Saturday, April 21, 2007


Click pics to embiggen.

Just got done with dinner after a crazy day.

We ran across a storm last night that slowed us down. With 15 foot seas, we heard a lot of crashing from the kitchen in the dining room and that was pretty empty last night. We were rocking and rolling. Heh ...

We pulled into New York Harbor about 2 hours late. Then, the Port Authority of NY & NJ had Noordam pull into the wrong berth at Pier 92 (they put us in the spot for Norwegian Cruise Lines' Norwegian Dawn) and realized it after the tugs left. Fortunately, Captain Hans pulled a maneuver that backed us out and into the next berth over. Fucking amazing to watch the big beast maneuver on thrusters, a tight U-turn backwards, though it took us an hour to complete. They started disembarking at 10:30 and took us until 12:30 to get off the ship. Another half-hour to get out of the terminal and the car to get to us.

Backing in: I took this from my balcony as Captain Hans backed in to Berth 5 at Pier 92

It took another hour to get home, and then I had to head out to get Shayna before 3:00 or I couldn't get her until Monday. At $30/day, well, I bent some traffic laws but mission accomplished (and not in the George Bush sense of the word either). Went to grab a pizza, had a couple beers, and now Mrs. F and I are in bed, fighting to stay awake. Shayna's already snoring. Unpacking and laundry are waiting until morning. So's blogging.

It was a great vacation but it's good to be home.

Liberal politics and maple syrup

AFP via Raw Story

The senate in the northeastern US state of Vermont passed a resolution Friday calling on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush, senate officials said.

Backers hope the resolution -- and similar measures proposed in a handful of other states -- will send a clear message to the White House.

"It's a matter of getting the ball rolling."

It's a big ball. We all need to get behind it.

"Like clubbing a baby seal!"

Go read William Rivers Pitt on Gone-zales.

Another CNN reporter, Suzanne Malveaux, offered other Republican statements of dismay. "Two senior White House aides here," reported Malveaux, "described the situation, Gonzales's testimony, as 'going down in flames.' That he was 'not doing himself any favors.' One prominent Republican described watching his testimony as 'clubbing a baby seal.'"


Pure pleasure pain!

Either way, subpoenas need to be delivered to the hatchetman-in-chief, Karl Rove, as well as to members of his crew, to gather their sworn public testimony on the matter. It was made clear Thursday that Gonzales wasn't in charge at Justice, and Rove appears likely to have been the man who stood in his stead. Why? That's why we ask questions.

For the record, decisions to disrupt elections and voting rights, and decisions to derail investigations into Republicans, are flatly illegal. The first is fraud, the second is obstruction of justice, and both are felony crimes. The exposure of Gonzales on Thursday represents a long step towards pinning legal accountability to the door of a certain Pennsylvania Avenue house, and to the lapels of those persons within who are, at last, running out of excuses.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Maybe this'll help 'splain it...

The VA Tech massacre, the lone gunman holed up in the Houston Space Center, bomb threats in Sacramento, the list goes on and on.

I was readin' The Old Farmer's Almanac, which I do every morning with some regularity, God willing, and I noticed that the 17th was the New Moon.

It's folk wisdom that folks go a little nuts during the Full Moon, but I had this explained to me by a customer once, a Harley-Davidson rider from South America:

"During the Full Moon, people go crazy outward. They dance, get drunk, make love, go a lttle crazy, have fun. During the exactly opposite New Moon they go crazy inward to the darkest depth of their souls. They get depressed, scared. They murder people."

Just sayin'...

"Bush is nothing but a hood ornament"

Positively great post by Kitchen Window Woman. Read the comments too.

A tip o' the Brain to Lurch.

"VA Tech murderer was a Liberal"

Are ya pissed off at all the never-right-wing bullshit following the VA Tech shooting? If you think you're pissed-off now, wait 'til you read this.

Normally, it doesn't bother me what that fat druggie asshole says. He's always outrageous, despicable, and wrong. What bothers me is how anyone, even low-life scum like him, can use this kind of tragedy to attempt to advance a failed political agenda.

Money, publicity, and misleading political finger-pointing are way ahead of common decency with the wingnut bastard gasbags. I hope they fuckin' choke on it.

Turdblossom says Bush's War was Osama's Idea

Think Progress

On a visit to Ohio yesterday, White House senior political adviser Karl Rove claimed he never wanted the war in Iraq:

"I wish the war were over," Rove said. "I wish the war never existed... History has given us a challenge."

History shows Rove was exceptionally eager in 2002 for the upcoming Iraq war, anxious to reap what he viewed would be the political gains for conservatives leading another military conflict:

Rove also claimed yesterday that it was bin Laden, not President Bush, who decided to launch the Iraq war:

In a question-and-answer period after his speech, Rove was asked whose idea it was to start a pre-emptive war in Iraq.

"I think it was Osama bin Laden's," Rove replied.

I don't doubt it a bit. Given the long-standing family relationship between the Bushes and bin Ladens, it's entirely possible that Osama had a hand in it. Al Qaeda loves Bush's War, has prospered greatly because of it, and wants it to go on forever. Bush agrees.

I think Bush family interests have profited greatly as well. On their level, it's win-win and fuck the stupid proles who die for their bottom line.

Bush is losin' it...

Actually, he lost it a long time ago, but it's starting to show in public big time.


Strange things sometimes come out of President Bush's mouth. "Polls just go poof." "Remember the rug?"

When Bush went to Ohio on Thursday to talk about terrorism, he ended up musing about marriage and chicken-plucking plants, the agony of death and his Oval Office rug, which resembles a sunburst.

Maybe the president just felt like jabbering at the town hall-style event in Tipp City, Ohio. He began talking about terrorism and ended 90 minutes later after chattering about everything from life after the White House to Vietnam War and the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.

Well, wet brain will do that to a guy. I think perhaps the Chimp is not a 'dry' drunk any more.

The last time a truly drug-addled sociopath got himself put in charge of a nation, in the 1930s, the world caught fire and damn near burned down.

Bush has put it well along the way to happening again. Get the matches away from him. He has to go. Soonest.

Gonzales Asada. Full of beans, too.

Dana Milbank. Liquid alert.

Alberto Gonzales's tenure as attorney general was pronounced dead at 3:02 p.m. yesterday by Tom Coburn, M.D.

The good doctor, who also happens to be a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made this clinical judgment after watching Gonzales suffer through four hours of painful testimony. The Oklahoman listed the cause of death as management failure and other complications of the Justice Department's firing of eight federal prosecutors.

Gonzales had weeks to prepare for yesterday's hearing. But the man who sat at the witness table sounded like the sort of person who forgets where he parked his car.

Explaining his role in the botched firing of federal prosecutors, Gonzales uttered the phrase "I don't recall" and its variants ("I have no recollection," "I have no memory") 64 times. Along the way, his answer became so routine that a Marine in the crowd put down his poster protesting the Iraq war and replaced it with a running "I don't recall" tally (my em).

Take Gonzales's tally along with that of his former chief of staff, who uttered the phrase "I don't remember" 122 times before the same committee three weeks ago, and the Justice Department might want to consider handing out Ginkgo biloba in the employee cafeteria.

The audience included demonstrators from the liberal group Code Pink, about 15 people in orange prison jumpsuits with the name "Gonzales" on them, pink tiaras proclaiming "Justice," a black hood and a large Gonzales mask. When Gonzales took his place early after a lunch break, the demonstrators taunted him until he and his party retreated backstage. When the hearing ended, the activists treated the nation's top law enforcement official to a version of "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)."

Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) did little to quiet the demonstrators and their occasional shouts of "Resign!" and "Stop lying!" In Leahy's defense, the protesters' sentiments were hard to distinguish from the Republican senators'.

Specter glared at the witness and hectored him about his past misstatements. "I don't think you're going to win a debate about your preparation, frankly," he said. This, too, delighted the orange-jumpsuit crowd.

"I apologize," the attorney general said. The water in Gonzales's drinking glass was still sloshing from his pounding on the witness table.

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! Pardon my gloat. He's toast.

I just hit the high spots. Who knew Milbank's a comedy writer? Go read.

Wasted Away Again in Splitaritaville...


E! Online Reports Bush Drinking and Marriage Troubles Rumors. You Read It on BuzzFlash First.

Actually, we've been reading about it for months in the supermarket checkout line on the cover of the Globe birdcage liner.

The whole quote from BuzzFlash is a link, but at this time it had "trouble loading". Gee, ya don't think...

I couldn't find shit at E! Online, but I couldn't stay there long. I can't dunk my head in the outhouse very long either without a real good reason.

Now that I've conned BuzzFlash to come over and take a peek 'cuz I linked to 'em, yo, dudes, where's the Dixie Chicks DVD I ordered from ya in January?

Update, Sat. A.M.:

Link is fixed. Pensito Review. See Bush drink.

FBI Raids Yet Another Congressman. Whee!


In a second blow to House Republicans this week, the FBI raided a business tied to the family of Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) Thursday afternoon as part of an ongoing investigation into the three-term lawmaker.

Details of the raid on Patriot Insurance Agency in Sonoita, Ariz., were not immediately available. Renzi's most recent financial disclosure form lists the business as an asset belonging to his wife, Roberta, and valued at $1 million to $5 million.

Little is known about the inquiries into Renzi's activities, but according to media reports the Justice Department has been running a two-track investigation into Renzi regarding a land deal, as well as a piece of legislation he helped steer that may have improperly benefited a major campaign contributor. It was not immediately clear which investigation the raid pertained to, and neither his attorney nor his spokesman could be immediately reached for comment.

As a result of the raid, Renzi is stepping down from his seat on the House Intelligence Committee, according to a statement from his office obtained Thursday evening by Roll Call.

The G-Men earned their money this week for a change.

All about the fucking ...

One more before I go back to drinking heavily. Guess who?


See, maybe, just maybe, the Rude Pundit thinks, we oughta be ejaculating our Jesus jizz on the mountainous tits of the war dead and wounded, of the poor and uninsured, of the victims of genocide, of the ongoing man-made destruction of the God-created earth. Nope. With one exception, for Perkins and the FRC, it's all about the fucking. Same song, next verse with these people, all the time.


See my post below.

... It is also ironic we are so puritanical about the human body and depicted acts of love between two people (regardless of gender), yet have no qualms about violent images and preaching violence against others ...


So the Rethugs are all in an uproar over Harry Reid calling the war 'lost'. Well hell, we just been saying that for 3 years.

"I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week," Reid said, on the same day US President George W. Bush was giving a speech at an Ohio town hall meeting defending the war on terror.

Woulda been nice if the folks in charge realized this a few thousand American lives ago. Back to my daiquiri.

Thoughts ...

A few thoughts about the Virgina Tech shootings.

1. Watching the news, I hear a lot of negative sentiment concerning the news media's showing of the video made by Cho. Personally, I think we are coddled, many people not wanting to see the macabre or the disturbing and the news following dutifully along. I believe we should see everything, from this idiot's manifesto to the aftermath of suicide bombings and combat in Iraq and other war zones. It seems ironic to me that a lot of the folks complaining willingly let their children watch violent movies and play violent video games. Maybe, if people saw the consequences of decisions made by their elected representatives, they might ask a few more questions before cheerleading for war and violence against others. It is also ironic we are so puritanical about the human body and depicted acts of love between two people (regardless of gender), yet have no qualms about violent images and preaching violence against others. It's time for the American people to grow up and realize what is actually important in life. You cannot begin to solve the problem if you cannot face it.

2. Regarding South Korea, I spent 3 1/2 years of my life at Osan, the closest U.S. base to the DMZ. I lived among the Korean people, choosing not to live in the barracks, but in an apartment in town. I developed friendships and learned a lot about them; how they value education and honor, their unparalleled work ethic, and their closeness of family. As a 'round-eye' they only let me in so far, but from what I'd seen, this incident will become a source of national dishonor. I doubt the Chos will ever be able to return to their homeland, their perceived sense of disgrace probably overwhelming. As someone who has a great repect, admiration, and affection for the Korean people, my heart goes out to them.

3. Cho's rampage does not reflect on South Korea, Korean-Americans, or South Korean nationals. I fear for the safety of Cho's family and Koreans in general in this country. We have too many cracker assholes here whose fear of anything different will lead to a backlash against anyone with slanty eyes. After living in Asia for years, I can't tell the difference between a Korean, Japanese, or Chinese until they speak. Most Americans don't have that depth of perception. Remember the violence directed against anyone with a turban directly after September 11th? Indian Sikhs, Africans, and others were victims of stupidity, hate, and ignorance. Let's hope this doesn't happen now.

4. The NRA and all the 2nd Amendment cheerleaders who believe anyone should be able to buy a gun, to be able to own as many as possible without restriction, can go fuck themselves. This is a classic example of how a waiting period and stricter gun control could have stopped a tragedy. There are over 200 million guns in this country, yet only 35% of households own them. It is time for licensing, federal regulation and oversight, and accountability for gun dealers and owners (How the fuck can anyone be allowed to purchase a gun online?). This is not the Wild West, and if you think your gun will prevent the government from taking the rest of your rights, or your home away, you are sadly mistaken. They will take what they want and leave your dead ass in your driveway if you try to stop them.

5. As for Va. Tech's campus police department. You had 2 bodies, no shooter, and you refused to lock down the campus and acted like business as usual until the main attack began. I expect the resignations of the chief and his staff. This is a matter of gross negligence and someone has to pay. This should have stopped after the first 2 kids were killed and whether the decision was made for economic reasons or just ineptitude, these people should not be allowed to continue in their positions. The parents of these children depended on the campus police to keep them safe and the ball was dropped on several occasions. The failure is unconscionable.

6. The students, faculty, and their families will get through this. It doesn't seem so now but they will. After 9/11, as we in New York gazed at the ruins of our city, many thought we couldn't go on. Many left, more than a few came back, but we survived and the bond between New Yorkers only got stronger. We have a deep scar on our psyche that will remain forever, but we have come back stronger, better, and more optimistic than we ever have been. We are New Yorkers and, while we lost 3000 of our brothers and sisters, we know we can overcome any obstacle and endure any hardship, any curve thrown us. The Virginia Tech family is also scarred but, from what I've seen of the Hokie spirit over the past few days, they will get through this horror and be a closer family for it. It is a promise I make to them.


I got a couple more days of vacation left and I'm gonna enjoy 'em. We're steaming for NYC and will be in on Saturday. I'll see yas after we pick up Shayna.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"The bloody red eyes of the rodeo clown"

I was just listening to John Mellencamp's new album, Freedom's Road. Good album. I'm more of a rock star (ahem!) than a rock fan, but this is good old-fashioned rock 'n roll. I picked this album up at Costco for $9.99. It's got a lot of good stuff on it.

This album has a hidden song that's not listed on the cover. Three minutes after the last song, Heaven Is a Lonely Place, is Rodeo Clown. Here's a sample of the lyrics:

"Well there's blood on the hands of the rich politicians
Red is the color of the sand and the sea
Blood on the hands of an arrogant nation
Who start all the bleeding over their policies

Well, there's blood in the streets from the lies and liars
The bloody red eyes of the rodeo clown"

I wonder who he could possibly mean...

"Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6"

Our pal deuddersun has a good post up in the wake of the VA Tech shooting.

Maturity? Or is it...Senility?

The American Prospect

Remember last week, when David Brooks suggested that though John McCain was completely wrong on Iraq, his campaign would be revived as Americans understood how much more serious he was about Middle East politics than the other candidates? "In 10 months," wrote Brooks, "this election won't be about the surge, it will be about the hydra-headed crisis roiling the Middle East. The candidate who is the most substantive, most mature and most consistent will begin to look more attractive and more necessary."

Anyway, here's the substantive and mature candidate himself, reworking the Beach Boys' song "Barbara Ann" to go, "bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran..."

Go watch the video and read the comments.

Note to Senator McCain: go on home, buddy, and spend your days rockin' on the porch and lookin' at the beautiful Arizona scenery. Your race is run and you lost it by shooting your own horse.

Box me up...

From Agence France Press via Raw Story

An Australian scientist called Wednesday for an end to the age-old tradition of cremation, saying the practice contributed to global warming.

Harumph! There goes this old man's ideal send-off of being launched out the harbor in a flaming Viking ship. Another dream shot all to Hell by reality.

Professor Roger Short said people could instead choose to help the environment after death by being buried in a cardboard box under a tree.

Since a lot of us Olde Fartes are gonna be living in cardboard boxes anyway, it will be an easy transition from under a bridge to under a tree. We won't even have to change clothes.

I understand the science here, but I think it's pickin' the flyshit outta the pepper. Any guilt I might have for desecrating the environment for future generations by my choice of passage to the whatever is just liable to die with me. I'll let ya know.

To Davy Jones' Locker With 'Em!

I'm sorta in a nautical frame of mind lately. I guess it's because Fixer has been posting all the pictures of ships and tropical islands. It helps that he left me the keys to the stash.

Raw Story

Conservative commentator Robert Novak writes that while many on the right view White House adviser Karl Rove as their "Captain Ahab," a number of liberals refer to him as "evil incarnate."

I heartily concur with the "evil incarnate" part, but - Captain Ahab? Since I sort of remember Gregory Peck as Ahab last seen getting the deep six whilst foul-lined to the whale, that piqued my interest, so I wiki'd him up. Wikipedia would be as good as Classics Illustrated if it had pictures! (Note to youngsters: Classics Illustrated was how we did book reports when I was in school. We didn't have Cliff's Notes.)

But I digress. Here's what they had to say:

Ahab is the tyrannical captain of the Pequod who is driven by a monomaniacal desire to kill Moby-Dick, the whale to whom he lost his leg. Ahab believes he is fated to kill Moby-Dick, and lives for this purpose alone. Ahab's name comes directly from the Bible. When Ishmael first encounters the name he responds "When that wicked king was slain, the dogs, did they not lick his blood?" (Moby-Dick, Chapter 16) The character Elijah (the namesake of the Biblical prophet, Elijah, who portends Ahab's fate) warns Ishmael and Queequeg that by signing on to Ahab's ship they have effectively signed away their souls. Ahab ultimately dies over his obsession to kill Moby-Dick.

If we let our minds wander a little after a big suck o' spliff, we can see the White House as Pequod, the Repuglicant Party as the white whale, and permanent one-party rule as Rove's obsession.

Now Novak's comment makes sense. In his megalomania, Rove is taking the Repugs, bereft of souls and firmly tied to his ass, to the bottom of the ocean. I wish them a speedy and painful descent, but a soft landing. In a big pile of whale shit.

Ain't litrachur wunnerful?

FBI Raids Doolittle's Home

Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON - FBI agents have searched the home of Republican Rep. John Doolittle, who is under scrutiny over his ties to convicted GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Doolittle's attorney said Wednesday.

The search last Friday focused on records of Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions Inc., a company run by Doolittle's wife, Julie, said attorney David Barger. Julie Doolittle was on retainer for Abramoff from 2002-2004 for event-planning work.

The search of Doolittle's home in Oakton, Va., occurred the same day that Kevin Ring, a former Doolittle aide who went on to work for Abramoff, abruptly resigned his law firm job without explanation.

Rep. Doolittle is not only my congresscritter (CA-04), but perhaps the most aptly named member of Congress.

He was closely associated with Abramoff, Cunningham, etc., in various nefarious deals, but the one that chaps my ass the most is his support of what amounts to slave labor in the Northern Mariana Islands.

In last November's election, he came the closest to getting beat, by Charlie Brown, than he has in his 16-year reign term. Almost gettin' chucked off the Gravy Express scared the crap out of him, and I've been bombarded with mailers from him ever since saying how he thinks he needs to bring his thinking more in line with his constituents. He's actually been showing up in various places for public meetings. He was in my town a coupla weeks ago, which is unheard of except for fundraising events. I didn't go, because my questions for him would have been of the "still beatin' yer wife?" variety and I didn't want to see a headline like "Local Democrat Yahoo Heckles Upstanding Public Servant".

Rep. Doolittle could use some 'quiet time' to think things over. A coupla years in a Federal pen would work fine.

The better news is that Charlie Brown is still at it in this longest ever election year, and Dump Doolittle is still up and running. Next time.

Ismail Ax

In all the theories that I've read about the meaning of "Ismail Ax", on question keeps going through me mind, "Hasn't anyone read Moby Dick recently?" The guy was, after all, an English major. We are so ready to look for the complex even when the simple presents itself.



Meyer's Take, EssEffChron

Click to embiggen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


From Cafe Press

Wingnuts blame the victims

Every time I think the never-right-wingnut assholes can't possibly stoop any lower with their demented poisonous blatherings, they do just that. Possibly the most obnoxious, offensive, arrogant, unfeeling, inappropriate, and just plain wrong comments I have yet heard out of a couple of these bastards BLAME THE VICTIMS of the VT shooting for their own demise and that of their classmates because they didn't assault the gunman.

Other folks are as outraged at this as I am.

Keith Olbermann (video)

Ana Marie Cox

Daily Kos

On behalf of thinking, feeling Americans everywhere, shut up Derbyshire and Blake and any of you other war-mongering, chest-thumping wannabes. Just shut up.

Yes, it would have been the correct thing to do for every student in the class to instantly assault the shooter.

As any infantryman can tell you, your best chance of survival in an ambush is to assault the ambush. You might die in the attempt, but you will surely die if you don't. They know this, are trained how to do it, practice doing it, and there are usually several of them, armed to the teeth. Do they always do it? No.

Here's all the students needed to do: Understand what was going on, overcome fear, shock, denial, stunned disbelief, and their own lack of experience due to a nice normal sheltered upbringing, realize exactly what needed to be done and do it: several of them should have winged textbooks to distract the shooter and put him off balance while one or two got out of their seats and launched themselves at the barrel of a pistol, overwhelming the shooter and thus saving the day and the reputation of American manhood. All this in about the same reaction time to a completely unfamiliar and confusing situation as it takes to hit the brakes in an unexpected traffic situation, and maybe with a pantload to boot.

Yeah, right.

I'm a Marine. I know about ambushes and what needs to be done to survive one. I understand, like, and am comfortable with firearms, and know how to disable an automatic pistol if I can get one hand on it. I know how to knock a guy down and then beat the crap out of him with the other hand. Could I have done that in the VT situation? Even knowing what to do, forty more years of life experience than those kids had, no qualms about violence, and given the time available, probably, most likely, with 99% certainty, no. I could probably have managed the pantload.

For the 101st Fighting Keyboarders to blame these kids for what was forced on them, and then to boast about what they would have done, mighty stalwarts of virtuous manhood that they are, is the most despicable thing yet to come out of all the blithering about the VT deal. Much worse than what I've come to expect from right-wing know-nothings, and that's saying a lot.

Just shut the fuck up and crawl back under your rocks.

Last Day

San Juan today, the last stop before heading home. Heh ... drinks early and a nice day, though it was overcast.

Colbert advises Gonzales

In case you missed last night's The Colbert Report, go see the video at Raw Story.

"All Alberto Gonzales did was possibly lie to Congress about his involvement in the firing of U.S. Attorneys who got in the way of the president's agenda to cement a stranglehold on all branches of government," quips Colbert. "Let's not make a federal case out of it."

He then offers Gonzales tips on how to come up with a 'clean slate' regarding his 'memory'. Funny.

Ed's pissed off... the wake of the VT shooting, and rightly so. Ed Encho at AltBrainNet closes with:

Guns don't kill people, people kill people and a society that exalts violence whether it be the latest Hollywood blockbuster, Jack Bauer breaking fingers, the blasphemous apocalyptic filth that permeates mega-church congregations or the latest in high tech, mega pixel slaughterhouses offered up by the video game industry should not be surprised when the carrion birds come home to roost.

Read it.

Get 'im, Denny!


Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), the most liberal of the Democratic presidential candidates in the primary field, declared in a letter sent to his Democratic House colleagues this morning that he plans to file articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney.

Let's all see if we can help this get traction.


From The Cleveland Plain Dealer's blog Openers:

Cheney's deputy press secretary, Megan McGinn, said she couldn't comment on Kucinich's email because she hadn't seen it.

Barf Alert.

Asked whether Cheney had done anything he could be impeached for, McGinn replied: "The vice president has had nearly 40 years of government service and has done so in an honorable fashion."

Follow the directions on the air sickness bag: "After use, fold toward you."

Food for thought

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” —Alexander Solzhenitsyn


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pulitzer Prize

Glenn Greenwald on The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage getting the Pulitzer Prize for his series on Bush's efforts to expand presidential power:

Previously, reporting on "what the government does, not just what it says" was the basic function of political journalism. But these days, journalists who actually do that are so rare -- they stand out so conspicuously -- that they win Pulitzer Prizes for it.

I'm glad there's still someone who understands his own job description, but it's sad that it merits a prestigious award.

Oh, I believe my lyin' eyes...

Eugene Robinson sums up three lyin' bastards in today's WaPo:

Today's topic is credibility -- specifically, recent claims by certain high-ranking present, former and perhaps soon-to-be-former Bush administration officials. The aim is to answer a simple question: Should we believe these three Bush loyalists if they tell us that rain falls down instead of up, or should we look out the window to make sure?

The present official is political czar Karl Rove, long regarded by friend and foe alike as some kind of cutting-edge genius, who seems to have the darnedest time figuring out this newfangled e-mail stuff.

By law, official White House communications are supposed to be preserved. But the administration says that many of the RNC e-mails have somehow been lost-- and also that millions of e-mails seem to have vanished from the official White House system, although they might have been captured on backup tapes.

We're supposed to believe that Karl Rove doesn't bother to keep track of his electronic correspondence.

On to the former official: World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, who until 2005 was deputy secretary of defense and a chief architect of the calamitous Iraq war. Not that Wolfowitz had much credibility left, after predicting before the war that Iraqis would greet U.S. troops as "liberators" and that the cost of the war would be mostly defrayed by Iraq's oil revenue.

Ironically, Wolfowitz has railed against corruption as the scourge of many developing countries, making World Bank aid contingent on transparency and accountability. Yet Wolfowitz first gave the impression that he recused himself from involvement in the Riza deal when, in fact, he was right in the middle of it.

We're supposed to believe that for a central bank official in, say, Nigeria to arrange a sweetheart employment deal for his girlfriend would be corrupt, but for Wolfowitz to do so is perfectly legitimate.

Finally, the perhaps soon-to-be-former official: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is certain that nothing improper happened in the firing of the U.S. attorneys but seems terribly confused about what role he might have played in the whole affair. Or might not have played. Or whatever.

Gonzales had an op-ed Sunday in The Post that included this positively breathtaking claim: The attorney general of the United States writes that "to my knowledge, I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign."

To his knowledge? What on earth does that mean? Is Gonzales in the habit of making decisions without his own knowledge? Does he have multiple-personality issues?

Rove, Wolfowitz and Gonzales are making the last-ditch argument of a cheating husband caught in flagrante: Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?

They just hope we're guppy enough to believe them! Fat chance, boys.

I wonder if they'll have the stones when in extremis to trot out the all-purpose excuse?


Will White House sacrifice Gonzales to save Rove?

Big article about it at WSWS, but the answer is: Hell, yes they will. Cheney would sacrifice Bush to save Rove because Rove simply knows too much. Bush only knows what Rove and Cheney want him to know.

There's another way to keep Rove quiet. Watch The Sopranos for a hint...

Buying the War

A few days ago I posted about Bill Moyers' upcoming PBS show about the administration and the press bamboozling, no, lying us into Bush's Criminal War. Here's a preview clip. Short accompanying article at

Trouble in Squanderville

If you're a homeowner, or even if you're not, go read this article at Counterpunch:

Two years ago, anyone who wrote about the housing bubble was dismissed as a conspiracy nut. Now hardly a day goes by that the headlines aren't splattered with the details of the massive meltdown in the real estate market.

What changed? The facts are essentially the same today as they were back then. In fact, the "Economist"--as well as many independent journalists--had already shown that the Fed's low interest rates had inflated the biggest equity bubble in history which could potentially bring down the entire economy.

Now, all of a sudden, the media is acting as if the problem sprouted up overnight?


We pretty much know why, but Mr. Whitney goes into detail. I like this next quote:

Hooray for the "faith based" stock market!

The outcome of this nonsense was entirely predictable. Now that the market is plummeting, the blame is being shifted to profligate consumers. But the problem originated at the Federal Reserve; that's where the responsibility lies.

The United States now faces a number of grave economic challenges---global trade imbalances, a depreciating currency, a falling stock market and a deflating housing bubble---All of these are similar in at least one respect. They are all self-inflicted wounds which derived from profit-motivated foolishness, lack of political vision or ideological fixation. America's downward slide is entirely its own doing. No one helped.

Buffett is right. America is selling itself in bits and pieces and calling it "prosperity". Both political parties are responsible.

Kinda like selling your kidneys and then wondering why you can't take a leak and are turning yellow. Helpful hint: you're fixin' to die, fool!

Down the street from me is a new housing development consisting of many, many 'town houses' or some such fancy name. Multiple blocks of attached dwellings in the $599K range. Many of these units are finished, but I haven't seen lights or curtains in any of the windows. Many more stand unfinished, and I haven't seen anybody working on them even though our good construction season has arrived. Some of these places have no doors or windows and stood open to the elements all winter, along with piles of construction materials - floor joists, assembled rafters, etc. - which have sat out in the snow for months. I don't know for sure, but I think the developer tore down a coupla hundred acres of woods only to walk away from a losing proposition. I hope not, but that's the way things seem to be going.

The ripple effect of construction workers not working - not having money to buy stuff from local businesses - remains to be seen, but it can't be good.

I got a phone call the other day from a local realtor. I didn't know her, but she asked for me by name and started describing a house she had for sale a coupla blocks away. I asked her why she was telling me all this, and she wondered if I might know anybody from out of the area who might like to move here and buy the house. I told Mrs. G about this and she said the lady sounded kinda desperate, making calls like that outta the blue. Mrs. G knows a lot more about that stuff than I do, but it sounds about right.

Home prices have gotten out of hand in the last few years, and folks have been taking desperate financial risks to get one before that perceived slice of the American Dream is snatched away from them forever. Others thought they could cash out quickly and make money. Some did, but most just had visions of easy money and got caught in a pyramid scheme run by the Big Boys. Lenders have enabled this just like buying booze for a drunk.

The bill is coming due. Like it or not, it's time for all involved to sober up and look for their pants.

I own my own home free and clear. One of the few benefits of staying in one place long enough to get old.

McCloskey leaves Repuglican'ts

I've always liked Pete McCloskey. Republican or not, he was one of the good guys in California politics. He's seen the light.

From the CoCo Times:

Lifelong Republican, Marine veteran and former congressman Pete McCloskey has left the GOP and registered with the Democratic Party.

McCloskey says he is disgusted with the "succession of ethical scandals, congressmen taking bribes and abuse of power by both the Republican House leadership and the highest appointees of the White House."

"A pox on (Republicans) and their values," he wrote.

Do not miss his e-mail announcement about his decision.

Good on yer, Pete. If there are any other decent Republicans out there, I hope they follow your lead.

St. Thomas

St. Thomas today. We didn't do any sightseeing because we've been here a million times before (well, maybe not a million).

A side note: Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to the families, faculty, and students at Virginia Tech.


I am calling for a moratorium on discussing the wider political implications of the Virgina Tech massacre. Now is not the time to do anything except express shock and condolences. Bush and McCain among others were disgraceful yesterday for bring 2nd Amendment issues into this. There are 32 sets of parents out there who are grieving. There are a couple of dozen others who are waiting to hear just how heavily their kids will suffer for the rest of their lives from this. And their is unimaginable psychological damage to the rest of the students and faculty. Among others, survivor guilt is a very real thing.

Let's just agree to send our good thoughts to those involved and let this thing cool down before we say much else. I don't excercise any hope that the press has the good sense to do the same, they will probably be knocking on doors today.

My heart goes out to all involved, especially the parents of the gunman. I've lost a kid, I can't imagine how much is added to the weight of that by knowing that the kid you lost caused death and pain of so many others. This truly is a time for healing.


Monday, April 16, 2007


I'm listening to the talking heads discussing the Virginia Tech shootings. All I'm hearing is "biggest massacre in U. S, history". I've heard that phrase several times. No adjective or modifier other than "biggest".


I call your attention, and the short attention spans of most everyone else, to Sand Creek and Wounded Knee, just to name a couple. Guess who perpetrated those mass murders?

Shootings are bad but hyperbole for the sake of sensationalism may be worse. Get your facts straight, newsreaders.


I've got MSNBC on in the background and I swear I just heard this:

"We haven't had this many people killed in one incident since 9/11. This was a terrorist attack!"

Jesus m********in' Christ! Where do they get these guys? I guess they gotta go with idiots who are waitin' by the phone and available on 'short notice' aka they ain't got a job. Probably dressed and ready to go and rarin' to get on TV with their

Why don't they let the cops get a little further towards the bottom of the incident? Why do they have to waste valuable airtime that could be put to better use exposing 'loyal Bushies'? Why go all 24/7 with useless speculation before the facts - any facts - are available? Ah, they don' need no stinkin' facts...they got commercials to sell.

I get so sick of this shit sometimes.

On Israel, America and AIPAC

Good article at New York Review of Books by George Soros. Go read. Here's part of it:

Whether the Democratic Party can liberate itself from AIPAC's influence is highly doubtful. Any politician who dares to expose AIPAC's influence would incur its wrath; so very few can be expected to do so. It is up to the American Jewish community itself to rein in the organization that claims to represent it. But this is not possible without first disposing of the most insidious argument put forward by the defenders of the current policies: that the critics of Israel's policies of occupation, control, and repression on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem and Gaza engender anti-Semitism.

The opposite is the case. One of the myths propagated by the enemies of Israel is that there is an all-powerful Zionist conspiracy. That is a false accusation. Nevertheless, that AIPAC has been so successful in suppressing criticism has lent some credence to such false beliefs. Demolishing the wall of silence that has protected AIPAC would help lay them to rest. A debate within the Jewish community, instead of fomenting anti-Semitism, would only help diminish it.

The AIPAC warmongers hide behind 'anti-Semitism' the same way Bush hides behind 'support the troops'. Both positions are crocks of shit and need to be shown up for what they are: False issues to cover crimes.

Kickin' an' Screamin'...

From Cursor:

On issues from the war to health care, Paul Krugman finds that "Democratic politicians are being dragged by their base into taking highly popular positions."

As opposed to politically expedient ones? Imagine that!

The Oversight Blues

From The Top 10 Conservative Idiots, No. 287:

No. 10 - Dan Burton

Anyway, Dan was back in the news last week when he joined "other Republicans in warning that the committee under its new Democratic leadership may be abusing its subpoena powers," according to Roll Call.

That's right folks. Dan Burton, the man who subpoenaed the Clinton administration 141 times, the man who spent ten days investigating the Clintons' Christmas card list, the man who shot a watermelon in a pathetic attempt to prove to reporters that Vince Foster did not commit suicide - that Dan Burton - is crying like a little baby because the Democrats are actually taking their oversight role seriously.

Somebody better 'splain to that crybaby the theory of "what goes around, comes around", or maybe "don't do the crime if you can't do the time".

As for me, I'm just purely enjoyin' the shit out of all of it. Revenge is sweet, and I like mine hot.

Links and a cool poster at the site.

St. Maarten

In St. Maarten, NA today. We've been here several times before so we just went off the ship to shop. And to add to my post on Tortola yesterday. If you're into diving and snorkeling, Tortola and Grand Turk are the places to be down here. The water is so unbelievably clear, just swimming sans breathing apparatus I saw more ocean life than I did in the NY Aquarium.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Musical interlude

While I've been sittin' here fumin' 'n rantin' 'n typin', I've been listenin' to some good music too. I'm still dazzled that the CD itself can be in its little box in the other room!

Me'n Mrs. G picked up a coupla albums yesterday at Joby's Music. We mostly get our music by mail order, but it's nice once in a while to patronize a local place when we're after something mainstream enough that they're likely to have it in stock. The joint bills itself as "the largest music store in town". If I find another one in our town of 14,000, I'll let ya know if that's true! It's not real big, but the staff there has eclectic enough musical taste that you never know what you'll find. The 'staff' yesterday was Nancy, whom we've known for twenty years. We had a nice chat as well.

First album is "The Road To Escondido" by J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton. I was tryin' ta genre-ize it and couldn't, but Clapton's website did it just fine:

After years of admiring each others musical masterworks and Clapton covers of Cale songs such as "After Midnight" and "Cocaine," J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton have teamed up for the first time to create an original album together, The Road To Escondido. The 14 track CD was produced and recorded by the duo in August 2005 in California. The resulting music defies being labeled into any one category, but instead finds influence across the spectrum of blues, rock, country and folk.

The best I could come up with is these guys are Ace singer-songwriter guitar-pickin' old farts.

This album's good enough that I'd even recommend it to Fixer. High praise, I think.

Update: Read this review:

Some critics have opined that when you combine two "laid back" artists like Cale and Clapton you get an hour of laid back music that lacks sufficient fire or energy, and that might be true to ears that haven't spent quality time in dives where a left hook carries more weight than a college diploma. Something strange happens to musicians who work honky tonks. From up on stage, what takes place on the floor is the ultimate spectator sport. After you've seen more than Dante could imagine, some self-imposed distance is the only thing that keeps you from taking a step down that road to escondido.

He ain't talkin' about the town neither.

Oh, yeah - I've been to Escondido. Nice enough place, I guess. Click it if you're curious.

The other album is "All American Bluegrass Girl" by Rhonda Vincent. Ms. Vincent is probably the hottest female bluegrass act goin' right now. Another 30-year overnight success. She's got a heckuva set o' pipes, great musicians, and she's drop-dead gorgeous. Mrs. G thinks the getup she's wearin' on the album cover makes her look trashy, but I kinda like it. Click the album title link and you'll see. You can listen to a little bit of it there as well. It's not traditional bluegrass, but as up to the minute as Bluegrass is gonna get.

We've been meaning to get these two albums for months, but music is timeless so what's the hurry? I'm glad we finally did.

Just as an afterthought, Mrs. G has picked out a gadget for her birthday that plays LP records and transfers them to MP3 format. I assume it puts them in Windows Media Player and I can extract them to her little music-player thingie later. Anybody got any thoughts on this?


On Tortola, BVI today. God, it's hotter than Hell with 80% humidity. An excellent surprise as we were greeted by an old friend when we arrived.

Shock Talk Without Apologies

Robert Wright via Iraqwarit

There has to be an Imus event every once in a while. Ethnicity being the volatile thing it is, gratuitously inflammatory remarks have to be discouraged, so bounds of acceptable speech have to be clarified. Clarity comes when, inevitably, someone oversteps and gets slapped down.

But is America's machinery for stigmatizing bigotry really working coherently?

Which brings us to Ann Coulter. Full disclosure: Ms. Coulter once cited an Op-Ed essay I wrote for this newspaper about the Danish cartoon controversy as evidence that people like me had "affection" for terrorists. Thus ended any claim I might have to evaluate her work objectively. If you want a subject on which I report and you decide, today's not your day.

In a speech last year before the Conservative Political Action Conference, Ms. Coulter used the word "raghead." This is a dual-use slur, applied to both Arabs and Muslims, but she was talking about an Iranian, so presumably she was focusing on the religious dimension (consistent with her post-9/11 advice that we "invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.") The word raghead - whose only function is to denigrate - seems as legitimately offensive to Muslims as Mr. Imus's utterance was to blacks. The difference is that Ms. Coulter didn't apologize.

Brace yourself for the seismic damage done to her career. The leaders of CPAC reassessed their relationship with her and ... invited her back to speak the next year, an occasion she used to trot out the word "faggot." And Ms. Coulter continued to be interviewed respectfully on CNN and (again and again) on Fox News - treatment that presumably wouldn't be accorded a pundit who used the "n-word" without apology.

Why the Imus-Coulter disparity? Maybe part of it is that Ms. Coulter isn't as structurally susceptible to sanction as Mr. Imus. She doesn’t have her own radio or TV show, so advertisers on CNN and Fox have two degrees of separation from bigotry. Still, there are pressure points big enough for an Al Sharpton to find. Ms. Coulter's column appears in newspapers with major advertisers.

Maybe the problem is that Muslims don't have an Al Sharpton. And, truthfully, I wouldn't wish one on them. But couldn't they at least have an NAACP?

I'm not making a moral argument. If I were, I would get into homophobia and anti-Semitism and other varieties of bigotry. This is a pragmatic argument about social cohesion. By my lights, the two American fault lines most likely to become chasms in the long run are between blacks and whites and between Muslims and non-Muslims.

And if anything, I'd say that the second fault line is the more treacherous. America has already done things abroad that are helping to make the "clash of civilizations" thesis a self-fulfilling prophecy. Let's not make that kind of mistake at home.

Mr. Wright makes some good points about Coulter's money spinner - bigotry and hateful slurs without consequence, but he's missing a larger point:

The "clash of civilizations" is what we, as a nation of white people, have historically done best. This Arab/Muslim thing is nothing new, just the latest manifestation of it.

"Let's not make that kind of mistake at home." Sorry, Mr.Wright, you're 400 years too late.

Our forebears sort of systematically murdered and kicked to the curb everybody they ran across in their 250-year march from sea to shining sea. When they fought back in self-defense, as any of us would when our home was invaded and our way of life destroyed, they were labelled "savages" and efforts to overcome them were redoubled. For all their fighting heart and determination, American indigenes* never stood a chance against human waves of westward migration and technology.

The first African slaves arrived on these shores in 1619, so that's how long our wonderful white/black relationship has gone on.

Those two examples were about lebensraum and profit from agriculture and natural resources.

The new "clash of civilizations" has switched from the fulfilled lust for internal hegemony and profit to as yet unfulfilled lust for hegemony and profit half the world away. We don't exactly have those people right where the Bush administration wants them, and modern technology is a great equalizer on everything but all-out military action, so the issue remains in doubt.

It's only natural that some most of the slimeballs in tune with the Bush agenda, shit, anybody who wants to feel superior to anybody else, attempt to dehumanize and demonize their perceived adversaries. It works. Heck, here at the Brain we do it to them at every opportunity, and there are plenty of opportunities to do it to those unhuman Nazi wingnut demons! See how that works?

The difference is that we don't have the mass audience platform these people do and most of our readers (thanks to all 12 of you - our numbers are up! ["Our number's up" may not have been the best choice of words! Heh.]) agree with us. We pick on the strong and deserving, too. Anything else is just bullying.

Bullies, whether in the schoolyard, at work, in a bar, on the air or wherever, need to be slapped down in an appropriate way 'til they quit it. An apology might matter to some folks, but it doesn't to me. They can do that just fine from flat on their backs if they care to, and most apologies are phony attempts to get out of a jam anyway. Sincere apologies are OK, but rare.

There'll be bullying and hate, aka 'business as usual' and 'twas ever thus', until folks teach their kids that it's wrong. Don't hold your breath.

A tip o' the Brain to Tennessee Guerilla Women.

*'Indigenes' sounds better than 'blanket-asses' given the subject matter, I think!

Hippie Granny in the 'Dad

Yahoo! News

BERKELEY, Calif. - Jane Stillwater is an unlikely war correspondent. She's 64, a self-described Berkeley "flower child, 40 years later" and broke.

So how did this mother of four grown children end up in Baghdad, churning out commentary ranging from shock at Thursday's bombing of the Iraqi parliament cafeteria, to the weirdness of touring Saddam Hussein's bathroom?

Inspired by a sense of outrage and determined to blog from inside the war zone, Stillwater ate peanut butter sandwiches for months to save up for a ticket to Kuwait. She got a small Texas newspaper to help her secure press accreditation, and eventually boarded a troop transport to Baghdad.

Stillwater said Baghdad "is insane. The Green Zone, it's like East Berlin in 1955. And outside, it's like 'Blade Runner.' People are trying to lead normal lives, and there's so much going on and there's firefights."

When she went to Iraq, Stillwater was for immediate troop pullout. Now, she's not so sure what's the best way forward.

"What I realized is it's just very, very complex," she said.

She said the troops are "really nice, they're really doing a good job. It's just that they've been assigned a job that's screwed."

Reaction to the blog tends to be love it or hate it. "People will say, 'Hey, you're an idiot,' or, 'Hey this is wonderful and we're so proud of you'," she said.

She's obviously not an idiot, but I think her sanity, or at least her common sense and self-preservation instinct could rightly be called into question. That's OK, though. I give her an 'A+' for guts 'n nuts!

I don't know how 'wonderful' it is, but I for one am very proud of her. At an age when many folks think members of my generation should STFU and tend to their knittin', she's still politically active and out doing ballsy stuff.

The 'small Texas newspaper' is The Lone Star Iconoclast of Crawford, Texas, site of Brainless Leader's estate/compound/brushy fiefdom.

You can read Ms. Stillwater's reports here.

Go, Granny, go Granny, go Granny, go!

Now, Congress, Now!!!

Yesterday if possible.

From CNN: White House: Millions of e-mails may be missing

“Millions of White House e-mails may be missing, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino acknowledged Friday.

"I wouldn't rule out that there were a potential 5 million e-mails lost," Perino told reporters.”

To all of the Dems in Congress why think that "bipartisanship" is the way to go. No mas!!! No more!!! It is clear now that crimes have been committed. High crimes and misdemeanors for sure. Get those subpoenas cut and, above all, and with all due haste get the computers impounded. They may think that they've deleted them, but you'd be amazed what a good computer forensics organization can do. Now, Congress, now. Before it is too late. There will not be another opportunity like this.