Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saturday Crazy Biker Boyz Rock 'n Roll Blogging

You might think this is a wee departure from my usual musical offerings. Let's just say I can relate to the subject matter. Hey, I wuz young once too, ya know...

"Black Leather Jacket" Rocking Scoundrels

Thanks to zooneyman.

Fortune Teller

This is dedicated to anyone who thinks they know how the Obama administration is going to turn out. Heh. So far, all my attempts to find out exactly what date and time to show up at the Race & Sports Book with my life savings have come to naught...

Robert Plant & Alison Krause

To hear Mr. Plant and Ms. Krause shift gears a little, go hear 'Your Long Journey' and see a nice slide show.

Whiskey ain't just fer breakfast any more

In honor of yesterday being the 75th Anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition (see post below) I thought I'd kick off the weekend with a nice version of an old Irish (figures!) fiddle tune. Some pretty good pickin'. Enjoy.

Brad Davis,Robert Bowlin,and Wil Maring doing a fine job on this Irish classic.

"Whiskey Before Breakfast"

This tune is usually done as an instrumental, but here are the lyrics from Triskelle, whose masthead reads 'You are now entering Free Derry':

Early one day the sun wouldn't shine
I was walking down the street not feeling too fine
I saw two old men with a bottle between 'em
And this was the song that I heard them singing

Lord preserve us and protect us,
We've been drinking whiskey 'fore breakfast

Well I stopped by the steps where they was sitting
And I couldn't believe how drunk they were getting
I said "old men, have you been drinking long?"
They said "just long enough to be singing this song"

Lord preserve us and protect us,
We've been drinking whiskey 'fore breakfast

Well they passed me the bottle and I took a little sip
And it felt so good I just couldn't quit
I drank some more and next thing I knew
There were three of us sitting there singing this tune

Lord preserve us and protect us,
We've been drinking whiskey 'fore breakfast

One by one everybody in the town
They heard our ruckus and they all came down
And pretty soon all the streets were ringing
With the sound of the whole town laughing and singing

I don't recommend drinking on an empty stomach, but I damn sure do recommend doing anything you can to give the anti-fun people fits, as I'm sure the last verse did!


I was clicking through the thumbnails after the video and found this short version of the tune by Broadwaybabe923. This 13-year-old young lady is pretty amazing!

Friday, December 5, 2008

NUMMI*, and a few words from Nummy...

*Sounds like 'roomy', not 'dummy'.

Following up on Fixer's post about the pending Big 3 bailout, I thought I'd whup out a little about the factory that made my pickup, of which a photo appears on the masthead of NUMMI's site.

Wiki, many links as is their wont.

New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. is an automobile manufacturing plant in Fremont, California. The factory was an old General Motors plant originally opened in 1962 and is now a joint venture between GM and Toyota. When it reopened for production in 1984, it was the first automotive joint venture plant in the United States. GM saw this joint venture as an opportunity to learn about the ideas of lean manufacturing from the Japanese company, while Toyota gained its first manufacturing base in North America and a chance to implement its production system in an American labor environment. Many business textbooks mention NUMMI when they discuss joint ventures.

NUMMI is now an award-winning facility which ranks with other Toyota plants among the most productive manufacturing operations in North America. GM places around 12 managers each year at the plant to learn lean techniques and has improved quality enough across the rest of its operations for it to show through on J.D. Power quality rankings. While the plant has been successful in adopting Lean, other GM plants have seen benefits. GM's Oshawa, Ontario plant received the 2006 JD Power Gold Plant Quality Award, the third time in the last five years.

From Toyota:

As the pioneering joint venture of General Motors Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation, NUMMI was established in Fremont, California in 1984. NUMMI helped change the automobile industry in the United States by introducing the Toyota Production System and a teamwork-based working environment. The company's core values are based on five cornerstones: teamwork, equity, involvement, mutual trust and respect, and safety.

Current Investment: $883.1 million

Employment: 5,333

This approach seems to be working, if the number of their products that I see on the road is any indicator. Toyota Tacomas and Corollas, that is. The less said about Pontiac Vibes the better, I think.

A word about build quality and reliability from the driver's seat of a Fremont-built Tacoma: In 3½ years and 35,000 miles, there have been exactly three problems with this vehicle.

The little plastic dashpot that keeps the glove compartment lid from slamming open fell off. It's been put back in place by me and by the Service Manager at Carson City Toyota. It always falls right back off. The problem is a little molded-in plastic split pin that's just ever so slightly bent. The solution is to either replace the dashboard, which is out of the question, heat the pin and spread it a little without melting the entire dashboard, bend it cold and risk breaking it off thus ensuring it can never be fixed, or to cram something like a small wedge in the end of the thing after the dashpot is installed. If I ever think I have enough time to mess around like this, I'll go fishing instead. Since Mrs. G's knees do an adequate job of stopping the lid before it tears itself off its little hinges, and since it's a royal pain in the ass to get my big fat fingers in the tiny little place it resides, and since I wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing I had a vehicle with nothing wrong with it, I am happy to let this inconsequential problem slide.

At about 30K miles, a rear axle seal started leaking, which was noticed by my buds at The Auto & Tire Doctor, who advised me that it was a warranteeable repair. Note: this is one of the best reasons to get your rig serviced regularly by a shop you trust. The Toyota dealer at first said the warranty had expired by one day, even though I had informed them of the problem and made an appointment before the 3 years was up. They self-corrected on this and said oops! when they remembered that the drive train on the products sold out of the showroom forty feet away had a 60,000 mile warranty anyway. They replaced the seal and the brake shoes on that wheel at no cost to me. Happy I are.

The third, and most visible, problem was the right rear plastic mud flap catastrophically partially dismantled itself last weekend. It tore itself almost in two and fell down on the hot exhaust pipe, which put a big melty-lookin' spot on it. Naturally, I called the dealer to see about getting a new one. He had 'em in stock, but at $95 a copy, the damn thing is about three feet behind me at present, awaiting the old Gorilla Glue and ty-wrap treatment. The hardest part so far has been to find push fasteners to reattach it to the truck without another fiscal shock from the dealer. I scored some at an auto parts store that are supposed to fit GM products that look like they'll work. In case the glue and cable tie method doesn't work, the same store has very nice do-it-yourself rubber-like mud flaps for $24.99 the pair. I always liked the reclining nekkid girl with one knee up anyway. Just kiddin', dear. Or there's Pick-n-Pull (1-800-442-JUNK). Heh.

I would say I've had no trouble at all with this truck from NUMMI, and am very happy with it. I consider that I got good value for money. What else is there when it comes to a vehicle?

When it comes to the bailout, I'm torn. On the one hand, given the awful management and shortsightedness that has gotten them to where they are, not to mention the behind-the-times nature of some of their products, and that it didn't come as a surprise but has been heading that way for years, I would have to say that the market should prevail and they be allowed to go down the shitter.

On the other hand, being the sentimental old fool that I am, I kinda got a soft spot in my head for these old American makes. I remember back when they were the good cars. From a flathead six Chrysler in '61, a hand-me-down '50 that my Dad bought new, through a succession of other cars and Chevy and Dodge trucks, a coupla which I still have, they were rugged and dependable. They sorta turned ta shit a few years back, so I went with that other American make, Toyota. I'd hate to see 'em go.

Note: I even had a Ford once while I was in the service. I was desperate for wheels in those days! A '52 four-door sedan, it was painted flat black with a white roof. I called it 'the horny nun'. Used more oil than gas, which wasn't much of a problem as you could get 'reclaimed' oil, AKA 'crankcase squeezins', for 6¢ a quart in those days. I was probably the tenth Marine to own the thing and probably also the tenth Marine to pay fifty bucks for it too. It was better than walkin'. The Marine I sold it to was gonna take it back home to Tennessee and give it to his Dad to haul field hands to the tobacco fields. Picture on request. No concours contender, that one!

If, and it's a big 'if' given their history, the Big 3 can make changes worthy of loaning them our money, then OK, give it to 'em with conditions and oversight that work. Better still, Michael Moore has said that since the entire value of GM stock is only about $3bn, we should just buy it outright rather than give 'em $34bn or whatever it's up to today. Sell the sonofabitch to Toyota or Hyundai or Fiat or somebody that can make it work again and keep Americans employed.

Boy, looking back at this before I post it reminds me of another fine old American car: Rambler.

75th Anniversary Of Legal Hootch


Trucks loaded with cartons of Tipo Chianti drive to San Francisco's Civic Center after Prohibition ends. Today, the city plans to mark the 75th anniversary of the repeal of the liquor law that made drinkers of nearly everyone.

The repeal of Prohibition was the end of an infamous era in the United States, when the whole nation seemed to turn its back on the law. When booze became illegal, gangsters took over the booze business, and it became fashionable to break the law. Although President Herbert Hoover famously observed that Prohibition was "an experiment noble in purpose," prohibiting liquor made drinkers of nearly everyone.

"It didn't work," said Robert Chandler, an author and a historian for Wells Fargo Bank. "You can't legislate morality" (my em). Although San Francisco didn't have the reputation that places such as Chicago had for breaking the law, the Volstead Act, which enabled the 18th Amendment establishing Prohibition, was widely ignored in Northern California.

"San Francisco always was in favor of, shall we say, 'pleasant living,' " Chandler said.

Aren't we all?

The 'Prohibition' called the 'War On Some Drugs' needs to be repealed for exactly the same reason: a Puritanical way of turning citizens into criminals that has failed at horrendous expense, both societally and monetarily. On the other hand, if all you want to do is lock up minority people as a way to keep them down because you can no longer enslave them or keep them in their 'place' with Jim Crow laws, it has succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams. It has been of great benefit to the prison industry. It's the American Way.

Oh noes!!!!!!1

Unfortunately, I get home early enough in the afternoons (1 pm) to be able to hear all the drivel on CNN before Wolfie comes on (Kyra Phillips - Good god, Rick Sanchez - you must be kidding me). Yesterday, I was treated to auto execs groveling before Congress, agreeing to everything the Banking Committee suggested (pathetic, really). Woulda been nice if the folks at Ford were so accommodating when I worked for 'em or I might still be there but I digress.

The thing that struck me, throughout everything, were the statements that the loss of the American auto industry would result in another Great Depression. Horseshit.

As you know, we here in the Fixer household are close to the auto industry. For those who don't know, I've been a mechanic and engine builder for the better part of my life and most of the Japanese automakers are Mrs. F's clients.

All afternoon yesterday, I had to hear how a loss of one, or more, of the Big Three will result in so many follow-on job losses. They extrapolate out how many suppliers will be affected, how many dealerships, all that stuff. I just answer that with one question. Okay, maybe more than one.

Don't you think the Japenese (Honda, Nissan, Toyota) all have contingency plans to expand to fill the void left by the loss of GM (I use GM because they're the closest to the precipice) or any of the others? Don't you think all of them want a piece of that 11-million unit market share? Don't you think they have a detailed plan to hire a good portion of the trained line workers and maybe take over some of the old assembly plants (if they don't expand their existing lines here)? If they want to sell more cars in America, they're gonna have to build 'em here.

Shit doesn't happen in a vacuum and in a free market like the U.S., (did you hear the auto execs whining about not having trade protection from the government?), there is always someone waiting in the wings to step up. If the Japanese, and probably the Germans and Koreans too, aren't planning to take advantage of the situation they'd be goddamn stupid. There maybe a few upstarts we haven't heard about waiting for their chance as well.

It's time we stop rewarding bad management and greed. The CEOs of Chrysler, Ford, and GM were willing to agree to anything yesterday, I would too for that chunk of change, especially if my existence is threatened, but there is ample evidence agreements will go out the window once they get the loot:


2:29: Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., asks what the automakers have done for Congress lately in terms of fuel efficiency and responsible spending. Then he addresses questions to Moody’s economist Mark Zandi. Zandi says the federal government should provide aid. He also estimates it will cost $75 billion to $125 billion of taxpayer money from TARP and other federal funds just to keep them out of bankruptcy for the next two years. He doubts the Big Three will "stick to the script" of a bailout and need to be watched, constantly. [my ems]


Back close to 30 years ago when Lee Iacocca came to Washington with his hand out, he was given a list of conditions he had to satisfy before he got dollar one. It took him 6 months* and when he came back he got what he was asking for. Chrysler, Ford, and GM shouldn't get a dime until they prove they'll "stick to the script" before they get a dime of public money.

Congress fucked up big time with the Wall St. bailout. I hope they don't turn around and throw money at another bunch who are too stupid, or too willingly ignorant, to read the writing on the wall.

*And yes, I realize GM doesn't have 6 months but tough shit.


And just to be clear. I'm not saying the Big Three shouldn't be bailed out. I'm just saying we should make sure it's done right, that there are serious conditions, and that it shouldn't be done immediately just to stave off GM's impending doom.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Twenty bucks?

Ain't worth it.

Pic stolen from Chris.

Odetta, 1930-2008

Another good one is gone.


Odetta, the classically trained folk, blues and gospel singer who used her powerfully rich and dusky voice to champion African American music and civil rights issues for more than half a century starting in the folk revival of the 1950s, has died. She was 77.

Please go read about her.

Odetta - Cotton Fields

Goin' Gonzo

Here's something for all you Hunter S. Thompson fans. Of whom I am one also me too.


The new Hunter S. Thompson CD set

How did Hunter S. Thompson capture the manic, drug-fueled energy of his reportorial pursuits? He was a mad genius, but he had help: He carried a tape recorder. Shout Factory has just released "The Gonzo Tapes: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson," a five-CD set that begins with his Hells Angels work in 1965 and ends in Saigon in 1975.

Music is a constant presence: The Carpenters are on the radio in the background in Vegas, the Hells Angels listen to Joan Baez. The tapes themselves have only mediocre sound quality -- some people are too far from the mike, the sound of traffic intrudes, parts are muffled, and sometimes the recording stops mid-sentence. Then again, listening to these CDs is like sitting in a room with Thompson, with the soundtrack of popular music and the motion and the chaos. You can even hear the ice in his glass. They provide a ringside seat to witness the glory -- and the destruction -- of the great gonzo writer.

I just know you'll go read what's in between those two quotes without any prompting from moi.

Obama calls on Fox News at press conference

Raw Story

Breaking a streak of snubs, President-elect Barack Obama, at a Wednesday press conference with New Mexico Governor and Commerce Secretary designee Bill Richardson, took a question from a Fox News correspondent.

Obama, who ignored Fox News five consecutive times at previous press conferences, answered a question from the network's Wendell Goler.

Goler asked Obama if he was fearful over the prospect of Treasury Sec. Paulson allocating all TARP bailout funds before he takes office. "And if I may also ask the Governor: What happened to the beard, sir?"

"I'm going to answer this question about the beard," Obama responded. "I think it was a mistake for him to get rid of it. I thought that whole Western, rugged look was really working for him. For some reason, maybe because it was scratchy when he kissed his wife, he was forced to get rid of it--but we're deeply disappointed with the loss of the beard.

Yeah, I miss Bill's womb broom too.

As to the Paulson/TARP question, Obama gave the answer he needed to, which didn't enlighten anybody. Just like F** News.

Mr. Bush, Here's Something You May Not Understand About The Millions Who'll Attend Obama's Inauguration

Tony Peyser

Many simply want to see Barack do something
Many thought no Black would ever be achieving
But after two terms of corruption, they also need
To be damn sure that you're actually leaving.

U.S. Supreme Court: State Medical Marijuana Laws Not Preempted by Federal Law

Americans For Safe Access

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a landmark decision today in which California state courts found that its medical marijuana law was not preempted by federal law. The state appellate court decision from November 28, 2007, ruled that "it is not the job of the local police to enforce the federal drug laws." The case, involving Felix Kha, a medical marijuana patient from Garden Grove, was the result of a wrongful seizure of medical marijuana by local police in June 2005. Medical marijuana advocates hailed today's decision as a huge victory in clarifying law enforcement's obligation to uphold state law. Advocates assert that better adherence to state medical marijuana laws by local police will result in fewer needless arrests and seizures. In turn, this will allow for better implementation of medical marijuana laws not only in California, but in all states that have adopted such laws.

"It's now settled that state law enforcement officers cannot arrest medical marijuana patients or seize their medicine simply because they prefer the contrary federal law," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the medical marijuana advocacy organization that represented the defendant Felix Kha in a case that the City of Garden Grove appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. "Perhaps, in the future local government will think twice about expending significant time and resources to defy a law that is overwhelmingly supported by the people of our state."

A step in the right direction. Now local LEOs should work to interdict Feds who come into town to arrest yer granny and swipe her stash. I suggest arresting them on domestic terrorism charges.

Quote of the Day

Mr. Philadelphia via Avedon:

Do Brookings and CFR exist to provide employment for the stupidest of our citizens?


Off to work.

Stealin' ...

From POP because she hits it on the head. Jeez, Barry won't be in office for another month and a half. Let's see what he does when The Force is with him:


I am completely tired of reading and hearing that the "change" hasn’t come, that this person or that person is a bad choice. I just refuse to get involved in all that. I am determined to take that page from Obama’s book and try my level best to let it be my guide when I am tempted to wander off the beaten path and try to fight all the fights. My change has already arrived and now, like our future president, I am going to try and pick my battles instead of allowing them to pick at me.


Like I said over there, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until he actually gets the chance to do something. I'd say he's done a lot more as President-elect to help people through this financial crisis than the sitting President. Talk to me a year from now and then we'll discuss what kind of change he's bringing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Heh ...

Honest Christmas gifts.

More here.

Thanks to Maru for the link.

Prop 8 The Musical


Mormon Homophobia: Up Close And Personal

CA-04 Update

Got home to an e-mail from Charlie Brown. He considers the vote count to be fair and accurate and has conceded to McCarpetbagger.

From CA SecState as of 11/26, although it only became official last night and I think the actual difference was less than .5%:

Charlie Brown (Dem) 182,967 49.7%
Tom McClintock (Rep) 184,543 50.3%

Damn, that was close! Try again in '10, Charlie.

Re-tirement Day

We done wore out the tires that came with our pickup, so Me'n Mrs. G are off to Carson City to get new ones today. Back later, but for now I'll just leave ya with Rachel Maddow talking Big 3 bailout with the prez of the steelworkers' union. See yas.

More bail?


Accounting changes in the US next year mean all credit card debt will have to be brought onto balance sheets. That spells trouble for Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan, which hold more than half of their credit card debt outside their profit and loss accounts, according to Oppenheimer & Co.


The names sound familiar? They should. You just handed them close to a trillion dollars of your money. They're gonna want more when this debt goes on their books and the bottom falls out once again.


Including credit card debts, Citigroup is exposed to $1.2tn of off-balance-sheet debt, JP Morgan to $735bn and Bank of America to $73bn. Not all of it will be dumped back on to profit and loss accounts but Whitney warns her estimates do not include off-balance-sheet mortgages. "We are unclear what the magnitude of that will be."


You know, the automaker bailout looks more and more like a real bargain, compared to the mess Wall St. made of, and on, themselves. It'd be nice if we made the banks and mortgage houses jump through the same hoops as the Big Three instead of just throwing money at them.

As I've said since we bailed out the airlines after 9/11 (have any of the major airlines made a profit since?), we should let failed businesses go under and die. Fiscal Darwinism means someone else will step up to fill the gap. There will always be someone who can do the job better and more efficiently. Throwing money at bad business models only encourages industries to follow the failed model*.

Like our failed President, who's been saved from his own mistakes since his formative years, rewarding failure only produces bigger failures. For a bailout to work, the old rules and lassiez faire regulation have to become a thing of the past and the new regs must be in place, and enforcable, before one red cent of taxpayer money is allocated to their rescue. This hasn't happened on Wall St. and half the allocated money is already gone.

Hopefully, after the inauguration if there's any money left, we might have some people in control who look at these businesses objectively and not with a slant to how much they contribute to the party's campaign coffers. If Barack Obama wants to save the economy, his first order of business should be to close every lobbying firm on K Street. Until the politics is taken out of fiscal policy, business as usual will prevail.

Great thanks to our pal Montag for the link.

*In addition to Krugman, folks should listen to Peter Schiff as well.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An Unlikely Team of Hawks

Here's a little follow-up on Fixer's post about President Obama's National Security picks, by Peter Beinart in Time:

In liberal blogland, reports that Barack Obama will probably choose Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and retired general James Jones as National Security Adviser and retain Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense have prompted a chorus of groans. "I feel incredibly frustrated," wrote Chris Bowers on "Progressives are being entirely left out."

A word of advice: cheer up. It's precisely because Obama intends to pursue a genuinely progressive foreign policy that he's surrounding himself with people who can guard his right flank at home.

To give himself cover for a withdrawal from Iraq and a diplomatic push with Iran, he's surrounding himself with people like Gates, Clinton and Jones, who can't be lampooned as doves.

[...] In other words, what distinguishes Gates, Jones and Clinton isn't their desire to shift Obama's policies to the right; it's their ability to persuade the right to give Obama's policies a chance.

Politically, therefore, Obama is playing with fire. If he accelerates troop withdrawals and violence in Iraq flares up again, the GOP will pounce. If he cuts a nuclear deal with Iran, it will probably do the same, accusing him of putting his faith in an inspection agreement that Tehran will never obey. And if he pushes hard for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, right-leaning Jewish groups may cry foul. That's the beauty of his emerging national-security team. Even Republicans will find it hard to call Gates and Jones latter-day Neville Chamberlains, and even many Likudniks will think twice before claiming that Hillary Clinton is in league with Hamas. (For cover on Israel, Obama will also be able to trot out Rahm Emanuel, whose father was born in Jerusalem, and, quite possibly, long-serving Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, who is tight with the pro-Israel lobby.)

Obama understands that foreign policy is, in international-relations-speak, a two-sided game. To get your way, you not only have to convince other governments; you also have to convince the folks back home. Bill Clinton negotiated the Kyoto Protocol on global warming with well over 100 other countries but couldn't get it through the 100-member U.S. Senate. He crafted a nuclear agreement with North Korea but saw it sabotaged by a Republican Congress that wouldn't provide sufficient money to carry it out. Obama knows that while it's a tough world out there, it's tough here as well. In Gates, Jones and Clinton, he's found people who can do more than sell his foreign policy to Iranians, Iraqis and Israelis; they can sell it to Americans too.

I'll buy it. Obama is incredibly smart (what a concept for a President! Halle-fuckin'-lujah!) and a hell of a politician as well. Neither the far left nor the far right are going to get what they want outta this guy, nor should they. He's put together a team that may be able to actually get something practical and realistic done.

His picks? I'm down with Hil. Next case. I'm totally down with General Jones, perhaps the only Commandant Of The Marine Corps who didn't retire out of the job, but went on to bigger things.

Gates? An interim placeholder who might not do much damage until Wes Clark or my favorite choice for SecDef, Tony Zinni, are eligible to take the position.

The new administration needs to hit the deck runnin' to immediately start undoing Bush's damage, and I think these choices can do it.

Gay Bible gives whole new meaning to 'turn the other cheek'

Guardian (UK)

New Mexico-based Revision Studios will publish The Princess Diana Bible – so named because of Diana's "many good works", it says – online at in spring 2009. A preview of Genesis is already available, in which instead of creating Adam and Eve, God creates Aida and Eve.

"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Aida, and she slept: and he took one of her ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from woman, made he another woman, and brought her unto the first. And Aida said, 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of me. Therefore shall a woman leave her mother, and shall cleave unto her wife: and they shall be one flesh.' And they were both naked, the woman and her wife, and were not ashamed."

The film studio said it would also adapt and direct the revised Bible as a two-part mini-series, The Gay Old Testament and The Gay New Testament, once it is completed.

"There are many different versions of the Bible; I don't see why we can't have one," said Max Mitchell, who directed the science fiction comedy Horror in the Wind, in which an airborne formula invented by two biogeneticists reverses the world's sexual orientation.

"I got the idea for the Princess Diana Bible from Horror In The Wind," he added. "After the world becomes gay, religious people create The Princess Diana Bible, which says that gay is right and straight is a sin. Then they burn all the King James Bibles."

Good idea. Then burn the rest of them, including this one.

But Mitchell said: "There are 116 versions of the Bible, why is any of them better than ours?"

It isn't the Bible that's bad. It's the interpretations of it, either as God's Word or to suit some particular agenda that causes all the trouble.

Pirates foiled by Danish

It was the most food they'd had in three weeks. Musta made 'em sleepy...

AFP via Raw Story

A bid by Somali pirates to hijack a luxury cruise ship was foiled by an international taskforce, officials said on Monday, as ransom negotiations for a Saudi super-tanker stretched into overtime.

A spokesman for the Danish navy, the current lead nation in the NATO taskforce, confirmed the operation had stopped a group of pirates from boarding a civilian vessel which reports said was carrying some 400 passengers and 200 crew.

But according to Danish TV2 News, six to eight armed pirates on two speed boats were observed speeding toward the Nautica, a cruiseliner that had set sail from Florida.

A French navy warship, alerted by the Danish Navy, scrambled a helicopter to the scene, which sent the pirates fleeing, TV2 News said.

First reports that Fixer foiled the attack by accurately bombarding the pirates with his empty whiskey bottles are apparently slightly exaggerated, though believable.

The presence of foreign navies is intended to restore confidence among shipping companies, many of whom are now re-routing to sail around the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa.

The Russian Navy said Monday that one of its frigates Neustrashimy (Fearless) had escorted three vessels through the Horn of Africa on Monday.

Every navy in the world seems to be represented in the region to help deal with the problem. With one notable exception: ours. Whassup wid dat?


Excellent article in the EssEffChron

White House Christmas tree to feature 'impeach Bush' message

Raw Story

The White House has been loathe to discuss any attempts by lefty members of Congress to impeach President Bush, but the final Christmas tree erected during the Bush administration will feature a pro-impeachment message.

The Washington Post's Reliable Source gossip column reports that a Seattle artist submitted an ornament design celebrating Rep. Jim McDermott's support for impeachment.

There's a picture of the ornament at the site. It's colorful but a mite nondescript. If they had used my design, it would have been six feet across with the Christmas greeting "Impeach the motherfucker!" in large luminescent letters that would show well at night.

Quote of the day due

A headline at BuzzFlash:

Manufacturing index drops to 26-year low. That's because the only thing we produce now is the dice that they use to roll the economy on Wall Street.

Wall St. doesn't mess around with the usual types of crooked dice like tappers. missouts, shavers, etc. They just have all fives on one and all twos on the other. Who's gonna notice? Treasury? Congress? Don't make me laugh. They're playin' a rigged game with their friends with our money.

Yo Tweety, Forget It

Steve Young with some advice for Chris Matthews.

Please tell me you’re kidding. I know you’re a Philly guy, but that doesn’t mean you need to run for public office to prove it. Eat a cheesesteak. Root for the Eagles. March with the Mummers. But run for the Senate? Puh-lezze. Philly loves the Phillies’s Chase Utely but it’s not like voters want him hitting legislation out of the box and that’s not counting how many Democratic Pirates fans would be lining up to join the Specter team.

You run against Arlen Specter and the Right will eat you up alive. The Left will chew up the leftovers. When you have Sean Hannity and The Daily Kos on the same side you know your political foothold is about as solid as quicksand (my em).

Who is your constituency? Hardball fans? Half your audience tunes in so they make sure they don’t miss Countdown. [...]

Arlen’s ad budget would be as small as the bulls eye you’ve painted on your back is big. Do you have any idea of the reams of video and soundbites you’ve produced over the years that your opposition can edit into devastating 30 or 60 second spots that will make you look, well, look like a big mouth talk show host? Think your primary opponent won’t dip into the Hardball archive?

African Americans? What was that you asked the Washington Posts’ Gene Robinson about Obama’s debate performance? Oh, yeah. “Did it surprise you that (Obama) was so un-ethnic tonight?” Yup. That’ll wrap up North Philly for you.

And I’m sure the Republicans will love that you “felt this thrill going up my leg” - or that you “teared up” - when Obama spoke.

Chris, for your own self-esteem and any Democratic hopes of pulling the seat from a pretty popular incumbent. Stick with MSNBC.. Give some other Democrat a chance of losing to Arlen.

I think Tweety should stay right where he is. Very occasionally he says something correct that needs to be said, which is more than a lot of the gasbags do. Of course, so do Pat Buchanan and Christopher Hitchens sometimes.

Quote of the Day

Comrade PhysioProf:

"Hard-Working American" is right-wing scumspeak for "not a nigger or a spic". Period.

Hil ...

And she, regardless of where she was born, is a New Yorker in every way:


She said New Yorkers "aren't afraid to speak their minds, in every language," which prepared her well for her new role.


Because she gets it. The place she represented in the Senate is a micocosm of the world around us (one of the reasons I love living here) and she learned much in her tenure. Unless you're an obtuse asshole, all the different perspectives rub off on you. In my neighborhood alone, there are people representing about 30 different nationalities and the schoolbus stops in the morning look like a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

Hillary could not help but expand her worldview (well-traveled beforehand; I'm certain it was something else representing such a diverse constituency) even more during her stay as our senator. She has a respect for foreign cultures we haven't seen in U.S. government in the past 8 years and the change will be refreshing. Hil at State is a great first step in rebuilding our credibility in the world, almost irreparably tarnished by 8 years of Bush.

While I might not agree with all of Barry's appointments (What the fuck was he thinking keeping Gates?), all are professionals, not politcal hacks (although Gates is a little too close to the Bush family for my comfort). All will bring adult thinking back to their various departments and make the statement to the world that President Obama is serious about undoing the mistakes of the past administration. Hopefully, we will once again be viewed as the leader of the free world instead of the most powerful tin-horn dictatorship.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Quote of the Day


Preznit DisasterMonkey -- who brought us the Iraq war on a lie, Abu Ghraib, the Sept 11 terrorist attacks, the Hurricane Katrina fiasco, the Second Depression, the raping of the Constitution, torture, wiretapping, putting food on our families, arsenic in our drinking water, his picture next to "dumbfuck" in the dictionary, his own personal "Justice" dept, the total fucking embarrassment of almost an entire nation, and the scorn of the entire planet, for starters -- tells Charles "durrr?" Gibson that he leaves office with "head held high."


Change ...

Creature, in toto:

Five press conferences into his reign and our president-elect has not allowed FOX News to ask a question. Now that's change I can believe in.

Indeed, pal. Anybody who disses Fox 'News' is all right with me.

The GOP's McCarthy gene

Some excerpts from a 'must read' op-ed in the LATimes:

Ever since the election, partisans within the Republican Party and observers outside it have been speculating wildly about what direction the GOP will take to revive itself from its disaster. Or, more specifically, which wing of the party will prevail in setting the new Republican course -- whether it will be what conservative writer Kathleen Parker has called the "evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy" branch or the more pragmatic, intellectual, centrist branch. To determine the answer, it helps to understand exactly how Republicans arrived at this spot in the first place.

But there is another rendition of the story of modern conservatism, one that doesn't begin with Goldwater and doesn't celebrate his libertarian orientation. It is a less heroic story, and one that may go a much longer way toward really explaining the Republican Party's past electoral fortunes and its future. In this tale, the real father of modern Republicanism is Sen. Joe McCarthy, and the line doesn't run from Goldwater to Reagan to George W. Bush; it runs from McCarthy to Nixon to Bush and possibly now to Sarah Palin. It centralizes what one might call the McCarthy gene, something deep in the DNA of the Republican Party that determines how Republicans run for office, and because it is genetic, it isn't likely to be expunged any time soon.

Republicans continue to push the idea that this is a center-right country and that Americans have swooned for GOP anti-government posturing all these years, but the real electoral bait has been anger, recrimination and scapegoating. That's why John McCain kept describing Barack Obama as some sort of alien and why Palin, taking a page right out of the McCarthy playbook, kept pushing Obama's relationship with onetime radical William Ayers.

And that is also why the Republican Party, despite the recent failure of McCarthyism, is likely to keep moving rightward, appeasing its more extreme elements and stoking their grievances for some time to come. There may be assorted intellectuals and ideologues in the party, maybe even a few centrists, but there is no longer an intellectual or even ideological wing. The party belongs to McCarthy and his heirs -- Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Palin. It's in the genes.

Call it the Knuckle-Dragging Whackjob Regressive Gene.

The Dangers of Revisionism

Glenn Greenwald turns Tom Friedman and some of the other usual suspects on a spit. Many links.

With a new administration ascending to power in a matter of weeks, witnessing Beltway denizens desperately scampering to re-write their role in the last eight years is nothing short of dizzying:

In 2006 and 2007, our political class was openly flirting with involuntary regret -- and even admissions of wrongdoing -- for its almost unanimous support for the attack on Iraq. That the war was a disaster was so undeniably clear that support for it was coming to be seen as a source of shame, and some of the most prominent supporters of the war were even resorting to outright falsehoods in order to pretend that they had opposed it from the start.

All of that is changing again. Even as Americans still overwhelmingly view the war itself as a mistake, we're back to the conventional wisdom among our political class that the invasion was not only justified and wise, but also noble in spirit and motive. The only problem was Bush's mismanagement of our benevolent quest to free the oppressed. [...]

I will state once again: Bush's War was not a mistake. It was a poorly planned and executed criminal act of aggression against a sovereign state that did nothing to us and posed no threat.

Freidman's ideological soulmate, The Washington Post's Fred Hiatt, similarly editorializes today that what destroyed Bush's presidency was not the war itself or the fact that it was launched based on purely false pretenses and was illegitimate and wrong, but instead, was merely Bush's "mismanagement of the war."

The war itself was fine and right. Only its execution was flawed. We just need better war managers next time. That's the consensus that has re-emerged. And much of the palpable establishment excitement over the Obama administration is grounded not in the expectation that he will change this core mentality -- they clearly think, rightly or wrongly, that he won't -- but only that he'll execute and manage it more competently.

I don't think he will and pray he does not, but we better keep our eyes on the neocons. As much as we would like to see them all dead, they're not.

Washington's Other Transition

Tina Brown on an interesting and entirely unimportant subject. A 'recommended read' only if yer interested in this shit.

How is it Obama can fill a Cabinet faster than NBC can replace Tim Russert?

One of the problems for NBC that was showcased during Russert’s media version of a state funeral in June is the way the chair of Meet the Press has become above all a Washington social and status position and only secondarily a journalistic assignment. Russert himself was not a journalist. He came from politics. His interviews either promoted his subjects or subjected them to opposition research. He was the Washington élite’s staff man, stoking their prejudices, whims, and attitudes. His regular-guy persona flattered the élite by making them imagine they were regular guys too.

NBC seems to be paralyzed by the sense that whomever they chose has to be another Russert. Not so. Russert defined an era, but that era is over. It’s as if in the months since he died the hands of the clock have spun with accelerated speed, leaving us all with a desire for reinvention. There's been an Obama effect in every sphere of business from General Motors to network TV.

Brokaw’s interview yesterday with Laura Bush—flanked as a safety measure by Afghanistan's ambassador to the U.S., Said Jawad—was exhibit A in a form of TV whose day has passed. The only things viewers wanted to know from the First Lady were (a) what medication got her through the last eight years, (b) how it felt being married to a walking catastrophe (my em), and (c) what she really thought about Michelle Obama when she came to the White House. If we really want to know about Afghanistan, is Laura Bush the first name that springs to mind? Wouldn't we rather hear from someone steeped in knowledge of the place who could advance our comprehension?

Anyway, TV isn’t about information, it’s about character—and characters. Lou Dobbs, your blowhard uncle. Bill O’Reilly, the overbearing bully at the office. Keith Olbermann, the guy who buttonholes you at the bar, makes you laugh, and then goes all serious and sincere on you. The genius of Stephen Colbert is to understand that truth about TV and carry it to its illogical conclusion.

The Meet the Press panel needs fewer David Broders and more Christopher Hitchenses—irresponsible wits who can challenge the B-list senators and warhorse commentators who trundle on and download all that sonorous received wisdom. It needs fewer "Washington insiders" and more genuinely informed outsiders. (Fareed Zakaria last week did an electric interview on his CNN foreign affairs show with the young Brit historian Niall Ferguson on the financial meltdown which was better than any slog round the course with Chris Dodd.) And for the top spot, how about going way outside the box? How about bringing in the cool forensic skills of a David Boies? Or the fresh intelligence of a web star like Josh Marshall or Glenn Greenwald? Or the political/policy smarts of a journalistic intellectual like the Guardian’s Michael Tomasky?

Ms. Brown has another pick or two. Go see.

She's right about Press the Meat needing to come into the 21st century as well. The era that spawned it and the other Sunday BS-fests is no more.

Willie Sings

In honor of the beginning of the end of the Xmas season which started in August when the catalogs started arriving.

Willie Nelson tells the story of a plant that smokes more sweetly than either frankincense or myrrh.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Hard Times Hit Brothels
Fewer Republicans in Congress.

Economic Crisis Forces Russians to Cut Back Vodka Consumption
Government may step in with vodka stimulus package.

Food Stamp Use Nears All-Time High
Could replace faltering dollar.

Pay up, bitchez ...

You've turned into a political organization:

MODESTO (AP) ― A Roman Catholic priest has told parishioners they should confess if they voted for Barack Obama because the president-elect supports abortion.

The Rev. Joseph Illo says his parishioners at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Modesto shouldn't risk losing their "state of grace" by receiving communion sacrilegiously. He delivered the message in a Nov. 21 letter and during mass.


Hmmm ... I wonder how much the property taxes would be on the land 'God's House' sits on? I wonder what the good people of Modesto could do with that tax money in these hard times?

It's time for the priests, rabbis, imams, and whatever else these snake oil salesmen call themselves, to STFU and pay more attention to the souls of their flock instead of involving themselves in matters of governance. Aside from sounding foolish, like pissed off little kids, it's illegal.

Unfortunately, there are too many Jesus freaks in Congress, or those who act like it to curry votes, for these 'religious' organizations to get their tax-exempt status pulled but that's what should happen. The 'Word of God' has been used in pursuit of power far too many times over the course of human history (by everybody) for these unelected politicians to be allowed a voice in the secular process.

I'm tired of these assholes, who'd have done better in Medevial Europe than in 21st Century America, influencing the discourse. I'm tired of my representatives worrying about 'squaring it with their god' (read: endangering campaign contributions) when considering legislation than doing what's best for their constituency. God's name has been used to justify suffering and death more times than not and it's time we considered living, breathing human beings before some diety no one is even sure exists.

Great thanks to UL for the link.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weekend whorage

I put three new chapters of Birthright up at The Practical Press to make up for my delinquency.

And for your Sunday evening listening, John Entwistle's creepy post-modern ballad:

The Who - 905

God, what a moron ...

Ol' Plexiglass shoots himself in the leg. Idiot:

Super Bowl hero Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the right thigh and spent the night in the hospital, another dramatic turn in a tumultuous season in which the star New York Giants receiver has been fined and suspended.


New York City police said they were investigating whether the incident took place at Latin Quarter, a sprawling 15,000-square-foot, two-story restaurant and club located in the Radisson Lexington Hotel in midtown Manhattan.


Newsday reported Burress has a concealed weapon permit from the state of Florida that expired in May 2008. It is unclear if the permit was renewed; such a license can be renewed up to six months beyond the expiration date in accordance with section 790.06(11)(a) of Florida Statutes.

However, the states of New York and New Jersey do not recognize permits from Florida, so Burress could be charged in the incident. [my em]


Have a nice stay in Rikers, moron.

Feels like home ...

My neighbor Blondie travels to Maine to find it's a lot like where she lives on Long Island:


I found out that every single thing that ever happened in this country including the economic meltdown and the bombings in Mumbai can be traced back to the Clinton administration. Bill Clinton outed CIA operative Valerie Plame too. I was given specifics but I can't remember them all. So I had to agree with it all and added that the Clinton presidency contributed to Bush's drinking problem.


I politely asked these lovely people where they got all this information that I didn't know and the resounding answer was Fox News because it was fair and balanced. It was strongly suggested that I watch that channel so that I could find out how much trouble we are in. Oh I will. I will! And I thought that only lefties were the conspiracy theorists. Silly me. [my em]


I hear it every day from some of my idiot customers (I work in Nassau County) but, unlike my well-mannered pal, I tell 'em what dumbasses they really are. For supposedly one of the most progressive places in the country, we certainly have a lot of ignorant assholes.

K T Tunstall - Under The Weather

Under this national rain cloud
I'm getting soaked to the skin
Trying to find my umbrella
But I don't know where to begin

And it's simply irrational weather
Can't even hear myself think
Constantly bailing out water
But still like I'm gonna sink

Coz I'm under the weather
Just like the world
So sorry for being so bold
When I turn out the light
You're out of sight
Although I know that I'm not alone
Feels like home




I haz it:

OTTAWA – Researchers say they have located the world's oldest stash of marijuana, in a tomb in a remote part of China.

The cache of cannabis is about 2,700 years old and was clearly "cultivated for psychoactive purposes," rather than as fibre for clothing or as food, says a research paper in the Journal of Experimental Botany.

The 789 grams of dried cannabis was buried alongside a light-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian man, likely a shaman of the Gushi culture, near Turpan in northwestern China.


Who knew I had an ancestor in China? Heh ...

Topol from Fiddler on the Roof - Tradition

Great thanks to our friend Skippy for the link.