Saturday, November 3, 2007

Boy, time sure flies when yer havin' fun...

Today is Me'n Mrs. G's 34th wedding anniversary. The years have gone by like it was only yesterday. We're getting so used to it and blasé about it that we didn't even bother getting each other cards, but we're going out for a nice quiet dinner at Zano's here in town.

As soon as we get all done belchin' that out - on to the next 34!

Dress Rehearsal


Martial Law Declared by Musharraf in Pakistan:"The nation's constitution has been suspended, government sources said." Maybe It's a Dress Rehearsal for What Will Happen Here.

Maybe so, but I wouldn't worry about it too much. Bush'll fuck that up like he has everything else in his miserable life, and besides, there aren't enough troops left to do a decent job of it and a lot of them probably wouldn't go along with it.

Love Ride


Think Love Ride, and images of Jay Leno and Harley-Davidson race to mind. But a nitro-fueled cacklefest? Flat-track racing? Stunt-rider pyramids?

The Love Ride is looking a little different in 2007. Now in its 24th year, Southern California's annual cruiser mecca is getting a face lift, with a change of venue and a new three-day adjunct called California Bike Week. Instead of the usual 35-mile pilgrimage to Castaic Lake, the 15,000 bikers expected to turn out for the world's largest one-day motorcycle fundraiser this Sunday will head east to the Pomona Fairplex.

That's the venue for two racing events that will take place earlier in the weekend - the All Harley Drag Racing Assn.'s Nitro Drag Races on Friday and Saturday and the Pacific Coast National Flat Track Series Debut Saturday night. It's also the site of weekend-long freestyle stunt shows, demo rides, a 150-vendor trade show and musical performances, including Gregg Allman, who headlines Sunday afternoon.

"We thought: If we can do the racing in Pomona and have the Love Ride at the same venue, it would really focus a lot of motorcycling activity into one venue and turn it all into a much bigger pie," said Oliver Shokouh, Love Ride founder and owner of Harley-Davidson/Buell of Glendale. "The Love Ride is not a Harley lifestyle event but a motorcycle event open to all motorcyclists of all brands. It's about anybody on two wheels."

I mostly put this in as a plug for Oliver. He gave me my first job in the Harley-Davidson field in 1978. At the time, he was living at his brand-new fresh-bought dealership, on the roof I think, and hadn't even brought his family to California yet. He's of Persian descent, from the Middle East. Detroit. He's a helluva good guy.

He spent his last dime getting that dealership. Don't worry about him. He has plenty of dimes now. The Love Ride is his way of giving back and has raised more than $20,000,000 for Muscular Dystrophy and children's charities over the last 24 years.

Go to Harley-Davidson/Buell of Glendale or Love Ride. You'll be glad you did.

Crossposted at the world's other best blog.

What should Bush do if when he leaves office?

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

In a recent column I speculated on President Bush's post-White House plans. What should he do with himself?

Alice Collins of Oak Lawn has an idea.

"Three hundred and sixty-five days a year, in the wind and snow of winter and the heat and humidity of summer, let him tend to the graves of the almost 4,000 men and women who have given their lives in the debacle of Iraq. They honored their oaths, obeyed their commander-in-chief and sacrificed their lives of promise to a lying, unprincipled warmonger.

"He can begin at the grave of my grandson, Lcpl Jonathan W. Collins, killed in action on 8/8/2004."


Bush isn't worthy of the honor of tending the graves of those he sent to die for his lies.

Other than that, Amen.

Saturday whorage

The next chapter of Thirty Days at Zeta is up at The Practical Press.

Let us know what's going on with you in comments.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The 1812

One of my favorite pieces of music, whether it's done like this:

Seiji Ozawa and the Berlin Philharmonic - Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture Part 1

Part 2

or this:

Bond - The 1812

Draft Starts In An Unlikely Place

Me'n Fixer have joked around about how we're likely to meet for the first time tits up under a Humvee in Kuwait. No way Bush's Iraq flusterpluck is going to go on for too much longer without some kind of forced service*, AKA a Draft. It's started, but who knew it would start with the State Department?


At a State department "town hall" meeting on Wednesday, one participant, veteran diplomat Jack Croddy, pointed out the risks of injury and death faced by American diplomats. But he hit closer to the heart of the matter when he told the director general of the Foreign Service, who was leading the meeting, "It's one thing if someone believes in what's going on over there and volunteers, but it's another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment." On Friday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was traveling, issued a statement saying, "We must go forward with the identification of officers to serve, should it prove necessary to direct assignments. Should others step forward, as some already have, we will fill these new jobs as we have before —with volunteers. However, regardless of how the jobs may be filled, they must be filled."

No wonder, then, that the State Department may resort to a draft to fill its Baghdad roster. The risk to life and limb is real. But the greater worry is that the risks and hardships will be in the service of a cause that is not only frustrating but potentially (HA! - G) futile.

One envisions mass protests like during the Vietnam days, only this time, instead of students, it'll be middle-aged career State Dept. folks.

Note to the protesting State Dept. ladies: This time, don't do the 'no bra' thing. You'll hurt yourselves. And traumatize the rest of us!

*Note to serving members of the military: Didn't know you were gonna be lifers when you signed up, didja? Well, thanks to stop-loss and involuntary extensions, you are.

AGgie Follies

Click to make the ducks even lamer

There's a lot going around today on the AG nomination, including this piece at the WaPo, but BuzzFlash has a good short take:

Bush Goes to Bat for Another "Torture Boy" AG, Using Inane Lies and Deceptions to Justify Mukasey as Transitional DOJ Puppet to a Giuliani Administration. (Mukasey is a Big Bud of Giuliani.) Bush Thinks That We Are Stupid Enough to Believe That Al-Qaeda Would Not Commit a Terrorist Act Because They Don't Know How They Would be Tortured. Explain That to a Suicide Bomber, You Moron.

We'll be better off without an AG for the rest of Bush's term, however long that may turn out to be, than with a Bushbot lawyer who can't commit to what he thinks about waterboarding because he might have to prosecute his boss if he did.

You don't call, you don't write ...

How many times have I said this since we opened up this place?

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The number of foreign visitors to the United States has plummeted since the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington because foreigners don't feel welcome, tourism professionals said Thursday.


"Travelers around the world feel the US entry experience is among the world's worst," Freeman said, calling on the US government to work with the private sector to make visa acquisition more efficient, the entry process traveler-friendly, and to improve communication.


"What affects travel and tourism affects our economy and our image around the world. Travel and tourism is the face of America, whether it's people coming here or Americans going elsewhere," he said.


Listen. I'm out of the country twice a year and I started getting this vibe years ago. A lot more Europeans would rather visit Phuket, Thailand than Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Anybody who's had to put up with clearing U.S. customs knows why. For the first time on a cruise, last April I was singled out for 'further interviews' by U.S. Customs in St. Thomas.

The police state mentality and general distrust and disrespect of anyone not speaking English has had a dampening effect on tourism. Along with most everything that defined America, openness and tolerance have been relegated to the trash heap in favor of a false sense of security.

Thank god it's Friday ...

Great thanks to Mr. Philadelphia for the link.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Moving on ...

I can't say I admired Paul Tibbets. I can say I was in awe of the man. I was in awe of the fact he could sleep at night for the past 60 years. I was in awe of the fact he didn't step out of Enola Gay on 6 Aug 1945, chamber a round into his pistol, place the barrel up to his temple, and pull the trigger. I would have.

Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., the commander and pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in the final days of World War II, died today at his home in Columbus, Ohio. He was 92.


It would seem he had no soul.

Madness as Method

MoDo on The Dick. Hmmm, my choice of words there may have been a slight Freudian slip...

Dick Cheney’s craziness used to influence foreign policy.

Now it is foreign policy.

Cheney seems to enjoy giving the impression that he is loony enough to pull off an attack on Iran before leaving office — even if he has to do it alone, like Slim Pickens riding the bomb down in “Dr. Strangelove” to the sentimental tune of “We’ll Meet Again.” He has even begun referring to his nickname, Darth Vader, noting that it “is one of the nicer things I’ve been called recently.”

I'd love to see Cheney doin' the Slim Pickens number! Maybe we can get the guys at Minot to spirit the nuke out of the warhead. I'd like to see the look on Cheney's face in the split second between the time the damn thing didn't go off and before he 'made his mark on the Middle East', so to speak. But if we can't, I'd almost go along with nukin' Iran if The Dick'd ride 'er down just to be rid of his insane ass. I apologize as well to Mr. Vader for the comparison.

As Pat Buchanan noted on “Hardball,” “Cheney and Bush are laying down markers for themselves which they’re going to have to meet. I don’t see how ... Bush and Cheney can avoid attacking Iran and retaining their credibility going out of office.”

In other words, once our cowboys have talked their crazy talk, they have to walk their crazy walk.

My faith in Pat Buchanan is restored! He thinks B & C have credibility. Yeesh.

They may not have credibility, but they have no sanity either. The fuckers will start WWIII (or IV, or V, or whatever number you care to assign to it) if they can.

They need to go NOW. Whatever it takes.

Why, those ungrateful bastards...

Click if you must

NPR’s “Car Talk” Hosts: No More “Fear-Mongering Bull-feathers” from Automakers

My two favorite radio personalities get political. At, of all places,

WASHINGTON (October 30, 2007) – The hosts of National Public Radio’s famed show “Car Talk” have sent a letter to Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and the members of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming backing a 35 mile per gallon fuel economy standard for America’s vehicles that is currently being considered in Congress. In the letter, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, aka Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, use their renowned wit and vehicle knowledge to knock down the auto industry’s continued resistance to adopt stronger fuel economy standards.

“As any listener knows, Tom and Ray are where common sense begins when it comes to cars, and when they say reaching 35 miles per gallon is feasible and the smart play for the American auto industry, people should listen” said Chairman Markey. “Automakers should stop acting like they’re playing the Tappet Brothers’ game, ‘Stump the Chumps,’ and start supporting higher fuel economy standards in Congress’ energy bill.”

If you've never listened to "Car Talk", you should start. Folks call in with all sorts of questions, and the Tappet Bros' answers range from pretty technical to the likes of "Does it go clankety-clank or tinkle-tankle-tunk?". They're funnier'n shit and know damn near as much about cars as Fixer and Bustedknuckles, whom you can visit along with a certain two-wheel correspondent who only has to know half as much since 'sickles only have half as many wheels thank God and never gets dirty above his elbows, at Fixer & Gordon.

The Air Force Coverup of that Minot-Barksdale Nuclear Missile Flight

If this was a 'mistake' as the Air Force claims, it was made at a very high level.

Dave Lindorff:

"It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck." -- Pentagon official

There is something deeply disturbing about the Air Force's official report on the Aug. 29-30 "bent spear" incident that saw six nuclear warheads get mounted on six Advanced Cruise Missiles and improperly removed from a nuclear weapons storage bunker at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, then get improperly loaded on a B-52, and then get improperly flown to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana -- a report that attributed the whole thing to a "mistake."

And yet we're asked to believe some low-ranking ground crew personnel at Minot AFB simply walked out of a nuclear weapons bunker with six nuclear armed Advanced Cruise Missiles, not knowing what they were carrying, and labored for eight hours to mount those missiles and their launch pylon on the wing of a B-52 strategic bomber without ever noticing they were armed with nuclear weapons. We're asked to believe that none of those electronic alarms and motion sensors built into the system went off during that whole process.

Vice President Dick Cheney is known to be pressing within the administration for a war with Iran, to be launched before Bush leaves office. According to some reports, Cheney has even, on his own authority (or lack thereof), urged Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, in hopes that Iran might retaliate, thus drawing the U.S. into a war.

Could the nation's war-mongering VP have used his neo-con contacts in the Defense Department or some of the Armageddon-believers in the Air Force to bypass the official chain of command and spring those nukes from their bunker?

Or was there a plan for a so-called "false-flag incident," where a small nuke -- made to resemble a primitive weapon of the type a fledgling nuclear power might construct -- might be detonated at a U.S. target abroad, or even within the U.S.?

These are terrible and terrifying questions to have to ask, but when you have six nuclear weapons go missing, when the military investigation into the incident is so clearly a whitewash or coverup, and when you have a vice president who is openly pressing for an illegal war of aggression against a nation that poses no threat to the U.S., and who, in fact, appears to be conducting his own treacherous foreign policy behind the back of the president and the State Department, these questions must be asked and answered.

They probably won't be, at least while the present criminals are occupying the White House, but I have no trouble at all believing it was a Cheney plan. The question is whether he was just wavin' his weenie or, worse by orders of magnitude, actually intended to use nuclear weapons to start his next failed war. Either way, he should be in prison.

Why Did We Invade Iraq Anyway?

You know the answer, but here's a really good one (long!) page Tomgram on the subject. A definite 5-minute 'must read'.

Why then did the U.S. invade Iraq? Why is occupying Iraq so "vital" to those "national security interests" of ours? None of this makes sense if you don't have the patience to drill a little beneath the surface ? and into the past; if you don't take into account that, as former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz once put it, Iraq "floats on a sea of oil"; and if you don't consider the decades-long U.S. campaign to control, in some fashion, Middle East energy reservoirs. If not, then you can't understand the incredible tenaciousness with which George W. Bush and his top officials have pursued their Iraqi dreams or why - now that those dreams are clearly so many nightmares - even the Democrats can't give up the ghost.

The United States viewed Middle Eastern oil as a precious prize long before the Iraq war. During World War II, that interest had already sprung to life: When British officials declared Middle Eastern oil "a vital prize for any power interested in world influence or domination," American officials agreed, calling it "a stupendous source of strategic power and one of the greatest material prizes in world history."

It is hardly surprising, then, that the new administration, bent on unipolarity anyway and dreaming of a global Pax Americana, wasted no time implementing the aggressive policies advocated in the PNAC manifesto. According to then Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill in his memoir The Price of Loyalty, Iraq was much on the mind of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the first meeting of the National Security Council on January 30, 2001 (my em), seven months before the 9/11 attacks. At that meeting, Rumsfeld argued that the Clinton administration's Middle Eastern focus on Israel-Palestine should be unceremoniously dumped. "[W]hat we really want to think about," he reportedly said, "is going after Saddam." Regime change in Iraq, he argued, would allow the U.S. to enhance the situation of the pro-American Kurds, redirect Iraq toward a market economy, and guarantee a favorable oil policy.

"An American-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and the replacement of the radical Baathist dictatorship with a new government more closely aligned with the United States, would put America more wholly in charge of the region than any power since the Ottomans, or maybe even the Romans."

As worldwide demand for hydrocarbons soared, the United States was left with three policy choices: It could try to combine alternative energy sources with rigorous conservation to reduce or eliminate a significant portion of energy imports; it could accept the leverage conferred on OPEC by the energy crunch and attempt to negotiate for an adequate share of what might soon enough become an inadequate supply; or it could use its military power in an effort to coerce Middle East suppliers into satisfying American requirements at the expense of everyone else. Beginning with Jimmy Carter, five U.S. presidents chose the coercive strategy, with George W. Bush finally deciding that violent, preemptive regime change was needed to make it work. The other options remain unexplored.

So how's it all working out? File the results under "World's Stupidest Criminals" - The Bush maladministration couldn't even pull off what amounted to a grand-scale gas station stickup.

Crossing over ...

With John Edward Cole:


I had intended to register independent, but when I got there to do it, I had a moment of clarity- there seemed to be no point leaving the Republican party in protest and joining the unwashed masses. If I really was going to protest, it made no sense to not commit to the opposition party. Besides, as a Republican all these years, I never had any problem voting for libertarians, Democrats, etc., I don’t see why being a Democrat will change anything. And, the 2008 election really is the most important election of my lifetime- the basic foundation of our country has been under assault for a while, now, and I want to vote in the Democratic primary as a Democrat, not as someone with no party affiliation. I want to send a message, and as small as this gesture (which should appropriately be interpreted as a middle finger to the GOP and not as a sloppy wet kiss to Nancy Pelosi) is, I want it to mean as much as possible. There is now one less Republican in WV, and one more Democrat.


Welcome aboard, Mr. Cole. A little late, but if more Republicans were like him, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in today.

Thanks Shakes!

I (heart) NY ...

As many of you know, I have a love/hate relationship with my home. As far as I'm concerned, NY is the greatest city in the world, though the leadership always manage to pull out a bonehead move at the wrong time. One of the best things about NY is our Halloween Parade:

(New York - AP, October 31, 2007) - The theme was "Wings of Desire," but costumes of every kind were on display at Greenwich Village's proudly outlandish Halloween parade.
Ensembles ranged from the usual devils and witches to the unusual - such as the man wearing a box of cereal punctured with plastic knives. Steven Rodriguez, 24, said he was a "serial" killer. Get it?


There were prison inmates, Catholic priests, even a box of Trojan condoms. Guises were simple (a Freddy Krueger mask), trendy (Idaho Sen. Larry Craig) and imaginative (the late poet Sylvia Plath's head in a kitchen oven).


The parade, started in 1973 as a neighborhood event for children, has grown to encompass thousands of marchers, floats and giant puppets, with huge crowds of onlookers and television coverage. An unusual admission policy allows anyone wearing a costume to march. All participants have to do is show up at the start line.


Video at the link.


And, of course, the boneheads were out yesterday too. Heh ...

MIDDLE ISLAND, N.Y. (AP) — Perhaps it was meant to be a Halloween prank, but police say three teenagers weren't smart about choosing a target.

Police say the 17-year-old and two 15-year-olds peppered a marked police car with paintballs — and were promptly arrested on reckless endangerment and weapons charges.


Suffolk County police say the teens blasted the police car with several paintballs Wednesday evening in Middle Island, on Long Island. The driver's side window was hit at least twice.


Ha-ha! Idiots. Betcha the cop shit his pants ...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Raising Sand

I was just listening to a new CD called "Raising Sand" by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

I've been a big fan of Ms. Krauss for many years. Bio here. She was a bluegrass fiddle champion, but she's grown over the years. She sings like a bird.

I've heard of Robert Plant (Bio), but I was never much of a Led Zeppelin fan. I sorta remember him from one of the iterations of The Yardbirds. Memory is a funny thing.

This is another instance of one of my favorite musicians introducing me to a more mainstream artist. Live and learn.

Anyway, a country or bluegrass album this one ain't, although there are some nice overtones. Hit the album link and give it a listen. I like it.

And, oh yeah, it was $12.29 at Costco.

Conflicts of interest ...

Atrios explains in one sentence:

[AG nominee] Mukasey can't say that any of the barbaric things the Bush administration has done is a crime because it would be his job, as Attorney General, to prosecute them all for having done them.


Creature says it well too.

Let's play 'Zap the Chimp'!

Yahoo! News

PHILADELPHIA - Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich questioned President Bush's mental health in light of comments he made about a nuclear Iran precipitating World War III.

"I seriously believe we have to start asking questions about his mental health," Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, said in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial board on Tuesday. "There's something wrong. He does not seem to understand his words have real impact."

Click it

Great idea, but my idea for 'shock therapy' for the Chimp involves an old Model T Ford coil, or one of those hand-cranked magnetos that make the rounds in tourist cantinas in Mexico, and a set of jumper cables with very small alligator clips capable of attaching to his raisin-like testicles.

The only reason I can think of to put the 'trodes on his head would be to watch the pretty arc across the high resistance gap between his ears.


Just go look at this page at All Hat No Cattle.

"Are your (redacted) still covert?"

There are some things that should be out in the open...

Very scaaary right wing costumes

People For the American Way

Need a scary last-minute costume idea? Terrify your friends and family by dressing up as a member of the Right Wing this Halloween.

Go see. These'll scare the crap out of ya.

On a related note, it is reported that Bush is related to Vlad the Impaler. The rumor is, and I know because I started it, that in honor of this relationship, Bush's costume for tonight will be old-fashioned Romanian evening wear with a huge black strap-on (fitting, I think, given his style of governance) and he will trick-or-treat as "Count Cockula".

Believe it or don't, I did not make up that costume idea. I've seen it.

Ru-dee! Ru-dee!

More 'moral values' ...

Imagine that. Yet another Rethug hypocrite busted:

Good grief. It's an endless flood of GOP sexual hypocrites. In Spokane, an alleged extortion attempt that involves a conservative (and very anti-gay) state legislator and a male escort. The story just reeks of the usual factors -- the closet, self-loathing, and poor choice of rent boy. I'm sure more facts are forthcoming that will "clear up matters."


Pam has updated several times with all the detail of this sordid business.

Just a hint to Rethugs. If you want the public to believe all the bullshit you shovel, you might want to clean up your acts a bit. Weekly sex scandals don't cut it when you wrap yourselves in the cloak of 'morality'.

Mortgages ...

We've been saying this here at the Brain for years, though the assumption was it would happen earlier. The big 'economic geniuses' thought the gravy train would never stop. I betcha these were the same assholes who invested big money in the 'Internet boom' in the 90s and lost their shirts too:


from the perspective of the loan officer, these deals were really two fers. sure, the rates were going to skyrocket but no one involved believe that anyone would ever have to face making payments at those rates. the borrowers would clean their credit, season their employment, have a track record on that newly opened company, and/or any of a number of other things that would allow them to qualify for the gold standard of mortgages, a conventional loan. or, barring that (because borrowers are human, after all) the folks would come back in in two years and we’d reset them with a new subprime, thereby keeping payments down in the comfort zone, and every one would be happy and prosperous. [my em[


Because, in all their best-laid plans, everyone fails to consider, or even acknowledge, human nature. I don't know about your neighborhood, but in mine, every third house has a 'For Sale' sign on it.

Anybody with any common sense can see this model isn't sustainable and the only surprise is that the mortgage industry didn't collapse sooner. I have friends who are mortgage bankers for some of the biggest firms in NY. They haven't had a weekend off in a couple months. One of 'em even canceled his family vacation in fear of the market completely collapsing under him while he was gone. This bloody mess of a pyramid scheme hasn't even hit bottom yet. Look for a Chrysler-type bailout by the government before it's over.

Coming for the children ...

Bob the Friendly Satanist (what can I tell you, he hangs with the General) takes a look at the stuff his grandson brings home from school:

I want to thank you directing the teachers at Wide Hollow Elementary to distribute the Child Evangelism Fellowship's flyers to their students during class time. I bet the kids are very excited about the Christian Bible classes the Fellowship is offering in the school library on Wednesdays. I know my grandson is. Maybe the other kids will stop calling him "Jewboy" now.


Go see his solution.

Run, Rudy, Run ...

The rest of the nation learns what we in NY have known for a long time:


Update: Via Duncan, I see that Ezra wonders why the Village isn't writing about the fact that the GOP front runner is a barking madman. I think it's simple. They don't think he is. They also don't think Ann Coulter is a shrieking lunatic or that Rush Limbaugh is a lying sack of offal or that one should find anything morally objectionable about torture or indefinite detention or invading countries on false pretenses. They believed for years that Tom Delay was a regular guy and that James Dobson is full of good ideas.


Personally, I would like to see Rudy get the Rethug nomination. It would just be too good to watch all the skeletons buried under NYC rise from the bedrock. And Joe Biden came up with a great line last night:


Biden: “…And the irony is, Rudy Giuliani, probably the most under qualified person since George Bush to seek the presidency, is here - talking about any of the people here. Rudy Giuliani. I mean think about it, Rudy Giuliani, there’s only three things he mentions in a sentence — a noun and a verb and 9/11 and I mean, there’s nothing else. There’s nothing else.”


The pics, many of them, indifferent outfits, of Rudy in drag should be great fodder for the bible-thumpers over dinner. The list of NYFD waiting to tell the world what a jerk-off Rudy is, is endless. His record of persecuting minorities is legendary and there are many who will come forward to tell of the police state he created here.

Yes, Rudy, please win the nomination. There is just too much ammo out there for a Dem candidate to use.

Hollow weenie

A happy spooky day from me'n my very scaaary buddy Zomboo.

He ain't near as scary as these fuckers:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


In case you missed it, Here's Jon Stewart skewering the last week's worth of 24/7 fire coverage extraneous spin and roasting it on a spit at high RPM:

I love America ...

Unfortunately, every group of immigrants to this nation has been shit on in the years following their arrival. It's the Muslims now:


But even as the specific event blurred into unspecific politics and symbolism over the years, it continued to affect individuals in concrete ways — ways that Fremont resident Hamid Sayadi claims he paid a price for.


"Oh, NUMMI hires terrorists now?" was the sort of remark he says he heard commonly. His presence among co-workers invariably brought about mention of jihad or terrorism. One day, he was told by a superior that his lunchbox needed to be searched. When he asked why, he said he was led to believe he was considered a possible suicide bomber.

"I just opened the lunch box. I was dumbfounded. I was so shameful. I didn't know what to say. That was the point when I should have said something to the media — 'Look what happened to me.' But I was so ashamed. I thought, maybe he's right. I'm from (that region), I deserve this."


Thankfully it's not everyone he works with, but I certainly wouldn't have put up with the crap for as long as he has.


What he first dismissed as ignorance gradually came to wear away at him. He grew depressed over what he describes as a barrage of insults. His son's art was removed from a wall where paintings and drawings from the children of other employees hung, he says. His tires were slashed one day. And, always, the insults.

Sayadi says he complained in writing to management, but that the only response was further humiliation. In one letter he still has, he took issue with a toilet-cleaning assignment he was given — retaliation for complaining, he says, and because someone from a "carpet-flying area" surely couldn't handle anything more complex. He came to internalize the contempt hurled at him.


The poor bastard. My German forebears put up with this when they came over here at the beginning of the last century. So did the Russians on my wife's side. Unfortunately for the Muslims, 9/11 has increased the weight of the baggage they must carry. For once, I wish Americans could welcome immigrants instead of fear them.

Off to work ...

Great thanks to our pal Cookie Jill for the link.

Listen up ...

There is no Social Security crisis.

Quote of the Day

Phoenix Woman on the Chimp's machinations in Iran:

Whatever you’re hoping to accomplish, George — besides high oil prices — I don’t think you’re getting it.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Got this jewel via e-mail from my friend Bev:

An Indian walks into a cafe with a shotgun in one hand pulling a male buffalo with the other. He says to the waiter:

"Want coffee."

The waiter says, "Sure, Chief. Coming right up."

He gets the Indian a tall mug of coffee. The Indian drinks the coffee down in one gulp, turns and blasts the buffalo with the shotgun, causing parts of the animal to splatter everywhere and then just walks out.

The next morning the Indian returns. He has his shotgun in one hand, pulling another male buffalo with the other. He walks up to the counter and says to the waiter,

"Want coffee."

The waiter says "Whoa, Tonto! We're still cleaning up your mess from yesterday. What was all that about, anyway?"

The Indian smiles and proudly says,

"Training for position in United States Congress: Come in, drink coffee, shoot the bull, leave mess for others to clean up, disappear for rest of day."

The ? Gulf Name Game

An article in Asian Times about our 'allies' along the western side of the large body of water accessed through the Straits of Hormuz. Methinks the writer is not overly fond of them. But we certainly are. A 'recommended read'. The numbers in brackets are explained at the bottom of page two.

Various branches of the United States armed forces have issued directives to their members to use the "Arabian Gulf" when operating in the area. This is claimed to be due to increased cooperation with Arab states of the Persian Gulf, but also to follow local laws that ban the use of "Persian Gulf". In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which consists of seven emirates - Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain, public use of the name "Persian Gulf" is illegal.

The UAE is an exceptional example of gender inequality and barbaric economic exploitation; it's one of the last states in the world devoid of an electoral system, and it's a point of entry for US military expansion in the Gulf.

Since the Gulf War of 1991, Jebel Ali port in Dubai has become crucial to US naval operations in the Gulf; it is the safest liberty port in the region and the only harbor in the Gulf deep enough to berth an aircraft carrier. [5] And the showcase UAE army, originated by the British-educated top brass, is a major financial lubricator of the military industy in the United States. [6]

US policy towards this super-wealthy stain of inequality and inhumanity is clear from the manner in which US institutions, from its military to its universities, play the naming game.

Why don't we call it the "Hindu Gulf", or the "Gulf of The Unknown Worker"? Let's pay respects to the millions of South Asian enslaved workers in the UAE and other members of Gulf Cooperation Council [9]; who's going to recognize them when their drained corpses are vomited back to the sub-continent?

Let's call it "Gulf of Central Command", or simply the "Gulf of America". Let's recognize the reality of the complete occupation of this invaded body of water by the 100-plus warships and missile-armed nuclear submarines, the bases and the Air Warfare School. But then, the old British name for the UAE was Pirate Coast, so how about "Gulf of Captain Hook"? In this way, American children's culture is memorialized as well.

Playing the inverted naming game, thinking of the Filipino domestic workers raped by Arab desert princes, and evoking an Iranian suggestion, "Islamic Gulf", and using a Koranic term, let's call it: "Gulf of a Thousand and One Kaniz [10]"! It is exotic, real and Islamic.

Please read the rest. If only a fraction of what this gent says is true, we're tied in with some awful, awful people.

Thanks, George.

'Marijuana is not a drug, it's a leaf,' says Schwarzenegger

The Independent (UK)

Already facing enough problems with the wild fires that have swept California, the state's governor Arnold Schwarzenegger may have stepped into a new row by claiming that marijuana is not a drug. In an interview with GQ magazine, the Hollywood star turned governor of California insisted: "I didn't take any drugs."

The interviewer, former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, put it to the star that he had admitted smoking marijuana in the past. In Pumping Iron, the bodybuilding documentary which launched his career 30 years ago, he was shown taking a drag on a spliff.

"That is not a drug. It's a leaf," said Austrian-born Mr Schwarzenegger, 60. "My drug was pumping iron, trust me," he added.

Finally, a highly visible Repug pol uses some common sense and tells the truth.

Boy, is he gonna get in trouble!

Straitjacket Bush

Rosa Brooks with a good read:

The president's warmongering remarks on the Iranian threat suggest he is psychotic. Really.

Forget impeachment.

Liberals, put it behind you. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney shouldn't be treated like criminals who deserve punishment. They should be treated like psychotics who need treatment.

Impeachment has pretty much been 'forgotten' by those who can, and should, do it.

Other than that, Ms. Brooks is far too kind to those two bastards. Yes, they're insane, but not in any good way. They're insane in a socio/pathological obsessive criminal way, where they'll say or do anything, tell any lie, fake any emotion, instill false fears in the gullible (of which there are still plenty), in short, do whatever it takes to continue their warmongering oil and power grab, all in the name of 'patriotism', and the Devil take the hindmost. The Constitution and the United States being the 'hindmost'.

Yes, they should be in straitjackets. They should be wearing them while dangling from a gallows frame.

I'll go along with merely institutionalizing them, though, if we can try my new 'treatment' which I concocted just for B&C and their neocon ilk, which involves lots of greasy, gassy food, a straitjacket, and scads of sneezing powder. Applied 'liberally', so to speak. A coupla months of that and they'll beg for the gallows.

But their pleas will go unheeded. At least for a while. Why spoil our fun? We'll get tired of it eventually and let them recover and clean up and get back to 'normal'. Then we'll hang 'em.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Bush Wants Another $46 Billion for Wars
Dems pledge to whine “even louder” before giving it to him.

Rice Asks Former Presidents Clinton, Carter for Advice on Middle East
They advise her to cut down on war crimes.

We only torture when our values are threatened.

Putting Pieces of a Puzzle Together

Stories that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside:

Ex-spook cult now running most of Russian politics

Russian political life has been usurped by "siloviki" -- ex-spies -- who have apparently seized power from the small network of hyper-rich plutocratic "bankers" who rose to power after the Wall came down. The siloviki are a tight mafiyeh whose methods include high-profile international assassination of defectors (the assassins walk free and then run for high office).

Virtually all key positions in Russian political life -- in government and the economy -- are controlled by the so-called "siloviki," a blanket term to describe the network of former and current state-security officers with personal ties to the Soviet-era KGB and its successor agencies. The unexpected replacement of former Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov by former Federal Financial Monitoring Service Director Viktor Zubkov is the latest consolidation of this group's grip on power in Russia. Although Zubkov is not an intelligence officer by background, he has become one de facto during his years at the Financial Monitoring Service, and he has intimate knowledge of where the country's legal and illegal assets are to be found.

The core of the siloviki group, led by former KGB officer and Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Vladimir Putin himself, comprises about 6,000 security-service alumni who entered the corridors of power during Putin's first term. Now, as Putin's second term winds down, their clout is virtually unassailable. Their locus of power is in the presidential administration: deputy chief of staff Igor Sechin cut his teeth in the KGB's First Main Directorate, which oversaw foreign intelligence operations and has since been transformed into the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Fellow deputy chief of staff Viktor Ivanov worked for the KGB's main successor organization, the FSB, which is responsible for counterintelligence operations.
Full story here.

and more:
StormWorm botnet lashes out at security researchers

The Storm Worm botnet (thought to be the largest network of compromised machines in the world) has begun to figure out which security researchers are trying to disrupt its command-and-control systems and knock them offline with unmanagable crapfloods from its zillions of zombie machines.

The worm can figure out which users are trying to probe its command-and-control servers, and it retaliates by launching DDoS attacks against them, shutting down their Internet access for days, says Josh Korman, host-protection architect for IBM/ISS, who led a session on network threats.

"As you try to investigate [Storm], it knows, and it punishes," he says. "It fights back."

As a result, researchers who have managed to glean facts about the worm are reluctant to publish their findings. "They're afraid. I've never seen this before," Korman says. "They find these things but never say anything about them."

And not without good reason, he says. Some who have managed to reverse engineer Storm in an effort to figure out how to thwart it have suffered DDoS attacks that have knocked them off the Internet for days, he says.

As researchers test their versions of Storm by connecting to Storm command-and-control servers, the servers seem to recognize these attempts as threatening. Then either the worm itself or the people behind it seem to knock them off the Internet by flooding them with traffic from Storm's botnet, Korman says.
Full story here.

Makin' progress ...

WATERTOWN, New York - Iraq war veterans now stationed at a base here in upstate New York say that morale among US soldiers in the country is so poor, many are simply parking their Humvees and pretending to be on patrol, a practice dubbed "search and avoid" missions.


[Phil] Aliff [an active duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division] said he participated in roughly 300 patrols. "We were hit by so many roadside bombs we became incredibly demoralized, so we decided the only way we wouldn't be blown up was to avoid driving around all the time."

"So we would go find an open field and park, and call our base every hour to tell them we were searching for weapons caches in the fields and doing weapons patrols and everything was going fine," he said, adding, "All our enlisted people became very disenchanted with our chain of command."


They're just killing time, hoping to get out of there with their skins intact. The grunts know exactly what they're fighting for, what their friends are dying for, and they know it ain't worth it. It sure as hell ain't life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They're not fighting for the American Way because that was never part of the equation.

... "One of my buddies is in Baghdad right now and we email all the time," he explained, "He just told me that nearly each day they pull into a parking lot, drink soda and shoot at the cans. They pay Iraqi kids to bring them things and spread the word that they are not doing anything and to please just leave them alone." ...

Leadership ...

Athenae gets to the crux of the biscuit:


We kid ourselves a lot, you know. We tell ourselves that what we know is our moment really isn't, that somebody else should do it, that it's somebody else's job, but come on. You know. You know what you have to do and how you have to do it, and all you really have to do about it is listen to yourself, listen to yourself, and avoid the story in the future being about how you should have done something but didn't.



Before I'm late, X has more on the subject at Creature's place.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fred Thompson is plain ol' un-American

And there was thunder, thunder over Thunder Road
Thunder was his engine, and white lightning was his load
There was moonshine, moonshine to quench the Devil’s thirst
The law they swore they'd get him, but the Devil got him first.

Ballad of Thunder Road


But a review of the 88 criminal cases Thompson handled at the U.S. attorney's office in Nashville, from 1969 to 1972, reveals a different and more human portrait -- that of a young lawyer learning the ropes on routine cases involving gambling, mail theft and, in one instance, talking dirty on CB radio.

There were a few bank robbers and counterfeiters. But more than anything, Thompson took on the state's moonshiners and a local culture, rooted in Tennessee's hills and hollows, that celebrated the independent whiskey maker's battle against the government's revenue agents.

Twenty-seven of his cases involved moonshining -- more than any other crime.

I read that and it got me to thinkin' (uh-oh!) - ain't nuthin' more American than the manufacture, transport, commerce and consumption of untaxed whiskey.

From the song "Copper Kettle" which I'd heard by Joan Baez but didn't know was also done by Bob Dylan until just now:

Get you a copper kettle, get you a copper coil,
Fill it with new-made corn mash and never more you'll toil.
You'll just lay there by the juniper while the moon is bright,
Watch them jugs a-filling
In the pale moonlight.
Build you a fire with hickory, hickory, ash and oak,
Don't use no green or rotten wood; they'll get you by the smoke.
We'll just lay there by the juniper... etc.
My daddy, he made whiskey; my granddaddy, he did too.
We ain't paid no whiskey tax since 1792.

1792, of course, was right around the time of the Whiskey Rebellion of local distillers against the federal imposition of a tax which would have cost them any profit on their product.

What's more American than that?

A little more ominously, from "Rocky Top":

Once two strangers climbed ol' Rocky Top
Lookin' for a moonshine still
Strangers ain't come down from Rocky Top
Reckon they never will

It musta scared the crap out of the feds! To this day, they'd rather tax citizens than manufacturers of almost anything.

One only hopes that the living memory of some of the 'shine boys back there in Tennessee will cost Thompson the 'untaxed whiskey' vote fer bein' on the side of the revenooers.

Go see Moonshine Runners, History, and Their Cars. Good story, cool photos.


The early Americans used lotsa distilled liquor. It was handy as a cleaner and an antiseptic, and was used as currency, but mostly they drank it. They weren't stupid - they knew it might kill 'em, but they also knew that the natural untreated water of the day surely would.

Rummy's High-Speed Au Revoir

Pensito Review

On Friday, while former Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld was visiting France, human rights groups based there and in the United States filed complaints against him, charging him with approving torture:

French prosecutors were said to have the power to pursue the case while Rumsfeld was in the country.

One source cites unconfirmed reports that Rumsfeld was abruptly whisked away from a breakfast meeting on Friday in order to avoid his arrest:

The report said Rumsfeld fled to Germany because similar charges were dismissed against him there in the spring.The German court ruled that Rumsfeld’s criminality was an internal matter for the United States.

Germany's right, until we sign onto the International Criminal Court. The main reason Bush didn't and won't do that is so our war criminals will be safe inside the U.S.. And Paraguay, of course.

This incident further illustrates just how stupid, or senile, or both, Rumsfeld is, as if the way he master-minded the Iraq flusterpluck wasn't enough. Every other U.S. war criminal who no longer has diplomatic immunity, from Kissinger on down to the present, knows not to go to countries where they might be arrested.

Flyin' MRAPskis...

Shown: An-225 and a Space Shuttle

Army Times

The Air Force has been forced to use Russian commercial cargo jets to rush mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles from the U.S. to Iraq because it does not have enough C-5 and C-17 planes to do the job, the service’s top civilian official said recently.

I'm glad the AF is using every resource to get those rigs to our guys, but I find it ironic.

Go see more about the Antonov An-124 and its even bigger brother.

I wonder if the AF will contract for these to fly the 'missile shield' stuff to Eastern Europe?

Colonoscopy as a Terrorist Interrogation Technique

Go see The Smirking Chimp. This lends a whole new meaning to 'liquid alert'.

Now for the even better news. In the subsequent hours, as you consume more and more clear fluid, you will be experiencing many, many openings of your own personal anal dam valve. All this will be taking place many hours after you have stopped eating any solid foods whatsoever. Think of yourself becoming progressively hungry, weak and totally evacuated.

It is as if some ingenious person has figured out a way to connect a hose to a fire hydrant and feed it directly into your gut, and then opened the hydrant up repeatedly. Talk about a terrorist suspect spilling their guts!

Now tell me, can’t you imagine the impact of this experience on a stubborn, silent terrorist?

I would dearly love to be the 'valve man' on a fire hose enema for Cheney and Bush as well! I have a lovely visual of really wide eyes and six jets of high pressure water...

Add some soap flakes and colored lights and it'd be a sight to gladden the soul.

Adjustments ...

As all of you know, Mrs. F and I are avid cruisers. In July, I alerted you to a trip we booked for next October, transatlantic from Rome to NYC. Well, sometimes things go awry. It seems Holland America changed the itinerary after we booked (not a rare occurrence in the cruise industry), enough to give us second thoughts (they changed a few ports, dropped others, including ending up in NY, switching to Ft. Lauderdale). We canceled it and began shopping for something else.

What we found was a Med cruise (Amsterdam to Rome) aboard Holland America's Prinsendam. Though we're still flying to and from Europe, the ports and ship (Prinsendam is tiny and intimate) make it worth the hassle.

During that search, we came across another we already booked for March. It runs 13 days from New York to the Panama Canal and back, aboard Cunard's Queen Mary 2, an old friend from our London/Transatlantic trip in '04.

If you feel like joining us on either, email me and I'll give you booking details and hook you up with our travel agent (who's just opened her own office).

Disclaimer: As always, I point out these cruises and invite you along because they are different from the run-of-the mill Caribbean, Mexico, or Alaska fare and I feel the itineraries and ships reflect the true spirit and tradition of cruising. They are refined elegance. If you want a party boat, call Carnival or NCL. Also, I'm not a cruise director or tour guide. I'll be on vacation too and I'm not into babysitting or hand holding, though I am always more than happy to meet a reader over a drink or two (which I've done more than once in the past) and share my experience with the ships and ports. Click pics to embiggen.