Saturday, January 22, 2011

Casino Jack - the worst movie ever made about a great story

I went to see the "Casino Jack" last night.  It's the new Kevin Spacey movie about the rise and fall of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. 

Jack Abramoff ?  Jack Abramoff ?  Why, I don't even know Abram....
Sorry about that.  Couldn't help it. 

I wanted to love this movie.  I wanted it to be greatness. 
Unfortunately, it's badly written, poorly edited, and horribly directed.  The director, George Hickenlooper, has done mostly documentaries up to this point.  Maybe that explains why he shovels in every tic, idiosyncrasy, and mannerism that his research uncovered
By the time you finish watching this thing, you'll know that Jack Abramoff worked out every day, walked around his office with dumbells, loved to quote from movies, covered his head on the Sabbath, wore a fedora the rest of the time, kept a bust of Ronald Reagan on his desk, ate kosher, and produced a couple of Dolph Lundgren movies.  But you'll have no idea what made him tick. 

Ok, enough of the minor league Roger Ebert nonsense. 

Here's what's interesting about the Jack Abramoff scandal.  This is from The Washington Post:

Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and public relations consultant Michael Scanlon quietly worked with conservative religious activist Ralph Reed to help the state of Texas shut down an Indian tribe's casino in 2002, then the two quickly persuaded the tribe to pay $4.2 million to try to get Congress to reopen it.

Dozens of e-mails written by the three men and obtained by The Washington Post show how they built public support for then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn's effort get the courts to close the Tigua tribe's Speaking Rock Casino in El Paso in late 2001 and early 2002. The e-mails also reveal what appears to be an effort on the part of Abramoff and Scanlon to then exploit the financial crisis they were helping to create for the tribe by securing both the multimillion-dollar fee and $300,000 in federal political contributions, which the tribe paid.

Ten days after the Tigua Indians' $60 million-a-year casino was shuttered in February 2002, Abramoff wrote a tribal representative that he would get Republicans in Congress to rectify the "gross indignity perpetuated by the Texas state authorities," assuring him that he had already lined up "a couple of Senators willing to ram this through," according to the e-mails.

What he did not reveal was that he and Scanlon had been paying Reed, an avowed foe of gambling, to encourage public support for Cornyn's effort to close two Indian casinos in Texas.

(People with a monopoly in an industry, especially a "vice" industry, have long utilized opponents of their industry to preserve their monopoly.  This is called the "Bootleggers And Baptists" phenomenon.  Bootleggers and Baptists are united in their opposition to legal alcohol sales, and both sides vote in favor of alcohol prohibition.  You can hit this link to read about illegal marijuana dealers tipping off the police about semi-legal medical marijuana dispensaries.  Bootleggers and Baptists - once you understand how it works, you'll see it everywhere.) 

Abramoff, one of Washington's powerhouse Republican lobbyists until his work came under scrutiny by law enforcement agencies this year, has long been close to Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition and now southern regional chairman of President Bush's reelection campaign. Both have political ties to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), as does Scanlon, who had served as his spokesman.

Here's a summary of the movie and the scandal....An Indian casino has a race-based gambling monopoly in a certain region. There are rumors that another tribe will also be given a casino license, cutting into the profits of casino #1. 
Casino #1 hires a lobbyist to block casino #2 from opening.  The lobbyist, who is damn good at what he does, hires Ralph Reed and The Christian Coalition to protest against The Gambling Menace, The Horrors Of Gaming, and the like. 
The lobbyist then turns around and takes money from Casino #2 and spreads some more of the wealth in Congress, this time as an encouragement for the regulators to examine and support the pro-gambling side of things. 
So.  If you assume that it's ok for our government to prevent me or anyone else from opening a casino, or if you assume that it's ok for our government to issue race-based casino licenses and withdraw them at will, and if you assume that government has a right to regulate private behavior....

If you know that Congressmen are bought and sold like East Lancaster crack whores, and if you are willing to tolerate this kind of whoremongering from military contractors, big business, the green energy/perpetual motion machine lobby, and unions...
Then what was so bad about Jack Abramoff ? 

And why would you ever trust government to properly regulate gambling, funeral homes, pharmaceuticals, or even rural stoplights?  Much less your healthcare? 

Friday, January 21, 2011

There. I fixed it.

I started getting complaints a couple of weeks ago about this site taking too long to load. 
I've since gone in and deleted a bunch of the countdowns and widgets that were clogging the blogroll area and I think that has helped.
But many of you were probably relying on these to keep up with upcoming disastrous events. 

So....If you're wondering how long Obama has been a war-monger in the Middle East, he took over that project in January of '09. 

Al Gore predicted that the polar ice caps would melt by 2013.  He better get his ass up there with a blowtorch. 

Our national debt was around 13.5 trillion dollars.  But don't worry, the Republicans are about to raise the debt ceiling to 14 trillion.  Be not afraid, dear flock of Sheeple, they're going to see to it that you get shafted. 

I've also deleted all the little widgets and do-hickeys to TopBlogSites and things of that nature. 
That oughta help. 
There.  I fixed it. 

Just Say "No" To Lower Prices !

From Moonbattery, on a recent effort in Washington D.C. to open a Wal-Mart:

Moonbats will never forgive Walmart for proving how effective capitalism is at providing people the goods they need at a price they can afford while creating needed jobs and avoiding unionization. The intimidation tactics are exactly what you would expect of a nascent socialist police state. Obama's SEIU/ACORN friends have made targeting private homes a specialty.

Here's the flyer used to publicize the protest....

Full Disclosure: I work for a Wal-Mart supplier. 

More Disclosure: We supply all the other major grocery chains.

Disclosure Of The Obvious: If the developer purchased the land and wants to lease some of it to Wal-Mart, it is nobody's business except the developer's and Wal-Mart's.  If you don't like Wal-Mart, don't shop there.  That's the difference between the U.S. and a Worker's Paradise like Cuba or North Korea. 

Disclosure Of An Inspired Idea: Libertarians and economic conservatives should spend more time marching and protesting at the homes of, say, lobbyists, politicians, and regulators. 

Disclosure Of The Rejection Of This Idea:  Dammit, we're not in unions.  So we can't get paid to protest.  We gotta work. 

Disclosure Of Laziness On My Part:  I don't have time to list all the occasions where unions have been busted for hiring substitute protesters and paying them the absolute minimum wage.  (That link'll take you to a Great Jon Stewart/Daily Show piece, BTW.)   In the meantime, enjoy this:

Disclosure Of My Priorities For The Rest Of The Day: Gonna go ship some produce displays to Wal-Mart, and I hope they're headed to Washington D.C. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why you really should consider the Libertarian presidential candidate in 2012

Let's go down to the North Pole

Have you ever wondered what our maps would look like if more of the early influential cartographers had been born in the Southern Hemisphere?
Here you go.
Notice that Hema Maps, made the same mistake that we often do when they labeled this little gem.  This is not an upside down map.  Earth does not have a top or a bottom.  There is no "up" or "down" in space.  There's just a north and south in relation to our orbit around the sun. 
Can you tell what else is different? 
Look at it for a few minutes before turning your laptop upside down....

(The Orient is located where we traditionally place The Occident.  Google it if you gotta.)

Found the map here. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We must guard against the scholarly employment and project allocation complex

Eisenhower's warnings about the Military-Industrial Complex have been much-quoted and much-ignored.  Peace offers limited opportunities for graft. 

There's another section of the same speech that should be carved into granite. 

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

What does this have to do with anything? 
Please allow me to translate....

Our government is running out of things to tax.  Carbon emissions are one of the last frontiers.  They want to do it under the heading of preventing Global Cooling/Global Warming/Climate Change or whichever term is unprovable.  
There is no money for anyone in the grant/allocation/scholarship/greenery racket who wants to point out that climate is doing what it has always done.  It has always changed, it is changing, and it always will change. 

In the present circumstances, can you imagine our government funding any research to prove that? 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blowback - by Chalmers Johnson

From the introduction to Blowback by Chalmers Johnson, first published a year before the 9-11 attacks.  The "What - Me Worry?" interview with Brzezinski was done in 1998. 
The excerpt quoted below is from the intro to the latest (2004) reprint:

"The USSR's invasion of Afghanistan was deliberately provoked.  In his 1996 memoirs, former CIA director Robert Gates writes that the American intelligence services actually began to aid the mujahideen guerillas in Afghanistan not after the Soviet invasion of that country, but six months before it.  And in a 1998 interview with the French weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, former president Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, unambiguously confirmed Gates's assertion. 

"According to the official version of history," Brzezinski told the Nouvel Observateur, "CIA aid to the mujuhideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. 

I don't remember seeing any of this in the feel-good movie Charlie Wilson's War.  You know, the Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts movie where a renegade Texas Congressman finally goes through unlikely back channels to get them Afghan Boys some fundin'. 

But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise:  Indeed, it was July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.  and that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention." 

When asked whether he regretted these actions, Brzezinski replied:
"Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea.  It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it?  The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: "We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War."
Nouvel Oservateur: "And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: "What is more important in world history?  The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire?  Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?"
Brzezinski, Carter, and their successors in the Regan administration, including George H.W. Bush, Gates, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Armitage, and Powell - none of whom has come forward to draw attention to this history - all vear some responsibility for the 1.8 million Afghan casualties, 2.6 million refugees, and 10 million unexploded land mines that followed from their decisions, as well as the "collateral damage" that befell New York City in September 2001 from an organization they helped create during the years of anti-Soviet Afghan resistance.