Have I Threatened To Shoot You Today?

I’ve read and commented on Slashdot since the dawn of the Internet (circa 1998). More so in recent years while waiting for a script to finish running at my tech job. I’ll find a topic that I’m interested in, read and respond to the early comments, and, if I want to torment the trolls, a.k.a, AC (Anonymous Cowards), I’ll write a controversial comment and camp out on the thread for the rest of the day. I don’t take this seriously because I’m just killing time. That is until an asshat accused me of threatening to shoot him. Even though I’ve asked three times for the asshat to explain how I threatened to shoot him, today I confronted the asshat by breaking out the crayons and coloring inside the lines.

What comment provoked this accusation? I asserted my First AND Second Amendment rights.

When talking about the U.S. Constitution, there are two groups that typically talk past each other all the time: the First Amendment people who don’t want the Second Amendment people bearing arms in public because they feel intimidated, and the Second Amendment people who loudly proclaim with obvious display of heavy weaponry that their amendment trumps all other amendments and that the First Amendment people should just shut up.

As a moderate conservative (another controversial statement), my belief is that you can’t have one without the other. The First Amendment grants me the right to speak my mind. The Second Amendment grants me the right to bear arms, and, since California isn’t a strong “stand your ground” state, I don’t have the right to shoot anyone’s sorry ass willy-nilly. This “best of both worlds” position typically pisses off the opposing camps.

One asshat ASSumed that my comment constituted a threat to shoot him.

If I was going to shoot that sorry ass asshat, I wouldn’t announce my intentions to do so under a named account on Slashdot. All the police would have to do is click on the home page link for my Slashdot comments, go to my author website and find my picture. The FBI already has my fingerprints. It wouldn’t take long to track me down.

So why draw attention to this controversy?

A group of Slashdot asshats went to my personal website, saw my picture and started calling me fat (among other explicit things). I collected their comments into an F.A.Q. (Frequently Asked Questions) and posted it on my website. Whenever someone called me fat, I posted the link to the F.A.Q in a reply comment and 3,000+ visitors stampeded to my website. That was 15 years ago and long before I had ads on my websites. This blog post is the new F.A.Q. If the asshat accuses me of threatening to shoot him again, I’ll post the link and collect the ad revenues from 3,000+ visitors.

After a two-year hiatus from blogging on Kicking The Bit Bucket, I’m blowing off the cobwebs and getting back to work.

Friday, 30 March 2017 — By popular request on Slashdot, I added a link to the original comment above. Here’s the link for the parent thread. Read and decide for yourself. That sorry ass asshat is still hounding me six weeks later.

The Lessons of “I’m Just A Bill”

If you’re paying attention to the political shenanigans in Washington, D.C., you might be aware that the Republicans are aiming for a partial government shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in retaliation for the immigration-related executive orders that President Obama issued last year. Reading through the comments for various political stories, I see frequent calls to save the U.S. Constitution. It’s painfully obvious that some citizens—and too many Tea Party Republicanshave no clue how the government works. During the U.S. Bicentennial (1975-1976) celebration, ABC TV had a series of Schoolhouse Rock! cartoons on how the government works. My all-time favorite was “I’m Just a Bill” that explains how a bill becomes a law in Congress.

Education and civic responsibility still meant something 40 years ago. Not today. Too many people display their willful ignorance with pride, too many politicians lack courage to rebuke ignorance with knowledge. This became obvious after the House Republicans passed their bill to fund the DHS and reverse the executive orders, which failed four times in the Republican-controlled Senate to override the Democratic filibusters, insisting that they did their job and the Senate needed to do their job by rubber-stamping the bill.

That’s not how Congress works: the majority can cram bills through the House; the minority can halt bills in the Senate.

The Republicans may have a majority in the Senate, but they lack the votes to override a Democratic filibuster (60 votes) and a presidential veto (67 votes). As the House Republicans demonstrated on Friday night, they don’t have the 218 votes to pass their own bills if the Tea Party Republicans votes no and the Democratic minority withhold their votes. Even if their bill did get rubber-stamped by the Senate, the House Republicans don’t have the 290 votes to override the expected presidential veto.

I was quite pleased to see that the Disney Educational Productions had uploaded new versions of the Schoolhouse Rock! videos on YouTube. While glancing through the comments for the “I’m Just a Bill” video, someone noted that Saturday Night Live did an updated skit of that video. President Obama comes out to push “I’m Just A Bill” down the Capitol steps and introduced “I’m Just An Executive Order” to run the government. The funny thing is, despite a Republican judge ruling that 26 states have legal standing to file a lawsuit and granting a temporary stay, the executive orders are constitutional and legal.

If the Republicans believe their own rhetoric that President Obama is the dictator in chief, they can always remove him from office through impeachment. They have enough votes in the House to impeach; they don’t have enough votes in the Senate to convict. With the Obama Administration being scandal free for the last six years, the Senate Republicans will have a tough time getting any Democrats to vote with them for conviction.

While the lowest voter turnout in 72 years gave the Republicans control of Congress, voters didn’t give them enough power to ignore the Democrats and President Obama. Until that painful reality sinks, expect two more years of political shenanigans.

Republican Midterm Victory By The Numbers

Two numbers stand out after the 2014 midterm elections: the largest Republican majority in the House since 1928 (a year before the 1929 stock market crash that ushers in the Great Depression) voted in by the worst voter turnout since 1942 (after America enters World War II). If the past is any indication of the future, this country is in deep trouble for the next two years. But those weren’t the most important numbers. Three numbers about the new Republican majority in the Senate indicates what the midterm elections were really about.

67

Sixty-seven is the number of votes needed to override a presidential veto. The new Republican majority in the Senate has 52 members, which may increase to 54 after several contested elections get settled in the next few months. Unless the Republicans play nice with the Democrats to pick additional votes, they can’t override a presidential veto on their own.

Unfortunately, the Republicans won their new majority by ousting out conservative Democrats from conservative states. They have no one to negotiate with—except themselves. As we have seen over in the House, if the Establishment Republicans and the Tea Party Republicans can’t agree, much less negotiate, over a common agenda, nothing will get done. For some people, doing nothing is a perfectly acceptable state of affairs for Congress.

60

Sixty is the number of votes required to override a Democratic filibuster. The Republicans will have to play nice with the Democrats to pick up extra votes. Or experience the frustrations that they inflicted on the Democrats for the last six years. The Republicans could do away with the filibuster entirely and pass everything on a simple majority vote (51 yeas). However, gutting the minority’s right to hamstring the legislative process is too extreme for the world’s most deliberative body. The Republicans may find themselves in the minority again.

24

Twenty-four is the number of Senate seats that the Republicans will have to defend in 2016. The 2010 anti-incumbent Tea Party will face re-election for the first time as incumbents. Since the 112th Congress has distinguished itself as being the least productive Congress since the “do nothing” 80th Congress of the 1940’s, the incumbents will have few successes to show the voters back home. Expect the Tea Party incumbents to face Tea Party and/or Establishment challengers in the primary elections.

Unless the Republicans learn to C-O-M-P-R-O-M-I-S-E to get things done with President Obama and the Democrats, nothing will change for the next few years. If Hillary Clinton becomes the next president as many people expect, don’t expect the Republican Party to change their demographics to attract a wider voting base. It’ll be eight more years of the do nothing status quo, as the Republican Party match into the dustbin of history.

Century 21 Dome Theater Saved By City Council

San Jose City HallSupporters of Save The Domes gathered at the Tuesday evening session of the San Jose City Council to plead for the protection of the 50-year-old building from demolition. On a seven-to-four vote, the council designated the Century 21 as a historical landmark. The developer can file a demolition plan to raze the other dome theaters, but must incorporate the Century 21 into the new mixed-urban development. No guarantees that the developer will keep it as a working theater. That’s the short version.

My friend and I drove downtown to attend the 7:00PM council session, arriving at the nearby public parking garage where the city keeps it fleet of vehicles, and walking a block over from Fifth Street. This was my first visit to the “new” city hall building since opening in 2005. I previously visited the old city hall on North 1st Street, part of the county government civic center that the county plans to renovate in the future, when my older brother had a shotgun wedding at the hall of justice in the 1970’s.

While my friend walked over to Subway for a sandwich, I walked down memory lane while wandering around the plaza. As a college student living downtown in the mid-1990, I used to shop at Lucky’s and eat at Taco Bell that previously occupied this one-and-half block stretch on Santa Clara Street and Fifth Street. It’s now all gone. San Jose State University is a few blocks away, where the eight-story Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. library is visible above the two-story buildings between city hall and the campus.

The city council chamber wasn’t in the rotunda building on the plaza, as one would imagine when pulling on the locked front doors. The circular floor space under the ten-story ceiling was empty. Not surprisingly, this space was reserved for private events. When the Bascom Avenue library opened last year, the library was smaller than I expected and the larger community center was available for private events as well. For a fee, of course. The city has to make a buck somewhere.

Walking past the rotunda building to the left will take you to a ground-level entrance for the restrooms and elevators. You can also walk up the narrow stairway next to the tower building that house the city bureaucracy or the broad stairway that borders the plaza to the second floor entrance. The public entrance to the city council opened to a university-style auditorium with seats sloping down from the second floor to the first floor.

The city council session opened light-heartedly with commendations by the mayor for several citizens who served the city in one way or another for 25 years, including a Boy Scout troop leader who brought out his troop. After pictures got taken and the boy scouts cleared out, more people came in to occupy the empty seats. The city council got down to business. We sat through two-hours of mind-numbing discussions about various public planning proposals. People got up to speak for or against, left the council chamber, and more people took their empty seats.

We left at 9:00PM to catch “The Wil Wheaton Project” on TV. On the way home we drove past the Century Domes on Winchester, where a single outdoor light illuminated the front doors of the Century 21 and the two other dome theaters shrouded in the darkness. The city council voted on the Century 21 historical landmark at about 10:30PM. After two mind-numbing hours watching democracy in action (sausage making would be more entertaining), I don’t think I could have survived another 90 minutes.

Big Wow Comicfest 2014 – North Korean Monster Movie (Video)

One of the stranger stories to come out of Big Wow Comicfest 2014 (May 16-17, 2014) was the true story of a South Korean movie director, Shin Sang-ok, being kidnapped by the North Korean government to produce a 1985 monster movie called “Pulgasari” (available on Youtube with English subtitles), reportedly because the son of Kim Il-sung was a huge Godzilla fan, and later escaped from the regime. From what I read elsewhere on the Internet, the movie was so awful that it’s pretty good.

President Obama At Wal-Mart

Presidential Obama @ Mountain View WalmartPresident Obama landed in Silicon Valley to do the usual political fundraising to shake money loose from the movers and shakers, and visit the Wal-Mart Store in Mountain View to promote energy efficiency. Visiting Wal-Mart surprised me. Having visited that particular location after a job interview several weeks ago, the floor was dirty, the shelves were in disarray, and the lighting was terrible. Looking at the pictures taken at the presidential event, the store was clean, neat and well-lit.

Perhaps the president can visit this Wal-Mart more often?

Although rolling out solar panels at all its stores is commendable, Wal-Mart isn’t exactly the poster child of a responsible corporate citizen.

Wal-Mart pays their employees minimum wage and let them to work just enough hours per week to qualify for food stamps, forcing taxpayers to subsidize Wal-Mart’s high profits. And it’s perfectly legal under existing laws. According to one study (download the PDF here) by Demos, Wal-Mart could easily pay employees a higher wage by using the money set aside for their annual stock buyback program and save taxpayers a bundle.

Wal-Mart’s executives don’t play by the same rules as their minimum wage employees. When growth for fiscal year 2014 fell to 1.6% and missed the incentive compensation threshold at 1.8%, no one told the executives, “Better luck next year.” That would be unfair! Wal-Mart “re-adjusted” the numbers to award millions of dollars to their executives for having a lousy year.

Did I ever mentioned that I got laid off from last my job because the Fortune 500 CEO laid off 10% of the work force and gave himself a raise for having a lousy fiscal year?

If Wal-Mart ever put employees above profit (something that Costco has done successfully for many years), Wall Street would scream bloody murder. Maximizing profits at someone else’s expense is known as the modern “free market” system: privatizing profits and socializing losses. God forbid if corporations and executives bear the consequences of their actions in a true capitalist system.

Playing Politics With Pumping Water From The Delta

San Joaquin DeltaWith Governor Jerry Brown declaring a drought emergency in California, three House Republicans from the Central Valley are playing politics by adding an amendment to the farm bill that would force pumping more water from the delta to irrigate farms and halt work on the San Joaquin river restoration. Unfortunately, without the massive outflows from rain water and snow melt into the delta, the only water anyone can pump out of the delta is salt water from the San Francisco Bay.

That begs an interesting question: Why would Republicans want to irrigate California farms with salt water?

The obvious answer is that these House Republicans are throwing out a bone to their constituents from a “do nothing” Congress for the 2014 midterm elections. The Central Valley farmers always want more water for their water-intensive crops and don’t give a damn about the endangered fishes in the delta that people outside the Central Valley rely upon. As House Speaker John Boehner (R – Ohio) explained in Bakersfield, “In my part of the world we would shake our heads at how things work here. It’s nonsense that a bureaucracy would favor fish over people.”

Speaking of John Boehner’s part of the world, the West Virginia chemical spill is a mysterious disaster that wouldn’t happen in California.

Alternatively, since California is a very much blue state that isn’t going purple or red in the 2014 and 2016 election cycles, the Republicans may want to destroy the economy at the state level by ruining California farms with irrigated salt water. With the state budget producing a surplus underneath a Democratic governor, the imminent economic collapse and/or zombie apocalypse in California that conservatives have raved about for years desperately needs some help.

Fortunately, the farm bill amendment failed in the House. Now water-rich Southern California is complaining about their water from the Colorado River is being given to water-poor Northern California, which previously happened in the 1976-1977 drought.

Updated 07 February 2014: The Republicans rammed the amendment through the House as a stand-alone bill on a party-line vote with no chance of being passed in the Democratic-controlled Senate. As the drought intensifies, the water wars will get nastier.

A Modern Day Scrooge McDuck Mocks The Holocaust

Scrooge McDuckIf you have to mention Nazi Germany while making an argument, you pretty much lost the argument and any legitimacy to make that argument. A prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist billionaire, Tom Perkins, wrote a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal that compared the one percent rich in the United States to the 30,000 Jews who sent to the concentration camps on Kristallnacht in November 1938, which marked the beginning of the Holocaust that killed six million Jews.

Obviously, this modern day Scrooge McDuck has been watching too many conspiracy theories on Fox News TV.

I haven’t heard of any reports that San Francisco progressives are rounding up the one percent rich, destroying their businesses and marching them off to the concentration camps. The broken windows of luxury car dealerships during the Occupy Wall Street protests in Oakland a few years ago and the recent protests against commuter buses for tech workers in San Francisco doesn’t make a “war on the rich” conspiracy.

The one percent rich are feeling insecure because they have been too successful in manipulating public policy and the economy to their advantage over the last 25 years. With a new Gilded Age within reach, the pendulum is starting to swing back towards the 99% who are still suffering from the Great Recession. A FDR-style revival in greatness could undermine everything that the one percent rich has done.

As the trader in the opening scene of “The Wolf of Wall Street” said (paraphrasing): “Wall Street doesn’t make anything, doesn’t build anything, and moves money from the client’s pocket into their own.”

Rather than growing the economic pie for society at large to benefit, the one percent rich are slicing-and-dicing an ever smaller economic pie for their benefit. Americans don’t begrudge someone for being rich as long as the playing field isn’t tilted against them. Unfortunately, economic inequality has become a serious problem. You’re either very poor (i.e., the takers) or very rich (i.e., the makers) in this economy. If you’re in the shrinking middle class that is paying the most taxes to fund the welfare benefits for the very poor and the tax cuts for very rich, you’re seriously screwed and need to move up or down.

Making comparisons to Nazi Germany mocks the horrors of the Holocaust. With 1,000 Holocaust survivors dying each month, the few people who lived through the horrors will no longer be around to remind the world of what happened in the 1940’s. Israel is considering a bill to outlaw the usage of the word “Nazi” outside of educational references to prevent further mockery of the Holocaust. (Although I abhor censorship in any form as a writer, the word “Nazi” might be a special usage case that requires considerable care.) Most people today regard the Holocaust as ancient history, but the civil war in Syria has proven that Nazi-style death camps are still here in the 21st century.

The Boss Sings Governor Christie’s Traffic Jam

On “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” this week, Jimmy Fallon and Bruce Springsteen sung about the traffic jam scandal from last September that gotten New Jersey Governor Chris Christie into a bit of hot water. So far no smoking traffic cone has turned up that the governor orchestrated a four-day closure of two lanes on the three-lane George Washington Bridge to snarl traffic as political payback against a Democratic mayor in Fort Lee who decline to endorse the governor in the recent election.

Unlike the endless parade of manufactured scandals against President Barack Obama, this is real scandal that will send people to prison. If a smoking traffic cone does implicates Governor Christie, his impeachment and removal from office will also remove him as the leading Republican presidential candidate for 2016. That would be a shame.

With the Tea Party extremists chasing moderate conservatives out of office, the Republican Party doesn’t have an experienced heir apparent for the presidential nomination. Governor Christie came close to filling that role. The Tea Party, however, hates him because he hugged President Obama rather than give him the middle finger and for accepting federal aid—the handling of which is also being investigated—in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. As one commentator wrote in response to a political article about the song, you don’t see liberals denouncing Bruce Springsteen for shaking hands with the governor for the Hurricane Sandy telethon event.

What the Republican Party has left are third-rate candidates who will implode from saying something stupid while pandering to old angry white people who no longer represents America in the primary elections, and the eventual nominee who does emerge can’t pivot to the center that does represent America to win the general election. As we saw in the 2012 presidential election, Governor Mitt Romney got tied up and delivered like a pretzel when he went against President Obama. I expect more of the same in 2016.

It doesn’t help Governor Christie that the scandal happened in the backyard of the New York City media market and New Jersey’s most prominent citizen sung about the scandal on national TV. But that’s the East Coast. On the West Coast, we have to settle for renaming the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge as a possible bridge scandal.

Firing On Cars With California License Plates

Targeting The GreenbackA conservative blogger, Bill Whittle, at a Tea Party rally this week advocated that Texans should open fire on any vehicles with a California license plate to prevent refugees escaping the collapse of the California economy and/or zombie apocalypse from settling in the “no tax, low reg” hell hole known as Texas. I see one serious flaw. Since the California GOP has more in common with the spotted owl than one-sixth of the U.S. population, these “refugees” are probably fellow Tea Party members.

If Texas wants to execute their own, by all means, let them.

When my father and I drove up to Boise, Idaho, to bury my mother’s ashes with her parents in 2004, our future Tea Party-leaning relatives teased us about driving a car with a California license plate, as Californians got blamed for high real estate prices, drug dealers and drive by shootings.

High real estate prices I understood too well. If my parents had kept the house they paid $32,000 USD in the 1960’s until they retired in the 1990’s, they would have walked away with a million bucks to buy a similar house in the boondocks of California or a palatial mansion in a western state. Unfortunately, they had a failed divorced and filed for bankruptcy in the 1970’s. My father was quite certain that monthly rents would never go above $400 per month, when San Jose was still a bedroom community to San Francisco and Silicon Valley haven’t yet spawned enough millionaires to drive real estate prices through the roof.

As for the drug dealers and drive by shootings, the finger pointing wasn’t justified.

Most of my father’s side of the family smuggled something for a profit throughout the years. My father and his brothers smuggled untaxed cigarettes from Oregon through Nevada to sell to construction workers in Southern California from the trunk of their car in the 1950’s. A distant cousin smuggled cocaine from Cuba to Florida until the Coast Guard caught him in the 1990’s. As for the smuggling of meth, heroin and prescription drugs to the local white trailer trash, you don’t mention that in polite company.

No one shot at us while we drove around with a California license plate. When my father did a California rolling stop at a four-way intersection, car horns from three different directions blasted us. My father looked in the rearview mirror with surprise.

“I was born in Idaho,” he said. “I’m not from California.”

As for California today, the economic collapse and/or zombie apocalypse is nowhere on the horizon. The 2014 budget is projecting to have a multi-billion-dollar budget surplus. If Governor Jerry Brown can hold the line on Democratic spending proposals, reducing the state debt will happen. A severe drought might be the most serious threat to the state, imposing widespread water conservation as many reservoirs are at their lowest levels in decades. Droughts, like earthquakes, come and go all the time.

Rather than worrying about Californians coming to Texas, maybe Texans should worry about their own problems that require a functional state government to fix.