Sunday, October 30, 2005

Pet Peeve #497

I hate to sound like Andy Rooney (and don't get me started again on him and what compromising pics he must have of some key CBS execs to stay on the air), but this performance admission ticket issue absolutely pisses me off! Recent quote on Ticketmaster for a local performance:

Ticket: $68.50
"Building Facility Charge" (what the hell does that mean?): $2.50
"Convenience Charge" (this one kills me!): $4.25

Why not just add the following in addition:
"Electricity and Utility Charge": $1.50
"Property Tax Charge": $2.00
"My Boat Payment Charge": $3.00
"Futures Trading Realized Loss Charge": $5.13
"Air Purification Charge": $1.00
"Bodily Waste Processing Charge": $1.50
"Wartime Tax": $1.75
"Our Deception": Priceless

Please, don't insult me! Just be honest and tell me up front my ticket is $75.25, and do the accounting allocation yourself. I'm OK with $75. And stop trying to take advantage of the fact that most Americans still believe pricing is cost based.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Soylent Green

An interesting story on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night. Not sure what the pent up demand is for this product.........

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Be Careful What You Wish(ed) For

I'm amused today with all the leftie pols and pundits high-fiven' and back slappin' each other over their perceived victory with regard to the Harriet Miers withdrawal from consideration as a supreme court associate justice today. Folks, IMHO this was the best shot you were going to get! She has all the earmarks of a potential moderate (read: Bob Dole, non-neoright) conservative who would grow and learn with the job; in other words, one who would eventually learn to keep an open and practical judicial mind. Plus, she seemed smart.... The next nominee is very likely to be a red doozie, watch for it.

Update: NYT OpEd on it. Doesn't mention that this may have been a red herring, designed to soften opposition to the big one.

Gross Halloween Picture

See, I can be juvy with the best of them.......

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The U.S. of the Middle East Wannabe

I blame the U.S. for a lot of the escalating turmoil in the Middle East, but they by no means have a corner on the market. What the hell was this yahoo from Iran thinking when he chose to wade into this snakepit? Preemptive action, perhaps??

The U.S. theocratic direction seems to bring us closer to this country, despite our demonizing them. Religious ideological extremism is the same, regardless of the religion.

Natural Partners

Looks like the righties have found natural, obvious & likely bedmates in their crusade against gay marriage. This should serve to shed light on this issue as a hate issue, and its similarity to the civil rights struggle.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Time, Interrupted

CBS's venerated 60 Minutes did a piece last Sunday on the bizarre story of Charles Robert Jenkins, the former US Army sergeant who deserted to North Korea from his patrol near the DMZ in 1965. We've heard a bit about the ordeal over the last 6 months or so as he and his Japanese wife and their children finally made it out of North Korea after nearly 40 years, eventually to Japan, then to a US Army jail to serve time for desertion. You can see some of the video or read the entire transcript of the piece here.

North Korea has always been a place of fascination since the end of the Korean war some 52 years ago (actually the Korean War never officially ended, it is still in a truce), but the first-hand account of this westerner living there is mind boggling. The oppression and abject squalor the North Korean population is forced to live under is sobering, its got to be one of the most inhumane settings in the world (up there with parts of Sudan and the Taliban Afghanistan). I'm assuming Jenkins has a book in the works, it could be an interesting read.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


One of the things that has made the extreme righties (radcons, or neocons) so successful over the last 20 years has been their consistent, disciplined approach to messaging. They don't alter the message to accommodate the current prevailing winds, or incorporate the nuances that are a component of real life situations. They know two things: Find a simple, black and white message with absolutely no gray areas ("John Kerry is a flip-flopper"), and, whether it is true or not, repeat it often enough so it becomes its own reality, or becomes true in the eyes of the public regardless of the actual facts.

One of the great myths perpetrated over the last few years is the claim that we have a preponderance of "liberal" news media in this country. The measure of this is a simple litmus test: If the organization in question says something critical of a Republican (even if they have said something critical of a Dem), they are "liberal". Even given this narrow and simplistic evaluation, the vast majority of newspapers, radio, and TV (especially the cable "news" stations) are rabidly to the extreme right (if you don't believe me, look at the syndication stats of Rush Limbaugh's show, Fox "News" ratings, or Bill O'Lielly's stats as compared to their supposedly liberal counterparts). I would offer this test: If an organization makes an honest (even if occasionally flawed) attempt at ferreting out the truth, they are branded "Liberal" (read: NPR or the New York Times). If they exist to support a conservative ideology, they are mainstream.

That common target of liberal accusations, that supposed bastion of the left, The New York Times, today endorsed Michael Bloomberg, a decidedly Republican candidate, for re-election as mayor of our nation's largest (and arguably most prestigious) city. They did it for practical reasons: he's a fiscal conservative who believes government has to empower, not fetter the private infrastructure to be part of the solution (like the Republicans of 30 years ago), but also knows that compassion and practical solutions to issues like homelessness, poor schools, and crime are the real basis for a better future for all citizens. Unlike the group running the affairs of the nation, who believe that one must ignore the "background noise" (W's phrase for the realities of what is actually happening in life) and instead stick to supporting some mythical ideology, good governance means hard work, a true recognition and understanding of reality, and workable, effective solutions which involve a broad slice of constituents. Kudos to the "liberal" New York Times for endorsing an effective leader regardless of party. We'll see pigs fly before we see The Washington Times or Fox "news" support a true Democrat for office.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Ignorant, and the Brave

Got to see Mr. Bill O'Reilly hawking his book on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this week. I love the fact that Jon will host alternate points of view, but having BO on was a puzzle to me. Bill is successful from a TV trashy tabloid point of view, but is hardly a serious pundit. We already know that Bill is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, but what the hell was an intellectual like Stewart thinking? Maybe a Carribean shower joke or two?

BO strutted his true stuff when he referred to France as "our enemies", and used the tired refrain "we saved their butts in WW II". I don't know how we can expect any two groups with mildly different opinions on a subject to get along when we aggressively refer to such a long time friend and ally as France as an "enemy". OK, maybe Peabrain is pushing the showbiz buttons for ratings. But members of the W administration and congress have done the same.

A couple of things to remember: First, guess who funded the revolution of 1776? France! We didn't have enough $$ to get the job done, but the French stepped in to pay the whole bill. Second, we helped a bunch of countries in WW II; China, Korea, The Philipines, all of Europe and north Africa, USSR, on and on. Thus the term "Allies". And the Statue of Liberty??

Quit demonizing a wonderful country, culture, and people just because their government had the chutzpah that so many others lacked the chutzpah to say: Invading a sovereign nation which posed no threat to us was immoral, and wrong. We have plenty of real enemies.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Say Cheese!!

Trophy moment for Representative Tom DeLay at the Travis County courthouse in Texas. Too bad they didn't make him hold one of those boards with the booking number on it.....

UPDATE: You know, its funny. When's the last time you saw DeLay smiling, even fake smiling like this? Brilliant manuver though, makes it NOT look like a mug shot. I guess the guy just can't refrain from the BS.......

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"Christian" Extremists

Can someone please tell me the difference between the madrasa cukoos and these yahoos? "Not flying airplanes into buildings" is not an answer, give 'em time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Afghan Economy

While we are still unable to get complete and accurate information regarding the situation in Iraq the news media have gotten much braver in the last few months, shedding their apparent aversion to angering the powers in the Beltway. But information regarding the center of the real "war on terror", Afghanistan, has remained virtually nonexistent.

Last sunday CBS' 60 Minutes did a piece on one aspect of the country, its burgeoning drug trade. According to the story, the poppy/opium farming trade which was pretty much eliminated under the Taliban has returned with a vengeance. Afghanistan now produces 87% of the world's heroin, by far the largest supplier. Some other stats:
  • Money from the biz accounts for 50% of the country's GNP
  • The volume of heroin coming out of Afghanistan is larger than the volume of cocain coming out of Colombia
  • An estimated 90% of the police chiefs in the country are either involved with the drug business or are paid off to look the other way
  • Reversing this trend is not part of the US military's mission
The eventual result of this situation is unmistakable and indisputable: The real seat of power now and in the future lies not with the Hamid Karzai government, but with the people controlling the drug money. The resulting anarchy and lawlessness will make any past South American situation seem like child's play. If Pablo Escobar lived today, he'd be there in a heartbeat.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Massacre @ South King Street

Call this (and my last post) my période noire, my temporary departure from constructively critiquing W and his fine band of public servants for a timely seasonal descent into the macabre. In my last post I mentioned Wah Mee. Ironically and coincidently I found myself in Seattle's International District late this morning for culinary reasons, but before the meal ended up in Maynard Alley for the third time in two years staring at the broken, sooty, chained & padlocked doors to what was once the Wah Mee Gambling Club. Other than what neglect and time will do to an outdoor facade, it seems perfecly preserved nearly 23 years after the event that caused a city to lose part of its innocence and a people to lose part of a culture nearly 80 years old in the worst mass murder in Seattle's history, the Wah Mee Massacre.

Courtesy of Seattle Police Dept.
Fate caused a young freelance reporter to become inextricably entwined to this story, and he has devoted many years to its reporting. Linked find the writer of a comprehensive story he has written chronicling the history of the clubs in the area, the leadup to the crime, and its aftermath.  I lived in Seattle at the time, I remember it vividly.

Also, a Wikipedia version.
Another at
My update post.

Return to the top of my blog!

The Forgotten

There was a sad and stirring article in the local newspaper recently recalling an event which occurred 9 years ago in Seattle, and has faded with time like so many other life altering events (remember Wah Mee?). In October of 1996, a 40-ish well dressed, well groomed woman checked into a upscale downtown hotel using a phoney address and phone number in New York, as well as a presumed alias. She paid for two days, went to her room, and sometime during the next 48 hours drank a cyanide cocktail, leaving a note claiming full responsibility. Besides being incredibly well written, the newspaper story chronicles the investigation following the discovery of the suicide. John/Jane Doe suicides and homicides usually launch a nationwide (in this case also involving Canada, our neighbor which actually got democracy right!) search of missing persons records. Almost all of us leave some trail; no-show at work, missing neighbor, missing relative/friend/church member, etc. which generates a missing person's report. But to this day "Mary Anderson" has yet to be matched to any record. Read the story (link above), it's both chilling and sobering to see a person leave this world without a trace of a past.

UPDATE: Found a story on this by the Wah Mee guy.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

News and Entertainment

An embarrassing "news" moment for NBC. Paddling a canoe to dramatize the considerable flooding from storms in the Northeast, this reporter was left high and dry when two gents inadvertantly passed by, walking between the camera and her. The water it turns out was barely above their ankles.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

MI6 Uncovered

For years the speculation has been swirling, particularly after the 1997 Princess Diana episode in Paris. But finally the 007-like organization sees a need to come out, just to say that they are a big secret! So yes we exist, but not in any way you can know.

In truth the espionage biz as the West plays it has been an antiquated joke for about 20 years now. Lets let it RIP.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Historical Humor

Spotted on Wonkette: "Senator Rick Santorum; One of the finest minds of the 13th Century!"


Most reasonable folk would agree that the country's approach to reign in the scourge of drunk driving over the last 25 years has been both noble and courageous, as well as effective and timely. And there's no doubt that countless lives have been saved and suffering prevented. But whenever fresh ideas grow stale, politicians move in to reap political profits. We have seen examples over the last 5-7 years of candidates supporting ineffective laws like reduced DUI blood alcohol levels, and increased penalties for first time offenders. The problem is that the current laws are not effectively enforced. Consider this: While most DUI related vehicle deaths involve perps who have multiple DUI convictions involving BACs 2-3 times the legal limit, legislators continue to support lower limits. The reason? In our sound bite world of politics, trying to explain this to the masses rather than simply supporting "tougher penalties" would seem weak. Here's a great example of enforcement gone wild...

Freeh to Whine

Another book, another book tour, and of course what better way to sell a book than to include some shocking tidbits. And former FBI chief Louis Freeh doesn't disappoint with his latest, My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Fighting the War on Terror. By all accounts Mr. Freeh was very effective in his earlier career, among other things as an FBI agent, a U.S. attorney and a federal judge. But he proved ineffective as the administrator of a large bureaucratic government agency like the FBI. Some would correctly argue he's not totally responsible for all this, but he presided over botched investigations of botched raids, lab scandals, false espionage charges against scientists, missed espionage charges against spies in the agency, botched technology upgrades, false accusations in the Atlanta bombings, translation department scandals, and 9/11 (he left 3 months prior). But there's one thing Freeh is just as good at today as he was then: he's a master whiner and finger pointer.

God knows, Clinton was a handful and a bundle of poor personal judgment. And being effective with Hill politics is not for the meek. But Freeh knew those things going into the job. He wore his contempt for and disagreement with Janet Reno and Bill Clinton on his sleeve throughout his term. Watching the current talk shows we see him acting as if we should be shocked that beneath what he assumes was a cool facade during those years was a man unjustly hampered by a negligent president and a self-centered congress. He already had the resume, given his hindsight about such a stacked deck, why the hell didn't he just quit? Oh, but then there'd be no book. And no chance to whine one last time.

Good Slate piece on Freeh

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Stripping in Seattle

An amusing article regarding a recent Seattle City Council vote (the vote took place after this article was written; the stricter rules were passed 5-4) to toughen rules by which "Gentlemen's Clubs" are allowed to operate. What's amusing is not the topic itself, but rather the writer's apparent surprise that this would even be an issue in this "bastion of tolerance and liberalism". I've lived in a number of places in the USA, and have spent a considerable amount of time in many others. The Pacific Northwest (at least the Seattle and surrounding areas part) is just about as prude a place as they come, at least among the major population centers, IMHO.

I think there's a falicy that the sex trade is somehow synonomous with lefties; nothing could be further from the truth. One only has to look at some of the more conservative cities, like Anchorage, where there's a strip club in every neighborhood. As a matter of fact I think the lefties are about as prude as they come (myself excepting)!

As well, it should be pointed out that the sex industry is a nearly $20 billion operation, far more than all the major league sports combined. Does that sound like something the progressives could pull off?

UPDATE: Cartoonist David Horsey's take.

Please, Some Compassion

20,000 plus dead from this S.E. Asia earthquake. 220,000 plus from last year's S.E. Asia tsunami. I hope we care enough to open our hearts and see ourselves as being members of the human race, not just an island of Americans. These are people, folks.

An American Icon

Kurt Vonnegut has written another book, and as all consciencious writers these days is making the talk show circuit. I've had a chance to catch him on a number of shows, including a 25 minute conversation with David Brancaccio on the now gutted PBS news magazine NOW.

As one of those who grew up reading Vonnegut and whose life was partially influenced by the man, I was struck by how he's settled into his place as an American icon. Love him or hate him (he does say some over-the-top things that make me uneasy, a la Michael Moore), he resembles a modern day Mark Twain; witty, clever, cynical, critical, fearless. There's one glaring difference however: I believe Twain was ultimately optimistic, Vonnegut is decidedly not.

Among his pearls:
  • He wants to sue cigarette manufacturers for false advertising. A long time smoker, he says there's a notice on the side of each pack promising him they'd kill him, yet he's still alive (he turns 83 next month).
  • He says we have a one party government: the Winners. The Winners are the wealthy, priveleged republicans and democrats (in power). Everybody else is the Losers.
  • He's proud to call himself a Luddite.
  • He noted that modern day righties who call themselves "Christians" spend their time talking about the Ten Commandments and the "eye for an eye" principle (neither is part of Christ's teachings), yet never mention the Beatitudes (the central core of JC's teachings of compassion, tolerance and humility).
More at his web site. Click on "news".

Friday, October 07, 2005

Welcome New Readers!

Well this is indeed a cause for celebration! We're up to three or four readers (not all paid subscribers), more folks with nothing better to do than read this blog and thumb thru Mad Magazine! I'd like to welcome our two newest, TC and BC (or EC). TC, do ya think we could make time for lunch or after work celebratory refreshments for your birthday next week? Let me know. I'll treat, and pay for parking! Well, minus the recent increase for parking and fines in Seattle. Rock on, October..... Or, simply put, Rocktober.......

And we hope EC will soon be an alternative voice contributor!

Divine Inspiration for War

Ya' know, there comes a time in any human discourse where one needs to leave the track of rhetoric and measured political posturing, and lay bare the real issue, the 800 lb gorilla in the living room that we try to ignore. Beyond the lack of WMDs, beyond Abu Graib, beyond yellowcake, beyond the manipulation of fear politics and beyond the legal rightie problems lies the raw nerve we as progressives (given our polite, inclusive, and timid nature) refuse to ackowledge as obvious: The US is increasingly striving to be the "christian extremist" equivalent of Iran.

We see this in the increasing pressure to include specific religious teachings in our public schools, particularly in science, as well as denomination specific public, mandatory prayer. We see it in the courts, with a state supreme court judge wanting to conjoin jurisprudence with the ten commandments. And we see it in an ideology of pre-emptive violent aggression in a part of the world we understand least, against a people who meant us no harm.

Starting next monday, the internationally respected journalistic powerhouse, the BBC, will begin airing a series of specials which report among other things what we've heard before and to a large degree believe: W had a calling from god telling him to invade Iraq. If true, this is indeed a huge win for the extremists (both the Islamists and the "christians"). It also portends a loss and a death knell for the rest of us, and our democracy.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Fun With Deli Meat

Looks like Dems leader Dr. Dean stepped on his, um, salami in his recent interview on the quality journalism program called "HardBall" with Chris Matthews. Seems the good doctor forgot about his generation's sexual euphemisms, and swapped his metaphors! Color commentary from Wonkette.

MORE: For those NOT in the know.........

Monday, October 03, 2005

Good "Christian" Values

There has been a lot of chatter since the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. about the highjacking of a legitimate, mainstream, and honorable religion, Islam. Few westerners had comprehensive knowledge of the faith, but felt it was comforting to believe that the vast majority of the world's 3rd largest religion was not gunning for "infidels" and was, in fact, peaceful. At the same time there was an undercurrent of intellectuals (Salman Rushdie, and some less learned pundits) who made the case that Islam was inherently intolerant and subversive.

What we in the West seem unable to grasp is that Christianity as well has gone through a centuries long highjacking as well. Most modern evangelicals and extreme right "christians" preach hate, biased judgment, intolerance, punitive redress & retribution, and moral imposition. When you actually study Christ's teachings, it becomes apparent that he'd roll over in his grave if he could hear the stuff that's being spouted in his name, not to mention the centuries long religious cleansing and wars; remember the Spanish Inquisition?

I just can't grasp why my marriage's value and worth is somehow diminished by someone else's marriage, whether it be gay or straight. Love and commitment are just that, right?

A great example of how the right treats love, commitment, and kids' needs.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Real Life, Real People

Whether a rightie or a lefty, stiff or bleeder, I think most Americans are compassionate and can find it in their hearts to reach out to those in need. IMHO, one of the real tragedies of the invasion and occupation of Iraq is the lack of media coverage of the death, misery and suffering the Iraqi people are forced to endure everyday. These are not "tearists", not 9/11 sympathizers, not people who "hate our way of life", but innocent human beings caught in the political and ideological crossfire, not so different from the good folks of the Gulf states. Kudos to the New York Times for making a small inroad toward exposing us to this untold saddness.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Autumn Brings...........

Yes folks, its that time of year again. Hippo birdie, two ewes to favorite sister Tara Marie. Have a Crocodile Mary at the local Cafe, on me (and a mean breakfast,
6 days a week). Rocktober Rules!!!!!! The Croc Rules!!!!!! Mean Breakfasts and Any Marys Rule!!!!

Mr. Virtues Goes to New Orleans (And Planned Parenthood)

Looks like "The Gambler" stepped on it again with some enlightened remarks. These guys wouldn't be such huge targets if they didn't put on the perfect, holier-than-thou self-righteous facade. But I digress......

UPDATE: More from Wonkette.....
And the Idiot....