Sunday, November 30, 2008


"Only a fool fights in a burning house." - Klingon aphorism

Sixty hours.

Nearly 200 dead and 250 injured.

The last of the gunmen were killed during fighting in the Taj Mahal Hotel, while the place burned. In keeping with the above aphorism, I suppose that makes them, ultimately, fools.

Even more foolish is that one allowed himself to be taken alive. Foolish, because these are fanatics who are trained to suicide rather than be taken by the authorities. He's now being squeezed for information about the attacks and how they were planned, as well as who instigated things.

Questions are being asked now, whether the Maharashtra State government knew that an attack was coming in Mumbai, the financial heart of the nation. There's already been one minister volunteering his own resignation as atonement.

And the finger in India pointed directly at Pakistan, which has bankrolled troublemakers in India in the past (and where al Qaeda and the Taliban still exist). Pakistan has demurred and is volunteering to help in the investigation, and to tell the truth India has enough of a worry with a homegrown Hindu terrorist group. The United States is hoping that tensions do not rise between the two South Asian nuclear powers.

Which might have been the point of the exercise - drive another wedge between Pakistan and India and hopefully start a war that will distract away from the Total War Against Terror.

The survivors bury the dead and demand answers, some without knowing what to ask. The leaders of the operation will no doubt learn a few lessons and try again.

Friday, November 28, 2008

An Open Letter to Henry Paulson

TO: The Honorable Henry Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury
Washington, DC


As a registered voter and a taxpayer in this country, I have viewed with mounting dismay your attempts to correct the recent economic downturn by funneling large sums of money to various lenders who are either not using the money for its intended purpose or who are wasting the money on frivolous items.

I submit to you that bailing out the lenders is not the way to achieve any success in your objective.

I submit to you that bailing out the borrowers is the best way to pursue this, through paying down or eliminating private debts.

You can start with me as a test case. I have a certain amount of debts and, while not in default or behind on any of my payments, I think you can readily concede that I might require some relief. Since, after all, it's my tax money you're playing with, you can easily afford to send some of that 1.5 trillion dollars my way.

In short:

Because I'm a citizen, vote and pay taxes in this country, I'm your Goddamned employer. So, dear fascist bullyboy, send me some money you bastard. In closing, may the seed of your loins be fruitful in the belly of your woman.


A. Voting Taxpayer

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Just Plain Fun

A tip of the Thanksgiving Pilgrim hat to Wolfie over at the VCL for the pic!

Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of the start of the Gorging Season:


Monday, November 24, 2008

"The overpowering unimportance of this makes me speechless."

The above quote is from Representative Thomas Reed (R-ME), back in the late 1800s when asked for his reaction to a Papal message, and can be found in Barbara Tuchman's book The Proud Tower, on page 122 (MacMillan Press).

And it precisely echoes my sentiments concerning this:

Obama Skips Church for Gym

(Nov. 23) - Since the election, future President Barack Obama has traded Sunday morning pews for some quality time at the gym.
The Obamas have refrained from public prayer for fear their large retinue would disturb the church service, according to an anonymous aide who spoke with
"They do not want to draw unwelcome or inappropriate attention to a church not used to the attention their attendance would draw," said the aide, according to Politico.
Since the election, Obama has been focusing on building his administration team. Monday, he introduced members of his economic team, and urged the incoming Congress to act quickly on a stimulus plan.
The Obamas haven't belonged to a church since the spring, notes ABC News, after Barack Obama split with Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ because of controversial sermons by the pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. A videotape from one of Wright's sermons showed him damning America.
Churches, especially African-American houses of prayer, played an important role in Obama's candidacy, notes the Associated Press and Politico. Obama made campaign stops in churches. Congregations prayed for him on Election Day, and celebrated his victory, the Associated Press reported.
Now, churches in Washington, D.C., are scrambling to lure the Obamas to their pews, reports the Associated Press -- even if Obama hasn't attended church in weeks.


I have a number of observations about this.

One, I can hear Fox News and the "Christian Right" sharpening the knives over this, along with the Truly Insane (so ably led by Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh). They will automatically contend that Obama is the secret Muslim they've squealed like castrated pigs about all this time.

Two, while I will be the first to say that while the President of this country, in its current state, needs all the help he can get (natural, supernatural, eldritch or otherwise) and bearing in mind that George Washington went to prayer services at St. Paul's Chapel in New York after his first inauguration, I feel that Presidents shouldn't go to public worship services. Don't want to be seen endorsing one sect over another, now do we?

Three, the point made in the article is correct. People go to church to find a quiet spot where hymns and rituals can supply a focus with which to meditate; do you really want that mucked up by a Presidential entourage and the Secret Service?

Four, if the "Christian Right" get all huffy about this, I will simply smile and lay this on them:

"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." - Matthew 6:5-6

Of course, far be it from the "Christian Right" to pay any real attention to what Jesus said.

Restaurant Review - The Blue Sapphire

I had occasion (and the spending money) to visit a recently-opened restaurant in Central Florida, near the Cypress Gardens theme park. Its name is The Blue Sapphire and it bills itself as a sushi bar and lounge.

The decor is slightly modern minimalist, with several fish tanks and plasma screen TVs; the lounge area is composed of low, plush sofas and chairs set with lighted plastic cubes that act as tables. The bar has a waterfall-style sculpture behind it and the backlighting for the bottles changes colors.

There's an actual sushi bar in the back where you can sit and watch while the chefs prepare your nigiri or maki in front of you. And there are cooked entrees and appetizers.

Wanting to get a second opinion, I took my Mom along with me.

As an appetizer, Mom ordered a selection of tempura-fried veggies (mushrooms, onion, green peppers, cucumbers) with a tasty dipping sauce. I ordered nigiri as my appetizer, and selected salmon roe. The roe, small orange balls, were presented in a bowl made of half a lemon with the pulp scooped out and served on a bed of shredded daikon and carrot. The obligatory pickled ginger and wasabi were on the side.

Both: Highly recommended. I'll certainly come back to try more varieties of their nigiri.

The entrees came with a delicious broth, and a garden salad with a ginger dressing. Mom ordered teriyaki style beef and vegetables, while I asked for tempura-fired chicken and shrimp, which came with a soy-based dipping sauce.

Both: Highly recommended.

Dessert was taken home, and consisted of two pieces of tempura cheesecake, drizzled with chocolate and raspberry sauces and a dollop of whipped cream.

Both: Delicious!

Verdict: While not exactly cheap (the tempura chicken and shrimp were $14.95, the priciest thing ordered) the food was exceptional, the service excellent and the setting quite calming.

The Blue Sapphire earns four spoons.

A (Florida) Classic Football Weekend! w00t!

It's been a fun weekend for me, and most of it having to do with football. So let's take a look at what went on, shall we?

Saturday afternoon was the 29th annual Florida Classic between Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman University. FAMU lost last year 34-7, so I was hoping they wouldn't disappoint me two years in a row.

They didn't, starting with the opening ceremonies. The FAMU Rattlers band is known as The Marching 100, but that's no longer accurate - there are 420 members in the band, including 100 saxophones and 50 tubas, or Sousaphones. Talk about a racket! When the whole band is out on the field they cover it from end zone to end zone.

The BCU Wildcats band is smaller, but they have dancers who really gave their all at halftime while the temperature dropped and those leotards they were wearing starting to offer no protection whatever from the cold.

The game was amazing. FAMU jumped out to a 31-0 lead in the second quarter, prompting one woman seated next to me to state (and I quote), "Damn, they're monkey-stomping them!"

I told I would have to write that down.

BCU capitalized on FAMU miscues and turnovers to make it 38-21 at halftime, but the second hald seemed to steady both teams down.

FAMU won, 58-35 and, as it's been in previous years the tailgate party stretched for blocks in every direction and everyone had a wonderful time.

Elsewhere in college football I watched on TV as the Oklahoma Sooners trounced the Texas Tech Red Raiders. This scotches Texas Tech's national championship chances for the nonce and sets up a three-way tie in the Big 12. Florida crushed The Citadel, setting up a visit to Tallahassee to take on the Seminoles. If the Gators win, they'll be riding high going into Atlanta to play Alabama for the SEC Championship, a definite bowl bid and a legitimate shot at the national championship.

Now for Sunday, and the NFL!

And it was a happy day for me, dimmed by only two not-so-bright spots.

First, Miami lost. Yay! I've had a major hate on for the Dolphins since 1972, and their defeat was only slightly diluted by the fact they lost to the damned Patriots.

Second, the Oakland Raiders (my favorite team) beat the Denver Broncos in Denver. Double YAY! One of the analysts related that he'd been wondering when the Raiders would wake up and start playing up to potential, and just bad luck that it was on a day they visited the Broncos. Um, tough titty for Denver - the Raiders have just bettered their record from last year, and host the hapless Kansas City Chiefs in Oakland next week. Oakland's season may just be salvageable, and I'll consider it a winning season if they beat Tampa on 12/28.

Third, every AFC West team except Oakland lost. Triple Yay!

Finally, the two dim spots on an otherwise cloudless Monday morning. Tampa and Dallas both won.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Beware of the Cute

And I mean it.

Giant pandas are cute, from cubs all the way to full-grown adults, but they are still wild animals. A man snuck into a zoo in Guilin, China and found out the hard way when he went to hug the panda and the panda started biting him.

You can read all about it here.

Many things that we consider "cute" are actually quite nasty. Koalas, for example. They look rather cute with their placid eyes, bootleather noses and Einstein-like tufts of fur sticking out of their ears.

But try to pick one up. That's when you find that those huge curved claws on their paws have uses other than clinging to trees and they wet you down with strong eucalyptus-scented urine.

So the next time something looks so gosh-darned cute (or kyoooot) you just feel the overriding urge to pick it up and cuddle it, be warned.

Break the Wind, Break the ... Law?!


Student arrested for 'passing gas' at Stuart school

STUART, Fla. (AP) -- A student at a Florida school has been arrested after authorities say he was "passing gas" and turned off his classmates' computers.

According to a report released Friday by the Martin County Sheriff's Office, the 13-year-old boy "continually disrupted his classroom environment" by intentionally breaking wind. He then shut off some computers other students were using.

The Spectrum Junior-Senior High School student was arrested Nov. 4.

A school resource officer placed the boy under arrest after he confessed about his behavior, according to the report. He was charged with disruption of school function and released to his mother.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All right reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


People have passed wind throughout the ages (according to a famous story, the Earl of Essex accidentally farted in front of Queen Elizabeth I and was so embarrassed he went away for seven years), and farting is one of the quintessential methods of generating humor. Joke books and plays from as far back as the Roman Empire and earlier show that.

In school passing gas is the occasion for shame, embarrassment and of course laughs, but this is the first time I've EVER heard of it being the cause of arrest.

This is political correctness and sensitivity run amok. Farting is a bodily function and in some cases is inescapable - people have to vent noxious gases overboard.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Post #900! Yay!

And in honor of my Nine Hundredth post on my blog, here's a little so-nightmarish-it's-actually-funny romp through YouTube courtesy of the good folks at The Group News Blog:

Yes, that's Governor Sarah Palin (R-Wingnutville) holding forth on her opportunity to inject some levity into the campaign process and her Thanksgiving plans ... while a live turkey is stuffed headfirst into a funnel so it can have its throat cut.

The juxtaposition of the two things in the same frame is Pythonesque in its comedic irony, but I have to say that Michael is still the funniest Palin on the planet.

Obligatory Friday Sex Post

This was rather interesting:

Man caught with penis in pasta jar ... near Nobbys Beach

  • Stephen Ryan
  • November 20, 2008

A man caught near Nobbys Beach with his penis in a pasta sauce jar led police on a 20 kmh car chase, Newcastle Local Court heard yesterday.

Police drew their weapons when they suspected Keith Roy Weatherley, 46, was armed.

Instead, they found him partially clothed with his genitals in a jar, a police statement said.

Weatherley, of Promontory Way, North Arm Cove, attracted attention parked in a no-stopping zone before noon on October 26.

Police believed Weatherley was doing something with his hands in his lap and thought that he might have a weapon.

Weatherley saw the police and drove away, despite them flashing their lights.

The chase lasted five to 10 minutes, with a top speed of just 20 kmh, before Weatherley was stopped at Centenary Drive, Newcastle. He refused to leave the car.

Four officers used batons and capsicum spray to remove him.

They found a 750-millilitre jar around his penis and noted that Weatherley attempted to continue "pleasuring himself in between bouts of wrestling".

A search of his car uncovered pornography, a home-made sex aid, women's stockings and a Jack Russell terrier.

Weatherley pleaded guilty to offensive behaviour, resisting police and disobeying a police direction.

Magistrate Elaine Truscott asked Weatherley, who represented himself, why he behaved the way he did.

He said he resisted police because he was trying to make himself "decent".

He was fined $600 for offensive behaviour and convicted of the other two offences without further action taken.

The Herald, Newcastle


My only question is this - I can see the pasta jar, the "homemade sex aid," and all that.

But a Jack Russell terrier?!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Couple of Suggestions

The heads of the Big Three automakers (Ford, General Motors and Chrysler) flew down to Washington DC, each in their very own corporate jet, to beg the Congress and whine and plead for $25 billion or so in bailout money or ... well, you probably know the threat implicit in the word "or."

Or the Big Three might all go under, taking millions of American jobs with it and completely destroying our economy and people will be fighting over scraps of food and driving around in spike-festooned cars emulating the worst parts of the Mad Max movies.

Or maybe not.

At any rate the Congress told them to go piss up a shellacked rope, so the heads of the Big Three disconsolately trooped back to Detroit. You see, the Big Three (GM the worst of the lot) figured that if they sold more cars than anybody else, they'd always be successful. Little things like quality, fuel efficiency and environmental concerns could go whistle. That's come back to bite them in the ass, and the dinosaurs are now trying to find a way to avoid extinction.

The Right-wing has unveiled their take on this and that take is it's all the union's fault, and nevermind the fact that the company's rapacious capitalism would have just ground the workers into the concrete if the union hadn't been there to argue for greater benefits and a good pension.

And now Mitt Romney showed up on MSNBC with an idea, and I am forced to admit it's not a bad one.

Let the Big Three follow UAL's lead and file for bankruptcy protections, then work with the unions and federal regulators to come up with workable solutions.

Further, some blowhard named Cramer on CNBC suggested that President-elect Obama put together his economic team now, including the new Treasury Secretary and basically tell Hank Paulson and George Bush to lay off the economy - the adults will handle things now. Cramer thinks that doing that would inspire some confidence globally and stabilize the markets.

But of course that won't happen.

My two cents?

Adopt the Romney and Cramer ideas, then take Paulson and Bernanke and have them publicly whipped, castrated, and blinded. And have the bosses of AIG publicly skinned alive.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Uplifting Moment

Harry Reid = A Weak Reed

You don't use a weak reed to prop yourself up or give you any support; chances are that bugger will bend, snap and splinter and cut your hand up like nobody's business.

When the new Democratic majority took power in the Senate in 2006 I (along with many others) expected things to slightly improve. By "slightly improve" I mean that the Senate would insist more on its Constitutional prerogatives and fend off the Bush Regime's more egregious assaults on the rule of law and common decency.

Instead I was treated with the spectacle of watching Harry Reid (D-NV) whimper and roll over faster than a Nevadan hooker at the prospect of scoring some john's gambling winnings by taking it up the ass. On virtually every subject.

Which brings me, mercifully, to the subject of Joseph Lieberman (CT-Quisling).

Instead of actually punishing Lieberman for Party disloyalty or at least giving him a wedgie, the Democratic Senate Caucus is allowing him to sail on virtually unscathed, losing a relatively unimportant subcommittee chairmanship and giving what was probably a facile, insincere apology written for him by a Republican staffer.

It makes me wonder, particularly in light of the win by Anchorage Mayor Begich over incumbent Ted Stevens. That puts the Dems to within two seats of a filibuster-proof 60 seat majority, with the Minnesota and Georgia races still in contention.

If the Democrats can pull 60 seats in without Lieberman caucusing with them, I say cut his ass loose and good riddance. Then throw the pasty-faced wad an anvil when he runs for re-election in 2010.

In the meanwhile, I seriously advocate the Democratic caucus picking someone other than Harry Reid for the majority leadership. I've heard tell that Reid was once a boxer - how the hell did he win (if he ever did)? Conciliate them to death?

Stuck by a Rut

I read this interesting tidbit a few days ago and feel the irrational need to share it with you:

November 15, 2008 - 2:33pm
Gilbert Genn in the emergency room after the buck attack. (Photo courtesy of Gilbert Genn)
I have only a one-word comment to this.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Meanwhile, Back at the Wars ...

Sure, I know it's fun watching the right wing turn in upon itself, killing off its weaker members and generally carrying on like hapless victims, but there are Larger Concerns facing us.

Let's start with Iraq.

The Iraqi Cabinet approved the new status of forces agreement with the United States after PM al-Maliki and Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani both gave it the green light. Twenty-eight of the 37 cabinet ministers gave it the go-ahead; the other nine didn't vote No, they just didn't show up. The measure calls for the complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraqi cities in 2009 and complete withdrawal from the country by 2011.

It still needs to be approved by the entire 275-member Parliament, and the Sadr Party and other nationalist elements are still rather cheesed by the idea of waiting even that long for the US occupation to end.

That's not to say that all is sweetness and light in Mesopotamia; far from it. Bombings continue in Baghdad and other cities, and people are still getting killed. The Parliament finally passed the provincial elections law, but tensions are increasing in the city of Kirkuk (which may become a major flashpoint between Iraqi Arabs and Kurds).

And now to Afghanistan.

Two US soldiers were wounded and one soldier in the UK's Royal Gurkhas Regiment was killed in separate attacks and operations in southern Afghanistan. Thirty militants were killed in operations down in Helmand Province, and a leading militant was captured alive.

Meanwhile relations with Pakistan along its border with Afghanistan continue to remain a very sore spot. Pakistan decried yet another missile attack by a suspected US-controlled drone aircraft in Waziristan that killed eight suspected militants. Anti-American sentiment in that part of the country and in the rest of Pakistan are rising, and President Zardari repeated his call to stop the missiles, saying that it wasn't exactly making his job any easier.

I have a question: Who was the bright fellow who actually suggested moving materiel for our troops through the Khyber Pass?!

Afghanistan doesn't have a coastline, so no ports; its infrastructure is somewhat primitive so there are few highways (although there used to be one connecting it with Uzbekistan which, while not exactly a friend, was a primary staging area when we invaded in 2001), which leaves the only real route into the country. And let's not go into Afghanistan's other neighbor ... Iran.

Unfortunately the Khyber Pass is in one of those restive northwest border provinces that is giving shelter and support to the resurgent Taliban and al-Qaeda forces. Things are getting rather nasty there, and several supply convoys have come under attack. On Tuesday a convoy of 13 trucks (12 carrying wheat and one toting Humvees for US forces) was hijacked by about 60 to 70 militants.

So Pakistan has closed the Khyber Pass until things improve a bit, security-wise, and there's a traffic jam as trucks wait for the green light. Which could take a while.

And that's where we are so far.

Sunday Humor Corner

The week's best invented words, courtesy of The Star (Toronto):

what a pet canine displays toward its owner after being picked up at the kennel. (Bob Blasko, Wyevale, Ont.)

indulging your pet to the point that it has a better wardrobe than you do. (

a group of young girls. (Jo-Anne Christie, Beaumont, Alta.)

being so anxious over something, it makes one cranky. (Shirley Dudeck, Niagara-On-The-Lake)

playing air guitar in public. (

risking not waking up for a job, class, or other daily task by turning off your alarm clock and going back to sleep. (

"a fit of several sneezes in a row." (

the area behind the knee. (

"the person upon whom one coughs." (

Any ideas for next week's invented words?

Benedict XVI Tells It Like It Is

Practically since the founding of the first colonies in New World, Americans have had a sort of anti-Catholic bias.

Allow me to explain.

Many of the first immigrants to America were staunch Calvinist Presbyterians, nicknamed "Puritans" by their fellows in England; others included Anglicans and Quakers, Anabaptists and Lutherans - none of whom had much use for the Pope of Rome and Catholics in general. The reasoning behind this goes back to the religious wars in the wake of the Reformation and the feeling that Catholics took their orders from a "foreign potentate" - i.e., the Pope.

When the KKK was in its heyday in the 1920s, Catholics were Number Three on their Most-Hated List, right behind African-Americans and Jews.

Senator John F. Kennedy, campaigning for President, had to go off the trail and deliver a speech explaining that he would be his own man and would not truckle to any foreign ruler (even one shorn of his temporal power, as the Pope was).

But now we come to the present day, Pope Benedict XVI, and this little piece of yummy goodness:

Pope says Catholics in politics must follow faith

The Associated Press
Saturday, November 15, 2008; 1:01 PM

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI is encouraging Catholics who get involved in politics to stay true to their church's teaching.

Benedict says it is necessary that a new generation of Catholics in politics be "coherent" with the faith they profess.

He also recommends that they act with moral rigor and work passionately for the common good.

The pope urged Vatican officials in a speech Saturday to be vigilant about the evangelical education of Catholics who get so involved in society.

Benedict recently said religion and politics should be "open to each other."

The Vatican is particularly attentive to political action about abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.

© 2008 The Associated Press

"Open to each other." If you yoke religion and politics together in the same cart you create a vehicle that basically destroys everything in its path, leaving hurt feelings and victims of everything from excommunication to physical violence in its wake. We've already seen Catholic bishops and priests in this country mixing politics with the pulpit - saying that citizens who vote Democratic shouldn't be eligible to receive Communion; and we've seen the Mormon Church get so heavily involved in depriving an entire segment of the population the right to marry that I seriously believe that the LDS lose their tax-exempt status.

There are reasons the Founders decried the establishment of a state religion, and now we have actual Americans wanting to turn their backs on that dictum. If you vote for a progressive candidate or support reproductive choice, that is a matter between you and whatever deity you worship.

It should not be a matter for tired old men in an increasingly ossified Church.

Here endeth the lesson.

Through the Looking-Glass

Hat tip to the Blue Gal, via Crooksandliars:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Failure of Imagination

It's been ten days since the election of our first biracial President, Barack Hussein Obama. As a fait, it is extremely accompli, and people need to get over the fact that the GOP ticket lost.

I went to work three days after Election Day determined not to gloat and fully expecting to have to talk some of my coworkers off the ledge. For supposedly intelligent, mature adults, I encountered quite a bit of - well, I hate to call it stupidity as that's quite harsh.

Most of their talk centered around their perceived 'fact' that Obama would destroy the country or, failing that, drag the country even further down the road to destitution and moral decay. The consensus, after listening to a number of folks, was that all of Obama's campaign promises were impossible or impractical and therefore would never be achieved. One even confidently predicted that Sarah Palin would be elected in a landslide in 2012.

Since 2012 is supposedly the Mayan Great Year where the end of the world is supposed to happen, I'll hold that prediction in abeyance.

I am astounded at the lack of imagination among my coworkers. Isn't it possible that Obama will do a good job? That all of his decisions will be better than George Bush's were? That the economy might rebound and things get better under a Democratic administration?

Time will tell, as it always does, but in the meanwhile I am exhorting people to have a little imagination and try not to be so pessimistic.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Arr, Mateys!

Most people view pirates like this, thanks to the fact that in this part of the world they're part of history:

Unfortunately, in parts of the Indian Ocean near Somalia pirates are very real, very now, and very dangerous.

Which brings me to this little news article: The Royal Navy's Type 22 frigate, HMS Cumberland, encountered a stolen Yemeni dhow at sea, and when they sent Marines to investigate the pirates aboard opened fire.

No injuries reported among the British Marines and sailors; three dead pirates and the rest taken prisoner.

Huzzah, and a tot of rum all around!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Veteran's Day Post

Another Veteran's Day post, this one from The Minstrel Boy over at The Group News Blog.

Veteran's Day

President-elect Barack Obama and Major Tammy Duckworth (USA-ret.) laying a wreath at the Soldier's Field Memorial in Chicago, Illinois:

"As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Irony Ahoy!

This is just too damn funny:

Six Christian sects have varying claims upon the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and it can get kind of silly. A ladder that's been sitting on a ledge since the 19th Century can't be moved because no sect can decide who has jurisdiction over it, and the Coptic and Ethiopian Churches are squabbling over who has authority to permit repairs to the roof they both use for their ceremonies.

The brawl you see in the clip is between Greek Orthodox and Armenian monks.

I expect to see things like this in the First Church of the WWE, not in a church. But it's certainly enough to raise a smile on my face on a Monday morning.

Trojan Horse, Anyone?

Two words:

Fucking. Wankers.

Those who thought that the $700 billion bailout plan was A Bad Idea must be feeling a soupcon of vindication today, as it was revealed in today's Washington Post that Treasury Secretary and Economic Czar Hank Paulson slipped by the entire legislative process and repealed a tax law that Congress passed into law - back in 1986.

The change to the tax code gives banks a $140 billion windfall. I bet Paulson, former Goldman-Sachs CEO, must be feelig quite pleased with himself (as must be the Randite Republicans who wanted the change made for 22 years).

Lord knows the banks must be happy, as well as the CEOs of the companies that helped push bad paper on people (and who are STILL getting their fat bonuses that have nothing to do with their actual performance in the job).

You know, it's almost axiomatic that as people age they tend to get more conservative. I, however, defy ordinary prediction and have been drifting steadily leftward since first developing a political awareness in eighth grade.

This news is almost enough to make me consider raising the Red Flag.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What. The. HELL!?

I'll admit freely and without benefit of being waterboarded that I am a fan of the Oakland Raiders, and have been ever since John Madden was their head coach. I was greatly disappointed when they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and even more disappointed that they can't seem to get back onto the winning track.

Coupled with that is the complete and utter shock I feel when the Boss of the Raiders, Al Davis, goes haring off on some weird half-senile tangent and basically guarantees the team a losing season.

Exhibit 1: Firing Lane Kiffin. Kiffin, son of a certified defensive genius, was putting the team back together before Big Al canned him.

Exhibit 2: This goddam travesty.

The Raiders signed DeAngelo Hall to a $70 million contract, giving up a couple draft picks in the process, and then let him go? Only 8 games into the season?!

If it ever came to pass that I was offered the position of head coach for the Raiders, I would accept the positon only on the condition that Al Davis be stuffed into a bursing home for the mentally queasy, and never be allowed out again.

At least not until after the Raiders win their next Super Bowl.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

RIP, Michael Crichton


Crichton was born in Chicago, and sort of made a career out of being his own scientist. His book State of Fear caused a flap in the environmental science community because it was felt he wasn't helping the fight against global warming. Crichton defended himself saying that he wanted to interpret the data for himself.

I read The Andromeda Strain about two or three years after it came out, and it piqued my interest in science (an interest that continues to this day).

He died after a private battle with cancer. I guess he followed the same course of action he followed in his books.

The Whole World Was Watching

Let the Post-Mortem Begin

Analysts, pundits and Really Very Serious People started working the election over (honestly, with Missouri and North Carolina still not finalized!), but I'm not paying too much attention to them. Had McCain and Palin won, I would have offered my congratulations because we are, quite literally, all in this together.

It'd be nice to hear this kind of concession speech in a race, though:

A Bit of Perspective

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

2008 Election Liveblog

Okay, I've had my supper (leftover homemade macaroni and cheese casserole with ham, onions and peas - yum!) and I've settled in to switch back and forth between the Internet and NBC, a pad and pen in hand.

7 PM: And - we're off! We start with Kentucky for McCain and Vermont for Obama. Slow start, but it's early days yet.

8 PM: Holy shit. Two states McCain counted on - New Hampshire and Pennsylvania - just went to Obama. I can hear the machinery starting to creak into life on the Million-Pound Shithammer.

8:30: Okay, the bulk of the New England states went for Obama, as they were predicted to do, with McCain taking the Deep South, including Alabama and Georgia.

9:30: The Million-Pound Shithammer's gears start to shift, meaning that it's going to be a hard night for the Republican ticket. Ohio's gone to Obama, and I'm sure McCain's starting to feel like he really shoulda stayed in bed.

9:49: 200 to 90, with a lot of territory left to cover. Virginia, North Carolina and Florida haven't been called yet. I'll post this now, and update as things go on. I plan on staying up until the polls close in Hawaii (about 1 AM Easterm).

UPDATE 1 - 10 PM: Tom Brokaw looks drunk or at least distracted as Brian William asks him a question. The scenes from Grant Park look like someone will start tossing a beach ball around any second. The Phoenix Biltmore, on the other hand, looks like there's a wake atmosphere starting to crank up. Texas, Utah and Mississippi for McCain, Iowa for Obama. 207-135 is the count and the amount, and thank you again for playing Dialing for Votes.

I've been flipping back and forth to various sites to collect more info.

UPDATE 2 - 10:45 PM: Nebraska didn't split, and McCain picks up 5 EV. Still waiting on Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, all of whom are about 90% complete on their reporting. NBC's Chuck Todd points out Orange and Pinellas Counties in Florida as areas that went to Bush in 2004 but now show Obama majorities. I imagine McCain might start fantasizing about stuffing Palin into a wood chipper, beehive hairdo first.

UPDATE 3 - 11 PM: NBC has called the election.

Join with me now in congratulating Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America. We wish him well, and Goddess bless America.

Idaho went to McCain, but California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii went into the blue, giving Obama 284 electoral votes to McCain's 146.

11.12: Virginia goes to Obama. 297 EV. The Shithammer falls, with a resounding cacophony of metal, crushing all in its path. The 70,000 or so in Grant park are partying.

11:19: McCain's out in front of the cameras to concede. Fairly classy, but the crowd's not helping. Pledges to work with Obama to fix things, and asks the supporters to help him as well. No sign of Palin yet.

11:25: 333-156, as Florida and Colorado go blue. Arizona went red.

11:30: Ah, there's Palin, with her brave smile pasted securely into position as McCain calls her a hard campaigner. Wraps up by thanking his supporters. "Americans never quit; we never surrender." Well said.

11:36: Still waiting on North Carolina, Indiana, Montana, Missouri, Nevada and Alaska, but I shall crack open my vodka and drink a toast. Prosit!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Most Critical Voter Demographic Of Them All

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

The Last, Desperate Charge by the Elephant

Ever since - oh, about Mid-September when the economy tanked and McCain did his "suspension" - the Republican campaign for President has not been going too well. The Candidate's Number Two, Sarah Palin, is turning out to be a bit of a show-hog whose displays of intellect on the stump remind me brain-achingly of George W Bush. The campaign's own policy stances on the economy, taxes and social issues add up to More Of The Same.

To cap it all off, to put the rancid cherry, if you will, on the triple-decker shit sundae with warm fudge sauce that is the GOP campaign, McCain was endorsed publicly by Richard Cheney, the incumbent Vice President. McCain was probably wishing for that signed endorsement by Martin Bormann; it would probably go down better.

So, what to do? You're behind in the polls and everything points to a clear loss.

First, you smile as widely as you can and guarantee a victory; and

Second, you allow your surrogates to go back on your promise regarding Jeremiah Wright.

Now, I have little use at all for any so-called "man of God," but l'affaire Wright's been done to death in the primaries and in the foofaraw leading up to the conventions. There's nothing new there. McCain might have something to say about Obama's aunt being caught living here illegally, but Obama says he knows nothing about it and says that the law must be followed regarding her.

(Side Note: Besides, people, do you know everything there is to know about your relatives? I mean, if I were running for public office and someone revealed that my oldest nephew was involved in a drugs-for-white-slaves ring up in the Hamptons - luring fat young children out of their lily-white homes with promises of cheap smack and selling them to depraved perverts from China and Qatar - I'd just have to throw up my hands and say "Gee, didn't know anything about that.")

But McCain must do something, you see, and even if he doesn't his surrogates are. Palin's got the 'socialist' BS sewn up, Rep. John "Behold My Tan!" Boehner (R-Coppertone) as much as called Obama a "chickenshit" just yesterday.

However, all of the last-minute personal attacks (because, let's face it, that's all the GOP had left after the Party Platform and McCain's policies turned out to be something less than litter-box liners) may be a matter of Far Too Little and Far Too Late.

Obama may win this, and the last, desperate charge by the Elephant may be in vain.

Let us hope so. I will be waiting (and probably liveblogging) on Election Night to see what the outcome will be. I have done this every Presidential election since 1976, and I see no reason to stop now.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saturday Food for Thought

Why Gov. Sarah Palin Should STFU, Already


Every time this woman opens her mouth she subtracts from the sum total of human intelligence.

Her latest crime against sentience?


ABC News' Steven Portnoy reports: In a conservative radio interview that aired in Washington, D.C. Friday morning, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin said she fears her First Amendment rights may be threatened by "attacks" from reporters who suggest she is engaging in a negative campaign against Barack Obama.

Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama's associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate's free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

O . . . kay.

The First Amendment is quite clear (I'll embolden the relevant bit):

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Now, the Supreme Court has carved out a few exceptions to this, notably their decision Chaplinsky v New Hampshire, which set up the so-called "Fighting words" exception, and of course no one has the freedom to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

But the press has the right to question, to criticize, even (gasp!) to editorialize. Just like the public at large. I'm sure that few modern journalists even recall, much less hold to, the famous dictum laid down by the great H.L. Mencken that "The only way a journalist should look at a politician is down," but even Softball Katie Couric actually did ask some fairly good questions.

Of course, Palin now says that Couric "annoyed" her by asking questions.

I thought that was the press' job, rather than the attitude Palin has that the press should instead just hang on her every word, never question her and dutifully parrot the right-wing talking points that have been spoon fed to her.

She can't stand criticism?

She'd better not come anywhere near me, then.