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When you’ve got time.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader needs to carve out 1 hour of time to read/blog/think every day. He’s mismanaging his free time. As a result you all are deprived of his mindless ranting…

Here are some thoughts your Maximum Leader will share with you:

Sarah Palin has finished her memoir earlier than expected. One supposes that if you quit your job and thus made time to write this isn’t a big accomplishment. Your Maximum Leader is weary of Sarah Palin. In his mind she remains a quitter. He cannot support a quitter.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t know if you’ve been following the Virginia Governors race. He has. He can’t recall a time where one candidate is only running negative ads. In this case it it Democrat Creigh Deeds. The only ads Deeds seems to be running are all attacking Bob McDonnell for his (poorly written) Master’s Thesis (and his position on abortion). McDonnell’s ads seem to be a mix of attacking Deeds on his (lack of a) transportation plan and (lack of a cogent) tax plan; and some peppy “I’m going to be a jobs governor” message. Deeds’ ads are just attack McDonnell. Your Maximum Leader thinks you probably ought to throw in some “I’m a good guy” ads in there. Your Maximum Leader hasn’t seen the latest polling information but he hears that Deeds is narrowing the gap between the two men. Attack ads work at some level, but at another level you need to give voters some reason to vote for you and not just against the other guy.

Your Maximum Leader hopes he can make some time and try and catch up with FLG and read “The Republic.” It has been more than 20 years since your Maximum Leader has cracked open Plato. It would serve his brain good to do so now.

That is it. Nuthin’ more.

Carry on.

A problem in need of fixing

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader knows that President Obama has said that he wants to focus on the problems that really affect Americans. Your Maximum Leader will suggest that since we are wasting stimulus money left and right we waste some money in a good way. And he knows a problem in need of a fix.

America armed, but guns not loaded.

Yup. We are in a huge ammunition crisis. Have you tried to buy ammo recently? Yikes! It is hard to come by and expensive. Your Maximum Leader should probably sell some of his stash of Russian-made 7.62 ammo. He’s got more than he’ll ever use (short of him becoming a solider-of-fortune or the coming of the zombie apocalypse).

Actually… We don’t need the government helping on this. Market forces are at work. Factories working 24/7. Prices reflecting demand. It is almost like an invisible hand is guiding the market…

Carry on.

Things we wants

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is not a particularly covetous person. Indeed, he doesn’t need too much in a materialistic sort of way to be happy. But once and a while something strikes his fancy and he fixates on it…

Take for example the Chestnut briefcase (large) from the Saddleback Leather Company (which your Maximum Leader found via The Art of Manliness website).

Now let your Maximum Leader be honest now. He’s used a briefcase about 4 times in the past year. So he rarely needs one. But he feels that if he needed one the Saddleback Leather Company chestnut briefcase (large size) would be the one he would want to have. He could likely also use it as a small overnight bag in a pinch…

The other thing your Maximum Leader is fixated on right now (and has been for about 10 years now…) A 1970s era Land Rover Series II with a diesel engine, manual transmission, right hand drive and snorkel.

Carry on.

For FLG

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wants to pass along a link pretty much without comment.

Badass of the Week.

Actually your Maximum Leader thought of FLG quite a bit while reading some of the entries on past Badasses of the Week. (You can clicky here to visit the Hall of Badassitude.) You’ll know why from this little taste of the entry on The First Duke of Wellington (a favorite badass of your Maximum Leader’s):

Of course, Arthur Wellesley represented the badass knightly virtues that the people of his country seem to hold so dear, and, as such, in addition to being a fucking ass-destroying ballsmasher on the battlefield he was also a noble and righteous motherfucker as well. When the British troops started sacking and plundering everything in India following their victory, Wellesley ordered the men responsible for this complete lack of discipline to be flogged, beaten, teabagged, and/or hanged, because they were being fucking jackasses to everybody. Since he was the man responsible for single-handedly rocking so many nutsacks, Wellesley was appointed Governor of Mysore, took up residence in the lavish palace of the Sultan he had just finished pwning, and spent his days annihilating rebels, stomping the colons of jackass mercenaries, and administering Charles Bronson-style justice to gangs of murderous brigands.

This prose is a bit more (ahem) colorful than FLG’s, but there is a certain style to it…

Your Maximum Leader will go ahead and apologize in advance to anyone offended by so many f-bombs and references to nutsacks… Your Maximum Leader’s purient side was amused.

Carry on.

Fun Read

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wasn’t a big Bill Clinton fan while he was in office. Frankly your Maximum Leader isn’t a Bill Clinton fan right now. Okay… Your Maximum Leader jokes about Bill Clinton working to improve the US’s image one vagina at a time; but those jests are only half-jests at best…

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader hasn’t read Bill Clinton’s memoirs. He doesn’t plan to frankly. But there could be a Clinton book out there that he would want to read. Did you see on USA Today how Clinton and historian Taylor Branch met in secret 79 times throughout Clinton’s White House years and recorded interviews about what was going on in Bill’s head at the time? Your Maximum Leader didn’t know. Apparently, until a few days ago, no one knew. Now USA Today knows and has written about it.

Here are some highlights…

Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and civil rights historian, would pick up a notepad of questions and two microcassette recorders and drive his truck down Interstate 95 to Washington. Parking on the South Lawn, he would head to the White House family quarters for interviews so secret Clinton stored the tapes of them in his sock drawer.

What followed sometimes seemed like one of the bull sessions the two had two decades earlier when they shared an apartment in Austin, running George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign in Texas.

In these interviews and a new book that has followed, Branch says he tried to capture Clinton’s unvarnished perspective on the events swirling around his presidency, from the consequential to the occasionally comic.

Reluctant to discuss the affair with Monica Lewinsky that led to his impeachment, Clinton once lamented that it occurred when he felt sorry for himself and that he “just cracked” under the pressure of personal and political setback.

He also relayed how Boris Yeltsin’s late-night drinking during a visit to Washington in 1995 nearly created an international incident. The Russian president was staying at Blair House, the government guest quarters. Late at night, Clinton told Branch, Secret Service agents found Yeltsin clad only in his underwear, standing alone on Pennsylvania Avenue and trying to hail a cab. He wanted a pizza, he told them, his words slurring.

The next night, Yeltsin eluded security forces again when he climbed down back stairs to the Blair House basement. A building guard took Yeltsin for a drunken intruder until Russian and U.S. agents arrived on the scene and rescued him

Branch says the two conferred several times about it during the administration’s opening months. Clinton proposed Branch fill the role Arthur Schlesinger Jr. played in the Kennedy administration, a sort of court historian on the White House staff. Branch declined. Clinton tried dictating a diary but found it unwieldy; he said he needed to be interacting with someone.

In September 1993, Branch agreed to do oral history interviews with Clinton until the president could train someone on his staff for that role. No one else was ever trained, and their sessions continued until Clinton left office in 2001.

The president was determined to keep them secret to avoid what he saw as inevitable demands for disclosure.

“I was constantly wrestling with, ‘What is my job?’ ” Branch says. “Basically, my first goal was to say, ‘This is about history. … I want to get as much raw material on the record as possible.’ But it was never that simple.”

Branch was there as a historian but he also was a friend, and Clinton at times would seek his advice. From 1998 to 1999, Branch’s wife worked at the White House as a speechwriter for Hillary Clinton. As Bill Clinton finished his memoirs, he surprised Branch with a $50,000 “bonus” for his help in laying the groundwork for them.

Publication of Branch’s book has underscored the conflicting agendas of friend and historian.

Clinton on several occasions had encouraged Branch to write a book about their sessions, albeit at some undesignated point in the future. The author used the advance he received from the publishing house Simon & Schuster to have his own tapes transcribed; he had stored them in a safe deposit box at a bank.

Those tapes will be available to researchers next year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The former president had planned to use the interviews he had given when he wrote his book, but there is little sign he did. As he neared the deadline to submit his manuscript in 2004, he invited Branch to Chappaqua to read the first 700 pages. Branch was stunned to find that with only a month or two to go until his deadline, Clinton was just beginning to write about his time in the White House.

This looks like good stuff… Your Maximum Leader might actually spring for a copy when it is published. It sounds like it would be a better purchase than the money spent on “Dutch.”

Carry on.

Like where this is going.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that the DC Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled in favor of Emily’s List and declared that soft-money donations cannot be limited by law.

According to the piece:

In his opinion, Circuit Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh agreed with Emily’s List that the regulations violated the group’s First Amendment rights to free speech.

“The First Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, protects the right of individual citizens to spend unlimited amounts to express their views about policy issues and candidates for office,” Kavanaugh wrote. “Similarly, the First Amendment, as the Court has construed it, safeguards the right of citizens to band together and pool their resources as an unincorporated group or non-profit organization in order to express their views about policy issues and candidates for public office. We agree with Emily’s List that the new FEC regulations contravene those principles and violate the First Amendment.”

Your Maximum Leader likes this line of thinking. Indeed, if he had his druthers he would not limit money spent for political activities at all. He would require full public disclosure of any and all donations made to politicians and lobbying groups (no anonymous donations) within 30 days of the donations receipt. He doesn’t mind people spending money in politics in our country. He minds restrictions on money and not knowing who the money comes from.

Carry on.

Cost of Cap & Trade

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader hasn’t read the Cap & Trade bill passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year. He’s heard plenty of bad things about it from the usual suspects. (And to be fair, he’s heard opposite arguments from the other set of usual suspects.) On the balance the Cap & Trade system just doesn’t seem to be workable in its current form. Ideally the system would use “market forces” to “reduce carbon emissions.” There seem to be many problems directly relating to how insulated from real “market forces” the system would actually be.

Then of course there is always the issue of cost. On the CBS news blog site:

The Obama administration has privately concluded that a cap and trade law would cost American taxpayers up to $200 billion a year, the equivalent of hiking personal income taxes by about 15 percent.

A previously unreleased analysis prepared by the U.S. Department of Treasury says the total in new taxes would be between $100 billion to $200 billion a year. At the upper end of the administration’s estimate, the cost per American household would be an extra $1,761 a year.

A second memorandum, which was prepared for Obama’s transition team after the November election, says this about climate change policies: “Economic costs will likely be on the order of 1 percent of GDP, making them equal in scale to all existing environmental regulation.”

The documents (PDF) were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute and released on Tuesday.

Wow. An upper end estimate of $1761.00 per household. Fun! Just what we need to combat falling consumer prices! Your Maximum Leader can hardly wait!

Thanks to Asian Badger for the link.

Carry on.

Natstown and the dangers of advertising.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader loves his Washington Nationals (as readers of this site already know). He tries to get to a half-dozen or so games a year. He also watches many games on TV. For those of you not in the area or who are in the area but do not watch the Nationals, the Nats have an ad campaign this year with the theme of “Natstown.” The ad campaign can be summarized that DC is a baseball town (a debatable premise) and that the center of the DC baseball universe is “Natstown” which is pretty much centered at the stadium on South Capitol Street. The Nationals have “Natstown” T-shirts, commericals on TV, radio ads… It is a pretty comprehensive advertising campaign…

Now the story…

So, about a week before Labor Day your Maximum Leader and the Wee Villain (aged 5) were watching the Nats on TV. One of the Natstown ads came on the TV. The conversation went like this:

Wee Villain: Dad, can we go to Natstown soon?

Maximum Leader: Sure buddy. We’ll go over Labor Day weekend.

WV: Really? That sounds like fun.

ML: Oh yeah. Lots of fun. Baseball. Sunshine. Ben’s Half Smokes. Cheer babes. Racing Presidents. It will be fun.

WV: Great. We need to go.

Well… The whole Villainous Family did go to the game on Sunday before Labor Day. It was a good time (and the Nats pulled out a win in the 9th on the backs of a Willie Harris solo homer and a 2-run Ryan Zimmerman homer). Then after the game we all went out for a huge feast of chinese food. Good times were had by all.

So yesterday night your Maximum Leader and the Wee Villain are watching the Nats/Phillies contest on TV for a few minutes before the Wee Villain had to go to bed. At the mid-inning commerical break the Wee Villain turned to your Maximum Leader and said the unexpected.

WV: Dad. When can we go back to Natstown?

ML: I’m not sure. There aren’t many games left this year.

WV: Dad. Will we go to Natstown next year?

ML: I’m sure we will.

WV: Natstown is the greatest place ever.

ML: Really? Why do you say that?

WV: You can do whatever you want in Natstown. You can eat popcorn and hot dogs. You can play on the playset. And you never go to school.

ML: Is that what Natstown is all about?

WV: Yup. Natstown is great. I wish we could move there. I love it there.

So Stan Kasten and the Nationals marketing staff… Your Natstown ad campaign has worked on at least one fan. Your Maximum Leader hopes you’re happy. (And if you happen to read this, a free Natstown t-shirt would be a great Christmas gift for a 5 year old fan.)

Carry on.

Funniest thing I’ve read all day.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has a purient side he admits. One of his favorite guilty pleasures is What Would Tyler Durden Do? A recent update over at WWTDD contained the funniest bit he’s read all day. For those of you who will not click through to read this funny post

I dated a girl once and it took three weeks to get her into bed, and when I got down there it turns out she’s pierced. So I had to jump through hoops for almost a month but at one point she went to a strip mall and spread her legs for some ex-con with a spike through his nose so he could stab her in the clitoris. Fantastic.

That made me laugh and laugh and laugh.

Carry on.

Motivation

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader presents for your link reading pleasure some items he found over on the Art of Manliness site.

Theodore Roosevelt motivation posters.

Winston Churchill motivational posters.

Hunter S. Thompson motivational posters.

And finally… Ernest Hemmingway motivational posters.

Then after you feel all up and motivated… You can click here to see some de-motivational posters.

Carry on.

Happy Birthday US Constitution!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes the US Constitution a happy birthday! If you are an franchise-holding American and haven’t read the Constitution… Well… You are a huge fucking idiot. It is only the greatest framework for self-governance ever created from the mind of men. We argue about it. We mess with it in ways we shouldn’t. We disregard it too often and at our own peril. We also revere it in a way that most non-Americans will never understand.

Your Maximum Leader is hoping for at least another 222 years for the Constitution.

Carry on.

Teen mother stories

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader always like to read Robert Stacy McCain’s stuff. He particularly liked today’s post about teen pregnancy, religion, and Margaret Tudor. It takes real talent to weave these items together. Bejeweled floppy cap is doffed in RSM’s direction…

That said… Your Maximum Leader, as longtime readers know, is a big fan of Richard III and not a big fan of Henry VII (or Henry VIII, or most of the Tudors for that matter - okay he is generally fine with Elizabeth I). Just because your Maximum Leader isn’t a fan on Henry VII doesn’t mean that he isn’t man enough to recognize Margaret Tudor’s positive influence on her son.

Carry on.

A conversation

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader’s friend FLG told him of a humorous exchange between FLG and a co-worker. Your Maximum Leader asked if he could take a page out of FLG’s own blogging handbook and recount the exchange here… FLG gave his blessing… Here tis:

A Conversation

One of FLG’s co-workers, who is of Indian Decent (CoID), walks up to FLG.

CoID: Do you have a dick?

FLG stops what he is doing and turns around.

FLG: Pardon me.

CoID: Do you have a dick?

FLG: Uh, yes…why?

CoID: How big is it?

FLG: Massive.

CoID: Really? Mine’s rather tiny. How do you clean it?

FLG: With soap.

CoID: Any particular kind?

FLG: Stop for a second. What are you getting at?

CoID: My dick is warped and dirty and I’m trying to fix it.

FLG: Warped? And dirty? I’m afraid of the answer, but please explain.

CoID: It’s warped where the Sun hits it and dirty in the corners.

FLG: Where the Sun hits it?

CoID: Yes. The house blocks some of the sunlight, but where it doesn’t the boards are warped.

FLG: Oh….the boards on your deck!

Okay… Your Maximum Leader doesn’t care who you are… That there will make you smile…

Carry on.

If I was going to write a blog post…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is still funkified. In a bad way. He’s contemplating blaming Kanye West. But honestly other than what he’s read on the interwebs recently he’s doesn’t know a damn thing about Kanye West. He appears to be dating some bald woman - who other than her baldness and rash of tattoos would be pretty attractive. He seems to drink a lot too. Oh yeah. He’s a jackass too.

But your Maximum Leader’s funky mood is not likely related at all to Kanye…

Since your Maximum Leader is all out of sorts he hasn’t felt like blogging… But if he were to blog about politics and current events recently he’s probably write something similar to the two most recent posts from everyone’s favorite blogger, Skippy.

In the first post to which your Maximum Leader will direct you, Skippy discusses the stupidity of the Obama Administration’s position on trade with China. Your Maximum Leader is a free-trader and someone who believes in living up to treaty obligations. So many of Skippy’s critiques of the Bush (and now perhaps Obama) Administration’s positions on trade strike a chord with him. The prospect of opening a trade war in the middle of a deep recession with our major creditor nation seems like… How does one say it? A bad move? It just keeps getting worse and worse for the ole US of A doesn’t it? Sometimes the best course is to keeps your wits and steer a straight and steady course. Health care reform/takeovers and trade wars in the middle of a downturn when confidence is already shot isn’t a good move.

The second post to which your Maximum Leader will direct you is the whole Conservative vs. Republican divide. As time has gone by your Maximum Leader has realized that he is more and more a “conservative” and less and less a “Republican.” He’d consider voting for Libertarians, but they are a little wacky for his tastes. The only two items with which your Maximum Leader will have to respectfully disagree with Skippy in this post are these. While it is absolutely true that Reagan spent piles of money without doing much to try and balance a budget, the overriding plan was to defeat the Soviet Union. Once that was done budget balancing would become a higher priority. The second minor quibble is that there are plenty of conservatives in the Republican party, but they just don’t seem to do much in terms of directing the debate.

Your Maximum Leader hopes his funky mood will disappear soon.

Carry on.

Into space for $150

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, while geeky, is not a geek. Sad but true.

When he reads stories of real geeks having cool ideas and carrying them through he feels stupid. Or at least unimaginative and uninspired. (Damn… He must still be funkified…)

So when your Maximum Leader read of how two MIT students spent $150 and got cool photos on a digital camera from space he was feeling particularly uninspired (himself) but proud of their accomplishment. The cool bits:

The two students (from MIT, of course) put together a low-budget rig to fly a camera high enough to photograph the curvature of the Earth. Instead of rockets, boosters and expensive control systems, they filled a weather balloon with helium and hung a styrofoam beer cooler underneath to carry a cheap Canon A470 compact camera. Instant hand warmers kept things from freezing up and made sure the batteries stayed warm enough to work.

Of course, all this would be pointless if the guys couldn’t find the rig when it landed, so they dropped a prepaid GPS-equipped cellphone inside the box for tracking. Total cost, including duct tape? $148.

The balloon and camera made it up high enough to see the black sky curling around our blue planet. The Canon was hacked with the CHDK (Canon Hacker’s Development Kit) open-source firmware, which adds many features to Canon’s cameras. The intervalometer (interval timer) was set to shoot a picture every five seconds, and the 8GB memory card was enough to hold pictures for the five-hour duration of the flight.

The picture you see above [ed: not reproduced here] was shot from around 93,000 feet, just shy of 18 miles high. To give you an idea of how high that is, when the balloon burst, the beer-cooler took forty minutes to come back to Earth.

Justin Lee and Oliver Yeh… Your Maximum Leader doffs his bejeweled floppy cap in your direction. He will toast your ingenuity and know-how tonight. Color him impressed.

Carry on.

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