Kentucky Man Uses Birdshot to Solve Drone Problem

Drone hunter

William Merideth of Hillview, Kentucky grabbed his shotgun and fired three blasts of Number 8 birdshot to take out a drone flying over his backyard.

The Kentuckian was arrested Sunday evening in Hillview, Kentucky, just south of Louisville and charged with criminal mischief and wanton endangerment. He was released the following day.

I think he’s within his rights. If it’s OK to shoot birds, why not drones? What do you think?

Drones have recently become a nuisance in the airspace over western wildfires. And people are making their own armed drones now, which is apparently legal.

More info:
This video of a drone with a gun will freak you the hell out

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Lindsey Graham: Attack on Iran Better Than Diplomacy

Iran attack

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is running for president as a super-hawk, but this is just ridiculous.

‘Who wins the war between us and Iran?’

The Senate Armed Services Committee held its own hearing today on the international nuclear agreement with Iran, which regrettably went about as well as the other congressional hearings on the issue. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a Republican presidential candidate and one of his party’s most unyielding hawks, got especially animated during an exchange with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter:

GRAHAM: Could we win a war with Iran? Who wins the war between us and Iran? Who wins? Do you have any doubt who wins?

CARTER: No, the….

GRAHAM: We win!

The senator seemed pleased with himself, though this doesn’t exactly help the Republican cause. For proponents of the agreement, the concern has long been that GOP lawmakers want to kill the diplomatic deal because they want a military confrontation with Iran. Republicans usually make a point to deny this, instead saying they prefer a “better” diplomatic solution.

Graham, however, is less subtle – his line of questioning suggested the United States would win a war, which makes war an appealing alternative.

Reminder: Iran is larger than Alaska, with a population of 80 million people. They have an active duty military numbering 545,000, with 1.8 million reservists.

By comparison, the entire U.S. Army consists of 475,000 soldiers. To say a war of aggression against Iran is a bad idea would be a massive understatement. Like Iraq, it’s halfway around the world. Unlike Iraq, they have the capability to defend their country – making Senator Graham’s proposed invasion very costly and bloody.

As usual Donald Trump says out loud what the rest of us are thinking: Trump: Graham a ‘total lightweight,’ couldn’t get a job in the private sector

UPDATE:
The Badr Organization, an Iranian-backed Shiite militia in Iraq, is in possession of at least one US M1 Abrams tank. The Iraqi government has lost control of many of those lately, mostly to ISIS.

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Gotta Get Me Some Of Those Baby Parts!

163217 It’s the next big thing in liberal circles across the nation. You don’t need to die now. You can get some of your youth back, but don’t delay; baby organs are gonna be sailing out the door when word gets out. Don’t worry though, when young girls find out they can make an extra 75 bucks by almost giving birth, the industry’s going to just explode!

OK, I’m sorry. There’s nothing funny about Republicans making political hay out of a very serious and private issue, but they are intent on winning in 2016, and getting rid of “Planned Parenthood” at the same time. If that means bringing bloody baby livers and tissue into the public discussion, well, that’s where we’ll have to go.

Speaker John Boehner said Planned Parenthood makes him feel like throwing up. Mike Huckabee thinks he’ll be able to use this to show up on polling results.

For some reason, this morning I turned on the Sunday morning political shows, for the first time in many years. I was shocked to see George Stephanopolis covering this story. It’s impossible not to make comparisons to the phony ACORN scandal which brought down that organization, but hey, if it worked once… Besides, if the Democrats couldn’t see fit to stand up against that scam, this one should be a breeze! We’re talking fetus’s here!

This is just more, very well financed, Breitbart style entrapment infotainment which will get a lot of people killed, allow republicans to call democrats, “baby killers” and participate in more pro-life pagentry then ever before. There couldn’t be a more cynical political strategy then this. ABC first covered this story in 2000 on 20/20, but I guess the trouble it could cause for Democrats in 2016 was just too salacious.

Sorry Boehner and Huckabee, but I think I’m the one who’s going to puke.

So far the Democratic candidates don’t seem to be taking the bait and I’m proud of them. I’m also proud of how Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood handled Stephanopolis’s phony concern beautifully. All other Democrats should have her strength:


ABC US News | World News

Please don’t cave in this time Democrats. We’re watching you. All those little children got slaugtered in the Newtown tragedy and nothing happened. You don’t have any excuse to give the Republicans a victory here. Get angry, save lives, prevent abortions and protect women’s – really everybody’s – rights.

P.S. I feel bad about using the photo shoot from the only bad idea the Bealtles ever had, but it fit my post. :) They were trying to protest the Vietnam war and save babies. It’s a good thing somebody came to their senses and pulled that album cover.

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John Ellis (‘Jeb’) Bush: Medicare Phase Out ‘A Winning Argument’

Let’s “phase out” Medicare? Seriously? (emphasis added):

“I think we need to be vigilant about this and persuade people that our, when your volunteers go door to door, and they talk to people, people understand this. They know, and I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something – because they’re not going to have anything. And that argument I think is going to be a winning argument if we take it directly to people.”

Why do Tea-GOPers keep attacking Social Security and Medicare, the most popular and effective government programs that sustain the American middle class? How out of touch can you be?

The “new system” he’s referring to is the Tea-GOP’s idea of replacing Medicare coverage with cheap vouchers that don’t cover the cost of health care for seniors.

Bush answers my last question here: Jeb Bush: ‘Please Help Me’ Understand Sharknado

Hey, lately Tea-GOP presidential candidates have been desperate to get media attention, resorting to various lame attempts to out-clown Donald Trump (can’t be done, Trump is driving the clown bus). It’s sad.

UPDATE:
Paul Krugman Decimates Jeb Bush’s Medicare Delusion

The real reason conservatives want to do away with Medicare has always been political: It’s the very idea of the government providing a universal safety net that they hate, and they hate it even more when such programs are successful.

…Medicare is 50 years old this week. Conservatives have been warning that it will destroy American freedom for that entire time. Kind of a bizarre claim about a program that has been a lifesaver both financially and literally for many seniors and their loved ones.

22 Comments

Voucher Advocates Admit the Truth: It’s About ‘Abolishing the Public School System’

Vouchers

Via AlterNet:

ALEC is changing their talking points about private school vouchers. Instead of promoting the lie that vouchers are supposed to help disadvantaged children, they now concede the truth that the plan is a bonus for well-off families — but poor families won’t able to afford private school tuition even with the extra money.

ALEC seems poised to ditch the civil rights “marketing plan,” (as the rightwing Heartland Institute aptly put it in a 1991 paper) and get back to basics: school vouchers are for privatizing public education.

Libertarian guru Milton Friedman put it more bluntly back in 2006: school vouchers are part of a right-wing plan for “abolishing the public school system.”

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“Fatigue” or “Two Futures”

Ed Kilgore has a short and fascinating post at Washington Monthly today.  In it, he observes that following 2014, Republicans largely convinced themselves that the political landscape was tilting to the right.

A lot of Republicans came out of their 2014 landslide fully expecting to keep the party going right into the presidential cycle. There were a lot of reasons to doubt that optimism, from the change to a presidential cycle with less positive turnout patterns for the GOP, to the end of a six-year midterm dynamic that was sure to fade, to an improving economy.

Ed points to a Pew poll that shows the Republican party is viewed extremely negatively by Americans to suggest that the landscape is not favorable for Republicans.

He concludes by saying:

Any way you slice it, any thoughts by Republicans that the landscape is tilting in their direction in this cycle really come down to the fairly abstract notion of an electorate that thinks it’s time for a change after the Obama administration. If contrary to that notion this turns out to be a “two futures” election in which voters are simply comparing the two parties and their candidates, the landscape just isn’t tilting Right.

In essence, Republicans are counting on “Obama” fatigue but Democrats will try to make it a “two futures” campaign.  In 2008 and 2012, Democrats were very successful at the “two futures” approach.  I hope they repeat that success.

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Conservative Christians now Targeting Liberal Christians

Jack Jenkins offers an interesting observation – after a few, relatively quiet years, conservatives Christians are stepping up their attacks on liberal Christians.

Granted, conservative Christian denunciation of people who hold different beliefs than they do isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. Organizations such as the Institute on Religion and Democracy, which has spent years lobbying against LGBT equality from within several Christian denominations, have long sought the eradication of liberal theology. Right-leaning Catholics and evangelical Christian leaders such as Franklin Graham have repeatedly made sweeping claims as to what “Christians” believe, implying that people of faith who don’t share their views are not, in fact, Christians. What’s more, faith communities — conservative or otherwise — have lashed out at each other almost since their inception, so it’s not necessarily surprising that conservative Christians, having lost legal battles over LGBT issues, are now sliding into a theological debate with fellow believers.

Shrewdly, Jenkins follows up on this observation with:

Yet the newest push against liberal Christianity appears hypocritical, as it coincides with a massive campaign waged by various right-wing Christians to insist that the political left respect their “religious liberty” — namely, the right to deny jobs and services to LGBT people in the public sphere, private business, and in Christian schools by invoking faith.

The Religious Right in the US has spent decades trying to convince themselves and everyone else that they and they alone know what constitutes Christianity and they and they alone can speak for the Christian faith.  Liberal Christians are a problem for them because they are a public and often eloquent witness that a different kind of Christianity exists.

Of course, having lost the legal battles over marriage equality, the Religious Right is going to lash out.  And they will lash out at their insufficiently faithful brethren first.

1 Comment

How Could They?

Why Don't They Ever Represent Me?

Why Don’t They Ever Represent Me?

A short rant about losing one of our most important freedoms, and about the only thing you can do to keep it. Good luck.

After all these years of Americans fighting for “internet neutrality”, against the corporations who want control of the internet, and finally winning an important ruling by the FCC recently, the corporations got the house of “representatives” to sneak language into a funding bill that would stop the FCC’s ability to carry out it’s own ruling.

This bipartisan effort brought Americans from every political party together in staggering numbers in a common cause to protect our freedom to be heard and participate in the course of our lives. The internet provides the most exciting innovative possibilities imaginable, by allowing everybody – not just corporations – the unfettered ability to create new ideas for our future and even our survival.

Our collective congress doesn’t seem to care if our country has an open internet as long as they secure a campaign donation, or maybe they’re just tired of not being able to control it more to their liking. There hasn’t been a peep about this from the congress or our media. I’m sure ABC, NBC, CBS, print media and the politicians liked it a lot better when they had complete control over public discourse before the internet. I don’t share that sentiment.

DO THIS! It’s designed to be super fast and super easy. It even dials the phone for you! Can’t possibly take more then a couple of minutes and it might even be therapeutic. No excuses for you, Bubba!

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The Reality: Zero Net In-migration From Mexico

Mexico border

While The Donald and the rest of the Tea-GOP are fond of freaking out over the supposed crisis caused by a massive influx of migrants to the USA from Mexico, the actual facts point to zero net migration from Mexico since 2010.

A combination of economic and demographic factors have changed the immigration trend, which is not likely to reverse again soon.

Barring truly massive shocks to the Mexican economy or political system, we are extremely unlikely to see another great wave of immigration for at least the next 20 year to 40 years. And that would only happen if Mexico reverses a half-century of declining fertility rates within the next few years.

Don’t expect to hear this from anybody in the Tea-GOP, even though it really might help them politically if the immigration issue went away.

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“Confederate Madness”

At the Daily Beast, there is a thoughtful and insightful article talking about the Confederate flag as a pure representation of the logic of war.

There is, however, a thoughtful line that struck me powerfully. “The policy of the rabid secessionists had been to rule or ruin the federal government.”

That connected to an earlier article I read describing the tea party as a confederate party, summarizing:

The essence of the Confederate worldview is that the democratic process cannot legitimately change the established social order, and so all forms of legal and illegal resistance are justified when it tries.

That worldview is alive and well. During last fall’s government shutdown and threatened debt-ceiling crisis, historian Garry Wills wrote about our present-day Tea Partiers: “The presiding spirit of this neo-secessionism is a resistance to majority rule.”

Today’s conservatives aren’t fighting to preserver America, they’re fighting to recreate the Confederacy.  I’ve said it before – the essence of American conservatism is the fight to preserve the established social order against all comers. It’s long been that way.

To quote the article from the Daily Beast ” Southerners were growing ever more confident about their ability to defy the federal government and destroy national institutions that did not bend to their will, including the Democratic Party, which they had long dominated.” Replace “Southerners’ with “Conservatives” and and “Democratic Party” with “republican Party” and you have an apt description of how things stand today.

In 2004, following George W. Bush’s re-election, American conservatives were riding high – they had a dogmatic conservative president in George W. Bush, they controlled Congress, conservative policy was everywhere – then it all turned to disaster. Under Bush, a major American city was lost in the flood waters of hurricane Katrina. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan collapsed into disaster. The economy crashed and the hated federal government had to rescue “free enterprise” from the consequences of its own bad choices.

To add insult to injury, Barack Obama became president, and began pursuing progressive policies. The Obama administration has used diplomacy, not guns. They passed the first ever comprehensive healthcare reform bill.  They used government as an agent for good. The unhinged loathing of conservatives from Barack Obama is as much about his skin color as it is about his policies. He is doing what they simply cannot accept.

Do I believe we’re headed for another Civil War? No, I’m not so cynical as that. But we are flirting with a different kind of disaster – a collapse into dysfunction. Johan Galtung once predicted that the end of US empire would result in a period of fascism in the US. The tea partiers and their enablers in the republican party sound remarkably like fascists in their jingoistic nationalism, their dehumanizing of “the other”, their valorization of “the family” their mindless love of the military and love of violence.

For all his failings and shortcomings, I think we need to acknowledge that Barack Obama is a political genius. Despite controlling congress, the political right is weaker now than it was before and President Obama’s careful and sometimes maddeningly cautious politics are part of that. Obama’s approach has often allowed his political opponents to destroy themselves. We can learn something.

The Confederate welcomes open confrontation and conflict. They thrive on it and will do everything and anything to create it. It ultimately serves their cause better than careful negotiation and diplomacy precisely because those things represent change.

The Confederate sees a divinely ordained way things are supposed to be, and defends it at all costs. No process, no matter how orderly or democratic, can justify fundamental change.

When in the majority, Confederates protect the established order through democracy. If they are not in the majority, but have power, they protect it through the authority of law. If the law is against them, but they have social standing, they create shams of law, which are kept in place through the power of social disapproval. If disapproval is not enough, they keep the wrong people from claiming their legal rights by the threat of ostracism and economic retribution. If that is not intimidating enough, there are physical threats, then beatings and fires, and, if that fails, murder.

We have a nation divided – a conservative minority prepared to destroy it rather than accept change, a muddle majority open to change.

An article at The American Prospect, by Harold Meyerson, summarized the real divide in America as an economic one in which the Southern economic order of first no wage labor in the form of slavery and today as low wage labor through the suppression of unions, minimum wages and other forms of labor reform is driving the divide.  Meyers concludes ominously:

Barack Obama came to national prominence in 2004 hoping to bridge the divisions between blue states and red. Instead, these gulfs have deepened. Federal remedy is stymied; the public policies of the red and blue states are racing apart; and the fundamental divisions that turned one nation into two in 1861 loom larger today than they have in a very long time.

As I said before, I’m not so cynical that I believe we’re headed for another Civil War. The fears driving the Confederate Tea Partiers are driven by rapid change to a mutli-racial nation and by rapid economic and social change.  Social change is happening whether the tea partiers want it to or not.  The question facing us is whether or not they’ll engage with the rest of us in society or try to tear it apart if they don’t get their way.  Consider, as I write this, Donald Trump is leading in the GOP presidential race, I’m deeply worried.

8 Comments

He’s the Front Runner

Trump your cat
I can haz nomination – trumpyourcat

Remember in the 2012 race for the Tea-GOP presidential nomination when Donald Trump briefly became the front runner even though he wasn’t a declared candidate? If you do, then you won’t be surprised that The Donald is again leading the pack in the latest USA Today poll.

USA Today poll

Steven Rosenfeld on Alternet: “The open question is how much damage can Trump to do the GOP brand and the nominating process…”

Another question is when will one of the other 15 Tea-GOP contenders dare to criticize Trump or point out that he would make a ridiculously awful President? Are they afraid to take on such a luxurious, high-end top candidate for fear of being called a loser or a dummy? Do they think that by not attacking Trump they can inherit his racist supporters when Trump drops out?

UPDATE:
From Their Lies To His Ears: The Right-Wing Media Myths Making Up Trump’s Campaign Platform

15 Comments

Congress on Track for Another Government Shutdown

House Speaker John Boehner has refused to negotiate with Democrats on the federal budget, setting the conditions for another government shutdown at the end of September.

The House goes on vacation until after Labor Day at the end of the month. If no deal is in place, it will leave just three weeks to craft a budget compromise before funding for the government expires on Sept. 30.

Senate Democrats have promised to block passage of any budget bills that lock in sequestration cuts. Nothing has yet come to a vote in the Senate. President Obama has threatened to veto any such austerity budget bills.

Over in the House, the Tea-GOP has been unable to gather enough votes for the Interior-Environment appropriations bill (that includes crippling budget cuts to the EPA, would prohibit regulation of fracking or implementation of carbon emission standards for electric power plants, block new clean-water rules, and stop the government’s marine and coastal planning efforts to respond to climate change) because it contains an amendment allowing the confederate flag to be displayed in national parks. Speaker Boehner has placed a complete hold on appropriations bills until the impasse is resolved.

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