Saturday, December 20, 2008

How The Mighty Have Fallen...

I've been a fan of Byron Berline for almost forty years. Three-time National Fiddle Champion, in bands like Country Gazette, The Flying Burrito Bros., Berline, Crary, & Hickman, now with The Byron Berline Band and owner of Byron's Double Stop Fiddle Shop, I don't think he needs money. But, O to have come to this:

Mrs. G, who is a bigger fan of this gent than even I am, found that while Tube cruisin' and instantly e-mailed it to all her Bluegrass friends. Heh.

Byron's, er, accompanist is a 92-year-old golf pro named Duffy Martin. To see more of his peculiar, er, talent, go here and listen to him talk about a little gadget he invented. If I was a churchgoer, I'd definitely want one of these. Funny. Worth a look.

Saturday Crazy Cajun/Shetland Music Blogging

GainControlAgain brings us a unique foreign perspective on some of our own American music. Your favorite college dropout radio station WKFAG* is proud to present this kind of stuff we might otherwise miss.

*'W' - Eas' Coas', 'K' - Lef' Coas', 'FAG' - Fixer And....Hmmmmmmm. I might wanta rethink them call letters a little....

From 1988 UK Documentary "Aly Meets The Cajuns" Aly Bain talks to DL about the song and then accompanies on the performance.

About the interview, been there, done that, but never in French!

D.L. Menard & The Louisiana Aces - "The Back Door"

Read more about Aly Bain and D.L. Menard.

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

From one of my favorite YouTube channels, GainControlAgain(UK).

Emmylou on the Rodney Crowell song she recorded for her Elite Hotel album.

Rodney's the guitar picker on the right in the red shirt. I'm a fan.

Emmylou Harris - 'Til I Gain Control Again

Cocaine Flashback

Alla yas ol' farts like me'll like this one. Speaking only for myself, it's waaaaay too late to heed the anti-blow message at the end! Heh.

Tom Rush - "Cocaine"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Russian ship visits Cuba

Politics and Bush's depredations on the nation in what's left of his slide to oblivion have got me bored to shit today, although I think I'm in love with my fellow Angeleno homey, Hilda Solis.

RUSSIAN WARSHIPS arrive in Cuba; first such visit since end of Cold War.

I got no idea what the grand scale strategy is, but speaking as a former enlisted man, I know what the below-decks buzz is - a) Cuba's a helluva lot better place to be than Murmansk or Vladivostok this time of year, and b) lotsa rum and hot Latin babes!. A liberty call to remember! I wonder if there'll be enough crew left to get that thing back to Russia...

I just hope there's no room on that tub for them to take a buncha my '59 El Caminos home with them. Oh, the barbarity...


I have another excuse for my lack of prolific today besides boredom.

I'm in charge of both snow removal and dog poop removal around here. I try to not combine the two tasks, even though it would be more efficient. Since the Automatic Wind Direction Changer on my snow thrower works so well, that is to say no matter what direction the wind is blowing from, changing the direction of the discharge chute will automatically cause the wind to shift and come from the exact direction in which you wish to discharge snow, and since whatever is being pulverized by the augur will then blow back right square in yer face and all over yer bod, I try to get rid of the dog poop prior to snowthrowing. Dog poop ain't bad all over your jacket until you go inside and throw your jacket over a chair to dry and it thaws out. Then, dog poop is, well, shitty.

Yesterday I went on a dog poop walkdown before it started snowing. Success! I kicked a nice frozen dog turd to the edge of the driveway and rared back to do it again with some serious altitude and distance to kick it all the way to the neighbor's yard. What I failed to notice was the snow-covered rock the turd had landed on. I think my big toe is broken.

Yeah, I'd be laughin' too if it didn't hurt so much...

Quote of the Day

Mr. Aravosis:

... The problem isn't that Obama talks to Rick Warren, or even meets with Rick Warren. Hell, if Obama wants to meet with Ahmadinejad, more power to him. But I don't see him inviting the Iranian leader to the inauguration dais. There's a difference between reaching out to bad guys and legitimizing them ...

So help me ...

I'd better not hear any of this Jesus-crap from my doctor, pharmacist, or cashier:

Well, the threatened "right of conscience" regulation was pushed through by President Bush on Thursday as a "midnight regulation." This regulation would allow anyone to refuse to participate in medical procedures they feel goes against their religious beliefs. "Employees" are defined broadly: from the pharmacist filling a prescription for antibiotics to a cashier refusing to ring out oral contraceptives, to the one who cleans the surgical tools after a procedure involving a blood transfusion ...

Because it ain't gonna be pretty. You don't wanna do your job? Find another one. There's a thousand motherfuckers who are out of work waiting to take yours.

I gotta try that. "Sorry, sir, it goes against my religious beliefs to work on your piece-of-shit old Caddy." Guess where my ass would be?

Just shut the fuck up and do the job you're being paid to do.

How it happened ...

No time to sit and bitch this morning so I'll direct you to Krugman, who has a great essay up on the how and why of the financial mess we're in:


Meanwhile, how much has our nation’s future been damaged by the magnetic pull of quick personal wealth, which for years has drawn many of our best and brightest young people into investment banking, at the expense of science, public service and just about everything else?

Most of all, the vast riches being earned — or maybe that should be “earned” — in our bloated financial industry undermined our sense of reality and degraded our judgment.

Think of the way almost everyone important missed the warning signs of an impending crisis. How was that possible? How, for example, could Alan Greenspan have declared, just a few years ago, that “the financial system as a whole has become more resilient” — thanks to derivatives, no less? The answer, I believe, is that there’s an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they’re doing.


This mess didn't surprise folks like Krugman and those of us who've been running around last few years with our hair on fire. I just figured the bottom would fall out sooner.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Old-Tech Approach To Piracy On The High Seas

So I was reading an article about

The US government said Wednesday that it believes a new UN Security Council resolution on Somalia authorizes air strikes against pirates in Somali territory.

Air strikes? Gee, ya think? Like fuckin' DOH!

However, contrary to an earlier draft, the final version of resolution 1851 does not explicitly say Somali air space can be used.

"The resolution urges countries to establish an international cooperation mechanism as a common point of contact for counter-piracy activities near Somalia," the State Department said in response to a reporter's question to clarify the situation.

Still no fuckin' clue. Yeesh.

Look, folks, fuckin' up pirates is low-retro-tech shit. Here are two entertaining and dramatic approaches from the past.

First, Captain Gallery's USS Guadalcanal task force in action against U-505 off Africa in WWII. We could get that sucker outta mothballs and fix up some F4Fs and have at 'em!

Another approach to air-to-sea tactics:

There's nothing new to be learned about dealing with low-tech ships at sea. Just do it. If ya don't let 'em make it back to land, no problema with violating anyones's airspace. Sink enough of their ships and boats, they'll have to start a Victory ship-like assembly line to keep up, thus creating employment in Somalia!

More Afghanistan: Let's Score The Dope First!

Another interesting piece about Afghanistan in an interview with former NYT correspondent Stephen Kinzer at Truthout, with video:

Resisting foreign armies is something Afghans have been doing for thousands of years - they're probably better at it than anyone else in the world. The British learned this in the 19th century, the Soviets learned this in the 20th century. We shouldn't have to repeat those very painful lessons. So that's the first part: we should not be escalating our military presence there. What do we do instead of that? I think we need a dual process; a process that goes on within Afghanistan and a process that goes on in a much broader region. Within Afghanistan, it's important to understand that what we call the Taliban is actually a very broad coalition of tribal factions and warlords and other groups. Afghanistan is a place of constantly shifting factions. A faction that might be on your side today might not be tomorrow. A Taliban-allied warlord may not necessarily be anti-American, and if he is today, he might not be tomorrow. This system of flexible alliances holds out great opportunity for sophisticated diplomacy. There's a great possibility that once the United States is not seen as an invading force, it will be able to persuade a number of these warlords or factional leaders to shift their alliances. We ought to test that.

At the same time, we need to be negotiating throughout this region. This is not a problem anymore that can be solved within Afghanistan. It has long since become a regional problem. Just in the last week, after this recent attack on a concentration of American trucks, the American commanders started talking about alternative routes into Afghanistan for their supply convoys. They're talking about doing that from central Asian countries or even from places originating in Russia*. So this shows you what a regional dimension is involved here. Pakistan is a deeply influential player in Afghanistan. We need Pakistan to take a more resolute position, but Pakistan, like any country in the world, is only willing to make security concessions when it feels safe. Right now, Pakistan's security focus is - and has been for nearly all of its existence - on India. Its policy of insisting on having a pliant government in place in Afghanistan, and supporting favorable factions inside Afghanistan, is based almost entirely on its desire to counter India. India has been opening up consulates in Afghanistan, and there's talk about Indian military aid and Indian development aid in Afghanistan. Until the Pakistan-India confrontation can be ratcheted down several levels, there probably won't be peace in Afghanistan. Iran is another country that can have great influence inside of Afghanistan. Parts of Afghanistan used to be in Iran - it has tremendous ability to influence some large regions of Afghanistan.

Gee, all that sounded swell...

*I heard that Russia is already facilitating supply routes like this for other NATO nations.

We're now spending $4 billion per month on our war effort in Afghanistan. The total annual value of the poppy crop in Afghanistan is also about $4 billion. Today, the proceeds from nearly all the poppies growing in Afghanistan go into the pockets of the warlords. We are very rightly concerned about that. The money that's being used to finance the war against us is in part coming from the Afghan poppy crop. In addition, we're turning the poor farmers who grow most of these poppies into enemies by pursuing our traditional policy of burning fields and spraying with them from above with herbicides. How can we resolve all these problems together - not to mention that people are dying on the streets of Hamburg and Chicago every day from the heroin that comes from Afghan poppies?

My suggestion is that we abandon the idea of wiping out the poppy fields. That's like wiping out the Taliban. It's a great idea, but it's just not practical. Therefore, since it's not possible to do what we would like to do in our fantasies, what would be a realistic approach?

I'd like to see the United States buy the entire Afghan poppy crop. We would be paying as much as we pay each month for our war effort in Afghanistan. We could use some of that crop to make morphine for medical use, and the rest, we could burn. This will have the effect of, A, dramatically reducing the income that pours into the coffers of many of the most brutal Afghan warlords; B, showing poor Afghan peasants that we're actually buying something from them, giving them some money to live on rather than firing predator drones into their wedding parties; and C, presumably impacting the heroin supply worldwide.

Those last three paragraphs, folks, are the best examples of 'No Shit, Sherlock!' I've seen in a long time. I've been down with that idea for years.

Expanding on Mr. Kinzer's idea, I think a possible good use for our troops would be to protect the poppy crop and the poppy farmers from retaliation from the warlords who would come down on them like a sledgehammer if they sold the opium to us. It would mean a long-term military presence there, but over time would weaken the warlords/tribal factions/Taliban/whomever, perhaps make them more amenable to making deals with us.

We used to protect Vietnamese rice farmers so they could harvest their crop and sell it on the open market rather than let the Viet Cong 'tax' them out of it, aka 'steal' it. Problem was, given our government's short-term approach to things, after the harvest was over we would leave and expose the farmers to retaliation. There's next year and the next crop to consider.

Either we GTFO of Afghanistan or we make a long-term commitment there, and come up with a smarter plan than Bush did, which shouldn't be too hard. One problem we have is that 'commitment' runs in four-year stretches in this country. The Afghans have been doing what they do for thousands of years. Whether we act like guests instead of invaders is a key thing. They like guests. They destroy invaders.

This is just one element of a regional problem that stretches from the southern tip of India up through Central Asia, and from Bangladesh to Turkey.

The more I read and learn about Afghanistan and the region, the better I feel about finally getting a President who reads and listens and invites opinion. What difference it can make will not be instantly apparent. I can say this: like the Vietnamese, who are now doing OK, the Afghans are going to be there long after we leave, no matter how long we stay there.

We abandoned Afghanistan once, after the Russians left and Afghanistan was no longer useful to us. If going to do that again, let's get it over with sooner rather than later. If we're not, we have to do things differently than under Bush.

Stop and think about what will really be in America's interest over the long run.

Cheney Taunts Bush, Pardon Me or Else

We all know that Cheney just announced, out loud and on camera, that he authorized torture, a criminal act that the United States has executed war criminals for in the past. Here's one man's opinion why. Links at site.

With his ABC interview Vice President Dick Cheney put a smoking gun on the table. He admitted that he, along with other top administration officials, personally approved the CIA's waterboarding of prisoners. That he said it unapologetically is merely his low-keyed way of declaring open war.

President Bush has been working on his legacy by circulating an upbeat, 2-page talking point memo with a description of his successes in office. Bush likes to white-wash and obfuscate. Cheney prefers a more aggressive approach.

Just as an aside, if Bush's "successes" took up all of two pages, he must print awful big!

Always blunt, two-fisted, and condescending, the question is, why admit that he approved waterboarding? And why now? Maybe it was egotism, pure and simple, his own version of a legacy campaign where he takes credit for a policy that he asserts made America safe. But to his detractors it is an admission of guilt that is prosecutable, as damning as Jack Kervorkian's 60 Minutes interview that landed him in prison.

What he is responding to is the accusation in the just released Senate Armed Services Committee Report on the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody that condemns the Bush administration in no uncertain terms:

There are those who see the vice president's admission as part of a strategy to force the president to pardon him and all those named in the Senate Report: Rumsfeld, Meyers, and Rice. If Bush doesn't pardon them, they will certainly be pursued by those in the new administration who will not let-bygones-be-bygone.

Since Bush has been famously reticent to grant pardons both as governor and president, then Cheney's ABC interview with Jonathan Karl is a way of provoking Bush to act while he still can. If Cheney is pardoned then he'll have it both ways: maintaining that what was done was legal and being protected from prosecution.

I hope that deep down in his prehensile brain, Bush knows that he was so punk'd by the neocons that he made the decisions that have made him the Worst President In Our History in almost more ways than he can count with both shoes and his pants off and will simply let them twist in the wind should the incoming administration decide to do the right thing and prosecute them. He's a petulant, vindictive sort and just might.

We will have to wait until all the new people are in place and see what happens. There is something to be said for not announcing plans to go after these criminals while they are still in office. Let 'em think 'bygones are bygones' and that they're going to get away with it until they're out of power and it's too late to foil the process.

Bush himself, of course, will be untouchable at Estancia del Chimp-o in Paraguay. He doesn't owe Cheney a damn thing.

If I were the new Prez, I'd take advantage of the expanded executive powers Bush declared about locking up American citizens indefinitely without charges or due process and round up enough neocons to replace the existing detainees at Gitmo. Then I'd sign on to the International Criminal Court and transfer them slowly, one case at a time, to The Hague, Cheney last. If he lived that long. It would be a fitting end for him to die alone and powerless, incommunicado in a concrete and steel cage in jailhouse orange with nothing but a Gideon Koran for company.

Picture it ...

Paris 1814*:


What you have is a two-tiered system of justice where ordinary Americans are subjected to the most merciless criminal justice system in the world. They break the law. The full weight of the criminal justice system comes crashing down upon them. But our political class, the same elites who have imposed that incredibly harsh framework on ordinary Americans, have essentially exempted themselves and the leaders of that political class from the law.

They have license to break the law. That's what we're deciding now as we say George Bush and his top advisors shouldn't be investigated let alone prosecuted for the laws that we know that they've broken. And I can't think of anything more damaging to our country because the rule of law is the lynchpin of everything we have.


Maybe a second American revolution is what's needed? When you have a group of 'untouchables' who can perpetrate crimes in our name without fear of punishment, you have what amounts to a monarchy.

It's the reason Cheney can come on the TV and basically admit he authorized and condoned war crimes, and do it unrepentantly, and leave the studio a free man, we no longer have the America we used to know.

When Bush can come on the TV and say "so what" when the point was made that al-Qaeda wasn't operating in Iraq before we invaded under false pretenses, we have a government that no longer cares for the lives of Americans.

When we have an opposition party who takes prosecutions "off the table" before the first investigation is begun, you know something is seriously wrong with the system that values the Rule of Law above all else.

Maybe the whole bunch should be rounded up and taken away (read what you will into that) - they're all complicit in creating an 'elite class' for whom crime and punishment have no meaning, for whom laws are merely speed bumps on their way to furthering their self-interest.

At the very least, there should be term limits for those in Congress. Politics should be a calling, not a career, not a chance to become a feudal lord, making decisions for his serfs without thought for their lives or well-being. The American political system is not even a shadow of its former self, the Constitution now "merely a piece of paper" for those in power, but used as a club to keep the proles in line.

The election last month proved the American people have had enough. The sad thing is, we've elected a party (our only choice) that neither has the will, or the stomach, to uphold the law. While, hopefully, they won't be as blatant in their lawbreaking, the fact they are letting Bush/Cheney walk makes them merely the flip side of the same coin.

I'll believe in the American system again when those in the leadership stand up and say "we will not abide lawbreaking by anyone" and takes action to back it up. Until then, get off my back about retiring in Europe. When the rich and politically connected begin to pay for their crimes, I'll begin to have faith in my country again. We're supposed to have voted for change but I get the sinking feeling we voted for business as usual.

*Thanks to Virgo for the Moyers link.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Good going, Barry ...

Maybe you shouldn't piss off the base first thing out the box?

President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony will feature big names like minister Rick Warren ...

What are ya, a fucking idiot?


We've covered many of Warren's sins (Rick Warren is the new Jerry Falwell: 'The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers.') so why did Obama bring him on for this?

I've been very supportive of Obama so far, but I have to say that Obama's decision on this one is highly insulting.

By recognizing this twat, you've just alienated a good part of the folks who voted for you. Dope.

Prominent neocon: 4,000 Americans 'had to die'

There are times when I get so pissed off that it's hard for me to do this stuff coherently. This is one of those times.

Just go read this, with a video of Tweety maybe, just maybe, starting to get it.

Four thousand American troops "had to die" in Iraq, even if the United States knew Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction, a prominent neoconservative said in a shocking interview on MSNBC Tuesday evening.

I hate every last one of those neocon motherfuckers.

12 things to throw at Bush

Mark Morford

A shoe? Not bad. But surely we can do better

Of course, I officially endorse none of the following far more appropriate, delightfully hurl-able options. Do not ever throw anything at President Bush, because you could get shot or perhaps go to jail for a very long time, which, despite how you'd be hailed a hero worldwide forevermore, would just be no fun at all. Don't do it. Throwing is wrong. OK?

1) Rainbow flag

Obvious, but effective. What better way to say, "Thanks for keeping the last fundamental civil right in hateful lockdown for another 20 years by kowtowing to the sexually ignorant and the religiously malformed, you sad lump of homophobic lint."

Bonus suggestion: Attach small photo of Bush's new son-in-law and Rove sycophant, Henry Hager, to the flag. Implied rumor: Henry's secretly gay! Just like half the GOP and all televangelists and John Travolta! The AP photogs will eat it up.

3) Birth control pills

Turns out those little pink plastic saucer things actually soar quite well when hurled like little Frisbees o' Female Empowerment. It's a nice way to thank Bush for sucking the sour teat of the sexist religious right and Catholic church, front-loading the nation's courts with misogynist judges and stabbing at the heart of women's rights for nearly a decade.

Alternative: Load individual RU-486 pills into a large straw and blast them at Bush's head like Divine Spitwads of Cervical Righteousness. It's more sustained fun, and might get you in less trouble overall. Don't forget to aim a few at Jenna, in the honest hope she will never, ever breed. Hey, it's for her own good. Didn't you know her husband is secretly gay? I swear I just read that somewhere.

7) Prosthetic limb

Imagine this perfect scene: You raise your right hand to ask Bush a question. Bush points at you, "Yes?" You calmly raise your left hand, reach over to your right and give a little tug and pop! Off comes your entire right arm from the socket! Before anyone can register what's happening, said arm is winging through the air, straight at Bush's head. Bonk! See? Not only have you conked him, you've slapped him as well. Now that's poetry.

Terrific reminder of the tens of thousands of young U.S. soldiers who've been maimed, mutilated and permanently scarred in Bush's lost, futile, disgusting war. Imagine the hilarious photos! It's tragicomic, really.

9) WMD

Good luck finding any. [...]

12) Reality

Throw some if you can, but if possible, better to just run up and dump enormous buckets of it over Bush's head. Of course, he will not notice. He will merely blink a few times and get that look on his face like he almost had a thought, then it passed, like a bit of gas. Reality has evaded this president for eight solid years and possibly over two million lifetimes. He will never, ever see it. No matter. At least it's real. And it still beats a shoe.

I don't think I need to tell you to go see the rest, so I won't.

Pirates? Atsa nice. What's fer lunch?

Fixer said a coupla days ago that he might join the Kriegsmarine, the German navy. After seeing the picture (above) and reading the article (below), I'm wonderin' if the Italian navy can use a superannuated A-gunner.

Actually a pretty good article on the Somalian piracy problem, but I'll skip that part and go right to the stuff I like.

ON THE ARABIAN SEA — Rear Adm. Giovanni Gumiero is going on a pirate hunt.

From the deck of an Italian destroyer cruising the pirate-infested waters off Somalia’s coast, he has all the modern tools at his fingertips — radar, sonar, infrared cameras, helicopters, a cannon that can sink a ship 10 miles away — to take on a centuries-old problem that harks back to the days of schooners and eye patches.

“Our presence will deter them,” the admiral said confidently.

“Our presence will deter them”. Yeah, like that'll work. And what's an effin' Admiral doin' on a tin can anyway?

The pirates are totally outgunned. They continue to cruise around in fiberglass skiffs with assault rifles and at best a few rocket-propelled grenades. One Italian officer said that going after them in a 485-foot-long destroyer, bristling with surface-to-air missiles and torpedoes, was like “going after someone on a bicycle with a truck.”

Oughta be a piece o' cake. I've seen Italian drivers at work in Naples! One hand out the window speaking to the other drivers, the other hand on the horn. I think running over a bicyclist would go largely unnoticed.

Then there is the nettlesome question of what to do with the pirates. Italian officers on pirate patrol seemed uncomfortable at the thought of actually capturing a real live pirate. There is not even a brig or place to hold the pirates on the destroyer.

The Italians clearly have the resources. Out on the front lines, or front waves, beefy Italian marines prowl the decks with machine guns. Radar screens blip and beep. Sailors make announcements over the destroyer’s radio, telling nearby cargo ships to put out an S O S with their position as soon as they spot any pirates.

The Italians said that, deep down, pirates were creatures of the sea, no matter how many navy ships were hot on their tail. “When the sea is calm, the moon is bright, the weather is good, it’s easy to see how the pirates are encouraged,” said Enrico Vignola, a lieutenant on the ship.

For visitors on board, lunchtime was the highlight. The officers summoned up from the oily bowels of the destroyer a banquet of homemade pasta, marinated eggplant sliced paper thin, prosciutto-wrapped dates and tiramisu, finished off with cool glasses of spumante.

It seems that when Italians hunt for pirates, they hunt in style.

I got a better idea now of why an Admiral is on a small ship like that. Lemme see, a pretty machine gunner, good food, a romantic mariner's view of piracy, and no real desire to catch a pirate because there's no place to put him. Just a pleasant cruise in the warm African sun. Yep, that needs an Admiral all right.

One thing puzzles me a little: I never heard of a naval vessel with no brig before. I've been in two US Navy ships, and with about a thousand Marines embarked in each, those tubs needed a brig! That's where they kept the officers' whiskey safe from the enlisted men.

As any enlisted man can tell you, there's nothing tastier than stolen officers' whiskey!

Kinda Sorta Related Perhaps Of Interest To Some Update:

From the 'Budget Travel'(?) section of the EssEffChron. Has to do with the threat to cruise ships.

The Aimless War: Why Are We in Afghanistan?

Joe Klein, whom I will not call 'Joke Line' until he writes something silly again. I'm sure he will, but this piece isn't.

The war in Afghanistan — the war that President-elect Barack Obama pledged to fight and win — has become an aimless absurdity. It began with a specific target. Afghanistan was where Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda lived, harbored by the Islamic extremist Taliban government. But the enemy escaped into Pakistan, and for the past seven years, Afghanistan has been a slow bleed against an array of mostly indigenous narco-jihadi-tribal guerrilla forces that we continue to call the "Taliban." These ragtag bands are funded by opium profits and led by assorted religious extremists and druglords, many of whom have safe havens in Pakistan.

But the incremental successes are reversible — schools are burned by the Taliban, police officers are murdered — because of a monstrous structural problem that defines the current struggle in Afghanistan.

The British troops in Helmand are fighting with both hands tied behind their backs. They cannot go after the leadership of the Taliban — still led by the reclusive Mullah Omar — which operates openly in the Pakistani city of Quetta, just across the border. They also can't go after the drug trade that funds the insurgency, in part because some of the proceeds are also skimmed by the friends, officials and perhaps family members of the stupendously corrupt government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Helmand province is mostly desert, but it produces half the world's opium supply along a narrow strip of irrigated land that straddles the Helmand River. The drug trade — Afghanistan provides more than 90% of the world's opium — permeates everything. A former governor, Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, was caught with nine tons of opium, enough to force him out of office, but not enough to put him in jail, since he enjoys — according to U.S. military sources — a close relationship with the Karzai government. Indeed, Akhundzada and Karzai's brother Ahmed Wali — who operates in Kandahar, the next province over — are considered the shadow rulers of the region (along with Mullah Omar). "You should understand," a British commander said, "the fight here isn't really about religion. It's about money."

Another thing you should understand: thousands of U.S. troops are expected to be deployed to Helmand and Kandahar provinces next spring. They will be fighting under the same limitations as the British, Canadian, Danish and Dutch forces currently holding the fort, which means they will be spinning their wheels. And that raises a long-term question crucial to the success of the Obama Administration: What are we doing in Afghanistan? What is the mission?

We know what the mission used to be — to kill or capture Osama bin Laden and destroy his al-Qaeda command. But once bin Laden slipped away, the mission morphed into a vast, messy nation — building effort to support the allegedly democratic Karzai government. There was a certain logic to that. The Taliban and al-Qaeda can't base themselves in Afghanistan if something resembling a stable, secure nation-state exists there. But the mission was also historically implausible: Afghanistan has never had a strong central government. It has been governed for thousands of years by local and regional tribal coalitions. The tribes have often been at one another's throats — a good part of the current "Taliban" uprising is nothing more than standard tribal rivalries juiced by Western arms and opium profits — except when foreigners have invaded the area, in which case the Afghans have united and slowly humiliated conquerors from Alexander the Great to the Soviets.

There's more. Please go read.

I'm certainly no expert on what's going on in Afghanistan, but my take is that we, meaning an uninterested Bush, had a chance to do some good there at one time but chose to royally screw the pooch instead. Whether we can pull anything constructive out of it is the big question.

Do as we say ...

Now, I sorta understood why we supported the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan back in the early '80s when the Soviets were there. The Cold War dominating policy in those days. You remember the Cold War, when another superpower had nuclear ballistic missiles pointed at us? The big worry was the Soviets would increase their influence in 'satellite states' like Vietnam and Cuba. We had a chance, in Afghanistan, to break their hold in East/Central Asia and it worked pretty well. Our big mistake was pulling our resources out not long after the Soviets split. A little 'nation-building' then might have prevented the problems we have with them since 2001. The point is, at that time, we faced a serious existential threat, in hindsight not as dire as we thought then, but that nuclear threat was real.

That said, Iran poses no such threat, probably as much as Saddam Hussein did in 2003 and I can't see a reason to support unsavory elements* in their society in an effort to destabilize their government.

December 13, 2008 -- TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran has documents to prove the United States and Britain, the Islamic Republic's two Western arch foes, back a group that killed 16 abducted Iranian police officers, state radio reported on Saturday.

Shi'ite-dominated Iran said this month the Sunni group Jundollah (God's Soldiers) had killed 16 police hostages who were abducted from a checkpoint in the southeastern Sistan- Baluchestan province in June.

Tehran, which often accuses Britain and the United States of trying to destabilize the Islamic Republic, has said Jundollah's head, Abdolmalek Rigi, is part of the Sunni Islamist al Qaeda network.

"There are documents that show that Britain and America are supporting Rigi's terrorist group with arms and information," the radio quoted Ebrahim Raisi, first deputy to Iran's judiciary chief, as saying.


Terrorism mostly hurts innocent people. The Iranian people have done nothing to us and to support those who would kill them in an effort to bring down the Imams is criminal. This says the 'West' has no intention of building an eventual ally in Iran (something that is not outside the realm of possibility - the Iranians are an educated people, not Afghani goat humpers), only destroying it. Maybe it is part of the 'Iraqi effort' - create anarchy to make the place easy pickings (read: taking their oil) as opposed to defeating an 'arch-enemy'.

Supporting terror groups within a nation (I doubt these Jundollah guys have a pro-Western agenda) will only create animosities among the Iranian public (the people who get blown the fuck up and massacred when these guys play their games) toward the U.S., as opposed to covertly supporting humanitarian groups there. That's what 'winning hearts and minds' is all about.

Hey, I was with Air Force SOCOM. I know what can be delivered where under cover of night.

Example: A poor village in Bumfuck, Iran has had all their farm animals wiped out by disease.

In the middle of the night, the villagers hear the thwap-thwap of rotor blades in the distance and then the drone of props from an AC-130 gunship flying shotgun overhead. As they gather to see what's up, two MH-53 Pave Lows touch down, the rear cargo doors opening hydraulically. The chopper crews start herding animals out of the choppers (cows, goats, crates of baby chickens) and a veterinarian approaches the group of locals along with an interpreter fluent in Farsi.

"Who is in charge here?" The vet asks hurriedly.

A man steps forward, "I am," he says.

The vet hands him a package. "These are vaccines for the animals. See they get a shot ..." The vet explains the procedure, ending with. "Good luck to you and your village, compliments of the United States of America." He turns back to the now-empty choppers and they leave, disappearing into the night.

We can do things like this. While I pulled the scenario out of my ass, we've inserted and extracted intelligence officers from all sorts of hostile places and dropped supplies in others. We don't have to use Special Forces merely to kill people.

How much goodwill do you think would be generated by such humanitarian actions? How would we change our perception as The Great Satan if we became known, through word of mouth, as the bringers of life instead of the agents of death? After 8 years of Bush we've proved we can be the latter. It's time to practice what we preach and not support indigenous terror groups who would kill their own people to make their twisted statement.

The U.S. has a long history of supporting those who did not share our values, who had no qualms about killing their own people, who gave no thought to human rights, only to support our interests. It's time to change that. It's time we stop railing at other nations' disregard for human rights while we look the other way as it suits us while our surrogates commit the crimes. Supporting terrorists, torture, detention camps - how can we take the high road when dealing with the world when we continue to walk down the low?

If we want the U.S. to once again take the reins as the leader of the free world, we have to lead by example. After Bush, our word is worth nothing and only our actions will prove our sincerity.

*Great thanks to Avedon for the link.

Our 'lapdog' media ...

Looks like they're gonna treat Barry like a Clinton:


Eight years of relentless harassment and character assassination, during which time the village media felt that Clinton and then Gore were "getting away with too much" because none of the endless GOP generated scandals ever came to anything, and so they had to take him down. Then, in order to "prove" they weren't just childish scandal mongers after destroying Al Gore, they went the other way and laid on their backs and let Bush walk all over them as he oversaw the destruction of the country. Now, in order to once again "prove" they aren't lapdogs, they are going to pick up right where they left off eight years ago, asking endless questions about inconsequential nonsense and breathlessly speculating about what the inconsequential nonsense might mean until a whole lot of people think there must be something to it or these people wouldn't be talking about it so much.


The 'news' media has become a joke. Unfortunately, a good part of America still gets their news from twits like Wolfie, Charlie, and Katie.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Excuse me, sir?

I'd like to get a loan ... cheap.

This is simply nuts. Cutting to 0.25% or 0% is not going to resolve any problems other than the banks who will continue to get whatever they want since Congress - Democrats and Republicans alike - want nothing to do with helping out average Americans. It's all about giving away cash to Wall Street and the spineless wonders in Congress don't care at all.


Yay! Free money!

They'd have done more for the economy buying up the bad mortgages directly from the homeowners. Bloody carpetbaggers.

Ahoy, matey! Fill that damn ocean back up! With money...

Gonzo's Last Years

Inspiring photo, no? A big red American V8 convertible, a big-ass wheelgun, and no doubt a head fulla dope! Those were the days, my friends...

All you Gonzoites out there might be interested in this article in the Times (UK).

Everyone has their own image of the late Hunter S. Thompson. He is the father of gonzo journalism, speeding through the desert in a Cadillac, carrying limitless amounts of “uppers, downers, screamers and laughers” in the opening chapter of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He is the gun-toting hedonist, holed up in his fortified Colorado ranch, Owl Farm, taking drugs, drinking Chivas Regal, and receiving celebrity buddies such as Johnny Depp and Keith Richards. Or he is the fiery scourge of the Right and the Left, taking savage potshots at both Clinton and Bush from within the pages of Rolling Stone.

Yeah? And your point is...?

Anyway, Mrs. Thompson drops a dime on his softer side. Enjoy.

Why we’re failing in Afghanistan

The Colorado Independent, links at site.

A former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan asks: Do we have the political will to succeed?

To tie this to other posts me'n Fixer have done on this, the word 'logistics' keeps coming up. Afghanistan is very hard country to get around in, but 'logistics' is only one of the reasons we may yet get our ass handed to us.

When it takes seven bone-jarring hours to drive just 90 miles over war-scarred dirt roads from Kabul to the troubled Helmand Province in southwest Afghanistan, the complexity of the intertwined U.S. diplomatic and military missions becomes clear pretty fast.

As bullets flew to overthrow the Taliban-controlled government in 2001, a coalition of international diplomats, nongovermental agencies and the United Nations embarked on an ambitious but often disjointed and underfunded reconstruction process coordinated by a dizzying array of acronym-laden groups and a largely disinterested Bush administration.

“I don’t know if we didn’t have the understanding or we didn’t have the will. We’ve never resourced a war with civilians,” said Ronald Neumann, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005-07, who spoke in Denver last week.

“The military went to war and the nation went to the mall,” said Neumann sardonically in a speech on the risks of declining U.S. diplomacy at a meeting of the Institute for International Education/Denver World Affairs Council.

At the heart of Neumann’s frustration is a new dimension in nation-building never encountered by civilian-led efforts. The most successful U.S. reconstruction project — the Marshall Plan — took place in postwar Europe, not during the war itself.

Now, welcome to Afghanistan.

As Neumann explains it, tedious, backbreaking inter-provincial travel causes Afghan political leaders — and more importantly local police units — to make few visits to outlying areas outside of Kabul or the other population centers. Military convoys are slow and ripe for ground attack and hidden roadside bombs. Opium poppy eradication programs urging farmers to replace their illegal crops with foodstuffs like wheat, tomatoes and melons are stymied by the lack of safe transport to market. The hard reality is that a donkey laden with bags of poppy makes far more economic sense to a struggling farmer than taking the chance that fragile produce squashed on washboard roads will yield enough money to care for his family.

The biggest obstacle to winning the war, Neumann says, is not radical Islam-inspired terrorism, an ineffective Afghan government mired in corruption or a largely poor, illiterate populace. It’s the completely disjointed coordination of the multibillion-dollar reconstruction process coupled with no political will to enforce a thoughtful, cohesive military, diplomatic and humanitarian strategy coming from the White House.

There you have it. The neocon poodle Bush wanted to go to war with Iraq even before 9/11, and would have in its wake if Tony Blair hadn't told him that it would look bad since Iraq had nothing to do with the attack and he should go to the source first for appearance' sake.

Once there, we kicked the Taliban's ass and made them and al Qaeda skedaddle into Pakistan where they immediately started to rebuild under the protection of our 'ally'.

It's like we beat the crap out of a chicken thief and made him drop the chicken, but let the chicken thief go under the henhouse where we couldn't get at him to lick his wounds and gain strength while we lost interest and went to Iraq.

Well, our chicken thief is back with all his friends and some of ours, and this time he wants all the chickens and now we're there with too little too late and he's likely to get them.

All the 'political will' in the world won't make up for lack of understanding of the people and conditions, poor strategy, political games that doomed the effort from the gate, underfunding, lack of personnel and equipment, and, oh, did I mention 'logistics'?

It doesn't help that we've had a Weakling-in-Chief that couldn't care fucking less.

One more shovelful

Raw Story

A federal appeals court ruling late Monday is the cause célèbre of the American Civil Liberties Union, as another provision of the Bush administration's Patriot Act falls to the judicial system.

Until the ruling, recipients of so-called "national security letters" were legally forbidden from speaking out. The letters, usually a demand for documents, or a notice that private records had been searched by government authorities, were criticized as a cover-all for FBI abuses.

The Patriot Act and just about everything else Bush has done are like a dump truck load of shit dropped on the Constitution - it came all at once and has to be removed one shovelful at a time.

By the way, this shovelful took four and a half years.

"Someone should be there every day of Bush's life to throw shoes at him."

The Rude Pundit on MISTER al Zaidi's shoe toss:

The Rude Pundit is not going to hide his fucking glee at the incident. He's not going to "respect the office" or some such shit because Bush doesn't respect it, so fuck him - take a fuckin' shoe in the face - it'll probably be the only punishment our criminal president ever faces in his lifetime. All over America right now, millions of people are thinking the same thing: "About. Fucking. Time." Hell, when you watch the video, you see that the Secret Service barely cares. And you also see Bush smirk, as if thinking, "It's better than the plates Laura flings when she finds my whiskey."

And what's sweeter is that it's the only thing anyone's gonna remember about W's smug little "victory" lap he was trying to take in Iraq and Afghanistan, a trip that was like a rapist trying to get the semen stains out of the carpet before the DNA is found. Instead, the whole thing descended (or ascended, depending on your point of view) into farce, like a smug opera singer ripping a fart while hitting a high note. It was gratifying, no less than he deserved.

Oh, sweet Muntader, you who is probably hanging hooded in a basement with electrodes on your nipples and nuts right now while the vast majority of your country celebrates your leather-soled middle finger to the nation that occupies it, all over America, people are smiling and nodding. Maybe that we should come up with other things that should be hurled at the President because that motherfucking monkey has slung his shit at us for eight years.


More logistics ...

Over the past week, Gord and I have been trying to get across how difficult our fight in Afghanistan is. How throwing more troops at the problem might not be the most prudent of moves, being it's getting more difficult to resupply them. Our pal Montag put a post up yesterday noting yet another attack on our supply lines a maxim our war planners should abide if we want success (as opposed to a 'Bushian Victory').


The overland route is where all the "beans & bullets" come into Afghanistan. While airlift may work for VIP's and other assholes, it becomes prohibitively expensive to try and maintain an army that way. And there aren't any other friendly folks with border crossings we can use. Still, with Christmas and a Depression coming at the same time, KBR should be able to find a few folk who need the money.

The only way to get anywhere over there is with money. While KBR shouldn't get another dime of taxpayer money, if we want to get our stuff to where it's going, we're gonna have to bribe the locals. I'm not saying it's a strategy, but that's the way of allegiances in that part of the world. Allegiances change as the bid is raised and eventually it'll cost too much to maintain a 'loyal' population.

"But we need more troops there," you say, "to guard the convoys and pacify the area and then we'll win."

Remember General Shinseki? The guy who said we'd need several hundred thousand troops to 'win' (occupy) Iraq? Even at double his estimate, I doubt it would be enough to pacify Afghanistan. What we failed to do in Iraq (what allowed us to set up the 'Western Europe' we have today after WW2) was disarm the population thanks to our false assumption the Iraqis would act like Parisians in '44. We made the same false assumptions in Afghanistan.

We assumed they would be joyous over our defeating the Taliban (notice we bought the loyalty of the Northern Alliance to get the job done). We assumed they would have strong nationalistic ties to a 'free and democratic government' in Kabul. Like Iraq, we failed to look at the ethnic and tribal forces at work and what we assumed (they're all brown and Muslim) played against us. We could have never occupied the Axis nations if we would have left them with a well armed local population. The Afghanis will fight us from every nook and cranny of that horrible terrain with enough firepower to make us reconsider.

And that brings about talk of Pakistan, not only a safe haven for insurgent fighters (don't believe every swingin' dick with an AK is al-Qaeda over there, there are a lot of people in the fight for a lot of different reasons), but their supply line also. Through the tribal areas of Waziristan flow the RPGs, guns, and bullets along with the fighters. There is little doubt it will remain intact for it is protected on both sides of the border by people we cannot buy or intimidate. Vietnam vets will remember how the NV resupplied their people in the south, regardless of our efforts to disrupt their lines. Same shit here. They will get resupplied (by their allies in Pakistan, by people who have a contra-U.S. agenda, by nations looking to keep our forces tied down) until they make our lives miserable enough to leave. Like Afghanistan, we thought we could buy allegiances in Pakistan but blood is thicker than greenbacks.

We failed to understand the origins of the areas we call Afghanistan and Pakistan. We failed to consider the borders were arbitrary demarcations, laid down by the British (another group who failed to consider the consequences of war in the Hindu Kush), without regard for tribal or ethnic bloodlines. People in Waziristan show as much loyalty to Islamabad as they do to Kabul, and nothing we can do, no amount of money we can give them, will make them change. They've been living like this for too long to change, regardless of which army sets up camp in town, because they know the army will eventually leave when the costs become too high.

They know we will leave too. They know we can't win and they have all the time in the world. We will go as we did in Vietnam, as the British did, as the Russians did. It's just a matter of how many American lives we want to waste and how much money we want to flush down that toilet. If we're waiting for a 'shining beacon of democracy', we don't have enough of either. It's time to bring our troops home from both places and rebuild our military to what it was before the neocons got a hold of it. It's time to undo the mess George Bush and Dick Cheney made over the past 8 years, not add to it.

Questions ...

Oliver Willis haz them:

When Republicans go after Obama, will I be allowed to call them traitors for undermining the commander-in-chief like they have with us for the last eight years?


Monday, December 15, 2008

You want rationality?

When I was 12 years old, she was gonna be my princess. Of course I want her to be my senator:

ALBANY, N.Y – New York Gov. David Paterson says Caroline Kennedy has told him she's interested in the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Democratic governor will choose the replacement. He says Kennedy talked to him about the job Monday afternoon.


EU Authorized to Sink Pirate Ships. Gates: "No intelligence".


Those involved in the European Union's anti-pirate operation "Atalanta" have said that the mission would have a "robust" mandate. Just what that means, though, has thus far remained classified. But according to information obtained by SPIEGEL, EU ships operating off the coast of Somalia have not only been given the green light to ward off or capture pirates -- they can also sink their ships.

The mission, involving half a dozen ships, up to three reconnaissance aircraft as well as unmanned drones, began a week ago and has not yet reached full strength. The German government has already agreed to contribute a frigate and 1,400 troops. The Karlsruhe is already in the region and is waiting for final approval from the German parliament, the Bundestag. Approval is expected to come on Friday.

As part of the worldwide effort to combat the piracy threat, the US recently submitted a proposal to the United Nations Security Council which would allow anti-pirate operations inside Somalia itself. But US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday admitted that the US didn't have enough reliable intelligence to conduct such operations. "With the level of information we have at the moment, we're not in a position to do that kind of land-based operation," Gates said at a regional security meeting in Bahrain, according to Reuters. "Our first need is intelligence, (to know) who is behind it."

Some observers doubt that a purely maritime response to the pirates will be enough. Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, an expert with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Reuters that "the single most difficult problem the forces are facing is that they don't have the jurisdiction to chase (the pirates) into their natural habitat on land."

Sink as many of the sonsabitches at sea as you can and keep sinkin' 'em until they stop coming.

As to jurisdiction, follow 'em home and kill 'em. Better yet, since their whole raison d'être is that they're only pirates because they're poor fishermen who need to work for the warlords and terror cartels to make a living, capture as many as you can and disperse them amongst the seaports of the world. The civilian sailors and dockhands of the world'll, er, take care of 'em.

These people better read their history. I don't recall any jurisdictional disputes involving the Barbary Pirates, who operated freely for 700 years or so and made these small-time Somali clowns look like pikers.

it was the Barbary Pirates who were responsible for the formation of the U.S. Navy in 1794, and they sent ships and Marines to deal with them:

[...] By late 1793, a dozen American ships had been captured, goods stripped and everyone enslaved. Portugal had offered some armed patrols, but American merchants needed an armed American presence to sail near Europe. After some serious debate, the United States Navy was born in March 1794. Six frigates were authorized, and so began the construction of the United States, the Constellation, the Constitution and three other frigates.

This new military presence helped to stiffen American resolve to resist the continuation of tribute payments, leading to the two Barbary Wars along the North African coast: the First Barbary War from 1801 to 1805 and the Second Barbary War in 1815. It was not until 1815 that naval victories ended tribute payments by the U.S., although some European nations continued annual payments until the 1830s.

The United States Marine Corps actions in these wars led to the line "to the shores of Tripoli" in the opening of the Marine Hymn. Because of the hazards of boarding hostile ships, Marines' uniforms had a leather high collar to protect against cutlass slashes. This led to the nickname Leatherneck for U.S. Marines.

Note to Uncle Sam's Canoe Club: You exist because of pirates. Get back to yer roots. Show some sack instead of just launching air strikes. Hell, you don't even have to board 'em these days, just stand off and sink 'em with gunfire, so you don't have to get in very close. That's what Marines are for. Really, that's what Marines are all about. They're not just a funny little land army who talk like sailors like they're mostly used as these days. They're actually pretty good at assaulting from the sea. If they remember how...

Just get the Jarheads close to land. Over the horizon will do, so the big bad ferocious warlords can't see you and scare you, and cut 'em loose. The Marines have an ancestral tribal memory and will figure out what they're supposed to do on the way in.

Crazy Annie's Back!

Raw Story

Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter told the hosts of Fox & Friends on Monday that the Minnesota Senatorial race, in which an ongoing recount has Democrat Al Franken gaining ground against Republican incumbent Norm Coleman, "is being openly stolen in front of our eyes."

Yeah? And yer point is...?

Point is, stealing elections is OKIYAR, but when a Dem looks like he's going to win a close race, just accuse him of the things the Repugs did. Doesn't matter that it's a lie, it's all they got, and the shrinking base lurves them some gettin' lied to.


Coulter was also asked what she thought of the incident in Iraq on Sunday where an angry Iraqi cameraman hurled his shoes at President Bush. Her immediate reaction was to compare it to the time in 2004 when an audience member threw a pie at her during a college speech. "Liberalism and terrorism," Coulter suggested, "different stages of the same disease."

She's gettin' pretty desperate. The 20% of ying-yangs who still listen to her don't buy books. Rocks are a lot cheaper to hold the door open with.

She needs re-wired. This time, wire everything shut she's got, even if it involves a lot of sewing.

Bush's farewell gift

AFP via Raw Story

Iraq faced mounting calls on Monday to release the journalist who hurled his shoes at George W. Bush, an action branded shameful by the government but hailed by many in the Arab world as an ideal parting gift to the unpopular US president.

"Throwing the shoes at Bush was the best goodbye kiss ever... it expresses how Iraqis and other Arabs hate Bush," wrote Musa Barhoumeh, editor of Jordan's independent Al-Gahd Arabic newspaper.

Zaidi jumped up as Bush was holding a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday, shouted "It is the farewell kiss, you dog" and threw two shoes at the US leader.

I think we have more in common with our Arab brethren than we may have thought. Thanks, George.

"...all roads still lead to Rove"

If there's any doubt about President Obama's choice of Eric Holder as AG, this headline oughta put it to rest:

Rove Reportedly Will ‘Help Lead’ GOP’s Fight Against Eric Holder For Attorney General

A year after he resigned from public office, all roads still lead to Rove.

I'm sure ol' Turdblossom is more concerned that with a real AG all the federal law enforcement agencies' roads will lead straight to his front door. And others in Dallas and Wyoming.

The Cancer of Conservatism

Great rant at J. Miller Rampant! One paragraph of many:

Today, look what the Republican Party stands for: opposition to American working men and women, the channeling of trillions of dollars to the richest Americans, hatred of gays, hatred of immigrants, continued smoldering racism, opposition to desperately needed health care reforms, opposition to all environmental protections, spitting hatred for science, hatred for public schools, hatred of all those who are not fundamentalist Christians, support for torture, support for rendition, and support for the fantastically corrupt Bush-Cheney regime. The conservative cancer is the perpetuation of all the worst features of American life--intolerance, fear, prejudice, and tribalism. It is this cancer that screams out that Barack Obama is "the AntiChrist", a "Muslim radical", "corrupt", "ally of Satan", and all the other filth we have seen hurled at our next president. The Radical Right is now going to try to destroy Obama and block every reform he tries to institute. We, the Progressive Netroots, must and will fight these dangerous radicals every step of the way.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Obama Promises Millions of New Jobs
Mostly lawyers needed to prosecute Bush administration.

Economic Meltdown, Global Warming Much Worse Than Previously Believed
In fact, everything much worse than previously believed.

Study: Depression Peaks in 40's, Trails Off Later in Life
As mental acuity fades.

That explains a lot...

Yankees Sign Pitchers for Hundreds of Millions
Seek federal help to sign first baseman, extra setup man.

Man Lives With Female Robot
“It's a bit of an adjustment,” she says.

Bottom of the barrel ...

This is disturbing:


Two years ago, the Intelligence Report revealed that alarming numbers of neo-Nazi skinheads and other white supremacist extremists were taking advantage of lowered armed services recruiting standards and lax enforcement of anti-extremist military regulations by infiltrating the U.S. armed forces in order to receive combat training and gain access to weapons and explosives.

Forty members of Congress urged then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to launch a full-scale investigation and implement a zero-tolerance policy toward white supremacists in the military. "Military extremists present an elevated threat to both their fellow service members and the public," U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, wrote in a separate open letter to Rumsfeld. "We witnessed with Timothy McVeigh that today's racist extremist may become tomorrow's domestic terrorist."

But neither Rumsfeld nor his successor, Robert Gates, launched any sort of systemic investigation or crackdown. Military and Defense Department officials seem to have made no sustained effort to prevent active white supremacists from joining the armed forces or to weed out those already in uniform. [my ems]


Of course not. They need every able-bodied asshole they can get. Basically, you have to have a swastika tattooed on your forehead to be denied enlistment, especially if you're willing to take a combat arms specialty.

It doesn't worry me that a buncha drunks get together in the woods on weekends, shoot their guns, and yammer on about how they're the foot soldiers of the white race. They're more a danger to themselves than anyone else.

What does bug me is these same assholes are getting advanced weapons and explosives training, and then bringing that knowledge home to their butt buddies. It's bad enough they figure this shit out for themselves.

This will be a problem in the future (if you think Islamic terrorism is the big worry, wait) along with all the guys coming home from the Big Catbox with some screws loose. You think we got problems now?

Add this to the list of everything else the Rethugs have fucked up in the past 8 years. The 'New American Century' my ass. It's the End of the American Era and as soon as we get that through our heads, the better.

Quote of the Day

Vice-President Cheney:

"If we don't do this, we will be known as the party of Herbert Hoover forever,"

Ol' Herb just opened the lid and gave the Republicans a standing ovation.

What the Rethugs don't get, regardless of whom they blame, is that they own this mess. Every little bit of it (the war[s], the economy, the environment). They can yell and scream, point fingers, and call names; it doesn't matter. At this point, I think even the most obtuse among us get it (well, except for the 20-odd percent who've gone over the edge, but then a 20% minority never won anything).

Nutshells ...

Mr. Philadelphia sums up the entire financial crisis in 2 paragraphs:

Josh is right that there's less difference between the Madoff case and the financial sector generally over the past few years than will generally be acknowledged. There are differences, especially in that it was a kind of decentralized Ponzi scheme within and between organizations, and no one person could have stopped it or given up the game. But for years the housing, mortgage, mortgage backed securities, and everyone's favorite, the synthetic MBS, markets all depended on getting new suckers to throw cash into the system. And it wasn't as if nobody noticed.

The question we've been asking for some time is who gets left holding the bag. Unsurprisingly, it'll largely be taxpayers. Apparently we're the ultimate suckers!

One day, I'd just like to fuck up everything I touch and then get someone else to pay to straighten it out. Unfortunately, if you and I ran our finances like these guys with MBAs, we'd be living in a refrigerator box under a bridge somewhere. Or, like the Madoff case, we'd have been in jail long ago:

U.S. regulators never inspected Bernard Madoff’s investment advisory business, alleged to be a Ponzi scheme that cost investors $50 billion, after he subjected it to oversight two years ago, people familiar with the case said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission hadn’t examined Madoff’s books since he registered the unit with the agency in September 2006, two people said, declining to be identified because the reviews aren’t public. The SEC tries to inspect advisers at least every five years and to scrutinize newly registered firms in their first year, former agency officials and securities lawyers said.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Weekend whorage

Another chapter of Birthright is up at The Practical Press.

Been busting my ass in the house this week. Call me Norm.

And for your Sunday evening listening, one of my favorite CSN tunes, on several levels. Great slideshow in this one too:

Crosby, Stills, and Nash - Southern Cross

Sunday Crazy '50s Saturday Night TV Rockabilly Blogging

I used to stay up late on Saturday nights and watch this show. Larry Collins had a lotta energy and turned it into a music career that's still going today. These days, they'da medicated him out of it.

From Gatorrock786:

December 13, 1958 on Town Hall Party. The show was broadcast on Los Angeles station KTTV every Saturday night from a theater made up to look like an old barn in the suburb of Compton.

Larry and Lorrie, The Collins Kids - "Blue Moon Of Kentucky"

50 Year Update:

Here are the Collins "Kids" these days. Not bad fer a coupla even older farts than me. This is at "THE FIRST FROG & ROLL WEEKENDER AT PONT D'AIN FRANCE". A long way from Compton...

Aw Screw It, In For a Dime, In For A Dollar Update:

How the Collins Kids got their start and the problems Lorrie faced as a female rockabilly.

Bush ducks size 10

Raw Story

In his surprise final visit to Iraq this weekend, President Bush got an unusual reminder of his lack of popularity.

They were about a size 10.

An Iraqi journalist throw his shoes at Bush during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. Bush ducked both throws and neither leader was hit.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino suffered a black eye from a microphone that hit her in the ensuing chaos.

The shoe-thrower was wrestled to the ground and taken away. In Arab culture, throwing shoes is a grave show of disrespect.

After U.S. troops pulled down a statue of former dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraqi bystanders tossed shoes at it, according to news reports at the time.

Sorry about the shiner, Dana. It's a small price to pay for being that asshole's mouthpiece.

Bush has been ducking reality for the last eight years. A shoe is easy.


I just saw the video on TV. If Bush hadn't ducked, both shoes would have got him right in the kisser. Props to the thrower for accuracy, if not for speed.