Saturday, December 13, 2008

How to keep a pizza frozen 'til dinnertime when yer outta freezer space

Click to emhugen

Ancient History, and I was there...

Well, I wasn't really there there. This is from October 1965. I was at Camp Lejeune protecting the Eas' Coas' from the Viet Cong and the Cubans. This video is worth watching just to see an incredibly young Chris Hillman and an equally young but as yet undissipated David Crosby.

Also, the faux duck hunting set, complete with fake (hopefully not stuffed!) Springer Spaniels and lovely young mod birds with double-barrel shotguns is a hoot!

Playing chicken with the economy

December 11, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Murderers Row ...

D-cap has a good idea, get the Yankees to bail out the auto industry.


It warms my heart that the city and state see fit to give the Yankees tax breaks, allowing them to sign players at ridiculous salaries in the worst of times, while the rest of us get to walk to the unemployment office.


How The Bailouts Were Created

I got this in an e-mail from our pal Bustedknuckles. Pretty much the same bunch that engineered the bailouts, I'd say. Obviously of the school of No Tax Dollars Left In The Treasury When We Get Kicked Out Have To Leave.

Friday Afternoon Emmylou & Secret Subtext Blogging

I need a break from all the political lyin', cheatin', and stealin'. It'll still be there...

From AuntieRhonda:

Is there a secret subtext behind The Devil Wears Prada? Was it a deeper relationship than that of a boss and an assistant?

Emmylou Harris - "A Love That Will Never Grow Old"

I'd do whatever I had to to get Meryl Streep to look at me like that!

Gettin' out while the gettin's good

Trey Ellis

Wherever you look, people whom you'd hope would have some inside knowledge of the American near future, seem to be losing their minds.

Sure, Governor Blago might have always been a hoodlum numbskull but how else to explain super lawyer Marc Dreier suddenly gambling an insanely lucrative legitimate career to try to con hedge funds out of as much as $380 million? And just yesterday seventy-year-old Wall Street legend Bernard L. Madoff stands accused of one of the most egregious white collar crimes in history -- bilking his investors of as much as $50 billion.

Do they know something we don't know? It's as if the risk of getting caught was outweighed by their panicked desire to get as much as they could before it's all gone.

It's as if the architect of the Titanic, minutes after they brushed the iceberg, said, "Don't mind me, I'm just going out for a smoke," when really, knowing what he knew about the ship's chances, stole into a lifeboat and set off alone into the dark cold waters.

Oh, they, and many others just like them, knew. How could they not? They did it. Gotta get off the gravy train with as much swag as they can get just before it wrecks from pullin' up the tracks and sellin' 'em or blows from tyin' down the safeties to get more speed outta the engine. Or both at once. Spectacular and utterly destructive.

The Latest Doping Scandal!

Spiegel Online International

Grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk refused to submit a urine sample for a drug test at the Chess Olympiad in Dresden and is now considered guilty of doping. [...]

Professional chess player Vassily Ivanchuk, born in Berezhany, Ukraine in 1969, has been a grandmaster for the past 20 years and is currently ranked third in the world. The man with black hair and bedroom eyes is known as "Big Chucky" by his fellow chess players. Why? Because, after losing a game, he goes into the forest at night and howls at the moon to drive out the demons. Because he walks around in shorts in freezing temperatures. Because he likes to sit in dark rooms. Because he usually looks at the ceiling instead of the board during a chess match. Because he tries to fold the oversized winner's check handed out after a tournament down to pocket size. And because he, as World Champion Visvanathan Anand says, lives on "Planet Ivanchuk."

Yo, World Chess Big Dudes - this guy ain't dopin' for performance! I think if you make this crazy mofo go off his meds World Chess is gonna get a lot more exciting!

Hannity’s new Colmes?

Not that we give a shit, but I think this guy'd be OK. From the Boston Herald?!!!.

Secretary of Energy

Oz at earthfamilyalpha sounds off on the proposed Secretary of Energy. Links at site.

We've been waiting to hear who will be the new Secretary of Energy. Even though my boss announced to the executive team this morning that he was not going to Washington, I remained confident that someone besides the normal business as usual, green on the edges, let's not be too concerned about climate change if it endangers our economy, fire burning neo-neanderthal would get the nod. (my em and I like that phrase!)

And it looks like we are not going to be disappointed.

According to Huffington and everyone else, it will be Steven Chu:

A Chinese-American, Chu is a professor of physics and molecular and cell biology at the University of California-Berkeley and has been the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 2004, where he has pushed aggressively for research into alternative energy as a way to combat global warming.

It is the oldest of the Energy Department's national laboratories, but does only unclassified work. In recent years under Chu, it has been at the center of research into biofuels and solar technologies. Chu has been a strong advocate for the need to engage scientists in the search for ways to combat global warming by replacing fossil fuels with other energy sources such as biofuels and the sun.

What!? A SecEnergy who's not in the pockets of Big Oil and Coal? Holy crap!

I never heard of the guy before, but he sounds OK to me.

On the bright side ...

I probably won't be working on any new models of these or these anymore. Digby:

So, the Republicans are saying that if the Democrats don't agree to destroy the unions, they will block any loans to Detroit, and allow the auto companies to fail. And even that might not be enough to stop them because this wrecking crew seems have decided that the country needs to understand that if they vote for Democrats the Republicans will make them pay by ushering in another great depression.


Indeed, breaking the UAW seems to be the ultimate goal. Point of fact: Union wages and benefits only make up 10% of the carmakers' expenses.


Republicans spent the last eight years like drunken sailors on their first shore leave after years at sea. They wantonly drained the treasury of billions and billions of dollars on harebrained schemes to induce "birthpangs of democracy" around the world, chasing phantom enemies and enriching their defense contractor contributors. They created a lobbying culture so corrupt it finally collapsed of its own weight. They deregulated the financial industry so thoroughly that it created an elaborate ponzi scheme that has just about destroyed the world economy.

They have no standing to lecture anyone about responsibility, fiscal or otherwise, and no right to obstruct the cure for the problem they created.


Digby also mentions the Dems' enabling of the Republican looting but you know who it really comes down to? It's on us. If it weren't for the apathy, ignorance, and just plain stupidity of the average American, we wouldn't have petulant teenagers representing us.

After decades of not giving a shit, of allowing themselves to be brainwashed into voting against their own interests, this is what we get. On one side we have the big children, the Republicans with their childlike view of how the world operates and on the other, the Dems, a spineless bunch of pantywaists who are afraid of their own shadows; afraid to anger anyone because of perceived future political considerations.

Our political system has become a joke. The strong principles the Founders built this nation upon took a long time to erode under the constant assault upon it over the past 40 years because it was made to withstand aberrations - a rogue administration, civil war - but what it couldn't support was an entire political party devoted to its destruction (and one too weak-willed to stop them). It took 40 years but it is done and over the last 8 years - after what we see happening now would be the obvious outcome - we have none but ourselves to blame.

As anybody who's overcome an addiction knows, one day you have to look in the mirror and admit to yourself how far you've fallen. Once you see what you've become (not the drug-induced delusion of grandeur), you can begin to assess what got you there and what you must do to correct it. It's time for Americans to look in that mirror realistically. The reflection ain't pretty.

When the American people will elect leaders like Richard Shelby, Mitch McConnell, and those of their ilk, term after term, when we send people like Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi to Congress, we have a serious problem. We're addicted to what people like them give us; the status quo.

The status quo where everybody generally gets along. No great highs, no serious lows, the chance once every decade to make some real money if your timing is right and life plods along. We're able to have our stuff, a TV in every room, boat, cars, house, whatever, and as long as our representatives kept the status quo we were good. We didn't really have to pay attention because the talking heads on TV told us what we needed and as long as they were good with it, so were we.

And then we got George Bush and Dick Cheney. The guy who everybody thought was just like them and wanted the same things. We looked in the mirror and George Bush looked back at us, we believed the delusion. They were gulled into thinking he was looking out for them and they let him do what he wanted. When they might be having doubts (those that come with a particularly bad hangover), a 'tax rebate' check appeared in the mail (the hair of the dog) and the high returned. We turned away from the mirror when the financial institutions were deregulated because it meant we could have more stuff. We could afford a house, and then we were allowed to remortgage that to get more, bigger, better, more. Pay it back? Times can only get better, right? A permanent Republican majority was the answer! We tightened the tourniquet and stuck the needle in.

And now we have the big crash, when all the dope and liquor in the world won't make the shakes go away, the itching at the needle marks becomes relentless, and you wonder when you're going to puke up your upper GI because your stomach emptied out hours ago. And, as you pass the mirror on another trip to the can, you realize you can do one of two things. You can go for the big, hot load, a desperate attempt to catch the high once more, even though it'll probably kill you, or you can say 'enough', and start to change the behavior that got you to this point. It's the point you reach when you know there is no one to blame but yourself.

We are at that point. We can't blame our representatives because we put them there. We can't blame them because we allowed them to do what they've done. Seriously, would you want any of them representing you in court on a murder charge? Shit, you'd get the needle for manslaughter. If you wouldn't hire them as your attorney, why would you hire them to protect your rights and interests? It's time to kiss the status quo goodbye and to change our bad habits before they finally kill us. The first step is to pay attention to what really goes on (in the age of the intarwebs, there's no excuse not to) and vote sensibly. The next is to make your voice heard to the people you hired to represent you. Everything that's happening now comes down to the fact these people are more interested in their own (and those of their friends) self-interest than yours. It's time to stop being ignorant sheep, we can't afford it anymore. We can't survive it.

On the bright side, things might get bad enough that we actually do gaze upon our reflection and are disgusted enough with what we see to affect some real change in the next few years. If we don't, we might as well kiss what's left of this nation goodbye.

Mary on the Half-Shell Day

Our Lady of Guadalupe, also called the Virgin of Guadalupe (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe or Virgen de Guadalupe) is a 16th century Roman Catholic Mexican icon representing an apparition of the Virgin Mary. It is perhaps Mexico's most popular religious and cultural image. Guadalupe's feast day is celebrated on December 12, commemorating the traditional account of her appearances to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City from December 9, 1531 through December 12, 1531.

[...] The Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes once said that " may no longer consider himself a Christian, but you cannot truly be considered a Mexican unless you believe in the Virgin of Guadalupe."

Nobel laureate Octavio Paz wrote in 1974 that "the Mexican people, after more than two centuries of experiments, have faith only in the Virgin of Guadalupe and the National Lottery"[

La música es una antígua composición indígena-colonial mexicana e interpretada por Linda Ronstadt.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Pakistan Shell Game

Joke Line

[...] But more important, it is finally dawning on some in Washington--if not exactly those packing their bags and shredding their files in the Bush White House--that Pakistan has played us for fools ever since September 11, 2001.

The world has become a more dangerous place because the Bush Administration took its eye off this particular ball in order to fight the war of choice in Iraq. It is up to the President-elect to let the Pakistanis know that the days of American carelessness are over. It is up to the Pakistanis to make clear that they truly want to be our ally in the struggle against violent Islamic extremism.

We've sent Pakistan $billions to be our friend in the phony War On Terror, most of which has been spent to make Pakistan stronger militarily in their never-ending Mexican standoff with India, or to strengthen the very terrorist groups we're supposed to be fighting against.

President Obama needs to make it crystal clear to the Paki military and ISI that the taps are going to be turned off if they don't start spending it the way we want them to. I guess we should tell their nominal government as well. If no-money-without-provisos works with the U.S. automakers, and the jury's still out on that, maybe it'll work on Pakistan too.

Our government needs to learn a very basic lesson, simple enough that even Joe Klein got it: he who pays the piper calls the tune.

This thought just came to me, and I'm not real proud of it, but I'll throw it out there anyway and I'm sure I'll hear about it: maybe it's time we allied with India and whoever in the region's up for it and just beat the shit out of Pakistan. Something on the order of getting a mule's attention with a 2x4 upside the head.

Quote of the Day trois

Emma Watson: I'd Go Naked

Gordon: I'd buy a ticket!

Schakowsky throws her hat in the ring


Rep. Jan Schakowsky will run for the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama should that seat ultimately come to a special election, her office confirmed to the Huffington Post.

Schakowsky is widely considered one of the most liberal members of the House of Representatives. She was a cosponsor of a resolution seeking articles of impeachment against vice president Dick Cheney and was one of the most outspoken critics of the Iraq War. She was also an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama's candidacy, both for Senate in 2004 and president in 2008.

Rep. Schakowsky is absolutely my choice for President Obama's Senate replacement.

My Mother was also a Polish lady from Chicago. I think under Chicago rules that makes both me 'n Mom, who passed away in 1948, eligible to cast absentee ballots...

Quote of the Day deux

David Mamet

I am from Chicago, and, so, having been disillusioned with politics at an early age I do not become involved. The only reason I vote is because they pay me.

It's a fine source of income for the deceased as well...

Top 10 Messages On Blagojevich's Answering Machine

Quote of the Day

The Rude One:

... All over Chicago, there's mobsters laughing their fat asses off because Blagojevich made mistakes that only amateurs make ...

Late for work. See yas ...

It takes balls ...

To try and implicate Obama in the Blagojevich mess.


"Americans voted for change. Barack Obama promised that he would have the most open and honest administration and transition in history," said RNC chairman Mike Duncan, on a conference call just now with reporters. "But that's not what we're getting. What we're getting is the same old politics out of Chicago."


I shouldn't have to comment on this but a Republican has the sack to cry about Barry's transparency and openness? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.


"If he really wants to be transparent, if he truly is wanting to do the right thing and move the country forward, he has got to talk about his relationship with Rezko and with the governor," Duncan said, later adding: "He's got to come clean and have a press conference where he talks about what they've done in the past, the help that they've done, conversations that they've done."


The hypocrisy of the Republicans is unbelievable. After 8 years of lies, deception, and criminal secrecy, their chutzpah is amazing. Allow me to cite a couple examples off the top of my head:

Jack Abramoff

Cheney's Energy Task Force

Allowing bin Laden's family to leave the States after 9/11

Allowing New Yorkers to return to Ground Zero, even though the air was still toxic.


And I bet I could fill up the page if I actually used the Google. Does anyone think, after watching Barry on the campaign trail for the last 2 years, he is dumb enough to get involved with Blagojevich? I'd even be willing to bet it was Obama's people who dropped a dime on Blago after he tried to shake them down for the Valerie Jarrett appointment. That was the feeling I got after looking over the indictments; after the 'sure thing' to replace Barry in the Senate suddenly withdrew her name.

The Republicans need to STFU and pray the Dems remain their usual spineless selves and not investigate what went on the last 8 years. Obama is too clean for them to treat him like the Clintons. Pat Fitzgerald already said there is no link and that's good enough for me (Fitz for AG?).

I'm tired of all the whining from the children in the Republican Party. They rail against what, a few months ago, was business as usual. They complain when the shoe is on the other foot, when they realize their incompetence and criminality might be exposed to the light (Fitz for AG?).

There are crooks everywhere and the Justice Department's job is to find and prosecute them, whatever their party affiliation. If they're Dems like Blago and William Jefferson or Republicans (time and space constraints preventing me from posting a list; literally hundreds), they all need to go. With a Justice Department staffed with professionals instead of political hacks, I'm sure we'll see a lot more fall in the coming year (Fitz for AG?).

I'm also sure the conservative mouthpieces like Lintball and Hannity will make hay out of this and a lot more (wait for the shouts of 'culture of corruption' in the Democratic Party) before the inauguration, let alone after. See it for what it is, a smokescreen to curb Obama's (and the Dems') power and preclude investigation of exactly what laws were broken during the Bush administration. They need someone else to blame for the mess we're in.

This January we can begin to correct things, to right the ship of state and return it to the proper course. The Republicans will lie and obstruct to prevent that from happening. They know their party (and what it's become) can't survive in a progressive America and will do and say anything to ensure their existence. The noise from the Right will get louder and the bullshit will come in like the high tide. They are incompetent, bankrupt of ideas and solutions, and the only tools they have are manufactured scandal, fear, and divisiveness; acts of desperation.

After watching what they did to Clinton, I do not envy Obama trying to govern in this environment.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

[Bleep] Blagojevich

I'm just enjoyin' the shit out of this!

'toon is from YubaNet

Andy Borowitz

In what is being called one of the most daring escape attempts in the history of law enforcement, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich today offered the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama to the FBI agent who took him into Federal custody this morning.

According to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the astonishing escape attempt occurred moments after Mr. Blagojevich was handcuffed by the agent, who was wearing a wire and captured the entire expletive-laden offer on tape.

"'You can be the [bleeping] junior Senator from [bleeping] Illinois if you let me out of these [bleeping] handcuffs,'" Mr. Fitzgerald read from a transcript. "'And if that mother-[bleeper] Barack Obama tries to [bleep] with me, I'll [bleep] him up.'"

According to Mr. Fitzgerald, "When I say 'bleep,' he didn't really say 'bleep' on the tape," adding, "I'm going to keep making that joke until one of you [bleepers] laughs at it."

Gov. Blagojevich has been charged with a laundry list of Federal crimes, including stealing his haircut from the dad on "The Brady Bunch."

We'll see how well his 'do holds up under the kind ministrations of a 300lb horny transvestite biker named Bubba as his cellie. Better yet, Dubya.

Blue Oval Blows Off Bailout

This one's for all you Ford fans. You know who you are...

An extensive piece at HuffPo:

DEARBORN, Mich. — By shunning government loans, Ford Motor Co.'s top executives say they hope to buff up the automaker's image and set it apart from its cash-starved Detroit competitors, General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.

GM and Chrysler are in desperate need of government money and may not last until the end of the year without it. But Ford set up $23.5 billion worth of credit in 2006, and both Chief Executive Alan Mulally and Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. told The Associated Press on Tuesday they are confident that the borrowing, coupled with restructuring and new product plans, will get them through the recession without relying on the government.

Good news, but it comes at a cost:

Ford, he said, has cut its factory capacity to match demand, and it anticipates no further cuts will be necessary as long as the U.S. auto market doesn't worsen considerably. The company has announced the closure of 17 factories and eliminated 50,000 jobs since 2005, many through buyout and early retirement offers.

I'm sure that some of the 'early retirement offers' amounted to 'don't let the door hit ya in the ass on the way out'.

If I learned one thing from 40 years as a mechanic, it's that there is no such thing as 'job security'. It's why they put wheels on tool boxes. The difference being that motorcycle mechanics expect, almost demand, that they get to goof off on the state's dime will be in between jobs once in a while. Factory workers don't.

The sad irony is that when bike wrenches start to settle down, family, mortgage, actual responsibilities, etc., they become auto mechanics at about three times the pay and steadier work. What with the closure of so many car dealers, a lot of them are now out of work when they don't want to be.

FoMoCo is wisely hedging its bets as well:

Ford wants to set up a $9 billion long-term line of credit from the government but would use it only if the U.S. auto market worsens or fails to recover. The company has said it has enough borrowed money to make it through 2009 without government help.

He said Ford would comply with all government conditions if it tapped the loans at a later date.

That's big of 'em!

This is a little disturbing:

Ford also said he'd like to see the government keep gas prices stable with taxes or a floor on crude oil prices so automakers can plan their models better.

Gasoline prices peaked at more than $4 per gallon during the summer but now are well below $2 per gallon in many areas of the country.

"We plan our vehicles three, four, five years in advance," he said. "It makes life very difficult if the market gyrates wildly over the course of several months, and that's exactly what we've seen happen."

Note to Ford: Plan for low supplies of oil at high prices, dudes. Sure, keep making a few Excessivecursions and Exploders. Some folks will always need the capacity. Most people that buy them don't and they may be starting to wise up after a few $100 fill-ups. Don't rely on the big gas guzzlers as your cash cow anymore. In other words, get with the fuckin' program and stick to it. Same goes for GM and Chrysler.

What we want is for gasoline demand to be so low that the price at the pump stays around $1 - 2 and the Saudis have to eat sand. Or pound it. I hope the day comes when we get all the oil we need from Canuckistan.

Other than that, good on yer, Ford. Even if eschewing an immediate bailout is only a PR move to keep auto buyers' confidence up so they'll be more likely to buy your products and, rightly or wrongly, expect a servicing dealer to be there for them down the road, it was a good move.

Then again, it may have been some good financial planning. Imagine that from a U.S. automaker! Or dumb luck. That I'd believe.

About Afghanistan ...

Dday points out the big reason we can't win in Afghanistan:


That dissent is wholly justified given the realities on the ground. The Taliban, by one account, has a permanent presence in 72% of the country and is closing in on the capital, Kabul. Unlike Iraq, the militant groups here have a connection to the local tribal communities - they are not solely foreign fighters imposing their will - and they are determined not to make the same mistakes as Al Qaeda in Iraq, even loosening its doctrinaire extremism to accommodate the locals and multiple insurgent groups. The plan floated to "restart the surge" by enlisting tribal groups to fight the Taliban won't work with coalition forces targeting them at the same time:


The response to additional troops in the region will clearly be additional violence. This is particularly the case if civilian casualties continue, increasing anger among the local population. The US plan appears to be to focus their troops in the Kabul region, which is incredibly ominous, suggesting that the countryside is being given up for the time being. And the supply lines connecting the region have been breached. [my ems]


So what; we're gonna build an 'enclave of democracy' in Kabul? A centralized target on which attacks from the outside can be directed? A place where none can leave the city limits without being targeted?

What we are seeing is there is no real plan for Afghanistan. Fortifying Kabul (an obvious attempt to protect the Karzai government) will merely create an island in a sea of anarchy. We have painted ourselves into a corner.

We are resorting to a strategy used 500 years ago, a 'siege mentality' where the defenders hope their fortifications withstand bombardment from without until the enemy runs out of supplies or gets tired of the fight. This is not the way to 'win' a war.

Like the firebases and airfields in Vietnam Gord showed us the other day, our troops (and the civilians in Kabul) will come under constant fire, the aircraft and runway in particular, for we really have no other way to resupply. Think Berlin Airlift but with anti-air going up at the transports and mortar fire coming down on the runway. It'll be a mess.

Afghanistan is a place best left alone; ask the British and the Russians. We cannot occupy it (the terrain making it logistically impossible), we cannot democratize it (the tribal culture will not support a centralized government), and we cannot buy their cooperation (there isn't enough money in the U.S. Treasury to guarantee their loyalty to us). And then there is the complication of Pakistan (namely the tribal areas of Waziristan), whose government has neither the stomach or the army to clean up the 'safe haven' for Afghani militants on their side of the border and cannot allow the U.S. to do it and survive politically.

Our occupation of Afghanistan (if history is any guide) will end about as well as the British and Soviet versions did. We will leave (when the costs become too high), eventually, after declaring victory, and Afghanistan will return to being the way it always was. It's time to bring our troops home from Afghanistan as well, not send more, and promise them that the next time some idiot in a cave decides to attack the United States, the nation of Afghanistan will be nothing more than a smoking hole in the ground. When dealing with a population still living in the 8th Century, you cannot use a 21st Century strategy. In Afghanistan there are two constants; life and death. Allow them the first and promise them the last if they misbehave. Any other alternative is nothing more than a waste of lives and money.

Cross-posted at API.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Quote of the Day

Comrade Misfit, who seems to come up with a lot of these:


It seems to happen a lot. Democrat, Republican, it doesn't seem to matter: In Illinois, a governor will serve two terms in the governor's mansion followed by a single term in prison.

Berkeley city council urges U.S. to prosecute former Bush official

The EssEffChron is a gold mine today. Really just 'low-hanging fruit' but that might be an inappropriate term to describe gleanings from a Frisco rag.

After an emotional, fiery debate over academic freedom and torture, Berkeley's city council passed a measure late Monday night imploring the U.S. to prosecute Berkeley resident and former White House official John Yoo for war crimes.

Yoo, a tenured professor at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, wrote the legal memos justifying torture while interrogating terrorism suspects while he served as Deputy Assistant Attorney general for the Bush administration in 2001-03.

It's a nice idea not that anybody gives a shit what Berserkeley does.

Yoo was not available for comment Tuesday.

Probably packing up for his new gig as houseboy at Estancia de Bush-o in Paraguay.

Cruise ship will evacuate to avoid pirate attack


A German cruise ship plans to evacuate passengers in Yemen and fly them to the next port of call Wednesday to avoid any possible encounters with pirates off the coast of lawless Somalia.

Several other cruise operators said Tuesday they were also shifting or canceling tours that would have taken clients past Somalia, as nations and companies around the world debated how to confront the piracy dominating the Gulf of Aden.

The European Union said its anti-piracy mission would station armed guards on vulnerable cargo ships — the first such deployment of military personnel during international anti-piracy operations in the crucial waterway.

Armed troops might harsh the mellow on a cruise ship, so I came up with the perfect solution: comp the Fixers to unlimited cruising and simply give the F-Man his choice of armament and ordnance. Then sail blithely anywhere. When push comes to shove, just cut Fixer loose and charge the other passengers to watch the show. One of those big TVs like at football games oughta work fine, and they could giggle their asses off in the comfort of the main salon. Win-win!

And should Fixer feel the need of an A-gunner/ammo carrier or just a reliable sort to refresh his cocktail in the heat of battle (wouldn't want him to ever have to say "Things were getting dashed hot. We were out of pink gin" like the old Brit colonial officers), I volunteer me 'n Mrs. G. We could use a nice cruise in sunny climes.

Britain, France, Greece, Sweden, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands will contribute at least 10 warships and three aircraft to the mission, with contingents rotated every three months.

Still bupkis from Uncle Sam's Canoe Club. Afraid of pissin' off Somali pirates? Yeesh.

Such a deal!

If ya got 99¢ left, that is...

The best bargain and most useful item might be the paper towels.

We'll see if Slate lets me keep this hot link

Senatorial Junket

WANDTV Champaign, Springfield, Decatur IL

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Members of a U.S. Senate delegation say Pakistan knows it must take quick action against terrorists in Pakistan connected to last month's attacks in Mumbai, India.

Sen. John McCain also says the Islamabad government will work with India and avoid "any further deepening" of the current crisis between the two neighbors.

McCain has been visiting Pakistan and India as part of a regional tour with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. U.S. senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham were also along.

There ya go! Show the two nations in the hottest spot on the planet that we care - send the losers! "Also along" sounds an awful lot like "also ran" which describes McCain's poodles real well, I think.

On the flip side, they're the perfect choice to go on this mission. If Paki militants kidnap and behead those three, what's the loss?

Hard-Hitting Brokaw Questions President-Elect About Whether He's Given Up Cigarettes

Tony Peyser

You know, there's a basic bottom line here
Which many of you may also be thinking:
Tom, don't bitch about Barack's smoking
Unless you ask Bush about his drinking.

Note to Barry: You can go smoke where Bush went to drink and maybe horn a little blow - on the upper balcony at the rear of the White House. You can piss off it like he did too. Also, should you sneak the occasional tipple, and I know it will be more infrequently than Bush did, show a little more class than him and don't throw your empties out in the yard.

Rewarding Those Who Got It Right

MFBTGR* on the O-Man's appointment of Gen. Shinseki. She hopes it starts a trend. So do I.

BROKAW: He's the man who lost his job in the Bush Administration because he said we will need more troops in Iraq than Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld thought we would need at that time.

OBAMA: He was right.

It will be nice if "he was right" continues to be something that qualifies one for a job in the Obama administration instead of the cause for dismissal it was under Bush.

By making a deliberate effort to reward those who got it right -- on Iraq, on the economy, on global warming, on health care -- Obama will not only send a message that the days of Bush Darwinism are over, he will also puncture the White House's favorite defense, especially on Iraq, that "everybody got it wrong."

No, they didn't. And it's vital that the Bush apologists, in the midst of their Bush Legacy Project, not be allowed to rewrite history.

Recognizing and rewarding Those Who Got It Right also makes it far more likely that the next Eric Shinseki will be willing to step forward and speak up. Obama's appointment of Shinseki is a solid first step.

It's plenty OK to disagree with those who disagree with you. You argue your side and may the better horse win the race. It is not OK to destroy careers to instill fear into others so they keep their mouths shut (I think an exception can be made in the case of right-wing gasbags). At least Shinseki had a hefty pension, but that's not the point. The point is that oppressively silencing voices that speak truth to power may have been one of the worst crimes of the Bush administration. Among many.

If the freedom to speak one's mind without fear of retaliation is returned to our citizens and our representatives and, perhaps more importantly to the press, then Obama's presidency will be a success.

*My Favorite Big-Titted Greek Redhead

Staying home ...

Something near and dear to my heart. Vacation.

If 2008 was the year of the staycation, then ’09 is bound to be the year of the naycation.

As in, nay — we’re not vacationing.

The conventional wisdom about travel is that it will slip by just a few percentage points next year. But the unconventional wisdom — supported by several troubling surveys — points to a much bigger drop.


I can understand that. As you know if you follow our travels, the Mrs. and I book our vacations with a lot of lead time. Our 2009 vacations were booked and paid for this past August (avid cruisers like us know to book early for the best choice of rooms and fares). That said, we're holding off on 2010 because we don't know how the economy will look then. Were we booking for 2009 now, we'd probably be scaling back a lot.


A recent Allstate poll found nearly half of all Americans plan to cut back on travel in 2009. An International SOS survey says slightly fewer of us — about 4 out of 10 Americans — are reducing their international trips next year. And a Zagat survey says at least 20 percent of us will travel less in ’09.

But that’s just the half of it. I’ve been talking with people in the industry, who tell me — direct quote here — that travel is poised to “drop off a cliff” in January. In other words, people are telling pollsters one thing but making other plans.


I think this recession will hit harder than people think and the luxuries in life will be the first things to go. A cruise vacation just isn't in the cards for people who are struggling with the rent payments. I expect lines like Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean (along with Disney Cruise Line to some extent - it's still a good value for a family vacation), who cater to the party crowd going to the Caribbean and Mexico, are going to take the biggest hit. Those folks, if they take a vacation at all next year, will probably spend their bucks closer to home.

It looks like 2009 is gonna be a tough year for everybody.

Great thanks to Chris for the link.

Go away ...

I really didn't expect this from a Roberts Court.


The Supreme Court has turned down an emergency appeal from a New Jersey man who says President-elect Barack Obama is ineligible to be president because he was a British subject at birth.


I figured the conservatives would wring a couple months of outrage and controversy out of the issue.

Know what? I could give shit less if Barry was born in the Third Circle of Hell, so long as he fixes what the conservatives have fucked up, though I think the task is too great to do within term limits.

Monday, December 8, 2008

They finally found ...

Some people his own age for him to play with.

IL Dems Stand Up for Republic Windows Sit-In Against Bank of America

I didn't think too much about this until I just saw Rep. Schakowsky (D-Il, and my choice for Senator to replace Barry) on, sorry, Hardball talking about it.


After a week of lawmakers obsessing over a massive auto industry bailout, a Chicago company that makes things Americans actually want to buy tried to quietly go out of business, telling their employees they could forget their insurance and vacation pay. Refusing to let the company walk out on their union contract, workers took a stand, and sat down.

At the heart of their demands is basic workers' rights. The company has said it will not pay for benefits, such as insurance and paid vacation, owed under a union contract with United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 1110. Federal law also requires the company give workers at least 60 days notice prior to the shutdown. The company claims they cannot pay the benefits because Bank of America will not release the necessary funds (my em).

Senator Durbin:

"Over the last several weeks we have been debating in Washington how to spend hundreds of billions of dollars. We have been sending billions of dollars to banks like Bank of America. The reason we sent them the money was to tell them they have to loan this money to companies just like Republic," he said. He added that Congress will "remind them that the taxpayers' dollars flowing into these big banks are not for dividends; they're not for executive salaries. They're for loans and credit to businesses."

Bank of America has secured $15 billion of the U.S. Treasury's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. In acquiring Merrill Lynch, they stand to get $10 billion more from the same program. Meanwhile, Bank of America's CEO Kenneth Lewis received more than $16 million in compensation in 2007 and more than $25 million in 2006. Just last month, Bank of America almost doubled its investment in China Construction Bank, spending an additional $7 billion to increase its share in the Chinese financial institution to more than 19 percent.

From Obama's Sunday news conference:

[...] But it’s also important for us to make sure that the plans and programs that we design aren’t just targeted at maintaining the solvency of banks, but they are designed to get money out the doors and to help people on Main Street. [...]

“Number two, I think it is important for us to make sure that, moving forward, any economic plan we put in place helps businesses to meet payroll so we are not seeing these kinds of circumstances again," he said. “Have we done everything that we can to make sure credit is flowing to businesses and to families, and to students who are trying to get loans? And to homeowners who have been making payments on their homes but are still finding their property values so depressed that it becomes very difficult for them to make the mortgage payments?

“That’s where the rubber hits the road and that’s going to be the central focus of my administration.”

We - that's we, you and me, all of us, have just given BofA billions of our dollars. I guess it's more important for them to sit on the dough or use it for investment in China and for perks, executive salaries, bonuses, dividends, or spa getaways than it is to use it right here in the United States to satisfy obligations to peasants as well to keep businesses open and Americans working. God damn them.

Note to President Obama: You get someone on this shit and look into just what the fuck the money was for and do something about abuses toute de fuckin' suite. Give the op order in yer goddam inaugural speech. Rethink the whole pocket-pickin' giveaway. Better, think about it for the first time unlike Paulson and Congress who panicked and never did. This is total bullshit.

Note to the Republic employees: Good for you. Keep it up. Don't let the bastards beat you out of what's yours.

Logistics II

Fixer has an excellent post below on resupplying US troops in Afghanistan. He's right. Here's a film about resupply efforts many years ago when one little stretch of road was cut by the enemy. This was one base, and the flights were only of a coupla hundred miles or less, not thousands of miles through the airspace of not-necessarily-friendly countries to then distribute supplies to perhaps hundreds of small outposts. It was a 24/7 all-hands exercise of horrendous cost, and it barely kept the Marines alive and fighting.

For more info, see The Battle of Khe Sanh.

Did I mention that the Taliban have surrounded Kabul, similar to the way the PAVN surrounded Khe Sanh?

Note: check out the thumbnails after the video for some spectacular C-130 action!

I think I should mention that it might be wildly inadvisable to refer to the Khe Sanh aircrews as 'AF weenies' in front of some old fart Marine who got to eat and have ammo because of their efforts. Might be entertaining, though...

Incompetence Kept Us "Safe"

Pablo rarely sounds off apart from his photos. Today he does.

That's the hook for his legacy, he kept us "safe". (after one colossal failure)

But it is all BS!

Look at Mumbai. Ten guys, automatic weapons, grenades, ammo. Do you think that couldn't have been done at any time, any place in the U.S.?

What was to stop them?

Homeland Security?

Our strongly defended borders?

Our crack Intelligence apparatus?

No, what stopped them was that there was no need. They scored a great success on September 11. They have driven this country into panic, caused 2 wars, economic meltdown, suspension of much of our Constitution, ruined our reputation around the world, and shown us to be so reliant on massive force retaliation, that we are like a helpless infant.

Unfortunately, with the country seemingly coming to it's senses, and changing it's regime, there will probably be another attack in the next decade perhaps another "Mumbai". Nothing as spectacular as 9/11, that is no longer necessary in their eyes. Just a little reminder to kick the panic up a notch.

And sad to say, that act will pretty much cement Bush's legacy.

He kept us "safe".

I would love to see Bush's 'legacy' 'cemented' around his feet just before he goes swimming in the East River, or in his new neighbor's trout pond in the formerly racially exclusive rich white racist enclave in Dallas, but I digress.

Bush's agenda about 'homeland (God, I hate that word) security' was basically to scare the crap out of us and turn us into a nation of spoiled mewling cowards so he could advance tyranny over us and around the world and then pretty much do nothing else other than to have people take their shoes off before they can board an airplane. To a greater or lesser degree it worked.

Whatever the nature of the next terrorist attack, it had better come before January 20 or it will be someone else's fault. 9/11 was, of course, someone's fault other than Bush. Remember, everything that happened before November 4 was Clinton's fault, everything after November 4 is Obama's.

Makes me wanta puke.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Hopes friendly televised chats favorably influence future grand jurors.

Britain Considers Making It Illegal to Pay for Sex
Anything more than dinner and a movie would be a felony.

Look for a buncha airstrips in Nevada to be extended, maybe even paved, to facilitate direct flights from Heathrow and Gatwick. Shady Lady International Airport? Actually, if you mind traffic just a little you can land anything with its landing gear less than two lanes apart on US95 and deplane at the pleasure palace of your choice. Brits take note. We need your money.

New Rule Permits Loaded, Concealed Weapons in Some National Parks
Sites affected: Al Capone Wildlife Refuge, Bonnie and Clyde Twin Peaks National Monument, Jimmy “The Weasel” Fratianno National Forest.

Recession-Hit Americans Flocking to Movies
Most remain in their seats until morning.

“Impeach Bush” Ornament Deemed Inappropriate for White House Tree
Also “Behead Cheney” ornament (not shown).

How about The Dick's head itself? Nah, might scare the kids.

I wish I'da got a 'liquid alert' for this next one:

NFL Broadcasts Game in 3-D
Viewers particularly enjoy Viagra commercials.

And, last but not least, one that I'm sure we can all relate to:

Stash of 2700-Year-Old Marijuana Discovered in Gobi Desert
At least that's what archeologists told police.

Farce-a Italia

A headline from BuzzFlash:

Berlusconi -- Italy's cross between George W. Bush and Rupert Murdoch -- Wants to Use G-8 Presidency to Regulate the Internet.

Oh. Fucking. Swell. It will start with 'extremist websites and niche pornography', which I got not much problem with, but Bersuckloni owns a lot of media and, like Murdoch, would probably like to go after sites that do fact checking or dissemination of truth at odds with his agenda as well.

I love Italian food and motorcycles. Batshit media mogul heads of state not so much.

After Eight Years of Dumb

From Dharma at Mixter's Mix, "Superbad blogger chix to whom nothing is sacred!"

It seems as if some critics are already picking apart the folks that Obama is choosing to surround himself. They are saying that the choices are all too educated, too smart and from ivy league schools. Well speaking for myself, I think that after eight years of dumb, I am ready to see what a group of really smart people can accomplish!

Too educated and too smart is a negative? How far we have fallen.

Logistics ...

I know I harp on this, but I've been there. We encouraged the Afghani 'freedom fighters' to use these tactics against the Soviets 30 years ago and they're using them quite effectively against us now.

In one of the largest and most brazen attacks of its kind, suspected Taliban insurgents with heavy weapons attacked two truck stops in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, destroying more than 150 vehicles carrying supplies bound for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan.

The predawn attack on the outskirts of the city of Peshawar left the grounds of the truck terminals littered with the burned-out shells of Humvees and other military vehicles being transported by private truckers. At least one guard was reported killed.

Early today, a second attack on Western supplies was reported in the same area. A security guard said 50 containers had been burned and some vehicles destroyed by rocket fire.


By the time the Soviets left Afghanistan, only about a third of their supplies were getting to their destination. When they tried to use Mi-24s to guard the convoys, the Afghanis would shoot them down from the natural fortifications in the surrounding heights using RPGs (gunships have the thinnest armor on the top surfaces and the props are sitting ducks) or from below using the Stinger missiles we gave them.

As I've said many times, I don't care what kind of force you have on the ground. If you can't resupply them, they're ineffective at best, dead at worst. Afghanistan in particular is the last place you want to have resupply problems. The Khyber Pass, and the entire mountain range they are a part of, is a natural obstacle to resupply and has played a big part in the death of armies for the last few centuries.

The only alternative route is over land is through the 'Stans, via Russia or China (overhead) and the terrain on that side is almost as unforgiving. The Russians and Chinese (were they to help us) present their own set of problems. Air resupply is about as iffy as a convoy in that terrain, the cargo aircraft easy targets for mostly the same reasons (vulnerability on takeoff and landing from shooters on the high terrain, and during the offload/onload process sitting on the ground - one idiot with a mortar can make life miserable on the flightline).

I hope President-elect Obama receives good counsel from his staff before he decides to send more troops to the area. He could take a hundred thousand from Iraq, yet if he can't get them food, fuel, and bullets they're useless. Before we commit another unit to the battle, we'd better take a long look at what our mission really is; at what we're trying to achieve there.

If we are going after al-Qaeda, we have to have the cooperation (real cooperation) of the Paks. Without it, without being able to get a credible force in the tribal areas, we have no chance of getting Osama or the rest. If we are trying to build a 'western democracy' in Afghanistan, we might as well forget it. The culture would never accept it. In all the years we've been there, we've barely brought democracy to the city of Kabul and once you leave the city limits, it becomes the lawless place it's been since the British tried to tame it.

With the new administration comes a time to reassess, and the war in Afghanistan (or whatever its become now) has to be reassessed as well. We have to sit back and look at what we want to accomplish and whether the costs are worth it - in lives and money. Throwing a division or two at the problem might not be the best idea when the Soviets had over a hundred thousand on the ground and still failed. I hope President Obama takes that into consideration before committing more U.S. troops and capital to what is now a no-win situation.

Great thanks to our pal Montag for the LA Times link.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Weekend whorage

Another chapter of Birthright is up at The Practical Press.

Starting to get some color on the walls in the house.

And another instance of why General Motors, and the rest of the Big Three, are losing their shirts.

And, for your Sunday evening listening pleasure, I followed Gord's cue but instead of one of Robert Plant's latest offerings, I dredged up one from 35 years ago. One of the best blues tunes evah:

Led Zeppelin - Since I've Been Loving You

Sunday World Music Blogging

If you like World Music, you should go see calabashmusic. A wonderful selection of music from South America to Africa to Finland to Coney Island to Tijuana and all points in between.

Ojos de Brujo translates as "eyes of the wizard*". It's an appropriate name for a band who attempt to create musical magic. Formed from a collective of young Spanish musicians who use flamenco as a foundation for cross-genre experimentation, Ojos de Brujo incorporate elements of hip-hop, funk, salsa, and reggae into a dynamic flamenco sound.

Ojos de Brujo - Tiempo de Solea

*I usually translate 'brujo' as 'witch', but it may be more like 'batshit crazy smelly old fart who lives in a cave and wears a torn loincloth that lets his sack drag the ground who will put a curse on your mother-in-law for a jug of pulque'.

Fixer takes on the ice cream truck

Shinseki will head VA

I heartily concur with this choice! Here's Gen. Shinseki's wikistory.

Run, Tweety, Run!


Nothing has created so much breathless Internet stir since W. choked on a pretzel.

You recognized instantly, of course, that the "nothing" of which I just wrote is the nothing of Chris Matthews' possible -- probable -- run for the U.S. Senate, circa if not precisely 2010.

Plus, Arlen Specter isn't exactly the Huey Long of the Republican Party. He's about as boringly moderate as boring moderate can get, which is the only reason his extended tenure is endangered to begin with. Only the consecrated Whackos from the reddest hues of Whackoism are ever truly safe.

Eliminating Arlen only means eliminating the lingering vestiges of sanity in the GOP.

On the other hand, a Matthews run would irritate the bejesus out of the PUMA people -- and who can honestly say that that wouldn't be one helluva lot of splendid fun? I miss them, I miss them already, and I miss them deeply. They never write me anymore and I fear they're depressed. Matthews would give them something to live for, something to hang their hat-full of organized but homeless psychosis on.

So sure, that right there is reason enough, I suppose, for me to proudly don a "Matthews for Senate" button and then, maybe, when I'm feeling bulletproof, breeze by a few Women's Studies departments just to draw some amusing fire. It would seem like old times.

Please go read the rest.

Personally, I think Matthews has better sense than to run for the Senate. First, his entire body of work is on tape, some of which is the stupidest shit ever recorded, and a clever editor could cut inumerable 30-second ads that would tear him a new one and have us all either rolling on the floor laughing or throwing things at our TV sets. Second, he may not want to take the cut in pay.

We will see.