The Pope and His Nation
As usual, this graphic may be republished with attribute. Under the circumstances, however, be advised that, if the Vicar of Christ is on solid theological ground, you will burn in Hell for doing so.
The Megaphone, the Zombie, and the Church Choir
For the most part, I just sit in the magazines section at a bookstore and read what interests me; but when it gets to three or more articles in a single magazine, I can't remember all the steps and the logic behind them, so that's when I decide it's time to waste some money.
I really shouldn't go to Borders, anyway. Several years ago, one of the so-called "affiliate" programs with which I had associated my Websites had Borders as one of its advertising clients. I applied for affiliate status to display Borders ads on my sites, but my application was rejected. It was the usual excuse about how my Websites didn't fit in with their overall marketing ambiance, or something like that.
In all fairness, PBS rejected my application, too, as did a number of other reputable establishments. Interestingly, Microsoft was glad to accept my application, as was Apple iTunes, although the latter company has since kicked me out because I never sold a dime of their merchandise. Amazon.com still keeps me, but it's really all just a favor they're doing for me: Heaven knows, I give them free ad space on sites that have total numbers of visitors in the hundreds of thousands every year, but it's their game. Why should they pay for what they get free? After all, that ad money has to go to reputable, first-tier blogs, TV and radio stations, and ad companies that plaster signs along highways.
(For those unfamiliar with gaming terminology, I just "leveled up" with that last paragraph. By the end of the campaign that is this article, I will reach a level where I can then go on to the next campaign, where I take on one or more very mean "bosses," who have to be fought with very high hit strength, lots of healing potion, serious armor, and cool weapons that make big things go, "Ouch!")
I wasn't too annoyed by Borders' rejection. The whole "affiliate" marketing routine is such a scam, anyway. In order to make any money, you have to get accepted by an advertiser; then you have to put their ads on your site; then a visitor to your site has to click on an ad and buy something from the advertiser. The likelihood of a "click-through" is ridiculously low, and the likelihood of a buy after a click-through is low, too, so the probability of getting from the click-through to the sale is exceedingly small. Besides that, a lot of people have software that kills or at least warns them about advertisers' cookies, which are the only way the advertiser would be able to tell if someone had come from a specific affiliate.
Yes, I still have a few ads up, but none anymore from Commission Junction, which is where Borders' affiliate program can be found, and none from the oldest of my original advertisers' affiliate platforms, a marketing company that used to be called Performics. Some of the very first advertisers who accepted The Dark Wraith Forums as an affiliate site were there, but unfortunately, Performics was bought for $3.1 billion by Google, and I want nothing to do with that market monopolizer this nation's Federal Trade Commission is too cowardly to take on in a long-overdue, desperately needed trust-busting crack-down. It's bad enough that I still promote Microsoft, an enterprise founded by a man who should have gone to prison for his antitrust activities.
It was just this past October 27 that Google sent me a final notice that I had until the end of the month to log in and hand over all my information in order to become part of the Google Affiliate Network and keep my old advertisers. I ignored the e-mail message. Why? That's easy: Google can bite me, that's why.
(Level up, again.)
I'll let other people use Google, its affiliate network, its one-stop shopping check-out service, and all its other wonderful features; and I'll let others wave the banner of "Net Neutrality" on behalf of Google and its massive, energy-swilling server farms that burn fire every last time someone too lazy to do real research decides to do a search for some intensely banal thing.
So, you get the idea: the writer of this article is not just a charming, articulate individual; he's also attained a level of acidic curmudgeonliness that makes him undesirable company anywhere outside of the old geezers' bench at the local diner, and even there the more amiable of the crabby patrons prefer the company of the young, tarty waitress with the ever-available coffee refill.
Go figure. I'm not that old, mind you, so you can imagine how lonely I'll be if I really do make it to my impoverished, irregular Golden Years. On the bright side, the current crop of old men at the diner will be gone, and that tarty waitress will be long in the tooth and still short on the nuances of figuring tax on a two dollar cup of joe. To her credit, she'll still probably be bitching about her latest boyfriend, the funny noise her car's brakes are making, and the phone company shutting off her service.
Anyway, back to the story.
I don't like Borders because Borders doesn't like me, but those periodicals don't usually show up at the local Barnes and Noble. Borders sends me coupons via e-mail, but those are phony: first, they never apply to "periodicals"; and, second, when I try to buy a book or DVD with one of those coupons, I get this routine about how the coupon applies to the original price, not the discount price that's showing on the book or DVD.
I know how all the routines go: Borders doesn't want to be associated with my writings, Borders hands out coupons that don't really have any use to me, and Borders charges high prices for certain periodicals because they have spatial monopoly in the sale of those particular items. If I go there and buy something, I have no one else to blame but myself. I am, in fact, "free to choose," to quote that late, Right-wing, free market shill, Milton Friedman.
Still, the injury of my own weakness for how-to magazines got multiplied by insult on my last visit to Borders several weeks ago.
When I went up to the counter to check out, the nice lady cheerfully asked me if I'd like to register for their sweepstakes deal. Every week, the winners get the book of the week, and this week's registrants had the chance to win their very own copy of are you ready for this? Sarah Palin's Going Rogue.
That's right: I would be first in line to get one of those monuments to literary excellence that was to come out on November 17. Only a fool would turn down a chance like that.
Well, I did.
Not only did I say, "Absolutely not!" but I then launched into a short, stern lecture. That poor lady had to listen to me tell her that Borders was supporting a race-bating, hypocritical, semi-literate failure of a parent and public figure.
The young dweeb manning the check-out register right beside her found some excuse to scurry away, and the poor lady taking the brunt of my lecture then had to stand there all alone, trying her best to be firm. She started: "It's about free speech..."
I interrupted her: "Free speech does not include a free megaphone, and that's what you and a whole lot of people who know better are giving that divisive hate-hawker and all her miserable kind."
The cashier then broke rank and simpered something about how she'd been glued to her TV set the evening before watching the House of Representatives health care reform debate on C-SPAN. In other words, I was preaching to the church choir.
Yes, I'm sure I was; but I was preaching to the church choir at their annual fundraiser sing-along for the renovation project at the Demon Hall Daycare Center.
(Serious level up.)
The lady asked me if I had a Borders Reward card, and I said, "Yes, I do." She scanned it so I could get some Borders Bucks credits for my holiday shopping.
We parted amicably. The dweeb at the next register never did show his face again before I left.
I went back a few days later to get a photograph of the huge sign in the front window advertising Going Rogue, but the giant ad was gone. It had been replaced by a smaller poster plastered on an interior door of the entrance way. I walked in and took my shot. Looking at me from the other side of the glass was Dweeb Boy. I pointed the camera at him and, sure enough, he whirled around and found something compellingly interesting to look at 180 degrees from my lens.
It was only when I got home and downloaded the photo of the poster that I actually grasped that the banner stamp was announcing "40% Off" on Going Rogue. The picture of Sarah Palin on the poster would have led me to believe that 100 percent off her rocker would have been closer to truth in advertising. I must stipulate, of course, that walking through the front doors of a retail establishment while carrying a digital single lens reflex Nikon sporting a big, muscular lens is not exactly a point of departure for exemplary prudence. Nevertheless, declaring that Sarah Palin is "40% Off" is charitability on stilts, if you ask me.
(Nearing Level 100. Just about time to face that Winking Zombie boss with the trollop hairdo and the "You Betcha Spell of Doom.")
Those who have read my writings know I can go on some pretty fierce rants from time to time. Those who have listened to my Internet talk radio show, Dark Voices Radio, know I can kick without much warning into fiery diatribes that border on righteous rage.
You have not seen anything, yet. The ascendance of Palin has finally set me free of decorum. I am about to go into hyperdrive about that Right-wing hypocritical failure and the entire publishing industry that has just furthered her nasty train bound for the White House. Into that maelstrom I plan to take the entertainment industry with its pathetic swill mongers like Oprah Winfrey, who is apparently so desperate to stay in the stew that she'll take a race-bater like Palin and treat her like a celebrity. I'll also be taking a swipe at all the mainstream info-tainment tripe passing as "news" that vaulted that loser from Alaska past her checkered, corruption-riddled, trailer-mentality roots and into the spotlight. While I'm at it, I'll have a go at all the publishers out there who pound out slop like Going Rogue but hide behind sham "literary agents" and their nasty "reading fees" that never seem to be a roadblock for literary slobs like Palin, Glenn Beck, and their addled ilk on the Right, along with Paul Krugman, David Sirota, Naomi Klein, and their equally slovenly ilk on the Left.
Along the way, I shall have my say about an entire culture too morally bankrupt to stand up to failed parents and their under-aged, alcohol-drinking, sexually promiscuous children, their never-at-home lifestyles, and their do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do hypocrisy. That conversation will include heavy artillery aimed at the weakling Left and its "Let's talk about responsible hedonism, okee-dokee?" way of dealing with their own quicksand of moral failure.
I might not have any readers left when I'm finished, but that's okay: nobody sits near me at the old geezers' bench at the diner, either, except for that tarty waitress when she takes a break to count her tips.
I should give her more than a quarter the next time I'm there. At least she never invoked the sacred right of free speech to defend a sweepstakes promoting the swill of an opportunistic extremist.
Coming up next: Dark Wraith meets the Winking Zombie boss and her Legion of Demons.
I've got level, I've got armor, I've got healing potion, I've got weapons.
Now, where's that church choir?
This won't be pretty. Then again, neither am I.
Evidence of War Crimes: The Obstructionist Doctrine of Barack Obama
Gates went further to block an additional 23 pictures that are rumored to show more abuses contrary to American law and international treaties to which the United States is a signatory.
Among the acts clearly evident in the photos is at least one of a prisoner apparently being sodomized by an American soldier using a broom handle. Other rape or simulated rape photos along with various alternate demonstrations of brutality, degradation, and violence against prisoners, including mock executions are said to be in the now-sequestered images.
In signing the bill to keep the photographs of what some allege are American war crimes from being released, President Obama defended the Administration's successful thwarting of the Freedom of Information Act by saying that allowing the pictures to be seen by the public would "further inflame anti-American opinion" and "put our troops in greater danger."
Obama's stance on the evidence of war crimes committed by Americans involved in foreign conflicts flies directly in the face of his declarations and directives on his first full day in office, when he said, "My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government."
More Blackouts to Come?
Rumors cannot be confirmed, but insiders say that Mr. Obama is seriously considering asking Congress to give him the authority to classify a whole series of photos showing other abuses committed by Americans.
High on the agenda would be any photographs showing extra-judicial lynchings of African-Americans by Whites. Although historians and civil rights advocates argue that the photographs are invaluable evidence of past racism in American, President Obama is leaning toward the argument that the horrific photos "further inflame anti-White opinion" in African-American communities and "put White people in greater danger of being called 'cracker' when walking through less-cultured neighborhoods."
Also on the agenda would be photographs from the Holocaust in Europe showing dead, dying, and abused Jews. Again, while historians and many others argue that the photographs are part of a crucial, on-going lesson in the need to control the unspeakably monstrous impulses of societies gone awry, President Obama is receptive to the argument that Holocaust photos "further inflame anti-fascist opinion" and "put hate-mongers like Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and certain Ron Paul fans in greater danger of being called freak-show crackpots they actually are."
Decisions on these extensions of the Obama Obstruction of Justice Doctrine have not been finalized, but leading Right-wing legal minds are excited, nonetheless. What liberals thought was going to be a progressive President is transforming before their eyes into a unitary executive with high aspirations to alter the very reality of what citizens see of America when it is doing the noble work of the Empire that will not abide a rule of law that includes accountability for the Empire, itself, and its violent, criminally culpable, failed leaders.
Veterans Day 2009
The flag and her warriors are with you.
Even in the stormy night, we will not leave you.
As you are the Nation to which we pledged our blood, we will not fail you.
Not even through that stormy night.
Health Care Reform and Debate That Never Happened
Mr. Hancock first quotes Paul Krugman, a fellow whom I have harshly criticized, both in writing and on my Internet talk radio show. Even the most meritorious of ideas will have its share of oafs littering the parade route, and Dr. Krugman's unconscionable intellectual prostitution for countries that massively undervalue their currencies against the U.S. dollar qualifies for the blue ribbon parade award for the Float That Should Be Shot, notwithstanding his Nobel Prize in economics this year (a prize previously granted to the very epitome of oafishness on the speaking tour parade, the late Right-wing extremist and howlingly lackluster "intellectual," Milton Friedman).
One comment, written by someone using the pseudonym "MrRational," on Mr. Hancock's article struck me:
I still remain opposed to the entire scheme.
Corporate and Government are two sides of the same nannyism coin. Neither can be expected to solve anything for us.
But to the degree that either is allowed a brief or responsibility...
make it a narrowly focused one.
there are three basic levels/categories of care:
1) the 80% that constitutes everyone's day to day uses which should be paid for out of pocket (by most of us) on a fee for service basis to the provider we choose. (and yes, people with some conditions can expect to pay more for that basic care than people who don't have those conditions.)
2) the 10 % that will occasionally crop up beyond those routine year to year expenses that we can mitigate the budget impact of by having some back stop insurance (or an HSA) which we also pay for on our own and most will use very similarly to how we use our homeowner or auto insurance.
3) The 10% that NO ONE can reasonably expect to afford or in most instance to even insure against privately. These catastrophic and traumatic bankrupting expenses are the perfect category for and reasonable limit to a government plan with a tax supported 100% actuarial base.
If we are willing to be truly honest we can add a fourth category:
4) Stop pretending that anyone gets out alive by refusing to flog and abuse our elderly loved ones and call it medicine.
We can make it more complicated but there is no reason to.
I have not had much success in recent years with getting my comments I write published at reputable Websites. The Leftist site truthout.org persistently begging for donations while doing little more than republishing other sites' content will not post any comment I write, The Huffington Post only rarely lets one of my comments through, and the same goes for CNN.com; hence, I no longer bother visiting these sites much. Long-time readers here at The Dark Wraith Forums know very well that my style of writing does not include the use of profanity or unrealistically hyperbolic literary imagery unless in the service of occasional satire.
Okay, I did use an obscenity, a profanity, and several vulgarities in writing about Paris Hilton's early release from incarceration; in my own weak defense, however, once in a blue moon, the mockery of uniform rule of law that is the American justice system bunches my boxers. As a broad principle, however, I write what could be published just about anywhere children would not be a target audience.
Still, I get censored. My short-lived gig writing for OpEdNews is over: one of the sneering, Leftist editors there got appallingly nasty in rejecting an article I subsequently published here to the usual, decent number of hits. The Institutional Liberal Manual of Style seems to be widely available to dwarfs at places like truthout.org and other caves on the Left Bank of the American river of ideological polarization. (As an aside, in a few days I shall republish excerpts from that article because those sentiments I expressed there are every bit as timely now as they were in the late Winter when I first wrote them.)
With all of the above as admittedly somewhat unshaped background, I nevertheless offered a follow-on comment at Jay Hancock's Blog. To my surprise, it was published this morning in unedited form.
I am herewith offering it to my own readers here at my online properties of Dark Wraith Publishing to the purpose of providing one more means by which I may speak to the debate over health care reform.
The comment by "MrRational" is worthwhile, although I have no particular use for the idea that we cannot take care of the poor, especially the children in this condition, who need basic medical services but who cannot afford to have them on a readily available basis. As a quite affluent society, we can surely afford to take care of people whose earnings make keeping body and soul together a challenge, and those people will number in the many millions, even in an industrialized society such as ours so long as we choose a form of economic organization where there are winners and losers, as well as stark differences in the long-term, even inter-generational fortunes of those two groups.
It is most unfortunate that a "progressively conservative" approach to reform was never in the cards for the debate in Washington; however, as a purely academic exercise, I note three major points that are missing in Mr. Rational's comment.
First and foremost is the matter of price transparency. Doctors, medical centers, and hospitals all hide their prices, which thwarts the very foundation of competition that would cabin those prices within an envelope formed by profitability and affordability. As a professor, I make a big issue of this. Price transparency is crucial if the demand and supply sides are to discover prices that clear markets efficiently; but no serious federal or state proposals have been fielded to mandate publicly available price disclosures for a standard list of medical services and treatments.
Second and this point goes far, far beyond the health care industry we are using antitrust laws written in the first half of the 20th Century to deal with markets of the 21st Century and the market power of concentrated industries in an age where "deregulation" has allowed the argument for scale economies to sway regulatory oversight despite overwhelmingly larger, social and economic interests that are harmed by compacted industries. The Federal Trade Commission frets about "unfair and deceptive" advertising, it uses antiquated metrics like the HHI to measure market concentration, and it chases market concentrators after they've become too large to bust (as in the case of Microsoft, and as in the case now of Google).
Third, and finally, the rampant lack of education in basics of economics and business allows far too many people to get by with no understanding of such concepts as "moral hazard" and "adverse selection." This ensures a debate where only Right-wing conservatives bring up these ideas, and usually in offensive ways, making the underlying concepts as loathsome as everything else Right-wing conservatives talk about. If we are to have a truly informed debate, it would be so much better if the dancing, naked clowns of the Right (as I've called them in my writings) would shut up so the legitimate points they are mimicking could be brought up by people who aren't dancing, naked clowns.
Unfortunately, as it now stands, the only health care "reform" being discussed is really just health care repair, and it's sloppy repair done by self-serving politicians. Some things never change.
For the record, I am opposed to the health care reform bill in the form that the U.S. House of Representatives has just passed. I will sharpen my attack as time goes on, but I can assure readers here that those Right-wing clowns in the entertainment industry, along with their Republican sidekicks in Congress, will never be outside the scope of my criticism, either. Nothing irritates me more than intellectual fools and entertainment industry charlatans. They make legitimate debate next to impossible, so I hold them in particular contempt, even as I do the same for the Democrats in Congress who don't have the guts to write a genuine health care reform bill, much less a real, comprehensive overhaul of this country's miserably failed antitrust, financial services, and privacy laws.
I shall write what is on my mind and leave to the Democrats such ideals as compromise and accommodation, which those same Democrats over the past decade have turned into rank, disgraceful appeasement by another name.
The Dark Wraith is officially on yet another roll.
Tuesday Night Photography: Harvest Waiting
I took this photograph with a Nikon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor lens mounted on a Nikon D60 body. Regular visitors here might recognize this picture: it served as the background for my Hallowe'en 2009 Graphic #1 here at The Dark Wraith Forums. The shot is nice all on its own, so I am herewith sharing it with you.
Autumn is sad. Soon, the land will be still. Many things once alive and beautiful will die.
Spring will come, though; and we'll get to see the most incredible of all possible miracles: death is not really forever.
Believing that does not require faith; just patience.
I hope you like the picture.