Unmanned Killer Aircraft: Coming to a Town Near You

I thought this was noteworthy, since the air base where the new live video gaming center command center will be located is just a few miles from my house. Contrary to the ominous-sounding title, though, this is good news. No, really. Just ask a local official:

Local officials praised the move. State Rep. Todd Stephens, R-151, said “the beauty of it is we get the jobs but no impact on air traffic in and out of Willow Grove. That’s a terrific scenario.”

Bill Walker, manager of Horsham Township, said the news is positive for both the base and municipality.

“The only difference we’ll see is in the economy,” he said. “If people are being relocated, it will help the housing market. And it’s all good news for the banks and barbershops, dry cleaners and restaurants.”

I see that no Pakistanis were interviewed for this article. Just as well, I guess. They’d probably find some reason to pooh-pooh this boon to pizza shop and adult DVD store owners in southeastern Pennsylvania. On the other hand, it’s good to see that my representative in congress is doing her job, digging her snout in the trough and fattening herself–sorry, us–on federal largesse.

As for the two sourpusses who are all worried about drones being used to spy on citizens, I say get a grip. The US government doesn’t need drones to spy on us. That’s what we have Telecoms for.

None of the Above

I noticed yesterday that people were “celebrating” “President’s Day” by naming their favorite president or creating lists of “the best” presidents.  (If this is a typical thing I’ve honestly never noticed it before.)  My wife’s aunt asked my nine-year-old daughter who her favorite president was, and of course my daughter said “Barack Obama” because she doesn’t know any other presidents.  I can’t imagine the criteria used by adults were much better though.  I mean, what is the average person (someone who hasn’t actually studied history, that is) basing her opinion on?  Given the laughably simplistic hagiographies we get from the media and our K-12 indoctrination facilities, I’d have to say: not much.  George Washington beat the British and chopped down some cherry trees.  Abe Lincoln freed the slaves, and he was honest.  Ronnie Reagan told the guy with the stain on his head to tear down that wall and he liked jelly beans.  Slick Willy really seemed to care.  It reminds me of the scene in Back to School where the lit prof asks Thornton Mellon to tell her about the The Great Gatsby, and Thornton says, “He was…uh…great!”

So who’s my favorite president?  The one who died a few months after taking office (I never said I studied history) because he wasn’t in the job long enough to do any damage.

Go to faraway place, lose limb, be used by large automaker to sell cars

My favorite ad (meaning the one that jumped out as the most shameless piece of manipulative shit) that ran during the Commercial Bowl the other day was the one that tried to pass itself off as a “tribute” to our heroic heroes in uniform (whose sacrifice makes all of this endless whoring possible, no doubt) before revealing itself at the last moment as a sales pitch for Jeep.  The ad itself consisted of a video collage of picturesque small towns, rosy-cheeked marines in their dress uniforms, and rippling flags, underscored by maudlin music and a voice-over spouting all the usual platitudes about the military.  I love cynical appeals to the patriotism of the ignorant as a sales ploy.  It makes me proud to be an American.  Next time I think they should go whole hog, though.  I want to see smoking Humvees, triple amputees, and body bags, with the message: Buy a Jeep.  You don’t want these lives to have been ruined for nothing, do you?

Give me beer at 7-Eleven or give me death

I know “privatization” gets a bad rap, most of it well-earned, but this is the kind all forward-thinking people ought to be able to get behind.  Seriously, what is even the argument for the need to maintain Pennsylvania’s monopoly on the sale of liquor?  Because it’s a cash cow for the state?  Because it allows for greater control over the consumption of alcohol?  Get it done already, then.  The idea that we need laws dictating which stores can sell what kind of beverages in what quantities is beneath stupid.  For those worried about the clerks losing their union jobs, I’d be all for just handing the stores over to the people currently working in them.  Now, somebody get to work on that licensing racket.

What a difference ten years makes…

Does this mean French politicians are going to start calling the Big Mac zee Liberte Burgaire and pouring bottles of Coca-Cola down storm drains?

Come a lot

While channel surfing the other night, I caught a minute or two of an interview on Rock Center with a woman who, as a 19-year-old white house intern in the early 60s, became one of JFK’s sex toys for a while.  The segment was prefaced with a warning from news mannequin Brian Williams to the effect that the story we’re about to hear may be shocking to some viewers (presumably those who still believe in the Camelot fairy tale).  (By the way, how many hours did Brian Williams have to practice that earnest frown before it was ready for prime time?)  I had next to no interest in hearing an older woman’s rueful recollections of being boned by the man whose most noteworthy accomplishment as president was fucking lots of women–well, that and getting his head blown off–so I kept going, returning a few minutes later, just as Chris Matthews and two other court historians appeared like the cleaning service hired by the local peep show joint to mop all the sticky shit off the floor.  They reassured us that while this may have been a tawdry affair, JFK was a complicated man and it shouldn’t tarnish all of the good things he did as president (like make some vague gestures towards civil rights legislation and…some other stuff).  In other words, we should continue to think about JFK the way we’ve always been told to think about JFK.

Compulsory Schooling is Compulsory Schooling

I stumbled upon this while link-hopping earlier.  In a post entitled “The Intellectual Underpinnings of the Charter School Movement,” the blogger writes:

KIPP’s new bumper sticker slogan: Work Hard. Be Nice.

Translation: SHUT UP (work hard) AND DO WHAT YOU ARE TOLD (be nice).

My question is: How is this any different than the intellectual underpinnings of public schooling?  I realize the quote above isn’t saying it is, but I’ve seen plenty of leftish types go on about Charter schools as if they’re self-evidently worse than public schools (usually it’s that they’re less accountable), and I don’t get it.  It reminds me of the hand-wringing over “private” defense contractors.  They’re both funded by taxes and they’re both ultimately accountable to the government, not parents (PTA show meetings notwithstanding) and definitely not the students (you’re joking, right?), and the model for both is basically authoritarian.  Charter schools are just public schools by another name.

The Party of the Rich Versus the Party of the Super Duper Rich

This interview does a pretty good a job of illustrating the fundamentally conservative nature of liberalism (as represented by the donkey party) in this country, while at the same time attempting to portray conservatives (as represented by the elephant party) as a bunch of out-of-touch rich guys.  Excuse me, did I say “rich”?  I meant “very rich.”  No, scratch that: “super rich.”  Ah, fuck it, what I really mean is “very, very rich.”

Here, at least, is a mildly refreshing bit of honesty:

I’ve heard from people who worked in the White House that he doesn’t like rich people. I don’t actually think it’s true. I think he has a kind of Harvard Law School sense of kinship with these guys. He’s a member of the same technocratic elite. He could have taken that path. He has an admiration for those skills. But what he doesn’t have at all is a belief that the pure fact of having made a lot of money makes your views more valuable, or makes you more interesting or smarter than anyone else.

So what we have here is an exercise in hairsplitting, in which a distinction is being made between two subsets of the “technocratic elite”: straight-up businessmen and those who come from essentially the same background but who choose, instead of merely making money, to pursue more selfless, civic-minded endeavors, such as running for the job where you get to have kill lists and a fleet of lethal remote control airplanes for your own personal amusement.

This notion that there’s some great antagonism between Obama and the big money people is yet another iteration of the classic fairy tale about how the Democrats are the party of the little guy and the Republicans the party of Wall Street.  Except it seems to be losing traction.  Even a hack like Ezra Klein doesn’t really seem to believe it, as demonstrated by all the effort to impress upon us that Romney’s backers were more wealthy than Obama’s.  Who gives a shit?  If Obama and the Democrats were really perceived as a threat to the bankers, they would have been out collecting ballot access signatures with the Constitution Party instead of cruising to a second term.

Ah, yeah, I’m gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Black Friday

“We are aware of a few dozen protests,” said Lundberg. “But [there are] less than 50 [employees] we’re aware of participating.”

It would have been nice if all of Walmart’s employees had stayed home on Black Friday.  But even assuming Lumbergh Lundberg is low-balling his ass off, I’m sure the vast majority showed up for work, along with all of the hordes of shopper-drones who can’t resist spending a little less money on shit they don’t need.

Vote for Sale

One good thing about it being election day is that there won’t be any more robo-calls from Ann Romney or the super-PACs, or any more Obamanoid canvassers knocking on my door to make sure I know where my polling place is.  I noticed that most of these were targeted specifically at me, and I can only assume that it’s because I’m a registered independent and therefore, in theory, my vote is up for grabs.  So since my vote is apparently such a sought-after commodity, I’m thinking that maybe I should consider taking monetary offers.  Not bribes, really.  More like donations, or, even better, “contributions.”  Of course both campaigns are welcome to contribute, so I can’t make any promises.  All I’ll say is that your generosity, or lack thereof, may be taken into consideration when I’m inside the booth (if I bother to go, that is).  Some come on by.  I’ll be accepting checks or money orders right up until the polls close this evening.  Remember, freedom isn’t free.

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