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We are done

WordPress has decided to discontinue the “classic editor” unless I pay them for it. I can’t do this “new” editor. It doesn’t work at all for me.

I will update you with a link when I know where I am moving.

Goodbye, WordPress.com.

Former President Trump was opening a shopping mall this morning. Basically he rode down an escalator with that simpering look on his face while a few bored photographers took photos, then was hustled off by the Secret Service and disappeared. Everybody in the mall pretty much ignored all this, just walking on by like nothing happened.

Then Stormy Daniels came out. She had re-invented herself as a middle-aged fitness guru, and man, she was *fit*. The crowd went crazy! She went through a routine with *very* complex apparatus (far more complex than a pole!) but no nudity of course since it was a “fitness routine” and it was a shopping mall, and I was furious because my phone camera was refusing to work! Just as I got my phone camera to work, I was startled awake by the alarm clock….

So DAYUM! No photographic evidence!

— Badtux the Vivid Dreaming Penguin

Define “win”. If by “win” you mean a free and independent South Vietnam that did not rely on massive US forces and airpower in order to maintain its independence, South Vietnam never had a government that had broad popular support from the majority of its population. The South Vietnamese elites were French-influenced (I’ve encountered many of those former elites here in the United States, all are fluent in French) and predominantly Catholic. The general population of South Vietnam was predominantly Buddhist and viewed the French-speaking South Vietnamese elites as more alien than the North Vietnamese. The elites similarly viewed the majority Buddhist population as basically country bumpkins who weren’t qualified to have a say in the government.

Given that, it seems unlikely that South Vietnam could have ever developed a national culture that would allow it to resist North Vietnamese incursions without direct US involvement. The elites weren’t willing to enroll the “country bumpkins” in the goal of creating an independent nation other than as cannon fodder, and the “country bumpkins” weren’t that motivated by being cannon fodder. Also the elites were corrupt, viewing their first allegiance as being to their social class rather than to the nation as a whole. Thus you had situations where entire ARVN companies existed only on paper while the elite officer who was in charge pocketed their payroll money. Money for buying bombs and bullets was also similarly being siphoned off to enrich the elites, with many munitions existing only on paper with the money instead ending up in the pockets of elite officers. The ARVN consequently was starved of both men and munitions, to the point where ARVN soldiers had to ration bullets.

Add in the fact that South Vietnam had basically no natural resources other than lots of rice, and no way of paying for bombs and bullets on its own. It would have always been dependent upon U.S. aid for those things. Then there’s the simple fact that their population was less than that of North Vietnam. They would run out of soldiers well before North Vietnam ran out of soldiers.

Furthermore, the overall geography of the area, far different from that of Korea, made such a thing difficult. I notice that there’s a number of people here who talk about the “Viet Cong” as if they remained a fighting force after the Tet Offensive. No. All of the fighting after that was done by regular infantry of the NVA. South Vietnam was not overthrown from within, it was overthrown by an invasion by North Vietnamese tanks and infantry. There was continual warfare in South Vietnam after Tet, but it was because it was impossible to seal off South Vietnam’s borders. Vietnam is a long skinny nation that hugs the ocean, and to properly secure that border would have required more soldiers than anybody was willing to send to Vietnam. So North Vietnamese units were continually sneaking around through the jungles of Laos and Cambodia into South Vietnam to the point where entire divisions of NVA were operating within South Vietnam having infiltrated piecemeal at night over the course of an entire rainy season where South Vietnam’s F-5 fighter-bombers were largely grounded due to inability to operate at night or in bad weather.

Okay, so it’s impossible to keep the NVA out of South Vietnam. The solution then seems to be to destroy the NVA. The only way to do that is to invade North Vietnam. The US actually started massing troops at the border between North and South Vietnam in order to do that. In response, the Soviet Union then started massing troops at the border between East and West Germany. It was well known at the time that the Army in West Germany was basically the worst of the worst, it was where the Army’s goofups and dregs were sent, so the chances of holding off a Soviet invasion were dim. West Germany was a lot more valuable than South Vietnam. Oops. Not gonna invade North Vietnam.

Nuke North Vietnam? The Soviets promised to nuke South Vietnam. Oops. A free and independent glow in the dark nuclear wasteland wasn’t the goal, so that’s out too.

Well, South Vietnam can’t defend itself, so let’s put enough troops into South Vietnam to secure its borders. It’d only take a couple of million troops. Military spending peaked at nearly 10% of GDP in 1968, when we had around 536,000 soldiers in South Vietnam. So figure four times that. Oops, that would have us spending 40% of our GDP defending what’s basically just a bunch of jungle and rice paddies. The reality is that the US economy was groaning under even the weight of nearly 10% of GDP spent on defense, spending 40% wasn’t gonna happen.

Basically, there was just no way, given these realities, to have anything more than an ugly stalemate in South Vietnam where U.S. troops were constantly playing whack-a-mole with infiltrated North Vietnamese troops. And doing that was enormously expensive and honestly, what you’ve managed to do at the end of all this is to secure a bunch of jungle and rice paddies. In the end it just wasn’t worth it to the United States to continue to pay what would be trillions of dollars in today’s money to defend a bunch of jungle and rice paddies, so in the end South Vietnam was doomed.

So anyhow, despite right-wing assholes continuing to whine that Jane Fonda lost the Vietnam War, there was no “there” there. Anybody who looked at a map in 1963 could have seen this. So why did the United States go in there in the first place? Well, it was because of a) LBJ’s ego, and b) a bizarre theory called the “Domino Theory” that said if we let the Communists take over some worthless jungle and rice paddies, soon they’d be taking over places that *really* counted, like the countries where we got the natural resources to feed our war machine. It was a bullshit theory in the first place, as the fall of the former French Indochina proved (the Communists didn’t then go on to take over any otehr nations in the area). But the reality was that there was no “there” there, and devoting what would be trillions of dollars to defending a bunch of jungle and rice paddies was as insane as spending trillions of dollars defending a bunch of opium poppies and goats in Afghanistan. In the end there are no US interests served in doing so, and we had no business being there.

Badtux the Realist Penguin

So, what happens if the minimum wage goes from $7.25 to $15 in Bugtussle, Iowa? “The price of a burger will double!” screams people like the National Restaurant Association. Thing is, it won’t be *that* much more for a burger. Labor costs for a typical McDonald’s restaurant, for example, account for 36% of costs. The rest is supplies, raw food, rent, utilities, etc. And McDonald’s actually has high labor costs relative to most restaurants. Restaurants generally aim to have less than 1/3rd of their costs be labor.

So, based on that, what happens if a Quarter Pounder costs $4 at the current $7.25 minimum wage? Well. 6.4% of that is profit, so the Quarter Pounder currently costs them $3.74 to make. Of that $3.74, labor is $1.35. So if you’re going to double the labor component of the burger, labor is going to go from $1.35 to 2.79, or a hike of $1.44. So if you’re wanting to cover the wage hike by raising the price of the burger, it’ll go from $4 to $5.44.

Which granted is a hike, but it didn’t *double* the price of the burger. The price of the burger only went up by 26% even though labor costs more than doubled.

People like the National Restaurant Association try to trick people into thinking that the price of restaurant food will literally double if restaurant workers’ wages are doubled. But most of the costs of a restaurant aren’t labor costs. Restaurants focus on labor costs because they can’t really do anything about the rent or utilities or property taxes or the cost of food inputs that is set by their franchising agreement or SYSCO, but labor costs typically are less than 1/3rd of the costs of a restaurant, meaning that at most doubling labor costs would raise food prices by less than 1/3rd if food prices were raised by only enough to pay the extra labor costs, not double them.

— Badtux the Economics Penguin

Clowns in rubber suits

It was a dark and stormy night in Gotham City. Jake Jones had come up with the perfect bank robbery — he cut through the roof of the bank then through the top of the vault using a cutting torch, and had filled up a backpack with money. Now he was climbing back out using the rope ladder he’d used to climb down.

Just as he was back on the roof again, he heard a noise. Some clown in a black rubber Halloween costume wearing his underwear on the outside of his pants had just thumped down on the roof about 10 yards away.

“Who the fuck are you?” Jake said.

“I’m Batman”, the figure said in a voice that sounded like he’d been gargling glass.

“Okay, that’s batty enough,” Jake said. “So what’s some clown with a sore throat wearing a Halloween costume doing loitering on rooftops?”

“You are going down, evildoer.”

“Well yeah,” Jake said, pulling up the ladder. He pulled it over to the side of the bank and tossed it over, letting the hooks catch on the wall at the edge of the roof. “So what else is new?”

“You’re coming with me,” the man in the Halloween costume said.

“Yeah, no,” Jake said, and headed down his ladder.

The weirdo in the costume hooked his own rope to the wall and soared down it as Jake walked a few feet to his car and tossed the backpack into the back seat. Jake got in and locked the door, started the engine, and then the clown smacked the passenger side window with his fist. He looked pissed. Then he looked like he was in pain as the window didn’t budge. It turns out that car windows are tougher than in the movies, and all that happens if you punch one is that you get a sore fist.

“What the fuck is the matter with you, man?” Jake yelled as he put the car in reverse and started driving away. The lunatic in the rubber suit jumped in front of Jake’s car, hands outstretched as if he was going to stop the car by physical force. Jake hit the gas and the idiot bounced off the front of the car, coming to rest in a parking space.
“IDIOT!” Jake yelled out the window. Then he roared away. The moron in the rubber suit just sprawled on the parking lot looking dead. Jake shrugged.

It was Gotham City, after all, and lunatics were nothing new. It wasn’t the first time some loon had jumped out in front of his car and ended up taco’ed. Mostly nobody cared anymore, because people were tired of all the crazies crapping on the sidewalks and shooting up everywhere. And whoever the dude in the rubber suit was, that had to be some special kinda crazy indeed.

So a question was asked, “what’s the worst thing that can happen to a journalist’s career?” Well, that’s simple. The worst thing I’ve ever seen happen to a journalist’s carreer is telling a truth that is not liked by the CIA.

Back in the 1980’s, the CIA was illegally running guns to the Contras in Nicaragua using money received from the Iranians in exchange for anti-tank missiles sent to Iran. The CIA was using private contractors with private aircraft to do this from airstrips in the desert Southwest, and those private contractors figured out an easy way to make some extra cash both for themselves and for the Contras — bring crack cocaine from Nicaragua, offload that at the desert airstrips to accomplices, and then load up the guns to take back to Nicaragua. Since this was all 100% illegal the CIA prevented other law enforcement agencies from intervening, the result being huge amounts of cheap crack cocaine flooding the Southwest and thousands dead.

So anyhow, a while later by the name of Gary Webb who worked for the San Jose Mercury News managed to meander across this story. He started with a street dealer in Los Angeles and followed it up to a supplier who then connected it to a known CIA operation that had been revealed during the Iran-Contra trials, and they published it in his newspaper, a mid-market newspaper that until then had courageously published nothing of note.

Then the CIA came in. They pulled out their big guns — one of their assets at the Washington Post, a man by the name of Walter Pincus, being the biggest — and ran a huge smear campaign, including threatening the editor of the Mercury News, who then retracted the story. Gary Webb was fired and blackballed from the news industry, and eight years later when it appeared that everybody had forgotten his sin and he might be able to get a job at the Los Angeles Times, his motorcycle was stolen so that he couldn’t make it to the interview. Gary realized that the CIA was never going to leave him alone, and ate the revolver that he had inherited from his father.

Being harassed to the point of suicide is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to a journalist’s career.

And in the decades since, the San Jose Mercury News once again has courageously published nothing of note, having learned their lesson that printing the truth about powerful organizations like the CIA is not allowed in the U S of A.

– Badtux the News Penguin

You might wonder how a Senator who was once called the “Senator from Chase-Manhattan” because he was so friendly to big banks and big business in general could be called a “socialist” by Republicans once he started running for President.

The word “socialism” as used by Republicans doesn’t mean “a system where all economic assets are owned by the government”. Rather, it’s a dog whistle for “I don’t want none of them thare n-words to get the same advantages as me.” It’s coded racism. The word “socialist” as used by Republicans is a dog whistle for “people who oppose white supremacy.”

This is why poor whites consistently are voting against Democrats these days. They still have not forgiven Democrats for passing the Civil Rights Act of 1965. LBJ muttered that he’d lost poor whites for the Democratic Party for a generation because poor whites wouldn’t vote for a “n-word lover”. He was off by a couple of generations. And this is also why poor whites consistently label Democrats as “socialist”. It’s not because Democrats want all businesses to be owned by the government. It’s because Democrats are against white supremacy. And that makes them evil because taking white supremacy away from white trash Americans… what do white trash Americans have left after that? Other than seething resentment and hatred of everybody who isn’t white, I mean?

White supremacy is a hella drug. As lethal as meth, in the end. These white trash Americans will literally vote to kill themselves rather than allow black people to have the same rights that they have. And I doubt there’s a damned thing we can do about it other than to ignore their racism while making sure they have access to health care, education, and other necessities of life, which we Democrats will do because we’re good people, not because there’s any hope of us converting people who think it’s okay to rip babies out of their mothers’ arms and put them into cages to anything resembling human decency. There’s no way to reach out to hate-filled people and make them *not* be hate-filled people. All we can do is treat them with kindness while making sure they’re as far the fuck away from the reins of power as we can manage.

– Badtux the Dog-whistle-recognizing Penguin

So, Joe Biden is going to be our next President. That’s what the numbers say. Short of a thousand Box 13’s suddenly turning up with 100% Trump votes, that’s how it’s going to be.

It is unsurprising that the most corrupt, racist, incompetent, and dishonest president since the 19th century was voted out of office. What is surprising is that it was by such a narrow margin despite Trump’s mishandling of, well, virtually everything, from foreign affairs to the plague.

All because white people.

Specifically, over 57% of white people either being either racist or brainwashed members of a cult that claims to be “Christian” but doesn’t stand for anything Christ stood for.

Oh sure, you’re probably white if you’re reading this, But you’re also probably well educated and live in an urban area, and probably not a member of an evangelical “Christian” cult. I keep telling my friends here in the West Coast Bubble that they are, indeed, in a bubble, that they don’t know just how racist most of white America really is. Then I have Indian friends who look Hispanic or black go out on a road trip and they’re appalled to find out that they get pulled over every hour or so by racist cops who see two minorities in a Mercedes Benz and think “drug dealer”, and when they go into a roadside diner to eat the waitress won’t seat or serve them because she thinks they’re a biracial couple, or white people in monster pickup trucks flying Confederate flags cut them off and brake check them because minorities don’t belong in an expensive car, or etc., and then those friends come back and they’re upset but they *still* don’t understand why exactly that’s happening.

Well, there’s two words that explain why that’s happening: White people.

Deal being, white people got their place in America by oppressing minorities, by forcing minorities to do the hard work that actually built America while they took the profits. It was imported Chinese and Japanese laborers who built the state of California, who built the railroads and highways and worked in the mines that made the state great. It was black people who built the entire South, who built everything from the homes to the roads while being almost 100% of the workforce growing the crops that were the main reason for the South to exist. It was imported Mexicans who built Arizona and Texas, who built the houses and roads and worked in the fields that made those states great. And they did this while being oppressed by white people, who either enslaved them or forced them to accept wages well below their worth via laws that rendered them less than human and unable to do other things.

White supremacy built America. And white people are scared as fuck now that white supremacy is no longer the law of the land. For one thing, they’re scared that all those minorities they oppressed at government gunpoint are going to turn the tables and attack them. Crime against white people by minorities is fairly rare — white people are mostly murdered or raped by white people, for example. But the terror white supremacists feel about how they’re physically imperilled by minorities if a white supremacist is not President has nothing to do with that reality, and everything to do with terror that if white supremacy no longer holds sway, minorities will do to them what they did to minorities. For white people who built their entire identities around white supremacy, like, apparently, the majority of white people in America, this is scary as fuck.

So forget about all that nattering about “socialism” or “leftism” yada yada being the reason white people voted for Trump. That’s utter nonsense — Joe Biden was known as “the Senator from Citibank” when he was a Senator, he was one of the most big business friendly senators in the Senate. White people weren’t scared of Joe Biden because he was Vladimir Lenin reincarnated. White people were scared of Joe Biden because he spent eight years as Vice President to a black man — and never undercut that black man, always supported that black man, was clearly personal friends with that black man and treated that black man as if that black man was, well, the President of the United States of America. And that makes Joe Biden a threat to white supremacy.

So white people, despite their denials to the contrary, voted for the blatant white supremacist despite that white supremacist’s utter incompetence and corruption and despite the fact that this white supremacist is literally getting them killed because of his incompetence. Because they view white supremacy as more important than, well, pretty much everything. Because in their minds, if they don’t have white supremacy, the minorities they historically oppressed will turn around and do to them what they did to minorities, despite lack of any evidence that this will happen from states like California that are already majority minority. Because white supremacy is a hella drug, and they just don’t want to let go of it.

I expect that we’ll get plenty of pundits whining that Joe Biden didn’t get a 50 state blowout because he didn’t pander to Bubba White Person in Podunk, Idaho. Thing is, there is literally nothing other than white supremacy that Joe could have used to get Bubba’s vote — and that would have lost Joe the rest of his coalition. It was literally impossible for Joe Biden to pander to white supremacists more than an actual white supremacist did, and the (all-white) pundits who are suggesting this is the reason Joe didn’t get Bubba’s vote are, well…. white supremacists.

That is all.

– Badtux the anti-Racist Penguin

Silence is complicity

Why I am not silent.

Read JZ Ellis’s essay below. All the way. It’s long, but it’s important. It’s about every Border Patrol agent putting children into cages. It’s about every police officer shooting unarmed men in the back or suffocating them as they gasp for breath begging for their mother as they die, or just standing by in silence as one of their own does those things. It’s about every politician, every civil servant, who defends these monsters, or who order these monsters to do the things they do. It’s about every drug company, doctor, and hospital that deny life-saving treatment in the richest country on Earth because of the almighty Profit that is their only prophet. And ultimately, it is about the people who allow this to happen in silence either because they endorse or condone atrocity, or because they just don’t care.

It is about America.

Just some Nazis having fun

Just some everyday working people having some fun between genocides

JZ Ellis
November 2, 2018 · Shared with:Public
This picture always struck me, because unlike so many photos of the time, it’s so relaxed and unposed – just a bunch of coworkers, having fun. But this is a resort called Solahütte. It was built for these people, and it was 18 miles from where they worked, a place called Auschwitz. It was built to give them a break from their very important work.

These smiling, happy people were on their day off from putting Jews in ovens.

A lot of times people will say they look at the faces in photos like these and try to understand. But I don’t need to try. I understand these people thoroughly. Those two on the left in the front? They were besties, party girls, just waiting for the war to be over so they could get down to the business of finding husbands and enjoying their twenties. Blonde boy behind them? A bit awkward but always up for a laugh. The guy with the accordion learned it from his grandpa, but never had any intentions of playing professionally – it was good for parties, though.

They had their fun out there in the woods – it’s good sometimes to get away and just leave your worries behind, isn’t it? – and then they got back in their cars and they rode back to the camp and they got on with the business of genocide. The party girls, they were in charge of noting down every possession they took from the incoming as they went through processing. Blondie? He told the children, sternly but not unkindly, how important hygiene was, as he led them to the showers. Herr Accordion? A laboratory assistant to Doktor Mengele, absolutely marvelous at keeping the equipment clean and organized – that was his real skill, not just laying down a rousing chorus of “Horst Wessel” when the beer was flowing, and he was much valued for it, and the fact that he always remembered your birthday and asked about your family. That’s important when you’re stationed far away from them, isn’t it? To have someone who reminds you of normal life, just waiting on the other end of the Allied surrender.

Of course. That’s exactly who they were. And absolutely none of it negates the fact that the nice people in this photo were fucking monsters, many of whom ended their war at the end of a rope or in front of a firing squad. And you know what? I bet they did it crying, begging, screaming that it wasn’t fair, that they had a job to do, that’s all, they were given a job and they were expected to do it, and what would you have done in their place?

That, right there, is the most important question you have to ask yourself. It’s one I’ve pondered my entire life. And I know my answer: I would never allow myself to be put in the position of finding out. I’d rather run or die. It’s why I could never have been a cop or a soldier. The lesson I learned from these people was to never put myself in a position where I was required to do evil in the name of following orders. And I have very little sympathy for those who choose otherwise.

There are not good people on both sides. There are party girls and weekend polka players everywhere, people who are kind to their children and bake extra cookies for their neighbors, but some people choose to be the instruments of horror and others do not, and history is rightfully merciless to the former.
So when you tell me that some of the people in America espousing the same madness that these people in this picture committed atrocities for are really not that bad if you get to know them, that there are good people on both sides, I don’t believe you.

Because I do know them. And I do not care.

Comfy cats

I put out several cat beds on my covered patio for use by the local ferals as the weather turns cooler this fall. A pretty calico girl is on the front (heated) cat bed, while a gray and white tuxedo is on the back (unheated) cat bed in this picture.

– Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin