Friday, June 7, 2013

Romney Revisionism

I don't know if he thinks lying makes it better, or if he really doesn't know what he's talking about. Generally, I follow Hanlon's Razor, and try not to attribute to malice what can just as easily be explained by stupidity, but either one seems plausible at this point.

Talking about what went wrong, Romney said they didn't get the turnout from minority voters that they needed and he acknowledged his campaign was outmatched by his opponent's massive organization.

"I think he had as many as 10 times the number of ground workers, paid staff, that we had, because he could afford them and we couldn't," he said.

Uh, Romney's campaign directly spent over $480 million. I'm pretty sure they could have afforded a better field program than the one they actually built.

The Obama campaign had more ground workers and paid staff because they managed their funds a lot better than Romney did and prioritized their field and data programs higher than Romney's. Mitt squandered a fortune on consultant fees and wildly mis-targeted his media buys, which wasted millions of dollars that could have gone to build a more competent field program.

He also came off as a self-important, dishonest, uncaring jerk, which might have had some impact on his low-dollar fundraising efforts. But either way, he could easily have afforded a better campaign, he just didn't have the skill to build one.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chris Christie knows what he's doing

Calling for a special election in October, when there's already going to be a general election in November, is an expensive hassle that will annoy voters and pundits alike. That's probably the best that Christie could have hoped for. The worst-case scenario for him would be going up against the Cory Booker GOTV machine, simply because the biggest obstacle to his reelection is the likelihood that Democrats will simply mob the polls in this off-year election.

When you look at it that way, it's worth $24 million to Christie to call for an October vote. It's terrible financial stewardship for crass political purposes, but they're really important crass political purposes.

Just when you thought racism couldn't get any more racismer

Kinda makes me wanna sing a verse of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee." But not in the happy way:

Who would have thought that breakfast cereal would trigger the latest racial battle line? In this case, a Cheerios ad much like every other homespun Cheerios ad — with a heart healthy message and loving family – ran into trouble from some commenters because of the kind of family it featured. Mom is white, dad is black and their cute little daughter is a mix of the both of them.

That’s it.

Cheerios had to disable comments on YouTube – I’m not going to repeat them but you can imagine the general witless racism with stereotypes about minorities and warnings of race-mixing as the end of civilization. Late Friday night, after a day of widespread news coverage, the ad had more than 8,400 thumbs-up votes on YouTube, versus about 900 thumbs-down.

If your conception of the American state or your core convictions can be shaken by a commercial for bland cereal, you've got bigger problems to worry about.

And you're also an asshole.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Harvard Law, folks! Let's give them a round of applause.

I'm beginning to wonder if the GOP might not be making an attempt to undercut the President's legal background by having some of its own HLS grads act like complete idiots.

First example: Congressman Cotton of Arkansas.

Sure, I'm obligated to point out how obliviously unconstitutional the Cotton Amendment was. But stunning stupidity aside, there's something really depressing in his follow-up:

“I sympathize with their plight if they are harmless, innocent civilians in Iran. I doubt that that is often the case.”

He seems to be suggesting that it's more likely that people from a country governed by a domestically oppressive, murderous regime are coming to America in order to attack us than that they're coming to seek shelter and aid from us.

Setting aside the rest of the offensively paranoid racism, that's a really sad--and very unpatriotic--sentiment to hear from a Congressman. I tend to think people from countries that murder demonstrators in the streets who come to the U.S. are probably more interested in taking shelter in our freedoms than attacking them. When the world looks up at the Shining City on a Hill, does Rep. Cotton really believe they're thinking "hey, a shining city on a hill! Let's attack it!"?

Next we have someone who I don't think will ever run dry as a fount of entertainment (unless he's actually elected and put in a position of power, in which case I don't think anyone will find it funny at all): the GOP nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, E.W. Jackson, who doesn't think federal disaster relief is constitutional, says that the idea of GLBT Pride Month "makes me feel ikky all over," and, of course, this:

In an April 28, 2011 statement while he was a Senate candidate, conservative minister and lawyer E.W. Jackson held up the three-fifths clause as an “anti-slavery” measure. The context of his statement was to attack President Obama after a pastor at a church service he attended referred to the three-fifths clause as a historical marker of racism.

“Rev. [Charles Wallace] Smith must not have understood the 3/5ths clause was an anti-slavery amendment. Its purpose was to limit the voting power of slave holding states,” Jackson, an African-American, said in his statement.

The Three-Fifths Compromise was the way that the South was able to dominate American politics until the Civil War. It's why more than half of Presidents before Lincoln were Southern slave-owners. It's why the list of Speakers of the House before the Civil War is dominated by Southerners and slave-owners. To claim that it was an "amendment" is bad enough for someone from HLS (the sort of mistake we expect from the laity), but to claim it was "anti-slavery" is stupid beyond all mortal ken.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Community" inches closer to six seasons and a movie

When Joel McHale made his deal with Satan, it seems he did a good job of reading the fine print:
“Community” has squeaked out a fifth season renewal from NBC. And the Greendale Community College gang undoubtedly owes a debt to the expanding SVOD marketplace for persuading NBC that it was worth investing in what will probably be a last hurrah for the cult-fave series from Sony Pictures TV.

I don't expect the ratings to get any better, but the last few episodes of the season that just ended were surprisingly solid. There's also the added benefit that, knowing this is almost certainly going to be all she wrote, and not having Chevy Chase around to deal with, they can go ahead and give the cast something for their highlight reels. If Alison Brie doesn't have her own sitcom deal within the next few years, it's a sign that there is no justice in the world. Donald Glover needs a feature film (as funny as "Mystery Team" was, the man deserves an eight-digit budget). And poor Danny Pudi has spent too much time stuck in what I call "Spiner's Valley": that career trough that only comes when someone plays an essentially expressionless character for too long and afterwards can't really get any parts that require real acting. They need some showpieces.

Read it with the eyes you use for reading

I'm unsure whether to consider this pastiche or parody, but I'm leaning extremely funny pastiche.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A crazy man and a "fighting rifle"

(Cross-posted at DailyKos)

On March 10th, in the small town of Middlefield, Ohio, James Gilkerson took a right turn too fast onto the State Route 608. Two local police officers--Erin Thomas and Brandon Savage--were patrolling in their cruiser and saw the turn. They pulled Gilkerson over.

Before they could approach his car, he stepped out with an AK-47 holding 40 rounds and opened fire on the officers. Thomas was wounded. The two officers returned fire, hitting Gilkerson. He doubled over in pain and yelled, "kill me!" He stood back up, raised his AK-47 back towards the officers, and started firing again. The officers again returned fire, killing him.

The dashboard camera ran the entire time, and the audio was recorded as well. This footage is now available, though it is extremely graphic, and I wouldn't recommend watching it.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer released a slide show of items found in Gilkerson's car. In addition to many more high-capacity magazines, he also had literature on corpse disposal, ammunition and explosive manufacturing, a book on homemade weaponry, a book on constructing suppressors, a copy of "Invisible Resistance to Tyranny" (which, according to its Amazon page, promises to teach readers "the many paths of invisible resistance to tyranny - intelligence collection and dissemination, propaganda, support for active operations and, if it should ever come down to it, direct operations against a totalitarian regime"), and a couple of training manuals in gunfighting.

It was one of those last items that stood out to me as I looked through the slides. Specifically, this one:

This manual was recovered along with ammunition and other militant literature from the car of an insurrectionist who attacked police officers in Ohio back in March.

I noticed, as I skimmed past it, the logo on the bottom-right corner.

"Tactical Response"

Tactical Response is the weapons training company run by James Yeager. Mr. Yeager, you might recall, made headlines in January for a web video where he promised to "start killing people" if President Obama pursued tougher gun control:

"James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response, a Tennessee company that trains people in weapon and tactical skills, claimed in a video posted on YouTube and Facebook that he would "start killing people" if President Barack Obama decides to take executive action to pass further gun control policies, Raw Story reports.

In a frenetic address to the camera, Yeager puts a call out to other gun rights advocates to "load your damn mags" and "get ready to fight" in what he claims will turn into a "civil war" if gun control measures in the country get any stricter."

Transcript: "Fuck that. I'm telling you, if that happens, it's going to spark a civil war and I'll be glad to fire the first shot. I'm not putting up with it. You shouldn't put up with it. And I need all you patriots to start thinking about what you're going to do, load your damn mags, make sure your rifle's clean, pack a backpack with some food in it, and get ready to fight. I am not fucking putting up with this. I am not letting my country be ruled by a dictator. (yelling) I am not letting anybody take my guns! If it goes one inch further, I'm going to start killing people."

Mr. Yeager's permit to carry a concealed weapon was temporarily suspended after that video, but was returned to him last month.

The course book that Gilkerson had with him was for a two-day Tactical Response training program called "Fighting Rifle." Here's the course description from their website:

You know how to shoot your rifle or subgun now let us teach you how to FIGHT with it! This course is far more advanced than any other rifle course you can attend (with the exception of our advanced course) and covers trajectory, battlesight zero, gear set-up, sling configurations, transitions to pistol, use of cover and concealment, practical ready and firing positions, close- and medium-range snap shooting, weapons handling, urban applications, team drills, firing while moving, multiple targets, plus the tactics required to employ this potent tool in combat. Every student leaves this class with empty mags, a red hot rifle, and a smile from ear to ear! This is one of our most popular courses.

This class is great for nearly any magazine fed rifle or subgun and any traditional military style rifle. We will show you how to run your MP5, AR, AK, RPK, FAL, M1A, G3, VZ-58 or whatever weapon you have!

To my knowledge, Tactical Response hasn't made any statements about the Middlefield shooting, not even to comment on the attacker's form and technique. And just because he had what appears to be materials from this course doesn't mean he necessarily received training--I'm confident he could have picked it up from the same source as the other literature in his car, which I assume probably came from a vendor at a gun show or a table at an extremist right-wing rally--but I think it's worth looking into, especially as the course is regularly taught in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In January, the CEO of this company says he wants "patriots" to "load your damn mags, make sure your rifle's clean...and get ready to fight," because he's ready to "start killing people." In March, someone with his company's training materials from a course on how to better kill people using assault weapons opens fire on police officers with an AK-47 loaded with a high-capacity magazine.

Say what you will, it's a uniquely American story.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Add "claustrophobia" to the list of things I will never forget in my life

Also, as true today as it was when it was written: I mean, except for the part where Art Fleming and Don Pardo are involved. But that shit about not even getting the home game is spot on. I was seriously bummed about that part.

Also, I didn't get to meet Johnny Gilbert, which made me sad. But other than those two things--no home game, no Johnny--it was a total blast. We played a great game (all of our scores were well over $20,000), and I got paid $1000 to play a game and visit L.A. Not a bad deal.

Recommended reading: www.BobHarris.com

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Good News in Gay Rights

France legalized gay marriage.

Rhode Island is about to pass gay marriage.

Delaware is getting close as well.

We live in interesting hopeful times.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Senatorial Misfire

As expected, the Senate failed to move forward on any firearms legislation.

The most popular proposal--toughening penalties for straw purchasers and weapons traffickers--failed by a vote of 58-42, with only Republicans voting against it.

The second-most popular proposal--a Republican plan to gut states' rights by mandating reciprocity for concealed-carry permits issued in any state, whether that state required an extensive training course or that the applicant collect three box tops from Remington products--failed 57-43.

The weakened background checks proposal from Sens. Manchin and Toomey, which was already a compromise of a compromise, failed 54-46.

Reinstating the ban on high-capacity magazines failed with no Republicans supporting it. Same with the Assault Weapons Ban.

No matter how the issues may split us, we are all united in the common belief that Congress is overpopulated with cowards and idiots.

Also, what he said:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tragic irony strikes again.

This time at the NRA 500.

A medical examiner says a man who died in the infield during a NASCAR’s NRA 500 race at Texas Motor Speedway shot himself in the head. The event was the first NRA-branded race in NASCAR’s premier series.

The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office on Sunday said the death of 42-year-old Kirk Franklin of Saginaw was a suicide.

Fort Worth police have said a man who was camping in the infield died of a “self-inflicted injury” after getting into an argument with other campers. The incident happened late in the Sprint Cup race.

In related news, an 11 year-old carried an assault weapon at a rally at the New Hampshire state house, and a gun nut who declared he was "gonna start killing people" if gun control passed had his concealed carry permit restored after its previous revocation.

But at least the King of England can't come in here and push us around.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wait...CNN did investigative reporting?!!

AC360 does the obligatory "how easy is it to buy a gun at a gun show without showing ID?" hidden-camera investigation.

The answer, as it has always been, is "really damn easy."

And yes, for the record, these were all illegal purchases under federal law, since they were made outside the buyer's home state. So if someone tells you that they don't want new gun laws but do want to see more enforcement of the laws that we have, remind them that we need to expand background checks for precisely that reason.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Manchin-Toomey: A major misfire

The AP reports that, an hour from now, Sens. Joe Manchin (Sad about being a D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) will present their compromise on background checks. If the details that have leaked thus far are accurate, it's nowhere near acceptable:

The emerging deal would expand required background checks for sales at gun shows and online but exempt transactions like face-to-face, noncommercial purchases, said Senate staffers and lobbyists, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private talks. Currently, the checks are required only for sales handled through licensed gun dealers.

Though many details of the emerging agreement were unclear, Manchin and Toomey are among their parties’ most conservative members and a deal could make it easier for some hesitant senators to support the background check measure, at least for now.

Some Republicans might vote to begin debate on the legislation but eventually oppose the measure on final passage. Other parts of Obama’s gun effort already seem likely to face defeat, including proposed bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

This might be useful for breaking a filibuster, but it's pretty useless otherwise.

I accept that the assault weapons ban is dead on arrival (and said as much to Time Magazine), and I'm resigning myself to the idea that the high-capacity magazine restriction is probably going to be defeated as well. After all, those measures only enjoy around 58-59% public support.

Universal background checks--criminal history and mental health checks for every gun purchase, whether made at a dealer or a gun show or out of the back of a Subaru--consistently poll around 90% support. I can't think of any active legislation that's more popular.

Yet here come Manchin and Toomey, exempting a huge number of face-to-face transactions. I could live with exempting gifts between immediate family, but to say that I can sell a gun to a stranger in a parking lot and not have to run a background check is to leave one huge goddamn hole in the background check system.

Years ago, people conflated the "gun show loophole"--a rule that allowed licensed dealers to move inventory into their "private collections" and then sell those guns at gun shows without conducting background checks--with the problem of face-to-face sales conducted by non-dealers. So now, all Manchin and Toomey have to do is include sales at gun shows in their bill, and people will think the problem is solved.

It isn't. This might be useful for getting past the filibuster, but this would make terrible, weak law, in an area that's begging for real reform. Every sale needs a check, and any bill that falls short of that is inadequate.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Important Collegiate Sports News

The New College [] defeated the Ringling Clowns (I don't know what their actual mascot is, but this works), by a score of 19-18.

Okay, that's not the greatest score for a football game, but hell, a win's a win.

NCF Football: Still Undefeated! Fight on, null set!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Article 3:16

I can't wait until the North Carolina legislature tells us the proper interpretation of the 13th Amendment, too!

A bill filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, and seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide.

...

House Bill 494, a resolution filed by Republican Rowan County Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford, would refuse to acknowledge the force of any judicial ruling on prayer in North Carolina – or indeed on any Constitutional topic:

"The Constitution of the United States does not grant the federal government and does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional; therefore, by virtue of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the power to determine constitutionality and the proper interpretation and proper application of the Constitution is reserved to the states and to the people," the bill states. "Each state in the union is sovereign and may independently determine how that state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion."

...

The bill goes on to say:

SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

The North Carolina General Assembly may assert that if it wishes, but then the North Carolina General Assembly will affirm it's run by witless, illiterate buffoons who should by all rights be drafting legislation with Crayolas on construction paper.

Someone needs to remind these fine Southern scholars that, when it comes to the federal-state relationship, the courthouse they should be remembering is Appomattox.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In the Memphis city rain

Protest in Memphis features 61 Klansman, 47 teeth.

It's good that only 61 racist twits were willing to show up, even with a massive police presence there to keep them from getting their hoods shoved up their asses.

It's bad that any Klansmen were anywhere, because they are all massive assholes.

It's interesting that they chose to protest because parks named for Jeff Davis, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and the Confederacy were being renamed. The obvious conclusion is that having stuff named for Jeff Davis, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and the Confederacy makes the Klan happy. So, you know, DON'T HAVE THINGS NAMED FOR SLAVERY-LOVING RACIST JERKS WHOSE VERY EXISTENCE IS A BLIGHT ON AMERICAN HISTORY. Because having stuff like that makes the Klan happy. And they shouldn't be happy. Because they are all massive assholes.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Preempted family

Looks like my dad's appearance on "60 Minutes" to discuss the Pioneer Hotel fire is being preempted by some collegiate sporting event involving craziness. Hopefully they'll broadcast it before too long.

UPDATE 4/1: Here's the full segment.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Half-Cocked Pedants

I have decided that the most annoying subset of people are those who insist on correcting anyone who uses the word "clip" instead of "magazine."

Having been around guns since I was a kid, owned them since I was about 13, regularly shot them for many years, and having both sorts of devices within arm's reach of me now, I've never once been in a situation where the terms "clip" and "magazine" weren't freely used interchangeably, except for conversations where some pedantic gun control opponent wants to pretend that people who disagree with him don't know anything about guns.

I have never known anyone to give two shits about the distinction except in that context. I've never been to a range where someone passes a magazine to his shooting partner and asks him to "reload that clip" and everyone on the line stops to correct him. I've never heard anyone yelled at for saying they got a "new clip for my Sig" or anything of the sort.

Yeah, it's technically inaccurate to say "clip" instead of "magazine." Nobody gives this much of a crap except when trying to be dismissive. Ever.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SCOTUS marriage cases began today

I think the odds are good for Team Love in the marriage equality cases, but let's be clear about the stakes:

No matter what the Court does, DOMA's expiration date is coming up fast, and we can expect not only federal rights but full faith and credit being extended to marriages entered into in any state.

What we can't bank on is that gay Americans in every state will have the right to marry without sneaking across the border to somewhere more accepting. Without the Court extending constitutional protection to the right to marry, there may, for the rest of our lives, be states that refuse to treat gay and lesbian citizens equally.

You can look at national polls supporting marriage equality and say that gays and lesbians are now powerful enough to get what they want through the democratic process, but that's a very bird's-eye view of the landscape. Take a look at individual states, and you'll understand that in many of them, gay citizens are still viewed as second-class. Unless the Court acts to protect those Americans, this inequality could remain for generations to come.

Hey, Towson University has a Nazi Club!

College boys at Towson U. Went in dumb, come out dumb too.

I'm sure the people of Baltimore will be just thrilled to have white supremacist vigilantes wandering around.

Monday, March 25, 2013

We don't know for sure if George Zimmerman is a racist*, but ain't no doubt that his mama raised at least one.

--

(* - Yeah, we do.)

146 Reasons to Support Labor Unions

146 people died on March 25, 1911, in the infamous Triangle Shirt Waist Fire. Two of them were only 14, three were only 15. Most were young women who had come to the US looking for better lives. All were victims of unchecked business interests trampling the rights and safety of workers.

RPG after-action report

The gang of adventurers managed to (mostly) survive yet another delve into the ruins of the Tower of Magic in Castle Greyhawk. Not so lucky with the plucky band of investigators in "Call of Cthulhu." I'm sorry to report that I went insane and attempted to walk into the waiting arms...err, tentacles, of an ancient beast released upon the earth who devoured our minds and bodies. Humanity is doomed. My bad.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

RPGs: Not just explosive small arms!

Looking forward to a Sunday filled with an almost unreasonably large amount of role-playing games. Pathfinder for the first part, Call of Cthulhu for the second part. I somehow managed to avoid RPGs as a kid, but over the past two years or so, I've started playing D&D pretty regularly, thanks to a couple of friends from theatre who got me into it. So far, I've been a rogue from the Pirate Isles, a paladin of Iomedae, and a ribald Bard. Yes, it's nerdy as hell. But you know what? So am I.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Well THAT didn't take long.

Three days ago I'm saying that I'm stuck on the couch looking for something to do. Then yesterday an old colleague offers me a senior position in his consulting firm, and just like that, I'm back to work. Granted, I'm still on the couch. But at least now I'm not bored.

This is worse than whatever nightmarish delusions Wayne LaPierre might have

A baby was shot in the head. The mother was shot in the leg. And the police are looking for suspects between 10 and 15 years old.

The incident in Brunswick prompted a search for two young male suspects, one between 13 and 15 years old, and the other possibly as young as 10.

...

The mother, who was treated and released from a hospital, told CNN affiliate WAWS that she was walking her 13-month-old in his stroller Thursday morning when the two youths approached her and demanded money.

"He said, 'I am going to kill you if you don't give me your money,'" said Sherry West. She said she insisted she had no cash so the older boy shot her in the leg.

"He says, 'Well, I am going to kill your baby.'"

She tried to shield the baby, but the boy shoved her away and shot the infant in the head, she said.

I'm so glad that we live in a nation that's flooded with handguns. Think of the horrors that would befall us without them.

Too Big To Fail

Stories like this drive me nuts:

There is virtually no chance any significant piece of legislation will pass Congress that would meaningfully reduce the size of the nation’s biggest banks or restrict their activities.

It’s true the recent rise in break-up-the-banks fever could embolden regulators to get a little tougher in final Dodd-Frank rules, expected later this year. And a strange bedfellows, left-right coalition is now pressing for more dramatic action.

Still, there’s nothing on the horizon likely to satisfy those who say the biggest banks — led by JPMorganChase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Bank of America — continue to pose a systemic threat to the U.S. economy.

First was "too big to fail." Then was "too big to prosecute." At some point, can we please focus on the first two words in those phrases?

We screwed up letting this happen. We need to fix it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Potato Chips and Lunch Meat, Up in the Front Seat

Not to get too deep into my undergraduate experiences, but this is exactly correct.

“Our potencies here are off the scale,” confirms longtime grower Todd Ellison, co-founder of Colorado Marijuana Marketing, a one-stop shop for weed-related entrepreneurs in search of marketing help. “I have a guy who taught me to grow, who has been growing since the ’60s. And this stuff blows him away.” And Ellison agrees. “I am almost 40. I’ve got three kids. You don’t want something that is going to lay you out and make you stupid all day.”

...

When my brother, Andrew Marris, got into the weed-analysis business, he expected that growers would be poring over readouts detailing the concentrations of the various psychoactive components, trying to create perfect, complex masterpieces. Instead, though, he found that many of his customers were obsessively focused on just one statistic: the percentage of THC.

This THC obsession has created a bimodal weed supply. There’s the carefully bred marijuana, with excellent flavor and aroma and pleasing suite of effects—which are ridiculously, hallucinatory, time-stutteringly strong for a casual user. Then there’s ditch weed or Mexican brick weed. Sure, you can smoke it around the campfire until the stars go out, but it smells bad and tastes bad, and nobody is going to bother testing it or perfecting it. What’s missing is lower-potency, high-quality dope.

Part of the issue is that, with the illegality of marijuana, procuring it has (until very recently in a very few places) been a criminal act that people don't like going through with any regularity. High-potency pot means that users can smoke less of it, less often, thus reducing the frequency of return visits. For sellers in places where the criminal aspect is about to disappear, steps that lead to more return visits will be welcome. Weaker strains that users can smoke more of will provide a big boost in that regard.

Today's less potent stuff looks worse, tastes worse and feels worse than the high-octane stuff, but the high-octane stuff is just too strong. Figuring out how to bridge that gap will be the key to a viable long-term market structure.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Things That Keep State Rep. John Kavanagh Awake at Night

"Weird people," indeed:
A new bill introduced this week by Republican state representative John Kavanagh would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor to use a public restroom that does not correspond to the gender on one’s birth certificate. If a person is reported to be using the bathroom without the proper paperwork and matching genitals, it would be defined as “disorderly conduct” and the person could be fined $2,500 and spend six months in jail.

The new bill comes on the heels of anti-discriminatory legislation passed in Phoenix last month which extended basic protections to transgender people in housing, the workplace, and in places of public accommodation.

It’s the last bit regarding “public accommodation” that inspired Kavanagh to introduce his own bill. He told 12 News Phoenix: “The city of Phoenix has crafted a bill that allows people to define their sex by what they think in their head. If you’re a male, you don’t go into a female shower or locker room, or vice versa.”

He added that the Phoenix ordinance could also protect “weird” people who use the wrong bathroom on purpose: “It also raises the specter of people who want to go into those opposite sex facilities not because they’re transgender, but because they are weird.”

When I was in middle school, one of my classmates was a transsexual student who was biologically female but identified as male. Would anyone care to guess what happened the day he tried to use the "correct" girls' restroom when a substitute teacher who didn't realize the situation was on duty?

This is about shaming the trans community. Nothing more.

Today's Tragic Juxtaposition

...comes to us from the Great State of Colorado:

Colorado prison chief shot dead on eve of gun laws signing

(Reuters) - The head of Colorado's prison system was shot dead at his home in what police said may have been a targeted killing, just hours before the governor on Wednesday signed new gun control laws spurred by a rash of deadly mass shootings in Colorado and elsewhere.

Police said Tom Clements, 58, appointed two years ago as executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, was shot on Tuesday night at his home in a secluded wooded area near the picturesque town of Monument, 45 miles south of Denver.

The killing did not appear to be linked to any break-in or robbery attempt, said El Paso County Sheriff's Department Lieutenant Jeff Kramer. He said the shooting did not appear to be random.

Meanwhile, on the Governor's Facebook page, gun nuts are trolling in full force, because apparently "the right to keep and bear arms" means "the right to own whatever kind of guns and magazines you feel like without ever submitting to a background check." Because freedom.

Bachmannia!

It still amazes me that Michele Bachmann was, at one point, a front-runner for the Republican nomination for President. I have a very hard time imagining how people look at her and think "There's someone I want representing me!"

Here she is running away from Dana Bash while trying to dodge questions about false information in a speech she gave.

Henceforth, this shall be known as the "Bana Dash"

And here is the Washington Post fact-checker pointing out another massive lie from the same speech:

Indeed, the 2013 budget documents submitted to Congress by the Agriculture Department, which manages SNAP, shows that less than 6 percent of the program is spent on administrative costs. Only 166 people manage the $82 billion food-stamp program — many outside Washington — and the budget document says that staff salaries amount to one-third of 1 percent of USDA’s budget for food and nutrition programs.

Considering such statistics are easily available to a member of Congress, let alone his or her staff, it’s a wonder she never bothered to check. She just assumed “government bureaucrats” were consuming funds reserved for poor people.

A Bachmann spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Bachmann made two key errors here. First, she misinterpreted Tanner’s point. Then, she blithely assumed the ratio was applicable to the Food Stamp program when budget data show she’s off by more than a factor of 10 (or a factor of 200, if you just count salaries.)

I really can't figure out how she stays in office. I can only assume the people that keep voting for her like to look for interesting shapes in their bowel movements and say their favorite food is "puh-sketti," and somehow a lot of them ended up clustered in one general area.

Back in the Saddle

Hard to believe I let a year go by without actually writing anything here. As it happens, I got pulled into full-time political writing for a very large, time-consuming organization, and didn't really want to mix business and pleasure. But now that the campaign is over, and I'm back on the couch looking for something to do, perhaps a resurrection of the Great Unread Buck is in order. Let's see if this time it sticks.