Tag Archives: opinion

Foods I Hate

People tend to impose their tastes on others, outrageously insulted that you would dare dislike something they find so delicious or popular. They simply can’t understand why you won’t change your mind, taste buds, or every fiber of your being to enjoy what they enjoy. This is especially visceral when it comes to foodstuffs, as every foodie populist or connoisseur elitist has a seemingly intractable opinions of how flavinoids should affect everybody. Their indignance, I fear at times, borders on the psychopathic; such that someday some fascist may round up all the non-Brussel-sprout-eaters and march them into the death camps once and for all.

A little hyperbolic, sure, but I prefer to arrive at my own irrational choices, thank you. Harmless and meaningless, they are not dictated by any ideological preference (such as vegans or locavores) nor any allergy (such as gluten-free or nuts). Speaking of nuts, one reason people may not take kindly to your opinions may be because they feel it attacks or denigrates the validity of their own, or rejects them personally. Weak.

So over time, my tastes have refined and/or expanded; where I once refused vegetables, I now enjoy the occasional salad, where I once despised the taste of beer I have since acclimated to it, and where I once went for the spiciest of wings on the menu, I now prefer to actually taste my food.

Here are my top five most despised flavors, in descending order.

Onions

onions

Onions definitely hold a special place of hatred in my heart.. or whatever organ determines hate.. probably the gall bladder.

I’ve never been partial to them, despite the insistence of others, and their existence in just about every Goddamned recipe. I don’t know if it’s their simultaneously slimy-and-crunchy consistency, their pungency, or their eye-wateringly badness, I just can’t do it. Sure, if someone cooks me something, I won’t be so ungracious as to refuse them, but neither will I hesitate to wait the extra twenty minutes to get my Crave Case without onions.

My total stubbornness may have descended from my days working at the Sandwich Shoppe, as a rookie Sandwichsmithee (long before holding the title of Patron Saint of Sandwichmaking) I was relegated the stenchy task of peeling and slicing 1-2 buckets of these nasty, noxious nuggets.

Strangely, the onion’s erstwhile cousin, garlic, has got to be in my top five foods, if not number one of all time. All time! Go figure.

Licorice

Liquorice_wheels

I find black licorice disagreeable in particular (racist). Its status as candy is dubious, and its relationship to red licorice is unfortunate. I’m not a big fan of either, but while I could stomach the red vines, I shudder at the thought of that slick, twisted ebony foulness reaching my mouth. This hereditary abhorrence comes down from my grandmother, but I know from talking to people that licorice of any kind is not a commonly well-liked food. Most people avoid anything but the red stuff, and even then do not hurry to its defense. Still, you will meet the occasional weirdo who proselytizes a fervent dedication to black licorice. Shun them.

COFFEE

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So many people on the planet adore coffee, sometimes I feel like “Rowdy” Roddy Piper in They Live! My father used to make and drink an entire pot of coffee while performing his morning routine, then make another to take with him in a thermos on the way to work, only to drink Lord knows how much while at work. I’ve been made to understand that this is not exactly abnormal for coffeeholics. I find no small irony in the idea of waking up at four in the morning to put a pot of wretched black coffee on in order to get the caffeine necessary to begin the day. And apparently, I’m the crazy one.

I find coffee to be unremittingly bitter, massively gaseous, and vile bile. It’s dark aroma of complex nuttiness and vaporous undertones of earthiness can only be described in a single word for me: ‘bletch!’

The residue it leaves in my mouth whenever I have given in to peer insistence and tried a new variety (‘you just haven’t tried the right kind, yet!) is parallelled only by my equal and appropriate hatred of the word ‘residue.’

Don’t mistake me, I do enjoy caffeine. Whatever life expectancy and health benefits I would have derived from denying myself coffee have been reasonably obliterated by my love of soda.

Mint

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While the breath fresheners, tooth whiteners, and pillow adorners of the world have pushed this idea of ‘minty freshness’ on us, I recoil in frustration. I try to find alternatives; fruity gum, orange toothpaste, cinnamon mouthwash, or even just a shiny new apple a day. But the ubiquitous nature of nature’s fresh-maker makes me feel… not so fresh.

I’ve been told, as with many of the items on this list, that it is an acquired taste. But why bother acquiring a taste you find so distasteful?

I don’t relish the biting sting or mouthy leafiness of mint, and I can’t believe that some poor, misguided fools would pair it with chocolate, ice cream or Jell-O. Ridiculous. Idiotic. Fucking pathetic.

Kill it with fire.

ALMONDS

almonds1

Nuts are one of those types of foods people can never seem to agree on. Some people hate the hazelnuts and love walnuts, while others swear by the health properties of brazil nuts and eschew chestnuts. Diversity in opinion abounds regarding pine nuts, pecans and pistachios, whereas the fatty macadamia is often heaped with adulation. We all seem to agree on cashews and peanuts, which are not really nuts but legumes. Allergies notwithstanding.

Almonds are the devil.

Not only is it a shameful slap in the face of one of history’s greatest American heroes, George Washington Carver, but also one of mankind’s oldest foes. Almonds were originally toxic to our mortal form, synthesizing as cyanide in our frail bodies. Only through random genetic mutation and careful horticultural selection were the dangerous and evil pods tamed to their present form. Seething  in their dry bitterness, the wrinkled old malefactors silently await their revenge, encroaching and infesting every innocent salad and unwitting bridge mix.

It is only a matter of time before they learn to kill again.

DISHonorable Mention: Circus Peanuts

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Circus peanuts, (more commonly known as ‘WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT??’) are not an official list item of my Most Hated Foods, based solely on the technicality that they are not actually food. Owed the singular distinction of being the only consumable more disliked by humanity than ‘Candy Corn’, it shares with it the same inexplicably inaccurate naming. Despite being vaguely molded to look like a moldy old peanut, they are the same pale orange as some medical scrubs, PAAS eggs, or weird cardboard, all of which adequately give you an idea as to their flavor as well.

You can chew it, but it doesn’t ever get chewed.

Somehow, this material was marketed to children by perverted sadists as something they should put in their bodies. Luckily, no child will willingly eat them, and only 90-year-old great-grandmothers find them palatable, out of some misplaced sense of nostalgia. Back during the Depression Era, you see, you either ate cardboard or you starved.

More astoundingly, if you cut them into tiny shapes and then douse them in milk with cereal, they become tolerable, downright edible if artificially flavored somehow.

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Of course, we all have our preferences to varying degrees. There are certainly dishes and flavor combos that I find undesirable or even repellant as well, and I must confess that I’ve not much a sweet tooth. I don’t indulge in chocolate for chocolate’s sake, but rather as a trace or hint combined with some other culinary creation. All in all, you’d find me a fairly easy person to order pizza with, amenable as I am to everything from pepperoni and sausage to pineapple and anchovies. I’ve a weakness for savory snacks and filling proteins, rich smoothies and light pastries. I’m as open-minded as they come, and in all honesty will not insult my host should they unknowingly happen an inclusion of those foods I hate.

But oh, how I fucking hate them.

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The Tragicomedy of Paul Ryan

It’s not as if this is the guy that Mitt Romney would have ideally wanted to pick in his perfect campaign. But being compared to a still unpopular Bush administration was not something that Romney, or any Republican, could avoid (though one, you would think, they may have anticipated). Many of the Romney campaign’s moves seemed less calculated than they did desperate. The awkward posturing, self-inflicted wounds, easily avoidable controversies and smug demeanor were all part of his disconnected and (tax) sheltered reality, to be sure, but a healthy dose of media portrayal and recent memory made the Republican’s hill a  very steep one, indeed.

And Paul Ryan was a risky move, while described as a young hot shot intellectual of the right, his reminiscences of Ayn Rand, austerity, entitlement cutting, and hatred of our traditional social safety net ran the risk of alienating 50+ voters and certainly any remaining Republican moderates. Ah, but those businessmen love risks.

Some called it a safe bet, as the campaign and party shifted to energize their base with an inoffensive white male.

Romney’s capitulation to the Republican Party’s conservative, plutocratic base is now complete. It will be Ryan’s ideas that Romney will be under enormous pressure to pursue and implement as president, and his brand of conservatism that Romney is expected to emulate.

John McCain went on to describe the pick as “bold”, though he probably wasn’t the best to take VP advice from. While less radical than Sarah Palin (or at least, radical in other, less obvious, ways), it seemed to be a repeat of 2008. A relative party moderate feints to the right to pick up those far-right votes, hoping to rebrand after the convention and nearer the debates as a centrist-populist. But Paul Ryan had even more going for him than the confounding Palin; he was already a favorite of the right-wing, and he would go on to fire up the rallies.

That weekend:

Opening rallies were packed, Romney now has even more money, media attention, and a change of tone. Romney gains the full Koch election infrastructure, and Ryan’s base-motivation of The Conservative tribe ( group loyalty and identification is more important among conservatives than not among liberals).

Would the choice resonate? This could be a make-or-break opportunity for the rising star. Ryan was one of the favorites long before the decision, as a concerted pressure campaign by prominent conservatives and grass-roots activists specifically wanted him on the ticket. It’s possible, though anything is in that nasty business, that he’ll emerge a top-tier contender for the 2016 nomination.

He had certainly shined in the House, which dominated the GOP’s thinking as much as the GOP dominates the House. Their screaming, obstructionism, hypocrisy, dogma and pork threatened anything resembling progressive action from the Democrats, and Ryan’s proposed budget in particular bore the standards of “Republican othodoxy” going at least as far back as Reagan.

In true Randian fashion, Ryan’s budget…

 …phases out the Earned Income Tax Credit that keeps millions of American families above the poverty line and cuts funding for children’s healthcare in half. The Children’s Health Insurance Program would be abolished, and millions of working-age Americans would lose health insurance. Senior citizens would anguish over whether to pay their rent or their medical bills, in a way they haven’t since the 1960s. Government would be so starved of resources that, by 2050, it wouldn’t have enough money for core functions like food inspections and highway maintenance.

It was described by economists as the least serious budget plan, which doesn’t bring the budget into balance for decades.

Note: Reagan-era Republicans were more in favor of the social safety net, before decades of racial and class division were sown from the top. Pew Research Center, in 1987, found that 62 percent of Republicans said “the government should take care of people who cannot take care of themselves,” but that number has now dropped to just 40 percent ( PDF)

Ryan, a good little corpo-fascist, would shift social benefits previously guaranteed by the federal government away to voucherized plans. Medical care historically grows at much faster rates than the economy, meaning that the indexed vouchers would fall short of the needs and demands of seniors. The plan is to save the government money, while shifting costs back to seniors and undermine the original goals of Medicare. All the while, the medical, pharmaceutical and insurance companies reap the rewards.

From AddictingInfo.org:

The Congressional Budget Office projects that Ryan’s plan would raise seniors’ out-of-pocket expenses by $6,500 per year.

Ryan’s plan assumes an efficiently working free market, and that considerations for medical needs would be the same as other fiscal concerns; they’re not, and people who are sick and dying want a solution that works, not what’s the most low-cost. It’s a captive market, unless you’re willing to die.

Nothing in the Ryan budget tackles costs on the other side, and why would they? That isn’t in the interests of his paymasters an uninhibited and open free-market.

Starting in 2020, Social Security benefits for new retirees would be cut, the eligibility age would gradually be raised and the program would be partially privatized, a huge boon for the private sector. Payouts would “be more uncertain, despite the guarantee, because returns on stocks and corporate bonds are risky.”

Ryan had referred to Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme”. And while Social Security is not going broke (both sides often start debating having accepted this false premise), Republican strategies just haven’t worked. Voters rejected a privatization scheme when George W. Bush pushed one because it makes the system far less stable, exposing retirement savings to the volatility of the markets, and disproportionately helps the wealthy.

The Tax Policy Center (no friend of the Romney/Ryan camp), had already found that Ryan’s budget would give people that make more than $1 million a year an additional $265,000 tax cut, on average, on top of the $129,000 cut they get from the budget’s extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Predictably, Ryan, like Romney,  could not identify a single loophole they’d close that could generate some of the revenue to make up for the revenue losses from tax cuts on the wealthy (nearly to 25 percent, by nearly 15 percent from current law). That’s over a quarter-million dollars for the top 1 percent; by half a million dollars for people earning over $1 million, and by $1.7 million for the top 0.1 percent. And by also eliminating the capital gains tax, Romney’s tax rate in one year would be just 0.82 percent under Ryan’s proposal.

Audiences have booed Ryan for the unfair distribution:

Ryan’s Blueprint was modified into Romney’s, failing to raise revenues, shifting costs to state and municipal governments (which would, no doubt, raise their own taxes to meet the increased demand, effectively laundering tax increases so Romney/Ryan wouldn’t get blamed for them).

The Economic Policy Institute estimated his plan would suck demand out of the economy and “reduce employment by 1.3 million jobs in fiscal 2013 and 2.8 million jobs in fiscal 2014, relative to current budget policies.”

According to analysis from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 62 percent of Ryan’s cuts come from food stamps, Medicaid and a handful of other programs aimed at helping the most vulnerable in society.  a significant portion of the rest of his cuts come from education, both K-12 and higher ed. would also slash funding for Pell Grants, and There are other cutsas well to higher education and financial aid.

And without military cuts (spurned by both Romney and Ryan), equivalent cuts would have to be made to transportation, science, education, environmental protection, and domestic efforts.

The toxicity of the Ryan budget has been tested (on a small-scale, granted) before, and the results weren’t good.

Paul Ryan’s austerity seemed aimed at the middle and lower classes, his plan would end the Earned Income Tax Credit, once expanded by Reagan, which millions of parents count on. His policies, like many neoconservatives, would send us sliding back into a Recession or Depression just as in 1937-’38, and how the beloved Reagan administration cut the unemployment rate almost in half.

But Paul Ryan, pawn of the moneyed Koch Brothers’ political enterprise (GOP™), extremist, and poser, had attended biannual conservative strategy sessions with big donors. His special events with the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and the Wall Street-backed Club for Growth, among other groups, made him a savory VP pick for the “outsider” Romney.

His toxic stances and outright lies would go on to hurt his image, in the short electoral if not long term. Lying about his requests of stimulus money, requests for earmarks at the same time that he insisted he was against earmarks, all the while steering money to campaign donors.

The Huffington Post reported:

“…in at least two instances involving the Department of Transportation, Ryan has pushed the interests of companies whose members have given him campaign donations.” PPG Industries, which contributed almost $7,000 to his campaign, and the National Auto Dealers Association, which had given him $68,500.

Paul Ryan had voted for TARP, the Wall Street bailout. He got out the Republican vote for TARP as well. But it was unregulated money Paul Ryan imagines flowing into the financial sector’s coffers, Ryan voted against the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the major financial regulatory response to the crisis. (It might be worth noting that Public Citizen did an analysis that found that House members who voted for TARP and against Dodd-Frank, a club Paul Ryan belongs to and consists mostly of Republicans, received three times as much campaign money from the financial industry as those that voted the opposite; in 2010, with a haul of at least $531,500 for the year).

Ryan voted to scrap the Consumer Financial Protection Agency and replace it with a plan proposed by the Chamber of Commerce, those fair and unbiased privateers. But he hasn’t offered anything specific on derivatives, consumer financial protection, insurance, securitization, ratings agencies, and the shadow-banking industry more broadly.

An immediate scandal broke by the Richmonder blog:

Paul Ryan had lined his pockets from information he had obtained from a now-legendary meeting that took place on September 18, 2008. On that day, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson broke the news to congressional leaders that they would have to approve a bailout to avert a complete meltdown of the financial system.  Ryan had sold the stocks of several major banks that day, while purchasing – surprise! – stock in Paulson’s old firm Goldman Sachs.

Money and politics expert Thomas Ferguson, who has written extensively on the bailout, explained, “Ryan did own some index-based securities, but they stand out in the summaries. They are different from the many trades Ryan was making in individual stocks. It is perfectly obvious that he sold shares in Wachovia, Citigroup and J. P. Morgan on September 18 and he bought shares in Paulson’s old firm, Goldman Sachs, on the same day. If these were index trades, what’s on the form is nonsense.”

And wasn’t this delightfully Republican: Paul Ryan and his wife own shares in oil and gas companies that benefit from tax breaks for Big Oil, and Ryan supports $40 billion in subsides for big oil. In fact, his behavior was not atypical of his fellow legislators. According to AlterNet:

…in-depth research undertaken in 2004 considered to be the baseline work in the field revealed that from 1993-1998, US senators were beating the market by 12 percentage points a year on average. Corporate insiders only beat the market by a measly 5 percent. Typical households, in contrast, underperformed by 1.4 percent.

And though the story was quickly swept under the rug in the news cycle, all of this combined to taint the frame of Paul Ryan, the conservative mathermatical wizzerd. But he wasn’t a sorcelator, he was just another acolyte. Doing “math as a Republican to make himself feel better.” A true believer’s true believer, a Koch Republican, an economic anti-populist of the highest order. An anti-tax, anti-spending purist worshiping at the altar of Ayn Rand and whatever Christ condones rampant greed.

ThinkProgress explain that the philosophy Ayn Rand laid out in her novels and essays was, “a frightful concoction of hyper-egotism, power-worship and anarcho-capitalism. She opposed all forms of welfare, unemployment insurance, support for the poor and middle-class, regulation of industry and government provision for roads or other infrastructure. She also insisted that law enforcement, defense and the courts were the only appropriate arenas for government, and that all taxation should be purely voluntary. Her view of economics starkly divided the world into a contest between ‘moochers’ and ‘producers,’ with the small group making up the latter generally composed of the spectacularly wealthy, the successful, and the titans of industry.”

Her psychopathy would go on to inspire Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan, Glenn Beck, and devotee Alan Greenspan.

Ryan tried to disavow Rand’s philosophy to Catholics and moderates, but he had already been recently caught on record proselytizing that Rand “makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism.” On another occasion, he said, “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand…. I try to make my interns read it.” And even if he did distance himself from her Virtues of Selfishness, it served to brand him as a flip flopper. A source of great struggle for the inveterate poseur.

He was long ago hewn to the party’s socially radical far-right, having supported a federal ban on abortion even in the case of rape and incest, and in 1999, voted to ban gay couples from adopting children in the District of Columbia.

Ryan co-sponsored legislation to declare that “each human life begins with fertilization,” Ryan has also voted against letting U.S. troops and their families get abortions at military health centers abroad, and to rescind abortion coverage under the federal employee health plan.

He consistently voted against funding women’s health programs, would defund Planned Parenthood and rescind all dollars for family planning grants under Title X (which already cannot be used for abortion).

He voted in 2004 and 2006 for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. He also voted against repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” as well as hate-crime legislation.

Ryan appeared to agree with Todd Akin about rape, pregnancy and abortion.

True to form, Paul Ryan towed the party line against the President based on pure spite, malevolence and revenge tactics. Ryan attacked Prsident Obama’s stimulus program, but in 2002 supported President George W. Bush’s proposed stimulus spending “to create jobs and help the unemployed,”

During the campaign, Paul Ryan would go on to slam President Obama for adopting Medicare cuts that, until a week before his speech at his alma mater Miami University in Ohio, were openly supported by Ryan himself. He then claimed he actually opposed the cuts before he embraced them (a disastrously Kerry-esque flip-flop). Support for the Romney’s pledge to reverse the cuts would have further complicated the math for both candidates’ repeated vows to rapidly close the deficit. Ryan has consistently opposed measures to crack down on China’s currency manipulation practices, but accused the President of the same. He would go on to lie about Obamacare, even the parts that Romney/Ryan supported. Most erringly, Ryan slammed the President for the closure of an auto plant that closed in late 2008 under George W. Bush. His ‘Oops’ moment may have cost him big.

People began to see him as a shameless opportunist, even hawkishly claiming his sole foreign policy success was that he had ‘voted to send men to war’. For though his family had made its fortune in government contracts for public works, the young Paul Ryan has made his career out of railing against ‘The Public.’

Polls very quickly began to find that a larger swath of Americans were unsettled by Rep. Ryan, or his Medicare plan.  Americans opposed it by a margin of 49 to 34 percent. That’s the same margin as independent voters. Nearly half of Americans said Ryan was a “fair” or “poor” choice for V.P., while just 28 percent said he was an “excellent” or “good” pick.

Criticisms abounded from both left and right almost immediately. He was a “conservative policy scammer” according to economist Paul Krugman.

Republican strategists are privately fretting about the choice. “There are a lot of races that are close to the line we’re not going to win now because they’re going to battle out who’s going to kill grandma first … It could put the Senate out of reach. In the House it puts a bunch of races in play that would have otherwise been safe,” one unnamed Republican strategist told the Hill. “Very not helpful down ballot — very,” an unnamed strategist told Politico.  “This is the day the music died,” another unnamed operative, who is working for a 2012 candidate, added. Yet another told Politico, “The good news is that this ticket now has a vision. The bad news is that vision is basically just a chart of numbers used to justify policies that are extremely unpopular.”

Even Newt Gingrich famously said: “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”

Politico summed up their findings:

“In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives — old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike — the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election.”

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate had some choice words:

“He voted for the Patriot Act, he voted for the National Defense Appropriation Act, he voted to ban online poker, he’s proposing a budget that gets balanced in thirty years. He is anything but a libertarian, anything but.”

“Somewhere in hell, Ayn Rand is cackling with glee,” Democratic strategist Paul Begala wrote.

Faith in Public Life, a strategy center for religious groups, opposed Ryan’s budget and Catholic groups claimed the militantly atheist Rand led Ryan to abandon his own faith with a budget that hurts the needy. Ryan was personally harassed by a Catholic protestor last year asking him to denounce Rand’s views and embrace the Bible.

USA Today-Gallup poll showed “Americans rating [Ryan’s] selection more unfavorably than any pick since at least 2000.” Forty-six percent of poll respondents in 2008 rated their initial reaction to Palin “excellent or pretty good.” For Ryan, the number is just 39 percent.

Disastrous news for a floundering party and campaign that picked the Wiz Kid, the Wonk, the Boy Wonder to improve polls. Instead, only 48 percent of voters polled by Gallup described him as “qualified” to be president, besting only Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin.

The powerful swing state voters who ultimately decided the election didn’t need more reasons to reject the Romney train, but Ryan was just that. Unmarried women shifted 10 points toward Obama, along with the Rising American Electorate (net 3-point shift), and independents (net 9-point shift). Even conservatives were swayed, shifting a net 13 points toward Obama.

And though he certainly did help fundraising, it seemed in the end that fundraising was a wash. The country was largely purple, with the populous cities (and thus electoral votes) a deep blue. Paul Ryan may have “brought vision” to the Romney team, but his clear vision was encrusted with cataracts, blinding him and his cohorts to the needs of real Americans. He would go on to do his best fumbling through the many fallacies of Republican dogma, balancing Randian and fundamentalist Christian philosophy, reconciling both corporate and populist messages, and navigating the hazardous differences of his own and Mitt Romney’s obscured policy vision.

The ticket became what they ultimately wanted, a base-energized ‘clear choice’ to Obama, whom they wanted to vote out “above all else.” Americans recognized this clear choice between visions, and chose accordingly. It can be presented no differently now, it should be spun as nothing less than the gold they thought it was mere weeks ago.

But by a long shot, we haven’t seen nor heard the last of extremists like Paul Ryan. Not only was he re-elected handily despite being a no-show in his Wisconsin seat race, there is now an empty field of view to 2016, and somebody ‘immensely proud‘ of his vice-presidential bid could claim some serious chops. Would it be disastrous or calculated? Much of that may depend on how the next four years go, how obstructionist the Republicans may continue to be (or how successful such attempts may be), how much he may appear to be a ‘loser’ after four years, and if or how the GOP retools away from the dangerous scam they have running on the American people. A scam with Paul Ryan’s smiling punim and Mitt Romney’s off-putting grin. A scam the American people recognized and all-too-willingly rejected.

Most Citizens of the Star Wars Galaxy Were Probably Totally Illiterate

This article originally appeared on Disinfo.com

Though there are hundreds of Star Wars books and comics, somebody might have a hard time finding anyone in the Galaxy writing or reading one themselves. This would explain why everything is done via droids and holograms, libraries are made up of ‘holocrons’, and why the political reality of the Jedi become mythical legends in a single generation. As Ryan Britt of Tor.com points out, with the exception of the Jedi and some Imperial officers, it doesn’t seem like those denizens Far, Far Away have any interest in the written word. And even those that do don’t seem ready to follow on ‘some damn fool idealistic crusade’ for literacy.

Via Tor.com:

Not once in any Star Wars movie does someone pick up a book or newspaper, magazine, literary journal, or chapbook handmade by an aspiring Jawa poet. If something is read by someone in Star Wars, it’s almost certainly off of a screen (and even then, maybe being translated by a droid), and it’s definitely not for entertainment purposes. As early as the 1990s-era expanded Star Wars books and comic books, we’re introduced to ancient Jedi “texts” called holocrons, which are basically talking holographic video recordings. Just how long has the Star Wars universe been reliant on fancy technology to transfer information as opposed to the written word? Is it possible that a good number of people in Star Wars are completely illiterate?

If you simply stick to the Star Wars films, there is no news media of any kind. Despite the fact that we see cameras circling around Queen/Senator Amidala in the Senate, they don’t seem to be actually feeding this information anywhere. Are they security cameras, like the ones that recorded Anakin killing little tiny Jedi kiddies? This theory achieves a little more weight when you consider that the conversation in The Phantom Menace Senate scene is all about how Queen Amidala can’t verify the existence of a coming invasion. She’s got no pictures, and stranger still, no reputable news source has even written about the blockade of Naboo. Even if we put forth that cameras in Star Wars are only for security and not for news, that still leaves the question of why there are no journalists. A possible answer: it’s because most people don’t read, which means that over time most people in this universe don’t ever learn to read.

Read more

Schrödinger’s Drone: The Assassination Program That Both Does and Doesn’t Exist

This article originally appeared on Disinfo.com

Despite his many ’08 campaign promises and pronouncements after being inaugurated, Barack Obama’s may be the least transparent presidency in modern history, decreasing the fulfillment of FOIA requests each year, and prosecuting record numbers of whistle-blowers. Some of his past statements now seem laughably naïve (either for him or for us):

“For a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city. The old rules said if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing something to the American people, then it should not be disclosed. That era is now over.”

~Barack Obama, January 21, 2009

Nowhere has this hypocrisy been more *ahem* clear, than with the administration’s ramped up drone program, which it alternately attributes and denies is being coordinated between the military and the CIA. The drone strikes which eyewitness and press reports have shown to take place (even at funeral processions and against those trying to give aid to drone strike victims) are veiled behind contradictory official reports, classifications, outright denials, and obfuscatory language. No accurate assessment of civilian deaths can be made, as the administration refuses to acknowledge any real numbers, and furthermore designates any drone strike victims as ex post facto militant combatants.

President Obama recently lied through his teeth to CNN, claiming that the preference was always capture and that strikes required a ‘strict, tight criteria’, while of course, sidestepping any accountability and offering no verifiable numbers or details. Glenn Greenwald and other journalists have done a stellar job of doggedly following these secret military maneuvers, including Eric Holder’s dismissal of due process, which can now be fulfilled by secret “internal deliberations by the executive branch”.

At the same time, government officials love to tout the successes of their drone strikes, such as the assassinations of Anwar al-Awlaki last year, and Abu Yahya al-Libi last June (which may have been a major factor in Al Qaeda’s revenge killings against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi this week). They want to have their cake, but also claim that the cake is a lie. Apparently, the drone program exists in a superposition of possible rest states. Probably shouldn’t trust unnamed sources, anyway.

ProPublica has recently collated the reporting of the secret drone war in a nifty, easy-to-use visual timeline.

Administration officials—often unnamed—frequently seem to celebrate drone strikes that kill suspected militants. But the administration has also worked against disclosures of less positive aspects of the CIA’s program, including how many civilians have been killed. We’ve laid out four years of statements by current and former officials discussing the CIA’s drone program, both on and off the record. (Most of these stories also include a “no comment” from the CIA or the White House.)Highlighted in red are the CIA’s legal stances refusing to even acknowledge the program in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.

ProPublica‘s ongoing project is now available online for your perusal.

Related: How the Gov’t Talks About a Drone Program it Won’t Acknowledge Exists

Progger (Prog Rock + Prog Politics)

With so much trouble in the USA, I’ll need some complex and conceptual instrumentation to help my concentration in relation to the the shifting paradigms and persecutions perpetrated by the status quo!

With Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) holding hearings on contraception and religious freedom that produced the now-famous picture of a table full of men called to weigh in on access to contraceptives, barring women from testifying like a strict theocratic state in the Middle East!

With police arresting the victim of wrongful foreclosure simply for demanding a place to live for his family!

With our elected officials answering to the wealthy instead of the rest of us, or better, all of us equally, their priorities shift dramatically, often against the American people!

With cyberwar hype fuelling a cybersecurity-industrial complex! With private corporations pushing for stricter criminal penalties for smaller crimes to fill the coffers of their prison-industrial complex!

Angry political ranting, longform chaotic musical experimentation, space-time exploration, and run-on sentences abound in this very progressive episode of the Stranger in a Strange Land!

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Electric Light Orchestra
Departure/Ride My See-Saw – Moody Blues
Stagnation – Genesis
Dharma for one – Jethro Tull
The Idiot Bastard Son – Jean-Luc Ponty
Myopic Void – Captain Beyond
No Good Trying – Syd Barrett
Cops & Robbers – Wild Man Fischer
A Story of Mysterious Forest – Ain Soph
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-IX) – Pink Floyd
Stoned Guitar – Human Instinct
South Side Of The Sky – Yes
Alucard – Gentle Giant
2112 – Rush
Promenade – Tomita
From the Beginning – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Epitaph – King Crimson

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-02-18: Progger by The Stranger on Mixcloud

Though you may hear progressive chants on anything from income equality to prisoners, racist police brutality to corporate fraud, bought-out politicians subverting our democracy or people getting kicked out of their homes or nonviolent small-case drug offenses leading to convictions or student loan justice… the message is clear. We don’t want non-elected and/or bought power-mongers controlling us and corrupting every inch of our once-free and once-great nation of laws and justice.

We need to be wary of all kinds of things that will lead us into a totalitarian dictatorship, or the patriarchal oligarchy that enslaves us to the fanatical right-wing beliefs of a select few. Did the people of Weimar Germany know what would be coming a few decades later? And before you accuse me of unfairly applying Godwin’s Law, I’ll also use France as an example. Did the violent revolutionaries overthrowing the rich monarchs know that a militant megalomaniac would conquer much of the world in a few years’ time? I’m not invoking nazis to compare any modern group to them, (that would make me Glenn Beck) just as an example that we are NOT on some liberal march as a species to a better tomorrow. While awareness of human rights has been relatively progressive overall, heinous acts still take place not only in third-world nations but in every nation in the world, and if history is any indicator, a great period of civil liberty can be followed by evil Emperors or cruel tyranny.

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

Because “progressive” in this day and age, just means trying to keep us from going backwards.

No Comment

There are little surveys everywhere in my life. On the internet, (the three or now four blogs I chose to sign up for because its all free and the poon is pretty tender and tasty with a hint of salt but certainly not overseasoned), the school Scantrons that tell people whether you approve/disapprove of your teachers and the class, and just random survey questions from people I know. These range from everything like “Who is hotter, Leonardo DiCaprio or Tom Hanks in ‘Big'” to “What’s the biggest crap you’ve ever had?” Each legitimately and strategically important to the success of someone. But there is always this third option. Politicians and Doomsday scientists use it. And it is called, ‘No Comment.’ When was the last time YOU said ‘No Comment’? Does anybody go out of their way to take a survey (be it on a street corner or on the WorldWide Web) to say ‘No Comment’? I am now going to raise the percentage of ‘No Comments’ by answereing a bunch of surveys in this fashion. Sure, it’s a waste of time. Sure, it’s a cop-out with the cock out. Sure, it’s out of the way when I have ACTUAL work to do. So why do it? No comment.