Saturday, September 29, 2012

Can We Just Acknowledge This is the Worst Congress Ever?

The Holier Than Thous in Congress that head up the House Committee for Government Reform and Oversight have declared war on the city of Saint Paul Minnesota and are demanding a massive probe into some slum lords that got shut down under Mayor Randy Kelly (who isn't the mayor anymore) back in 2002. I kid you not. Can we just acknowledge that this is the worst Congress ever? John Slides over at Monkey Cage recently had a graph that showed this Congress has passed fewer bills than any since, well the 1880's (again I kid you not). Oh and 20% of those bills were about renaming post offices and plazas...oh, they also passed a bill to order the United States Mint to mint commemorative baseball coins to help fund the Baseball Hall of Fame, but alas, that bill died in committee in the Senate. Recently the independent investigation of that whole "Fast and Furious" thing came out that showed that Holder was completely in the clear, and the whole "investigation" by Congress was pretty much a joke. Basically some guys in a ATF field office employed some highly dubious investigative strategies with bad results, but no, the Attorney General was not aware of this (there are over 14,000 swore FBI agents in the country, and thousands more of civilian personnel, no the Attorney General is not aware of everything they do every day and that's just one agency he oversees) and didn't do anything wrong. So the whole thing was basically an absurd show trial joke. And now Congress is demanding the City of Saint Paul pony up 180 million smackers, and why? Well because of discrimination against poor slum lords or something. And stuff. And Obama is a socialist. Essentially the City decided not to take a case to the supreme court after the NAACP and a whole lot of other people like former Vice President Walter Mondale said that this Supreme Court could use slum lords getting shut down as a a legal pretense to gut all fair housing legislation passed in the last 40 years. So the City of Saint Paul decided not to risk the role of the dice in front of Tony Scalia and that means they obstructed justice, and that means they need to pay 180 million dollars. And why? Well because of discrimination against poor slum lords or something. And stuff. And Obama is a socialist. Because Congress said so.

Worst Congress Ever.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

King for a Day

 I posted this somewhere else earlier today, but I'll cross post it here too.  If only because my friend and co-worker Alex keeps whining at me about how i don't update this thing enough:

So here's a thought experiment, lets say you were named King or Queen (or Caesar or Empress or Czar or Boss of all Bosses) of Minneapolis for a day.  What would you do?  Well I got a list of things, but lets define what I'm talking about.  Being Empress for a day gives you unlimited authority, but you are only in charge for a short time, so you  can't change everything.  Nor can you get rid of a politician you don't like, being Czar means you don't have to deal with school board members or city council persons.  Heck being The Sun King means you don't even have to deal with the Board of Estimate and Taxation!  Now, I said before that I got a list, and I really do, but gah, i can only name one thing so I narrowed it down to a sort of top three--Southwest light rail, getting rid of the silly Board of Estimate and Taxation and having a regular city budget process, or dealing with all those dang parking lots in hard to choose...okay...King John, First of His Name, Lord of the Northside and Southside, of Nordeast and Southeast, Defender of the Realm and General Nice Guy hereby issues the following decree:

"From this day forth, the acres of parking lots between downtown and the Metrodome shall be no more, forever and for all time.  They shall be replaced with mixed used development and tall buildings.  Parking accommodations will be seen to with multi-layered parking structures and underground parking garages below said buildings.  It shall be filled with office space, apartments, condos, coffee shops, restaurants, bars and boutiques.  Considerations for affordable housing should also be on the agenda.  Also a charter high school partnered with major Minneapolis corporations such as US Bank and Target that stresses career training and placement and/or another charter school partnered with the University of Minnesota that focuses on math and science.  I would also like to see a nice small park, with a small pond and some ducks.  It shall be known as "Downtown East" or possibly "Johnville."  Let all good men declare their loyalty in the war on parking lots, and let us all bask in the radiance of a nice, cool new neighborhood.  And an increase in our property tax base"

Well that's my plan.  Also I'm going to be unfair and make another ground rule, nothing about stadiums (yeah I know a lot of you guys don't like the new Vikings stadium deal, well okay but lets talk about something other than that {I mean a good majority of posts here are about not liking stadiums, that's fine, but last time I checked with was the Minneapolis Issues Forum not the Minneapolis Anti-Stadium Forum}, like you know the other 99.9% of of issues facing our city that don't involved stadiums).

So what would you do?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Anatomy of a Lie

On the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I can recall a great example of how we are increasingly living in a “post-truth age.”

More than a national tragedy, 9/11 was a national failure.  As outlined in the 9/11 Commission’s Report the entire first nine months of the Bush Administration was marked by senior officials in the White House and Pentagon consistently and repeatedly ignoring growing warning signs that would later become crystalized the most famous presidential briefing ever, aptly titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike US.”  Much and more has come out about Bush’s fumbling of the looming attack, and a great Op-Ed piece in the New York Times yesterday does a great job summing it up.  In the aftermath, the Bush Administration would go into overtime trying first to prevent independent investigation, then defending its failures and finally being forced to tell flat out lies.  One example of this post-9/11 mendacity was leveled by Condi Rice before Congress, where she claimed “no one could have anticipated [that terrorists would use planes as weapons.]”  This is a lie and I can prove it.

This type of plot has repeatedly been used in popular fiction for decades before 9/11.
  • In the bestselling Tom Clancy novel “Debt of Honor” an ultra-nationalist Japanese terrorist flies a jumbo jet into the Capitol resulting in Clancy’s protagonist Jack Ryan becoming President.
  • The Stephen King novel "The Running Man" written under his pseudonym “Richard Bachmann” ends with a man on the run from a corporation trying to kill him for televised entertainment in a future dystopia getting revenge by flying a plane into its high rise corporate HQ.  It was later turned into the Schwarzenegger blockbuster “The Running Man” (the ending was changed for the movie).
  • The entire plot of the 1980 John Carpenter movie “Escape from New York” is dependent on Air Force One being flown into a building in a future New York where Manhattan has become a giant lawless island prison.  The President survives (in a futuristic escape pod that looks like an Easter egg) and Kurt Russell is sent in to rescue him.  This is a popular movie that is on cable pretty much every weekend and also has Isaac Hayes as the marauding gangster lord of the city.
So of course the entire 9/11 plot was in fact “imagined” by whole bunch of different authors in popular creative mediums.  Let alone the fact that this type of attack was in fact tried before.
  • A commercial pilot in 1994 tried to hijack a FedEx cargo plane to use in a suicide attack.  His motives were not political, he was a disgruntled employee who was going to be fired for lying about his flight experience to get his position.  He severely injured the crew but they were able to fight him off and land the plane.
  • One of the Columbine shooters wrote in his diary about fantasizing about doing such a suicide attack.

It’s amazing that no one has tried to point these basic things out in the media.  The fact is Condi Rice said something to Congress that is objectively false.  Yet even when this falsehood is easily knocked down shown to be simple evidence of the Bush Administration’s continuing push to rewrite history and cover up their failings, it is ignored.  Indeed it is treated as Gospel.  In the age of “post-truth” the saying of a lie, can make it true.  And no amount of research can bring the truth to light, at least outside of the world of blogs.