Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I blame the squirrels

El Paso Times:
"A U.S. Army War College report warns an economic crisis in the United States could lead to massive civil unrest and the need to call on the military to restore order.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Nathan Freir wrote the report "Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defense Strategy Development," which the Army think tank in Carlisle, Pa., recently released.

"Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities ... to defend basic domestic order and human security," the report said, in case of "unforeseen economic collapse," "pervasive public health emergencies," and "catastrophic natural and human disasters," among other possible crises."

This in conjunction with 20,000 US Troops stationed in the USA on active duty?
Frightening prospect indeed. I'm not one given to hyperbole of fear, but this is likely to have negative consequences.
It was not the barbarians that destroyed Rome, rather the actions by those within. I still thing America's best days are ahead of us, but in no way can a socialist nation with lackluster foreign policy, punishing economic environments and a populace coerced by the military lead the world.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Blagman Strikes Back

" His choice of Burris, Illinois' first African-American elected statewide, presents senators with the dilemma of saying no to a replacement for Obama, who was the nation's only black senator.

That point was driven home at the news conference by Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago, who said it's a matter of national importance that an African-American replace Obama in the Senate.

"Let me just remind you that there presently is no African-American in the Senate...this is just not a state of Illinois matter," Rush said.

...Burris said he spoke with Blagojevich Sunday night about the appointment.

"I was asked if he would appoint me would I accept and the answer is yes," said Burris, who offered no comment on the governor's legal situation.

Blagojevich praised Burris for his "unquestioned integrity" and "extensive experience," calling him a senior statesman.

"To not fill the vacancy would be to deprive the people of Illinois of their appropriate voice" in the U.S. Senate, Blagojevich said."

And yet, the most telling component to this:
"Burris has given more than $20,000 to Blagojevich's campaign fund on his own and through his consulting and law firms, state campaign finance records show. Burris' consulting company received about $290,000 in state contracts with the Illinois Department of Transportation a few years ago, according to state comptroller records."

Best as I can tell, this is a legit appointment. I hope for no other reason then sheer joy of political folly and historical oddities that it goes through. Really though, I think we'll have a difficult time finding a more liberal senator then Obama to replace Obama in the senate. Might as well the token black man in the house of arrogant politicians bent on socialism.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Review: Seven Pounds

This is one of those rare movies that leaves me thinking, leaves me in wonder, and leaves me in a state of emotional turmoil.

I say rare, because rarely in my life have I seen film turned it such a remarkably dull, overwhelmingly pretentious, and discombobulated piece of cinema.

The premise for the film is that Ben Thompson (Will Smith) has it within his power to radically alter the lives of 7 people, and he chooses to do so. The story chronicles the end of his quest, in the most curious of fashions.

Opening with Thompson calling 911 for his own suicide, and then proceeding to, without warning, flash across a plethora of timeline and events that have occurred in this mans life. There's lovely beach house, a lovely woman, a career as an Aerospace salesman, car wreaks, jelly fish, moving into a motel, mocking a blind man over the phone, stalking a woman with heart failure, handing out IRS extensions, punishing evil doctors, feeding dogs meat, talking to his brother, dealing with his best friend, falling in love, donating bone marrow, and countless other events.

If that didn't make any sense, don't worry about it. The movie amounts to about the same thing, a sequence of events that hardly seem connected. In the end, it really doesn't matter if they are or not, as the ending was predictable by two of my friends within the first half hour.

That all being said, if you're read to the end of this review, and were remotely interested by anything contained in the above paragraphs, then this has been more entertaining then Seven Pounds.

I do not want to see this movie ever again. Not because it is offensive or horrifying, but because it is a stupefyingly dull film with almost no payoff at the end. I want my 2 hours back.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Auto's bailed

Wall Street Journal: ""Under ordinary economic circumstances, I would say 'this is the price that failed companies must pay' and I would not favor intervening to prevent the auto makers from going out of business," the president said. "But these are not ordinary circumstances."

The deal would extend $13.4 billion in loans to General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC in December and January, with another $4 billion likely available in February. It also would provide the government with non-voting warrants, although the exact amount was unclear immediately. Ford Motor Co. has said it doesn't need short-term assistance.

The deal is contingent on the companies' showing that they are financially viable by March 31. If they aren't, the loans will be called and all funds must be returned, officials said."

Two thoughts:

1. Thank you, Mr. Bush. You can leave now. No, really. It's not a moment to soon.
If now isn't the time for free market capitalism, then you no longer deserve the mantle of Republican.

2. The Federal government is just the organization I want determining the long term viability of a business. Because, ya know. They're good at stuff like that. Nope, its not a porky spending layout at all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

W on his economic strategy

"I feel a sense of obligation to my successor to make sure there is not a, you know, a huge economic crisis. Look, we're in a crisis now. I mean, this is -- we're in a huge recession, but I don't want to make it even worse."

Herbert Hoover, meet your successor. George W. Bush.

I blame global warming

Monday, December 15, 2008

Greece in Turmoil

Times UK: "Police sources said their riot squads had fired 4,600 tear gas canisters this week as rioters torched hundreds of banks and shops and occupied their campuses, where police after forbidden by law from entering.
...The demonstrations started a week ago after a police officer shot dead a 15-year-old boy, claiming he had fired a warning shot in the air as youths threatened him and a fellow officer. The two policemen are in detention, with their defence lawyer claiming that an as yet unreleased ballistics report shows the boy was killed by a ricochet rather than by direct fire.

But the anger unleashed by the killing has acted as a lightning rod for smouldering discontent at a variety of social ills, from unemployment to police brutality and government corruption.

Left-wing demonstrators today chanted “Cops are murderers” and carried placards saying “Bullets in the kids, money in the bank” and “Down with the government of property and privatization”..."

Now, I wasn't around for the Rodney King riots, but for those venerable readers, was it like this?

Reading about this, it seemed to be over-reaction run amok. But that last line sorta highlights the whole thing, people with out minds protesting because they desire their liberty to heisted.
Communist plants? Marxist holdovers? The encore performance of the World Trade meetings in Seattle? (This is Sparta?)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fraud of epic proportion

Investors scrambled to assess potential losses from an alleged $50 billion fraud by Bernard Madoff, a day after the arrest of the prominent Wall Street trader.

Prosecutors and regulators accused the 70-year-old, who was chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market in the early 1990s, of masterminding a fraud of epic proportions through his investment advisory business, which managed at least one hedge fund.

Batteries dying, be back on this later.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Review: The Punisher War Zone

So figuring Marvel was 2 for 2 this year, with Ironman and the Incredible Hulk both being spectacular blockbusters I'll enjoy for years to come, I figured the Punisher: War Zone had a hope of success.

Seeing as Frank Castle is the primary anti-hero from the Marvel stable, I'll give a little of his origin.
In the latest iteration, Castle is a special forces instructor for the US Army, one of the elite commandos on earth. While on leave with his family, they are wittiness to a mob hit job. Once they become liabilities to the mob, they are hunted down and killed, leaving Castle with 7 bullet wounds and a dead family around him. When the District Attorney continues to be incompetent in prosecuting the mafia, he goes on his own tear of vigilante justice, raining what is essentially the wrath of God upon the mob of New York City.

This movie picks up in the middle of that, opening with brutal action at a mafia family get together, where only one son escapes the killing spree Castle engages in. While hunting down the remaining Don, an undercover FBI agent falls victim to the Punisher's rampage, and the rest of the story revolves around his family and Castle's devotion to their safety and well being. The other story line involves the remaining Don who is horribly disfigured in the face by the Punisher. He breaks his insane brother out of prison, and proceeds to raise an army to kill 'The Punisher.'

It's a movie that takes considerable suspension of disbelief to take seriously, but it succeeds on several levels.
The visceral joy of seeing violent criminals who escape justice pay for their crimes, the grim humor throughout, and the fantastic, old school shoot-em'up action, reminiscent of Die Hard or Live Free or Die Hard of last year.

In the end, there's a scene that defines the movie very succinctly.
Castle is in full battle mode, freeing the family of the FBI agent from the mafia searching for a cash stash in the family home. After freeing the family and walking out of the kitchen with the small girl in his left arm, the supervising FBI agent beings to inform the remaining mafia member of his rights. Within a few seconds, Castle returns carrying the girl and wielding a pistol-grip shot gun, and blows the mans head off, and keeps walking past, searching for the remaining enemy.
Was it justified? Probably.
Was it justice? No. Not as we would judge in a court.
Was it Right? Yes.

In the end, I'll watch it again. But there is so much comic book cliche contained within, it'll be difficult to not watch and laugh.
Which is what this boils down to. It's a fun movie, with neither pretensions of greatness nor the trappings of morality discussions. Rather this is the justice of a fictional universe where the good guys win and the bad guy's heads roll in their carnage of their own creation.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Thompson wins again

On the economy and some blasted common sense.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Russia clawing for influence

AP: "Monday's joint maneuvers with Venezuela, which brought the Admiral Chabanenko and the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Peter the Great across the Atlantic along with two support ships, were widely seen as a show of Kremlin anger over the U.S. use of warships to deliver aid to Georgia after its August war with Russia.

Russian warships tailed U.S. ships in the Black Sea, where Russia borders Georgia, on that mission.

The Russian squadron's voyage to Venezuela was Russia's first such deployment to the Western Hemisphere since the Cold War era, aimed to showcase the Kremlin's global reach and reassert its claim to great-power status. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is a staunch U.S. foe.

The voyage coincided with a trip to Latin America late last month by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who visited four nations in what he acknowledged was an effort to raise Moscow's profile in a region he said it has long neglected.

U.S. officials have mocked the Russian show of force, saying that the Russian navy is a shadow of Moscow's Soviet-era fleet and suggesting that the U.S. retains far more influence in the region than Russia.

"Are they accompanied by tugboats this time?" U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack joked to reporters in Washington last week ahead of the Russian ships' arrival off Venezuela."

Here's how South America will break up in the coming years:
Those who enjoy trade and good relations with the US will shore up their Americana stances.
Those who decry the freedoms of the bourgeois will grasp desperately for other allies.

Still fun to watch though. Really what it boils down to in diplomatic terms is that the US isn't afraid of Russia, and still considers the Putian run Russian nation to be a friend, if not an ally.

Monday, December 01, 2008

W's last great service to America

Washington Post: "The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials. The long-planned shift in the Defense Department's role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said. ...
Military preparations for a domestic weapon-of-mass-destruction attack have been underway since at least 1996, when the
Marine Corps activated a 350-member chemical and biological incident response force and later based it in Indian Head, Md., a Washington suburb. Such efforts accelerated after the Sept. 11 attacks, and at the time Iraq was invaded in 2003, a Pentagon joint task force drew on 3,000 civil support personnel across the United States.

In 2005, a new Pentagon homeland defense strategy emphasized "preparing for multiple, simultaneous mass casualty incidents." National security threats were not limited to adversaries who seek to grind down U.S. combat forces abroad, McHale said, but also include those who "want to inflict such brutality on our society that we give up the fight," such as by detonating a nuclear bomb in a U.S. city.

In late 2007, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England signed a directive approving more than $556 million over five years to set up the three response teams, known as CBRNE Consequence Management Response Forces. Planners assume an incident could lead to thousands of casualties, more than 1 million evacuees and contamination of as many as 3,000 square miles, about the scope of damage Hurricane Katrina caused in 2005."

Passe Comitatus anyone?
"Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both. "

The failings of Bush's leadership grow more apparent. Paulson running another socialization program and waxing poetic about the brilliance of social safety nets. a standing Army in the United States of America, and abhorrent failures in domestic policy.

It's enough to get me agreeing with the far right prophets decrying the coming North American Union.