Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gun Show Nation

Question: If these people are American patriots, what’s with all the Nazi memorabilia?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Inmates are Running the Asylum

tax protest

The recent tea party tax protests provided the perfect venue for a curious mix of conspiracy nuts, anti-government cranks, and religious fundies. Judging from many of the signs on display, a common thread uniting these disparate groups appears to be their contempt for a person of color in the White House [this, this, this, and this]

(Photo by David Weigel, The Washington Independent)

People that have experienced financial trauma due to the loss of their jobs and homes are quick to blame their misfortunes on outsiders that don’t share a common set of values and beliefs. For many demonstrators, the tea party presented the opportunity to meet and greet other like-minded cranks and malcontents in a shocking display of political and historical ignorance. These are the same people who believe that Sarah Palin has the intellectual wherewithal to assume the office of POTUS. Were it not for Alaska’s oil revenue, Palin’s ineptitude along with her anti-intellectualism would have placed Alaska in the company of states like Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi that have historically placed in the bottom quartile of any quality of life ranking.

“You cannot make a man by standing a sheep on its hind legs. But by standing a flock of sheep in that position you can make a crowd of men.” Max Beerbohm

Coney Island of the Mind Redux

A strange man uses holographic tools to build a world for the woman he loves. This is a short by filmmaker Bruce Branit known also as the co-creator of 405.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Public Pension Money Pit


Funds worth trillions of dollars start to plummet in value. Political pressure to be “socially responsible” distorts the market decisions of government-related enterprises, leading to risky investments. Investors who once considered their retirements safely protected wake up to a sinking feeling of uncertainty and gloom.

Sound like the great mortgage-fueled financial crisis of 2008? Sure. But it also describes a calamity likely to hit in 2009. State, local, and private pension plans covering millions of government employees and union workers with “defined benefit” accounts are teetering on the brink of implosion, victims of both a sinking stock market and investment strategies influenced by political considerations.

There is about $3.5 trillion sloshing through the U.S. retirement system, scattered across more than 2,600 public pension funds and federal retirement accounts.

Large public pension funds have a selfish notion of risk: heads they win, tails you lose. If they gamble on risky investments that pay off, they are heroes, although the predetermined benefits don’t increase. But if those investments go south, tax dollars will have to bridge the gap. “This is adding insult to injury,” says Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “At the same time we’re seeing our own 401(k)s get hit, we’re on the hook to make up the shortfalls for public employees who are guaranteed their full pensions without any risk.”

Jon Entine, The Next Catastrophe, Reason Magazine

Enough Already!


The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion”
George Washington

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

“I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.”  Thomas Jefferson

“Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.”  Ben Franklin

“There is one notable thing about our Christianity: bad, bloody, merciless, money-grabbing and predatory as it is - in our country particularly, and in all other Christian countries in a somewhat modified degree - it is still a hundred times better than the Christianity of the Bible, with its prodigious crime- the invention of Hell. Measured by our Christianity of to-day, bad as it is, hypocritical as it is, empty and hollow as it is, neither the Deity nor His Son is a Christian, nor qualified for that moderately high place. Ours is a terrible religion. The fleets of the world could swim in spacious comfort in the innocent blood it has spilt." 
Mark Twain

Rep. Peter “The Spanker” Hoekstra


Hoekstra last week introduced a bill in the House to amend the U.S. Constitution to permanently “enshrine” in American society an inviolable set of parents’ rights. The bill had 70 co-sponsors, all Republicans, including Minority Whip Eric Cantor and Minority Leader John A. Boehner. The bill, said Hoekstra, is intended to stem the “slow erosion” of parents’ rights and to circumvent the effects of a United Nations treaty he believes “clearly undermines parental rights in the United States.”

The treaty to which he refers is the U.N.Convention on the Rights of the Child …. sets international standards for government obligations to children in areas that range from protection from abuse and exploitation to ensuring a child’s right to free expression.

While a treaty that seeks to protect children may sound innocuous, its opponents, such as Michael Farris, the Christian conservative founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, see in it a dystopian future in which “Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.” Andie Coller, April 8, 2009

Rep. Hoekstra believes the most pressing issue facing Michigan today is the loss of our ability to beat a little respect into our children without fearing prosecution for child abuse. What business is it of my child’s teachers that little Johnny sports a few ugly bruises or that he can’t sit still because his bum is raw and red. Your dad beat the shit out of you often. You learned your lessons well – when you discipline your wife it’s never with a closed fist.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Watermelon Slim does Smokestack Lighting