Monday, December 31, 2007

"I just got back from the Auto de Fe!"

"Auto de fe? What's the auto de fe?"

"It's what you oughtn't to do but you do anyway!"

- History of the World, Part I
I probably shouldn't have done it, as there is still a ban on burning (as far as I know), but I took all reasonable precautions.
To honor the Solstice, belatedly of course, I set up a small but intense bonfire and immolated eleven years worth of financial records into fine white ashes. Try to piece that shit together, identity thieves!

Naturally, I didn't burn the tax records.

After burning all the paperwork, I poured out three libations into the fire and let it burn further before extinguishing it. No, I didn't dance naked around it, sorry.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto, RIP

Talk about wanting to make certain of your target ....

Benazir Bhutto, former Pakistani PM and leader of the People's Party (an opposition group; she was going to contest Pervez Musharraf for the leadership of Pakistan) had just wrapped up a rally in Rawalpindi when a guy came up and shot her twice, in the chest and neck. The shooter then (according to current published accounts) yanked the thunder cord on the suicide vest he was wearing.

Pow, pow, and BOOM.

Talking about making sure.

Bhutto was declared dead at the nearby hospital, and now the fun begins.

Things will probably get very ugly very fast in Pakistan, and my advice to you is to watch carefully, as Pakistan has about 50 nuclear warheads in its arsenal (a guess based on how much fissile materials they've been able to crank out - think Iran's a problem? Think again).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Kipling Was Wiser Than He Knew

MacDonough's Song

Whether the State can loose or bind
In Heaven as well as on Earth;
If it be wiser to kill mankind
Before or after the birth -
These are matters of high concern
Where State-kept schoolmen are;
But Holy State (we have lived to learn)
Endeth in Holy War.

Whether the People be led by the Lord,
Or lured by the loudest throat;
If it be quicker to die by the sword
Or cheaper to die by the vote -
These are the things we have dealt with once,
(And they will not rise from their grave)
For Holy People, however it runs,
Endeth in wholly Slave.

Whatsoever, for any cause,
Seeketh to take or give,
Power above or beyond the Laws,
Suffer it not to live!
Holy State or Holy King -
Or Holy People's Will -
Have no truck with the senseless thing
Order the guns and kill!

Saying - after - me: -

Once there was The People - Terror gave it birth;
Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth.
Earth arose and crushed it. Listen, O ye slain!
Once there was The People - it shall never be again!

- From As Easy as A.B.C.
Rudyard Kipling

What I Got for Christmas

1. Two pounds heavier, after a lovely supper Monday and grazing most of Tuesday afternoon.
2. Homemade candy.
3. The new translation of Beowulf.
4. The restored version of Battleship Potemkin, on DVD.
5. New bed sheets.
6. A piece of stained glass art to fit the lunar window over my front door.
7. Some peace and quiet.
8. The internet posting of Chapter 125 of my serial Luck of the Dragon, and the sorta-kinda Christmas story The Pickering Papers: A Clean Start, both on the Spontoon Island website.
9. A t-shirt with the following line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "I fart in your general direction."

What was under YOUR tree?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

And They Call This "News?"

The major news services here in the US (including the main government propaganda channel, Pravda TV - er, oops, Fox News) have all been agog about former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's recent conversion from the Church of England to Catholicism.

Two things.

One, Blair ISN'T the godsdamned PM any longer - so what the hell are the media doing talking about it?

Two, back in the day (say about 1830 or so) if a major figure in Britain converted from the C of E to Papism, he would have never gotten far in political office or even allowed in Parliament. Britain took such things seriously - just look at Guy Fawkes' Day.

Our country was founded on an idea of tolerance buttressed by the Mexican standoff between the major sects in Christianity so that no single one can get the upper hand. Since there is NO religious test for public office, announcing that someone's converted from Protestantism to Catholicism (or even from Episcopalianism to Baptist) is a non-starter.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Quote Without Comment

"This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."

- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol


When he was Don of New York, Rudy Giuliani acquired a reputation for being rather security-conscious, even to the point of mounting security cameras at the Mayor's residence. The AP now reports that Don Ridolfo also spirited about 2,000 boxes of records from the mansion when he left the mayoralty.

Shades of Dick Cheney.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pre-Christmas Democratic Candidate Roundup

As threatened, here's a few remarks concerning the Pack of Hyenas (the Democratic Party candidates for President) before I take a break from campaign politics. There are fewer to pick on than the GOP, mainly because the GOP field is spread far and wide (narrowing only slightly after Tancredo drops out) and ideologically fractured, while the Democratic pack is bunched up and much more homogeneous.

Yes indeed; nip and tuck, cheek by jowl, thigh and buttock, you couldn't get a melon between them:

1. Hillary Clinton.
If you listen to the polls, Mrs. Inevitable has slipped somewhat. She still has good ideas, but needs to develop them a bit more and be less reliant on opinion polls and focus groups. Details, lady, details! Oh, and as I pointed out in an earlier post ("Why Bill Clinton Should STFU"), if Hillary's managed to have the strength to put up with Bill's shenanigans, she certainly has the strength to stand on her own two feet and fight her own battles. I know that the idea of a strong, assertive woman sends sexually insecure men like Chris Matthews into fear-fueled rages, but screw him.

2. Barack Obama.
Again, if you listen to the polls, Obama has managed to whittle away support from Hillary and from John Edwards. Expect more attack ads from the others regarding his first and middle names, and where he went to grade school. I can almost hear the word "uppity" when his name is mentioned on Fox News, or among the tiny-brained and big-mouthed people in my community and workplace. Obama has some ideas, but since he's angling for much the same votes as Clinton, the two sets of ideas are rather similar.

3. John Edwards.
The resident Village Idiot on MSNBC, Tucker "Behold My Manly Bow Tie" Carlson, castigated Edwards' Christmas ad for talking about homeless veterans and the poor. Well, Tucker you fucker, I thought that was one of the things Jesus liked to talk about - how nice it would be if we cared for the poor and less fortunate. Scumbag. I hope MSNBC fires your sorry ass soon.

4. Bill Richardson.
Governor Richardson struggles along, still hoping people will take him seriously. Not a big name, but based on his resume he's the best qualified of all the candidates from both parties. A recent NPR story followed him as he courted the rural Iowa voters, talking up his NRA membership and the need to look after the nation's farmers.

5. Dennis Kucinich.
First, my condolences on the death of his brother; second, props go out to him for repeatedly making motions to impeach Richard Cheney.
However, his campaign is largely moribund from where I sit. I think he knows this, so like Ron Paul and Mike Gravel he is free to speak his mind. Go for it, Dennis.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pre-Christmas GOP Candidate Roundup

Okay, we're about to enter the so-called "holiest time of the year," so for all that's holy let's take a gander at the Pack of Poo-Flinging Monkeys (also known as the Republican candidates):

1. Michael Huckabee.
Governor-Reverend Michael Huckabee (like the title? Sort of like "Prince-Archbishop" - it's got that lovely medieval ring to it) went on local television in several key primary states to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Beautiful sentiments, but he's made a couple minor faux pas:
One, he specified the holiday, which as a supposed candidate for the Presidency of the United States, he really shouldn't do, as it will piss off a lot of people who either don't believe in his characterization of Immanence or view religion as a crutch; and
Two, a contrived cross appeared over his shoulder. It was part of a book case, but people will read into images. Now, whether or not you buy the campaign line that it was completely fortuitous (cough cough bullshit cough cough) or not, that was one white book case, and the image was quite luminous.
One need only look to such wonderful countries as Iran in order to see what happens when you weld religion and politics together. Huckabee's rival, Ron Paul, cited Sinclair Lewis about American fascism coming wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross, and it seems to be quite true. The aims of the GOP are matching more and more the 14 basic tenets of fascism. (And for those of you who accuse me of breaking Godwin's Law regarding the 'F' word - well, let's just say that I have a vocabulary and I intend to use every bit of it.)

2. Willard Romney.
Mittens countered by citing Huckster's 1033 pardons and commutations as Governor of Arkansas and his dearth of foreign policy experience. Well, Mittens, I'm not so sure that being Governor of Massachusetts gave you any more experience. Maybe it's because Huckleberry used words like negotiation and respect, which we know are anathema to the Hell-bent neocon foreign policy agenda.

3. Rudolph Giuliani.
Rudy, Rudy, Rudy. Saw part of your internet Xmas spot, and you came across like Joe Pesci. Sad, boy, really sad. But then you're tanking in the standings, your corporate support is starting to look askance at you, and the scandals (9/11 radios, 9/11 aftermath, your shenanigans on the city dime, etc. etc. etc.) are starting to spread around.
Good-bye, Rudy. Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.

4. Tom Tancredo.
The One-Note Wonder? Irrelevant. Doesn't stand a chance, not even in his home state, because he's turned into a geek. FYI, a geek was a circus side-show attraction who used to bite the heads off live chickens for the delectation of the crowds.

5. Ron Paul.
I might have liked Paul, but some of his views are getting rather odd (along with endorsements given to him by right wing hate groups). His tax ideas are probably complete codswallop, but I'll leave analysis of that to experts.

6. Alan Keyes.
I used to like Alan Keyes, but when a man spends half his alloted debate time arguing with the moderator it's time to wave bye-bye.

7. Fred Thompson.
The Dessicated Corpse touted his experience again. A lackluster Senator and a man Richard Nixon characterized as stupid - but he's an actor, which fills people with hope that Freddo's the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan.
Not gonna happen, my fellow Republicans. When Thompson bothers to stir himself to actually campaign, crowds have to whipped into the room where they are forced to stay awake through repeated use of cattle prods. To say Thompson's "boring" is to insult Ben Stein and William F Buckley.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Why Bill Clinton Should STFU

There. I said it.

I'll say it again if I have to.

You may ask, "Why, you Naughty Pants-down Republican, how dare you tell the former President to shut the F**K up?"

Well, I shall tell you, shan't I?


Big Bill was holding forth about how his wife has more experience than Senator Barack Obama, and that voting for him would be "rolling the dice."

News alert, Bubba.

There is NO WAY, no way in Heaven, Earth or God's Little Acre that one can be prepared for the top job in the government. Everyone goes into it cold - even you, Bill Jeff my silver-haired lad.

You can be Governor of a state, and that gives you some experience - in running a STATE government. You can be a Senator - and REPRESENT your state. You can be a retired obstetrician - which gives you the experience to diagnose placenta praevia, but NOT President. You can be a former CEO - and seeing what the current President is doing, do we as Americans REALLY want another CEO President?

Naturally, I can also direct this same diatribe to former Governor Willard "Mittens" Romney, late of Massachusetts. Mittens, you're no more qualified to be President than I am, and if I had $100 million or so to run a campaign I'd be rubbing your perfect nose in it every day of the godsdamned week.

But back to the subject.

Bill my lad, your wife is strong enough to put up with your shenanigans. I seriously think she's capable of fighting her own battles. Besides, the Iowa caucuses haven't even happened yet, so ignore the fucking polls.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

From Our 'Travesty of Justice' Desk

Remember the Liberty City Seven? Seven desperate black men who allegedly swore allegiance to al-Qaeda and were going to drive up to Chicago and destroy the Sears Tower even though they had no weapons, no bombs and no real idea of what the hell they were doing?

Well, one guy knew what he was doing - the FBI informant who fingered the seven. He was going to give them money and weapons so that they could their dastardly work.

Now, where I'm from, a police informant trying to entice a person to commit a crime is called entrapment. Entrapment's an affirmative defense at trial.

Well, it apparently worked, as six of the defendants received mistrials as the jury was deadlocked, and the seventh was acquitted.

The government still plans on trying them again, and will probably try them again and again until they find a jury that will at least convict them of jaywalking or something so they can crow about their victory. It's a waste of taxpayer money just to set up Scary Brown People as a convenient straw man to maintain The Fear.

'Tis the Season?

You might think that the Christmas season, the period leading up to both Catholic/Protestant Christmas (December 25th) and Orthodox Christmas (January 6th) would be characterized as a time of goodwill and generally human behavior.

You might think that.

You'd be wrong.

It seems that back on Wednesday a group of Jewish students were riding a subway train in New York City when one of the other passengers said, "Merry Christmas." Now, being Jewish, one young man said "Happy Hanukah" in response.

Naturally, this aroused some comment; allegedly one of the 10 people who began to berate the Jewish students with anti-Semitic epithets said "Oh, Hanukah. That's the day the Jews killed Jesus." And the fight was on at that point.

The Jewish kids were aided by a bystander. A Christian thing to do, no?

Wrong again. This guy was a Muslim from Bangladesh.

One of the students pulled the communications cord and the train stopped so that the police could board. All 10 of the "Christians" were arrested, and face charges in court in February. The NYPD is looking into whether it warrants a hate crime enhancement.

In this day and age, to have a Christian call a Jew "Christ-killer" is Just Plain Wrong (and in this case, off by several months on the calendar). But I consider it indicative of the militant, radical and completely wrong "Christianity" followed by a growing number of the ignorant in our once-great country.

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukah
Happy Kwanzaa
Blessed Solstice.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Gunman kills 2 at missionary training school.

Hmm. Disgruntled worshipper, perhaps?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Little Learning

"A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring."
Alexander Pope

I was rereading The Rude Pundit’s wonderful vodka live-blogging of Dear Leader’s “press conference” back on 12/4/07 when this entry struck me:

10:11: Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge to make a weapon, he reiterates. What the fuck does that even mean? No, really, what the fuck?”

To illustrate just how hard it is to gather the knowledge required to construct a weapon, I shall begin with the opening part of the third episode of Connections, a science series from the late 70s narrated by James Burke.

Looks pretty simple, huh? Let’s dig a bit further into the recesses of the Internets and see what else we can find, shall we?

This is the Wikipedia entry on the nuclear device detonated over Hiroshima in 1945. Again, rather straightforward design; in fact, the Big Brains at Los Alamos (led by J. Robert “Destroyer of Worlds” Oppenheimer) were so damned certain that this design would work that they never tested it until the mid-50s (it was used in the 280mm atomic howitzer).

If you want something a bit more complicated, here’s the Wikipedia entry on the implosion device used on Nagasaki. This basic device became the general template for every bomb we’ve made since.

Okay, so far we have three bomb designs – one theoretical, two actual – but something’s missing. Hmm, what could it be?

There are two items missing.

One is the amount of fissile material (either oralloy – highly enriched uranium – or plutonium), and the other is what I call The Final set of Equations.

Another lighthearted romp down the Internet tubes reveals that for a very basic device you only need 15 kilograms of fissile material. Naturally, the more you have, the more efficient and powerful the weapon, and of course you can stockpile more.

Now we come to the Final Equations, which govern exactly how much material you need. See, the material has to be just subcritical (almost set to go boom); it’s the high explosives that force criticality and cause the necessary chain reaction. These are closely guarded secrets but, again, not an insurmountable problem (unless you suck at math, like I do).

Which leads us back to the Bush press conference. What Bush is apparently saying in his answers is that in order to assuage American concerns about its nuclear program, Iran will have to utterly destroy every structure, every piece of equipment, burn all the papers and lobotomize every scientist and engineer involved in the project since its inception.

And even then you can be sure someone will be missed, someone who keeps the secret of secrets in his brain and only waits for the money, materiel and manpower required to rebuild.

A little learning is, indeed, a dangerous thing.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Nattering Nabobs of Nihilism

(With apologies to Pat Buchanan for the theft of his great alliteration.)

The Nabobs of Nihilism were out in full cry this week, starting with the disclosure of a revised National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that revealed that Iran had stopped their nuclear weapons program back in 2003.

Apart from making Bush and Cheney's overheated rhetoric appear as so much fart gas, it was fun to see the Administration try to spin this in a way that didn't make El Presidente look like a fatuous liar.

Nothing worked, of course. Chief of Staff Hadley, I have a question for you - oh, and a follow up: "How long have you been keeping information from your boss? And, are you aware that this makes the Administration look like a bigger pack of fools than they're already perceived to be?"

So now the Natterers are blaming the intelligence community for leaking the assessment. They might want to watch themselves; I'm sure the FBI never stopped the practice of maintaining files on everyone after the transvestite Hoover died.

Speaking of Natterers, the most nihilist of them all, Rudy Giuliani, tried to wriggle his way like an eel coated in KY away from the fact that he supplied police protection (at the city's expense) to his mistress while Mayor of New York. New Yorkers will forgive a lot, Rudy, but not fucking with their money. And the story's spreading around, so Rudy's gonna hit the skids soon, I think.

Which leads me inexorably to Mittens Romney and Mike Huckleberrydumbshit. We'll start with the Huckster, since I am of the firm opinion that no ordained minister should EVER be allowed to hold elective office in this country (it requires you to cut corners on your faith, which will put you in Dutch with the Deity).

Okay, Huck talks to God, but that just means he needs medication; the millstone currently bending him over like a wet taco is serial rapist/murder Wayne Dumond. It appears that Huck was first asked to commute the sentence (already lowered by a previous Governor) because the rapist's victim was a cousin of - gasp! - Bill Clinton. Could Dumond be Huck's Willie Horton? Stay tuned ...

Now, speaking of religion (what Marx called the opium of the masses), we suffered through a speech by Mittens a couple days ago that was billed as just like Kennedy's speech to a pack of Protestant ministers back in the '60 campaign. Well, Skeezix, you asked for it - you are no John F. Kennedy.

See, Kennedy had a different problem than you have - he had to convince Americans (many of whom are just as bigoted now as then) that he would be his own man and wouldn't be taking orders from the Pope of Rome. Anti-Catholic bias was very strong in this country, and there were certain groups that didn't want a damned Papist in the White House.

You, Willard, don't have that problem - your problem is that many of the "Christian conservatives" you are trying to woo think you're a member of an heretical sect and are very suspicious of you.

Did you convince them? Probably not. And you said something that, coupled with Rudy's earlier verbal afflatus about "Freedom is about authority," quite frankly has me considering the Socialist candidate for President. You said that "Freedom requires religion."

"Freedom requires religion."

With all respect to your Magic Mormon Underoos, Mittens, but fuck you. The Declaration of Independence (great document, but it's not the law) states that liberty is one of the "inalienable rights" granted by our Creator. So, it's a right. Doesn't say shit about requiring religion.

In fact, the First Amendment says quite categorically that the State will not set up an official religion. And the Constitution (the supreme law of the land) says that there will be NO religious test for public office in this country.

If I choose to worship Cthulhu, or dance naked around a fire this coming Solstice, or worship Yahweh or Buddha or Shiva or Great Mumbo-Jumbo God of the Congo or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, that's my choice. If I run for public office, whatever my religion may be will not be a factor. You should have reminded people about that.

Ah, but you weren't allaying the concerns of Protestant ministers like Kennedy was doing. You were sucking up to the American Taliban in hopes of taking votes away from Huckabee.

I watch my Party implode with an odd mixture of glee and disappointment.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Christ Climbed Down"

(This is my favorite Christmas poem, and has been since I first read it in 1976. It was written by Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1958. Enjoy, and may your karma be pure in the upcoming year.)

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no rootless Christmas trees
hung with candycanes and breakable stars

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no gilded Christmas trees
and no tinsel Christmas trees
and no tinfoil Christmas trees
and no pink plastic Christmas trees
and no gold Christmas trees
and no black Christmas trees
and no powderblue Christmas trees
hung with electric candles
and encircled by tin electric trains
and clever cornball relatives

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no intrepid Bible salesmen
covered the territory
in two-tone cadillacs
and where no Sears Roebuck creches
complete with plastic babe in manger
arrived by parcel post
the babe by special delivery
and where no televised Wise Men
praised the Lord Calvert Whiskey

Christ climbed down from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no fat handshaking stranger
in a red flannel suit
and a fake white beard
went around passing himself off
as some sort of North Pole saint
crossing the desert to Bethlehem
in a Volkswagen sled
drawn by rollicking Adirondack reindeer
with German names
and bearing sacks of Humble Gifts
from Saks Fifth Avenue
for everybody's imagined Christ child

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no Bing Crosby carollers
groaned of a tight Christmas
and where no Radio City angels
iceskated wingless
thru a winter wonderland
into a jinglebell heaven
daily at 8:30
with Midnight Mass matinees

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and softly stole away into
some anonymous Mary's womb again
where in the darkest night
of everybody's anonymous soul
He awaits again
an unimaginable
and impossibly
Immaculate Reconception
the very craziest of
Second Comings

Monday, December 03, 2007

"Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!"

This article from the Gray Lady is certainly interesting, and guaranteed to make heads explode:

U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 — A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.

Which brings us to the title of this post. After a while, as the legend of the Boy Who Cried Wolf will tell you, a person's lies diminish in influence to unattractive returns. Sounding the drumbeat for war against Iran because of its WMD program rang hollow with many of us because of the abject and utter failure of the Bushies to find any WMDs in Iraq (which I beg to remind the wingnuts in the audience, was the first reason for invading that country).

Now, with new evidence and a new assessment by the 16 US intelligence agencies, you can expect denials and spin galore from the White House, and the corpulent bulk of Dick Cheney, like Falstaff "larding the lean earth with his footsteps," rampaging through the corridors of certain buildings in Langley and Washington leaving blood and entrails in his wake.

One may wonder, "Why would the intel community throw the Administration under the bus like this?"

Simple answer: The intel community got thrown under the bus by the Bushies post-9/11 and were blamed for the Iraqi WMD thing. The notion that the intel was cherry-picked, marketed and spun to fit peoples' fears was silently swept aside.

Moral: Don't mess with the bureaucracy; they can do terrible things to you.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

My Two Cents on the BCS

ESPN (recently owned by whoever whispered that LSU's Les Miles was going to Michigan) spent part of last night and this morning on who would be playing in the BCS Championship game, to be held in New Orleans. One analyst predicted that it would be Ohio State and Georgia.

Pardon me?

Georgia didn't even win their division in the SEC, and Ohio State does not have a perfect record. None of the top 10 teams in the country can claim that.

However, there is one team in the top 25 rankings, with a 12-0 record and a conference championship. That team is the University of Hawai'i Warriors. Based on their record and conference win, they should be #1 with an instant ticket to the Big Dance.

However, people who think they know more and talk loudly in restaurants will blather about "strength of schedule" and "money." In the meanwhile, if we leave it to the BCS computers, we'll see Podunk U. playing against Bumsteer State eventually.

Here's a nifty idea. Take the following conferences:
Big 10
Big 12
Big East

Divide them into two regions, East and West:
East: Big 10, Big East, ACC, SEC
West: Big 12, SWC, WAC, C-USA

Have each conference champion in each region pair up (hell, seed them for the regional playoffs), and whoever's left standing plays for the BCS title. Hell, just to make the tradition-minded happy we'll call the individual playoff games Bowls.

Just my opnion.