Sunday, June 30, 2013

Who Isn't an Enemy of the US?

Between Republican lawmakers, our Democratic President, and NSA spooks, pretty much nobody.
  • Russia and China, according to Snowden haters.
  • Ecuador, Iceland, and Venezuela according to government types afraid Snowden will find a place of refuge. 
  • North Korea and Iran according to Republicans jonesing for a shooting war somewhere.
  • Afghanistan, Algeria, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Mali, and Yemen according to the nerds killing people with Predator drones. 
  • The other 38 majority Islamic nations on earth according to Republican xenophobes.
  • The 28 nations of the European Union according to the NSA which spies on all of them.
  • Mexico, according to the Republican Party. 
  • Cuba because it's tradition.
  • All of Central America and the Caribbean, plus Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru according to the DEA.
If you add them all together, the United States considers more than three-quarters of the globe to be potential enemies. No wonder the US spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined and has a more invasive spy network than the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany combined.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The American Police State: Booze Division

This is something that wasn't done during Prohibition.
Even when Eliot Ness took on Al Capone.
A mob of Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agents in plainclothes surrounded a young woman and her two roommates late one night. The men pulled their guns, jumped on her car like crazy people, waved what looked in the dark like toy badges, and demanded the young women get out of their car and submit to the armed men's every demand. The women, terrified, drove away from the scruffily clad gang and dialed 911 to report the incident. When the women discovered the men really were law enforcement officers they surrendered peaceably.

What was the original crime that the agents felt warranted drawing their guns and threatening death?  The agents thought the women may have been under 21 and buying beer. The women were 20 years old college students, but had only bought bottled sparkling water. No crime had been committed but even if there had been beer it didn't warrant an armed assault.

When the agents discovered they had screwed up they arrested the women anyway and charged them with felonies for fleeing the terrifying attack. Fortunately, the district attorney applied common sense and dismissed the felony charges. But his common sense is limited as he also refused to chastise the mob of agents for their extreme behavior when the worst crime they suspected was a woman may have been a few months too young to buy beer. It could have been worse. The agents could have gunned down the unarmed women for the crime of suspected underage drinking.

I don't understand why Alcoholic Beverage Control agents carry weapons. It's not like modern Virginia is plagued with gangsters smuggling bootleg hooch. What other Virginia agencies unnecessarily arm their employees? Is the Board of Accountancy packing heat? Certainly the Tourism Board issues Glocks to their employees.

I don't understand why the ABC agents approached the women as a mob, brandishing guns and issuing threats. Why didn't just one agent politely ask the women if they were old enough to buy beer? The whole matter would have been resolved peaceably in thirty seconds.

Actually, I do understand what the agents were doing. They were trying to provoke an incident where they could have made the young women submit to an invasive pat down. The agents saw an opportunity to feel up some cute, young co-eds.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Jim Crow Stampede

This photo was taken in 1925. Republicans hope by 2025 to return black and Hispanic voting patterns to those halcyon days.
The rush of Confederate states to reinstate Jim Crow voting restrictions following the Supreme Court's ruling invalidating the 15th Amendment is stunning. The ink was not even dry on the ruling before half of the Confederacy jumped to institute burdensome restrictions that will, magically, mostly be applied to minorities, students, and the elderly.

Add in the Citizens United case and the Supreme Court may have dealt death blows to the concept of universal suffrage. The vote will soon only belong to the rich whites (In my first draft I Freudian typed "rich shits" which, come to think of it, is also accurate). Although I have to give Chief Justice John Roberts credit for hiding the destruction of voting rights behind a limited, and likely short-lived, expansion of gay rights.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Great Disenfranchisement in Pictures

What little that has been gained in the Supreme Court, the right of gays to marry their partners, is far out-shadowed by what has been lost, the now quick erosion of the right to vote for blacks and Hispanics throughout much of the country.
Texas has already begun an effort to disenfranchise millions of citizens through gerrymandering and voter restrictions.
Forcing voters to jump through a myriad of ever shrinking hoops to make it to the ballot box is a time honored tradition of Jim Crow in the Southern US. Question 20 of this Louisiana test reads: "Spell backwards, forwards." Whites who took the test always got this question correct. Blacks, even college graduates, never answered correctly because there is no correct answer. Such ambiguous questions made the literacy test an effective disenfranchisement tool.
Requiring specific identification papers is another hoop in the disenfranchisement arsenal. But is also allows an opportunity for poll watchers to intimidate voters, "This looks like a fake ID to me."
The Voting Rights Act worked which is specifically why it is so despised by Republican lawmakers in the old Confederacy.

In Texas and Arizona they are terrified of spics gaining control. Now that the Supreme Court has effectively declared the 15th Amendment unconstitutional, the Deep South as well as states like Ohio and Pennsylvania that have long sought to manipulate election results only to be thwarted by voters can rewrite the laws to force the results they want.
I suggest gays not celebrate their victory yet, it may be short lived. As Jim Crow is reinstated the anti-sodomy laws can't be far behind.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Snowden and the Law

A few people, both libs and cons, are criticizing Edward Snowden for not nobly allowing himself to be arrested so he could practice civil disobedience from an American jail. Unfortunately, as Bradley Manning has shown us, political civil disobedience from jail is no longer an option.

If American justice got its hands of Snowden...
  • He would be incarcerated for years before there is even an earnest attempt at a trial. Manning was imprisoned for three years before his trial began.
  • He would not be in solitary confinement but isolation confinement. No family nor friend visits and lawyer visits restricted. Even his jailers would treat him as an unperson and refuse to speak to him.
  • He would be subject to an array of psychological tortures designed to drive him insane.
  • He would be denied writing material - there would be no "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" for Snowden.
  • If he held a hunger strike, as Gandhi was famous for, Snowden would be strapped down, a tube shoved down his throat, and he would be forcibly fed.
The United States government has learned a lot about imprisoning enemies of the state from the primitive days of  Bull Connor and P. W. Botha. The US government knows that the most important thing is to turn the prisoner into an unperson, someone who effectively ceases to exist and that psychological torture is more effective than physical torture. I am confident that the Hoover Building has a secret Room 101 waiting for Snowden.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


It's been a long standing hypocrisy that Republicans will forgive any misdeed, however egregious, if the perpetrator is a "family values Republican." Newt Gingrich can discards used wives like tissue paper, David Vitter can consort with hookers, and Mark Sanford can abandon his family to chase Argentinian tail and then get caught stalking his ex-wife and all their deeds are forgiven by Republicans. It's so common it has been abbreviated IOKIYAR - It's OK If You Are Republican.

It is only fair to acknowledge that Democrats play the same game. President Obama's NSA has been caught spying on just about everybody in ways Dick Cheney could only dream of. If the Bush Administration had done such things we liberals would be screaming bloody murder. But a Democrat is in the White House and suddenly it's okay.

The argument appears to that it is better to get a needle in the eye than a stick in the eye. Me? I think getting stuck in the eye is bad no matter who is doing the poking. But being consistent in your outrage is just so out of fashion.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When President Obama Channels Dick Cheney

If it wasn't for my pissing on the Constitution you'd all be dead, dead, dead now. ~ paraphrasing
This is such a Republican concept that it's extremely disappointing to hear it coming from a Democrat.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Nascent: Weasel Word of the Week

nascent (adj) - Beginning to exist or develop

I've encountered this word more often in the past two days than I have in the last decade. Probably the best synonym is embryonic. It was used by two different American spies for two very different purposes. Nascent is a word few Americans are familiar with, even I had to look it up to be sure of its meaning. It's one of those words used to obfuscate not illuminate.
A nascent elephant

FBI director Robert Mueller used the word as an excuse for the fact the while the FBI is using drones to spy on American citizens the FBI doesn't yet have any policies for directives for their use. Is some jealous FBI drone operator using one to stalk an ex-girlfriend? There certainly isn't any rule, regulation, or law forbidding it.

Yesterday, deputy NSA director Sean Joyce use to word to disguise the fact the "plot" to blow up the New York Stock Exchange was not a plot at all. A "nascent plot" is one that has not gotten beyond the "wouldn't it be cool if we..." phase of plotting.

Nascent is one of those go-to words for government spies trying to hide their activity.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Defending NSA Spying Fails

President Obama says the NSA spying program is "transparent." That's actually true but not in the meaning Obama suggests, openly operated. It is anything but that. The NSA programs is transparent in that it is invisible, unseen, and unseeable. It is so hidden that when a former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer wanted to explain in general terms the oversight process both the White House and Congress pissed their collective pants and forbade her.

The NSA head says their spying program has stopped "potential terrorist events over 50 times." Yet he can only give a couple of examples neither of which is very convincing. He claims the other examples are all top secret, which is another way of saying they don't exist at all or are even less convincing that the two public examples.

President Obama says "we should take pride" in the government's ability to spy on our daily lives. He thinks we should celebrate the fact that the United States has the largest, most intrusive, most comprehensive spy network in the history of mankind. We are better than the KGB, Stasi, and Gestapo were in their prime. USA! USA!

President Obama says the government "cannot and have not" spied on Americans. Except when they can and have with rubber stamp permission from a secret court or when they have done it by accident, through the numerous loopholes in the system, or just whenever they thought it was a good idea.

Congressman Mike Rogers has denounced opponents of government spying as "our enemies within [who have] become almost as damaging as our enemies on the outside." Since polls show 53% of Americans oppose the government spying that means that a majority of the nation is being classified as enemies of the state.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fire Pierre McGuire

NBC's hockey coverage is just fine except for their main "Inside the Glass" guy.

Pierre McGuire, unlike every other color commentator in sports, never played professionally at any level. The most he ever accomplished was two pathetic losing seasons as an NHL and ECHL head coach and a handful of years as an assistant coach, mostly at the college level.

Like every career loser, McGuire spends most of his time whining about how the sport is being unfair. The ice is unfair, the officials are unfair, the rules are unfair.

That last one is particularly annoying. The NHL has a rule that if a player flips the puck out of play from his defensive zone it is a penalty. It's a great rule that keeps the game going at a quick pace and makes for a more exciting game.

McGuire hate the rule because it punishes unskillful play. Like any career loser, McGuire believes the rules should take pity on incompetent hockey players who lack the ability to control the puck when clearing it from danger. He wants the penalty forgiven if the player's actions were "accidental."

That could be forgiven if McGuire were interesting. He is the most boring voice in sports. It is said, accurately, that baseball's Vin Scully can make reading a grocery list sound like Shakespeare (I've heard him do it). McGuire makes a sport as viscerally exciting as ice hockey sound duller than reading the phone book.

Besides the constant whining, McGuire is obsessed with player's resumes. His comments are frequently nothing more than a recitation of names and locations. Where someone played junior hockey and who his coaches were, who his junior line mates were who never made it to the NHL. If McGuire were reading the phone book we would at least get some numbers to dial to alleviate the tedium.

McGuire is an abomination who we will probably be stuck with forever. He is the singular reason I prefer the CBC broadcast whenever I can get it.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Punking the NSA

I've been thinking about pranks I can pull on the NSA. You know, make them think I'm a terrorist even though I am perfectly innocent. I figure I could really mess with their minds with a few strategically chosen Google searches while sending out e-mails with a handful of key words included.

Then I figured out that by the time they realized I had been playing a joke on them I would have been shot several times, waterboarded within an inch of my life, and spent a few years in an isolated cell where the only other humans I would see would be my torturers. Kind of a...
So I will confine myself to heaping foul scorn on everyone involved, including both the current and past presidents, and not believing a single fucking word they or their minions say.

Friday, June 14, 2013

How the US Helps the Syrian Rebels

Not powerful enough weapons to actually make a significant difference because those weapons will likely end up being used by jihadists.

Just enough weapons to insure the civil war continues in perpetuity because nothing benefits Israel more than watching one of her border states bleeding itself to death. If either side wins that side will see Israel as its enemy so the goal is to insure neither side ever wins.

I'm not saying this is necessarily bad only that the assistance is based entirely on geopolitics and has nothing to do with humanitarianism.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Queer Mind of Scalia

Antonin Scalia wrote one of the most bizarre concurrent opinions in the history of the Supreme Court in the decision that corporations could not patent human DNA.

Concurrent opinions are reserved for justices who agree with the ultimate judgement but disagree on some fine point of law within the judgement. Scalia didn't do that. He wanted preserved in the history of the court for posterity that he did not understand nor believe in molecular biology.

It was an odd thing to do. Was he slyly chiding his colleagues? Was he saying the court should have avoided the case because none of them understood the science? It's the kind of arrogant SOBish thing he would do. But I don't think that's it.

Scalia has based his entire career on the theory that neither man nor science has changed in the last 250 years. Molecular biology is one of those newfangled sciences that didn't exist when the Constitution was written. Scalia, quite simply, refuses to believe in it. He put that in writing because in some future case, probably having to do with gay rights, he intends to rely on denying the basic facts of biology.

Or, Scalia is just a raving loon.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

US Society Is "The Prisoner"

People compare the NSA domestic spying program to the novel "1984." But that society is a bleak place. A more accurate comparison would be the British TV show "The Prisoner."

There is lots of pomp and music, a mirage of constant celebration.
Most everyone appears content and happy because they have meekly acquiesced.
We have the illusion of democracy but no matter who is elected nothing much ever changes.

We are numbers and not free men. We all have 10 digit government issued numbers without which we cannot work, cash checks, or basically exist.
We may have the illusion of freedom but every waking moment is controlled by the government, our employers, the banks.

And we are watched. All the time. It is for our own good, we are told. National security. We are instructed to be happy we are under constant surveillance.

Step out of line, the man comes and takes you away.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Computers and Domestic Spying

The US government's All Seeing Eye.
The big difference between J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, East Germany's Stasi, and 2013's NSA is the modern ability of computers. In the old days dossiers and wiretaps required human eyes and ears. The Stasi is estimated to have employed one-sixth of East Germany's population as informants. Information was stored on paper, even the most interesting wiretaps were transcribed to paper. There was a limit to how much data government could acquire.

Nowadays the information nearly unlimited. Your grocery store records everything you buy and analyses the data to predict what you will want to buy in the future. Amazon does the same thing with your reading material. MasterCard compiles your entire shopping history. Google records every single search you've done. Your ISP knows what websites you visited and how long you've been there. GPS allows your car to know everywhere you drove and your smart phone to know where you have been. Your phone also knows who you've talked to and for how long.

Then there is Twitter and Facebook where people voluntarily spy on themselves, informing those corporations of every intimate detail of their lives. The kind of information that would cause Hoover to orgasm repeatedly.

Did you notice the pattern here? The government initiated none of this datamining. Corporations did it all. They do it to sell you shit or to sell that information to other corporations intending to sell shit to you. Or, as is the case with car and phone GPS chips, they do it just because they can on the off chance the data will become valuable someday. All of this personal information about you and me is being mined and collated by corporations for their own very selfish interests. Sears doesn't care if you are a terrorist, they just want to help you find the perfect pressure cooker for your bomb building needs.

For government apparatchiks who believe it is their sworn duty to keep tabs on everything every American is doing lest somebody somewhere does something naughty, all this corporate information collection is better than Nirvana. They grab the data, usually not even bothering to pay for it, and build fancy search algorithms that even the corporations never dreamed of.

Of course there are hole in the data. Cash transactions are hidden as are people who use low-tech phones. In the end 99.9999999999% of the data is useless. Still, the government gathers it and studies it. And because so much is useless they gather more and more information about Americans. They hope somewhere in all that worthless dust there will be a few specks of gold.

And the price is, at any given moment your government knows more about you than you do yourself. But so do the businesses you use. Privacy is a joke. If you buy your condoms with a credit card MasterCard knows how often you have sex. Verizon knows who you are probably sleeping with. And Walgreens knows if you have missed your period. What corporations know the government can know too.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Spies and Agent Provocateurs

The US federal government has a long history of domestic spying. While some of the targets have been legitimate - the Mafia, Nazis, Communists, jihadists, and the KKK - most of the targets have committed only one crime, not acquiescing to political orthodoxy.

Most of the spying has been done by the FBI but in recent years a whole alphabet soup of agencies (including the NSA, DIA, NRO, OICI, CIA) have been created and tasked with spying. Lots of that involved domestic spying for the simple reason it is easier and cheaper.

Military Spying
Current and planned military drone bases inside the United States.
The Defense Intelligence Agency has been caught several times spying on Americans. There have certainly been other occasions when they were never caught. When the DIA in 2007 was discovered spying on Americans opposed to the Iraq War such as the Quakers. They shut down the program (called TALON) only to quietly reopen it under a different acronym (FICOR). The program compiles data of individuals, domestic and foreign, who are suspected of being disloyal to US war policy.

The Pentagon has scores of domestic surveillance drone bases. The bases are officially for training but they can and do "accidentally" collect intelligence on US residents. Since the Pentagon routinely lies about its domestic drone activities it is likely commanders are not very resistant to the urge to watch over people they don't like.

Like the military, the CIA is forbidden by law to spy on American soil. Like the military, they ignore the law whenever they feel like it. The CIA has secretly tested drugs on Americans (Project MK-ULTRA). Born out the fear the Soviets were ahead of the US in brainwashing technology, the CIA began a decade long program of selecting unwitting people at random to test mind altering drugs on them. The only thing that came of it was to convert LSD from a minor therapeutic medicine to wide spread street drug.

Operation Chaos, whimsically named after the bad guys from the TV show Get Smart, ended up creating the men who committed Watergate. For a long time the CIA was jealous of the FBI's right to spy on Americans so they formed their own domestic program. During the Vietnam War, President Johnson tasked the CIA with spying on anti-war activists. They did everything but targeted assassinations although there are many people who believe it was the CIA domestic program that murdered President Kennedy.

The CIA is still at it. It was revealed in 2011 that the CIA recruited the New York Police Department to do a joint, and totally illegal, spying operation that probably has a cute code name that is still top secret.

The granddaddy of domestic spying agencies. The FBI has been spying on American citizens since the J. Edgar Hoover days. Hoover wiretapped every president from FDR to Richard Nixon. He began wiretapping the Supreme Court in the mid-1930's. The FBI spied on civil rights organizations, student and anti-war groups during the Vietnam War, and anyone ever vaguely suspected of being friendly to communism.

But the FBI didn't just spy. Their CONINTELPRO program went out of its way to defame people they didn't like. Actress Jean Seberg supported the civil rights movement. That led Hoover to conclude that she must be a "sex pervert." The FBI fabricated rumors about her and harassed her until she committed suicide. The program's criminal activity was revealed in 1971 and a decade later Ronald Reagan issued a executive order legalizing their crimes.

The programs, under other names, continue to this day.

Agent Provocateurs
The biggest problem all these agencies have is that there just isn't enough terrorist plot to justify their budgets. They have resorted to fomenting the plots they uncover. We may never know how many terrorist plots are just FBI fabrications. Stories abound of people being led by FBI informants into committing crimes, sometimes doing all the work for the suspects. Other times the informants just make up shit to justify their pay.

The Occupy movement was replete with agent provocateurs sent in by the FBI with the specific goal of committing crimes to discredit the citizen protesters.

Friday, June 07, 2013

American Police State: Spynation

Of course the government is spying on me. I'm not outraged only because outrage requires a certain degree of surprise and I've know about government spying for a long time. I hate it. I'm angry about it. Livid really. And I have been since before I was born.

Defeating Datamining
First a little proof that the NSA practices useless voyeurism. Datamining looks at lots of information looking for key words or phrases. The way to defeat it is to communicate in a simple code. If you use the word "baby" instead of "bomb," for example, then the NSA would have to filter through billions of parenthood chatter trying to find a terrorist plot.

Why They Spy
The point of NSA spying is exactly the same as the reason the Stasi spied on East Germans. We millions of common folk are out here doing shit the government doesn't know about and that terrifies small minded career bureaucrats like NSA director James Clapper. They always say they are looking for "enemies of the state," but the fact is they consider every citizen a potential enemy.

Who Runs the NSA
James Clapper has been a Peeping Tom all his life. He worked his way up the ranks in the military spying on people. Not feet on the ground, James Bond type spying, but the high tech equivalent of the creepy neighbor with a telescope spying. Clapper is also a particularly bad spy. He screwed the pooch on Iraq WMD and the Libyan Civil War. He got caught lying to Congress (Lying is expected, getting caught is dumb.). Looking through his career it is impossible to find anything he has done right except getting promotions which suggests he has devoted considerable effort to spying on his bosses like that other American Peeping Tom, J. Edgar Hoover.

The Hoover Legacy
The bureaucratic propensity to spy on Americans was developed and perfected by FBI legend J. Edgar Hoover. Copying techniques from Felix Dzerzhinsky in Soviet Russia and Heinrich Himmler in Nazi Germany, Hoover build dossiers on millions of Americans from presidents, leaders of Congress, and the Supreme Court to everyday Americans, teachers and workers. Nothing has changed since Hoover died, the American government continues to spy on her own citizens with the same intrusiveness.

Isn't Domestic Spying Illegal?
Yeah. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution forbids it. Congress passed laws allowing them anyhow. Congress even created a secret court system to rubber stamp domestic spying. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is a misnomer since the targets of thousands of approved wiretaps are Americans living in the United States "suspected" of being foreign agents. But the government doesn't even bother with the charade of a warrant for its massive datamining program. They just do it, cite "national security," and fuck the Constitution.

I've Been Bugged
In the late 1980's I was working for an anti-establishment candidate for the San Diego City Council. My telephone line developed a mysterious noise on it that continued throughout the campaign and stopped suddenly the day after the election. Everybody working on the campaign experienced the same thing. It's possible I've been bugged on other occasions and just never noticed.

Obama and Bush
The program, PRISM, under attack was implemented by President Bush Jr. but enthusiastically continued by President Obama, Obama even appointed a Bushite to oversee the program. Both are equally to blame. Most of the Republicans and Democrats who are currently outraged by the program voted, in secret, for it. Republicans condemning it now approved of it when Bush was the spymaster. Hypocrisy abounds.

What Should We Do?
Domestic spying will continue unabated, it has too many decades of momentum to be stopped now. We should live our lives like East Germans did during the Communist era. Assume our phones are tapped, our emails are being read, our internet search patterns are being studied. Because they are. Never say or write anything is private you wouldn't want the police to read because they probably are.

If you are up to something nefarious use simple precautions. Communicated in code. Use pirated or public Wi-Fi, hack some innocent's computer so it looks like they did your suspicious searches. The NSA is much more interested is peaceful dissidents than in actual terrorists.

UPDATE: James Clapper is director of National Intelligence and not chief of the NSA. That just means Clapper is a higher ranked Peeping Tom. The head of the NSA is Keith Alexander whose resume is even thinner than Clapper's.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Wacky World of E. W. Jackson

It takes a whole lot of crazy to be a Republican and you have to be deeply demented to be a black Republican. I mean, you go to party gatherings and everyone assumes you're there to clean the dishes or polish their shoes. After you've introduced yourself as the party's candidate for lieutenant governor you'll experience extensive fawning with everyone treating you like a four year-old who has proudly spelled "cat" correctly. "Isn't he special, bless his heart." It takes a unique person with a bizarre outlook on life to exist in that kind of world without ever realizing that everyone, including you friends, are laughing at you.

E. W. Jackson is that kind of person.
Yoga spells Satan.
 I was really attracted to Jackson's statement that yoga opens people up to satanic possession. That would certainly explain my shingles if you reject that unGodly chicken pox science stuff. I've done yoga for years so it was only a matter of time.

Jackson hates gays with the obsessive enthusiasm that only a closeted poof can manage. He claims that gay rights is worse for black Americans than the Ku Klux Klan and slavery.

He wants a law requiring women to report miscarriages as a homicide and punish any woman who fails to promptly report a miscarriage to police. Most women don't immediately know if they have miscarried but that doesn't make them any less murderers.

He has called President Obama an "atheist Muslim." Which is an oxymoron; he can't be both.

Jackson says that Democrats are the Antichrist, which means that half the nation is evil incarnate.

Jackson doesn't think everything is evil. He has a special love for rich folk. He believes that charity ought to be reversed. He advocated that the poor should give their money to the rich because the wealthy are more deserving of charity.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Sandy Adelson Is the New Al Capone

Sandy Adelson tried valiantly to buy himself a president. He invested $150 million in presidential candidates, first Newt Gingrich and later Mitt Romney, only to see it all wasted.
Not Sandy Adelson. I know this because Al Capone was both better looking and a better person.

To some extent he lost the money the same way he got it, gambling. He put a shitload of chips on double zero (Newt) only to watch that political salamander crap out (I know I'm mixing my gambling metaphors). Then, like any addicted gambler, he doubled down his bets on Mitt and lost that too.

Of course, Sandy wasn't just placing bets, he was trying to purchase a president. See, Sandy Adelson is a crooked little SOB, up to his over-sized earlobes in bribery and money laundering allegations. Sandy wanted to own himself an Attorney General and the best way to do that is buy the president.

Since that didn't happen Sandy faces the possibility of spending the rest of his miserable little life hiring a phalanx of expensive lawyers to protect his ill-gotten gains from John Law on several continents. And, of course, Sandy will hit the political roulette tables again next presidential cycle gambling that his billions can elect some other corrupt politician, like Bobby Jindal, to the highest office.

Monday, June 03, 2013


No, not the roof covering. I wish. I have the other kind of shingles, the revenge of chicken pox shingles.

I had the vaccine a couple of years ago. Still got shingles. I didn't get them in one of those annoying but otherwise mundane location like the chest or back. Of course not. My shingles appeared on the face. Specifically, the first rash is adjacent to my right eyebrow.

That location runs a risk of attacking my sight. Not to mention if the rash runs rampant I could end up with a face perfectly designed for the role of Erik in the Phantom of the Opera.

Fortunately, I did have the vaccine which should limit the severity of the rash. I caught it early (given it was staring me in the face when I looked in a mirror) and was able to start an anti-viral medicine quickly. That also should limit the severity. Also, years of practice at meditation is allowing me to quietly tolerate the irritation without picking at the lesions and causing scarring.

Chicken Pox
Back in the olden days there was great relief if the pox you caught was chicken and not Small Pox or Great Pox (syphillis). Few people lived long enough to suffer from shingles. All in all, chicken pox was a relative romp. The virus does its thing for a few days until the human immune system beats it back. Then it goes into hiding in nerve cells near the spine. There it waits for decades for the immune system to lose its vigilance. The virus then follows a bundle of nerve cells to reach the skin and take another shot at reproducing.

It's all very wondrous, this complex dance of species, unless it's happening to your skin.