Saturday, January 3, 2009

Quote of the Day - Zwei



The New Deal Roosevelt offered was a deal between the government and the people, and the deal was this, that the People of the United States and the Government of the United States were one in the same. The New Deal was an old deal, the old deal, the one that had been broken by the Republicans. The government did not exist to keep the People in line, certainly not to keep them out of their own capitol city. The government was there so that the people could help each other and take care of their country together, their country. Under the New Deal, the government would treat its People as people and not as invaders to be chased away at the point of a sword.


A Song Of Faith & Inspiration

Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch - I'll Fly Away
Clips from "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

Subtitled for your convenience.

Emmylou Harris and Trisha Yearwood - When I Was Yours

An AMS rebound from Jay-pan. Amazing. Thank you, ringringash.

Quote of the Day

The last line in a post at Huffpo by Jane Hamsher on the Blowmebich/Burris/Reid clusterfuck:

If Reid doesn't stop allowing political expediency to be the ultimate arbiter of his actions, the only clear winner is going to be George Bush and his legacy of contempt for the rule of law.

All-You-Can-Eat Burrito Nite

"Musta been the extra 'peños!"

A tip 'o the Brain to dumbfoundedone.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Sorry but ...

(This post stays on top all day. - G)

Once again the Dems shoot themselves in the foot. Listen to me.

Rod Blagojevich is the duly elected Governor of Illinois. Until he is removed from office, he still has all the powers the office brings. Roland Burris has not been accused of 'buying' the seat, nor has he proved to be incompetent. Sorry, but we'll have to live with that decision and Senate Dems had better wrap their heads around that fact pretty quick.

From Obama on down, they played this all wrong and if they push the issue, they'll just look like bigger fools than they already do. Not that I'm defending Blago, and just the appearance of such gross impropriety (I'll believe Fitz before I believe a politician) frankly makes him unfit to govern, but he hasn't been convicted of anything. Blago knows this and knows exactly how firm his legal footing is.

If the Dems try and block Burris' taking his seat, it's already been said the Capitol Police will take him away if he shows up, he will have legal standing to file a false arrest suit and maybe be able to sue for the seat itself, which he would probably win (facts reiterated: Blago is still the governor. Burris did nothing illegal to obtain the appointment nor is he unfit to hold the post). Lawsuits would only prolong the agony, keeping the Blago Show on the front page for months. Senate Dems, Harry Reid especially, should STFU and welcome Burris with open arms and put this story to rest. Look at the bright side; he coulda appointed a Chicago mobster.

Now another thing. Of all the opportunities Harry Reid's had to take a stand in the past couple years against the Bush administration, against Joe Lieberman, he has to pick this to get all principled over? This is leadership? Dude, if you were a military commander, you'd spend more time quarreling with your own troops than fighting the enemy. We had idiots like this in SAC*, who were more concerned with the length of your hair or the shine on your boots than the mission.


It would certainly be interesting to watch the same Senate who gave convicted felon Ted Stevens a standing ovation (Reid calling him "distinguished colleague") exclude Burris.


Harry Reid has sworn to use his mastery of Senate procedure to block the Burris appointment and protect the integrity of that very exclusive club, which nonetheless warmly embraces Joe Lieberman.

If only he had been so Johnny-on-the-spot when Bush was appointing Supreme Court Justices, ramming through telecom immunity, FISA and the Military Commissions Act, and otherwise trashing the country.


Talk about the waste of a good Senate seat and a leadership position. If President Obama (who went along with Reid on the Lieberman issue) wants to get anything done, his first order of business should be putting pressure on the Senate Dems to replace Reid. Harry's proven he's a cowardly little twit when it comes to the Republicans and only stands up against his own.

It saddens me that after such an astounding victory in November the Dems revert to their old form instead of growing a set of balls. How much good legislation will Reid kill in fear of angering Republicans because he doesn't have that 'Magic 60' head count to avoid a filibuster? The Rethugs are already making noises they'll be obstructing everything that comes down the pike; do we really need Reid riding shotgun on progressive legislation that's absolutely needed? Do we really need Reid picking fights within his own party when there's so much 'big picture stuff' to be done?

Look, just shut up and let Burris take his seat. I'm willing to wager he'll be more loyal to the party than, say ... Joe Lieberman. Disgusted, I'm going to work.

*SAC = Strategic Air Command




The fact is that the Senate Dems have been reacting like shrieking, maiden aunts in a roomful of bats, lurching from one outraged reaction to the next without any kind of due consideration as to the legality or the political ramifications. One wonders where this level of energy and scorn was when the Republicans were making fools of them over and over again.


Friday Afternoon Just Plain Pretty Music Blogging

Bonnie Raitt & Ravi's Little Girl - I Don't Want Anything To Change

Sympathy for W? My ass.

Mark Morford

You have to go deep. You have to scrape and dig and plow, hunt and dive and sigh and even then it might take so long and cost so much invaluable energy and ultimately prove to be so damn near impossible, you will wonder if it's even worth it and why the hell I am even trying because, well, sweet Jesus knows he doesn't deserve it in the first place.

But if you're so inclined, if the temperature of your temperament is just so, if that fourth glass of $10 recession-defying wine is making you feel unusually generous, maybe, just maybe you can muster a bit of sympathy for George W. Bush.

Possible? Insane? Blasphemous? Damn straight.

But with Bush -- the worst-regarded, least popular, most ethically offensive president most of us will ever know -- things are just little bit different. His is that most peculiar and disquieting of exit portraits, a slumpy little guy initially thought to be a middling and relatively harmless puppet, suddenly thrust into history's limelight by the most dire of events, who then squandered every drop of global goodwill and violated most every international law and whored away the very soul of the nation with far more dazzling, efficient success than anyone could have ever imagined.

The upshot is as painful as it is undeniable: Dubya is, whether we like it or not, one of the most extraordinary and influential presidents of all time. Imagine.

Sad but true. And most certainly not in the good way. What that little prick has influenced will be with us for a loooong time, damn his eyes.

Bush as the family man. Bush as the master of friendly interpersonal relations. Bush as the dorky wise-crackin' fishing buddy. Bush as the war-weary, wizened, slightly deluded visionary whose vision just so happened to be horribly wrong in every possible way, but who nevertheless truly believed he was doing right by his confused and angry God, and probably still does, and doesn't that make him some sort of sad and tragic figure in our sad and tragic history?

Well, no, it doesn't. Pathetic? Yes. Pitiable? Maybe. But tragic? That implies honor gone wrong, integrity soured by unforeseen traumas, noble intent and spiritual purity ruined by dark forces beyond his control. Not a chance. Bush might not be the cleverest dolt in the playground, but he is far from ignorant of the dishonest, crony-laden, criminal slant of nearly every decision his administration has ever made.

To my mind, even the softest portrait of W merely raises the larger question, perhaps not to be fully answered for many years: How could such a mediocre and unimaginative human cause so much damage? How could this frat house daddy's-boy dullard so perfectly undermine America's fundamental identity and disfigure every major department of government and bring the nation to its knees? Indeed, unpacking that one may take awhile.

There is, after all, no escaping history. There is no escaping the hard reality of our gutted and mangled nation, how the past eight years are simply some of the most dismal and corrupt in our nation's history, a modern take on the Dark Ages. And there is also no escaping the sense that we barely got out of it alive.

But you know what? Maybe there will eventually be a tiny bit of room for empathy for George W. Bush, for feeling a tiny bit sorry for the guy for being so inept and so deeply loathed and for never really understanding the scope of the damage he was doing, or who was really pulling the strings.

Yeah, maybe about the same time I start feeling sorry for Hitler.

There's more. If "forgiveness is a virtue", I guess I'm not going to be very virtuous about that miserable, evil little weakling son of a bitch. I want to piss on his grave. Or on his face.

"Financial doom is not certain, but it's certainly in play"

Dana Parsons on the economy:

As 2009 arrives like a grizzly bear at a campsite, knocking down everything in its path and then eating the campers, I find myself strangely at peace. It's a peace that comes from knowing that millions of people have subsisted for years, and quite happily, while living in small grass huts and eating only berries and twigs.

And if they can do it. . . .

Gallows humor dominates conversations with my 50ish and 60ish friends. Thoughts of retirement at 60 or 65 have been scuttled, replaced by prayers that we won't be laid off and can work until we're 80. Once-grandiose talk of "travel" now means taking buses when we're forced to sell our cars.

A generation that once romanticized communal life will now find out what it's like to live 14 to a house. It was much more appealing when everyone was 22 instead of 62.

Oh, I don't know. When I was 22, older women were, well, old women. Now that I'm 63, there's a lot more gorgeous gals around than there were then. True beauty remains, if not youthful looks. We're all, well, most of us anyway, smarter now and have more to talk about than we did. My single sexagenarian friends say that Golden Years babes're a lot easier to talk into the sack, too. Livin' in a house full of 'em might not be so bad... (I can afford to talk like that. Mrs. G doesn't read this shit. Heh.)

Oh, for the privacy of the cardboard box in the bushes near a freeway overpass! A place to call my own.

Note to Obama: Better get hot on the infrastructure program. We're gonna need more overpasses and bridges...

Bigger Than Bush

Paul Krugman with today's 'must read'. He nails the Repugs' racist basis dead nuts.

As the new Democratic majority prepares to take power, Republicans have become, as Phil Gramm might put it, a party of whiners.

The fault, however, lies not in Republicans’ stars but in themselves. Forty years ago the G.O.P. decided, in effect, to make itself the party of racial backlash. And everything that has happened in recent years, from the choice of Mr. Bush as the party’s champion, to the Bush administration’s pervasive incompetence, to the party’s shrinking base, is a consequence of that decision.

Contempt for expertise, in turn, rested on contempt for government in general. “Government is not the solution to our problem,” declared Ronald Reagan. “Government is the problem.” So why worry about governing well?

Where did this hostility to government come from? In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political consultant, explained the evolution of the G.O.P.’s “Southern strategy,” which originally focused on opposition to the Voting Rights Act but eventually took a more coded form: “You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.” In other words, government is the problem because it takes your money and gives it to Those People.

So the reign of George W. Bush, the first true Southern Republican president since Reconstruction, was the culmination of a long process. And despite the claims of some on the right that Mr. Bush betrayed conservatism, the truth is that he faithfully carried out both his party’s divisive tactics — long before Sarah Palin, Mr. Bush declared that he visited his ranch to “stay in touch with real Americans” — and its governing philosophy.

That’s why the soon-to-be-gone administration’s failure is bigger than Mr. Bush himself: it represents the end of the line for a political strategy that dominated the scene for more than a generation.

Go read the rest.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Quote of the Day



But, like most of the alleged principles to which our political elite professes allegiance, America and its leaders are entitled to a different set of standards and better treatment. Thus, Charles Taylor belongs at the Hague, being prosecuted as a war criminal. His son belongs in an American criminal court being prosecuted by the Bush DOJ for torture. And George Bush and Dick Cheney belong on their "ranches," enjoying full-scale immunity for the crimes they committed and a rich and comfortable retirement, treated as the esteemed and well-intentioned (even if sometimes misguided) dignitaries that they are. Virtually the only people in the world who fail to recognize this self-evident, ludicrous and disgusting hypocrisy are America's political and media elites and those who are misled by them. [em in orig]


New Year's Day Crazy Canuckistanian Cowboy Music Blogging

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Ooops, pardon me for shouting. Heh.

Since I know the very first thing on your mind this morning is drinking alcohol, here's Canadian cowboy singer Tim Hus. With "a voice sweeter than a Husqvarna chain saw", this guy's pretty much of a hoot and we're just screwin' around today anyway. Enjoy.

Rumrunner & Hotel Saloon

Since wretched excess is barely enough, here's the rest of the show, starting with his big hit song from Vancouver Island. Caution: sick joke liquid alert!

Seine Boat & Canadian Cowboy

CNN host says 'd*cks'* during live New Years show

Raw Story

During a CNN New Year's Eve broadcast from Times Square, comedian Kathy Griffin became annoyed at a heckler and began responding as the segment cut away to a commercial. She spoke a little too quickly, however, and her remarks went out live over the air.

"Shut up!" Griffin yelled. "You know what? Screw you! I'm working! Why don't you get a job, buddy? You know what? I don't go to your job and knock the dicks out of your mouth!"

Is it any wonder why I love her? Keep it classy, Kathy!

*I wouldn't even know how to pronounce that!


Advice for the Banks

Bill Shein

Memo to: Bank PR Directors
From: Global PR Central
Re: Weekly Talking Points

As you know, under the bailout law we don't have to disclose how we use the money. Why? Because millions in campaign contributions and non-stop lobbying ensured toothless legislation that gives us money for nothing, even though most Americans were strongly (and rightly) opposed. Thanks, democracy!

But simply pointing out Congress' failure will only further enrage the public. So we must soften the blow, or people might take to the streets. Here are a few examples of good (and bad) responses to any future AP inquiries:

GOOD: "Working closely with Congress, Treasury, and the Fed, we will help unfreeze credit markets and ensure that American business has the resources it needs."

BAD: "Our massive bonuses from the last few years — based on illusory, phony profits from fictional mortgage-backed securities — are ours to keep. Isn't that awesome? Don't you wish you worked for a huge bank and not the Associated Press? Send me your résumé and I'll see what I can do."

GOOD: "We urge Congress to immediately appropriate the remaining $350 billion. Any delay could endanger financial institutions that are critical to our economy."

BAD: "It's vital that all $700 billion disappear down our carefully constructed rabbit hole before Barack Obama takes office — even if his Treasury Secretary-designate helped design the bailout plan. We have yachts to buy, after all."

GOOD: "The American people can rest assured that during this crisis we will continue to act in the public interest."

BAD: "The American people can rest assured that we are permanently beyond their reach, and that we will spend the holiday season laughing and high-fiving about what we call, 'The Most Foolish Giveaway of Public Funds to Private Industry in the History of the Known Universe.'"

Remember, we don't want anyone taking to the streets to demand accountability from the financial services industry. Fortunately, there's a clause in every credit card agreement that says, "If you ever take to the streets to demand accountability, your interest rate will increase to 385 percent." So we're probably covered. But let's not take any chances until we've pocketed the rest of the dough.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

Vocals by Susan McKeown, bass by Lindsey Horner. Lyrics by Robert Burns.

If you have difficulty understanding the lyrics, try a coupla shots of DoubleWood as seen in the video. If that doesn't help, try a coupla more shots and read them:

Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns (1759-1796)

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine;
But we've wandered mony a weary fit
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught

For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Happy New Year, folks. It cannot fail to be better than the last eight. Come January 20, perhaps we'll at least stop digging the hole we're in.

The Last Road Trip

Mark Morford on cheap gas:

Something is deeply wrong. Something is bizarre and upside-down and perverse and it's not just fish pedicures or Rod Blagojevich's hair or the fact that people still care in the slightest about the sad and toothless chyme that is Britney Spears' White Trash Lite™ career.

It's gas. The price of oil. Or I should say, the stunning, creepy, impossibly low price of Satan's lubricant, Bush's blood, our own personal Jesus. Have you noticed? How could you not?

But on the whole, it is not good news. Normally, the price of a barrel of crude drops a couple hundred percent in less than a year and we'd be out celebrating, joyous in the knowledge that ExxonMobileShellScrewYou must've just shoved an enormous drill bit the size of Sarah Palin's vacuity deep into Russia or Venezuela or a precious Alaskan wildlife preserve and come up with enough pure, sweet crude to last us until you're very, very dead and your grandkids are using the burned-out hull of your Chevy Tahoe XLT as a bomb shelter against the global warming food riots.

Not this time, baby. No one, not even the most right-wing, SUV-loving Peak Oil denier, is claiming the crash in oil prices is actually a righteous and positive sign overall, despite how some economists say it's the one thing that's kept us from complete fiscal Armageddon, at least for now.

This is what it really means: massive production slowdown, worldwide. It means: Auto industry collapse. It means: demand is so freakishly low that even coddled Saudi sheiks are parking their chrome Mercedes McLaren SLRs at the guest mansion and driving the lowly Cayenne Turbo to their gilded office towers made of diamonds and virgins and cheap immigrant labor. See? Bleak all around.

You have but to ask yourself: What can I do in the midst of one of the most savage economic recessions since the Depression, when Americans can't afford a good latte anymore and retail's in a tailspin and no one's buying anything over ten bucks?

Is the answer not obvious? Did you not read the headline to this column?

That's right: Road trip. A big one. [...]

Go read about One Last Binge before the hammer falls, for fall it must and fall it will, and we will all be the better for it.

"Brute" Krulak, 1913-2008

Another good one passes. LATimes:

Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Victor H. "Brute" Krulak, celebrated for his leadership in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and for his authoritative book on the Marines, "First to Fight," died Monday at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. He was 95 and had been in declining health for several years.

In a career that spanned three decades Krulak displayed bravery during combat and brilliance as a tactician and organizer of troops.

"Brute was very forgiving of young Marines who made mistakes," said retired Col. G.I. Wilson, a combat veteran. "But he was hell on senior officers who preferred careerism and bureaucracy over decisive action. He detested those who lost sight of looking after their enlisted Marines and young officers."

That's old school leadership. We need more of it today, from the Oval Office on down.

In World War II, as a lieutenant colonel, he led a battalion in a weeklong battle as a diversionary raid to cover the invasion of Bougainville. Although wounded, he refused to be evacuated. For his bravery he was awarded the Navy Cross.

Under heavy fire from the Japanese, the Navy sent patrol boats to evacuate wounded Marines. Krulak befriended one of the young commanders, John F. Kennedy. Decades later the two shared a drink of whiskey in the Oval Office after Kennedy was elected president.

In 1984, his book "First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps" was published, examining the history and culture of the Marine Corps. It remains on the official reading list for Marines and has been said to carry the DNA of the organization that prides itself on being the worst enemy that a foe of the United States can imagine.

"The Marines are an assemblage of warriors, nothing more," Krulak wrote. He called on Marines to maintain a "religious dedication" to being ready to "go and win -- and then come back alive." He disdained Pentagon bureaucracy and, even as he celebrated the Corps' history, he called for Marines to "remain on the cutting edge of the technology that will keep its specialty effective."

Bing West, former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and author of books on Marines in Vietnam and Iraq, said Krulak "was legendary for the depth of his intelligence."

I read General Krulak's book about three times before it got on the Marines' Required Reading List. Hell, I read it before Marines were required to know how to read!

Semper Fi, Brute.

They Lied With Their Boots On

Our old buddy Commander Jeff Huber sounds off on BFMs, propaganda, neocons, and War For The Rest of Our Lives.

Merry Christmas, fellow citizens. Odds are now almost certain that your country will be in a state of war throughout your lifetimes, and possibly throughout your children’s lifetimes as well.

As in the principles of war, “objective” is a prime tenet of information operations; but there’s a difference between the way objectives work in warfare and how they’re used in propaganda. In warfare—theoretically, anyway—the objective is supposed to be straightforward and tangible, and all operations and tactics should support the primary goal. In information operations, the objective, at least the stated one, is so vague and flexible that it doesn’t need to have anything at all to do with the actual military operation. In fact, it’s best if it doesn’t; the less any statement meant for public consumption has to do with reality, the greater freedom of movement the information operator (aka “bull feather merchant” or “BFM”) has.

Four months after Petraeus turned over command of a “tamed” Mosul, the city’s police chief defected and insurgents overran the city. When Petraeus was in charge of training Iraqi security forces, his recruits disappeared into the desert night along with about 190,000 AK-47 rifles and pistols. As commander of all U.S. forces in Iraq, he created “Awakening Councils,” groups of former Sunni militants that Filkins says “are credited by American officials as one of the main catalysts behind the steep reduction in violence there.” More that 100,000 of these former anti-U.S. guerillas have been armed to armpits and put on the dole so they won’t attack Nuri al Maliki’s government forces. Creating the Awakening Councils was the single dumbest thing—among a field of highly qualified contenders for the title—that we’ve done in Iraq, and now, it’s one of the most compelling reasons for us to stay there forever: if we leave, the gravy spigot runs dry, and all our beautiful ugliness will melt out the drain pipe when the Sunni gunmen go back to their old line of business.

Here's the money shot, my emphasis:

And thus it is that our catalyst of victory is the machinery of our failure; we’ve succeeded so well in Iraq that we must stay there always. Permanent occupation of Iraq was the operational and strategic objective all along, of course, even before 9/11, even before young Mr. Bush was selected to head the neoconservative ticket.

The BFM work-around to ignoring international agreements and mandates from the commander in chief is pure magic:

Q: When are armed troops in a combat zone not combat troops?

A: When we call them something else.

Presto, change-o, give them a different name and grind the new president’s campaign promises into his eye like a broken whiskey bottle. Maybe the BFM expression for that sort of thing is “following orders from the bottom up.”

Note to President Obama: You're going to have to kick some serious ass, young man, to keep these assholes from continuing to fuck things up. If you need any help, I know a few guys around here that would just fucking love to.

In the America ...

The Founders envisioned, George W. Bush would never have made it to a second term. He would have been hauled off in irons as soon as he declared war on Iraq. I agree with Bob Herbert. He should not be allowed to go quietly. We should run him out of town (and into jail, but I have no influence with those who handle that).


When Mr. Bush officially takes his leave in three weeks (in reality, he checked out long ago), most Americans will be content to sigh good riddance. I disagree. I don’t think he should be allowed to slip quietly out of town. There should be a great hue and cry — a loud, collective angry howl, demonstrations with signs and bullhorns and fiery speeches — over the damage he’s done to this country.


I think it's what befuddles me most about America of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. How we can look at the illegality, incompetence, and criminal ineptitude of George Bush and his cronies and not demand his incarceration? How can we have elected him twice (yes, I understand about 2000, but he got the job regardless) when it was apparent from the beginning that he was a disaster waiting to happen? I will even posit that if 9/11 happened under a Democratic administration, there would have been an impeachment for incompetence soon after.


The catalog of his transgressions against the nation’s interests — sins of commission and omission — would keep Mr. Bush in a confessional for the rest of his life. Don’t hold your breath. He’s hardly the contrite sort.

He told ABC’s Charlie Gibson: "I don’t spend a lot of time really worrying about short-term history. I guess I don’t worry about long-term history, either, since I’m not going to be around to read it."


Had we any self respect left, the new Congress would begin impeachment proceedings as soon as they are sworn in and have the FBI waiting for him as he leaves the White House on Inauguration Day.

Instead, we will let him go on his way, probably free from prosecution, adding another failure to the long list he's complied throughout his life. Another failure, another bailout.

And you can't blame Bush for everything. He is a stooge, a puppet, a willing idiot who filled a President's suit while others - smart, calculated, criminals - wrote the words and policy initiatives he parroted. I doubt any of his fuckups arose from an original thought on his part. In a sane world, there would be many trading business suits for orange jumpsuits on 21 January.

While I have zero hope there will be any accountability for what happened to this country over Bush's term, I'd like to think an Obama administration will at least play by the rules (mostly) and give a thought or two to the average American, more than we ever got from Bush and the Republicans.

And a parting thought. In a sane world, the Republican Party would have disappeared years ago.

I'm going to work. If you really have to go out tonight, try and be safe. It's amateur hour on the roads New Year's Eve and the idiot meter will be pegged. To all of you who'll be standing out in Times Square tonight (Temp - 15, Wind Chill - 0), are you fucking crazy?

Have a happy, healthy, and safe new year. As I did on Christmas, I wish you all health, happiness, prosperity, and peace.

Thanks to Maru for the link.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

So, when are you going to win?

(This post will stay on top all day. - G)

The morality of it aside (Israel becoming what they despise the most - turning the Gaza Strip and, to a lesser extent, the West Bank into the world's largest concentration camp) when are they gonna finally have success?

This crap has been going on since I was a little kid, a cyclical occurrence as predictable as the changing of the seasons. With each incursion, with each air strike attack, another generation of Palestinian bomb throwers is born - the seeds sown in autumn that will bloom in spring. They've built walls and closed borders, yet the problem still exists. When will Israel learn they are just prolonging the agony?

Every nation has the right to defend themselves from attack, that fact is not in dispute but what Israel is doing is neither keeping their homeland safer, nor is it doing anything to reduce the threat of terror. All it does is pass the hate to another generation.

I'm not saying I have a plan to wage peace in the area, lord knows, both sides have issues that have merely been deferred for 60 years but this cycle of bombing and retort ain't working and it's making things worse. Smarter people than I on both sides should understand this too yet, aside from some feeble attempts, they all default to violence. Were it not for American Presidents going back to Truman, even those false starts would never have happened. The search for peace in Palestine is rapidly becoming a waste of time.

Our unqualified support for Israel should end - it is not the 51st State. One of the reasons we have the problem today is because of our 'big brother' attitude. Had Israel the incentive to live in peace with her neighbors (especially after the '67 war), instead of looking to us (be it militarily or diplomatically) to ensure their sovereignty and protect them from retribution, they might have worked something out by now - at least, the conflict would be over, one way or another, years ago. We should be willing to broker a peace there only if both parties are committed. Basically, they should come to us and ask we get involved. Pressure from the U.S. for them to sit down when it is not in either party's interest can never ensure a lasting peace. Allowing the Israelis to run roughshod over the Palestinians won't either. We should be involved only as an objective arbiter, not as the guarantor of Israel's future.

And don't think I'm defending the Palestinians, who have their own sins to atone for, but they are desperate. Israel has encroached on their land for decades with settlements and military fortification, finally resulting in walling the Palestinians out. There is an economic blockade in place, so the Palestinians can't supply daily needs - there is no economy of any sort there. That means there are a lot of young men who cannot find work. Guess who they blame for their situation, rightly or wrongly? When half a man's family is killed in an Israeli air strike - innocents all - from whom does he seek revenge? They join groups like Hamas and Hezbollah because they see no future for themselves or their people. They blame Israel and their protector, the United States, and they strike at the closest target.

I'm not saying it's right but it has become their only recourse, and many Arab nations are willing to help them (with military and logistic support), a counter to the U.S., thus prolonging the conflict. As we have seen, the range of Hamas' rockets have improved markedly over the past few years. Abdullah the Bombmaker ain't whipping these things up in his garage. As I sit here, watching the news this morning, the conflict threatens to get much worse before it gets better.

What can we do? Not much until Bush leaves. He has been instrumental in prolonging the conflict with is lassiez faire attitude and with three weeks left of his miserable tenure, he will continue to do nothing. After Obama's appearance at the AIPAC conference during the campaign, I doubt there will be much change in policy toward Israel. Until there is a concerned effort to rein in Israel's aggression and until the Palestinian lands become a functioning nation, nothing will change. Desperate men will do desperate things and as long as Israel is allowed to respond with such disproportionate force, hatreds will continue and many more will be motivated to join the fight on both sides.

President Obama will have a chance to do something worthwhile there. Let's hope he seizes it and gives the issue the attention it deserves. We are hopelessly entangled there at this point and a strong President has the capability to make a real difference. If we're ever gonna "win the War on Terror", there has to be peace in Israel and Palestine. It is one of the roots of Islamic terrorism (Arafat was the granddaddy) and until it is nipped, anti-Israel (and in turn anti-U.S.) sentiment will grow, pushing any chance of peace farther from reality.

War Without End

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the crux of the biscuit vis-á-vis the whole goddam Middle East and is the main underlying cause of our problems in the region, especially under the Bush And His Neocon Masters regime. God's little joke of putting a lot of oil there is the other 'underlying' cause, without which we could have just GTFO a long time ago.

Israel as a state began in my lifetime. I was three years old at the time, and even after 60 years I ain't got a clue what to do about it. Well, actually I do, but it wouldn't be very nice, and my cure would be worse than the disease so be glad I'm not in charge. Or not. Nobody else seems to know what to do either. There is nothing reassuring about anything involved in the matter. Let me just say that oil, religion, territorial disputes, and centuries-old hatreds are a witches' brew that could leave a great smoking hole in the Earth, and just might.

Trying to follow up on Fixer's post above would be like trying to sing with Emmylou Harris as my opening act, so rather than even try something that in(s)ane, I just went looking for something by somebody smarter than I am on the subject, and I think I came fairly close with a post at The guy put a lot of work into it, with many, many links.

It also disgusts me to watch how international opinionators, bloggers, journalists, and so-called “experts” reduce the Israeli-Palestinian conflict down to simple black-and-white digestible chunks. If you’re a progressive, Israel is the big nasty bully, the evil empire terrorizing the oppressed Palestinians fighting for their right to what they consider their ancestral homeland. If you’re a conservative, Israel is the strong ally of the U.S. defending itself against those nasty terrorist suicide bombers who want to perpetrate another Holocaust. These positions become litmus tests, recyclable cliches’ that people of all sides spout like they’re watching some giant game of football, only the ball is a bomb and the playing field is the Holy Land.

As a wise man once said, terrorism is what the big army calls the little army. How different is bombing civilians from the air from a suicide run into a cafe or a school? Why is one considered an acceptable, desired part of modern warfare, while the other is considered barbaric and inhumane? Is it because air attacks enable distance for the supporter as well as the pilot? Can we make ourselves feel better about the carnage if we can’t see the faces of those whom we kill?

Each side thinks they are ordained by God to fight or defend the land they claim as theirs, given to them by blessed, bloody sacrament. Hamas’ Khaled Meshal has said that the “time for the third Intifada has come” in response to the bombings, ordering the militia to attack Israeli targets and soldiers in response. Israel, which was apparently plotting this operation even as it was negotiating a cease-fire with Hamas, seems bound and determined to do a big solid for the major oil companies with its continuing bombing runs, showing not even the slightest sign of remorse.

Where does it end?

I'll let you read the rest for yourself. Hint: he knows exactly what needs to be done, like we all do, but it ain't gonna happen the way things are or are likely to be until both sides get so disgusted with themselves as well as each other that some hero emerges and makes it stop. Don't hold yer breath.

Reviving Infrastructure

While the above photo may look like trying to undo some of Bush's neglect, it's actually from a three-pronged article in the LATimes about the Stilwell Road, the modern view of the road by India and China, and one old Veteran's memories of the racism involved in building it. Well worth a read.

More than 1,100 American troops died building the road in what is now Myanmar. Today China and some in India see the long-neglected route as their lifeline.

Evelio Grillo is one of the few vets still alive to tell the tale of the Stilwell Road.

Grillo also tells of boneheaded officers who ordered him to measure the road with lengths of chain for hours on end until someone finally pointed out that the Army jeeps had odometers.

Why do I have no trouble at all believing that? Similar experiences with officers, no doubt.

More than half a century later, China now is working to resurrect it as the first major overland trade route since World War II with India, where business leaders, politicians and bureaucrats also are pressing their government to formally commit itself to the road as a link between the world's two most populous nations.

The road's western end, close to the Indian state of Assam, has been swallowed up by the jungle, and portions of it can be traveled only on foot. In the east, the upgraded section near the Chinese border is busy, but most of the traffic consists of small traders and tourists on short visits to gamble, or to see transsexual burlesque shows in Myanmar.

Yeah, that's my idea of the dream vacation too...

Squeezing the hand of his son and namesake, California Superior Court Judge Evelio M. Grillo, the old vet smiles at the memories of winning enough poker pots from his war buddies in Burma to buy his mom a house in Tampa, Fla.

But he'd rather forget most of his two years at war. Grillo had to suffer the indignities of racial segregation on the 58-day passage to India aboard the Santa Clara, where the only comforts were reserved for the white officers.

Grillo remembers most of them as vulgar racists, and wrote in his memoir, "Black Cuban, Black American," that the road builders assumed that the white men giving them orders in Southern drawls had been selected because they were "deemed to know how to handle black men."

The black GIs had to bunk in the ship's windowless, foul-smelling hold, stewing in the "stench cooked up by the sweat, the farts and the vomit of 200 men," he recalled in the memoir.

Been there, done that. And then the ship left the dock...

The men who built the road weren't honored for their feat until 2004, when the Defense Department marked African American History Month at Florida A&M University.

Figures. Enjoy, if such is the correct word, the rest.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The GOP's White Supremacy

Good piece at HuffPo on a subject that makes me feel all warm and tingly: the death, a much deserved and painful one I hope, of the Repuglican't party. Here's a coupla excerpts:

Let's be thankful for one thing about Bush's presidency: the white male leadership of the Republican Party showed the world once and for all that its cronyism, corruption and discrimination completely outweighed any shred of competence. And that it can no longer count on white votes to carry its divisive, prejudiced agenda, both because there are proportionately fewer white voters, and because outside of the Deep South and Appalachia, white voters are increasingly disgusted by the Republican Party. GOP leaders, not all stupid, have seen this coming for some time now, as one predominantly white suburb after another has fallen to the Democrats. And so for years they have been hanging their hopes on the perceived social conservatism of African-American and, especially, Latino voters. The 2008 elections put the final nail in that coffin, as even with the specter of same-sex marriage, supposedly conservative non-white voters stayed away from the GOP in numbers larger than ever before despite the stock Republican gay-baiting. For those of them who did want to take a stand, in California, Florida and Arizona, for instance, they voted against same-sex marriage rights and for Democrats. This presents a challenge for progressive Democrats, certainly, but one that pales in comparison to what the fast-shrinking GOP faces. Another fiasco by Republicans this year was their latest attempt at swaying Jewish voters away from the Democratic party, especially in Florida, this time with accusations that Obama, among others, is weak on Israel, and hints that he was a Muslim. The result: just 1 in 5 Jewish voters picked McCain. Perhaps the fact that there are only three Republican Jews in Congress (versus 42 Democrats) should have been a hint that there was far more work to do there than simply brandishing the specter of Islam in the White House. And that the party's rush to out-Christian itself is probably unlikely to appeal to people who are, well, not Christian, including Jews, Muslims, and agnostics, to name a few.

It is no coincidence that at the same time, the GOP has shriveled into a more uniform party than at most times since the 1960s. Like a restricted country club that would rather die than change, the Republican Party is marginalizing itself for the sake of the white men who run it. "Barack The Magic Negro" and Palm Beach aryanists are just the more bizarre manifestations of a party that has wallowed for so long in the privileges of its white male supremacy that it does not even realize that everyone has left the plantation, and they are not coming back.

Pick yer own goddam cotton, assholes. I hope you rot in hell.

Gifts for the Blessed

This one's time is slightly past, and I apologize for my tardiness. It's funny anyway.

Mark Morford

11 skewed ideas to make your holiday a bit more fun, strange, blasphemous

2) Wi-Fi detector shirt
Because few things say "I never want to have sex and really love being 34 and living with my parents" than a battery-powered T-shirt that actually shows the signal strength of the Wi-Fi connection around your very being. Matches perfectly with your "Meh" or "got root?" megageek hoodie. Watch hot girls avoid you like water shuns oil! Fun at all those parties you will never be invited to.

3) Gasoline storage tank
Genius! Fill your backyard reservoir with cheap gas right now, then chortle gleefully when 2010 comes and your friends are all paying 10 bucks a gallon to fill up their wimpy Prii, and suddenly there's you, roaring out to the Home Depot parking lot and burning donuts in your '96 Camaro filled with $1.19 unleaded. Dude! Foresight!

Note to Bustedknuckles, who was the first to bring this thing to my attention: They've discovered it in Frisco. Now everybody will want one!

5) Giant 1/3 scale remote-controlled tank
Military fetishists! Rural backwoods survivalists! Dick Cheney! Now is the time to pull out that last ten grand from the bomb shelter and get yourself a huge remote-controlled tank, an exact scale replica of the ones they used to thwart Commies and crush Saddam and run over Falun Gong believers in China. Apocalypse is nigh, after all. Why not destroy the lawn first?

Be sure to photograph yourself next to your Tiger 1 or Joseph Stalin 2 (biggest gun ever!) and send it in to the site for manly posterity. Chicks really dig that stuff. "My, you've sure got a giant turret, Ned!" she will surely gasp. "Does it spin around and rumble and shake my bowels? Can we keep it in the house? Will it terrify the dog and ruin the garden?" Hell yes, baby.

Truth is, no matter how bleak and economically depressed our country may be right now, in comparison to some of these developing regions, we are blessed beyond belief. We are packed with gifts and miracles, plenty to go around. What, you were saving up for a new Chrysler Sebring? As if.

Truth is. me'n Mrs. G opted out of the whole gift deal this year. Her family decided to forego gifts for the adults years ago and it's been a blessing. Mrs. G managed to get presents for 5 kids for $33, and it was all stuff they wanted. The woman is a genius, and not just for marrying me...

We are not going to be much help at consumer-spending the nation out of the depression the Repugs got us into. Tough shit.


If you use Firefox this article may be of interest.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Big Three Automakers Face Bankruptcy, But Vow to Rebound
Shown: 2009 Chrysler Cerberus, a thrifty 40 mpg sedan based on East Germany's popular Trabant.

White House Issues Blistering Rebuke to NY Times for Article Blaming Bush Policies for Mortgage Meltdown
Claims story was based on faulty intelligence.

From "The Year In Pictures":

Hitler's Gold Bookmark Found
Discovered in current owner's copy of new Ann Coulter book.

Palin Receives Blessing Against Witchcraft
But after Katie Couric interview.

I don't know what his beef is.” — President George W. Bush, after dodging shoes thrown at him by a man who shouted, “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.”

Beijing ends 500 years of tradition as it sends the navy out to attack pirates

Times Online (UK)

From the dockside of the Yalong Bay base the three decorated vessels that weighed anchor and slipped off into the tropical seas yesterday afternoon might have been any normal coastal patrol.

For Beijing – and for governments watching across the globe – it was the beginning of a new era in world naval history. The interests of China now extend far beyond its borders but this was the first time in more than five centuries that it has travelled outside its territorial waters to defend them.

The last time a Chinese military fleet set sail for anywhere as far afield as Africa with the prospect of a fight at the other end, the ships were 400ft (122m) wooden junks and the commander was a Ming dynasty court eunuch called Zheng He.

— Zheng He is also known as Cheng Ho, or the Three Jewel Eunuch Admiral

Sounds more like the No Jewel Eunuch Admiral to me...

I will assume that today's Chinese sailors are fully equipped, and I wish them well. The whole world is watching this development. Please read the rest.

This is why ...

You ain't seen much of me for the last few days. I been playing Norm Abram* again.

*For those who don't know, Norm Abram of The New Yankee Workshop.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Banks Of The Ponchartrain

I'm not sure who everybody is, but the lovely and extremely talented Mary Black is Nanci's backup vocalist. From GainControlAgain, whom I think assumes we know this stuff.

From 1990 Irish TV.

Me like furrin TV!

Nanci Griffith

"Barack Obama has little in common with George W. Bush, thank God"

Here's Daddy Frank on Obama's choice of Rick Warren as his inaugural invocationalist. Pops has been on vacation or something and sounded off on this kind of late to my way of thinking, but better late than never, which is when I want to hear about this shit again.

You can go read what he has to say, but there's a slight upside:

There is comparable anger and fear on the right. David Brody, a political correspondent with the Christian Broadcasting Network, was flooded with e-mails from religious conservatives chastising Warren for accepting the invitation to the inaugural. They vilified Obama as “pro-death” and worse because of his support for abortion rights.

Stoking this rage, no doubt, is the dawning realization that the old religious right is crumbling — in part because Warren’s new generation of leaders departs from the Falwell-Robertson brand of zealots who have had a stranglehold on the G.O.P. It’s a sign of the old establishment’s panic that the Rev. Richard Cizik, known for his leadership in addressing global warming, was pushed out of his executive post at the National Association of Evangelicals this month. Cizik’s sin was to tell Terry Gross of NPR that he was starting to shift in favor of civil unions for gay couples.

Cizik’s ouster won’t halt the new wave he represents. As he also told Gross, young evangelicals care less and less about the old wedge issues and aren’t as likely to base their votes on them. On gay rights in particular, polls show that young evangelicals are moving in Cizik’s (and the country’s) direction and away from what John McCain once rightly called “the agents of intolerance.” It’s not a coincidence that Dobson’s Focus on the Family, which spent more than $500,000 promoting Proposition 8, has now had to lay off 20 percent of its work force in Colorado Springs.

Anything that causes the religious right to start crumbling and financial discomfort to the agents of intolerance is a step in the right direction.

By the historical standards of presidential hubris, Obama’s disingenuous defense of his tone-deaf invitation to Warren is nonetheless a relatively tiny infraction. It’s no Bay of Pigs. But it does add an asterisk to the joyous inaugural of our first black president. It’s bizarre that Obama, of all people, would allow himself to be on the wrong side of this history.

I'm kinda wondering if Obama is even smarter than we give him credit for. Perhaps he knew that turning over Warren's rock would expose some of his (and others') crap to the light. Where it cannot live.

Clean Coal. Yeah, Right...

This video accompanied an article at Treehugger. There are many more to see.

The Noose Tightens

A little post-Christmas cheer from Newsweek Online. I love the title, but need to add 'If Only!'.

Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and other top Bush officials could soon face legal jeopardy.

Go read. I'll cut to the chase:

But for those interested in tougher sanctions, one other possibility looms. Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and author of "The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld," points out that over 20 countries now have universal jurisdiction laws that would allow them to indict U.S. officials for torture if America doesn't do it itself. A few such cases were attempted in recent years but were dropped, reportedly under U.S. pressure. Now the Obama administration may be less likely to stand in their way. This doesn't mean it will extradite Cheney and Co. to stand trial abroad. But at the very least, the threat of such suits could soon force Bush aides to think twice before buying plane tickets. "The world is getting smaller for these guys," says Ratner, "and they'll have to check with their lawyers very carefully before they travel." Jail time it isn't—but it may be some justice nonetheless.

I think they should have to check with their lawyers to see if it's OK to go out in the front yard of their fortified undisclosed-location compounds, but that's just me.