Thursday, May 30, 2013

More Pigmeat for China

Smithfield Farms, a company whose mediocre kielbasa I have eaten from time to time after grilling with lots of chili-garlic sauce, seems ready to sell itself to Shuanghui International.  Maybe I'm prejudiced, but I have a feeling that Shuanghui treats its workers pretty much the same way Smithfield treats its hogs.  Well, if they're planning to import preprocessed Smithfield products, I guess that might be a step up for the average animal rights index for both Smithfield and Shuanghui, counting humans as the animals we are.

I'm sorry, America, but I just can't do it all.  The closest I've ever been to a Wal-Mart was passing out leaflets in one of their parking lots, but still, I can't figure out how to do the animal rights thing.  If there were local markets in my area where some vendors claimed that their pigs had been scratched behind the ears on a daily basis and encouraged to wallow in mud and got laid on a regular basis, how do I know they're telling me the truth?

Mind you, I like and respect pigs; but, also, I like pork.  Anyway, in keeping with what Obama flacks refer to as the "chained CPI," I already am substituting a lot more pork for beef, meaning my Social Security check must be going a hell of a lot further!  And, no, I will not switch further down to chicken.

As the punchline to the old joke about the hillbilly on trial for bestiality put it, "Chickens?  Yich!"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Trickle Up

No, it's not money trickling up.  Money is rushing up with an audible whoosh.

What's trickling up are jobs — crappy jobs.  All those asshole talking heads telling you how what young people need today is "more education" to qualify for "so many jobs" employers "can't fill" because they can't find "qualified" workers are, pretty much, full of shit.  These days, jobs that used to require a high school diploma — secretaries, sales reps, waiters and waitresses at upscale restaurants — are going to young people with four year college degrees.  Why?  Because they can't get anything better.

A 2-year degree might give you an edge up for a job at Hooters, provided your hooters make the grade, but you'll still be living on sub-minimum wage plus tips.  Unless your hooters are fantastic, don't expect the tips to be too great unless you can get those drooling bastards really drunk.

Then there are the famous "STEM" jobs — science, technology, engineering, and math.  Recently, I met a young man with a four-year degree in physics, but he couldn't even find a teaching job at a high school.  He had attended a well respected state university, and his grade point index was better than 3.5.  Yes, if he'd earned a 4.0 from an Ivy, he might have been recruited by Wall Street.  Too bad, kid.

As for all those "STEM" jobs, expect most of them go to immigrants with H-1B visas, who are accustomed to earning a lot less than native born "STEM" workers.  The main reason there is so much "bipartisan" enthusiasm for immigration reform is to keep wages low.

Will there be some young people who do well?  Of course, if their pedigree is sufficiently correct.  As Billie Holiday sang, "them that's got shall get..."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Read this one!!! Now!!!

Don't waste a minute!  Go here and read Celebrating Inequality, by George Packer, of the New Yorker.  I guess Krugman is on vacation, so the Times has been filling in with other leftist types, but Krugman's been writing pretty much the same editorial for months.  Packer gives us something new.

You don't often get a lot of enthusiasm from me, which might imply an admission that somebody else is significantly smarter or more inspired or more connected than I am,  but I'm not just implying here — I'm admitting.  It's brilliant.  Read it.

All three links go to the same article, but that's just my enthusiasm.  The column is no less than extraordinary.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Usually, I would have called this "Short Subjects," but modern life being what it is, I guess I'll just do what bloggers do.  I mean, something is bound to be scandalous?  Right?

If you have to figure out who was most responsible for the death of J. Christopher Stevens and three of his staff, the most likely offender was J. Christopher Stevens.  Hell,  he was the ambassador, and should have known the country better than anybody else.  Yes, it's a shame he's dead, but I guess he put a little too much faith in the Islamist assholes who were supposed to be protecting him.  Bad call, but I don't think certain shrill members of Congress can blame it on either Hillary or the big O.

IRS agents in Cincinnati targeted local Tea Party groups for special scrutiny, albeit most of those groups had about as much "pull" as arthritic chickens.  The IRS was afraid to go after the big boys, like Obama's "Organizing for Action," or Karl Rove's "Crossroads GPS."  Okay, maybe they wanted to do more harm to conservative groups but, really, they didn't harm anybody.  It's mostly bullshit, which is why Our President felt free to tell us how awful it was.

Raiding the AP
I can't recall anybody ever referring to the Obama administration as a champion of civil liberties, and that seems to be mostly because it never was.  Attorney General Eric Holder, recently of Wall Street, never brings suits against big money, but he is not hesitant to persecute the press for releasing information we all really ought to know.  If we lose our free press (to the extent that it is free and not bought), we lose whatever is left of our democracy.

I am so nostalgic for the Nixon administration, which was the last time we had something resembling democracy rather than plutocracy in this country.  We will continue to move in the direction of austerity, no matter how much evidence arises to tell us it is the wrong direction.  The "starve the beast" assholes prevail, in both parties.

Here, in the USofA, it's not any "beast" being starved.  It's people.  Ordinary, everyday people.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Immigration Reform

Two or three time a year, I get mail from the IRS addressed to unknown Latina women who seemed to have used my address for one reason or another.  Since my neighborhood is less than lily white, I suppose my address must attract less suspicion from the IRS than, say,  Chevy Chase.

I don't open those misaddressed envelopes, so i don't know what they are about.  Maybe, one of these days, I'll succumb to curiosity.  In the meanwhile, all I can do is guess.

Maybe I'm entirely wrong, but I'm guessing the women who use my address are paying deductions to the IRS and to FICA, and thereafter impossible to find.  Whatever they pay is lost to them.  Since I'm collecting Social Security and receiving Medicare benefits, I guess their loss is my gain.

Now we seem to be about to give them a shot at a fair shake.  Their gain will be my loss.

That's OK with me.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Karzai, stoned

A rather large portrait of Hamid Karzai, affixed to a wall in some dusty town in Kumar province, Afghanistan, was the target of a few stones thrown by an American soldier.  The portrait was large enough so that the stone thrower could not have missed, according to the New York Times.  Local officials, who heard of the stone throwing, were upset.

Karzai is thoroughly corrupt, and my guess is that the local officials who complained about the stone throwing are as well.  It is fitting, I suppose, that we are leaving behind a kleptocracy in Afghanistan, shaped in our own image, but with a bit less subtlety.  I sincerely hope the stone throwing soldier is on his way back home now, and never again will have to participate in "training" the Afghan "police" in methods of suppressing popular anger against their president.

If our government gives that soldier a hard time for exercising a little free speech, then we are no better than Afghanistan — or China, or Russia.  Barack Obama has not been, exactly, the civil liberties president.

There is a movement in the British Labour Party to get back to its socialist roots.  Wouldn't it be nice if there were a movement in our own Democratic party to get back to its liberal roots?

(I guess the real liberals just don't have enough money.)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Israel bombs Syria

Okay, so what in hell was that about?

Given government secrecy, we may never know, but that just leaves more room for conjecture.  The Obama administration has elevated secrecy to a new high, so we can guess whatever we goddamned please.

Israel bombs Syria.  The standard explanation is that they mean to keep Syrian weapons out of the hands of Hezbollah militants — because that's what they say.  Well, if they say it, it's not too crazy to assume it's a lie.  There were a few different targets, but only one seemed to be significant.  It was the weapons development site where most of the chemical weapons originated.  Was it Obama who called in the hit?  And, if so, was it a good or a bad move?

Most of us, I think, are glad we are not President.

There is some dispute over whether it was the Assad regime or the rebels who might have used a little sarin gas, but neither side is too friendly to the Israelis — nor the United States.  The biggest reason not to get involved in Syria is that the USofA is a loser, either way.

Let's face it.  The Middle East is a mess.  The Islamists are on the ascendant, everywhere.  Reason and good sense shall not prevail.  Hell, reason and good sense seem entirely absent.  How could anybody espousing reason and good sense possibly win?

And, no, I don't have any solutions.