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Drones

So it’s not fun to have drones circling your house, huh, Dianne Feinstein?

Witty's Lagoon_ swamp 2

It’s been a long week in the Tinicum swamp. That crack in the roof of my shack that Swamp Rabbit fixed didn’t stay fixed very long, so I stole another bucket of epoxy and put him to work when the rain stopped. “If it ain’t the cold, it’s the rain,” the rabbit whined. Things could be worse, I told him. He could be Chris Christie, trying to patch leaks in the hot air balloon he was hoping to sail to the White House in 2016.

Christie, the prince of paypacks, is still desperately trying to convince people he’s not the jerk behind the jerks who caused major traffic problems in Fort Lee, N.J., whose mayor refused to endorse Christie for governor in 2013.

Good luck with that. The Fort Lee fiasco has focused attention on other people to whom bad things happened after they bumped up against Christie. In fact, it seems bad things happen to most people who don’t kowtow to the gov’ner. He often physically confronts perceived enemies, including women schoolteachers who are one-third his size.

But let’s face it: A lot of people have admired and voted for Christie precisely because he is a bully, adept at deflecting accusations of greed away from his corporate masters and onto regular people, especially teachers, firefighters, and other labor union members. It’s much easier to resent the guy up the street whose income is a bit higher than yours than it is resent billionaire fascists like Charles and David Koch who are genuinely ruining your life, but from a great distance.

And Christie got a lot of help from mainstream journalists, many of whom are instinctive ass-kissers, genuinely enthralled by the wielding of power and their proximity to those who wield it. Journalists like Joe Scarborough and Brit Hume, for example, who gush about politicians who talk tough and dumb down every issue of import. I read this piece from The Nation to Swamp Rabbit when he came down from the roof:

It didn’t matter that [Christie] lost $400 million of federal school funding, or unilaterally canceled a plan to build a commuter train tunnel connecting New Jersey and Manhattan and presented it falsely as a big savings for his state, or vetoed — five times —additional funding for family planning, directly causing six reproductive health centers to close. Christie has filled the place formerly occupied by John McCain: the straight-shooting Republican “maverick” (a maverick being a Republican who admits the earth is probably older than 10,000 years). It doesn’t matter what he actually did or said.

It didn’t matter, not even when Christie was accused of using “money that was intended for victims of [Hurricane] Sandy to promote himself in a series of TV ads.” It only started to matter when the Christie administration got caught in an act of retribution so mean-spirited that it wasn’t possible to justify Big Boy’s style of governance by calling him a “straight-shooter” or an old-fashioned practitioner of “hardball politics.”

There are many exceptions, of course, but what is it about people in the media — usually men — that compels them to kiss up to politicians who are inflexible and vindictive, and to equate these flaws with leadership qualities?

“I ain’t sure,” Swamp Rabbit shrugged. “Maybe Christie and them other blowhards remind them journalists of the guys they work for. Or maybe they just ain’t got no balls.”

Same thing, rabbit.

Footnote: Notice Christie always makes sure he is flanked by a squad of cops when he confronts someone. What a maverick. What a man.

Feinstein touches the third rail

Feinstein

I’m kind of shocked that Feinstein is saying no, but good for her!

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein faced criticism Wednesday for comments that some thought implied a new Iran sanctions bill could put Israel in charge of U.S. foreign policy.

Feinstein objected to moving forward on a new Iran sanctions bill sponsored by 59 senators, including 16 Democrats, and co-authored by Sen Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL). The California senator said the bill could imperil ongoing negotiations between Iran and the West, harm U.S. diplomatic credibility, break up the current international sanctions coalition, and allow Tehran to argue “we are interested in regime change.”

“Candidly, in my view, it is a march toward war,” she said, echoing the White House argument that senators who support the Iran sanctions bill have a secret pro-war agenda.

Feinstein took direct aim at a provision in the new bill that states, “If the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence”

Feinstein worried that this language might hamstring American foreign policy decision makers as a result.

“While I recognize and share Israel’s concern, we cannot let Israel determine when and where the United States goes to war,” she said. “By stating that the United States should provide military support to Israel in a formal resolution should it attack Iran, I fear that is how this bill is going to be interpreted.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) issued a statement Wednesday objecting to Feinstein’s remarks and demanding a retraction and an apology.

The EPA still doesn’t know the scope

Hope -January 13, 2014

These poor people. I wonder if they’ll ever be safe again:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Government investigators are still trying to determine exactly how much of a toxic chemical that spilled at the Freedom Industries tank farm along the Elk River soaked into the ground and could later leach into the river, a top U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official said Wednesday evening.

“An investigation is going on to figure out where there might be any materials in the ground, and so far that investigation is still going on,” EPA regional administrator Shawn Garvin told The Charleston Gazette.

Asked if that meant officials simply don’t know how much of the “Crude MCHM” is still in the soil and could reach the river without proper containment and cleanup measures, Garvin said, “I think that’s probably … we’re still investigating to ensure we have a complete answer to that.”

Union vote at Amazon warehouse

I can’t find any info about how it went. I hope it passed:

A group of up to 30 Amazon employees at one of the company’s Delaware warehouses will have the opportunity to vote today in an election that could establish the first-ever labor union representation at a U.S. Amazon facility.

The group, which consists of equipment technicians and mechanics, will be voting on whether they want to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. A simple majority — or half of those who vote plus one — is needed to establish the first-ever union shop inside an Amazon facility in the U.S., according to IAMAW spokesman John Carr.

Carr said the voting workers, who make up just a small fraction of the more than 1500 employees at the facility, are not most concerned with the wages they are paid. Rather, they’d like help negotiating for things such as vacation and promotion policies, seniority rules, as well as the possible creation of a safety committee, Carr said.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, the workers have been pulled into what unions call “captive audience meetings,” during which their superiors at Amazon attempt to persuade workers against unionization, according to Carr.

Faithless love

Matraca Berg and J.D. Souther:

Keep me from blowing away

Linda Ronstadt:

Love gets in the way

Dayna Kurtz:

Republican Gov. Chris Christie - A Bridge Too Far and impassable

I keep telling people: Yes, he really IS that petty:

In August 2009, Zack Fink, currently the statehouse reporter for NY1 but then a reporter for New Jersey Network, the PBS channel in New Jersey, developed a source who told him about a $46,000 loan that Christie had given Michele Brown, a subordinate that he’d promoted in the U.S. Attorney’s office, to pay her mortgage. This raised questions immediately about Christie’s ties to the U.S. Attorney’s office while he was running for governor, and was followed by a string of terrible press for Christie, including a story in the New York Times that said he didn’t report the income from the loan on his personal financial disclosure forms. (Brown was eventually forced to resigned, though Christie rehired her when he became governor — something that is perceived as a middle finger to those who revealed their relationship.)

“When Zack Fink broke the story about the undisclosed loan that Christie had made to Michele Brown, it was without a doubt the most important story of the 2009 race,” says Lis Smith, who was a press secretary for Corzine during the campaign. “Corzine was down double digits in the polls then. None of our campaign’s attacks were gaining any traction. Once Zack wrote that story it opened the floodgate to a whole new range of stories that hadn’t been out there before — how Christie ran the U.S. Attorney’s office, how Michele was using the attorney’s office to benefit Christie’s campaign, even a traffic incident with Christie and Brown where Christie acted in an abusive and vindictive manner.”

In 2011, Christie announced in his budget address that he was going to shut down NJN. He wasn’t the first person to suggest ending a publicly funded entity like state TV: Corzine had suggested making it a nonprofit, much as Giuliani did with WNYC, which now has a good endowment and is a model across the nation. But “the conventional wisdom when Christie pulled the plug was he’d done it because they had done the toughest reporting on him during the 2009 campaign,” says Smith. “Had NJN not blown the story open with the story about undisclosed loans, many other stories could very well have never come out — stories that illustrated what we known now, which is Christie is someone who has always used the power of his office to vindictive ends and has played fast and loose for years.”

At the time, it sounded far-fetched that a governor would care so much about being burned by state television that he’d shut it down. But then again, with the news last week, anything seems possible. “Whether it’s reporters or local leaders, Christie does not fly at 35,000 feet — he is a bare-knuckled street brawler in the trenches, and no fight is too small,” says a reporter who has covered Christie. Says Fink, “He put 150 long-time state employees out of work, in a way that was nasty and just like, ‘Forget it, good-bye.’ It didn’t need to be like that.”

‘Shut your dumb, stupid mouth’

About the Beatles being overrated. This made me laugh out loud:

It’s hard to tell through that stupid, shit-eating grin, but are you trying to be funny or do you genuinely not like The Beatles? Because I’ll bet if we sat you down in a room and started playing “All You Need Is Love” or “When I’m Sixty-Four,” you’d probably start crying and piss your stupid pants from pretending not to have all the emotions in the world. If we played “Here Comes the Sun” when you’re having a bad day, chances are 10,000% that you’d outright shit yourself as a result of the overwhelming melange of joyful optimism and unbridled awe, you pants-pissing pants-pisser.

If you need other ways to torment people that make you come off as less of a pretentious asshole than shitting on The Beatles, here are some activities to keep you busy…

Inform small children there’s no Santa Claus.

Go to the Holocaust Museum and tell patrons that Hitler had some pretty good ideas.

Stand outside the window at Curves eating a McRib.

Guys: Tell a woman that childbirth isn’t really a big deal.

Ladies: Tell a guy that getting kicked in the junk isn’t all that painful.

Go to the Million Man March and say Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech ran a little long.

For Christ’s sake, the band has sold more albums and has had more number one hits than any band ever. They are the bestselling band in the history of fucking music. This is the one band we as a society should all be able to unanimously agree on as a model for… Wait, no. NO. This is exactly what you want. This is the game you want me to play. You want me to get all riled up and start defending The Beatles. Well I’m not gonna give you the satisfaction.

Instead, I’m gonna go the higher route and take a page from Mr. Lennon when I say: Love is all you need. And go fuck yourself, idiot.

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