Saturday, March 29, 2008

Backseat driver from America

Nanci Griffith sings about one of the main reasons the world is in such a mess. Teach your children well.

Lyrics at site.

Three Crazy Bastards and Maverick

On Siegelman and Rove

I'm sure we're all aware of the case of Repugs v Siegelman.

My earnest hope is that the current DoJ does not prosecute Rove. If they do, Bush will pardon Turdblossom before it ever gets anywhere near a courtroom. They might do it for just that reason. Bush might just preemptively pardon him anyway.

Since the end of this maladministration is in sight, I think everybody needs to wait until these crooks are out from behind 'executive privilege' and back down on the farm before coming down on them like a ton of bricks.


Crazy day yesterday, but an extraordinary trip across Panama.



The Canal

There was a feeling of sadness throughout though, as yesterday was Mom-in-law's funeral. We called Dad-in-law when we got back to the ship though it wasn't the same as being there. He's doing as well as can be expected and I'd like to thank you all for your words of condolence, on his behalf and Mrs. F's. It means quite a lot to us at this sad time. Thank you.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Aargh, Mateys, there's buggery aboard!

No, I'm not talkin' about the Fixers' cruise on the Raging Queen Mary, although you never know...

The U.S. Navy seems to be returning to its original purpose and taking on pirates in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. Ah, for the good old days of rum, sodomy, and the lash...

From the Beeb:

Pirates are not just peg-legs, parrots and pistols. In this three part series, Nick Rankin finds out how they have adapted to changing times.

They sure have! Sounds like a Jimmy Buffett concert...

Thanks to PaleMoon.

Normalcy = Bush is Insane

You can go to Cursor and click on the 23 links in the following paragraphs, but I put this in because of the last sentence.

In Basra, a complex conflict generates multiple theories about what's really going on, as U.S. planes join the attack on militia strongholds in an attempt to break the stalemate, and Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki extends the deadline for militants to turn in their weapons.

Also in Basra, an oil pipeline bombing and unstable conditions send world oil prices up, and British commanders, who were apparently "unaware of the operation until just before it began" find their exit strategy unraveling, while Al Hayat reports more deadly U.S. bombings in Hilla.

With Baghdad under curfew and Green Zone diplomats urged to take cover, U.S. armor forces appear to take the lead in the offensive against the militia in Sadr City, and Maliki vows to "fight to the end," despite protests and setbacks.

As 'Blackwater fever' spreads across Iraq, and lack of sanitation and drinking water exacerbates the humanitarian crisis, an Iraqi lawyer and refugee explains his unwillingness to return: "Iraq is not a suitable place to live as a human ... Everything is broken there."

Revelations about dungeon-like conditions in an Iraqi-run prison in Fallujah appear to undermine the narrative of success in Anbar, as the British government admits "substantive breaches" of a human rights convention that prohibits torture.

In a speech at the Air Force Museum, President Bush talks of "normalcy returning back to Iraq," [...]

Abso-fucking-lutely un-fucking-believable. All I can say is, will someone puh-leeze fast forward us to 1.20.09.

Because It's Right

Excellent article by Anna Quindlen on the need and moral obligation for a better GI Bill. Today's 'please read'.

It's hard to serve your country in Baghdad or Kabul. It shouldn't be hard to pay for college once you've come back home.

In 1944 President Roosevelt signed the Servicemen's Readjustment Act, commonly known as the GI Bill. It was one of the most visionary and transformative pieces of legislation in American history, providing free education for returning veterans. Its champions believed it was the moral response to the sacrifice those service members had made, but it also solved an economic and social problem. An influx of millions of unemployed and untrained men into the labor force could have triggered another Great Depression. But with 5 million of those soldiers becoming students instead, the result was the ascendancy of the middle class and a period of enormous prosperity. Every dollar spent on the GI Bill was multiplied many times over in benefits to the postwar U.S. economy.

The answer is no, but Senator Webb is the author of legislation that would help change that. His revamped GI Bill would cover the full cost of the most expensive public institution in any given state; World War II vets like Lautenberg and Warner are enthusiastic supporters, as are dozens of other senators. (Oddly enough, Webb has not been able to get John McCain, who received the ultimate taxpayer-funded education at the Naval Academy, to take a position on the bill.) The source of the opposition is shocking: the Department of Defense, whose leaders argue that offering enhanced educational opportunities to soldiers would hurt retention. Military brass apparently tremble at the notion that multiple deployments, starvation wages and inadequate medical care might not be enough to hold on to their people.)my em)

[...] That's half what is spent annually on recruitment and the cost of only a couple of days' worth of war in Iraq. But, more important, Rieckhoff says it's one of those costs he suspects the American people would support happily. "If the president stood up tomorrow and said, 'I need $2 billion to send vets to college,' people would be doing bake sales and carwashes across America," he says. "They can find that kind of money in the seat cushions on Capitol Hill."

The original GI Bill set the standard for innovative and audacious legislation. It was right in both senses of that word: the sensible thing to do, and the moral thing as well. And it helped expunge the shameful treatment of World War I veterans, many of whom had found themselves unemployed and destitute. The Department of Defense says it's a different era now, with a war that drags on and a volunteer Army, than it was when the GI Bill was first signed. But it's the same era, too. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that unemployment among young veterans is three times the national average. Already some Iraq vets are homeless and have substance-abuse problems.

Offering these men and women a college education is the least we can do. It's not free; they've already paid, in Fallujah and Kabul. If Congress wants an economic-stimulus package, this is a great one. A Topeka, Kans., lawyer and national commander of the American Legion, Harry Colmery, was the architect of the original GI Bill. He asked a question that is as resonant today as it was then: "If we can spend 200 to 300 billion dollars to teach our men and women to kill, why quibble over a billion or so to help them to have the opportunity to earn economic independence and to enjoy the fruits of freedom?"

I received benefits under the Vietnam-era GI Bill. $200 a month while I was in college and a loan guarantee to buy my first house. It wasn't very much, but I was glad to get it.

That was 35 years ago. It's a different world and we need to do a lot more for today's Vets than we are doing.

If it comes down to bake sales, don't swim for several days after eating my bagels.

Switching sides

This headline in the TimesUK about the intra-Shia war in Basra says it all:

Iraqi police in Basra shed their uniforms, kept their rifles and switched sides

I don't really know how many 'sides' there are in Iraq, but it appears to me that the U.S. is arming them all so they can fight it out amongst themselves to see who will have the honor of throwing us out.

We used to play a game in Marine Corps recruit training called 'Switch'. Here's how it went: you put one thumb in your mouth and the other in your ass. At the signal, 'switch'.

I got an idea: let's divert the faulty ammo we're sending to Afghanistan to Iraq. Oughta be good fer a few laughs...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The fruits of my research...

As you may know I will stoop very low overcome any obstacle in my never-ending quest to research subject matter. Besides, when Fixer's away, this ol' mouse will play!

Whilst researching the BAR for the post a couple down, I came across this one:

I counted 19 rounds. Now put yer hand on the barrel, stud...

That was just a tease. Here's one with a history and demonstration of the Tommy gun and the BAR. About 5 minutes. This one shows what firing the BAR is really like. Note how the shooter walks the rounds in from a coupla hundred yards almost to her feet! Heh.

Now the 'stooping' part. Here's one that I have retitled from a phrase common in my motorcycle club days, "Duck! It's another drunk broad with a gun!".

See? I told ya automatic weapons are fun!

The tour ...

A few shots from around the Queen. Here and here.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

NYTimes. Links at site.

Since 2006, when the insurgency in Afghanistan sharply intensified, the Afghan government has been dependent on American logistics and military support in the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

But to arm the Afghan forces that it hopes will lead this fight, the American military has relied since early last year on a fledgling company led by a 22-year-old man whose vice president was a licensed masseur.

Looks like DoD paid extra for a stroke job. Read on.

With the award last January of a federal contract worth as much as nearly $300 million, the company, AEY Inc., which operates out of an unmarked office in Miami Beach, became the main supplier of munitions to Afghanistan’s army and police forces.

Since then, the company has provided ammunition that is more than 40 years old and in decomposing packaging, according to an examination of the munitions by The New York Times and interviews with American and Afghan officials. Much of the ammunition comes from the aging stockpiles of the old Communist bloc, including stockpiles that the State Department and NATO have determined to be unreliable and obsolete, and have spent millions of dollars to have destroyed.

Moreover, tens of millions of the rifle and machine-gun cartridges were manufactured in China, making their procurement a possible violation of American law. The company’s president, Efraim E. Diveroli, was also secretly recorded in a conversation that suggested corruption in his company’s purchase of more than 100 million aging rounds in Albania, according to audio files of the conversation.

But problems with the ammunition were evident last fall in places like Nawa, Afghanistan, an outpost near the Pakistani border, where an Afghan lieutenant colonel surveyed the rifle cartridges on his police station’s dirty floor. Soon after arriving there, the cardboard boxes had split open and their contents spilled out, revealing ammunition manufactured in China in 1966.

“This is what they give us for the fighting,” said the colonel, Amanuddin, who like many Afghans has only one name. “It makes us worried, because too much of it is junk.” Ammunition as it ages over decades often becomes less powerful, reliable and accurate.

Lemme 'splain a little what 'less powerful' can mean. I haven't fired an automatic weapon in over forty years (One of these. Me want!), but I remember it fondly. It's bigtime fun on the range, not so fun if you're in an assault. Either way, just one 'less powerful' round can ruin yer whole day. When you pull the trigger, the thing goes 'blametyblametyblamety' until you release the trigger. What you do not want to hear is 'blametyblametypfft', for the next thing you will hear, if you hear it at all, is liable to be 'ker-fucking-POWIE' as the next good round runs into the one that only made it halfway down the barrel and the weapon explodes in your face.

Not to mention the thrill, I am sure, of taking aim at an attacking enemy and ending up with a pile of corroded smoldering bullets around your feet.

Several officials said the problems would have been avoided if the Army had written contracts and examined bidders more carefully.

Gee, ya think? 'Examining bidders' has not been Bush administration policy.

But records provided by an official concerned about the company’s performance, a whistle-blower in the Balkans and an arms-trafficking researcher in Europe, as well as interviews with several people who work in state arsenals in Europe, show that AEY shopped from stocks in the old Eastern bloc, including Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Romania and Slovakia.

These stockpiles range from temperature-controlled bunkers to unheated warehouses packed with exposed, decaying ammunition. Some arsenals contain ammunition regarded in munitions circles as high quality. Others are scrap heaps of abandoned Soviet arms.

The Army’s contract did little to distinguish between the two.

Yeah, a bullet's a bullet. It's just for the wogs. Ship it.

Problems with Albania’s decaying munitions were apparent earlier this month, when a depot outside Tirana, Albania’s capital, erupted in a chain of explosions, killing at least 22 people, injuring at least 300 others and destroying hundreds of homes.


The company also hired a local businessman, Kosta Trebicka, to remove the ammunition from its wooden crates and hermetically sealed metal boxes — the standard military packaging that protects munitions from moisture and dirt, and helps ensure its reliability and ease of transport in the field.

Mr. Trebicka, in interviews, said Mr. Diveroli wanted to discard the crates and metal boxes to reduce the weight and cost of air shipments and maximize profits. Several American officials said they suspected that the packaging was removed because it bore Chinese markings and the ammunition’s age.

“Put very simply, many of the people involved in smuggling arms to Africa are also exactly the same as those involved in Pentagon-supported deals, like AEY’s shipments to Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said.

The article runs to seven pages but reads pretty quick. It goes into a lot of detail. Our procurement system is as faulty as the ammo.

Maybe we better budget for some bayonets for our Afghani troops so they can defend the other half of the outfit who are clearing stoppages. Yeesh.

Abduction Ad Absurdio

Raw Story

A spokesman for the Baghdad security plan, Tahsin al-Sheikhly, was kidnapped from his Baghdad home by armed men on Thursday, security officials told AFP.

The officials said Sheikhly, a Sunni who often appeared with U.S. military and embassy officials at news conferences to tout the successes of the crackdown that began in Baghdad and surrounding areas more than a year ago, was abducted from his home in Baghdad's Al-Amin neighbourhood at around 2:30 pm (1130 GMT).

Irony is deader'n a carp.

Surreal ...

Yesterday was the most surreal day I've ever had aboard a cruise ship.

As I was making this post yesterday, and email popped in my inbox. It was from my brother-in-law and as soon as I saw his name, I knew what it was. Mrs. F can read me better than anyone and all she said was "what's wrong?"

I had to tell the Mrs that her mother passed away at 0200 Wednesday morning. Now, regular readers know this was not unexpected. Mom-in-law has been on hospice care since August of last year and we planned for this contingency. A few calls on the sat phone to Dad-in-law assured us that everything was being handled according to plan (a word of advice, do not call ship to shore unless it's absolutely necessary; God it's fucking expensive). That accomplished, we continue on.

Being three days from land when we got the news and Dad-in-law is adamant we don't cut our vacation short, we took yesterday to pay our respects privately. Being Jewish, she'll be buried on Friday and there's no way we could have made it home for the funeral anyway.

I know we have some of the most generous readers here at the Brain, and though not necessary, in lieu of flowers or the like, a donation to Sloan Kettering Cancer Center would be appreciated if you're inclined to do something. Thanks in advance if you do.

I'll be back to regular blogging this afternoon with a drunken tour of Queen Mary 2 once I finish my breakfast and a cigarette on deck.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Given the fast response time of modern counter-battery radar, this is the modern equivalent of the WWI adage not to light three cigarettes with one match. I saw an Iraqi mortarman on TV today drop the round into the tube and haul ass. This is why.

Or maybe his own round cooked off. In any case, you are about to see a guy's health record get seriously fucked up.

"I am an idealist" and other bullshit

From McCain't's speech in L.A. today:

I hold my position because I hate war, and I know very well and very personally how grievous its wages are. But I know, too, that we must sometimes pay those wages to avoid paying even higher ones later.

Boy, that's a Repug policy if I ever heard one: avoid paying higher wages at any cost.

He's lying about 'hating war' too. He just hates to lose. Which we're going to, after, of course, paying the highest of 'wages'.

The envelopes, please ...

Here's some designs for the Bush library at The Back-of-the-Envelope Design Contest.

Bush's War

In case you missed the two-part special on Frontline, four and a half hours on the lies, deceit, politics, and incompetence that got us to where we are in Iraq, take your time and go watch it in one nice neat pile.


I thought 'Bush's War' was pretty good. It tamped the events of the last 5 years into a nice neat brick. Ray McGovern calls it "Frontline's Timid Iraq Retrospective". The show was right as far as it went, but he's right.

Notably missing was any allusion to the unconscionable role of the Fourth Estate as indiscriminate cheerleader for the home team, nor any mention that the invasion was a serious violation of international law. But those omissions, I suppose, should have come as no surprise.

Nor was it a surprise that any viewer hoping for insight into why Cheney and Bush were so eager to attack Iraq was left with very thin gruel.

“(1) To establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq,” or

“(2) To exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.”

Much more.

A prayer

Please Lord, grant me just one earthly desire. All the punches I should have thrown and didn't rolled into one. Just one. Amen.

"Maybe now is when the real dark period begins."

Mark Morford

Maybe now is when the real dark period begins. Sure the last seven years of the inept Bush regime have been miserable and shameful, sure we've been humiliated, mortified a thousand ways from Sunday by an administration that would yank the legs off a dog if it meant a thank-you note from Dubai.

But now Bush is in his final year. This is both the good news, and also the very, very bad news. Because we are now in the death throes of the worst administration in modern history, entering the period of serious consequences, of economic collapse, environmental impact, record oil prices, international recoil, rashes, boils, inexplicable vomiting. Fun for the whole family.

Know this for a fact. Bush does not care. He is detached, supercilious, viciously ignorant of anything but how beautifully he has served his corporate masters, of how he has raked in billions of dollars for Halliburton and Lockheed Martin and Exxon and the coal industry, mercenary armies and military manufacturers and his dad's Saudi friends. He is on no one's side but theirs, and he always has been.


But I'm more with those who say, no, the truth is we will never truly recover, that America's former ranking as Gilded and Irreproachable Empire No. 1 is dead and gone. India and China are dramatically changing the game, peak oil is nigh, fresh water is the new gold, the planet itself is in paroxysm, Mother Nature is quickly revealing her hand — or rather, maybe just that one big, stormy middle finger.

But maybe this is the best news of all. Because the sort of gluttonous empire Bush so disgustingly represented was doomed to failure. The center could not hold. Dubya may not have hastened the apocalypse like the evangelicals desperately prayed he would, but he certainly is hastening the end of the bloviated American ego.

So maybe the real question is not can we return to our former ill-gotten superpower glory, insular and unparalleled and reckless and arrogant, or even peaceful and defensive and ironclad. The true question is, do we have the slightest clue what we want to become instead?

I am reminded of the old saying, "Be what you wish to seem".

Fat chance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Leaving ...

Well, we're just south of D.C. and the weather is unsettled. Makes for a good night's sleep but going on deck today doesn't look like it's gonna happen. Anchors aweigh ...

Monday, March 24, 2008

"So long, Boss. Knock 'em dead. Don't worry 'bout a thing..."

By this time, Fixer and Mrs. F are ensconced aboard QM2, ready to row the damn thing to Panama enjoy their cruise. I always post the lyrics to this song as a way of saying we'll party our asses off mind the store while they're gone, but I actually found the song this time. Why it is set to flight sim helicopeter practice is beyond me. Enjoy.

Check in here and at Worlds to chart their progress, which I'm sure will find the ship draggin' bottom at some point as Mrs. F famously denudes vendors of their wares all over the Hemisphere.

Note to Fixer: Be sure to check out Harry's Bar in Bridgetown. I think they had a slightly different show for the Sailors and Marines than they do for the civilian cruises. Heh. And if you see any kids who look like me, say hi to their grandmothers for me...

Military tattoos in the age of Iraq

This is kinda interesting. From The Texas Observer:

There are four basic types of military tattoos, and Fry says he can almost always tell whether a soldier is a fresh recruit or a veteran by the type he choose. Soldiers headed off to war tend to favor vintage, gung-ho Americana, a style perfected during the World War II era by Sailor Jerry, a Honolulu-based tattoo artist whose stock images of eagles, weapons, and pinup girls evoke a more innocent, patriotic era. Pvt. Thomas Hair, who has a billowing, three-masted ship sailing across his forearm, has modified the message. “It used to have a scroll underneath that said ‘homeward,’” he says, “but I changed it to ‘wayward.’ I’m definitely not homeward. I’ve got a few years left.”

The second type of military tattoo is for soldiers who want to make their uniform permanent. Some do this for practical reasons, tattooing dog tags complete with military ID and Social Security numbers onto their torsos in case they become separated from their heads during combat. These tattoos, called “meat tags,” can be elaborate: One Killeen variation shows the dog tags in an open wound, wrapped around an exposed rib.

Religious iconography constitutes a third category of military tattoo. [...]

Not everyone feels that way. Outside of Kingpin Tattoos, a blond soldier named Mac McConnell sits on a bench and smokes a cigarette. He’s got an upside-down cross tattooed across his bicep, his reaction to being force-fed religion in the Army. “The only time we get a break during basic training is to get to go to church,” he says. “And that pisses me off, since I’m not religious. If people can’t figure out right and wrong for themselves, they’re pathetic. It’s a way of not thinking.”

A fourth type of military tattoo stands as a reminder of the human cost of the Iraq war. All the tattoo shops in Killeen now do dozens of memorial tattoos each month; the most common is the iconic image of boots, machine gun, and Kevlar helmet. Memorial tattoos honor friends and comrades who’ve died in war—though not always by enemy fire. William Flood is a 20-year-old interrogator just back from Iraq with a memorial tattoo on his ankle. He says it’s dedicated to two close friends, Wesley and Alfredo, neither of whom died in combat. “Wesley was nice and quiet most of the time,” Flood says. “But he could get wild and have a good time. Then one day over there, he committed suicide without warning. I have no idea why. He wasn’t showing any signs. It pissed me off because I wasn’t expecting it. And then other soldiers started joking about it, which made me even more upset.”

It appears to me that the returning Vets are very angry. Rightly so.

My goal this summer is to get the tattoo I should have gotten forty years ago. I'll keep ya posted.

I can't draw a turd floatin' downstream, but I'll try to describe the tattoo I came up with back then, which I most definitely will not get. Time wounds all heels, or something like that. Picture a Marine Corps Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem, subtly modified, to wit: an 8-ball with a broke-and-folded-wing, cross-eyed buzzard perched atop it, two back-to-back fishhooks instead of an anchor, and the motto "Death Before Re-enlistment!". It's a Jarhead thing, folks.

Here's some USMC tattoos.

Clinton-Obama, Obama-Clinton

How they could run together and take turns being president.

I'm speechless...

Under the "sauce for the goose" concept, so could McCain and Lieberman. Shudder!

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

McCain: Fellow Arizonans Would Call For Vigorous Response to Cross-Border Rocket Attacks
But rules out preemptive invasion of Mexico.

Some Wall St. Banks Deemed Greater Risk Than Nigeria
It's a better investment replying to e-mails from there.

Cheney: Iraq “Successful Endeavor”
Receives standing ovation from Halliburton stockholders.

Audit: FBI Has Outdated, Inaccurate Information About Terror Suspects
But up-to-date, highly accurate data on protesters.

The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright and the Audacity of Truth

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III on Rev. Wright's comments:

Most of the discussion and commentary about Dr. Wright's sermons have come from a predominantly white media. The points of discussion have centered on what they consider to be the "vile, racist and un-American things" said by Dr. Wright. Very few, if any, of the discussions have focused on the historical basis and accuracy of what Dr. Wright actually said.

The major problem with the discussions is they have been largely one-sided. The media have used the imagery of Dr. Wright, clad in African garb, shouting in the cadence of an old-time fire and brimstone minister and playing to the camera as a scare tactic. Has this become the "Willie Hortonization" of Senator Barack Obama? The reporting and commentary on Dr. Wright's words have been presented from the perspective of people who either have no appreciation for the African-American historical experience or a personal agenda when it comes to presenting these issues.

When people read the Constitution, the supreme law of the United States, they see the oldest governing constitution in the world. They see a great document that has articulated the precepts of life, liberty and happiness that all in this country try to follow. What is often overlooked are the parts of the Constitution that laid the foundation for hundreds of years of slavery and oppression for African-Americans; the constitutional framework for human beings to be treated as less than human. It's these sections of the Constitution that America has never truly atoned for and still refuses to make right.

The Three Fifths Compromise and the Fugitive Slave provisions were superseded by constitutional amendments only after their damage to African-Americans had been done and the benefit to America had been served.

It is very easy to wrap oneself in the history and glory that is America and forget that from 1619 to 1868 (249 years) African-Americans suffered under the brutality and oppression of government-supported chattel slavery. In 1857, as Dred Scott, a slave, petitioned the US Supreme Court for his freedom, Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote, "beings of an inferior order (African-Americans), and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

Regarding Dr. Wright's comments about drugs and AIDS, let's not forget the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments. From 1932 to 1972, the US Public Health Service (PHS) conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These men, for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. In his May 16, 1997, apology, President Bill Clinton said:

"The United States government did something that was wrong - deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens ... clearly racist."

With this historical understanding, it is not too far-fetched to think that the US government could be involved in similar activity as it relates to AIDS.

Some may take issue with the earlier statement, "... the government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three strikes law, ..." by asking, "is Rev. Wright accusing the US government of supplying drugs to the black community?" This story has been well-documented in the 1996 San Jose Mercury News expose entitled "Dark Alliance: The CIA Complicity in the Crack Epidemic."

I can understand people being uncomfortable with the comments made by the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright. White Americans have also been lied to, miseducated and desensitized about the plight of African-Americans. With the help of the social conservative agenda, many have developed a "deaf ear" when it comes to issues regarding race. The truth, especially an ugly truth that forces Americans to examine the precepts of America, "with liberty and justice for all," and compare them with the hypocrisy of the American reality can be troubling. For far too long, Americans have been lulled into a false sense of security. Americans have believed history as told by the oppressor and failed to understand the reality of the oppressed.

Dr. Wright is not un-American. He embodies what America was founded upon, the free exchange of ideas in the public space, speaking truth to power, challenging America to be the best that it can be. The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright's views might not reconcile with many Americans' perceptions of America, but they must not be discarded as the ranting of an angry man. His statements were founded in the historical truths that African-Americans have and continue to live through.

Please read the rest.

Later ...

Gotta drop Shayna off at the vet for boarding, check in with the in-laws to make sure they have everything they need while we're gone, and head home in time to meet the limo at the house at 12:30. We should be aboard ship by 3. Gotta run. Oy!

Later ...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

March Madness

Click to more largely embracket


Privacy ...

Fortunately, the Germans understand their peoples' right to privacy:

Civil liberties' groups in Germany have welcomed a landmark legal blow against what they call anti-terrorism snooping. The Federal Constitutional Court ruled that a person's telephone and internet records must still be stored, but denied automatic police access to it, except for inquiries into serious crime.

Court spokesman Dietlind Weiland said: "The right to store information remains, but it can only be used in cases of serious offences, like murder, rape or extortion." Following terrorist attacks in London and Madrid, Berlin introduced a law requiring telecoms firms to keep records of who contacted whom, when, where and how.


Too bad our rights have been flushed by the Bush government. Think our Supreme Court would stand up for the people or the corporations?

From A Distance

I thought I'd put something up in honor of Christianity's most sacred moment - the day they turned a missing corpse into two thousand years of domination of the western world.

Note to God: Yer smart, Dude. I keep my distance from my mistakes too. And like You, I keep watch lest they bite me on the ass.

A note ...

Since I just packed my laptop away (don't ask, the amount of electronics I carry on vacation is staggering and I have a special case - armored, Kevlar - to hold everything), I'll be out of email range for about 36 hours until we're aboard ship.

That is all.

Coalition of the Willing?

Not so much:

UNITED NATIONS -- In the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration threatened trade reprisals against friendly countries who withheld their support, spied on its allies, and pressed for the recall of U.N. envoys that resisted U.S. pressure to endorse the war, according to an upcoming book by a top Chilean diplomat.


It's not like we didn't figure this out already, but it's nice to know our paranoia was justified.


On March 14, 2003, less than one week before the invasion, Chile hosted a meeting of diplomats from the six undecided governments to discuss its proposal. But then-U.S. Ambassador John D. Negroponte and then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell moved quickly to quash the initiative, warning them that the effort was viewed as "an unfriendly act" designed to isolate the United States. The diplomats received calls from their governments ordering them to "leave the meeting immediately," Mu¿oz writes.


But since no one in this country (except for a few voices in the wilderness) had the balls to stand up to them, why should others?

These guys should have been out 4 years ago and we're still dicking around with them. Bush and Co. should be in a dock in The Hague by now.