Pussy Riot. His association is that he claims to be married to one of them, although whichever one that might be doesn't seem to be in a rush to confirm it.

He's getting great face time on Reuters and France 24 today with a story that two of the collective have escaped persecution in Russia. Here's a link. If you look closely at the vehicles behind him in the video clip it would appear that he has escaped Russia too.

His commitment to the anti-Putin revolution is quite admirable. That could be turned into a position at a "democracy promotion" think tank in the beltway if he plays it right.

Surge of violence rocks Libya

That's a quote from the France 24 site today.

I've read one account after another recently about how normality has returned to the streets of Benghazi and Tripoli. Sure, there have also been those other reports of car bombs and rampant militia violence, the summary lynching of black Libyans and so forth, but the leading democracy promotion NGO's have all assured me that those are vicious lies and that they speak the truth.

According to France 24 the violence is trending upward. Sufi radicals have been busy bulldozing Islamist shrines, much to the annoyance of the non-Sufi Islamist population. It's quite the Islamic stew, is it not? They all look the same to me.

Just like Catholics and Protestants.

Anyway, they must be able to tell the difference, because they're busy killing one another, to the point where the Interior Minister Fawzi Abdelali has decided to step down and let the warring factions war it out.

As time goes on it must be getting harder for the NATO war cheerleaders  to still find ways to blame this on Gaddafi.

The Towellers have allies? Who knew?

Check out this scoop from the Jerusalem Post.

All along I've been led to believe that the Iranians were the scourge of the world stage, that the Nations of Virtue stood arrayed in solidarity against them, and that their only allies were Hamas and Hezbollah and Syria.

Now I find out they're hosting the Non-aligned summit, and it looks to me like they've got more allies than America!

After years of stirring the sanctions pot it seems our efforts have been in vain. At least 100 countries have sent official delegations to Tehran, including 27 who sent their presidents, quite of few of whom I must confess I thought were our allies.

Somebody's been lying!

Tampa's triple whammy

Made it into town late last night after a longer than expected drive from Kentucky. All along this trip I've had a nagging feeling that I've forgotten something. You know what I'm talking about; you're out the door on a long drive and a hundred miles from home it hits you; did I turn the coffee pot off?

I knew it wasn't the coffee pot, but there was something just not quite right. I already had the anxiety of worrying about my fake National Post press credentials. And how long was this counterfeit DND credit card going to work?...

No, it wasn't that either... it was something else. It's so hard to recall something that you've forgotten when you can't think of it, isn't it? It's sort of an "unknown unknown". Then out of the blue, just past Ocala, it hit me - I'd totally overlooked getting a hotel in Tampa!

Shit!

Well gawd damn... you figure you've covered all the bases and you forget the most obvious thing...

Needless to say that bummed me out for the last hour of my drive. By the time I got to Tampa I was good and thirsty.

Found myself in what must have been a biker bar judging by all the leather, although I hadn't noticed the obligatory brace of Harleys one expects lined up outside such an establishment. Didn't notice any of the biker babes I'd normally expect... Whoa! There's a guy with leather chaps AND HE FORGOT TO WEAR HIS JEANS UNDERNEATH!

Holy moly, I've never seen such a thing. He must have already been drunk when he got dressed!

Anyway, the beer was cold and the ZZ Top cover band was hot, and... hey, who the hell is that?... that sure looks a lot like John Bolton!

It was! I introduced myself as a senior political analyst from Canada's rabidly right-wing newspaper of record. That impressed him!

And he was with Lindsey Graham, the Senator from South Carolina! Wow! Who could even imagine such a stroke of luck! I'm not even in Tampa for an hour and here I am, drinking at a biker bar with two of my favorite Republicans!

Well, one thing led to another, and after the third or forth bar things get a little blurry in the memory bank, but  long story short, the lads have been kind enough let me crash at their suite at the Intercontinental for the duration!

That's a huge load off my mind.

What with the convention pushed back a day, it looks like I'll have some free time for sight-seeing. I'll wait till my new friends wake up and see what plans they have...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

God smites Tampa

And who can blame Him?

Senior Taliban leader killed again

There's a never-ending stream of Taliban leaders being killed. The latest, according to CNN, was Maulawi Dadullah, who was dispatched by drone in northwestern Pakistan the other day along with a number of bystanders, or his "senior aides" if you will.

There is of course no way to independently verify such a report.

But based on the track record we can safely surmise that two or three senior leaders have already emerged to take his place. Here's a list of 74 "Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders" executed by American air strikes just in Pakistan.

And here's a British story boasting about the "industrial scale" slaughter of senior Taliban leaders over the course of a few months in 2010.

But apparently the Taliban are stronger than ever, and today control more territory than at any time since the invasion.

Maybe it's time to try something else.


Adelson adds Toronto mayor Rob Ford to his stable of politicians

Wow, Mayor Ford is in the big leagues now!

What a thrill it must have been for Ford to welcome the billionaire carpet-bagger to his office this week. From right-wing windbag on city council to hosting the greatest financier of right-wing windbags in the world in barely over a year!

Sheldon Adelson was sniffing out the possibilities for a casino on Toronto's waterfront. For Adelson it's never just a business opportunity of course. Business is business, politics are politics, and Adelson is always on the look-out for ambitious power-hunger pols who understand the business of politics.

Already Adelson and five of his flunkies have registered as lobbyists with the City of Toronto, so expect the new casino to be an Adelson venture.

And expect great things from Rob Ford. He's joining such luminaries as Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Benyamin Netanyahu in Sheldon's stable of bought-and-paid-for politicians.

You're in great company now, Mr. Ford!

Saluting the public service commitment of America's millionaires

You've got to tip your cap to America's millionaire class. Their commitment to public service outstrips that of all other socio-economic groups.

In a country where the average worker's pay is mired somewhere in the 30 thousand a year range, virtually every seat in the House and Senate is being warmed by a millionaire's behind.

The average net worth of Senators is somewhere north of $13,000,000, and in the lower chamber it's in the $6,000,000 range.

The research department here at Falling Downs has been theorizing hard to come up with sound explanations for this phenomenon. Here are a few possibilities:

The Altruism Theory. Rich people look around and say, hey, I've done enough for myself, I'm going to give something back.

Divine Intervention. Similar to above, but focus on public service occurs after Jesus touches the hearts of the rich and infuses them with compassion for fellow Americans.

The Default Theory. Regular folks are too damned busy trying to keep their heads above water to take six months out for an election campaign. Rich folks have the time and the money.

The Greater Pork Theory. "Think I'm freakin' rollin' in it now?.. wait till I serve a couple of terms and then hang out my shingle as a consultant!

WHHHEEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Neumann plan for full employment and balanced budgets

Just the bare-bones outline of a strategy here, and I'll clarify and amend it down the road, i.e. make it up as we go along.

1. Eliminate welfare. Don't cut it back. People on welfare are already condemned to a life of poverty. Get rid of it altogether. We need people to rise up out of poverty, not be condemned to it.

2. Double the minimum wage. It's bad enough that people on welfare are damned to a life of poverty; it's even more disgusting that working folks are damned to the same thing. Every worker is entitled to a dignified standard of living.

3. It wouldn't be fair to eliminate welfare if you couldn't guarantee jobs for everyone. Governments have long been in the business of providing make-work projects to fill the gaps where the private sector fails in this. But why do these need to be "make-work" projects? How about  a national program of make-affordable-housing projects, something the private sector has been unable to do for the last 50 years. If there are no employment opportunities in your local private sector, you are guaranteed a job at the Affordable Housing Construction Co-op.

4. Eliminate economic immigration. There are a few legitimate reasons for immigration. Family unification and religious or ethnic persecution for example.  A "skills shortage" in an economy with 8% unemployment isn't one. If we have legitimate skills shortages then obviously we need to work harder at retraining our unemployed. Let's limit economic immigration until the unemployment rate is under 1%.

5. Institute a Social Impact Tax. We need to get our heads around the idea that taxes need to be set at a level that permits the non-deficit funding of these programs. Instead, we have been bullied into believing that our social programs and the public welfare must accommodate inadequate tax rates. The non-stop pressure to lower taxes benefits primarily the very few at the upper reaches of the economic food chain. We've long bought into other taxes designed to change behavior; cigarette taxes are a well-accepted strategy for reducing tobacco usage. Why can we not use a financial transaction tax to discourage non-productive economic behavior? And hedge funds that dismember productive corporate entities and off-shore the jobs and the profits, enriching a few investors but impoverishing the broader community, would be taxed at a rate of 100%.

6. Limit CEO pay to a multiple of twelve times the wage of his most lowly employee. If that lowest paid employee is afforded a dignified standard of living, then making twelve times what is required for a dignified standard of living is good enough for the CEO.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lance legend punctured

Lance Armstrong threw in the towel today. And it's about time.

It has always been our point here at Falling Downs, in contemplating the Lance implosion, that we're pissed with Lance because of his phony-ass attitude about cheating.

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. We've always said here that everybody in the upper echelon of cycling was dirty for the last twenty years. Even if you're not taking drugs and just keeping a couple of spare pints of your own blood in the bar fridge at the hotel, come on, that's not "sports" and everybody knows that.

At the same time, let it be said that Lance wasn't "cheating" any more than all the guys around him

That's why I think it's wrong to take those seven Tour victories away from him.

If you think Todd Akin is nuts check out this guy

Judge Tom Head has a theory.

But just for fun google George Galloway and see how far down his own gullet he managed to stick his boot.

Proves yet again that American Republicans aren't the runaway leaders in the "politicians say the stupidest things" sweepstakes.

Had an uneventful drive to Lexington today. Rented a car in Royal Oak. The DND credit card works like a charm.

I was going to stay at the Super Eight and then I realized, the Department of National Defense is gonna be on the hook for this.

I'm enjoying my suite at the Hyatt.

So I plug in my laptop and there's the Judge. An Obama re-election could spark a civil war.

Sometimes it's hard to know what to think.

Don't need to arrive in Tampa till Sunday, so I've got lots of time and a credit card that works.

Think I'll go out and see some sights.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hello Royal Oak!

By God, it must be ten years or more since I've been here.

I'm at the Royal Oak Holiday Inn. Right after we sorted out that business with the gouda cheese I had to pack and leave. I have to be in Tampa by Monday.

Last time I was heading to Florida it was to the Gator Nationals. Actually, I'm pretty sure they spell it as one word.

Gatornationals.

That was years and years ago, and I have to admit I was in the company of some sketchy characters. Somewhere in Alabama, or it might have been Georgia, we ran afoul of the law.

Doesn't take much to run afoul of the law in Georgia or Alabama.

Speeding and open liquor in the car. Yup, that's the story I'm sticking to.

Took four days and about twenty-five phone calls home to various parents before we got the bail money to get out of there.

By then the Gatornationals were over.

Anyway, I'm on this trip all alone, so no sketchy characters.

I've been to Royal Oak before. Matter of fact, I've stayed in this very hotel.

Royal Oak is one of those northern burbs of Detroit that pretty much did just fine as the inner city imploded.

So I did have to borrow a canoe to get across the St. Clair river. I feel bad about that. If you live on the east side of that river and your canoe that you carelessly left on the end of your dock is missing, you can find it beached at the northern reaches of Marine City. Pretty much across from the Dunkin' Donuts.

A friend of a friend works at the Foolish Duck in Ottawa, one of the most popular haunts for DND expense account types. One of his other friends made me up a blank credit card. I wanted one with a National Post account number, to match my press credentials, but I got a Department of National Defence credit card instead.

Probably a good thing.

The reason I say that is after the folks at the front desk made some enquiries, they got all ass-kissy with me.

I know for a fact that wouldn't happen if I'd presented a National Post credit card.

So I should be good for the unlimited credit of a DND card, at least until the next billing cycle.

By then I'll be long gone!

Memo to the deli counter; liverwurst is NOT gouda cheese

Last week the Farm Manager came home from the Wiarton Foodland with a pretty impressive block of goulda cheese.

Three bucks and change.

I didn't think anything of it. I know the Farm Manager is a pretty astute shopper. She knows a good deal when she sees one.

So today she's in shopping and I'm out in the truck reading the Globe and Mail with the dogs (ya, they are especially partial to the Arts & Entertainment section) and she comes out with a story.

No news in that. She generally has a story about why it takes 45 minutes to come out of Foodland with five or six items.

But this was different.

"I had to tell the deli manager that they've been labelling the gouda as liverwurst," she says.

Well, all I could say was I hoped she'd bought up all the gouda in the store before she told them that.

No such luck. But at least we got one last block of gouda at the liverwurst price.

Pot-addled blogger to cover GOP convention for National Post

Think I'm kidding? Just check out my press credentials here. My buddy Eric over at Quik-e-Print whipped this up for me.

I wanted him to whip me up a passport too, as the border is a little stickier than it used to be, but that's where Eric drew the line.

"Fucking around with the National Post is one thing," he said, "Uncle Sam is quite another."

Thanks for nothing, old pal.

So I'm thinking I'll cross at Detroit, tell them I'm headed for a Tiger's game. That should work. If not I'll replicate my last unofficial border crossing.

That's when me and Junior took a pedal boat across the St. Clair River. That was pretty much a cake-walk, except for those terrifying moments when some joker in a 60 foot Bertram was bearing down on us at about 30 knots. At the last moment he obligingly steered around us.

So, way more than one way to skin a cat, as they say, and one way or another you'll be reading my reports from Tampa.

Who the hell skins cats anyway?

Tampa shocker: Romney to dump Ryan, draft Jacob Zuma for VP

Occasionally reliable sources have revealed that Romney is planning to dump his running mate of two weeks at the Tampa convention.

The reason is that Romey's advisors believe that with only two months to go before the election Ryan hasn't caused enough of a bump in polling numbers, and it's not too late to correct the Ryan mistake.

The decision to draft Jacob Zuma will be controversial among some, probably because he's a foreign national. This is not necessarily true. Independent researchers have proof that Zuma was actually born in Hawaii.

Furthermore, Romney will be comfortable with the fact that Zuma has four wives, which is in keeping with Mitt's religious tradition.

Zuma also has an outlook on gender relations that should appeal to the conservative base of the GOP. Just yesterday he claimed in an interview that it is not right for women not to have children.

The fact that Zuma presents as a black man won't hurt either. Not sure what the advisors were thinking when they chose a guy even whiter than Romney as a running mate. That is so mid-twentieth century.

Look for the polls to show a "Zuma bump" in September.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Todd Akin and the triumph of imbecility

Of course all women who are raped were asking for it.

Of course they could have avoided pregnancy by just keeping their legs shut.

Abort a fetus? Never!

That's the election of 2012.

Don't take my word for it, just see what CNN and Fox have on offer at this moment...

Meeting Joe Szewczyk

Back in the day they called him Joey Alphabet.

That's the nick-name a lot of your eastern Europe immigrants got when they washed up on these shores.

Around these parts Joe is a bit of a legend. Owns a ton of property, including a stretch between the Kinch sideroad and the escarpment that has a couple of very pretty little lakes nestled in it.

Joe has kept the locals on edge with his on again off again plans to develop those lakes with cottage lots.

Me and the farm manager were down at one of his lakes once, and we'd hardly got past throwing a stick in the water for the dogs when a Joe flunky showed up to usher us off the property.

Joe has cameras set up in the middle of the wilderness.

Joe's name has come up in family discussions. Seems that after Joe got off the boat back in the 1950's he found employment with the Omark operation in Guelph. Which is exactly where my dear father found himself in the late 1950's.

So both of these DP's cut their teeth at Omark and went on to become real estate brokers.

Joe's reputation around here is a little bit ambiguous. None of the locals want those lakes made into cottage country. At the same time, they're willing to tolerate him as an absentee landlord so long as he doesn't do anything untoward with those little lakes.

So imagine our shock this morning when the Farm Manager and I were hoofing it down Kinch's sideroad on our morning walk, and this black Cadillac pulled up behind us. We called the hounds off the path and waited for it to pass.

Instead, we get the window rolled down and a "hi, I'm Joe..."

Well, we had a 15 minute chit-chat with Mr. Szewczyk. He's not such a bad guy after all. Seems we're welcome at his wee lakes anytime we feel like going there. Just have to mention his name.

Joe wasn't shy about telling us that he and his wife and his business partners are all getting on in years and they don't get to the lakes as much and they don't have the energy to pursue the development process
and they are sick of writing a letter to the OPP every year about how, no, those grow-ops they find on their many properties in the area are not actually their grow-ops.

Joe, don't give it another thought. We'll be happy to look after your little lakes, and we'll make sure those grow-ops are chased off too.

I promise.

Only in Canada...

Here's a story that fully conveys the Canadian world-view.

On an Air Canada flight from London to Calgary, a drunken passenger got out of hand. He was restrained by duct-taping him to his seat in first class. Then the airliner had to make an emergency landing in Edmonton, two hours from its destination.

Problems with this story?

First of all, I've driven from Calgary to Edmonton in not much more than two hours, so I don't see how this airliner was forced down two hours from its destination. I drive fast, but not airliner fast.

On an airliner Edmonton to Calgary takes 15 minutes.

Secondly, Buddy is shit-faced and belligerent. Instead of duct-taping him too his seat, give him another drink. Make it a double. He'll be passed out and docile as can be.

Even without such a humanitarian gesture, once they had the guy duct-taped to his seat, what was he gonna do?

It's a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, so are the folks at Air Canada.

Is it time to short Apple?

Apple has been hogging headlines all over the place because it has in the last couple of days become the most valuable corporation in the history of corporations.

It's another manifestation of what Alan Greenspan once referred to as "irrational exhuberance."

If you haven't noticed, Samsung has been pruning the Apple tree all over the place with its smartphones and tablets.

A lot of the recent up-tick in Apple has been driven by speculation about the next iteration of the iPhone.

It would do the prudent investor well to recall that not that long ago Samsung was thought more or less dead on the mat by most of the smarty-pants commentators. And while there is certainly cause to think irrational exhuberance might float Apple even higher in the short term, there is only one way for it to go in the long term.

Down.

United Church of Canada endorses boycott of Israeli settlement products

On the face of it I don't have a problem with the boycott of Israeli settlement products.

I do, however, have a problem with hypocrisy.

Virtually the entire membership of the United Church of Canada are settlers. Not in the West Bank of course, but on lands that not so long ago were the traditional homelands of our native peoples. You know our native peoples. Perhaps you know them as "aboriginals" or "Indians", but you do know them.

You know them because for the most part they are now confined to "reservations", where their rampant poverty and myriad societal dysfunctions are easier to ignore. They are "free" to leave their reservations and become urban natives, where systemic racism relegates them to lurid headlines and shocking statistics.

Turn with me now, my dear Christian brothers and sisters at the United Church, to the gospel of Mathew, chapter 7, verse 3;

and why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own...

And while I don't mean to denigrate the many fine policy papers and well-meaning proclamations that have come from the United Church over the years on the question of our native population, the fact is, nothing has changed.

A young Indian man is far more likely to go to prison than to university. He is at least five hundred percent more likely to take his own life than are his non-native peers. And he is doomed to pass this blight on to the next generation of his people.

So maybe we could hold off preaching to the rest of the world until we get our own house in order.



Pussy Riot: the latest stick with which to beat Putin

I think Mr. Putin would do himself a huge favor to let those three publicity addicts go free, the sooner the better.

Nowhere else in recent history has such modest talent generated such outlandish comparisons with the great human rights struggles of our times, and this is guaranteed to repeat itself day after tedious day.

Today's Globe and Mail has not one but two odes to the genre. Lynn Crosbie sees the Pussy Riot trial as the cusp of a new wave of feminism. She places them in a radical tradition tracing from the gals of the Manson Family, through Ann Liv Young to Courtney Love.

I don't know. At least Courtney Love can play a guitar.

The other effort I find a little more troubling. Cathy Young is an acknowledged Russia expert because she spent the first seventeen years of her life in the Soviet Union and wrote a book about it. That may be a slim peg on which to hang one's Russia Expert credentials, but no matter, that upbringing in the Soviet empire qualifies her to comment.

Like virtually anything coming out of major US think tanks (Young is with the Cato Institute) her writing is vehemently anti-Putin. My theory is that Putin is hated because he is that rare leader who does not genuflect before the world's plutocrats. In America people like to believe that plutocrats are a superior breed of humans who have been favored by God and should therefore be favored by their fellow man as well.

Besides, they fund a lot of think tanks.

Young's article claims a conspiracy between Putin's secret police state and the Russian Orthodox Church. Together they're on a mission to stamp out dissent. The trial was a political show trial orchestrated by Putin. The Church has demanded that the girls be punished.

In fact, both Putin and the Church asked that the girls be treated with leniency, but what are facts when you have an axe to grind?

So please, Mr. Putin, put an end to the squawking.

Free Pussy Riot!


Pussy Riot; the Canadian connection

Who would have guessed that one of the Pussy Riot gals would have a husband in Canada? Seems kind of bourgeois for such anarchistic rebels.

Anyway, he found his way onto CNN last night. Pytr Verzilov is his name, and there are a few things he wants you to know.

Putin is a soul-crushing monster.

Putin is a really bad dude.

Putin is a vicious dictator.

The Russian people are crying to be free from the yoke of Putin.

Putin hates free speech.

The World needs to act now! A UN resolution perhaps. Maybe a no-fly zone over Moscow. Hell, boots on the ground if that's what it takes!

I don't know if Pussy Riot started out as a fabrication of the Putin Haters Club, but by now they certainly have been co-opted.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Conversations with a three-legged frog

I've been having this recurring dream. It's not quite a nightmare, not yet anyway, but it does tend to have its dark sides.

In the dream I wake up dead and then I come back to Falling Downs as a humble denizen of the marsh across the way.

I'm a frog.

These dreams started about a month ago when Kipling fixed me up with a sample bag of his latest organic weed.

Coincidence?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But I must admit Kipling has the organic weed gig pretty much down. I was talking to him the other day and he's kinda bummed out about the overall state of the economy etc.

I've been talking to Kipling for over 40 years and there has never been a time when he is NOT bummed out about the overall state of the economy etc.

But back to the dream.

So I'm dead but the wheel of Karma affords me a second kick at Falling Downs. I fucked it up as a two-legger, so my next chance is as a frog.

I'm hopping through the long grass down by the creek, and there's where I spot Stumpy (not his real name). Stumpy is a big old swamp bull-frog who is missing his left hind leg.

Since I'm new here, at least in this incarnation, I don't want to be overbearing. I just plant myself on the next rock and let a bit of time slide by.

Finally I offer a hey how ya doin'?

You fucking talkin' to me fuckface?

Well, come on. Do you really get reincarnated for abuse like this?

I don't want to be too harsh. Hey bro, I see you are minus an appendage. What up with that?

You fuckin' staring at my stump?

Hey brother, I ain't staring, but what the fuck... what's the story Stumpy?

Stumpy shifts on his rock and stares at me with a squinted frog eye.

Listen, fuckface... I been here and I been there. One day a couple years ago I was hopping across the lawn by the house over there, and outa nowhere, BAM! A lawnmower incident.

I'm like, are you shitting me? Right over there on the lawn? Did you get a look at the lawnmower?

He's like ya, only seen it from underneath. Looked like a 21".

Oh my God! Before I died I was cutting the lawn with a 21" Sears Craftsman!

Oh!

My!

GOD!!!

Yo, Stumpy, I'm so sorry.... I think that was me pushing the lawnmower...

Say what? How does a frog push a lawnmower....   oh..

The horror of recognition was creeping across Stumpy's face.

You mean... it was...   You were pushing that mower?

I'm so totally fucking sorry.

When I was talking to Kipling I mentioned I'd seen a 426 Hemi Charger in Wiarton the other day, but I hadn't a chance to peer inside, so I could not be sure if it was a 66 or a 67.

The difference, in case you don't know, is that the inaugural 1966 Dodge Charger has a console that goes the length of the car. You've basically got four bucket seats divided down the middle by a center console. In 1967 the console ended at the front seats and the back seat was a standard item out of a Coronet.

Stumpy was a bit pissy for a while. Eventually he came around. Well, you're dead, he said, and I've lived a damned good life with three legs. Took a bit of getting used to. I mean I've got the left back leg missing, so whenever I'm jumping for something I bear a good 45 degrees to the left. Till I got used to it I was just going around in circles.

I asked him how he got used to it.

Well, when I was trying to chase down the lady frogs, he says, I figured they're just gonna hop into the sunset while I'm hopping around in circles unless I get on top of this. By then the whole swamp knew I was just going around in circles, and, you know, I was becoming a bit of a laughing stock.

Fuck me did I feel bad. I run over this poor fuck with the lawnmower and he can't even catch up to the lady frogs anymore. So how did he rise to his challenges?

Well, he says, I just make a bit of an adjustment. When I land I just shift over about 45 degrees to the right, and then when I launch, it's dead straight all the way! Believe me, the first few times I tried that move the lady frogs were not even paying attention... figured I'd land three or four feet away, and  WHAMO-SLAMMO!!!... hey, you know what I'm talking about!

So after trading notes on the paint job now on that Charger and a lengthy discussion of its history, me and Kipling came to the conclusion that this is indeed the Hemi-Charger of his youth... our youth. And for some reason it finds it's way to Wiarton... we'll be talking about that again.

And I'll be talking to Stumpy again too.


True truths from the Voice of America, or panic at the Pentagon

The NYT may be America's "newspaper of record" (sorry to the pretenders over at the WP) but for the TRUE nitty-gritty about what's really going on in the halls of power, you can't beat the Voice of America.

That, after all, is the official propaganda mouthpiece for the US government. All the others are unofficial.

And America's official propaganda outlet wants you to know that all that nasty shit you've been reading about jihadi types flooding into Syria is just SO NOT TRUE.

VOA are flooding the world-wide web with their unique take on the situation. And since they've been engineering it from before the beginning, we know they know what they're talking about.

Ya, there's been photos circulating of Syrian rebels flying the al Qaeda flag, but that's not what it seems.

That's Assad propaganda designed to discredit the rebels!

And yes, there have been rebels coming from other countries, but most of them are Syrians who were fighting for freedom in Iraq or Libya and are just coming home when freedom's call beckoned them back to their homeland.

VOA reports rely heavily on "non-partisan" think-tanks like the Institute for the Study of War.

That non-partisan think-tank was specifically formed because its non-partisan backers thought the surge in Iraq wasn't getting enough good press. They've been pressing their non-partisan agenda ever since.

The very partisan anti-war pro-peace think-tank here at Falling Downs thinks the fact that VOA is trumpeting such obvious hokum is because they've realized that the foreign jihadis are running away with America's carefully planned war on Syria/Iran.

Ya, we wanted those guys out, but we didn't want an even more toxic brand of towellers taking over!!!

PANIC AT THE PENTAGON!!!


Democracy off and running in Somalia!

Yes, it's true! The fair winds of democracy are finally sweeping into that benighted land!

Current PM Mohamed Ali (no, not that Ali...) is planning to run for President.

Current President Sheikh Aharif Ahmed is planning to run for his life after a UN report fingered him as a prime player in Somalia's famously corrupt political culture.

Meanwhile, all concerned have agreed that the "new" Somalia government will be comprised of 274 Members of Parliament and 54 Senators. Great! Now we know that at least 328 Somalis will have jobs!

And while I think that his foreign sponsors are putting words into his mouth, Ali claims he plans to crack down on piracy.

Hmmm... according to the US State Department Somalia has a GDP of 5.9 billion dollars. Piracy brought 7 billion into the economy last year. And while that may not be part of your legit GDP, it's still over half of the economic activity.

I'm guessing democracy isn't going to last long if Ali keeps up that kind of talk.

Is your doctor exposed to the European currency crisis?

Sure  hope not. You wouldn't want her distracted with bad thoughts about her huge bet against the Euro while she's leading that team on your triple by-pass.

Seems that the Supreme Court's decision in favor of Obamacare has unleashed some good old market forces. Health care insurers are out-bidding one another to gobble up their rivals, because everybody understands that what Obamacare really amounts to is a bottomless subsidy of profits for the health care industry.

Since the court decision you've seen Cigna  take over Healthspring, Wellpoint take over Amerigroup, and most recently Aetna's buyout of Coventry. Billions of investment dollars are jostling for position at the Obamacare trough. Kind of ironic when you reflect on the fact that the American  health care system is the most expensive in the world but has outcomes that are hard-pressed to rival those of Cuba.

Indeed, hedge-fund sharpie David Einhorn made his crew a cool 66 million or so in a matter of months by taking a long position in Coventry. Here's what Einhorn said at the time they placed their bet;

Coventry has no exposure to the European currency crisis, a possible Chinese slowdown, or other cyclical headwinds.

What the fuck is that? Are we talking about my triple by-pass or something else?

Obamacare. It's all about the money.

Wall Street loves it!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

On Huckabee tonight

I have to say I like Mike Huckabee. In spite of his reactionary politics he strikes me as a decent person. Case in point; he took a few minutes out of his show tonight to extend best wishes to Jesse Jackson Jr., somebody a long way towards the other end of the political spectrum.

So after watching his show tonight, which I like to do once in awhile, I think if Mike just came along to my weekly Marxist study group for a time, he might recognize the error of his ways and come to his senses.

The main guest tonight was one Aaron Klein, who has written a book about Obama's secret Marxist agenda for his second term. Now if Mike would just educate himself ever so slightly about what Marx wrote and what the many permutations of "Marxism" are about, he'd be able to poke holes in the fatuous arguments Klein was forwarding about this so-called Marxist agenda.

Until Romney this year, no politician in history has raised more money on Wall Street than Obama. His brand of Marxism obviously gets the stamp of approval from the slash-and-burn capitalists on the Street.

I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be Marx's brand of Marxism.

One of his other guests was Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council. They don't  actually research families; they're a lobby group who lobby for "traditional values," i.e. anti-gay, anti-abortion, and less taxation for rich people. All the traditional values of the Koch family, come to think of it.

So a guy with a very tangential relationship to a queer support group walks into the FRC offices last week armed with a gun and 15 Chik-fil-A sandwiches and sets about taking his place in America's tragic pantheon of mass killers, but the building manager disarms him before he can kill anybody.

This all happened because some liberal groups have branded the Council a purveyor of hate speech.

No, it happened because a disturbed individual didn't get the mental health care he needed and American gun laws make it way too easy for anybody with a mood swing or a grudge to walk into a store and walk out with a gun.

At least he didn't pin that one on Marx.

And he was gracious about crediting the black building manager with saving lives. Beyond that and the shout-out to Jesse Jr. black presence anywhere on the show, including the audience, seemed non-existent.

So join the the think tank here at Falling Downs for our Tuesday evening seminar on the history of Marxism, Mike. We've been reading Kautsky lately. Fascinating guy. The lynch-pin of Marxism morphing into social democracy.

See you Tuesday!


Unlike his dear daddy, David Feith is not completely full of sh*t

Young David is the the assistant op-ed editor at the Wall Street Journal. Maybe he's the guy Dick Landes calls up when he wants to set the record  straight on something.

That's quite a job for a youngster barely out of university, but I'm sure his daddy's connections in neocon circles have nothing to do with it.

Daddy is of course Douglas Feith, whose egregious pandering to the most extreme right-wing elements in Israeli politics eventually became too much even for the Bush II White House.

David had an interesting article in the Journal the other day, about the efficacy of the US sanctions on Iran. While there is the usual undercurrent of "oh my God we gotta nuke the Towellers before it's too late" hysteria one expects from Feith senior, David nevertheless provides an insight into how many loopholes the US has built into the "sanctions".

South Korea, Japan, India and China all have at least partial exemptions. Why any of those countries should have America dictate who they buy oil from in the first place isn't a question Feith gets into, but at least he's brought up the question of when are sanctions not really sanctions?

In the case of India, there was a story in the Hindustan Times back in June about meetings Hillary was having with the Indians about their, of all things, nuclear program! (for civilian purposes only, of course!)

So here's the quid pro quo, folks; we go easy with the sanctions stuff, and they open wide for Westinghouse and General Electric to "participate" in their nuclear program! (for civilian purposes only...)

Sanctions? What sanctions?

Why is "butchering your own people" so much more repugnant than butchering other people?

It was just yesterday that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was busy lecturing on Assad's butchery. Fabius concludes that Assad must be smashed and there is no place for him on this earth.

When you view photos of the man on tour it is evident that he owes both his political philosophy and his shirts to the unctuous busybody Bernard-Henri Levy. The shirts are crisp and white and opened several buttons down a la 1980 at the disco.

The political philosophy crisply whites out France's butchery in Indochina and Algeria in favor of a re-imagined status of unlimited virtue that qualifies Frenchmen to judge who among the worlds butchers may stay and who must be smashed.

This is not unique to the French of course. If news reports circulating today are to be believed, even the Germans have thrown their lot in with the Syrian "opposition" fighters, that ad-hoc ensemble of wannabe jihadists who in most cases would have been hard pressed to find Syria on a map before the Sunni states, with the full  connivance of the Nations of Virtue, began offering guns and money and a licence to kill to every young man looking for adventure and/or martyrdom.

The Germans know a thing or two about butchery, so obviously when they see a butcher in Assad, they should be taken with some seriousness. What puzzles me is that until very recently they, the French, the Americans, the Canadians, to name but a few of the most virtuous of the Nations of Virtue, were more than happy to look the other way while the CIA plucked hapless Muslims off the streets of Europe and sent them to Assad's Syria for interrogation.

But today they bray for Assad's hide to be bundled off to the ICC.

The hypocrisy hardly ends there. In those first few hopeful months after the First Black President won his Nobel Peace Prize, there was a flurry of reporting around recommendations by UN's special investigator of torture, Manfred Nowak, that George W. and Donald Rumsfeld be charged with crimes against humanity and sent to the ICC.

Assad needs to do quite a lot more butchering before he has as much Sunni blood on his hands as those two.

Move over Ahmadinejad; there's a new kid on the demagoguery block

Not that new really. Although barely in his thirties, Julius Malema has been a political operative in South Africa for two decades.

He's a rousing speaker, a great populist, and a shoe-in for future president of South Africa.

He's also a loose canon who doesn't hesitate to play the race card, or any other card that might give him an advantage.

He was, not surprisingly, the first politician on the scene of the Lonmin  massacre, where he did his level best to further stir up an already poisonous situation.

His political idol is none other than Robert Mugabe.

With future leaders like this we can be sure that South Africa will be much in the news in the years ahead.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Twilight in America; the Saginaw slaughter

Looked to me like Milton Hall was at least ten feet away from the nearest police officer with his alleged knife when he was cut down by 46 police bullets.

There are better ways to deal with mental illness.

Sharia Legal System set to take over America

Oh for fucks sakes, give your head a shake.

I'm watching a CNN doc about how Sharia law is making inroads.

It's all about a lot of regular folks who are having hard times. And rather than credit the hard times to where credit is due, we're going to blame the Muslim immigrants.

Hard times are what happens when the Romney's of this world move your job to Mexico or China.

It's not about your Muslim neighbors.

Wars of words

Our friend Ahmadinejad, putative leader of the "Towelheads with Nukes" lobby at the UN, had some rude things to say about Israel today.

Or he didn't. Already a controversy has sprung up about interpretation of his remarks.

Did he really say Israel was a "cancerous tumor?"

Or was it a "benign tumor?"

One way or the other, I can get the gist of his remarks. And we know Ahmadinejad. We know he has to appeal to the right wing of his party.

We expect over-the-top rhetoric.

But what up with the French Foreign Minister's remarks about Assad, a guy who was a friend of France till not that long ago?

France is a civilized country and Foreign Minister Fabius is a civilized man. An even more civilized country I would have thought, after the election of the socialists just the other week.

I for one expect more from France than I do from Iran.

Google it. It's ugly. You'd think it was Ahmadinejad talking about Israel...

FM Fabius has assumed a Godliness absent from France's foreign initiatives in recent years. At least until Sarkozy and BHL's campaign for freedom and democracy in Libya last year.

France is getting its mojo back!

God help us all!

When last France had mojo they mojoed a million Muslims to death in Algeria.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Will Israel attack Iran? Uri Avnery tells it like it is

Here's a link to Uri's latest musings on the matter.

I would like to share his optimism. Unfortunately I fear that Ehud and Bibi are too far down the road of Israeli exceptionalism for Uri's common-sense analysis to hold much sway.

Uri is way older than the state of Israel herself, but if you follow his writing, he loves his country like nothing else. But all Netanyahu sees when he looks in his chrystal ball is "Greater Israel."

Hence the idiocy about a few hundred casualties in a war with Iran.

So will Israel attack Iran?

Avnery thinks not.

I hope he's right.

Rabbi Holtzman hugs an Imam, or how to get over your fear of the "other"

Here's a story that should be front and center on every American news site. But it won't be.

A goodly slice of America's ruling class is deep into a crusade to end all crusades. It's a Holy War for them. In many cases they're quite happy to whip out biblical quotes to prove that they are doing God's work.

It doesn't have to be like that.

The Farm Manager was raised in a Jewish family that hails from Poland. They have a long history in Yiddish theatre. When they got to the new land they kept up with the theatre end of things. Distant cousins made their mark in television and on Broadway.

Her mother was a founder of the local "Little Theatre" collective.

It was in that milleiu that she was exposed to the full cross-section of humanity. From Blacks to queers to apostates of all stripes, everybody was welcomed at the dinner table.

As long as they had something to contribute to the theatre community of course!

That's the beauty of Rabbi Holtzman's fifteen minutes of fame on the BBC. If you focus on what you have in common, who knows what tomorrow might bring...

Peace?

Hezbollah weighs in on the Israeli casualty debate

We've had occassion here to comment on the foolishness emanating from the upper reaches of Likud about how in the event of an Iran war, "only" a few hundred Israelis will be lost.

The buffoons making these claims are also the ones who love to repeat ad nauseum that there are, at any given moment, 200 or 500 or 700 thousand, depending on the speaker and the speech, hostile missiles pointed at the Holy Land.

Well, here comes Mr. General Secretary of Hezbollah, putting a number on that foolishness. Hassan Nasrallah yesterday opined that in his view tens of thousands of Israelis would perish in the event of another war with Lebanon.

And he's just talking about Lebanon. Iran has many more much larger missiles.

Nasrallah is of course fully aware that any war with Israel is going to take the lives of tens of thousands of his people too. Which is why he isn't about to start one.

But his numbers do make a sort of sense. How these idiots in the Knesset can on Monday claim hundreds of thousand of missiles are pointed at Israel, and on Wednesday assure the populace that only a few hundred citizens will be lost in the event of the war they are itching to start, beggars belief.

Justice for Bradley Manning

Julian Assange has got world-wide media sympathy (and where he doesn't have sympathy he at least has attention) for his struggle to get out of the broom closet at Ecuador's London embassy for the asylum now assured him in that country.

Meanwhile, Bradley Manning, the US Army private who made that biggest-ever Wiki scoop happen, is rotting in a cell.

In an otherwise excellent article in Counterpunch this weekend Chris Floyd offers an incisive analysis of the Assange case, without ever mentioning Manning.

Assange has world-class media clout. He and his acolytes should be using a bit more of that to shine a light on Manning's situation.

How to solve the green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan

Or "insider" attacks as the Pentagon would now like us to characterize them.

In the first place, it's always struck me as more than a little fatuous to assume that we've got anything to teach those folks about the art of war. They're the guys who put the run to the Soviet military machine back in the 80's and 90's. They're the ones who have battled the combined forces of the US and NATO to what might charitably be called a draw over the past decade.

But we need to "train" them?

That quibble aside, the think tank here at Falling Downs has the solution.

Distance education!

That's right! A quick internet search confirms that damned near anything you want to learn can be learned via distance education. There are few trades, crafts, careers and professions that do not make their inner secrets available on-line.

If you can learn to fix a car through distance education, surely you can learn how to sight in that AR-15.

And instead of a burst from that AR-15, an insider attack is going to take the form of a nasty e-mail.

"May you rot in hell many life-times, infidel pig-dog!"

Not pleasant, but it ain't gonna kill anybody.

Memo to Pussy Riot: take the two years and run with it!

What the hell is two years? The pages of history are chock full of characters who spent lots more time than that locked up over their exercise of free speech.

And really, what do you think would happen if three pot-head "punks" took over a mass at St. Patricks Cathedral in New York to beseech the Holy Mother for divine intervention to rid America of Obama or Bush or Clinton?

I think two years would be considered a light touch.

And let's not forget the up-side. It's massive! Never mind fifteen minutes; these gals can milk the shit-storm of free publicity for the rest of their lives if they play it right.

From homeless to A-list in 60 seconds...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Canada Foreign Minister reined in by personal Rabbi

It's not very often that I see eye to eye with a Chabad Rabbi, but there's a story unfolding in Canada that, to me at least, has Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn's fingerprints all over it.

And I couldn't agree more.

Foreign Minister Baird, in an attempt to ingratiate himself with the emerging new regime in Syria, promised a few million in aid money to an obscure Syrian aid group that may or may not be linked to the family of Omar Khadar, the Canadian child soldier languishing in Gitmo.

While I'm 100% aboard for repatriating and freeing Omar, I'm pretty sure that we don't need to give money to al Qaeda front organizations under the guise of "helping" Syrians suffering under Assad.

Today Mr. Baird recanted.

Good call, Mr. Mendelsohn.

What's behind the epidemic in US military suicides?

It's a grim story. And as much as I'm against the US/NATO war on all things Islamic, my heart breaks when I see the stats on how many regular folks are choosing to pull the plug rather than fulfill their commitment to the military.

They are caught in a truly horrendous place. For the most part they join the military because that's the best available option. After thirty years of offshoring jobs and screwing America's working class our rulers have made the military look like a good option.

Like, it's not as if you can go down to the GM plant and get a job... those days are long gone.

Nationwide there's one place that's hiring.

And once you're hired, what have you got to look forward to?

Oh, maybe a tour in Afghanistan. Who was the politician who asked how do you send the last guy in to a lost war to get himself killed? I think it was John Kerry, but I could be wrong.

The deal in Afghanistan today is that we're playing it safe. Random tours of the countryside to run over IEDs are pretty much over. Mostly it's about training the Afghans...

So it's a bit of a bummer that those towellers you're training are gunning down their trainers at an unprecedented rate.

That's got to play on your mind. As if, when you join up and get sent away from home for six or eight or ten months, there isn't already enough playing on your mind.

I don't have to spell it out.

The stats are there for all to see.


A black day for Africa

So in the "free" post-apartheid South Africa you have ANC controlled police shooting down black strikers at the Lonmin mine.

Who can even imagine such a thing?

Nelson Mandela probably wishes he could have gone to his reward before such unseemly headlines found the papers.

Facebook fiasco continues

We're south of $20 at the close today. All things considered, I'm impressed with how well the share price held up.

Bear in mind that this is a stinker that was well past its stale-date by the time the IPO hit the market. Also bear in mind that it peaked around $45. Somebody was on the buy side of that!

Ouch!

Smart money avoided Facebook from the get-go. It's a fad and its time will pass. In fact, its time HAS passed. But there's 101 ways to make money on a stock that's in a downward spiral.

Go short, my friends, go short!

The Kemble chainsaw massacre

There's a gal who lives not too far from here making quite a name for herself in the world of chainsaw art. I'm guessing that's not a particularly large world, but I'll take her over Damien Hirst any day of the week.

Last time I cut down an elm along the drive, I deliberately left about a twelve foot stump so that she could create one of her masterpieces right here at Falling Downs. That was three years ago. Maybe four by now. We had a couple of discussions and agreed on a price. For $600 she was going to do a likeness of Job from one of William Blake's drawings.

Well, like I said, the gal has become a minor celeb, and I think what happened was she kept putting it off and putting it off, and by the time my name came to the top of the to-do list, $600 seemed  a little light, and there were lots of other folks lined up with their wallets hanging out, and eventually I was forgotten.

Now as an award winning sculptor myself (a very minor award I might add - first in class at the Walkerton Art Gallery juried art show in 1998) I'm not intimidated by "art", and as regular readers well know, I'm not intimidated by chainsaws either, so while I was working in  the driveway anyway on that other elm I thought I'd have a go at replicating Blake's Job on my own.

How hard can it be?

So armed with nothing more than my pick-up with a step-ladder in the back, and of course my trusty Stihl,  I got to it. Not too hard to get the general shape of the head. Matter of fact, before you start in with the facial details it sort of looks like a dick.

So I'm trying to get those facial details, and I'm sitting atop the stepladder with this book of Blakes drawings.  Fuck me, this ain't gonna be as simple as I thought.

In my own artistic career I stick with "abstract" for good reason. No matter what it looks like, you can say you meant to do it. That gives you a bit of a buffer zone.

Things weren't going too badly with the facial features, when suddenly I realized I hadn't got the hair!

Shit!

Blake's Job has a generous amount of hippy-type, almost dread-locky hair. I've got the eyes way too high in the face to make this work... Damn!

Luckily, I still had ten feet of tree trunk to work with after I lopped off Job's head for the do-over.

This time I was going to start right at the top, with the hair. Turns out that's way easier to say than it is to do. I kept trimming back the hair and trimming it back... eventually I had Job with a fucking mohawk.

Fuck that... it just looks stupid.

So I lopped off Job's head again. Now I'm down to an eight foot stump. I'm starting to have second thoughts about Job. Maybe I should start with something a little less challenging for my first chainsaw sculpture... a likeness of one of the hounds?

Something abstract?

I should stick with something simple, something I know well...

Long story short, if you wonder why there is a six foot likeness of my dick halfway up my driveway, now you've got the back story.

Bad manners among the rich and famous

Among the more entertaining tidbits in my morning Globe and Mail is this gem from an article about some "difficulties" Toronto's bumptious mayor Rob Ford has encountered while driving himself around in his Cadillac Escalade;

Those difficulties have included accusations that Ford has talked on the phone, gave a small child the finger, and cruised past open street car doors.

The most recent fuss arose when some eagle-eyed motorist spotted Ford cruising down an expressway while reading briefing papers. Can't say I'm much of a fan of a pol who got elected by promising to get tough on trash collectors' pensions, but I'm starting to like the guy.

Elsewhere, they've got a fascinating obit for a man named Colin MacPherson who made a career as a butler in various embassies in Ottawa and Washington. In the course of his career he met lots of famous and powerful people including the Kennedys, of whom he says;

I can't abide people who put their cigarettes out in the mashed potatoes.

What a classy crew, those Kennedys! Not even at Falling Downs do we stub the cigarettes in the mashed potatoes...

Hillbilly blogger scoops CNN

And the New York Times and all the rest of them.

At this very moment CNN has this story at the top of the "this just in" list at their home page.

Really, those newsy types should start reading this blog, because they would have read about it right here two days ago.

But even more really, it's another perfect example of the major media in America refusing to touch a story that's been around for days, presumably because they're waiting to see which way the political winds are blowing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The physics of falling

It's the falling of trees I'm talking about. If you were looking for something else, move along.

There's nothing to see here.

Just got the Stihl back from the shop to the tune of $132.31. Add that to the routine maintenance and the big bill from the time it got caught in the grass-fire and Junior drove over it with the truck, the cost of repairs has by now surpassed the original lay-out for the saw.

But I've got it back and I'm planning the next cut. There's a recently-dead elm along the drive, about thirty feet away from the house.

The elm is forty or fifty feet high.

Right away you can see the potential problem. Mind you, when I was in the back woodlot the other day, just about the only thing that went right was that when I dropped the dead elm it landed inches away from the truck. Usually I get at least a few feet the other way.

So things are looking up.  And I'm looking up at the elm and trying to figure how I can ensure that her fall will not involve taking out the south-west corner of the house.

When my brother the tree guy came up for a visit shortly after I bought the place, he was impressed by the elms but assured me they'd be dying soon.

He was right.

But I've still got a whack of healthy ones, so he wasn't that right.

Why do some die and others don't?

But this one I'm looking up at is a gonner. The woodpeckers have been at it all summer. There's not a hint of green to be seen.

She's a gonner.

About twelve feet above grade the trunk splits in two. I need to get up there and cut the back trunk off to ensure that the rest of the tree will fall away from the house. That leaves me with a bit of a conundrum.

Ya, I've got ladders that will get me up there, but I've got a thing about chainsaws and ladders.

Just not an appealling combination if you know what I mean.

So here's what I'm thinking. I'll park the loader by the tree, with the bucket just about where you'd want to be standing to cut that back trunk off. Then I'll use the ladder to climb up into the bucket with the saw, and I'M HOME FREE!

What could possibly go wrong?

My daddy's gonna be proud...

That Carter kid from Arkansas

You don't know what to think.

But you know what you're thinking. The cops killed that kid.

First of all, if I understand correctly that this was sparked by a dime bag of weed, the entire ensuing tragedy can be laid at the foot of our beyond-moronic "war on drugs."

And multiply that by a thousand because this scenario repeats itself every day in America. Once in a hundred times owing to random chance these stories hit the national news.

It happens to young black and hispanic men more than it happens to anyone else, but it happens to the white trash often enough too. When you're young and poor you expect the heel of law and order on your neck sooner or later.

But how can we justify the death of a young man over a bag of pot?

Panneta: the fact that we're losing proves that we're winning

That's a paraphrase, but a more-or-less accurate rendering of remarks attributed to him on CNN.

They come in the context of a story on changing the vocabulary of war to do away with the expression "green on blue" attacks. That's where the "allies" we're supposedly training in Afghanistan turn their guns on their trainers. That's going on at a rate double that of last year.

The apologists for empire would like to banish green on blue in favor of "insider". Presumably when a NATO/ISAF/US trainer is killed in an "insider" attack he is just as dead as if he were killed in a "green on blue" attack. Perhaps in the months ahead we can expect a good-news story about the decline in green on blue attacks now that we've decided to call them something else.

The attacks themselves are a sign that the Taliban are "desperate."

According to Panetta, "the reality is the Taliban has not been able to regain any territory lost, so they're resorting to these kinds of attacks to create havoc."

I would suggest an alternate reality. The Afghan army and police we are training are riddled through and through with Taliban and their sympathizers, and they mount these attacks because they can spring them at will, not because they're desperate.

After all, they just have to sit tight another sixteen months and the whole enchilada is theirs anyway.

Israel doubles Iran war casualty estimate

A couple of weeks ago Ehud Barak's office floated the egregiously imbecilic estimate of 200 Israeli casualties in the event of war with Iran; 300 in the event Hezbollah were to be involved.

Yesterday outgoing Minister for Homeland Defense Major General Matan Vilnai  gave an interview to Reuters in which he opined that a war with Iran could last thirty days, involve a couple hundred missiles per day striking Israeli cities, and result in up to 500 casualties.

What are these people smoking? Are such assumptions based on the track record of the home-built Qassams in-coming from Gaza? They must be! It is inconceivable that hundreds of missiles can land for thirty days on end and incurr only a few hundred victims.

It is obvious what game is afoot here. It's all about reassuring the public that an attack on Iran is not such a bad thing. Besides, there's a good swath of the younger public who need a spot of war to divert themselves from their social protests.

Vilnai has accepted a diplomatic posting to Beijing, from where he will at least survive to reflect on the error of his estimates.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Julian Assange gets political asylum in Ecuador

The Correa government announced today that it had granted asylum to the Wikileaks founder.

This won't sit well with either the British or the US, who are keen to get some sort of revenge for the embarrassment caused by the hundreds of thousands of classified e-mails Assange released.

I don't think they need to worry. The vast majority of Brits and Americans couldn't care less what lies their governments told them years ago. They are far more interested in the current lies, and then interested only insofar as the lies make them feel good.

The people would prefer comforting lies to uncomfortable truths.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Fear and loathing in the woodlot

Lundy the tenant farmer moved his cows to the other side of the road yesterday, which gives me the chance to pull some of those dead elms down in my back woodlot.

Which is what I set out to do today. I took the old Ford truck back. Made it all the way to the woodlot without engaging 4wd.

That was a bit dicey in a couple of spots. The new passageway through the stone fence gave pause. I've negotiated it successfully with the tractor and the back-hoe, but this was the first time through with the truck.

Those stone fences are a marvel. This part of the country is particularly blessed with lots of boulders left behind by the last glacier retreat. That was the "global warming" of ten thousand years ago.

You really have to respect the first few generations of settlers who cleared the land around here. Many of the farms in this area have stone fence-rows that were built up by hand over decades with nothing but manual labor and a few horses or oxen. On my farm alone there must be hundreds of thousands of rocks that were picked from the pastures by hand, loaded onto stone-sleds by hand, and piled onto the fence-rows by hand. Some of these rocks weigh hundreds of pounds.

No back-hoes or power-shovels.

By the middle of the twentieth century the economics of farming were beginning to turn against the small-holder who maintained his own 100 acre spread. Today old-school types like the Lundy's have a couple of hundred acre plots of their own and lease half a dozen more from urban refugees like myself.

They tend to lease the land at a rate that doesn't really do much for the owner other than cover the taxes. One of the trends in farming today is for multi-billion dollar funds to buy up millions of acres to lease back to working farmers. They look for a 4-5 % return on equity, which is four or five times what I get. But I also get the benefit of shooting the shit with Lundy and enjoying the presence of his cows in my yard.

Not to mention the fantasy of a grass-fed herd of my own some day after I take the plunge into "real" farming, instead of just making currant jam and elderberry wine.

But I digress. I managed to get through my fence cut in two-wheel-drive and made it all the way into the woodlot. That's where I ran over a Hawthorn tree.

I remember Lundy telling me those Hawthorms will take a tire out.

I remember thinking at the time, thanks old-timer, but do I look retarded?

Like, I'm going to run over a Hawthorn? Ha!...

So at the moment the truck is back in the woodlot with a flat tire and I am working up a plan that will avoid changing the tire "in-situ" as they say, because that would be a huge pain in the ass. Gonna load the generator and the air-compressor into the trailer and tow it back there, and hopefully the tire will hold air long enough that I can get the truck back to the shop.

Meanwhile, the trusty Stihl has been giving a spot of trouble. Last couple of tankfulls of gas I went through, the oil tank that lubricates the bar and chain was still full. Normally they drain at about the same rate. I drained the oil tank and blew it out with the air compressor, but no matter. It's still not taking oil to the bar. That means we're beyond my level of technical know-how, and I dropped it off in town today to have the pros take a look at it.

So that's what I've got to show for a busy day at the farm. A chainsaw in the shop and a truck stuck in the back woodlot.

WTF is an "Intelligence Fusion Cell?"

I don't know either, but Hillary was in Nigeria the other day offering an Intelligence Fusion Cell to President Goodluck.

Seems Hillary and the intel boffins at State have determined that an Intelligence Fusion Cell is just what the doctor ordered to combat those Islamist terror types at Boko Haram.

Here you go , Mr. Goodluck, an Intelligence Fusion Cell just for you...

And good luck with that!

Too bad America never got around to offering up an Intelligence Fusion Cell to reign in Shell Oil.

At least they're ready for Boko Haram.

If I were still President Syria would be at peace by now - Sarkozy

Indeed. "les petite twatte" (i.e. the little twat) Sarko is in the news these days, slamming current French President Francois Hollande for his lack of vision in solving the Syria crisis.

We all recall how Sarkozy led the charge against the Monster of the Maghreb last year. That courageous single-mindedness of leading airstrikes against a country with no air defense infrastructure. That's a leader with balls, and according to leading cheerleaders in the interventionist camp, balls are what's lacking under Hollande.

Well, not just balls. Bombs too.

According to none other than the Oaf of Tobruk, Hollande's wariness and cowardice are inviting an impending massacre.

Oh goodness! Does that not sound like deja vu all over again?

This time it's not quite clear sailing for the imperial saviours like it was in Libya a year ago.  You've got your vocal party-poopers like Samir Aita, an anti-Assad Syrian activist of long standing who doesn't appreciate the "help" that the Nations of Virtue and their proxies in the Gulf are giving the rebels.

Aside from being an anti-Assad activist Aita  has a day job - Arab news editor of Le Monde. You'd almost think he may know a thing or two. He thinks Sarko would do for Syria what W did for Iraq. I think he's right.

Unfortunately, even without Sarko, there are plenty of pretenders to W's throne.  Obama has given the CIA the green light to assist the rebels in any way possible.There are reports that they've already  handed at least 300 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to the Rebels. I'm guessing it'll take about two weeks for those missiles to show up in South Lebanon.

Gaza will take a little longer.  But they're coming soon.





Sunday, August 12, 2012

London falling

Well, apparently the terrorists were stymied.

The Olypiad closed out with almost 70 year old Roger Daltry singing about his generation.

His generation has done alright. It's today's generation we should be a little more concerned about.

Here's a story about youth unemployment in Britain from today's Daily Mail. While Britain has record unemployment, British employers are busier than ever recruiting - offshore!

Romania is the source du jour for cheap labor. It's the way of the future. Bring in the foreign workers, pay them less, they're pliable and aren't likely to want to organize unions, and if they do, well, sack the sods!

The exercise is also a valuable reminder to the locals that they'd best not get too uppity.

Workers of the world, be warned! There are lots of other workers in the world willing to do your job for less.

The forces of capital will level that playing field sooner or later, and then we can all make do with a Bangladeshi pay packet...

Oh wait, I hear the Haitians will work for even less!

So it was a great closing ceremony. I thrilled to the sight of millionaire super-models being whisked about in Bentleys.

By the way, if the average Haitian laborer saves all his money and doesn't squander it on drink and feeding his family, he should be able to buy one of those Bentley drop-tops in about 537 years.

Mind you, some of this generation will do at least as well as Daltry and Pete. Did you notice the very generous sprinkling of young Jaggers and Mcartney's with a prominent role in the festivities? What a blessing that not all of the current generation are doomed to a life on the dole!

And at the same time, we can't assume that everybody in Roger's generation fared out that well. There was a whole generation of mine-workers put out the door by the Iron Lady who didn't get so much as a how-ya-doing in that great big Olympic party.

My generation indeed!

And I didn't notice a single reference to Arthur Scarsgill.

US warship runs into oil tanker off Iran coast

Yup! The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter ran into a Japanese oil tanker!

How is such a thing even possible? After all, the forces of good are there to keep the Strait of Hormuz open. Trouble is, the good guys have so many warships putting around over there it was only a matter of time before they ran into something.

And it was dark. That explains it. They couldn't see that tanker, even though every tanker I've ever seen is lit up pretty good.

But think about it. Oil tanker + guided missile destroyer could equal one hell of a big bang. I think they had what's known as a "close call."

Far from keeping the Strait open, they almost achieved the opposite.

Oh well, maybe next time.


From Karl Marx to Mitt Romney in one afternoon

Junior was up for the weekend with his lovely girlfriend Yvonne. Junior has a habit of "borrowing" whatever he sees around here that he takes a fancy to. Guitars, amplifiers, books, shoes - nothing is safe.

And God knows I always have to go the extra mile to hide my stash.

Anyway, we're rummaging  through all those boxes  in the garage that haven't been opened in the last two or three moves, because he wants to "borrow" my ancient Seiko watch, the one with the silver band and the blue face.

Junior has become something of a watch fancier. We never found the watch, but he did find my Vol. 1 of Marx's "Capital". That's a book I haven't opened for years and years. Not because I think Marx has lost his relevance; in fact, I think he is more relevant than ever in these twilight years of capitalism.

So before I let Junior drive away with it, I had a quick leaf through, and that's when I found a yellowed press clipping from April of 1984. "Hamilton Company moves production to Mexico," about how Allen Automotive Products was moving from Southern Ontario to Chihuahua Mexico, and how jobs that paid $13 an hour would now be done for 57 cents an hour.  Plus benefits of course.

How everything old is as fresh as tomorrow! At this moment Mitt Romney's company Bain is carting a profitable Illinois company off to China. The Chinese don't work for 57 cents an hour the way the Mexicans used to, but they're still way cheaper than American workers.

That old news story mentioned that Allen had been bought out by Dayco back in '68, and it was the US based Dayco that was making the move. Dayco had a vast stable of real companies that made real products that real people needed, and was eventually bought out by Mark IV Industries.

Mark IV Industries was taken over by a British hedge fund in 2000, which fobbed it off on an American hedge fund, Sun Capital Partners, in 2008. Apparently the Brits lost money on the deal.

Sun paid 70 million for the company and pushed it into bankruptcy a year later. Bankruptcy is a good place to shake off pesky union contracts and pension obligations. As of last year Sun Capital Partners were shopping Mark IV around, looking for a price in the half billion dollar range.

And here's where we meet Mitt again. When Marc Leder started Sun Capital, some of his start-up capital came from none other than Mitt Romney! Mr. Leder has returned the favor; he remains a stalwart underwriter of Mitt's political ambitions.

One of the ironies is that if I hadn't wasted my time reading Marx and smoking weed, I could have started my own hedge fund! Instead, now Junior is reading Marx and smoking weed...

And the hedge fund modus operandi has not changed one iota. Buy a viable business, load it up with debt incurred to pay yourself management fees and special dividends, push it into bankruptcy, screw all the other stakeholders; shareholders, employees, franchisees; float an IPO for the resurrected entity, and walk away patting yourself on the back for your brilliant business acumen.

If all goes to plan you've contributed absolutely nothing positive to the economy, but you've padded your pocketbook to the tune of millions and millions.

When Mitt says he has "business experience," that's what he's talking about.