December 23, 2013

Duck Post 1

A response to this from Ace.  I'm going to post it in the comments there, too.

I know that you know that a company has right to fire employees.  Another way of saying it is to say that it is a moral act to fire an employee.  It is moral to act within your rights. The fired employee doesn't have a right to the job, and you are not required to employ them. It may not be wise, or it may be the best decision ever made, but either way it was a moral act to fire them. If we can agree to this point then I ask: what is right if no one is morally wrong?

You think it was wrong for Robertson to be fired. The people running A&E thought it was a proper response. It's hard to disagree with either of you. I don't like people getting fired for nothing-burgers, but I also understand that gay marriage is sweeping the nation and a very gay-heavy Winter Olympics is right around the corner so there is probably a heightened sense right now and no one wants to be 'that guy'.

A cable channel nods to the cultural zeitgeist (not just GLAAD) which is sympathetic to rejects homosexual discrimination and a rugged, self-sufficient multi-millionaire proudly shares religious beliefs with no hesitation.

Who is 'right' here?

Edit: Poor wording

December 15, 2013

Capitalist Gives Capitalism a Bad Name

Doug Kimball gives Capitalism a bad name.

He did so Thursday on Ricochet in a piece entitled "Capitalists Give Capitalism a Bad Name" and I hope to discredit much of what he wrote. If it is inappropriate to cite him in the manner I have, then I am happy to adjust the format (somehow). Chunks from Mr. Kimball's piece are in bold with my responses below.

Time Magazine has named Pope Francis Man of the Year for 2013.  It’s fitting, I think, as the Pope's less than flattering statements about capitalists have left statists, communists, socialists and the editors of Time all atwitter. 

The ignorant Pope said some ignorant things which pleased Progressives and Mr. Kimball goes on to agree.

William F. Buckley once said, “The trouble with socialism is socialism; the trouble with capitalism is capitalists.” Jonah Goldberg reminded us of this in a recent column. Before we go all Libertarian MMA on all this capitalism bashing, it must be said: capitalism, like democracy,  can be a very destructive thing when unfettered and without conscience. 

Here, the casual use of the word 'destructive' to describe capitalism is troublesome. With no other context, the word 'destructive' has a negative connotation. It sounds like immoral damage. My challenge to Kimball is to submit an instance of this negative destruction for debate.

Capitalism is the absence of coercion. If I send a wrecking ball through your home without your permission I am being destructive. That of course is not Capitalism. But if I have your permission then I am simply remodeling. That is Capitalism. Is it technically destructive that I take down a wall to remodel? Yes. But wasn't it done for constructive purposes (and with your permission)? So, is it accurate to say my work was destructive? If you want to impugn me.

Capitalism, in its purest state, strives for cost avoidance, market dominance, and monopoly.  Competition is key to an efficient market, but the true capitalist seeks to eliminate competition at every level by every means possible. This is difficult, but not impossible. Thus, for capitalism to work, capitalists must be restrained from unfair practices that constrain competition. 

I'm glad he brought up Capitalism in its purest form but it's troublesome that he would assign it only the mission to conquer. Some Capitalists may strive for microscopic efficiency and market dominance, but that is not a prerequisite. Chopping just enough wood for your neighbors that you can feed yourself is as pure an act of Capitalism as being the largest tech company. The true Capitalist, Mr. Kimball, is entitled to the fruits of their own labor and functions without being coerced or coercing others. Capitalists do not need to be restrained because Capitalism does not encompass the restrainable. Actions such as property sabotage and theft are immoral and should be punished because they are not Capitalistic.

Determining what is unfair can be difficult. There is a point where large corporations, with their access to capital and influence, become political creatures of a sort; they lobby for political advantage, seek protection for technological advantages, look for tax benefits, seek out government contracts and generally seek any advantage that will allow their profits to defy economic trends. Large corporations even lobby for increased regulation when it can deliver a disadvantage to smaller competitors. This explains the cozy relationship some large corporations have with political players who are hardly friends of capitalism. 

Everyone except Capitalists seek special advantages from the government. If we seek economic sanctions on competitors we are Fascists (Corporatists).  Having your buddies in government cripple smaller competitors by doubling the minimum wage is Fascism. Buying government contracts is Fascism. Seeking any political bludgeon against competition is Fascistic. Even with the slightest regulations, an otherwise faithful Capitalist would only succeed by jumping through hoops and playing The Game. But they are no longer a functioning Capitalist; they've been extorted out of Capitalism into Fascism. Mr. Kimball seems to recognize this political entanglement is not friendly to Capitalism, yet implies we remain Capitalists while acting Fascistically. This is troublesome.

The problem with capitalism has always been the capitalists — that is, the men who bypass the need to build the most efficient business in favor of using cronyism to penalize and thwart competition, to fix the system to their advantage. “It’s just business” is not an ethical justification for cronyism, any more than it is for treating employees with contempt, ignoring regulations, or condoning unsafe or illegal practices. 

The problem is sentences like these. As we learned above: Fascists use cronyism, not Capitalists. The most troublesome phrase for Capitalism is 'crony Capitalism'. It is deeply enshrined in our manner of speaking about government corruption and it must change. Even 'crony' itself is poison because the slur's only popular context precedes 'Capitalism'. Fascism is the appropriate nasty word so I recommend that. Or Corporatism, but it unnecessarily dings corporations. 

Perhaps WFB and Pope Francis should have modified their criticisms. The problem with capitalism is that it is run by men — a species remarkably prone to self-aggrandizement and delusion to justify unethical, unfair and unsafe business practices. They're the ones who give capitalism a bad name.

I hope that Mr. Kimball modifies his criticisms. The problem is not Capitalism, it's giving Fascism its name.

***Edited: Wording in second to last paragraph. Removed 'needs to disappear' and replaced with 'is poison' for tone. 4-17-14***

November 22, 2013

The Shoe In The Mirror Theory

Today, on the 50th anniversary of his assassination, the White House managed to photograph JFK's portrait just as Barry occasioned by, entranced to such unimaginable depths of reflection that any of us would not likely find our way back should we embark upon them.

Oddly enough, it was because an opportunity here for peak-shamelessness went unexploited that I even looked twice. I thought for sure Barry would be eye-locked with his superior predecessor in existential osmosis, but he isn't. And even though I'd seen the portrait before, my mind never wondered beyond the frame what Kennedy was actually looking at. But all of a sudden here's this near-floor-to-ceiling photo-op of nothingness with which to follow his line of sight and...that's when you see it: the shoe in the mirror.

It looks like Barry's shoe or someone's (shoe) just behind him stepping over a Red line. Some kind of red sash or holiday ribbon. But notice the upward turn of the Red line; Barry would have to be holding the material taut and we can't see him doing that.

Regardless of how it was achieved, Kennedy was murdered by a Red communist coward and, if you were to strech him a bit, his leg and foot would be anatomically correct with the reflection.

And since I think Barry&Co. are spiteful cowards with bloodthirsty pedigrees I'm theorizing that this scene was meticulously staged and meant to convey, however cryptically, on this conspiracy-rich anniversary, that Kennedy crossed a line - a Red line.

Correction: The first sentence of this post suggests the photo was taken today. Evidence has been provided which suggests the photo was taken in 2009. Though the date the photo was taken on is irrelevant to the theory, I would like to be accurate.

UPDATE: A reader from another site has a different picture from roughly the same time as the one in question.

So, it's not a sash or a banner, it's a rug. A rug that Barry is standing unnaturally upon.  This makes you wonder how many photos were taken from how many angles and why the White House settled on the one they did.

He is standing in the exact position as in the original photo.  Look at his foot exceeding the corner of the rug in both pictures. A photographer snapped one of those photos, moved to a new location, and snapped the other (we don't know the order). All the while, Barry's foot remained planted in the same awkward position. And it just so happens that position aligns his reflection with a natural extension of Kennedy's body in the photograph chosen? No, I don't think so.

September 21, 2013

Medicare: A Fraud Harming Workers

Kevin D. Williamson recently took to Twitter to promote his latest, The Price Of Politics, and translated the $90B ($90,000,000,000) in annual Medicare fraud into a stunning analogy:

It's a brisk, depressing piece and I encourage you to read it.  The world's largest hedge fund is smaller than the combined theft against our workers and our elderly that elected officials are willing to tolerate every single year.  What else but a government program could be such a pushover? Maybe a junkie.  Ace summed it up beautifully as a "ghostwritten suicide note".

This $90B, this gigantic fraud, is so offensive that I did math and what I found is startling.

According to this, if I have things straight, there are currently 155.5 million people in the workforce.

When you divide the $90B in annual dollars grifted from Medicare by the 155.5 million workers contributing to the fund, you get an average personalized theft of $578.78 from each worker.

For a casual glance at how Medicare dollars are collected, I referred to this page which says a tax of 1.45% is collected from each employee.

To cover just the cost of fraud committed against them, Americans have to earn more than $39,915.86 a year if they even want to begin to contribute to what they imagine resembles health security. If you make less than $39,915.86 a year, your entire contribution to Medicare has been defrauded from the government. 

(Editor's Note: I am not an economist, nor do I really know anything about Medicare. There are probably more nuances to achieving the precise figures I'm after, but it's as start. If you have more reliable numbers or insight then please share because I'm confident it will be ugly regardless.)

Update: Erased an opening salvo that was probably not very helpful.

July 10, 2013


Best-selling author and Washington Examiner columnist, David Freddoso, tweeted the following yesterday:

Udall is Colorado Democrat Senator Mark Udall (of Obamacare infamy).  His opponent's sidekick, as Freddoso notes, could shoe a horse:

2014 U.S. Senate Candidate, Randy Baumgardner (R-CO)

That is Randy Baumgardner, and he will be at least one of Udall's Republican challengers for U.S. Senate in 2014.  He is a rancher, former Colorado state employee, and wears the kind of stache that makes you wonder who's grooming whom.  Randy needs to round up as many votes as possible to defeat Udall and, if he implemented the following ad campaign, likely would not be worse off.

Mustaches have enjoyed a major renaissance in the last few years.  Whether Randy is an excruciating hipster or has always looked like a boss is beside the point; the mustache, love it or leave it, is relevant. 

My first thought was replacing the 'm' or 'n' in Baumgardner with a mustache.  Then I thought about replacing the 'n' in Randy.  Those were not original ideas as Freddoso pointed out:

That's a great image for playful use on the web, but probably not appropriate for a statewide campaign.  Then I came up with this:

Obviously a graphics artist could make the '∩' look more like an actual mustache, but imagine that on billboards, bumperstickers, store windows, etc.  No name, no office, no other information.  People will wonder what it means, ask others if they know, and some will know damn well.  The sooner this stubbles up the better.

And the font evokes a certain hardness. The Old West.  You think about the outlaw on the poster but you also maybe get the essence of the deputy who hung the notice.  It definitely evokes firearms (to Americans and movie-goers) and that is a crucial voter base in Colorado considering their new firearm restrictions.  If a candidate isn't fighting for gun-owners and the Second Amendment in upcoming elections they will not have connected with a passionate ally.  So the font alone harmonizes well with the concerns of self-defense advocates in Colorado.

Now, once every Coloradan's awareness has been infringed by the 'WA∩TED' enigma, (let's call it 6 months before election day), the billboards and bumperstickers and store windows get an update:

 and just

But with better staches.  And 'Randy' seems like an easy word to brand.  Simple, sexy, two-syllables. 'Baumgardner' is a mouthful for casual use.

Bonus Material:

1)  The '∩' symbol is used mathematically to denote an intersection.  Some math fun to be had.
2)  The '∩' symbol is also a horizontal flip of the 'U' in Udall.  Some graphical fun to be had.
3)  #WA∩TED and #RA∩DY are both functioning hashtags. 

Editor's Note
Full disclosure: As of this writing, I don't know anything else about Randy Baumgardner.  I do know damn well that Colorado Democrat Senator Mark Udall voted for Obamacare and in doing so is shamed for all time.

April 25, 2013

BRIDGESTONE TIRES (Boston Strong Commercial)

*Scientific environment. Serious, sincere spokesperson.*

SCIENTIST: "We at Bridgestone have a passion for excellence and your safety is our highest concern."

*Montage of actual tests that are performed on tires, scientists checking off lists with approval*

SCIENTIST:  "In light of a recent event in Boston, we challenged our scientists to recreate those conditions to ensure that our standards are still being met."

*Close up of a pile of dog crap. A tire enters the picture from the left and flattens the pile with a squish*

SCIENTIST: "Still safe."

*Bridgestone logo with #BostonStrong below*

April 24, 2013

Bridgestone: Boston Strong

@BenK84 from Ace of Spades HQ had a damn good idea this morning:

He suggested Firestone, but Bridgestone had some unfortunate press following the Boston bombings because Sailor (#2) wore their hat that day. So here are some thoughts:

1) Tire commercials usually show water flowing over the treads to demonstrate how traction is maintained. I humbly suggest doing a similar demonstration with blood. Instead of the treads evacuating water, a narrator could draw our attention to the way the innovative design desanguinates.

2) Zoom in on a dummy's head as it is being compressed by the weight of a tire. The tire grinds the dummy's head back and forth, back and forth. Maybe even a ridiculous shot of a car driving straight over a dummy, with no educational merit whatsoever.

3) Before the blood/tread test, a vial full of terrorist blood is shown before being poured on the tire. Maybe there is some kind of explanation about the blood used. A scientist decries the availability of terrorist blood, so they use the closest known analogue: dog's blood. A golden retriever is on a bed with IVs among the various instruments and gauges. Or maybe the world's ugliest dog makes a cameo.

4) Maybe they use shit instead. "In light of recent events, we tried to duplicate the conditions in our laboratory." A steaming pile is slowly squished by a tire. We get an underview of the process through the glass floor and narration from a scientist. 'Fecal displacement' or something. 'Scat-ter'.

I'll try to think of some other things. A laboratory or test facility setting seems best. A scientist walks us over to the tread/blood/fecal demonstration as a test car in the background hurtles at a wall with a dummy pinned to the bumper.

Bridgestone could be as psychotic as they please as long as they end the commercial with #BostonStrong.

March 19, 2013

The Ketchup Prophecy

Some oracles watch the sale of socks and underwear as their gauge for the health of the economy. I started watching ketchup in '08 and '09 when fast food places weren't automatically throwing in a couple of packets with my meals. I understood there was belt-tightening so I asked for them. Then gradually the employees started asking if I wanted ketchup, then they started slinging gratuitous packets again.

Maybe for the last month, but definitely for the last couple of weeks, they've been going dry on me again.

March 5, 2013

The Optics of A Lie: Esquire and Osama bin Laden's 'Shooter' (conspiracy theory)

It is late April of 2011. You're in a top-secret meeting discussing the infiltration of Osama bin Laden's (OBL's) compound. In a few short days, the administration's ignorant cult will hail the calls made in this meeting as gutsy. In order to conjure this circle-jerk, an operation which will result in OBL's capture or death must be planned. After logistics and timing have been decided, the matter of personnel must be settled. You overhear the following exchange:
ARMY GENERAL: We'll need the finest operators we have. Experience, stealth, accuracy., breathing gutsiness. Ones that know what they're doing and what the hell they're talking about. Elite.

ADMIRAL: My finest team will lead. They're max-elite. We need another member, equally as elite. Rudimentary knowledge of firearms a plus.

MARINE GENERAL: I've got a spare for you, Admiral; a danger to mankind. He knows something of firearm accessories.
You surmise that the most elite force in the world has been assembled. Then they surmise that you know too much and plot to discredit you.

Because according to a report from Esquire, the 'Shooter' who killed OBL either doesn't know how to properly express his interaction with guns, is lying to Esquire, or is a fictional character made up by someone at Esquire who doesn't know anything about guns. Which would be consistent with Esquire already either lying about Shooter's health benefits or dutifully reporting Shooter's ignorance of his own damn future, which does not bode well for anyone's credibility as we look at this bizarre statement (h/t @alimhaider, as reported by @BillGertz):
"In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The second time as he's going down. He crumpled onto the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! same place. That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight. He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath."
Emphasis mine, but what precedes it is just as important. An "EOTech red-dot holo sight" sits on top of a rifle or pistol and is what you aim through. It's also a generic phrase; there are many different models for different uses, all of which are EOTech red-dot holo sights. 'Holo' is short for holographic. It has a very cool 'floating' reticle and it's an easy way to acquire your target while maintaining situational awareness (you can keep both eyes open). These sights are readily available for purchase and are widely used by our troops. Put another way, they are professional-grade optics of death that you can buy.

From someone's ebay sale of an EOTech

"That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight."

If Shooter was talking to other SEALs he would probably just call his sight his 'sight'. He's allegedly speaking to journalists so he may be dropping some knowledge on them; that makes a shred of sense. More than anything, it just seems frivolous and wreaks of sponsorship. It's just so weird. But once you put "EOTech red-dot holo sight" in context, it's more important how it was used than that it was used. The sight was used 'that time'. That Bap. Not for those first two Baps, those were 'those times' and they were in OBL's forehead. The third Bap, That Bap, was fired into a heap of scum on the floor. This is Shooter's version of events:
In a dark room, with an alert target using a hostage as a shield, Shooter manages two bullets into OBL's forehead.
Other Bap!
Other Bap!
With OBL on the floor like the stain he is, Shooter uses his state of the art precision aiming device for the first time.
That Bap!
You know how we humanize celebs and say 'they shit like the rest of us'? Well, Navy SEALs aim like the rest of us.  You don't use your "EOTech red-dot holo sight" for the first time on your third shot, especially when those first two were headshots.

So, if Shooter is pimping for a brand, what's their slogan?
When your target already has brain us.

It doesn't make any sense. Not to mention this misstatement is part of a report which Esquire already corrected after they admittedly 'misstated' Shooter's health benefits. Fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again.

With all of this in mind, here are some possibilities:

#1) Shooter is real, he shot OBL, and he cheated on his aptitude battery because he is a moron. He's also probably why the stealth chopper crashed.
#2) Shooter is a real person and either duped Esquire by himself or is part of a government conspiracy (maybe with Esquire) to deepen intrigue surrounding the raid.
#3) Shooter is fake, created entirely by Esquire (maybe even with government help).

Theory #3 explains these misstatements as the flaws of a lie. Esquire would be doing this for the power that goes along with the perception of having access to OBL's shooter. It would be hard for them to do this very long without official rebuttals so political involvement would be helpful. Flattering facts of the raid could be 'corroborated' by Shooter. They can shame Veterans Affairs in the public eye by misstating benefits. They can use generic phrases like "EOTech red-dot holo sight" to raise awareness while their political allies seek to criminalize such things. They can probably pull a few moves we haven't seen yet. What Theory #3 predicts we will see, though, is a politician citing OBL's shooter as having used an EOTech and that such advanced technology does not belong on our streets.

(Editor's note: I am not suggesting that OBL is still alive or that his death was a hoax. I question Shooter's reliability as a source and, given Esquire's health benefit hairsplitting, even Shooter's existence. I am also not suggesting that Esquire or Shooter may have created this character specifically to target EOTech sights; it's a perk.)