Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Afternoon Genre-Bendin' Music Blogging

In my never-ending and always-fun attempt to reconcile Fixer's and my widely disparate musical tastes even just a little bit, I proudly present:

The Lovell Sisters perform at Bonnaroo 2009 on "This Tent" Stage!! Song: Bleeding Heart (written by Jimi Hendrix) | For more information about The Lovell Sisters, visit:

Or their YouTube channel. This is about as heavy metal as it gets, though.

I think the lead singer on this one has a little Janis vibe goin' on.

Thank you, Lovell Sisters.

The stimulus is working!

Around here anyway. Backstory: Mrs. G needed a new washing machine to replace her 25-year-old Kenmore. Serendipitously, as Social Security recipients we received a one-time (so far) federal stimulus of $250 each last payday, which is the 4th Wednesday of every month. So, half a large of returned tax money in hand, a-shopping we did go.

We wanted to spend the money locally as opposed to going to a chain store in Nevada, so first we went to the only long-time independent appliance dealer in town. They had a machine Mrs. G liked, but then they wanted to charge us $75 to deliver it one mile, along with $25 to haul the old one away and properly dispose of it. That was the deal breaker. I told the salesman he'd just scared us off and we left. Those guys were the only game in town for forty years and it shows in their attitude: pay what we want or drive for an hour. I'm not the only one displeased by it. Read their review at the Sears link below. Heh.

We were all dejected about probably having to go out of town to get a machine, and we made it all of a block before the light went on in my head: our town has a pretty new Sears Hometown Store! We'd never been there before, but, gee, I think Sears sells appliances...

It ain't yer father's Sears. It's not a big department store like Sears stores used to be, maybe still are, I don't know. Pretty small, but well stocked with home appliances and yard stuff, no clothes or hand tools, but you can order those.

We got about two steps into the store and a young salesman was on us like white on rice. I pointed at Mrs. G and away they went. He showed her every washing machine in the joint and she decided on one and the deal was done. They had other brands, but she chose our third Kenmore. I guess we're in a rut. It was the one that had all the features she wanted and was 'energy star' qualified.

Speaking of 'energy star', this thing is so much more efficient than our last one that our power company is going to send me money! The trade-off is that, just like TV sets, the new appliances don't last as long as the old ones. That's progress for you.

They wanted $50 to deliver it and the standard $25 haul-it-away fee, but they were to be refundable from Sears corporate. It was delivered a few days later exactly 5 minutes before they said they'd be there.

Just as an aside, the delivery guys didn't wheel it up to my house on a dolly. Since they had to walk about 100 feet through the forest clearing that passes for my back yard, they put straps under it and walked it all the way up from the street. They said that's pretty normal around here. The head (driver and paperwork guy) delivery man's assistant turned out to be a Mexican-American biker dude about my age from Bakersfield. We shot the shit and let the white kid do all the installation work. Heh.

The thing works fine and all is well. For the technically curious, it's a Kenmore 2982.

I wrote a check for $648.76, which breaks down as follows:

$526.99 - Cost of the machine, on sale at $80+ off list
. 46.77 - Sales tax @ 8.875%. Fuck you Ah-nold. No, no, no, fuck you Gor-don
. 75.00 - Delivery and get-that-fuckin'-load-outta-my-sight fee
-100.00 - Power company rebate for 'energy star'. Actual money, not a credit on my bill.
- 75.00 - Delivery fee refund 'gift card' from Sears, just like money
$473.76 - Actual cost, said and done

Leaving me with $ 26.24 to fritter away as I please! Thank you, Barry.

Went back to Sears yesterday and frittered ten bucks of it away on one of these (roll over the picture. Wow.). First one, always used analog. Half-price sale.

We spent our stimulus responsibly as we were supposed to, and we spent it locally for something we needed and we have enough left over for a down payment on a pizza. We're so proud of ourselves we could just shit.

And our Sears store has a coupla satisfied new customers.

For Limbaugh, it's the net

P.M. Carpenter

And here, from this week, is an example of how Rush is faring. In sorting out the why's and wherefore's of "this [Gov. Mark] Sanford business," Limbaugh said, he actually said:

This is almost like: I don't give a damn! Country's going to hell in a handbasket. I just want out of here! He had just tried to fight the stimulus money coming to South Carolina. He didn't want any part of it. He lost the battle and said, "What the hell? The Federal government is taking over! I want to enjoy life!"

In other words, it's all Obama's fault. Oy.

Yes, it's one for the psychiatric record-books, folks: In Rush Limbaugh's increasingly dark, desperate and distorted mind, a $787 billion economic stimulus package is believable-enough stimulation to send a perfectly proper, right-thinking Southern governor into a follow-up exploration of Argentina's forbidden bush country.

So I put this to you: That's beyond strategic broadcasting; that's just plain nuts. And it just may be that Rush has been acting the lunatic for so long -- stridently bashing the left and absolving the right for ever-greater fun and profit -- he has finally become a genuine, certifiable one.

It's $40,000,000 a year nuts, Carp. The dittostooges eat it up. The more way out ludicrous his spew, the more his audience nods its head and drools and buys the Zicam.

I don't blame them for wanting to lose their sense of smell either. Bullshit's a lot more appetizing when you are willingly force-fed it if it you don't have to smell it. I want them to spray it on their reproductive organs.

Heeeeeere's Stephen!:

Zicam Recall
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

Note: The video had a broken tag deep within its bowels and I fixed it all by myself! Thank you Blogger for pointing at it and thank you Fixer for teaching me about tags. It's amazing what a little / and > can do.

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

Emmylou Harris, Luscious Jackson, Indigo Girls, Rebecca ~ Midnight Train To Georgia

Thanks to 1000Magicians, UK.

Saturday Not Michael Jackson Blogging ...

Get up and get going.

The Who - Sally Simpson

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thought on the second full day of Jackson coverage

You pundits get an intern to work on the Friday afternoon document dump. Your utter distraction and preoccupation with The Croaked One the last day or so has been so blitheringly obvious that they mighta slipped some important shit in there that they're sure you'll miss.

Things ya don't wanta see at yer next door neighbor's house a few minutes ago

Click to embiggen

I got this from a house painter friend of my neighbor who was the only human being in the vicinity after all the commotion died down. Those guys breathe a lotta fumes so take it with a cup of kosher salt. My next door neighbor got bellowing drunk and fell down and hit her head. Another well-meaning neighbor saw it and called 911. The cops were there in number because the EMTs couldn't find her. I know the gal, and she probably hid out so she wouldn't get in any more trouble over alcohol. Didn't work. The cops found her and the medics hauled her away. I saw 'em loadin' her up and she didn't look too damaged. She'll get outta the ER with yet another court date in her pocket.

This kinda shit ain't happened around here since I quit drinking.

You gotta be shittin' me ...

I'm not naive, not by a long shot, but it's still hard to wrap my head around the fact there are people like these in 21st Century America:

WASHINGTON - The family of a woman killed Monday is dealing with more than just grief in the aftermath of Metro's deadliest accident in history.

The family of Ana Fernandez says they have been getting hate-filled telephone messages about whether or not Fernandez, a mother of six, was a legal immigrant.


How do you bring yourself to intrude on people's lives after they've suffered such a tragic loss to compound their grief because of a last name?

Link thanks to Jill.

Michael Jackson vs. the news

Mark Morford, obviously a regular reader of the Brain and probably sore that the F-Man beat him to it, expands on Fixer's post:

[...] Pop culture just died. Didn't you hear?

First, it was the beauty. How many countless millions of feverish boyhood fantasies were spawned by 1970's Farrah Fawcett? How many of our admittedly vapid and slightly sexist, yet somehow also wondrous and utterly divine ideas of lust and desire and perfect all-American prettiness were inspired by her uncomplicated sparkle, that Barbie-doll hair?

I am unashamed to say, I had that poster on my wall. Most every male I know of that generation had that poster on his wall. It was some sort of boyhood law, a requirement, a key to the Kingdom of Testosterone. Chances are you don't even need to click that link to know which poster I'm talking about. Chances are you can close your eyes and see it in a split second, and sigh. Sex and beauty and Americana and teeth and sex and hope and hairdryers and carefree love and bathing suits and shimmer and sex. Farrah made it all possible.

But even that glorious, soft-focus icon is no match for the King of Pop. There is no contest.

Well, I guess who ya jacked off to is your business...

There musta been millions of you young, er, squirts doin' it simultaneously. The rest of us are lucky ya didn't bounce the Earth off its axis!

Iraq Declares Victory Over U.S.

Good. Now we can leave. Maybe Iraq will come up with a Marshall Plan for us?


BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has taken to calling the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq’s cities by next Tuesday a “great victory,” a repulsion of foreign occupiers he compares to the rebellion against British troops in 1920.

The day itself has been declared a national holiday, though it is not yet clear whether Iraq will hold the “feast and festivals” he recently promised.

Too bad they couldn'ta held off a few days. Iraq and the U.S. coulda shared Independence Days.

More than 150 American bases or outposts have been closed in Iraqi cities this year — 85 percent of the total, an Iraqi official said — including some that commanders considered crucial.

The Americans asked to keep open an outpost in Sadr City, the Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad that once served as the base of Shiite militias, only to be rebuffed.

“This is one we wanted,” Brig. Gen. John M. Murray said. “The Iraqi government said ‘no,’ so now we are leaving.”

Far from a celebration, the deadline has provoked uncertainty and even dread among average Iraqis, underscoring the potential problems that Mr. Maliki could face if bloodshed intensifies.

Even some Iraqi officers are worried. Brig. Gen. Mahmoud Muhsen, a commander with the First Division of the Iraqi National Police, grimly predicted that sectarian violence could return. He warned that control of Iraq’s borders remained ineffective, allowing more foreign fighters to enter.

“They are taking away all the equipment that the Americans provide,” he said, “and with the agenda of countries neighboring Iraq, it is a recipe for disaster.”

You want disaster? We'll show you disaster. We fucked your country over goin' in, we fuck it over while we're there, we fuck it over goin' out. You ignorant little brown people weren't properly grateful for your liberation by white imperialists, which is to say that you didn't give us all your oil even though we spent our military and all our money. Woulda been cheaper just to buy the shit, but Bush wasn't that smart. Disaster? The neocons invented it. Join the club.

“When the Americans get out of city centers, a big war will start,” a woman who identified herself as Um Hussan said amid the wreckage of a bombing on Monday outside her house in the Ur neighborhood of Baghdad. It has been months, she added, since she last saw American forces there.

“We ask God to help us for what is coming,” she said

Sorry, lady. God The Dick told Bush to invade your ass in the first place. You see how that worked out. Maybe you'll have better luck.

In related news:

Iraq opens fields; Exxon, Shell seek foothold

“Iraq is the big prize in the region,” said Raja Kiwan, a Dubai-based analyst at consultants PFC Energy. “It is one of the only remaining areas that provide the level of upside for companies who want to access reserves.”

Ah, fuck. Big Oil is about to have interests that need defending again. We ain't goin' nowhere. Army and Marine 'reserves', prepare to be 'accessed' for forty more years.

Health-care rhetoric hazardous to your health!!

From HumorGazette via Boston Herald. Liquid alert.

F**Noise Reassigns Sanford

Media Matters

Since there's no other news ...


I guess we'll have to put up with one long, one-week media circus bukkakke of freakishness about Michael Jackson ...

Sorry, Gord. It ain't gonna stop until they've milked it for everything it's worth.

And just a question: Don't any of these people have lives? Jobs? Responsibilities? Obligations?


"We were just lucky to be here today," said Kyle Joyce of Sacramento, who came to the hospital after hearing the news while walking on Venice Beach. "We just wanted to see it with our own eyes."


Me? Not so much.

I'm gonna be 47 years old in a couple months and, for the life of me, I don't get how an entertainer (or someone else famous) these people never met (and know only through their art or profession) can fill so much of their lives that they have to drop everything to "be there". But then, I still don't get the whole Elvis/cult/thing either.

And an observation: The happiest guy in the world today is South Carolina Governor Mark "I Cry For Me, Argentina" Sanford.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thoughts on the non-stop coverage since Michael Jackson croaked

Whatever he did or didn't do, whatever he was or wasn't, he's DEAD. Nothing about him affects my life. He was not important living or dead in any way, shape, or form.


Quote of the Day

Maru on the Governor Sanford mess:


But its about to get even worse for this 'fiscal conservative' as news of his financial flimflammery starts spurting out like Lindsey Graham's freedom-juice at a Cub Scout jamboree.


Waitin' for them to catch Lindsey with a little brown boy on one of Rush's "Dominican vacations".

Thursday Afternoon Follies

"You should see him driving home on one after he's had a few. " - Fixer in a comment at F&G.

Damn, how does he know about that? Spies everywhere he's got! Oh well, guess I gotta 'fess up. Here I am headin' fer home after a little casino trip. I got outta there just in time!:

Pic stolen from here.

Let's just say ...

I "came of age" with this poster taped to the wall at the foot of my bed.

Happy trails, baby. Glad you're not suffering anymore.

SCOTUS rules against school strip searches

NYT on a SCOTUS decision dated today.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a school's strip search of an Arizona teenage girl accused of having prescription-strength ibuprofen was illegal.

The court ruled 8-1 on Thursday that school officials violated the law with their search of Savana Redding in the rural eastern Arizona town of Safford.

I've been sort of following this case and wondering how it would come out.

Now, I've been strip searched. At my age, it's actually kinda fun. Heh. Lemme 'splain. The more squeamish amongst you might want to skip this part.

Our county jail, "Wayne's World", has a wonderful program of providing inmate working parties to various local outfits - the food bank, recycling center, the Elks Club, and other places. It's free labor for them and a chance for minimum security inmates to get outta the jailhouse for the day. Everybody wins.

The fun starts when the inmates get back to the jail at the end of the day. A deputy is there to make sure no one has brought in any contraband. Everybody strips down. The deputy then has everybody face away from him and bend over and spread 'em. He's looking for stuff like cigarettes and dope, but they've found cell phones and no doubt fire axes. There are inmates who can keester anything.

They searched me that way exactly once. Not only did they quickly realize I was just an old fart who wanted to do his few days without incident and go home, but that I was having way too much fun essentially mooning a cop. Hell yeah I was! You don't get a chance to wink at a cop that way very often! Or let a ripping great fart at him either (I apologized of course, but my shit-eatin' grin might have led them to believe I was less than sincere). I think the cops' union might have gotten involved, something about 'cruel and unusual' or psychological trauma, maybe workplace safety, who knows.

I just told that story for fun, but here's my point:

A strip search in jail is one thing. It's perfectly acceptable, and there's no point in getting uptight about it because you have no choice in the matter anyway. You might not like it, but the cops don't either. It's adults searching adults in a known state-controlled prescribed manner for safety and discipline reasons. If you're shy or think it's degrading, tough shit, that's the way it is. Obey the law or don't get caught and it will never happen to you.

A strip search of a teenage girl in Middle School based on mere accusations from other teenage girls that she might have ibuprofen in her pants is unconscionable on its face. Period. Schools need to keep harmful substances out and have rules about prescription drugs, intended to keep out things like oxycodone, opiates, barbiturates, all the fun medicine cabinet pharmaceuticals that kids like and shouldn't have.

For school officials to interpret the rules against prescription drugs so stringently as to include things that the student might actually need, and then to humiliate a youngster without much reason just because they can is despicable.

Well, now they can't, and kudos to the highest court in the land for recognizing the obvious.

One more thing: 8-1. Who's the '1'? Who d'ya think would go against so predictable a ruling? I guessed it correctly and damn near broke my arm patting myself on the back when I looked up Safford Unified School District v. April Redding, 08-479. Damn, I'm glad I didn't become a lawyer like my parents thought I should and have to read that shit all the time as part of my job. All I ever had to read was repair orders and service manuals, thank you Lord!

By deciding that it is better equipped to decide what behavior should be permitted in schools, the Court has undercut student safety and undermined the authority of school administrators and local officials. Even more troubling, it has done so in a case in which the underlying response by school administrators was reasonable and justified. I cannot join this regrettable decision. I, therefore, respectfully dissent from the Court’s determination that this search violated the Fourth Amendment.

I'll let you go see who it was, but I'll give you a hint: not only was this Justice the worst choice for that bench in history, the terms 'far right' and 'affirmative action hire' are involved.

Also, watch for the wingtards to flap their jaws about 'activist judges' over this. Might happen, might not, but anything that takes power over people away from the 'ruling elite' is obviously the work of commies on the court, or worse, Liberals like Roberts and Alito.

Fun fact ...

From reader, commenter, and blogger (and neighbor ... sorta) Nancy:

At last count, 54 sanctimonious republicans have had affairs since denouncing Clinton's "peccadillos." ...

Those who live in glass houses shouldn't get stoned. Off to work ...

Good Barry ...

Sometimes, Obama, for an incredibly intelligent man, baffles me with the stuff he doesn't get (gay issues, the demand for public healthcare, "preventive detention") but on the stuff he does get, the guy's fantastic:


For the President to offer a veto threat, which to my recollection is the first veto threat of his Presidency, over ending the military-industrial complex gravy train is pretty significant. If we don't take the first step and restore the ability to end weapons systems, then the military budget will just grow and grow. Most politicians already consider it magic and unrelated to any other spending, even while they scold about "runaway budget deficits" in the same breath. The jobs argument attempted here is bogus, "weaponized Keynesianism", as Barney Frank called it. Building bridges and roads and a smart energy grid were the kinds of job-creating engines that all the fiscal scolds considered too expensive during the stimulus fight, but suddenly when defense is on the menu, they're all "jobs, baby, jobs." Those Blue Dogs who scream about budgets can now tell everyone why we can afford a plane that the Air Force doesn't need and the manufacturer doesn't even want to make.

The President's taking a small risk here. I can already hear the resurrection of Zell Miller demagoguing in 2012 about "what are we gonna use, spitballs?" But this represents the setting of a marker, one of the first I can remember, that our military budget is not sustainable, and as a first step we have to be able to wind down Cold War-era weapons systems that are completely inapplicable to the present day. Not many people have allowed themselves to publicly make this argument. So it deserves some credit. [my em]


We don't need the F-22 "air superiority fighter". We already have air superiority. No one can field an air force against ours and expect it to survive. It's that simple; we own the air, period. The Air Force doesn't need, or want, the plane. We don't need an extra engine for the F-35 "joint strike fighter" - a program designed to keep development and maintenance costs lower. It's all about bringing pork back to home districts. Cutting costs is fine when it comes to health care and other parts of the social safety net, but heaven forbid you deny the Congress their toys. The wing wipers don't want the planes but Congress says they're necessary? I tend to think the AF knows what they want and need more than some blowhards on the Hill.

Digby is correct. We are still fighting the Cold War instead of adapting to the threats we're facing now. We certainly ain't winning in Afghanistan and Iraq is still an ungodly mess; what have we to show for our technical prowess and air superiority? We have enough to turn both places into smoking holes in the ground, yet we're holding on with our fingernails in Afghanistan and they're still blowing up innocents in Baghdad. We're hundreds of years ahead of these people technologically and we've wasted the better part of a decade trying to get the upper hand.

I'm glad the President sees the waste and hand it to him for standing up to the entrenched interests in Congress. In a time when we need every dime we can scrape together, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on a weapons system no one wants is criminal.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We don't have a governor ...

We have a fucking babysitter:

[New York Governor David] Paterson made the threat late Wednesday. He said he intends to be in court at 9 a.m. on Thursday—unless all 62 senators agreed to show up and participate in an emergency legislative session that Paterson has called for 3 p.m. that same day.


"This is a farce," said Paterson, visibly angry. "Senators, get to work tomorrow. You’re not going home. You’re not getting paid. And you’re not going to disrespect the people of New York any longer."


"What we’re simply doing here is compelling them to get to work," Paterson said of his plans to sue senators. "The people have had enough. I know I have."


The most useless governing body ever created by man (the New York State Legislature - the Assembly ain't much better than the Senate) has turned the Empire State into a laughingstock. When the governor has to threaten to dock their pay to get them to do their jobs it's like trying to coerce teenagers to do their homework. Were I the governor, we'd be talking "National Guard" and "firing squads".

My eyes!!!!

Gov. Mark Sanford's emails to Evita Peron his Argentinian mistress have surfaced. As Watertiger said:


I'm gouging my eyes out as I write this.

Why Lawrence Still Matters

T.E. Lawrence astride 'Boanerges'
It was either this or Peter O'Toole on a camel

Thom Hartmann

Back on Iyyar 2, 5769 (that's April 26th of this year to most Americans) the most left of Israel's major newspapers, Haaretz, published an article by Amer Oren titled, "Why Lawrence of Arabia is still relevant, from Gaza to Kabul." I resolved to watch the movie, and ordered it from a popular online seller. Last week I caught enough time (it runs over 3 hours) to watch it. Oren was right.

Its critical essence - what provoked Oren to write his piece for Haaretz and led Admiral Eric Olson, the chief of US Special Operations Command in the Middle East to initiate last year "Project Lawrence" - is the story of Lawrence, a British Army officer, who comes to know the culture of the local Arabs so intimately that he is able to lead them in a world-changing uprising and several major battles against the then-massive Turkish Ottoman Empire.

There are a number of subtexts to the movie, and given recent US and British adventures in the region, some that weren't even intended by David Lean and Sam Spiegel, its director and producer. First among these is how the British apparently hadn't learned a thing since the American Revolution about taking on a foreign army that's nationalistic, decentralized, and fights in an unconventional fashion. They also had (have?) never given up their insufferable assumption of absolute cultural superiority relative to virtually everybody but particularly with regard to people who live tribally.

Lawrence got it - so much so that one of his superior officers wonders out loud if he's "gone native" - and it was through this understanding of the Arab culture that he was able to accomplish what he did. The consequences of those accomplishments are still playing out in the region, nearly a century later.

And Lawrence's understanding is what inspired Admiral Olson to tell the House Armed Services Committee this past June that he's now recruiting native Pashtu, Hausa, and Sinhala speakers (among others) for his "Project Lawrence." Olson doesn't intend to repeat the British mistakes, and one hopes that in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq he and his peers have learned something. Two weeks ago in New York I had occasion to talk with one of the Army generals responsible for southern Afghanistan. "We can't kill our way to victory," he said to me, adding that we must both respect their culture and help them build a modern and functional infrastructure. Another military person who watched the movie?

Other subtexts include the madness of the legal mass murder we call war and its effect on those we push into it; Lawrence's homosexuality (and later love of masochism); the importance of hospitality in tribal cultures; and how when cultures clash (particularly violently) those with the poorest technology are most often absorbed or at least dramatically changed by their brush with the more technological.

Shorter: Lawrence promised the Arabs independence in order to get them to help the British fight against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East in WWI. By all accounts, he meant to keep that promise. Then, war safely won, his superiors fucked him and took over the Middle East for England. Oil and Empire were foremost. It messed Lawrence's head up for the rest of his life.

If Bush had been intellectually capable of getting past My Pet Goat and read Lawrence's Seven Pillars Of Wisdom, perhaps he would have gotten a hint of cultural and historical understanding of the Middle East instead of an imperialistic oilman's view and then perhaps he would not have gotten us into this even worse mess than the Brits got themselves in back then. I know it's a stretch, because he still would have had to have the balls, which he doesn't, to tell Cheney and the neocons to go fuck themselves, which he didn't.

Instead, that ignorant fucking weakling got us in a jam over there that will be with us for generations.

Lawrence only still matters if we can learn from him. It looks like someone finally has, I hope. There's a lot of better places to learn than the movie, but I guess it's a start.

I read SPOW back in school, and that being pretty much the dawn of time, I should read it again. I still have a copy of it. I'm sure its lessons will be more valuable both in terms of what's going on today and the fact that maybe now I'm old enough to understand it.

A few personal words about Lawrence. He was probably the most poetic motorcyclist who ever was. He liked to ride far and fast and captured it beautifully in The Road, an account of a motorcycle ride that will raise goose bumps on anyone who has ever laid down on a gas tank and tried to pull the slide outta the top of the carburetor.

Even though my Royal Enfield ain't a patch on the ass of a Brough Superior (pronounced 'Bruff'), it does have a sort of classic Limey appearance and I named it after Lawrence's rides. He called his bikes 'Boanerges', a biblical reference meaning 'sons of thunder' (it also means 'Any declamatory and vociferous preacher or orator'. Heh.), and since my ride was built in India, I call it 'Boanerges-Jee'. I'd get that painted on it except pinstripers charge by the letter. Maybe reg'lar ol' sign painters aren't so carried away with themselves. I'll have to check on that.

Lawrence's life has fascinated me since my 7th Grade science teacher claimed to have loaned the motorcycle to Lawrence that he got killed on. I have since learned that the rarest Brough of them all is one that Lawrence didn't get killed on.

By the way, since I got the RE I've become interested in India. I actually enjoy talking to tech support guys now. And the guy who owns the sandwich shop downtown. History? Culture? India makes Europe and Persia look like they just got off the turnip truck. So much to learn, so little time...


USA Today

Sanford was in Argentina, not hiking on the Appalachian Trail

He will hold a news conference at 2 p.m ET.

This better be good. Ju got some esplainin' to do, Loosey. Heh.

And oh yeah, getcher clothes and stuff off the lawn of the governor's mansion.

Tony Peyser

Maybe I'm wrong but I now do suspect
That in the near future -- without fail --
New slang for being on a bender will be,
"I'm hiking on the Appalachian trail."

I was actually sort of hoping Sanford was involved in "Naked Hiking Day". Laid in a case of bleach.


Sanford done 'splained it.

The good news: The 'party of family values' ain't gonna have no Sanford/Ensign ticket in '12.

The bad news: None, unless you're the one who already printed the bumperstickers.

Noted Obama admirer lambasts him on civil liberties, secrecy

Glenn Greenwald, obviously a regular reader of the Brain, expands on Fixer's post:

Barack Obama has few, if any, more adoring fans in the world of establishment punditry than New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. Back in February, Herbert constructed an entire column around the ultimate Obama fan cheer: he venerated Obama as a "chess master," a "championship chess player, always several moves ahead of friend and foe alike" who "is smart, deft, elegant and subtle." That's what makes Herbert's superb column today -- lambasting Obama for his "unwillingness to end many of the mind-numbing abuses linked to the so-called war on terror and to establish a legal and moral framework designed to prevent those abuses from ever occurring again" -- so significant.

Note that Herbert is not complaining that Obama has failed to move fast enough to fix these problems. Rather, he's exclusively criticizing Obama for Bush-replicating policies, positions and abuses which the administration has affirmatively embraced and aggressively defended. And as Herbert suggests in his last sentence -- in which he argues that Obama's actions are mutually exclusive with the pledge "to get our moral compass back" -- these issues were not ancillary to progressive objections to the Bush presidency but were central to them. As Herbert says: "Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House." If a full-fledged Obama admirer like Herbert has the intellectual honesty to acknowledge this and be angry about it, that's a fairly compelling sign of just how extreme this has now become.

There's a lot between those quotes. Go read.

I'm torn. On the one hand, I trust Obama simply because he's everything Bush was not. I want to trust him. I have no doubts whatsoever that Obama is orders of magnitude better than Bush in terms of intellect and engagement. I feel better with him in office and am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in a lot of areas.

On the other hand, some of the things he's doing piss me off too, particularly 'preventive detention'. I understand the concept, having been 'preventively detained' a few times so I wouldn't hurt myself or others, but I was always released when I sobered up and walked out of jail with a charge sheet and court date in my pocket. Open-ended years-long preventive detention is a crime Bush committed and I'm appalled that Obama is keeping that policy in place. If he can prove that someone is planning something against us and that detention prevented it, that's one thing, and he has a case in open court and that's OK. Locking someone down on spec is a different matter altogether, an unconstitutional abuse of power worthy of pussy cowards and war criminals like Cheney and Bush. I expected it from them, but not from Obama. How he uses it remains to be seen, but it's wrong. Period.

I hate Bush and Cheney, and the mere fact that they survived each night in office and were able to get up in the morning kept me pissed off anew every morning for years. It was no way for me to live but I survived it and hoped for a new day with Obama.

In large measure we're getting that new day with him, and I genuinely like him and respect him for the most part. I still have high hopes that the U.S. is on the road to recovery with him and I think we're basically on track, but in the areas that hold over Bush policies, he's fuckin' up big time and is a huge disappointment.

Always remember, one 'aw shit' wipes out 10,000 'attaboys'.

S.S. McCain ...

Gord found a great pic of a ship that deserved the name S.S. McCain yesterday so I thought I'd bring back an oldie I found on Gibraltar last year.

The S.S. McCain at anchor.

Obama fail ...

Bob Herbert:

Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House.

One of the most disappointing aspects of the early months of the Obama administration has been its unwillingness to end many of the mind-numbing abuses linked to the so-called war on terror and to establish a legal and moral framework designed to prevent those abuses from ever occurring again.


We said this for years during the Bush administration. When the Patriot Act was passed and when Congress gave Bush his "war authorization", we knew those powers would be abused, by Bush and Cheney most certainly, but also by successive Presidents who would use them for their own devices. This has now come to pass.

Obama feels no compunction to abandon the power he has to imprison people unjustly or monitor the communications of law abiding U.S. citizens. We have started down a slippery slope with Bush and it doesn't look like Obama is about to hit the brakes anytime soon.

You realize, if we had a Republican-dominated Congress, those powers would have been legislated away by now. Unlike the Dems, who caved to whatever Bush wanted, the Rethugs would have been the first to cry foul. The Dems, per usual, will not make a fuss and Obama will continue to operate without oversight.


It was thought by many that a President Obama would put a stop to the madness, put an end to the Bush administration’s nightmarish approach to national security. But Mr. Obama has shown no inclination to bring even the worst offenders of the Bush years to account, and seems perfectly willing to move ahead in lockstep with the excessive secrecy and some of the most egregious activities of the Bush era.

The new president’s excessively cautious approach to the national security and civil liberties outrages of the Bush administration are unacceptable, and the organizations and individuals committed to fairness, justice and the rule of law — the Center for Constitutional Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and many others — should intensify their efforts to get the new administration to do the right thing.


And you wonder why he has no plans to investigate Bush administration crimes? He wouldn't be able to take advantage of those 'policies' if their true scope came to light.

Let this be a lesson to all those who ever thought politicians were honorable. Some might be better than others but in the end they're all still politicians. There will be no 'Great Savior' to come along and make everything right and just. If we want real change, it's on us and until we're willing to do what the Iranian people are doing, we'll just get more of the same. Until life becomes hard enough for the majority of Americans (until they have nothing to lose), progressives will suffer many more disappointments and the "American Way" will continue to remain just so much bullshit.

Link thanks to Turkana.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dudez ...

If I got up and split for 4 days, without telling the Mrs. where I was going or what I was doing, I might as well not bother coming back.

Where's them fuckin' pirates when ya need 'em?

Hyung-Jin Kim, Associated Press Writer:

SEOUL, South Korea – A North Korean-flagged ship under close watch in Asian waters is believed to be heading toward Myanmar carrying small arms cargo banned under a new U.N. resolution, a South Korean intelligence official said Monday.

A senior U.S. military official told The Associated Press on Friday that a Navy ship, the USS John S. McCain, is relatively close to the North Korean vessel but had no orders to intercept it. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Any chance for an armed skirmish between the two ships is low, analysts say, though the North Korean crew is possibly armed with rifles.

"It's still a cargo ship. A cargo ship can't confront a warship," said Baek Seung-joo of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.

Sure it can! For a minute...

Did they pay that guy for that 'analysis'? Yeesh.

What's all the fuss? The NK ship is just on its regular weapons run from one outlaw dictatorship to another. Oh, that's right, The U.N. finally said it's a no-no. Big whoop. Big toothless whoop.

I think McCain, and no it's not named after him, rather his father and grandfather who actually did good in the Navy, is in the perfect position to observe and report on Kang Nam's unfortunate demise upon encountering a reef.

Go take a look at the NK tub that's causing all the running in circles and screaming and shouting. I've been out on bigger sportfishing boats. McCain could just get up close and make a sharp turn and swamp her.


Here's the vessel that oughta be named for J.S. McCain III.


Of course He does, and I He uses thugs and troops with tear gas and bullets to inform you of My His displeasure should you have the temerity to question Me Him.

When you think of what's going on in Iran, think a little about how close we came to this shit under Bush and his christowhackjobs.

Thanks to YubaNet.

Serving the Medical-Industrial Complex

Robert Parry, links at site.

Indeed, if a public option were to be piggybacked onto the existing Medicare bureaucracy, the chances for savings could be impressive for average Americans and the overall American economy.

Insurance middlemen could be eliminated; investigators who ferret out “preexisting conditions” wouldn’t be needed; doctors could save on administrative costs; the burden on U.S. industry providing health benefits could be reduced; and more money could be freed to cover the nearly 50 million uninsured or for actual doctoring.

According to a New York Times/CBS poll, that point is obvious to 72 percent of the American people who favor “offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan like Medicare that would compete with private health insurance plans.”

It’s also reflected in a study cited by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and other insurance industry defenders saying that 119 million Americans would bolt from their private insurers to the public option if they were given the chance.

To put that figure in perspective, it is about two-thirds of Americans who have private insurance through their employers or as individuals. In other words, the industry's defenders say two of every three customers want out.

Though some analysts doubt the defection rate would reach 119 million, Grassley’s argument is that Americans would so prefer a government-run plan that it would destroy the private insurance industry – and that therefore the public option simply can’t be permitted.

Grassley’s fear of 119 million Americans voting with their pocketbooks against private health insurance represents a remarkable admission of failure by the industry and its backers. It says, in effect, that the industry’s treatment of its customers has been so highhanded over the decades that the industry can only survive if Americans are left with the unappetizing choice of private coverage or no coverage.

Even in the sorry history of special-interest-dominated Washington, it is rare for politicians to so blatantly adopt defense of a private industry over the will of the people.

The "will of the people" comes in a distant second to "special interest money".

Does anyone believe ...

This is a magnanimous gesture?

Under the deal, brokered by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, drug companies agreed to pay half the cost of prescription drugs that fall under the "doughnut hole" in the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. Now, Medicare beneficiaries are responsible for paying the full cost of their prescription drugs once they exceed $2,700 per year, up to $6,154 per year.

President Obama welcomed the agreement in a statement Monday.


If they're willing to throw away $80bln, they can afford a hundred times that. I'd tell 'em to stuff their money because, like Big Pharma has made huge campaign donations to our senators, this is lobbying money being thrown at us to shut up with regard to the "public option".


Analysts say that the drug companies' decision was strategic -- they accepted the payment cuts now in order to gain a seat at the bargaining table and stave off potentially more drastic cuts later.


No shit. I got a better idea. How about treating these assholes like the assholes who make cigarettes?

Double standards ...


Iran - pic from here.

Acceptable collateral damage:

Iraq - pic from here.

So why do the neocons believe we have the moral high ground and the right to say or do anything to the Iranians?


Seems like Son of Shah has come out of the woodwork. Think he sees an opportunity?


Like he doesn't have a dog in the fight. Spawn of Shah should forget about any dreams of becoming the next leader of Iran, for the odds are that there are damn few people in Iran interested in being ruled by the offspring of a CIA stooge.


Back to your hole, boy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Americans Saving More
Spending less on clothing, transportation.

Obama Compares Health Care to “Ticking Time Bomb”
Justifies torture of certain key Republicans.

Anything justifies that!

Federal Judge Rejects DOJ Argument in Cheney Case that Future Veeps Would Withhold Info from FBI for Fear of Becoming ‘Fodder for Daily Show’
Strict constructionist says Founding Fathers didn’t watch late night TV.

That's 'strict constructionist' philosophy, all right.

New Research Suggests Orangutans May Be Our Closest Relatives
Promises much livelier Thanksgiving dinners.

You'd have to ask Mrs. G's relatives about that. I've been to forty of their Thanksgiving dinners...

One in Four Mammal Species Faces Extinction
One in forty-six hundred mammal species is responsible.

Japan Unveils Latest Bullet Train
Shown: oops, you missed it.

Single Payer Is Like A Beer Run

It is said that folks should write about what they know. I know about this due to my wonderfully checkered past. Knowing that no metaphor is exact, take from it what you will.

It's Saturday night in the East Rademacher Mountains section of the Mojave Desert. There's an encampment of maybe 150 dirt bike riders and their ladies and kids and dogs. They've been there since morning, some since Friday night. The day has been spent with various groups of friends riding their bikes all over the place. Many hundreds of miles have been covered, mostly to Charlie's Place on the Trona Road, the only bar and burger joint for fifty miles that can be accessed without any of that damned pavement, and back. Many tanks of gas have been burned and all the knobbies have a little less rubber on them. There have been a few spills, maybe one or two that needed a little group attention to get a pickup to haul a broken bike or rider. Bragging rights have been won and lost. Everybody is filthy and tired.

And happy. Life is good.

Business has been attended to. There's a pig and beef and a turkey in the ground over a slow fire for Sunday. Campfires are lit and folks are wending their way from one to another to visit. There's lots of talkin' loud and tellin' lies and laughter. It's party time.

And, due to mass consumption all day, beer, soda, and ice are running low. There's only so much you can put in a pickup. Those pesky motorbikes, the excuse for all this after all, take up a lot of room. There's still plenty of water, but that's for dogs and radiators and washing hands and faces and does not a party make.

What to do, what to do.

It's pretty obvious: go get more beer. The nearest store is in Ridgecrest, forty miles away by paved road, ten by dirt road. They don't deliver.

There's two choices. The first is that everybody goes and gets their own. That would be fifty pickups full of drunk and dirty desert riders in a convoy, fifty sets of headlights coming out of the desert into town in a big cloud of dust. It's just possible that some townie might see this, think it's some sort of invasion, and wake up Barney Fife of the Ridgecrest PD who would go out and have a field day raising some serious revenue for the town. If he didn't get stuffed into the nearest garbage can, that is, which could lead to the involvement of the county sheriffs and Highway Patrol and lead to serious overcrowding of the local jail and tow yards. Not to mention the folks at the camp who not only won't get any beer, but then have to figure out how to get themselves and all their gear back home in time to go to work on Monday.

Even if our happy campers go into town on their own individual schedules, some of them are bound to get picked off by the law, or run off the road and get stuck, or something.

No, this option simply won't do.

The other option is a little harder to coordinate, but it's better for all concerned.

I think you would have trouble finding fifty designated drivers at a shindig like this, but it's almost certain you could find one. I won't go into the statistical probability of finding a sober person who also has a valid driver's license and won't swing with the money at an affair like this, but one such is not out of the question. A low BAC driver is an acceptable substitute. One DUI is better than fifty, in any case.

Driver found, we need an empty pickup with two working headlights, some gas in the tank, four tires with air in them, and a battery that will start the truck for the return trip. A windshield and a valid registration sticker would be nice, but not essential. Done. I've actually seen that combo be pretty hard to round up in the desert in the middle of the night, but mostly I just threw that in as a study of the kind of stuff logistics people have to think about. Heh.

Here's the coordination part: if folks wanta drink, they gotta pay.

A collection is taken up. The driver, with a coupla helpers and a pocketful of cash, wobbles off into the night. The beer run is on.

Some folks won't have much money and some folks will have plenty. Everybody wants something different from the store, but that's just too damn bad. There will be beer and soda and ice, brand names be damned, whatever the store has. And one box of diapers or Depends (I never quite understood the 'Depends' part when I was younger. I do now!) The driver will get what he can get, which will be plenty even if not too much, and everybody will get something to slake their thirst and keep the party going. Some folks will get more than they paid for and some will get less than they paid for. Some folks will contribute money and not need or expect anything, and some won't kick in anything unless they are made to, but will expect a full share or more, and they will be the ones who bitch the loudest if they don't get exactly what they want. There are also people who brought more beer than they could possibly consume and won't share with others and will still want some of the proceeds of the beer run. Such is the nature of life and people.

The point of the beer run is to do the most good for the most people. There are always going to be folks on all the fringes and we have to take care of them, but the point of the exercise is directed squarely at the middle: you pay, you get.

Thank you for wading through this and here's my point about single payer:

Everybody kicks in. Everybody gets health care. The less fuss about who gets the money and who pays it out, the better.

One other thing - I hesitate to use the phrase "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need", but nobody in their right mind would call a motorcyclists' beer run socialism! Might be fun ta watch if they did!

Health Care Showdown

Paul Krugman

[...]...voters are ready for major change.

The question now is whether we will nonetheless fail to get that change, because a handful of Democratic senators are still determined to party like it’s 1993.

And yes, I mean Democratic senators. The Republicans, with a few possible exceptions, have decided to do all they can to make the Obama administration a failure. Their role in the health care debate is purely that of spoilers who keep shouting the old slogans — Government-run health care! Socialism! Europe! — hoping that someone still cares.

Whatever may be motivating these Democrats, they don’t seem able to explain their reasons in public.

Thus Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska initially declared that the public option — which, remember, has overwhelming popular support — was a “deal-breaker.” Why? Because he didn’t think private insurers could compete: “At the end of the day, the public plan wins the day.” Um, isn’t the purpose of health care reform to protect American citizens, not insurance companies?

If politicians were honest, which of course most of them cannot be or their house of cards would collapse in favor of having more truly public-spirited people in office, the answer would be, "Of course not! It's all about obscene profit. It's the American way.". They don't dare, so they talk about 'unfair competition' as opposed to no competition which is the way it is now, ever has been, and must stay as far as they are concerned. If there is, and there must be, a 'public option' that offers quality health care at an affordable price, Americans will jump on it like a duck on a Junebug and poof! goes the health 'insurance' monopoly out of business and good riddance to them.

Big Insh knows that the public option is the precursor of civilized single payer health care and thus their death knell and it scares the livin' shit out of 'em.

They want those 46,000,000 mandatory new customers too. We as taxpayers will be paying for those who can't afford it as well as for ourselves. Big Insh doesn't care as long as they get the money.

And Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota offers a perfectly circular argument: we can’t have the public option, because if we do, health care reform won’t get the votes of senators like him. “In a 60-vote environment,” he says (implicitly rejecting the idea, embraced by President Obama, of bypassing the filibuster if necessary), “you’ve got to attract some Republicans as well as holding virtually all the Democrats together, and that, I don’t believe, is possible with a pure public option.”

Honestly, I don’t know what these Democrats are trying to achieve. Yes, some of the balking senators receive large campaign contributions from the medical-industrial complex — but who in politics doesn’t? If I had to guess, I’d say that what’s really going on is that relatively conservative Democrats still cling to the old dream of becoming kingmakers, of recreating the bipartisan center that used to run America.

But this fantasy can’t be allowed to stand in the way of giving America the health care reform it needs. This time, the alleged center must not hold.

"Alleged" center is right. In the Senate, there is no Far Left, there's a few Liberals and Progressives, and a huge and unified bought-and-paid-for Far Right aided and abetted by (scare quotes) "Centrist" conservative and bought-and-paid-for Democrats.

The Repugs have defined anybody even slightly to the left of their party line, but still to the right of center, where most of the "Liberals" are, as commie/socialist/European bomb-throwing lefties, and it scares the shit out of 'em.

There is no Center and not likely to be one anytime soon. That would imply bipartisanship and that is not about to happen. Obama and Reid better wise up to that and get the 'public option' in and get it passed any way they can.

They don't care ...

For the last week or so, I've seen many excellent posts on the reasons we actually need health care reform now. The voices calling for a 'public option', at the very least, have debunked every rationale the anti-reform voices have put forth, both eloquently and succinctly. To an objective, thinking person, there is no reason whatsoever for us not to have a government-run plan, whether it be to compete with insurance companies or take over the health care system completely. 85% of us (me included) would gladly pay higher taxes "to ensure everyone had health insurance.*"

Most of us know the current system is unsustainable and will break us. We see the crap from the anti-reform crowd for what it is, a load of bullshit. There have been letter-writing campaigns and petitions that should (in any other free and democratic nation beside America) make our elected representatives see the peoples' will and act upon it. There is no doubt anymore.

But it won't get done and there's only one reason for it. Money.

In the America of the 21st Century, we have the potential of 50 million lives cut short thanks to the lack of availability of health care (for a variety of reasons, most pertaining to affordability). If it were a contagious disease at the root, you can bet every single resource of the U.S. government would be brought to bear to find the cure or vaccine, regardless of cost. Congresspeople and Senators would be pushing each other out of the way to proclaim they supported the efforts to contain the disease and save as many lives as they could. You'd see true bipartisanship then, you betcha.

Look at the Cold War. The threat from the Supreme Soviet was palpable and we responded with a wave of military spending and innovation that lasted 40 years. Cost? Puh! They had the ability to kill millions of Americans and no cost was too high to counter the threat.

But this isn't about an epidemic or a threat to our sovereignty. It's about the huge conglomerates who make their profits off the suffering of others. Legalized robbery; and those people have poured large amounts of money into the lobbying efforts directed at the members of Congress. It's about protecting the people who ultimately got them elected and keep them there. It's certainly not about the millions of Americans who can't afford health insurance and the millions more who forsake care in the face of unaffordable co-payments. They don't care about us. What they do care about is protecting the gravy train, the ready source of cash whenever they need it.

Did you listen to the Sunday shows yesterday? Did you hear the excuses put forth by the anti-reform puppets? They sound as lame as the ones I used when I was a kid, blaming the dog for things I did. There is no good reason for us not to have a health care system that works and is not just a welfare program for executives. We are the laughingstock of the civilized world and your representatives do not care. They care for nothing but themselves (who have government-sponsored health care, by the way) and their patrons (who can afford to pay for what they need out-of-pocket).

Don't expect 'change' any time soon.

*Quote thanks to Gord's post.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


A pretty song by a pretty lady with a great set o' pipes.

Sung by Dolores Keane from Caherlestrane (which I think is Gaelic for 'Shit's Creek' - G), County Galway. Beautiful Scottish Love Song composed by a great Scots Poet Dougie MacLean

Dolores Keane ~ Caledonia

Thanks to clarebannerman, whom I believe to be in Ireland, and who worked in the phrase "Loads of frolics, pioneers & alcoholics." Some things are the same everywhere. Her avatar is a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel with glasses. Heh.

On Health Care

NYT/CBS Poll: Wide Support for Government-Run Health Care Plan

Not like Big Med and their pols give a shit.

Happy Father's Day ...

To all you dads out there. We're having Dad-in-law Fixer over for dinner today (been 16 years since my dad passed). Enjoy it while you can, boys, tomorrow it's back to the 'honey-do' list. Heh ...

Peddling ...

As most regulars readers know, I try to keep my book peddling divorced (aside from posting an occasional fan letter that's relevant) from this site so as not to take away from what we do here at the Brain. That said, a lot of people have been bugging me to set up a page to make picking up a copy (or two ... or three ... heh ...) easier (even got an earful about it from John Gall this past week).

So here I engage in a tiny bit of self-promotion. If you're interested please visit our agency site.


Come to think of it, I sorta 'outed' myself, but that's been easy enough to figure out if someone had really wanted to.