Sunday, December 25, 2005

Feliz Navidad

Feliz Navidad,
Feliz Navidad,
Feliz Navidad,
Prospero año y Felicidad

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Poetic Justice, Nacchio Style

The perfect Christmas gift (am I still allowed to say that if I'm not a card carrying rightie?) would be an indictment of Mr. Rove, and serious impeachment proceedings against King George II.

Absent that, I'll take the next best thing, the criminal indictments against Joseph Nacchio announced today. Mr. Nacchio represents the near-worst of the American chief executive, the evil incarnate.

I know, I worked with the guy while with his former employer. Not directly, but two degrees away (one vertical, one lateral). This is a guy who delighted in vanquishing foes, humiliating them, taking pleasure in their pain. Business can be a tough environment, but his was a world where the employee, customer and company needs were of no importance; only his glorification, victory, and personal success mattered. I stumbled into his sights a couple of times, only a chinese wall and my relative insignificance protected me.

It's a good year.......

Monday, December 19, 2005

Memories of a Barrow Winter

It was heartening to see this AP story on several news sites this morning, it brought back 15+ year old memories of my visits to Barrow, Alaska, in the summer and the winter. Those deep December days were especially memorable, when the sun never rose, and a heavy ice fog could keep airline service out for days. Nothing to do except keep active, keep warm, and eat at Fran's!
CNN Version

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"Saving" St. Nick

A number of years ago, when proposed anti-flag burning legislation was grabbing the news cycle TV fictional POTUS Jeb Bartlett asked his staff this question: Is there a sudden epidemic of flag burning incidents that I'm not aware of (or something to that effect)? His point was that the public, through a mob mentality, was getting whipped up into an emotional lather over a non-issue, a non-existent threat, distracting the legislature from more relevant an meaningful work. The issues change, but the intent and effect are always the same: divide the people over emotional ideological issues. Get them so worked up, so polarized that constructive discourse can never take place on that issue, and turn attention away from the real issues we face so politicians are not forced to deal with them and are not held accountable. Ed Schultz's Guns, God and Gays theory.

The latest trigger to be pulled is this business about "saving Christmas" or defending against the "war on Christmas". The psychology is always the same: Identify a clear enemy (more difficult in this case, we can't directly blame Osama or Saddam, so progressives as a group will have to do. We know they are all sodomizing atheists), clearly & simply identify how they are actively attacking you (anti-America, pro-Saddam, weak on national defense or crime, anti-religion), use incendiary language to describe it ("war on ___", "anti-war", "anti-family values"), and shout down any nuanced, balanced discussion on said topic. The battle lines have to be very clear; you are either 150% with us, or you are 150% against us. This cultural/sociological trend disturbs me on several levels.

First, I believe that the rightie talking heads who dominate cable TV opinion shows foment this anger and hate are intentionally trying to start this angry landslide, not to resolve any issue, educate, or cause constructive change. The Bill O'Reillys of the world don't believe half of what they espouse on the air, but (like Howard Stern knows the success of doing outrageous things) they know the more they can trigger anger and destructive emotion the better their ratings will get, the more money they're paid and the more books they'll sell. Of course the initial trigger is always some black and white code word or phrase, like "secular", "naysayers", "cowards", "weak-kneed", and the all purpose and popular "liberals".

Second, these folks make a few assumptions which they never bother to critically explore for validity. The first is that there really is a sinister and diabolical enemy out there actively working to erase Christmas from everyone's life. We love protagonists in fiction (Look at Scrooge and the Grinch) so we willingly believe they exist in every case in real life. The second is that anyone not actively bemoaning this war on Christmas is mortally offended by the words Merry Christmas. I don't know very many people who actually are offended. And this notion that this unseen demon is trying to take "Christ" out of "Christmas"? Ah, newsflash! This happened long ago. Christmas is THE single most commercialized holiday of the year. Even those who actively celebrate it as Christ's birthday do so only one or two days. The rest of the time its food, drink, parties, decorations, and of course shop, shop, shop. Don't like Target's "Happy Holidays" theme? Don't shop there. But don't turn their inclusiveness into exclusiveness or irresponsibly label it "Christmas Under Seige" for crying out loud.

Third, I'm unaware of any actual instance where an individual has been told they can't celebrate Christmas any way they want, put it in their cards, write it in letters 10 ft. tall across the front of their house, say it to everybody they pass on the street, celebrate it at the church of their choice. Like the gay marriage thing, this is about them wanting everyone else to think and act the way they do to validate their beliefs. Sure, there's the occasional story about a parent suing a school district over a nativity display. If its not your kid's school, why are you stressing over it? If it is, then let your voice be heard as well. But don't scream about a mountain where only a molehill exists. The term "Happy Holidays" has existed for at least the last 60 years, its nothing new. The season starts in November and ends January 2nd. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas are not mutually exclusive, they can coexist, even within the same person! I have always taken either greeting as a friendly and well meaning gesture that made me feel good, I was not aware until this year that I need to be offended by one or the other.

Fourth, it is yet one more occasion where we should be coming together and celebrating our similarities, our differences, our strengths, and trying to help with our weaknesses. Instead we are now attempting to do with the holiday season what we let the Fox folks do with other occasions: turn it into an opportunity for destructive, divisive polarization, groundless paranoia and conspiracy theories, and bitter name calling.

And that is the true, tragic war on Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Color Purple

Oh god, now we're going to see the purple finger pictures for the next 2 days, symbolizing yet another rhetorical "milestone" in Iraqi invasion success. And 30 days from now we'll be back to business as usual, daily bombings and death, waiting for the white house to tell us the next symbolic iconic event to anticipate.

W acknowledged today that "much of the intelligence" (read "all") leading to the invasion of Iraq was wrong, but he'd do it again given the same situation. He took "responsibility" (see previous post on this topic), meaning no accountability or redress.

God help the purple finger people.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Death of a Salesman

In about a month the name of Stanley "Tookie" Williams will not be recognized by the vast majority of Americans. Already, less than 24 hours after his murder, the news cycle has moved on to new tabloid headlines.

And the Jesse Jacksons and Sean Penns of the country have moved on to new spotlight opportunities, new Teri Schaivos and new New Orleans.

Governor Schwarzenegger has moved on from his denial of a clemency request by Mr. Williams to his own continuing headaches in his adopted state (as well as criticism of his suprise decision).

The Governor did absolutely the right thing.

(a well written opinion and decision -with the exception of the occasional silly footnote- though I doubt the governor wrote or understood most of it)

My reader knows I am vehemently opposed to state sponsored murder: the reasons are not important for this article.

As barbaric as capital punishment is, it is also the law of the land, as much as Roe v. Wade. We are the only modern western country that still embraces state-sponsored murder (ironically the countries we condemn as human rights violators and "axis of evil" club members are the biggest executors).

However, Mr. Williams was a cold blooded killer who exhausted the potential of the criminal justice systems appeals process as much or more than anyone before him (including before the "liberal" 9th Circuit), with no glimmer of luck. Just because he is a skilled leader and salesman who managed to champion a following among well meaning high profile people (and some opportunists like the Reverend Jackson) does not mean he should be given preferential treatment over others without those skills and resources. Capital punishment is supposedly the will of the people; it should be rejected in its entirety, not selectively sidestepped in boutique cases. Maybe Tookie should have taken a page from Gary Ridgeway's book, practical leverage rather than idealism.

The ultimate irony is that the last chance of clemency for Mr. Williams was squarely in the hands of a man whose only previously claim to fame was making tens of millions by entertaining audiences with glorified mass murder and gratuitous violence.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"Pro-Life" Lost

One of the main arguments against the death penalty in the U.S. has been the fact that there is a sizable potential for error: more than 120 prisoners on death row have since been exonerated since the Supremes effectively cleared the way for states to resume the killing in 1972; some by days, a few by hours befor the scheduled execution (1,000 have been killed since the landmark ruling allowing the states to decide). Most of these corrections have been possible through the technological breakthrough of DNA comparative testing, a crime tool not even envisioned in the early 20th century, though others have been through other means. This is precisely the kind of mistake that led Republican Governor George Ryan of Illinois to place a moratorium on the death penalty in his state on January 31st, 2000.

The pro-death crowd (usually the pro-"life" crowd) cite these exonerations as evidence that the "system works", the executions were halted in time, and of course there is no evidence of anyone innocent ever having been put to death.

The problem with this argument is several fold. First, its not the "system" that has saved the condemned in most cases, its been law student class projects and other bleeding heart legal vigilantes who have dedicated time to investigate and prove these cases, taking place entirely outside of the system of capital checks and balances. Second, as some of these exonerations have taken place within days or even hours of execution it is a flip attitude at best to conclude that the system had plenty of play in these cases to correct itself.

But finally the last house of cards defending this barbaric practice has at last sadly been breached.

The Houston Chronicle tells us that the first credible story of an innocent being put to death has finally been documented.

Ruben Cantu was put to death in Texas (duh!) in 1993 for a murder committed in 1984. Trouble is that there was only one eye witness who would implicate Ruben only after 3 police interrogations over a 5 month period. There was no physical evidence linking Ruben to the crime, no murder weapon found; The only thing that killed him was a possibly coerced witness, nothing else between execution, Texas style, and him. This witness has since recanted, leaving no evidence to support a conviction, much less execution. But it is too late. The strongest reaction of the DA? Bring perjury charges against the witness! Listen to more on NPR.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Check out this signature of a well known L.A. lawyer who specializes in "suing for the stars" (in this case warning publications to keep "unauthorized" pics of Ms. Aniston's sunbathing breasts from their pages; for GQ eyes only!) It looks like Tinker Bell grabbed the pen mid-stroke and did her usual mischief! BTW, another "fascinating" paparazzo story and lawyerly threat; who the heck is paying for these photos and why? Its not like there's an Aniston boob drought out there right now....
MORE ON THAT...... (thanks

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Looks like Joe's in payoff mode again, for whatever evidence W has agin' 'im. Some very shallow statements about the proliferation of satellite TV dishes and cell phones (What??! No Mickey D's or Starbucks yet??! You call that success??!) as well as a transparently misleading comment about 2/3 of the country being under control after a recent trip to Iraq. Says the pres should be getting these "good news" stories out there. Well, he's trying! There's only so much newspaper space available to buy for positive "investigative journalism"!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Skating to Freedom in Canada

If you were shocked last summer when a Canadian woman was released after serving only 12 years for assisting her husband with the rape and killing of 3 teenage girls (including her younger sister!) prepare for a new shocker. A Quebec Superior Justice thursday lifted what appears to be the Canadian version of probation conditions (I am not familiar with Canadian penal procedures, but it seems similar). Upper right is the couple in happier pre-rape/murder times. The husband is serving life without possibility; the wife got the spousal abuse equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome clemency (despite the tapes suggesting the contrary). Her lawsuits have already started, book tour to follow. I hope our neighbors to the north don't pick up too many more bad habits from us.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Accountability Modeled?

You have to feel for him, you really do.

Watching Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA) humbly and tearfully confess his crimes and resign his House seat in a public appearance yesterday had to move all but the coldest hearts, even after the angry denials this past summer. Don't get me wrong, this guy committed some of the most egregious betrayals of public trust imaginable, and hopefully his sentence will reflect that. He voted for a war and then profiteered from it handsomely. And I don't know much about the guy or his record in congress outside of the headlines he's grabbed over the last 5 or so months, other than the fact that he's probably not a Rhodes Scholar. For this, one needs to look no further than the transparencies of his crimes, or the fact that he formerly marketed a $600 buck knife illegally sporting the official seal of Congress on his web site.

But something happened yesterday which we have not witnessed in a very long time, to that degree. He took real responsibility, real accountability. He admitted unequivocally that he broke the law and tried to impede an investigation. No excuses, caveats, disclaimers, evasion, spin or defense. No assertions that "it's not a real crime", accusations of prosecutorial persecution or adventurism, no claims of partisan agenda from him or his defenders as we hear from Messrs. DeLay & Libby and their crowd. No claims that "I didn't know what was going on, it was my subordinates" like we hear from the likes of Ken Lay, Dennis Kozlowski and Bernie Evers. Sure, they had the Duke-Stir dead-to-rights, he wasn't going to slip out of that noose too easily. But he didn't have to put himself through the pain and humility of his public apology and admission, with no ambiguity, no gray area. Lighter sentence because of it? Highly unlikely. This guy knows there's a good chance he'll die in prison. He's a cad of the worst sort for sure, but in the end he showed a shred of character. Not a bunch, but more than the larger bunch in D.C.

FOLLOWUP: So what happens now to the people who paid the bribes? That's just a tad illegal as well.

UPDATE: I've changed my mind, this guy is a headcase.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

One Thousand

A grim milestone right here at home.......
(click on illustration for enlarged version)

Not me! But it was....

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dialog Stoppers Redux (new improved version!)

As we enter a more complex yet promising world of intercultural understanding, one aspect of the growing pains comes in the form of that American favorite, politically correct dialog stoppers. You know them; when talking about race, ethnicity, class, defense, crime, and the perennial election trio, Guns, God and Gays, healthy dialogue can be shut down completely with powerful (but usually meaningless) accusations such as "you're a racist", "you're soft on crime by opposing the death penalty", "you support terrorists by criticizing the president, "you don't support the troops", or my favorite, "you're for abortion" (I have yet to meet anyone who is "for" abortion; but we deal with real life, not fantasy). Its the modern sound bite version of "when did you stop beating your wife?", a paradoxical statement that makes us freeze, unwilling to take the risk of continuing our statement thus continuing progress down the path of a social and political pariah.

And so goes this country's skittish relationship with the pronounced majority, the "Christians" of the right. You know them, they address every moral/ethical issue with the punitive sword/shield approach of the pre-Christian Old Testament: Denounce gays, welfare, peacemakers, poverty, tolerance, and mercy. Fear the Almighty, lest ye be smitten!

But these "Christians" (reminiscent of the Inquisition) seem to ignore the New Testament (and the Beatitudes) which encourages not exclusion and fire & brimstone theology but rather a more compassionate approach, one that includes, forgives, heals, promotes peace, tolerance, humility, and which nurtures. I hope we can all strive to be that kind of person, no matter what our religion (if any).

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Wrong Bottle

An unfortunate, dead-on summation of our middle east adventure. And the sad thing is it was so predictable.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hello, New Orleans!

I have been baffled by the comments and eMail I've received from the last post (and since revised update at the end) related to the CBS story about rebuilding New Orleans. My modest little blog doesn't deserve such attention, and perhaps my poor communication skills have contributed to the misunderstandings. I would ask this of people with opinions: read, digest, only then respond. Consider the following:

  • I don't understand how you can make this a partisan issue at this point. The FEMA rescue role is history. How you can make rebuilding a rightie/leftie issue is beyond me. But apparently you try.
  • I love New Orleans, it would crush me to see it go away. And it is unrealistic to expect to relocate 500,000 people in a humanitarian way.
  • There are irresponsible views that you are lumping me in with, like the Kill New Orleans bloggers.
  • I am simply suggesting that we need to look at the reality of this issue: Never before in the history of our country has a major city been completely evacuated, and been rendered so uninhabitable and potentially dangerous.
  • 60 Minutes is one of the most reliable, true journalistic icons of the last 35 years. To continue to trash its near impeccable record because it outed W as a fraud last year on claims (that have been proven true) with bad records is wrong.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Goodbye, New Orleans?

A few days after Katrina devastated the Gulf coast some rightie lawmaker showed the usual rightie sensitivity & judgment and questioned why we should rebuild New Orleans at all. Its a reasonable question, it was just a terrible time for a leader to publicly vocalize it while tens of thousands of people were still stranded. But as the reconstruction dollars begin pouring in the time has probably come to take a long look at the issue, and CBS' 60 Minutes took the first major shot at it last Sunday. In a very poignant and sobering segment Scott Pelley (god he's terrible! Why the hell didn't they let him fade away when they deep-sixed the mid-week faux 60 Minutes?) talks to several officials and experts about the pros and cons of rebuilding this gem of a city. The pros are mostly nostalgic and emotional, the cons chilling. Professor Tim Kusky of St Louis University, an earth sciences and flood control authority, said that in 80-90 years coastal erosion will leave the Big Easy as a bowl in the Gulf, completely surrounded by sea water and a 50 foot levee system. As it is today they estimate that about one third of the city's residents don't plan to return permanently. And its a stark and painful question the ones who plan to return need to face as well (and to a lesser extent those of us who know and love this wonderful place so).

UPDATE: The blogging community (or parts of it) are claiming the entire story to be "discredited" due to speculation as to Prof. Kusky's lack of credentials to make the assertions he did in part of the piece. (The negative passion in some of the comments against 60 Minutes would make one think Bill Clinton or Michael Moore produced the piece! Some will never forgive CBS for that W piece last year) This should not distract from the central issue, can it safely be rebuilt and if so how? The gradual disappearance of the coastal wetlands buffer is fact. So is the fact that the ACOE official in charge of rebuilding the levees said it would take 10+ years to build them to withstand a cat 5 storm. The fact that an entire city has been rendered uninhabitable for the first time in U.S. history should tell these future Darwin Award winners that there may be some fire behind this smoke. CBS' response.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


When the subject of pirates comes up most people instantly think of swashbuckling mariners, doubloons, parrots, and walking the plank. What rarely comes to mind is modern day piracy, alive and well on today's high seas. Among the most active areas for pirates today are the seas off Southeast Asia. The pirates will chase shipping vessels with small, swift craft, board undetected, seize control of the ship through violent means (often killing the small crew and throwing their bodies overboard), then proceed to a cooperative port or rendezvous with an assisting vessel to offload any valuable cargo. Then this ill gotten booty eventually is sold off for pure profit on both legitimate and illegitimate markets. Roughly 70% of the earth is covered with water, most of that having no practical law other than the agenda of the one with the most firepower (I personally abhor guns, but if I ever sailed a vessel into international waters I would definitely carry one). We almost never see these incidents reported in the mainstream media.

So it was interesting to see this incident so widely reported when it occurred a few weeks ago in the Atlantic off the coast of Somalia. What made it news I suppose was the fact that a passenger ship was the target and that they successfully escaped the attackers, as well as the use of this sonic weapon.

Another version

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Brilliance of Mr. Trudeau

I recently stumbled upon a series penned by cartoonist Garry Trudeau which never saw newsprint. Apparently he'd prepared a series to highlight during the Harriet Meirs Senate confirmation hearings, but for some reason withdrew it prior to the hearings. So here they are, for your viewing pleasure. I particularly love the reference to 9/11 as the "Swiss Army knife of answers"! A brilliant and incisive man, I always marvel at his ability to cut through the fog and get precisely to the heart of the matter, as well as his insight into the inner workings of institutions where we normally get little visibility.

Oh, and you rightie goosesteppers who will dutifully slam Mr. Trudeau for "hating America, undermining the troops", etc., etc., etc.? Go look at some of his work from the Clinton years.......

A "GARY" [SIC] Hater (and thus a "freedom" and "America" lover) who misses the point but still reads it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Unintelligent Design

Those fun lovin' righties! Here's a tee shirt sellin' web page advertising on Drudge today, once more demonstrating all the intelligence and taste we've come to expect from the Alabama crowd. It's bad enough that these RadCons love to bring up Ted Kennedy's car, but now they're picking on Che Guevara! Guys, are ya' paying attention to anything that's happened in say, the last 5 years??! Keep on inbreeding!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Well Hush My Mouth!

I was floored when I saw the link to this story in my favorite gossip e-rag, Wonkette today. As my reader may know, Senator Rick Santorum is a regular target of mine. But let me be the first to admit it when he does something right. Plus, with this he's even reversed an earlier position, and I respect him for that (ow, that hurt!)! So now he's moved from the 13th century to, say, the 18th?? One by one the rats are jumping from the good ship W.

As you read the story, please don't pass up the little gem offered up by Pat Robertson.

I LOVE the premise of the re-packaged creationism: that the universe is so complex, it has to be the work of an intelligent being...... How utterly arrogant.

Monday, November 14, 2005

"I Take Responsibility....."

"I take responsibility." There are few phrases in the English language which purport to mean so much but which actually, without redress, mean zilch. I know I rarely pick on lefties these days, but former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards is begging for it with his Washington Post op-ed today titled "The Right Way in Iraq". As support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq (a sovereign nation which posed absolutely no threat to us) continues to plummet in this country, lefties who voted for the war are scrambling for the exits, feigning shocked outrage at the way they were "duped" into voting for war. Some claim they were simply led to believe that they were presenting a united front, giving Mr. Hussein incentive to cooperate fully with UNMOVIC, believing we'd never actually invade. Others, like Senator Edwards, are claiming that they were presented with invented and trumped-up evidence that Iraq was a clear and present threat to the US and its allies.

These claims are disingenuous. These public servants had access to FAR more information than we had at the time, and we had the following:
  • UNSCOM had spent about 6 years in the country dismantling Iraq's weapons program. We knew that this, in conjunction with their defeat in the Gulf war left them unable to defend themselves much less threaten anyone else. Hans Blix repeatedly told us this.
  • UNMOVIC had unprecedented access and free rein in Iraq (including the presidential palaces previously untouchable) in the weeks leading up to the war and repeatedly told us they could get the job done given more time.
  • There were several under-reported CIA leaks from mid-level intelligence analysts discounting Iraq's threat to us.
  • The invasion and occupation had no UN authorization and virtually no world wide support, with the exception of lapdogs Blair & Berlusconi, and a few insignificant countries who owe us money and/or were depending upon future aid ("the coalition of the coerced & bribed"). Oh, and "don't forget Poland!".
In addition we now know through many insider kiss-and-tells that invading Iraq was a topic in the White House the day the Bushies took power and rose to a thunderous roar on 9/12/01. Surely given the Beltway's reputation for gossip some of this would have sifted back to congress.

While I think the good senator makes some excellent points on what we should do going forward, and I hope W and Co. take them seriously, his statement "I was wrong" means nothing when he then claims to have been misled. Those two things in concert simply mean "given the same circumstances I'd do the same thing!". I am so tired of leaders using the hollow phrase "I take responsibility" without redress, and without being accountable. Accountability means forsaking image to do everything in your power to make it right, or resigning your position as a courageous and symbolic gesture. Senator Edwards could do this by either sparing us his platitudes and fading quietly into private life or by coming clean with the real reason he voted to go to war: he had future political ambitions and wanted to dodge the rightie bullet that lefties are soft on national defense. For this he has blood on his hands.

Senator, many dems had the fortitude to vote against war. You did not. You were wrong. You still are.

Wonkette's impression.......

And may I add that Rick Santorum is quite an ass. My opinion.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

W, If You REALLY Want to Help Someone.........

Here's another story about North Korea, just a tad more sobering than the last one. This place is incredible. And I'm sure we're seeing only the tip of the iceberg in terms of human suffering Imagine, defecting to China.....

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A North Korean Holiday

Got seven large burning a hole in your pocket? Why not consider a relaxing vacation on the beaches of North Korea (do you think they have clothing optional beaches there??), or shopping in Pyongyang? These 5 Americans recently made that choice, having the trip of a lifetime. What a bizarre and scary place, stuck in time for 50+ years. If I was given a choice to travel to the international space station or to go to North Korea, it would take a lot of headscratching to decide, and I think I'd end up in Pyongyang. Its funny, as the dubyas try to repackage their Iraqi adventure as humanitarian, I can't help but think the most repressed people in the world live in North Korea.

Unabashed Spin

It seems like the act of a desperate man yesterday, using a Veterans Day speech to try and salvage a foreign policy about which the country is increasingly (and FINALLY!) seeing the truth. I know, one of the percs of being the POTUS is the ability to grab the news cycle for personal gain, and free of charge, I'm OK with that. But using a day when we traditionally put partisanship aside to advance a partisan agenda is unconscionable.

One might think that the brassiest thing he could have said today was that those who are criticizing his administration are trying to rewrite history (this from a guy who brags about his aversion to reading non-fiction). This administration was the one that changed the story twice as to the reason for invasion prior to said invasion, then once more after invasion when WMDs were as difficult to find as righties at a Chelsea block party.

But as always, the man took it to far greater heights when he declared that we must continue to fight to "prevent Iraq from becoming a failed state " which would become a regional hotbed, training center and launch point for "tearists". My god! Who the heck created this cesspool of violence, this opportunity for the "tearists"? Did this exist before we invaded? Sure, prior to invasion it was a hellish place for some people. Sudan, Somalia and North Korea among others are far worse. Was it the cradle of "tearism" Mr. Bush warns us of? No, absolutely not. The unvarnished truth is that our enemies were in Afghanistan, and we blew that opportunity.

Mr. Bush, you're digging yourself in deeper. At some point I don't believe even Karl can help......

RELATED: Karl's hair

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Here's Catherine Crier

Stephen Colbert's guest on his new show last night was a woman named Catherine Crier, a former judge turned TV personality and bestselling author. I had never heard of her before. As they started discussing her background --Texas judge, Court TV, CNN, FOX "News"-- a wave of distaste and distrust washed over me; this month's token righty for a progressive show. When she started talking about her latest thesis --how we'd better wake up and see how the religious wackos want to pack the courts with true activists-- I sat up and started listening, then did some research on her past writings. She's smart, and really nails it clearly and completely; she understands where we're headed. No far-gone lefty, we'd all be wise to heed her warnings.

Friday, November 04, 2005


The media love their catchy phrases (often whether they fit or not), and one of the faves recycled every few years is how Madonna is "constantly reinventing herself". I would submit she's just super-talented. Love her or hate her (I fall somewhere in the middle), Madge has demonstrated an uncanny ability to draw headlines, fans, and dollars almost at will over her near 25 year professional career. Sure, she's had her challenges but those memories quickly fade with each new success. She has that rare ability to fuse creative talent with a keen instinct for the current cultural climate, and is very focused & disciplined with the execution. She is also very intelligent, with good street smarts.

Apparently Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone wowed 'em once again in Lisbon recently at the MTV awards where she, as this article puts it, showed the younger stars how its done. (if you don't think of her as disciplined, look at the pictures in the article. It takes some work to look that buff at 47!)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I've said this before, and I'll say it again: I just don't get it.
We have kids dying in Iraq for no reason, a runaway national fiscal deficit, a huge federal ideological divide, and an increasing retro approach to the environment, foreign policy, and social compassion, yet congress

This latest McCain et al boondoggle is yet one more example of how our elected officials are both insulated and isolated from average Americans, and are fixated on their own pleasures instead.

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.

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