Monday, May 2, 2016

Welcome to 'death panels', UK style

It's emerged that tens of thousands of elderly and infirm hospital patients in Britain are effectively being condemned to death by their doctors - without them or their families ever being informed.  The Telegraph reports:

As many as 40,000 patients a year are having “do not resuscitate orders” secretly imposed on them without their families ever being told, it can be disclosed.

A national audit of dying patients has highlighted a failure by authorities to tell relatives of plans put in place for their loved ones.

. . .
The same study showed that in 16 per cent of cases, there was no record of a conversation with the dying patient, or explanation for the lack of one, for the decision to put in place a do not resuscitate order.

. . .

Prof Sam Ahmedzai, chairman of the audit and author of recent guidelines on care of the dying, said: “When a decision has been taken [not to resuscitate], it is unforgivable not to have a conversation with the patient – if they are conscious and able – or with the family.

“If a doctor was dying they would expect this. We need to show the same respect to our patients.” he said. Prof Ahmedzai also said doctors also needed to be far more open with patients who were facing death.

“Not enough people are being told that there are biological indications they may be nearing the end of their lives,” he said.

There's more at the link.

This is the inevitable result of 'socialized medicine' or 'single-payer healthcare'.  When the State pays for medical care, the bureaucrats administering the program don't care about the human beings involved.  They care about forms, and budgets, and organizational power-building.  Inevitably, doctors and nurses end up spending more time concentrating on meeting the requirements imposed on them by those who pay them than they do on caring for the patients they are sworn to help.  The Hippocratic Oath becomes no more than a formality to be disregarded (or discarded) as a matter of expediency.

This means that cost inevitably triumphs over compassion.  It's quicker and cheaper to let a patient die than to continue (often very expensive, time-consuming and resource-intensive) treatment.  Therefore, let the weakest go to the wall.  Reserve those things for younger and/or more healthy patients who have a better chance of being able to benefit from them.  When money talks, the financial utility of life-saving measures becomes paramount.  People with little life left to live are of less 'utility' to society than those who are younger, and who therefore have more time to be potentially productive members of society.  Respect for the individual is replaced by respect for utility.

As we grow older, each and every one of us will be faced with this reality.  Obamacare is one small shaved hair away from having precisely the same mentality.  Already, if you're suffering from a terminal disease, you're likely to find your medical insurance reluctant to pay for expensive treatments, because they know you're unlikely to survive very long even if you receive them.  They're looking at a cost-benefit analysis - and, from their perspective, it's hard to blame them.  On the other hand, we pay for medical insurance on the expectation that it'll be there when we need it.  Increasingly, that's no longer the case.  (A recent example from my own experience is when I wanted to have extensive blood tests done prior to fasting, as part of a weight-loss and health-improvement program.  My medical insurance was willing to pay out tens of thousands of dollars for bariatric surgery . . . but it adamantly refused to pay for [much, much cheaper] blood tests that would help me fast and diet to achieve precisely the same result as the surgery.  Go figure.)

Sarah Palin was derided for warning of Obamacare's so-called 'death panels' - but in a very real sense, she was right.  They're active in Britain now.  It's worse in the Netherlands and Belgium.  In so many words, it's legalized or legally tolerated murder - and it's coming here, too. Those of us who are older or in poor health need to start asking ourselves, "What am I and/or my family going to do about it?"  If we don't know the dangers, we can't do anything to avoid or avert them.  It's going to take far more intensive family intervention and monitoring of medical treatment (or the lack thereof) to avoid becoming part of the euthanasia statistics.


Quote of the day

Courtesy of By Other Means:

The snark! It burns!


Outsiders often see it . . . locals often don't

I was struck by comments from a former Cuban filmmaker this weekend.

Filmmaker and American citizen Agustin Blazquez never thought his native Cuba would become a communist country, but now he sees the same radical shift happening in America.

In this exclusive video interview for The Daily Caller News Foundation, he says the left has been clever by using “very non-threatening words,” like liberal, progressive and concerned citizens, for advancing government control of American lives. The truth about Cuban politics is hard to find because of media spin and propaganda dominating American discourse.

For Blazquez, watching American youth embrace avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders for president, strikes him as “absurd.” It is the end result, he says, of the cultural marxist education and media propaganda that has anesthetized too many Americans who do not defend the values that made America exceptional.

There's more at the link.

I'm forced to agree with Mr. Blazquez.  As an outsider, I look at American politics, society and culture and wonder how it's possible for people to be so blind to the external influences that have slowly but steadily taken over so much of this nation already.  The so-called 'long march through the institutions' has been very successful indeed in this country.

Sarah Hoyt and I have talked about this at some length.  She came to this country from Portugal, where she experienced a Communist revolution that took over the country.  (She's written about it extensively;  see here for a selection of her articles on the subject.)  I came to America from South Africa, and I've traveled extensively in sub-Saharan Africa.  Throughout the continent I saw at first hand the inevitable results of communist and socialist governments (economic chaos and national impoverishment, political stagnation, and the rule of ideology rather than law).  I've fought Communists on the battlefield, and seen refugees from Communist victories flee with little more than the clothes on their backs, after being forcibly deprived of everything they owned by the victors.  Many had been beaten up, raped, shot, and worse.  (Yes, there are worse things.  No, I'm not going to tell you more about them in this post.  It wasn't pretty, and one doesn't forget.  For example, I described one such incident here - just one out of many I saw or experienced.  The perpetrators were terrorists belonging to an avowedly Communist movement.  They are now 'good Communists', in the classic sense of the term.)

Sarah and I have discussed the subject in fairly strong terms (to the resigned tolerance of our respective US-born spouses, who haven't been through what we've experienced).  We're astonished, and can hardly believe, that so few people see how deep the tentacles of communism (thinly 'disguised' as leftist, progressive or socialist ideology) have already penetrated so much of US society.  It seems that only those who are middle-aged or older have a clear understanding of what's going on, because they've experienced (and have a better understanding of) history and what it means.

Many of us feel powerless to do anything about it.  Fortunately, that's not true.  We can stand up and be counted, not just in national, regional and local elections (which we should certainly do), but also by speaking out against the politically correct claptrap that infests daily discourse.  If we point it out for the nonsense that it is (see 'newspeak'), we expose those behind it as well.  When we do, they scurry like cockroaches, because they can't stand the light of day truth and reality.

Let's have at it!


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Things to ponder

I've come across several articles over the past few days that don't fit into any one blog post on their own, but which nevertheless interested me.  I thought I'd throw them out there and see whether any of them resonated with you, too.

# # #

First, from an unabashedly left-wing/progressive point of view, Lance Simmens tells us "Why Our Children should Hate Us".  It presses all the populist left-wing buttons, but even though I don't agree with most of the viewpoints he expresses, I think there's an uncomfortable truth behind his words.  We've failed our children because we haven't challenged conventional 'wisdom' enough (if at all), and therefore allowed ourselves and our society to be 'railroaded' according to the agenda of pressure groups and spin-doctors.  That applies to all of us, of any and every political persuasion.  Here's a brief excerpt.

As a father of two millennials, I have been bombarded with what has turned out to be a warranted cynicism, criticism, and rejection of government. As one who devoted nearly 40 years to the promotion of public service and government, I have come to reassess my initial reluctance to such criticisms. The kids have every right to be cynical and critical and as hard as it is for parents to accept it, probably know more than we do.

. . .

I have worked in numerous governmental agencies at senior levels where I attempted to defer to the scientific expertise when contemplating major policy decisions affecting millions of people. To see the systemic corruption that is occurring in government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services including the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration not only makes me sad but it makes me mad.

# # #

We've spoken before in these pages about the iniquitous practice known as asset forfeiture.  CopBlock claims that 'The Drug War is State-Sanctioned Theft', alleging that the war on drugs has led to the explosion of this practice across America, and caused harm to thousands of innocent people.

While using cash out of preference or necessity is a perfectly legal activity, it is politically expedient for law enforcement agencies to pretend otherwise because they have incentives to do so. Civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement agencies to take money, cars, houses, and other property that they suspect of being purchased with the proceeds from criminal activity or of being used in connection with criminal activity. The agencies then either keep or sell the property and use it or the proceeds for their own purposes. It’s such a huge cash cow for law enforcement that in 2014, the amount federal agencies netted through civil asset forfeiture, $5 billion, exceeded the amount Americans lost through burglaries, $3.5 billion. The actual amount seized is even higher than this, since this figure does not include the amounts taken by state and local law enforcement agencies.

Taking money from bad guys, sounds great, right? Oh, there’s a catch.  Cops don’t have to actually prove you committed any crime. They don’t even have to charge you with one. You, on the other hand, need to go to court and jump through whatever hoops the government requires to prove your innocence and get your property back.

# # #

According to Geopolitical Futures, things are getting tense in China between government and military.  Their study is titled 'The Chinese Central Committee and the People’s Liberation Army Face Off'.

Sources in China have been reporting increasing tension between the Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army. In many ways, these are reports of the obvious. While the anti-corruption campaign that has been waged by President Xi Jinping is ongoing, he has now shifted his focus to the PLA.

. . .

Xi knows that there is a danger of resistance. Hence the widespread purge letting everyone know who is in charge and how vulnerable everyone is to the Party. Businessmen are readily intimidated by force. But the problem Xi has is that he is also challenging the PLA, which is not nearly as intimidated by force because it is in the end the ultimate force.

Therefore, Xi must come to an agreement with the PLA and any such understanding must begin with the PLA first knowing where the ultimate power lies. Trying to explain to millions of heavily armed men that the ultimate power lies in the hands of people who have far fewer men and weapons at their disposal is a risky business.

# # #

Less than ten days ago I noted that the looming pensions crisis in the USA was about to bite hard.  Now the case in question looks set to cost UPS billions of dollars.

UPS told investors that if Treasury approves the CSPF plan to cut benefits, the company would have to take a charge of approximately $3.2 to $3.8 billion.

. . .

While any income statement impact will be adjusted out by analysts, it will be a significant drain on UPS' cash flow (UPS generated $5 billion in free cash flow in fiscal 2015) as it funds the benefit gap over time.

If it gets bad enough, the Big Brown Truck of Happiness may not be around in its present form for much longer.  That sort of capital outflow can cripple a company.

# # #

David Stockman's Contra Corner blog points out that the Fed's zero interest rate policies have led to a significant downturn in the sale of new homes.

ZIRP has ... caused raging housing inflation which has caused median monthly mortgage payments for new homes to rise by 20% since 2009. ZIRP has enabled corporate CEOs to game the stock market to massively increase their own pay while encouraging them to cut worker salaries and shift higher paying jobs overseas. That leaves the US economy to create only low skill, low pay jobs that do not pay enough for workers to be able to purchase new homes.

The perverse incentives of ZIRP are why the housing industry languishes at depression levels.

# # #

In a nasty, ill-mannered spat, Bloomberg and Zero Hedge are at each other's throats.  Bloomberg published a so-called 'exposé' which claimed to 'unmask' the men behind Zero Hedge.  In response, Zero Hedge published personal details about Bloomberg's source, alleging him to be a disgruntled former employee with serious personal difficulties (including alcohol), and alleging that Bloomberg's piece was nothing more or less than a hit job.  It's unsavory on both sides, but does illustrate the extent of the rivalry between supposedly reliable sources in the financial industry.  A lot of money rides on such credibility (or the lack thereof).  From that point of view, it's interesting.

# # #

The Last Refuge points out that Donald Trump threatens the well-laid plans of vested interests, claiming that there are 'trillions at stake'.  I think the author's perspective is somewhat alarmist, but he's right to demonstrate the extent to which the 'establishment' will go to defend its turf.  (It also reinforces my earlier point that the 'establishment' in America is wealth.)

# # #

Thought-provoking reading.


American accents, and where they came from

As part of my research for my Western novel, which employs dialect speech rather than the "Queen's English", I did a lot of research into mid-19th century accents, dialects and so on.  It was very interesting.  I found YouTube very helpful, with many videos dealing with different American accents and patterns of speech.  I thought you might be interested in a few of them.

To start with, why do pre-World-War-II movie actors sound odd to modern ears?

Next, the famous Appalachian 'hill country' speech - what is it and where did it come from?

Finally, how many dialects or versions of English are there in the USA?  One professor says there are no less than 15 - but the language is changing fast.

I don't know about you, but I find the subject very interesting.  I hope you enjoyed the videos.


More about that classic Prince guitar solo

In marking the passing of Prince a couple of weeks ago, I embedded a video clip of a performance of George Harrison's famous song "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" during Prince's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.  He completely dominated the second half of the song, with one of the finest and most creative exhibitions of guitar work ever recorded by any artist.  (I've embedded it again at the foot of this post, if you missed the first one.)

I've since come across two articles that provide additional background to that performance, and to Prince's contribution.  Both are well worth your time to read in full.  The first is from Jon Wiederhorn.

The night was never meant as an opportunity for Prince to show how dazzling and virtuosic he was on the guitar. For a star-studded performance of the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Prince was scheduled to play one of several solo spots to honor George Harrison.

. . .

Following some fairly gentle, bluesy leads from Lynne’s lead guitarist Marc Mann, Prince took over around halfway through the song with a jaw-dropping combination of Jimi Hendrix-style pyrotechnics, Eric Clapton sentimentality, and Eddie Van Halen shredding that left the musicians onstage and everyone watching in awe.

What made Prince’s guitar solo so fantastic was the way it was structured and how it paid reverence to Harrison while injecting a previously unexplored energy into the mid-paced classic. His dynamite stage presence didn’t hurt, either.

. . .

As the band finished, Prince stepped on a flanger effect pedal that made his guitar whoosh in waves, and he removed the instrument and tossed it in the air. Strangely, the guitar never returned to the ground. Either someone above the camera sightlines caught it, or it disappeared into the ether. Either way, it’s KISS member Gene Simmons’s favorite part of the solo.

Petty’s drummer Steve Ferrone was also blown away by Prince’s showmanship. “That whole thing with the guitar going up in the air. I didn’t even see who caught it,” he told the New York Times. “I just saw it go up, and I was astonished that it didn’t come back down again. Everybody wonders where that guitar went, and I gotta tell you, I was on the stage, and I wonder where it went, too.”

There's more at the link.

The second article is by Finn Cohen.

Prince, who essentially stood in the dark for most of the performance, burned the stage to the ground at the song’s end.

His three-minute guitar solo is a Prince milestone, a chance to see him outside of the purple-tinted (for once, he is dressed in red) context of his own meticulous studio craft. This was Prince the Lead Guitarist ... And when he tossed his instrument into the air at the very end of the song, it never appeared to land; it was almost as if Mr. Harrison had grabbed it himself in midair to signal, “That’s enough of that.”

Several people who were onstage or at the ceremony that night recalled Prince’s involvement and performance. These are edited excerpts from the conversations.

. . .

CRAIG INCIARDI (Curator at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum):  You hear all this sort of harmonics and finger-tapping, sort of like what you’d hear Eddie Van Halen do. He runs through all these different sort of guitar techniques that are sort of astonishing. You hear what sounds like someone cocking a shotgun. There’s all these strumming power chords that really, really connected. Then he plays his version of the Eric Clapton solo. He evokes Eric’s solo in very sort of truncated fashion. As he ends the song, he plays this flourishing thing that sort of ends up sounding a little bit like Spinal Tap, but in a good way.

TOM PETTY (shared lead vocals with Jeff Lynne on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”):  You see me nodding at him, to say, “Go on, go on.” I remember I leaned out at him at one point and gave him a “This is going great!” kind of look. He just burned it up. You could feel the electricity of “something really big’s going down here.”

Again, more at the link.

If you're a fan of rock music, I strongly urge you to read both articles in full.  They shed new light on what's become an absolutely iconic performance, and are a fitting tribute to Prince's musical greatness.  He may not have been a Beethoven or Bach (to put it in classical terms), but if he'd been alive in their day, he'd unquestionably have been a sought-after solo performer for their orchestral pieces.  The man was simply head and shoulders above most of his peers.  I say that even though I don't really like much of his music.  Credit where credit is due.  Rolling Stone ranks Prince at number 27 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists, and I think that's well deserved.

Here's that wonderful performance again.



Saturday, April 30, 2016

Before and after the kill

Courtesy of American Digest, we find these two compilations of great one-liners before and after a kill in the movies.

I wish I'd thought of some of those . . .


Not all Norwegian F-16 pilots are doofi

After a Norwegian fighter pilot earned our Doofus Of The Day award yesterday, reader S. K. (himself a former USAF F-16 pilot) e-mailed me with the link to this article.

Quick-thinking medical staff in Norway saved a patient's life by calling in an F-16 fighter jet to whisk life saving medical equipment from one hospital to another, media reports said on Friday.

. . .

Staff [in Trondheim] contacted the air force on April 4th for help in transporting the equipment - a request that came in just as two F-16 fighter jets were getting ready to take off from an airbase near Trondheim, the reports said.

. . .

In a stroke of good luck, one of the fighter jets was equipped with an external hold that allowed it to transport equipment. The machine was loaded onto the aircraft, which made for Bodo at top speed.

"Usually we cover that distance in 35 minutes," air squadron head Borge Kleppe told Norwegian daily Verdens Gang.

"But given the special nature of the cargo, the pilot stepped on it and arrived at the destination less than 25 minutes later," he added.

There's more at the link.

S. K. said in his e-mail:

"Figured I'd help 'pile on' the Norwegians.  They are some of the best F16 pilots I have had the pleasure of training."

That was some very fast flying, and the patient's life was saved.  Kudos to the pilots concerned.


Moonbats doing their moonbattish thing

It's hard to describe just how nauseating this is.

Students at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst set a new high for hysteria Monday night at an event featuring Christina Hoff Sommers, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Steven Crowder.

The event was intended to be a forum and discussion about the use of political correctness on campus, but degenerated into a shouting match as protesters sought to drown out the speakers with cries of “hate speech” and, less imaginatively, “**** you.”

One of the protesters took it upon herself to pass out literature expressing her concern for the “triggering” event, claiming the speakers “all demonstrate either that you don’t give a **** about people’s trauma and pain and think it’s funny to thrust people into states of panic and distress OR that you fundamentally do not understand what a trigger is, what it means to be triggered, and what a trigger warning is meant to prevent.”

. . .

The speakers were constantly interrupted throughout the event by shouts from the audience to “go home” or that “we don’t want you here,” with some of the most enthusiastic hollering coming from the very protester Campus Reform had attempted to speak with before the event.

When the protester attempts to interrupt Yiannopoulos at the beginning of the video, Hoff Sommers tells her to “calm down, young lady.” Paying no heed, the protester responds with an impassioned “**** you! **** you!”

Later on, the young lady begins loudly asserting that “hate speech is not welcome here” and demanding that the speakers “keep your hate speech off this campus,” all while insisting that she is the true embodiment of free speech.

“Stop talking to us like children!” she demands at another point.

“Then stop acting like a child,” Hoff Sommers responds coolly.

There's more at the link.  Here's a short video highlighting some of the moonbattery.

If you'd like to watch the whole event, the video (an hour and a half long) is available here.

This sort of nonsense is absolutely typical of the moonbat - a.k.a. the liberal/progressive extremist (emphasis on 'extreme').  They may talk about 'human rights', but they actively seek to deny those rights to anyone with whom they disagree.  For example, 'free speech' means it's free to them, but denied to their ideological opponents.  It's fascist totalitarianism under another guise.

Contrast that with those honorable leftists who aren't afraid to be up-front about their opinions, and their opposition to those of others, but do so in a relatively polite manner and are open to debate.  They aren't likely to change, but they're willing to give respect in return for it.  Fortunately, there are a number of people like that on the 'other side', which makes it possible to have a reasoned exchange of views instead of the blind, impassioned, visceral, emotional rejection demonstrated by the protestors in the video exchange above.

Based on the above, I can only wonder . . . is it safe to be near a moonbat during the full moon period?


Friday, April 29, 2016

Looks like Target may be in a spot of bother

As most readers will know by now, political correctness and I don't exactly get along.  I was outraged by Target Stores' decision to allow people to use its restrooms based on their gender self-identification, rather than the chromosomal or biological reality.  I've said before that I regard such insanity as an open invitation to sex offenders, deviates and the mentally ill to target (you should pardon the expression) the 'normal' among us, particularly children.

Seems I was right.

Here are the top twenty sex crime reports from Target’s stores across the nation.

04/2016 – Police have arrested a man accused of exposing himself to a 9-year-old boy in the bathroom of a Target store in Cedar Park in February. Roel Anthony Vasquez, 27, was charged March 24 with indecency with a child by exposure. No one at the store could identify who he was when the incident occurred, so police asked for help from the public by releasing pictures of the suspect from store surveillance video in March.

04/2016 – MIDWEST CITY, Okla. – The District Attorney in Oklahoma County has filed a misdemeanor charge against a man accused of stalking women at a metro Target store. Cody Stephens, 21, lives in Midwest City, not too far from the Target store where he is accused of stalking women.

10/2015 – SOUTH BEND – South Bend police are looking for a man who performed a sexual act Monday afternoon at a Target department store at 1400 E. Ireland Road, according to our news partner ABC57. A 16-year-old girl was shopping at the department store when a man approached her from behind and performed a sexual act on himself at about 2 p.m., police said. The man got away, and police are still looking for him.

There are many more at the link.  Read them and weep - or become incandescent with rage, which is probably a better response.

The American Family Association's petition and call to boycott Target has now exceeded one million signatures.  I'm not a particular fan of the AFA, but that seems like a good start.  I haven't signed it, but I'm in;  and I hope my readers are as well.


A series of explosive miscalculations

It's been an interesting week for aficionados of loud bangs.

First off, a Taliban suicide bomber offed himself and a bunch of terrorist colleagues.

A Taliban suicide bomber accidentally killed himself and eight fellow militants after triggering his explosives vest by mistake.

The jihadist fighters had been ordered to carry out an attack in Kunduz city, Afghanistan, but all died before their got there.

However, one of the militants detonated his vest shortly after leaving a Taliban base in Dasht-e-Archi, triggering everyone else's explosives, the Afghan Interior Ministry said.

I wonder if he qualified for his 72 virgins if he screwed up that badly?

Next, a dumbass in Baltimore learned that his fake suicide bomb vest was, indeed, dangerous - to him.

Finally, an instructor at 'a federal law enforcement agency' (unspecified) thought he'd loaded his shotgun, for demonstration purposes, with dummy rounds.  He hadn't.

The firearms instructor brought an ammo can full of clear dummy rounds with him.  Spoiler Alert: Almost all of them were dummy rounds.

The instructor loaded his Remington 870 shotgun from the ammo can and began to demonstrate its operation. There was a loud noise and a hole appeared in the wall in front of the shotgun.

I hope the instructor took a moment to talk about shotgun penetration in residential walls.  This was a teachable moment. None of the pellets made it to the class full of students across the hall.  Anything other than bird shot would have probably produced casualties.

There's more at the link.  It's well worth reading in full, to get the author's safety suggestions and re-examine your own firearm handling and demonstration practices in the light of what could have been a very nasty incident indeed.


Doofus Of The Day #903

Today's award goes to the pilot of a Norwegian Air Force F-16.

Two F-16s were taking part in a mock attack on the uninhabited island of Tarva off Norway's west coast when one of them opened fire with its M61 Vulcan cannon, which is capable of firing up to 100 rounds a second.

A hail of bullets hit the tower in the incident, which happened on the night of April 12, but the officers inside were not injured.

In a similar incident in 2009, F-16s fired in error on the same tower, with at least one round piercing the structure, but again no-one was injured.

There's more at the link.

After two such incidents, if I were a Norwegian Air Force officer, I'd regard a posting to that tower as the exact opposite of career-enhancing . . . more like an invitation to play Russian roulette at one hundred rounds per second!

(Of course, the US Air Force isn't immune from similar accidents . . . )


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fred: The establishment is "Putrefaction most foul"

Fred Reed's latest column is a masterpiece.  Here's an excerpt.

Donald Trump’s campaign reveals the establishment for what it is, a swamp of corruption  as fetid as those of Latin America. It is better entertainment than Vaudeville. The frantic scramble to rig the primaries, change the rules, and thwart the voters–anything to defend their cozy entanglement of political tapeworms–makes absurd any pretense of democracy.

. . .

But it does make sense. The Republicans try desperately to ditch the only Republican candidate who could win the Presidency because... Hillary is one of them. Because, as every sentient being has by now noticed, the Republicans and Democrats are members of the same corrupt club of blood-sucking parasites, the action arm of the corporations, Wall Street, the Israeli lobby, and those who want the US to control the world at any cost–except, of course, to them. They are panicked at the rise of someone who might put first the interests of America. Better Hillary, a fellow parasite, than Trump, who isn’t.

. . .

Will  the two parties succeed in blocking the Donald? Might they even resort to the Martin Luther King solution? My powers of political prognostication would be under zero if they could figure out how to get there.

. . .

The corruption is adroitly hidden, yes, or disguised as something else. Yet it is there. Consider the subprime disaster. To believe that it was an accident, or a cyclical downturn, or other artifact of econobabble, one has to believe that bankers, realtors, and Wall Street do not understand mortgages, credit, or defaults. You have to believe that officials of the Treasury, who slide back and forth between Wall Street and government like the motion of the tides, had no idea what was going on.

At the top, America is as corrupt as Mexico but American corruption is far more efficient. Among the white middle class, the rot is less. But within the clubhouse of insiders,  at the level of the anointed, of the Adelsons and Epsteins and Clintons and Bushes, there is putrefaction most foul.

It is cleverly done, and seldom involves anything so sordid as open bribery. Yet the results are everywhere. Men who knew exactly what they were doing engineered the student-loan bubble. Yet it is legal, like so many scams. Huge military contracts for things not needed, the near-control of Mid-Eastern policy by Israel, poor medical care at high prices, the deliberate gutting of American industry so that corporations can enrich themselves in China–all of this is legal. You pay Congress and it makes legal anything you want.

. . .

Corruption has come to be the purpose of government, and the Club battens on it.

. . .

Of course Trump also is a billionaire,but he is a turncoat, a class traitor, the Benedict Arnold of billionaires. He addresses the issues that the Insiders want to remain unaddressed. He is indeed dangerous. He threatens the endless (immensely profitable) wars, the endless (immensely profitable) shipping of American jobs to China, the endless (immensely profitable) importation of cheap Mexican labor. He threatens the sacred rice bowls.

It is why he must be stopped.

There's more at the link.  Go read the whole thing.  It's well worth your time.

As I've said several times before, I'm neither in favor of nor opposed to Mr. Trump as a Presidential candidate.  Some of what he's said sounds excellent.  Some things in his track record don't square with what he's currently saying, and I'm not sure whether that's political dissimulation or a genuine change of heart.  The jury's out on that.  Nevertheless, I think Fred Reed has put his finger on the pulse of precisely why the establishment - which, as I've pointed out earlier, is nothing more or less than the wealthy class in America - is so united in its opposition to him.

This is also going to be problematic if Mr. Trump is elected President.  What if the establishment - which has long since bought control of Congress and the Senate - ensures that his policy proposals are never enacted into law?  Will he do an Obama and try to rule by executive fiat, without legislation authorizing his measures?  Or will he respect the Constitution, but be forced into a public relations presidency, telling the American people what he would like to achieve but never being able to actually do so?  Your guess is as good as mine.

It would be very nice if the American people would 'throw the rascals out' and elect Congressional representatives and Senators who were genuinely committed to representing their constituents, rather than the establishment . . . but I suspect that would take a home-grown version of 1789 to achieve - and I don't want to endure the inevitable consequences of such an upheaval.


A tank-buster for maritime patrol?

I was surprised to learn of an unusual maritime patrol aircraft currently deployed to the Philippines.  The Washington Post reports:

The situation in the South China Sea has grown even more complex over the past week, with A-10 attack planes flying maritime patrols over a coral reef chain known as Scarborough Shoal. It’s less than 150 miles to the west of the Philippines, and considered a site where Beijing may carry out “land reclamation” and continue its military expansion in the region this year, prompting concern from the United States and its partners in the region.

The A-10 might seem like an unlikely plane for the mission, though. The heavily armored twin-engine “Warthog” has been in service since the 1970s, and was designed for close-air support, in which combat aircraft assist ground troops by attacking enemy tanks, vehicles and positions. There is none of that around Scarborough Shoal, and the plane is considered more vulnerable than other American military planes against surface-to-air missiles.

. . .

Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a spokesman for Air Forces Pacific, said Wednesday that the A-10 has excellent loiter capabilities and maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude that are “necessary for conducting the air contingent’s air and maritime domain awareness and personnel recovery missions.”

There's more at the link.

It's an interesting choice for many reasons.  The A-10 might also be pretty capable at maritime interdiction, if - if - it could get through the layers of modern air defenses carried by most navies.  Its 30mm. cannon should be more than capable of turning the average frigate or destroyer into a colander, and it can carry up to 8 tons of bombs and missiles.  If it can get close enough without being shot down, I'd hate to be on the receiving end.


Fake transgender criminal report

I'm afraid I was taken in by a false news report about a transgender criminal taking pictures of young girls in a ladies' restroom.  I've deleted my post about it.

If you'd like to know more, see here.

My apologies for the confusion.


Not your average Starbucks

I've been amused by an article in the Telegraph titled 'Ordering Coffee in Italy:  The 10 Commandments'.  Here's an excerpt.

I once met an Italian who didn't drink coffee. He made light of the fact, but you could see that he was tired of having to explain his disability every time some new acquaintance uttered the standard Italian greeting: "Prendiamo un caffè?" ("Fancy a coffee?"). His breezy but faintly passive-aggressive manner concealed, I suspect, deep pools of self-doubt and underground lakes of wounded masculine pride. Vegetarians develop the same nonchalant yet haunted look when travelling in places like Mongolia, where meat comes with a side-dish of meat. But this Italian guy wasn't a visitor, he was local. He was the Mongolian vegetarian.

Coffee is so much a part of Italian culture that the idea of not drinking it is as foreign as the idea of having to explain its rituals. These rituals are set in stone and not always easy for outsiders to understand.

. . .

2. Keep it simple

Thou shalt not muck around with coffee. Requesting a mint frappuccino in Italy is like asking for a single malt whisky and lemonade with a swizzle stick in a Glasgow pub. There are but one or two regional exceptions to this rule that have met with the blessing of the general coffee synod. In Naples, thou mayst order un caffè alla nocciola – a frothy espresso with hazelnut cream. In Milan thou can impress the locals by asking for un marocchino, a sort of upside-down cappuccino, served in a small glass which is first sprinkled with cocoa powder, then hit with a blob of frothed milk, then spiked with a shot of espresso.

. . .

9. The permitted drinks

Thou shall be allowed the following variations, and these only, from the Holy Trinity of caffè, cappuccino and caffé latte: caffè macchiato or latte macchiato – an espresso with a dash of milk or a hot milk with a dash of coffee (remember, mornings only); caffè corretto: the Italian builder's early morning pick-me-up, an espresso "corrected" with a slug of brandy or grappa; and caffè freddo or cappuccino freddo (iced espresso or cappuccino) – but beware, this usually comes pre-sugared. Thou mayst also ask for un caffè lungo or un caffè ristretto if thou desirest more or less water in thine espresso.

There's more at the link.

I can't help but wonder whether the average Starbucks barista would understand most of the terms in #9 above.  They might in one of the 'Little Italy' ethnic concentrations around the country, but elsewhere . . . ?  I think the Tennessee version of caffè corretto would probably involve moonshine!  As for "asking for a single malt whisky and lemonade with a swizzle stick in a Glasgow pub" . . . I think, if you did that, you'd be lucky to escape with your life.  Not a good idea - but I'd pay to watch you try it.

Of course, Scotland has some other rather strange mixtures to offer the discerning drinker - like this one. (Lyrics here, if you need them, but be warned - they're rude!)

Wikipedia says of Hamish Imlach:  "He had his biggest hit in the late 1960s with "Cod Liver Oil and the Orange Juice," a scurrilous and hilarious take on the American gospel standard "Virgin Mary Had a Little Baby" written by Ron Clark and Carl MacDougall. The song was for a time banned by the BBC as it was assumed to be full of double meanings, but at one point became the most requested song on British Forces Radio."

Aye, weel . . .