Tuesday, May 29, 2012

MSNBC: Finding Even Better Ways to Lose Viewers with Chris Hayes!!

Give not one, but two golf-claps to MSNBC. They managed to do an outstanding job of calling attention to themselves by allowing yet another opinionated jackass of an anchor to speak on the air. The saying goes that there is 'no such thing as bad press'.  Well, MSNBC might have proved that wrong this weekend.

Admittedly, I don't watch MSNBC very often at all. They lean so far left that they're about to tip over, fall on their heads, and hurt themselves.  Not even Fox News, which is the most right-leaning news station, is that bad. Usually I'll watch CNN for center-left wing news, Fox for right-wing news, and between the two, I can get the actual picture, which tends to be far more moderate than either of them want to admit. Being moderate, after all, is about as exciting as watching me clean cat hair out of my keyboard.

This weekend, Chris Hayes, one of the MSNBC hosts, stepped in it. And by 'stepped in it', I mean 'built up an entire barn full of manure in which to immerse himself fully, then walked in and took a swan dive into the giant steaming pile'. 

Here's a transcript of what he said on Sunday, May 27th.

CHRIS HAYES: Thinking today and observing Memorial Day, that'll be happening tomorrow.  Just talked with Lt. Col. Steve Burke [sic, actually Beck], who was a casualty officer with the Marines and had to tell people [inaudible].  Um, I, I, ah, back sorry, um, I think it's interesting because I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words "heroes." Um, and, ah, ah, why do I feel so comfortable [sic] about the word "hero"?  I feel comfortable, ah, uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don't want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that's fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism: hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I'm wrong about that.
 "Maybe" you're wrong about that, Chris? Let's get one thing straight. You ARE wrong. Those who signed up to serve our country, and even those who got drafted and served honorably, are all heroes to me, especially those who gave their lives for us.  They even gave you the opportunity to sit in that chair on that lovely set with your perfectly coiffed hair and manicured hands to announce to us that you feel calling these people heroes is 'rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war'.  I think you forgot just who is responsible for securing your 'freedom of speech'.

More importantly, how in the world do you even begin to justify this utterly ridiculous argument? Please explain to me how calling our war dead heroes is in any way related to any justification, 'rhetorically proximate' or otherwise, for war? My great uncle, who was killed in action in World War II, was hardly in a 'rhetorically proximate' position to justify our goal of stopping Hitler from taking over Europe. Dead people don't get the opportunity to determine any justifications for war. Their families certainly don't get the opportunity. The justification for war, at least in the US, is determined by Congress and the President, who order those soldiers and sailors into battle. Your argument is such a non sequitur, it's stunning. Do you really think that people run around saying "Ooooh!  We call our fallen soldiers and sailors heroes, therefore we can now go to war!!!" If I said that to someone, they'd wonder if my head was rhetorically proximate to my anal sphincter.  The less polite ones would tell me I had my head up my arse.

Hayes issued a written apology later. He didn't bother to say it publicly, however. For all we know, someone in the public relations department wrote it for him. 

To MSNBC: I'm never watching your network again, but not because Hayes expressed his opinion. I'm never watching your network again because you hired an idiot, put him on the air, and allowed him to talk to people like he knows things.

First, Hayes insulted veterans and war heroes on Memorial Day weekend. That's just dumb with a capital 'DUH'.  I'm sure the public relations people are having a collective heart attack right now over his tacky statements.  Does he have the right to say those things? Sure. Our heroes fought and died to give him that right. Did he exercise good judgment in saying those on a weekend where we remember our fallen heroes? Just in case you want an actual answer, here it is: NO.

Second, if he makes mindless and foolish statements, passing that off as 'journalism' in order to drive ratings, I'm not going to support that. Give me someone who can actually put together an insightful and well-constructed argument. Hayes clearly can't, and I'm not going to waste my time listening to someone whose brain is rhetorically proximate to that of a dodo bird.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Any Geeks Need to Rent a House?

Have you wondered what it's like to have a tenant in your old house 850 miles away from your new home? Probably not, because you would be sane and sell your home before moving 850 miles away from it.

However, when we looked at selling our house last year, we discovered that the market had bottomed out. Our home had lost 25k or so on paper, thanks to the lovely recession. I don't care if Bush or Obama is responsible at this point for the economic disaster. The economy still sucks, I still can't sell my house without taking a loss, and the two political parties piss on each other's Post Toasties in D.C. instead of getting anything remotely useful done to drive a meaningful recovery.  But I digress.

We decided to rent our home out for a couple years until the market improved enough where we would not be bleeding dollar signs at closing.

Being the nominee for this year's Nobel Prize in Anxiety, I worried about things like not being able to find a tenant for 482 months, tenants paying rent with checks that bounce, drug dealers moving in and taking over the neighborhood, the garage burning down, and/or the house exploding from a gas leak. The exploding house thing actually happened in that town only 7 months earlier, after all. These little things keep me up at night.

After talking with family and friends, we decided the best route to go would be to hire a property management company. We found a company with a very nice lady co-owner who assured us that they already had a tenant, she was an upstanding renter, paid bills on time, etc., etc., etc. With the management company finding a tenant so quickly, I breathed a small sigh of relief and thought maybe all these other awful things might not happen.

They didn't tell us about her bone cancer. Mom is planning to go back to her home country to die.

The also didn't tell us about her (allegedly) drug-dealing gang-banger teenage son. Now, I could be charitable and say that's probably because he's a juvenile and hasn't shown up in their background check system.

So, things went fine for about seven months. Bills got paid on time. We got paid, though not as much as we wanted. The property management group has been fond of finding things for their maintenance and landscape buddies to fix. I put a stop to that after asking them why we'd been charged 3 hours of work for a landscaper to shape two rose bushes, sending them pictures that a friend had kindly sent us.  I'm a big fan of Reagan's saying "Trust, but verify." It keeps everyone (semi-)honest.

On Mother's day, I got a frantic call from our friend. Her son had been offered drugs by the son of our tenant, who I'll call Alix to protect his identity.  A former neighbor had called the cops for a party where 100 teens were in the backyard drinking and smoking who-knows-what.  Now, our yard is really, really small. I'm not sure how they even managed to fit 100 people in there, much less do anything fun besides stand squashed up against each other like they were in the middle of a giant mosh pit, minus the band throwing guitar picks at them from the stage. Mom apparently was at work while the teens partied, but got stuck with a nasty fine for their under-age drinking and general misbehaving.

Then we found out from a call to our former neighbor that our buddy Alix allegedly had let 3 other gang members move in, they'd set up a drug drop box on our front porch, cut out some holes in our garage to use those for peepholes to make sure no one saw their drug dealing, sprayed graffiti all over the inside of our garage, tore down some garage interior walls, and assorted other unsavory activities.

Even better? There's a 2 year old toddler living there, too, and there were reports of probable abuse. This should be already obvious when one considers Alix has allegedly tried to sell drugs and has been allegedly seen drinking vodka in the house, all while he's supposed to be taking care of the rest of the family while mom works her butt off to take care of his sorry butt.

Now, this wasn't my definition of a good tenant. So the next morning, after a sleepless night filled with visions of houses exploding and garages burning down from meth labs cooking God-only-knows-what inside, I called the police, child protective services, and the property manager, in that order.

Two days later, the property manager was inspecting the inside of the house with a police officer, and confirming nearly all of what I'd heard from neighbors-except the drug part. Alix had had 24 hours' notice, and, in a fit of sudden intelligence, had cleared out the drop box and other obvious signs of drug use. I think the cops should have brought along a drug-sniffing dog, although the dog likely would have rolled his doggy eyes and pointed a paw straight at Alix in a 'Well, DUH' move. The police officer, of course, was not fooled by the lack of obvious evidence. He's seen Alix's type too many times, not to mention the drug-related graffiti all over the inside of our garage was a dead giveaway.

People in the neighborhood have started calling the police any time they see something suspicious, which means 'pretty much every 1.2 hours when Alix is home'.  The cops went out to our house four times on one day alone.  Our tenants are now becoming a regular part of the news cycle in town.

Even better, the mom's rent check for last month bounced, thanks to the $1300 fine she got for Alix's giant under-age drunk-fest. The property manager says this is actually a good thing, because now we can evict them before the lease is up. I asked if my appliances were still going to be there or if Alix would sell them for more drugs. The manager assures me they would do their best to prevent that. I'm feeling just a teeny bit jaded after being assured these were good tenants in the first place.

Image source: "Home Alone" movie by 20th Century Fox
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Friday, May 11, 2012

Consular weekly for May 10th is now posted!

I've been writing the Consular Weekly for TORWars.com since last December, and I'm having a blast with it.  This week, I focused on gearing up our companions at level 50, and you can read about it here.