Saturday, December 11, 2004

And His Estimates Are Always Wrong Too...

[Note: 10:00: I'm gonna keep this on the top until tomorrow because I want all of our readers to catch it, instead of having it move down the page. - The F-man.]

Go look at this cartoon by Rex Babin of the Sacramento Bee. It's kinda small, so look real close.

What it appears to do, and does quite well I think, is to liken Bush to a really shitty mechanic with his eyes on the prize: a really expensive car (Social Security) to work on and "fix", with the flotsam and jetsam of his previous failures strewing the lot. The car doesn't look very screwed up, does it? Certainly not like it needs a lot of work, and certainly not by this obviously incompetent mechanic (Bush).

If your car needed work, and you had smarts enough to be concerned about your car and your wallet, you'd take one look at this guy's shop and get the Hell out of there and go to a more reputable wrench. If you were slightly less smart, and this clown managed to sweet talk you into letting him work on your car, with a low estimate and glowing promises, you might take leave of your senses and authorize him to do the work. If you ever managed to get the car back (or at least all the pieces of it), you'd certainly never take it back to him, right?

You'd probably have to take the car to a reputable shop with a good track record and pay more to un-fuck it up than you would have had to if you'd gone there first. Plus, you'd have to sue this guy in Small Claims Court to get the money back that you had to pay him to ransom your car out of his clutches. You'd get a judgment, but probably never see a dime. The expense and hassle would be incredible, but you'd have learned your lesson, right?


As we all know, Bush wasn't elected the first time. If we continue the automotive analogy, our system kinda broke down in front of his shop, and he got the job with some smooth moves and the Supremes, by default. Kinda like a mechanic with his own tow truck.

After four years of him wrenchin' on our rig (our country), it ran worse than ever but he was making promises about how fine it would be. We had a chance to get the car back and let someone else work on it, but he kept telling us how good the heater and wipers would work, when the real problem was a rod knock, caused by him not caring (or not knowing how) to put in some oil when we just wanted a tune-up in the first place.

And he conned the Retard Right into re-hiring him to continue doing a job that he has shown those of us in the Reality-Based Community he is either incompetent or unwilling to do, and unwilling to admit that any mistakes have been committed, let alone that he committed them. They gave him carte blanche to do what he will, just like telling a mechanic "Do whatever you want. Cost is no object. We don't care if you know what you're doing or not, we like you better than that other guy". You wouldn't ever give a mechanic that kind of leeway with your car and your money, but the sheep gave it to Bush with our country. Stupid bastards.

Fixer and I are mechanics and proud of our trade and our hard-won experience and skills. We try to treat people right. Maybe it has to do with our "moral values". If a mechanic pulled the kind of shit that Bush has pulled on the American people such as low-balling estimates, tacking on huge sums to the invoice, lied, cheated, and stole, just generally showed that level of incompetence, gave perfectly good parts off your car to his friends and then charged you exorbitant prices for substandard new ones you didn't need and then put them on wrong, padded the labor charge for the "hard work", maybe wrecked the car while driving drunk, that mechanic would be in jail so fast it would make his head spin. Which is where Bush belongs.

Mechanics like the one in the cartoon give regular, competent, hard-working mechanics like me an' Fixer a bad name that we sometimes have to try to overcome with people. We don't deserve it, but a few rotten apples make the whole barrel suspect.

Bush has managed to take a wonderful, respected country, our United States of America, and give it a bad name all over the world, even amongst our friends. I'm sure we can regain their trust and confidence, but it will take many years and a lot of hard work by the next several administrations. That is, if Bush doesn't totally fuck it up, and he just might. We've got a lot of bad apples to get rid of, and they leave a mighty sour taste.

I will close by saying the same thing about Bush that I would about the mechanic in the cartoon: That guy could fuck up a perfectly good junkyard with a rubber hammer.


We look like assholes . . . again. Pravda:

[. . .]

During the first week of talks, over 1,500 delegates from 189 nations put Washington"s officials into the defensive, as Bush administration refuses to ratify the Kyoto protocol. Excuses were not welcomed at the summit and the alternative policies exposed by the US delegation were considered not sufficient.

Environmentalists have also attacked US claims that America is doing as much to curb global warming as any other nation that signed the Kyoto deal. They say that the new researches with hydrogen fuel cells will not bring positive results in 20 or 30 years. Moreover, they say the hydrogen often comes from fossil fuel sources, especially coal, which would further increase gas emissions. [my emphasis]

[. . .]

The fact that Bush & Co. have turned their backs on the Kyoto Accord is disgraceful. We are further isolating ourselves in the world community. Eventually, we will be marginalized.

Friday Night On Long Island

Last night I was clicking around the TV guide and came across Insomniac with Dave Attell on Comedy Central. That's a funny show: He goes to different cities around the world and samples the night life. Since the little description said he was gonna be on Long Island, I decided to watch as I actually know some folks who live there.

He started in Amagansett (disclaimer: If I spell some of the place names wrong, fuck it) and his premise was to drink his way back to Manhattan.

He went to bars in North Hampton and Bridgehampton. The other patrons were young and buff, not like him. He bitched about the price of drinks and chatted it up with folks.

Then he went to the Bartender's Academy in Centereach. I kinda wondered what they do with all the drinks they make for practice.

He visited his mom in his hometown of Rockville Center. She's great. She showed his baby pictures and gave him a bath. I'm not kidding. He rode away on a bicycle.

Then he made a phone call from the "Big Duck" that went something like, "Yeah, a forty-foot tall duck. No, I'm not drunk".

He had cocktails in Freeport (oysters, too), Jamaica, and Coney Island. The bar patrons were starting to get a little more diverse.

The best part was a ride in a street sweeper (mechanized broom) down Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn. The driver was a really jovial black lady who told him stories that cracked me up.

Then he scampered across a bridge to Manhattan and returned to his crib where the guy who had been sitting it for him had had a wild birthday party and there were beer cans, overflowing ashtrays and general post-bash litter.

He traveled by car, bicycle, Harley-Davidson, shuttle, thumb, a fishing boat and the sweeper.

Good show. Lotta action in a half hour.

I wouldn't have cared one way or the other about Long Island if hadn't been for Fixer. See, this blogging is educational as well as fun and therapeutic. My horizons have been broadened and that's a good thing.


That's the White House word du jour when talking about Social Security. Froomkin:

If you only heard a sound bite or two from President Bush's brief comments after a meeting with the Social Security Trustees yesterday, you really missed the bruising lack of subtlety with which he -- and then his spokesman -- pounded away at this one message.

[. . .]

"Therefore, the question is, does this country have the will to address the problem. I think it must. I think we have a responsibility to solve problems before they become acute. . . . [W]e must be willing to address this problem. . . . [T]he time is ready for us to solve this problem. . . . I think what's really important in the discussions is to understand the size of the problem. . . . What's important, Steve, is before we begin any discussion is to understand the scope of the problem. And that's why these trustees are vital in helping educate the American people, and Congress, as to the size of the problem. And I will not prejudge any solution. I think it's very important for the first step to be a common understanding of the size of the problem. . . .

[. . .]

So I guess there's a problem? Not according to Atrios:

[. . .]

No, it is not "headed towards bankruptcy." At worst, if zero changes are made andpessimistic growth assumptions come true, at some point around 2045 (depending on which estimate), the system is predicted to only be able to pay out 75% of promised benefits. Of course, that 75% of promised benefits is still going to be equal to or higher in real terms than current benefit levels. So, while there would have to be a drop in payouts if no changes at all were made in the system, that drop would still lead to benefit levels roughly equal to or even greater than current benefit levels. And, then, those affordable payouts would continue to grow...

Every Democrat should be on TV tomorrow saying some version of "The president is lying to the American people about this vital program..."

This is the same thing he did during the 2000 campaign, when the Repubs began talking down the economy. Be prepared for a shitstorm of 'problems' with Social Security and that Bush's plan is the only plan. Sorta like Iraq. More lies, more bullshit. Assholes.

Y'all Shalt Not...

Go read "Ten Commandments Eggsplained In Footnotes" at The Wandering Hillbilly. Thanks, cleek.

Fox & Henhouse trick

Via Cookie Jill, guest blogging for Skippy:

WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency issued new voluntary guidelines Thursday that rely on industry to secure drinking water and wastewater treatment plants against attack.

The guidelines for improving designs and operations were written by industry groups with EPA financing. The guidance urges improved water security designs and operations, and greater use of online monitoring to protect against the potential misuse of contaminants. [my emphasis]

[. . .]


Are Jill and I the only ones who consider this somewhat . . . er . . . FUCKED.

Weekend reading

Chapter 4 of Empires is up over at creativity . . .

And for the 2nd weekend in a row, the Cattle Dog will not be making an appearance. The insurance company has yet to agree to replace my main computer/server so I still am working off my laptop. Hopefully the situation will be completely resolved this week.


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- One week after President Bush's nominated him to be secretary of homeland security, former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik withdrew from consideration Friday night after discovering a former household employee had a questionable immigration status.

Kerik said in a news release the immigration problem with the former housekeeper and nanny was discovered while he was completing documents required for his Senate confirmation.

He said he also learned "that for a period of time during such employment, required tax payments and related filings had not been made."

[. . .]

And this shit came out before they even looked through his NYPD records. Kerik had too many skeletons, probably a couple brutality complaints if my guess is right. We should consider this a victory for our side, and we should feel safer that this unqualified 'bully boy' will not be running Homeland Security.

Update: 08:15:

Steve Gillard has more.

Update: 09:55:

Told ya

Friday, December 10, 2004

The P.U.-litzer Prizes For 2004

On a lighter note, yet incisive, go read this at AlterNet.
The P.U.-litzer Prizes were established a dozen years ago to provide special recognition for truly smelly media performances.

Go read 'em. You may or may not agree with 'em, so feel free to make up your own.

Rumsfeld vs. the American Soldier

More on Rumbo from Fred Kaplan at Slate. As far as I am concerned, the more journalists, pundits, retired military talking heads, bloggers, anybody and everybody, milk this story, the better. This piece relates Rumsfeld to Bush's plans for his second term (his first elected term, of course).
Donald Rumsfeld gave every grunt in the Army a good reason to hate him today.

Like they didn't already. Lights on in yer head, media!
Such a leader of men.

Rumsfeld's answer was, first, unforgivably glib, reminiscent of his shrugged line about the looting in the days after Saddam's fall ("Stuff happens"), but more shocking because here he was addressing American soldiers who are still fighting and dying, 20 months after Baghdad's fall, as a result of Rumsfeld's decisions.

More than that, his answer was wrong. If you're attacked by surprise, you go to war with the army you have. But if you've planned the war a year in advance and you initiate the attack, you have the opportunity—and obligation—to equip your soldiers with what they'll need. Yes, some soldiers will get killed no matter the precautions, but the idea is to heighten their odds—or at least not diminish them—as they're thrust into battle.

So here stands the secretary of defense, long and widely despised by officers for rejecting their advice before the war and now openly criticized by the grunts for failing to give them proper cover as the war rages on all around them.

And yet Rumsfeld is the one Cabinet secretary who has received explicit assurances that he will keep his job, with President Bush's full confidence, into the second term.

Rumsfeld has not merely made mistakes, he has made fatal mistakes. Defense secretaries don't decide whether to go to war, but they do decide how to fight the war once it begins. Even most supporters of the war in Iraq acknowledge that Rumsfeld has fought it in a disastrous manner. The litany of errors has been recited many times—distorting prewar intelligence about weapons of mass destruction, whittling down troop levels that the Army chiefs recommended for postwar stability, torpedoing State Department plans for occupation, alienating traditional allies whose assistance is now desperately needed, covering up crimes at Abu Ghraib.

Rumsfeld's survival—which, given Colin Powell's dismissal, amounts to triumph—tells the newcomers that to get along they must go along; that they're working not in a government but in an echo chamber.

I hope this whole "Hillbilly Armor" debacle will be one of the things that alerts the stupid, insensitive, selfish, brain-dead, retarded 51% that voted these lizards into power that they may have made just the teensiest little mistake in doing so. Is it their wonderful "moral values" that allow American Servicemen to go into harm's way without proper equipment, however wrong the mission was to begin with, when the whole deal was in the works for four fucking years?

There's gotta be something that will wake these people up to the fact that they elected a man who is killing their sons and daughters for no good reason other than neo-con ideology, a Napoleon complex, and little-dick dreams of empire. Also that the people he employs in these perverted aims are criminal fucking idiots!

And then there are the lies

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Armor Holdings Inc., the sole supplier of protective plates for the Humvee military vehicles used in Iraq, said it could increase output by as much as 22 percent per month with no investment and is awaiting an order from the Army.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday the Army was working as fast as it can and supply is dictated by ``a matter of physics, not a matter of money.''

Jacksonville, Florida-based Armor Holdings last month told the Army it could add armor to as many as 550 of the trucks a month, up from 450 vehicles now, Robert Mecredy, president of the company's aerospace and defense group said in a telephone interview today.

``We're prepared to build 50 to 100 vehicles more per month,'' Mecredy said in the interview. ``I've told the customer that and I stand ready to do that.'' [my emphasis]

[. . .]

via The American Street.

So what is it? Why aren't we 'up-armoring' faster? Why hasn't Rummy even put in a request for them to step up production? Ya know, during WW2, the entire nation mobilized to meet the demand for equipment. When you're in dire straits, and you have the opportunity to alleviate the problem, why don't you take it? What the fuck is going on? Do Bush and Rummy actually want to win this thing or not?

Strength and Readiness

This is one of the side effects of seeing our troops as only cannon fodder and deck apes. As Gordon noted below here and here, potential recruits and officer candidates see what's going on and they are opting to remain in the private sector. Via Kos:

The Army Reserve is facing an extreme shortage of company officers, a situation aggravated by a surge in resignation requests.

The shortage — primarily of captains — has seriously reduced the capabilities of the Reserve, and continued losses will further reduce the readiness of "an already depleted military force," according to an Army briefing document submitted last month to Congress.

Army Reserve resignation requests have jumped from just 15 in 2001 to more than 370 during a 12-month period ending in September. To preserve its leadership ranks, the Reserve increasingly has rejected resignation requests, forcing some officers to stay on even after they have fulfilled their initial eight-year service requirement.

[. . .]


These turds in Washington don't get it. Like I always say, amateurs talk strategy and tactics, experts talk logistics. This proves the amateurs in the White House didn't, and still don't, get it. It's obvious Rummy has no idea of what he's looking at when he reads troop strength charts, not planning for losses due to casualties and attritition. Why do you think they're using 'Stop-loss' so liberally? It's obvious when looking at the whole 'up-armor' debacle.

It's also obvious the Rummy never considered the possibility of the protracted guerilla war that we're bogged down with now. When you're planning an operation, you hope for the best, but plan for the worst, just in case the worst-case scenario actually does come to pass. I'd be willing to bet the farm that 'worst-case' in Iraq was never even considered. Fucking amateurs, fucking assholes, fucking murderers.

Our works

Via P.O.'d Patricia over at Blondie's. As regulars know, I bitch all the time about the little-dick Chickenhawks who've never been in combat who yell loudest for war. I always say that people have no idea what war is about and if they did know, they would use war as a last resort. Well, ladies and gentlemen, here's your chance. War, uncensored and in living color. Hope all you Jesuslanders are happy, for this is what you've wrought, and on 2 Nov, you voted for it to continue.

Since these things were done in our name, I feel we should see what we have done.
Looking at these photos gave me the same feeling I had the day we committed Shock and Awe in Iraq. These are photos of the dead in Fallujah. Dahr Jamail sent an email today and linked to these photos. If you go and view all seven pages be prepared to see the most awful of deaths. There are bodies that have been partially eaten by dogs. There are pictures that once in your head will never leave you.

I've seen this first hand, and I've smelled bodies rotting in the sun. I'll never forget it.

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Oceano Dunes And Then Some

This is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. There's nothing quite like it this side of the Sahara. I never miss the chance to go there. When I ran across this article in the LATimes, I just had to share.
Is it the scattered scrub and sand verbena that pack them in? The shorebirds? The waves? Nah. You could argue that it's the dunes, which roll for thousands of acres, rising west of Guadalupe, subsiding south of Pismo Beach — but that's not quite it, either. The magic of Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is this: In the 1,100 or so miles that make up California's coastline, this is the last public land where you can not only camp on the beach but drive on it. In fact, you have to drive on it.

Once you've paid at the kiosk, you drop off the blacktop, veer south and splash through Arroyo Grande Creek as it trickles to sea. For 3 1/2 miles, the broad, hard-packed beach is a wide-open territory. So long as you steer clear of the webbing fences along the edge of the dunes, you can drive where you dare on soft or wet sand, bearing in mind that rangers have been enforcing the 15-mph beach speed limit more often lately.

At Oceano, Sierra Clubbers, off-roaders and state agencies have been tussling over how much space to leave for the threatened western snowy plover and the endangered California least tern. As it stands, the off-roaders have 3,600 acres of dunes and beach to play on, with up to 1,720 off-road toys at a time. From March 1 through Sept. 30, rangers close some nesting areas.

The ironical part is that the least terns' favorite meal is snowy plover eggs and little snowy plovers. They won't let you past the kiosk with dogs in the car during the season.
One day in 10 or 20 years, the state or some judge will probably banish motorized vehicles from this beach, and the planet will be better off. But California culture, whatever that is, will be a little poorer.

I hope I'm dead and gone by then. If you crave silence and remoteness, just go into the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes entrance to the south. No vehicles are allowed on the beach there, and Vandenberg Air Force Base abuts the dunes just south of Point Sal (Sal is Spanish for "get out"!).

My wife is from Arroyo Grande, a couple of miles inland from Oceano, so I spend quite a bit of time in the area when we visit her family. Guadalupe is a historical little farm community in the Santa Maria Valley and has more Mexican restaurants than you can shake a stick at. Oceano has The Great American Melodrama which always has a good family-type stage show. Pismo Beach has surfing, great sea food, a bitchin' pier, and Harry's Bar for the drinkin', dopin', an' fightin' crowd. Tough cops, too.

A mile north of Pismo is Avila Beach, one of the last stereotypical California beach towns, which got torn down a couple of years ago to clean up a Unocal plume under the town and beach that had been building up for eighty years. California is a "Union" state. Union Oil and Union Pacific. They rebuilt the town, but it lost its old-time seaside charm and will never be the same again.

Right next to Avila are Port San Luis with a neat pier and Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Leave it to Whitey, smarter and more practical than the ignorant natives, to build a nuke on top of an earthquake fault where the Chumash Indians wouldn't go and the Spanish named "Devil's Canyon".

If you get the notion that I like the Central Coast, you're awake. Now that I've linked my ass off for you to enjoy, go there and see what I made all the fuss about. I barely scratched the surface. Go explore.

Homeless Iraq vets showing up at shelters

From UPI via the WaTimes:
U.S. veterans from the war in Iraq are beginning to show up at homeless shelters around the country, and advocates fear they are the leading edge of a new generation of homeless vets not seen since the Vietnam era.

Arellano said he felt pushed out of the military too quickly after getting back from Iraq without medical attention he needed for his hand -- and as he would later learn, his mind.

"It was more of a rush. They put us in a warehouse for a while. They treated us like cattle," Arellano said about how the military treated him on his return to the United States.

"It is all about numbers. Instead of getting quality care, they were trying to get everybody demobilized during a certain time frame. If you had a problem, they said, 'Let the (Department of Veterans Affairs) take care of it.'"

The Pentagon has acknowledged some early problems and delays in treating soldiers returning from Iraq but says the situation has been fixed.

Nearly 300,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and almost half served during the Vietnam era, according to the Homeless Veterans coalition, a consortium of community-based homeless-veteran service providers. While some experts have questioned the degree to which mental trauma from combat causes homelessness, a large number of veterans live with the long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, according to the coalition.

Some homeless-veteran advocates fear that similar combat experiences in Vietnam and Iraq mean that these first few homeless veterans from Iraq are the crest of a wave.

Advocates said seeing homeless veterans from Iraq should cause alarm. Around one-fourth of all homeless Americans are veterans, and more than 75 percent of them have some sort of mental or substance abuse problem, often PTSD, according to the Homeless Veterans coalition.

More troubling, experts said, is that mental problems are emerging as a major casualty cluster, particularly from the war in Iraq where the enemy is basically everywhere and blends in with the civilian population, and death can come from any direction at any time.

"You probably have close to 10 times the access points for service than you did 30 years ago," Dougherty said. "We may be catching a lot of these folks who are coming back with mental illness or substance abuse" before they become homeless in the first place. Dougherty said the VA serves around 100,000 homeless veterans each year.

But Boone's group says that nearly 500,000 veterans are homeless at some point in any given year, so the VA is only serving 20 percent of them.

This ongoing lack of concern for veterans totally pisses me off.

In a related story which I here lift in toto from SouthKnoxBubba:
Anthony Principi is quitting his post as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. I feel for the guy. He's a decorated Vietnam combat vet (he was in the Navy and commanded a River Patrol Unit on the Mekong Delta while Bush was protecting that Alabama mail room from the Viet Cong Air Force, which sounds familiar for some reason) who I think was trying to make the best of a difficult political situation.

Or, as he put it when he was asked back in June of 2003 if he would stay on for a second Bush term: " many of my colleagues, we all grow tired, in the sense of, not tired of our work, but tired of what we're called upon to do."

I hope Principi has the balls to tell us why the VA wasn't ready for this shit. I know it's not good to pray for bad things to happen, but I pray that Bush&Co. don't have to wait 'til they croak to get their just rewards. I want to see it.

Discovery Channel To Become Military Channel

I'm by no means a war lover, but I will cop to being an amateur military historian, so this is big news. I love the Discovery Channel and I hope this change makes it even better. From Bill Berkowitz in Working For Change:
Scheduled to debut on January 10, the Military Channel will lead with two seemingly non-controversial premieres: "Delta Company," a two-hour special "chronicl[ing] the route taken by the Delta Company's 1st Tank Battalion last year as it pushed toward Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom," and "Task Force Red Dog," an hour-long special about the Marine Corps reservists "who were called on to establish a base deep in the mountains of Afghanistan as the U.S. military launched its hunt for Osama bin Laden and Taliban leaders in late 2001. "

Maybe this'll help my carpal tunnel syndrome clicker finger.

Buying in Bulk

Kevin Doughten in the NYTimes has a cool take on Christmas shopping in light of the current brouhaha about steroids.
How did this happen? It was a week before Black Friday 2002, and I was talking to the guy at the Macy's information kiosk about wanting to take my Christmas shopping to the next level. He said I should meet him in the parking lot after closing, and when I did, he gave me a small brown bottle labeled "Santa's Little Helper." Mix in a teaspoonful with my eggnog every night, he told me, and before long I'd be the shopper rushing home with the most treasures.

Sure enough, a week later I could carry a stack of flat-screen TV's the quarter-mile to the registers without breaking a sweat. I could shop from one end of the mall to the other in six minutes flat, including a break for a Cinnabon. From that day on, I was hooked.

Right now the last thing this season needs is another black eye. But the public should also know that I'm not the only one on the juice. I won't name names, but I would strongly suggest that department stores institute random drug tests, especially at the express checkout line.

For my part, I will accept my impending ban from the mall through 2007. Until then, I will be doing all my holiday shopping in a closely monitored online environment, where I can do no more harm to the season I love so much. That said, those of you still using dialup better upgrade now, or else you'll definitely be eating my high-speed D.S.L. Web dust during the post-holiday sales.

Funnier'n shit. Go read it and have some fun.

Lost In A Masquerade

As long as we're on about Rumsfeld, I thought Maureen Dowd had some good points in her Op-Ed in the NYTimes.
Hoooo-rah! Rummy finally got called on the carpet.

Not by the president, of course, but by troops fighting in Iraq. Some of them are finally fed up enough to rumble about his back-door draft and failure to provide them with the proper armor for their Humvees, leaving them scrambling to improvise with what they call "hillbilly armor." (my emphasis)

Rummy, however, did not hesitate to give the back of his hand to soldiers about to go risk their lives someplace he didn't trouble to go.

He treated Thomas Wilson - the gutsy guardsman from Tennessee who asked why soldiers had "to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles, and why don't we have those resources readily available to us?" - as if he were a pesky Pentagon reporter. The defense chief used the same coldly cantankerous tone and squint he displays in press briefings, an attitude that long ago wore thin. He did everything but slap the kid in the hospital bed.

In one of his glib "Nothing's perfect," "Freedom's untidy" and "Stuff happens" maxims, Rummy told the soldier: "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have."

It wouldn't make a good Army slogan, and it was a lousy answer, especially when our kids are getting blown up every day in a war ginned up on administration lies. Remember when the president promised in the campaign that the troops would have all the body armor they needed?

How did this dangerous chucklehead keep his job? He must have argued that because of the president's re-election campaign, the military was constrained from doing what it is trained to do, to flatten Falluja and other insurgent strongholds. He must have told W. he deserved a chance to try again after the election.

He had a willing audience. W. likes officials who feed him swaggering fictions instead of uncomfortable facts.

The president loves dressing up to play soldier. To rally Camp Pendleton marines facing extended deployments in Iraq, he got gussied up in an Ike D-Day-style jacket, with epaulets and a big presidential seal on one lapel and his name and "Commander in Chief" on the other.

Numbskull Bush actually told the Marines that, I paraphrase, "This war won't end with a surrender on the deck of a battleship". He must not remember the aircraft carrier, "Mission Accomplished", or the groovy flight suit. What an arrogant asshole. His memory's about as long as his dick.
When he really had a chance to put on a uniform and go someplace where the enemy was invisible and there was no exit strategy and our government was not leveling with us about how bad it was, W. wasn't so high on the idea. But now that it's just a masquerade - giving a morale boost to troops heading off someplace where the enemy's invisible and there's no exit strategy and the government's not leveling with us about how bad it is - hey, man, it's cool.

I love that gal. Brains and beauty! Nice rack, too.

In From The Cold

I read this article in the December 13 Time magazine. After reading Fixer's post (or scroll down a teeny bit) on deserters, I thought it might be of interest. It describes the 40-year nightmare of Charles Jenkins who deserted to North Korea in 1965 rather than go to Vietnam, and his recent return.
As it turned out, Jenkins' plan wasn't much of a plan. He figured he would cross into North Korea and then try to find a way to Russia, where he would seek some form of diplomatic deportation back to the U.S. and turn himself in. As he made his way toward the border, he tied a white T shirt over the muzzle of his M-14 rifle and traipsed for several hours through the bitter cold, stepping lightly so as not to trip a land mine. Not long after dawn, Jenkins came upon a 10-ft.-high fence. A North Korean soldier spotted him, alerted his comrades, and they whisked Jenkins inside. The American says he realized almost immediately that he had made a mistake (my emphasis).

No shit, dipstick! What the Hell were you thinkin'? Must've been the goju (very high-alcohol-content Korean rice liquor).
The Americans even coined a word for doing things without permission in this land of the unfree: "freedalisms." On one occasion, the four swam across a river to pilfer a bag of coal tar from a government construction site to repair their (illegal) fishing boat. "To steal something from the North Korean government is immediately punishable by death," Jenkins said during his court-martial. "I think we all secretly wished we would be caught." Another time, they stumbled upon an array of microphones in the attic of their house and blackmailed their leader (who feared he would suffer if his superiors learned that the bugging had been exposed) into taking one of them into town to buy wine. On yet another occasion, Parrish sneaked out of the house one night to go looking for a girl he had a crush on. But Jenkins, as a practical joke, had given him a bogus address, and Parrish wandered the streets aimlessly for hours. He ultimately got picked up in central Pyongyang by police, who suspected he was meeting a spy contact; the leader had to get him out of jail.

Despite the Americans' penchant for freedalisms, the North Koreans were, after seven years, evidently pleased with their behavior and apparent indoctrination. In 1972, the four received North Korean citizenship ("Whether we wanted it or not," says Jenkins) and were ordered to start teaching English at a military school in Pyongyang, run by the party's Reconnaissance Bureau. Jenkins taught three 90-minute classes a day, 10 to 15 days a month. There were about 30 students in each class. "They wanted us to teach them American pronunciation," he says, a prospect that seems amusing considering many Americans would have trouble deciphering Jenkins' thick accent.

In 1985 he was fired for good, he says with a laugh, when the Koreans realized that his English was actually having a negative impact on the students' skills.

The article goes on about his marriage to a kidnapped Japanese woman, his children, life in the Hermit Kingdom, and his eventual return to Japan, where he turned himself in to the Army.
For now, the Jenkins family lives in standard-issue enlisted-family housing in Camp Zama. When Jenkins is officially discharged from active duty and released from the U.S. base, he plans to settle down in his wife's hometown on Japan's Sado Island. He wants to work, and the local mayor's office has said it will try to help him find a job, although it's unclear what work Jenkins could do, especially since he doesn't speak Japanese. His wife already works at city hall and receives a government stipend every month in a program benefiting North Korean kidnapping victims. At some point Jenkins also wants to visit North Carolina to see family members, including his aging mother. Asked how his daughters are faring, Jenkins concedes that he isn't sure. "I just spent 25 days in jail. I haven't really gotten a chance to talk to them that much yet. But I think they will be all right." He starts to sob. "I made a big mistake of my life, but getting my daughters out of there, that was one right thing I did."

This is kind of a long article but well worth a read, in my opinion. It offers a rare glimpse of day-to-day life in North Korea. It was no picnic, to be sure.

I think the point is made that what took Mr. Jenkins a few minutes to do, took 40 years to undo and it ain't over yet and probably never will be. The message to today's deserters, whether driven by conscience or cowardice, is: Act in haste, Repent at leisure.

And perhaps North Korea may not be the wisest choice of places to seek sanctuary!

Please, Sir, May I Have Some Armor?

This editorial in today's NYTimes is about Rumbo's visit to the troops in Kuwait.
We're used to hearing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld answer questions about things that went wrong in Iraq by saying they went right. When he does that to reporters, it's annoying. When he does it to troops risking their lives in his failed test of bargain-basement warfare, it's outrageous.

Yesterday, Mr. Rumsfeld told soldiers at a staging area in Kuwait to ignore "the doubters" who say the escalating war is not going well. Then he invited the troops, some of them headed to their second combat tours, to ask him "tough questions." They evidently thought he meant it.

A National Guard scout from Tennessee asked why there was still an equipment shortage that forced units to scrounge for "hillbilly armor": "pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that's already been shot up, dropped, busted." When the cheering died down, Mr. Rumsfeld said that, really, there was plenty of armor and in any case, "all the armor in the world" might not save you from a roadside bomb.

"You go to war with the Army you have," Mr. Rumsfeld fumed, "not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." He may have forgotten that the timetable for invading Iraq was dictated by politics, not military necessity. The armor shortage was also an outgrowth of his zeal to prove that a country can be invaded and occupied by a small and lightly armed force. A spokesman for the questioner's unit told reporters that 95 percent of its 300 trucks were not sufficiently armored.

Later, a woman said she and her husband "joined a volunteer army" but were serving extra tours under the "stop loss" program, a forced-duty clause in military contracts. "The 'stop loss' has been used by the military for years and years and years," Mr. Rumsfeld lectured. "It's all well understood when someone volunteers to join the service."

Mr. Rumsfeld talks a lot about supporting the troops. We wish that someone powerful would explain to him that doing so includes treating them with respect and telling them the truth.

Nice sentiment, but fat chance. Telling the truth, and respect for the troops and the citizenry in general, is not on this administration's agenda as it would be ideologically counter-productive. I'm surprised the troops didn't tear the rat bastard to shreds. Or offer him a leisurely tour of Baghdad in a down-armored Humvee.

Who knew?

Via WTF:

(CBS) The Pentagon says more than 5,500 servicemen have deserted since the war started in Iraq.

[. . .]

5500 deserters. I figured a bunch jumped ship, but that's a sizable number. I wonder why we don't hear about this from the SCLM? Ha!

And for all of Gordon's fans:

Haven't been posting for several reasons, not the least of which are: a) two snowstorms in a row, and b) the augur-drive gear teeth laying on my garage floor. This cold (sniffles, not temp) doesn't help much, either. Back soon, if pee-new-moan-ya don't get me.

Hope ya feel better soon, pal.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

This kills me

Via Atrios from a Guardsman in Iraq:

[. . .]

When he enlisted, he explained, the major emphasis of the recruiter was on the college education. Nothing was said about the possibility of war, let alone deployment in an optional pre-emptive action halfway around the world.

He was assigned to traveling up and down the highways to locate roadside bombs. It was a dangerous mission and the equipment was inadequate. Instead of an armored vehicle, he was assigned a heavy gravel truck insulated with boxes of sand. Not only was he in constant danger of running over bombs but he was a ready target for snipers along the road.

"I told my family and friends nothing about what I do," he wrote. "I don't want to worry them because to me that is the worst part - having loved ones worried about us."

When he was eligible to take leave, he declined. "We knew everyone wasn't going to get leave so I figured I was young with no girlfriend or real need to go home," he explained. "So I volunteered not to go so someone else would have the opportunity."

[. . .]


During six years on active duty and two in the Active Reserves, I worked with my share of Guard weenies. They were some of the best trained and highly motivated troops I've had the honor to serve with. Most notably, an element of 11th Special Forces that had us chasing shadows for a week. Thing is, the Guard's role is doing the bidding of the governor of their respective states. They are there to keep the peace in cases of civil unrest, aid their neighbors during natural disasters, and augment the regular active duty forces in case they are needed.

The way they are being used in Iraq hampers them from accomplishing their two primary missions. I'm sure none of the Guardsmen would object to being activated to protect our homeland from attack, but these people have jobs. They have lives and budgets that don't allow for them to be placed on active duty for a year or more. It's not what they signed on for.

Not only are Guardsmen's lives being wasted, but lives are being destroyed here. They are committed to help their fellow Americans, but they sure as hell didn't agree to go bankrupt, sure as hell didn't plan to live on a GI salary for years at a time. Think about this. If you're making a hundred grand a year, with 2 kids and a wife, and a mortgage and taxes to match, how do you keep your head above water when you're suddenly making 28 thou a year?

This is unconscionable what they're doing to these people and their families, all for a misbegotten war under an inept leadership. Bush and his cabinet should be tried for war crimes.

Fuck . . . er, support the troops

From Glen at A Brooklyn Bridge:

[. . .]

Dumbsfeld's remark that the Army is "pushing manufacturers of vehicle armor to produce it as fast as humanly possible," of course, is a large crock of grade Z fertilizer. The administration was planning this war (if I can use the term) a year before shock and awe. That was the time to place the orders, moron. And by the way, just why is it that Dumbsfeld can't get things like sufficient supplies of modern body armor, but the soldiers' and Marines' and reservists' families can?

[. . .]

Good question, pal.


Yes, I'm a Godless, Left-Wing, Jesus-hating, baby-killing, Commie-pinko. Well, not really, but when Conservatives call me that, I take it as a compliment. Means I'm doing my job.

But this political correctness is going too far on our side. To wit:

MAPLEWOOD, N.J., Dec. 7, 2004 — Members of the Columbia High School brass ensemble were not allowed to play Christmas carols at their holiday concert this year — not even instrumental versions.

At a school board meeting Monday night, parents and students alike expressed their outrage.

[. . .]

Look, it's fucking Christmas. If we celebrate the holiday nationally (i.e. get a government-mandated day off) we can't outlaw everything connected to it. Christ belongs in Christmas. Christmas is about the birth of Christ. Hello, McFly! If you're not gonna allow the songs that were written for the holiday then don't celebrate the holiday in an official capacity. This is what pissed me off most about Dems, Liberals, and Progressives way back in the days when I was a Republican.

Like I tell people. God and I made a deal a long time ago. I'd stay out of His way if He'd stay out of mine. It's worked out well for both of us so far. You won't catch me in church, and those who try to preach to me get put on their ass, but Jesus H. Christ, let's get over this stupid PC-ness. If you don't want to celebrate Christmas, and the reasons for it, then don't recognize it as an official holiday. Sorta what we do to the Jews and their holidays. Change the name to Consumption Day, or Materialism Eve, or some shit like that. But if you're gonna celebrate Christmas, you gotta allow Christmas songs. Let's save the argument for separation of church and state for the crazy wingnuts like Judge Roy Moore and his ilk, who would like to force us all to accept their version of Christianity.

Get over yourselves and fight the fights that need fighting, not this stupid shit.

Update: 15:35:

And the other side of the coin.

Note: I had the link wrong. Just corrected it.

The stench of hypocrisy 2

From the White House website via Atrios:

[. . .]

Overall, 94 million Americans will have a lower tax bill next year, including 70 million women and 38 million families with children. The money they keep will make it easier to save for their retirement, or their children's education, invest in a home or a small business, or pay off credit card debts. One of those families is the Hintz family, from Clive, Iowa. Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)

It's a special day for Mike and Sharla, not because they're with the President or with Chairman Grassley, but because it's their 13th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) Theirs is a typical story. See, last year they received a child tax credit check for $1,600 for their four children. And under all the tax relief we've passed, they saved about $2,800 last year. With this extra money they bought a wood-burning stove to reduce their home heating costs. They made a decision for their family. [my emphasis]

[. . .]

And then we find out:

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A Des Moines youth pastor is charged with sexual exploitation by a counselor.

KCCI learned that the married father of four recently turned himself in to Johnston police.

Rev. Mike Hintz was fired from the First Assembly of God Church, located at 2725 Merle Hay Road, on Oct. 30. Hintz was the youth pastor there for three years.

Police said he started an affair with a 17-year-old woman in the church youth group this spring. [my emphasis]

[. . .]

Yep, good thing you folks got them there moral values. Fucking asshole. This Hintz guy probably was the one preaching loudest about abstinence-only and morality. You know, I don't tell anyone how to live their lives. I don't give a shit what you do, as long as it's with consenting adults, but I can hold my head high and sleep at night, knowing my morals and principles are intact. How about you red-staters? How many of you 'Jesus Conservatives' can say that?

Hell, let me put up a pic of the lowlife turd too:

'Reverend' Hintz
Moral Kommissar

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Ann Coulter explained

From Sadly, No! Ha! Follow the links.

My boy

From AP:

ALBANY, N.Y. - New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, whose investigations of white-collar crime have shaken the nation's financial institutions, said Tuesday he will run for governor in 2006.

[. . .]

All I can say is: Yeah!!!!!! See ya Georgie (Pataki).


Remember that on this day 63 years ago, the worst attack on U.S. soil was perpetrated by the Japanese Empire. Think about those we lost in that war today. Also, 9/11 cannot be equivocated with Pearl Harbor any more, not since we went into Iraq. Where Pearl Harbor was a wakeup call for Americans, alerting them to the tyranny that was spreading across the world, 9/11 has become nothing more than an excuse for Empire.

The War on Terror could have been a noble cause, the way the fight against the Nazis and Japanese was. But Shrub and his minions have diminshed the sacrifice of my fellow New Yorkers, New Jerseyans, and Connecticites. They have used 9/11 to justify any atrocity, veiled as their attempt to make America safer. I'd be willing to bet that the guy aboard Flight 93 who said 'let's roll' is spinning in his grave along with the 3000 others who died that day.


[. . .]

But as things currently stand, on this issue (as well as others like divorce), the Red States have no ground to stand on. Those crazy New Englad liberals are running circles around them in this tangible measure of their residents' "values".

From the Kos Diaries via RUFNKM.

Remember how I put up the chart, just after the election showing the IQ numbers of red staters vs. blue staters? Think there's a correlation? I do. Until the red staters change their worldview, and their educational policies, I will call 'em like I see 'em. They're stupid and they're hypocrites. Don't talk to me about abstinence-only sex education when most of your teenage girls are knocked up before their 20th birthday. Don't talk to me about the sanctity of marriage when your divorce rate is the highest in the nation. Don't talk to me about home schooling when my dog is more educated than you are. And don't talk to me about tax cuts when my tax money is supporting your stupid shit. Just shut the fuck up, you sanctimonious morons.

I mean, come on, look where they get the contestants for The Jerry Springer Show.

Monday, December 6, 2004

The DNC chair

I've been hearing a million names bandied about the Blogosphere lately, this clown or the other for DNC chair. The only one I could support is Howard Dean. The rest of 'em, puh, they suck. And I don't even know if Dean is the best one for the job. The best man for the job doesn't want it. Me.

That's right. Or at least a guy like me. A guy who doesn't want to go back to the same old same old, like we're doing now. Goddammit, it pisses me off.

I hear all this shit. "Oh, we have to come closer to the center." "Oh, we have to meet the Republicans half-way." No we don't, goddammit. What 'cause they won by a margin of 2%, we have to kiss their ass? No, no, no, I don't think so. What I'm proposing, and it's not an original idea by any stretch of the imagination, is more of a parliamentary approach. I want a true Opposition Party.

I want an alternate policy. For every policy the Repubs propose, have our people put out an alternative. When (p)resident Dicknose says he wants to privatize Social Security, come out with a plan to save it. Give the folks an alternative. When Shrub says he has to invade Iraq, show the American people a way to acheive the same ends diplomatically. Jesus H. Christ, we're not going to get any support from the public if we just say "Bush is wrong because he's a dickhead". We need a guy like me at the helm who'll call a spade a spade.

When Bush comes up with stupid shit, come out and say it. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is stupid shit". Or, "ladies and gentlemen, Bush is lying through his teeth and here's why". Call black Republicans what they are, steppinfetchit Uncle Toms who've sold out their principles and their people. If it weren't for the Dems, they'd still be niggas, having to use their own bathrooms, drinking fountains, and sit in the back of the bus. Call the Jesus freaks what they are, stupid. Creationism is illogical and stupid, unless facts and hundreds of years of scientific observation have no meaning for you. There's a reason we call it science, goddammit.

I'm tired of these 'make nice' hacks who think we have to accept anything the Repub talking assholes spit out. It's time to speak to the American people in frank, no-nonsense language. It's time to run on our foundation principles, and it's time for the DNC chair to spell that out clearly to the American people through his leadership.

The Democratic Party is one of inclusion. Everybody's welcome, any color, any enthicity, any sexual orientation, anyone who believes people have the right of determinism over their own bodies. Call the Repubs what they are, racist, bigoted, warmongers, and in the pockets of big business. Call their followers the same thing and show them the alternative. Call the Bush Administration what they are, a bunch of little-dick white men (and yes, I'm including Condi and Colin) who have to compensate by acting like a bunch of teenagers who've just been put in charge of the class when the teacher is out.

Stand for the principles laid down by our Founding Fathers instead of being willing to compromise them. If we stand up to the Repubs instead of chasing their propaganda, people will vote Democratic. If they see a Democratic Party with balls, they'll come around. But the leader of the Party must have a set of brass ones, not a couple dried up raisins. Jesus H. Christ, call the Shrub a lair often and loudly. Stop mincing words.

But the most important thing we have to do is steal a Republican idea. The "Contract with America" of Newt Gingrich infamy. We have to make something up like that. Ol' Oliver Willis is a fine example with his Brand Democrat stuff, but we need more of that, much more, and it has to come from the top of the Party. We need to have cool slogans and repeat 'em until folks are sick of it. The time for this pussy-footing bullshit is over. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Fuck 'em where they breathe.

We gotta do something soon, and appointing a strong, no-nonsense DNC chair is the first step. With good leadership at the top, the troops will come around. They always do.

(And a note to the ladies: When I say 'man' or 'guy' I mean women too. I'm an old guy, leave me alone.)

If Only....

Go read this piece at Axis Of Logic. It'll warm the cockles of your heart. If only.....

Jeff thinks too much

But that's good for you and me. He just got Part 5 of his series on decriminalization up and everybody should take the opportunity to read 'em. Might not agree, but they are thought provoking. Good reading over the past few weeks. Good commentary too, although you'll have to put up with a couple of my smartass remarks. Nothing changes.

Sunday, December 5, 2004


Oh man, this thing is fun. I told you I installed Firefox on my laptop the other day and, though I haven't spent that much time on the web this weekend, I know I'm never going back to Internet Explorer. It's faster, safer, and it doesn't crash. Firefox is the first thing I'm gonna load when I get my new PC. To Melanie at Just a Bump in the Beltway for clueing me in to this outstanding browser:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!

Relative fuckedness

No Texas taxpayer is going to look at relative fuckedness and think this is a good idea. Trust me - I know a few people who recently moved from CA to TX and think their taxes have skyrocketed because of the property tax bills they have to write.

[. . .]

I love that term. From a corrente reader commenting on Bush's new tax code shenanigans. Relatively speaking, Gord, KR, and me are more relatively fucked than most others.

Chew On This

Fixer's been doing a fine job of covering the new Bush-friendly High Command (Cabinet heads) but this one seems to be slipping under the radar a little. From the Center For American Progress. I posted the whole thing 'cause it's fuckin' scary.
Family Farms Under Attack

In a victory for corporate agribusiness and a defeat for family farmers, President Bush nominated Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns to become the next Secretary of Agriculture. Announcing Johanns's nomination yesterday, Bush called the governor "a faithful friend of America's farmers and ranchers." But as governor, Johanns worked persistently to undermine a law, passed by a citizen initiative in 1982, that protects family farmers in Nebraska by banning most corporate agriculture. Johanns used $300,000 from the Bush administration to fund a biased study of the law – called I-300 – produced by a Texas consulting firm. Predictably, the study recommended making it "easier for agribusiness to gobbleup traditional family farm agriculture" in Nebraska. Johanns's study also suggested "more taxpayer financed corporate welfare by 'incenting' the outside corporations that would be gobbling up individual owned farm and rural businesses." As his next step in undermining the law, Johanns pushed a bill in the Nebraska legislature which would "establish a 20-member task force to look at the pros and cons of I-300." (Johanns was to appoint 18 of the 20 members.) The legislature understood the purpose of the task force was "to weaken the state's anti-corporate farm law" and, thankfully, it was defeated. But if Johanns is put in control of federal agriculture policy, his corporate agenda will be much more difficult for the nation's small farmers to overcome.

JOHANNS PROPOSES SCHOOL FUNDING CUTS TO PRESERVE CORPORATE WELFARE: In the face of a multi-million dollar budget shortfall, Johanns adamantly defended the Nebraska's massive corporate welfare program. The state has given away $1.3 billion on the program since 1988 for giant corporations like IBP, ConAgra and Union Pacific. Corporations profited to the tune of $148 million in 2001 alone. Each year, Nebraska spends three times as much on corporate welfare as on the entire University of Nebraska school system. Instead of trimming back corporate giveaways, Johanns "called for 10 percent cuts to higher education and K-12 school aid."

JOHANNS FAVORS LOWER WAGES FOR WORKERS AT SUBSIDIZED COMPANIES: A bill was introduced in the Nebraska legislature that would require workers at companies receiving subsidies from Nebraska to be "paid at least $8.70 per hour if they have health insurance, and $9.57 for those without." Johanns supported an alternative proposal that would pay workers at taxpayer subsidized corporations lower wages, with no increase if the company didn't provide health care.

JOHANNS FAVORS WITHHOLDING MAD COW INFORMATION FROM THE PUBLIC: With Johanns in charge, you'll likely know a lot less about the safety of the food you eat. As governor, Johanns has expressed opposition to the Department of Agriculture's policy of informing the public when the nation's beef supply may be contaminated. Johanns asked the Department of Agriculture to reconsider their policy of announcing when initial tests of cattle show they may be infected with Mad Cow disease, also known as BSE. Johanns's position runs counter to the conclusions of the USDA inspector general, which found the agency isn't doing enough to protect the public from Mad Cow contamination.

JOHANNS AND THE POLITICS OF RELIGIOUS EXCLUSION: Johanns declared May 22, 1999 "March for Jesus Day." Johanns claimed the proclamation did not constitute government preference for a particular religion because he "wouldn't hesitate to sign a proclamation for the Jewish faith or the Hindu faith." But Johanns quickly clarified that he would not issue a proclamation supporting any religion he "personally disagree[d] with."

This guy sounds like a real jewel. If you think at all about the SecAg, think about him while you're eating. Is this the clown you want in charge of your food?


An update on my trials and tribulations. Got 2 new TVs yesterday and tried to get a microwave. I say tried because it takes me less time to buy a car than it did to try to buy this microwave. Not just any microwave, mind you.

It had to be the same model Panasonic Genius that we bought 15 years ago. Needless to say, nobody locally had it, and they all said it would be exorbitant to special-order so the Mrs. goes on the Panasonic website. She finds it and tries to order it online. The website is down. Fine. She calls the help desk who, after keeping her on hold for 23 minutes, basically told her she was an idiot for not being able to figure out the website. I tried it and it didn't work either. Asshole. So she calls another 800-number and gets someone else over at Panasonic. "No, we can't take your order at this number," was the reply. WTF?

My wife is more than ready to part with $800 and you don't want to take it? If it weren't that she is so committed to this Panasonic (it was an excellent unit for 15 years), we would have bought from someone else. Sharp, for instance, who is one of the Mrs.' clients and who I'm sure would have yielded a deep discount.

She finally gets another number to one of their warehouses (in Mississippi). Hallelujah, after close to 4 1/2 hours of fighting with people, this freiendly southern guy there takes her order and gives it to her for $100 less than Panasonic lists on their website. Happy Day!

I still have to look at replacements for the VCRs, depending what they'll (Liberty Mutual) give me on 'em. I'm debating getting a combo VCR/DVD recorder, being that VHS is going the way of the dinosaur and I have a lot of tapes that could stand being put on disk. I'm still working off my laptop too, and will have to until they figure out what my 2 computers were worth. An upside is that the guy was here yesterday and the fridge and oven can be fixed for about $800 combined and I don't have to take 'em out(built-ins since I remodeled the kitchen). Oy! Off to go grocery shopping. More blogging later.