Friday, January 28, 2011

I Close My Eyes

... And I see it all again.

January 28, 1986:

"Obviously a major malfunction."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another 1848?


For those of you who don't know, the year 1848 saw a wave of revolutions spread across Europe. Fueled by social upheaval, economic disparity and a perceived need for political reform, the wave started in February when the people in France began to rise. They toppled the Orleanist July Monarchy of King Louis-Phillipe and established the Second Republic (which only lasted four years until the foundation of the Second Empire under Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte).

Revolts sprang up in Sicily, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Austria and Hungary. In most cases, the forces of reaction managed to suppress the uprisings, although it forced the Hapsburgs to create the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary out of the former Austrian Empire.

Now, you might ask (and why not?) why I am giving you a bowdlerized and condensed version of European history.

Well, it might be starting up again in Africa and on the Arabian Peninsula, that's why.

The fun began about a week or so ago when Tunisia's population decided they'd had quite enough of ruling President Ben Ali, thank you very much. Ben Ali and his hideous family were run out of the country, taking with them into Saudi exile a large amount of gold. A provisional government is slowly taking shape.

The overthrow of the Ben Ali regime was enough to set off the disaffected population of Egypt, which has been under the none-too-gentle authority of Hosni Mubarak since Anwar Sadat was shot to pieces back in 1981. The most recent parliamentary election in Cairo only permitted the opposition to hold 3% of the seats, which for many people was the last straw. Riots continue, a police station was torched in the port city of Suez, and it's reported that Mubarak's son and purported heir took his family and hightailed it for Europe.

Now we hear that protests are flaring up in the Yemeni capital of Sana, where people are afraid that President Saleh might change the term-limit laws and make himself president for life. It's entirely possible that Yemen's government, already a tad shaky from attacks by Islamists within and CIA Predator drones without, might go the way of Tunisia.

Parallels? Oh, they're there if you care to look - economic hardships and disparities between the haves and have nots, lack of actual political representation, authoritarian rule including secret police and detention without trial, etc.

I expect Qaddafi in Libya to tighten down the screws to prevent anything like this, but we might see unrest flare up elsewhere.

The really sad thing is watching the Obama Administration hem and haw over this. Granted, these nations are our allies, but we've been in bed with monsters and we've supported them. Either we show some signs of support for the uprisings (who are common people, yearning for democracy) or we'll be left at the door.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Fresh Hell Is This?

Courtesy of Media Matters, Glenn Beck getting all jiggy with a chainsaw and a bunny rabbit:

Makes me wonder just what kind of drug he's flying on - not that I want any, mind, I just want to know what to fucking avoid.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nothing to See Here, Move Along

Nope, no way, sorry, there's no evidence of right wing extremists attacking Americans (hat tip to Digby):

-- July 2008: A gunman named Jim David Adkisson, agitated at how "liberals" are "destroying America," walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, killing two churchgoers and wounding four others.

-- October 2008: Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.

-- December 2008: A pair of "Patriot" movement radicals -- the father-son team of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, who wanted "to attack the political infrastructure" -- threaten a bank in Woodburn, Oregon, with a bomb in the hopes of extorting money that would end their financial difficulties, for which they blamed the government. Instead, the bomb goes off and kills two police officers. The men eventually are convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.

-- December 2008: In Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear "dirty bomb" in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.

-- January 2009: A white supremacist named Keith Luke embarks on a killing rampage in Brockton, Mass., raping and wounding a black woman and killing her sister, then killing a homeless man before being captured by police as he is en route to a Jewish community center.

-- February 2009: A Marine named Kody Brittingham is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.

-- April 2009: A white supremacist named Richard Poplawski opens fire on three Pittsburgh police officers who come to his house on a domestic-violence call and kills all three, because he believed President Obama intended to take away the guns of white citizens like himself. Poplawski is currently awaiting trial.

-- April 2009: Another gunman in Okaloosa County, Florida, similarly fearful of Obama's purported gun-grabbing plans, kills two deputies when they come to arrest him in a domestic-violence matter, then is killed himself in a shootout with police.

-- May 2009: A "sovereign citizen" named Scott Roeder walks into a church in Wichita, Kansas, and assassinates abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

-- June 2009: A Holocaust denier and right-wing tax protester named James Von Brunn opens fire at the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.

-- February 2010: An angry tax protester named Joseph Ray Stack flies an airplane into the building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. (Media are reluctant to label this one "domestic terrorism" too.)

-- March 2010: Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.

-- March 2010: An anti-government extremist named John Patrick Bedell walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.

-- May 2010: A "sovereign citizen" from Georgia is arrested in Tennessee and charged with plotting the violent takeover of a local county courthouse.

-- May 2010: A still-unidentified white man walks into a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque and sets it afire, simultaneously setting off a pipe bomb.

-- May 2010: Two "sovereign citizens" named Jerry and Joe Kane gun down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.

-- July 2010: An agitated right-winger and convict named Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded.

-- September 2010: A Concord, N.C., man is arrested and charged with plotting to blow up a North Carolina abortion clinic. The man, 26-year--old Justin Carl Moose, referred to himself as the "Christian counterpart to (Osama) bin Laden” in a taped undercover meeting with a federal informant.

Nope, nothing to see here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Four for Four


I picked all four games correctly for the NFL divisional matchups!

The conference championships will involve:

NFC: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

AFC: New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers

My picks: It will be Chicago and Pittsburgh in Texas for the Super Bowl.


A Few Things on a Sunday

While we buried the dead from the Tucson shootings and the conservatives tried to show that they were the New Jews (honestly, Sarah - "blood libel?" Don't you have Mansour read those goddamned tweets of yours?) or at least the new Muslims, some other things did happen this week.


Tunisia is a country that, I'm sure, many Americans couldn't find with both hands and Google. Well, for the record it's a former French colony between Algeria and Libya, an oil producer and OPEC member, and it's had only two presidents since gaining independence in 1956. Now it has a third president, the Speaker of its parliament sworn in by the Prime Minister after President Ben Ali and his family fled the country for Saudi Arabia.

The causes of the revolution that toppled Ben Ali include high prices, a sagging economy, and a culture of official corruption that was pretty well entrenched. Apparently, food riots were the triggering event. Fighting continues, according to the BBC. Judging from the reactions of Tunisia's neighbors, Algeria, Libya and Egypt, this revolt is making the ruling regimes very nervous indeed.

Of course, Fox 'News' 'analyst' Neil Cavuto started daydreaming that the same kind of conditions could cause a rebellion here in the good old U. S. of A. And this was a guy who once ribbed Glenn Beck for his apocalyptic screeds. Neil, Neil, Neil - we have a democratic tradition going back to 1789, and a far more resilient economy. We also have freedom of speech and while we do have some corruption (mostly money and influence, with some sex tossed in for spice) I don't see it coming - unless, of course, the conservative wet dream comes to fruition.


Flooding in the Australian state of Queensland has gotten so bad that two bull sharks were sighted - inland. That report is unconfirmed, by the way. Two people flooded out decided, bizarrely, to try and use blow-up sex dolls as flotation devices. They had to be fished out after the sex dolls lost turgidity.

Queensland is actually rather fortunate; they've only seen about 20 deaths as a result of the massive floods. Rio de Janeiro has seen over 300 deaths due to heavy flooding and landslides.


In sports news, I went 3-of-4 on my picks in the wild card NFL matches, the only loss being the Saints-Seahawks game. I did not expect Seattle to win that one. So far this weekend I am 3-0 in the divisional games, with Green Bay and Chicago facing off for the NFC Championship. The Steelers beat the Ravens quite nicely, and now I've gone out on a limb and dared to hope that the Jets will win against the Patriots.


The only reason for having a high-capacity magazine for a pistol is you want to kill as many people as you can. If not, then you need to learn how to use a pistol so you can aim that motherfucker. Any whisper of an attempt to dial back the availability of these magazines has triggered (see what I did there?) two responses - a run on the damned things, and the paid slaves of the NRA to start squealing that they won't even vote for that mild form of control.

A correspondent for the Russian ITAR-TASS news agency earned the ire of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs when he opined that madmen getting gay with guns is part of America. Gibbs huffily denied it, but the correspondent had a point. We have a lot of demonstrably crazy people wandering our streets, and most of them can pass the criminal background check for firearms ownership. When you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail; when you have a gun, every problem looks like a target.

And, let's be honest - Americans love violence. We praise the hardest tackler in football, we fetishize our troops, we love guns and rate violent movies and media much lower than we rate sex. Could you imagine what our culture would be like if we rated a violent movie X and a sexy movie PG?


Finally, in our Total Effing Loon Department, we have Sean Hannity, who finally paid attention to how much gas is costing per gallon to squeal on his "Great American Panel" that we could invade Kuwait and take their oil as a reward for chasing the Iraqis out of their country back in 1991. Of course, he also went full Wolfowitz and said that we should milk Iraq out of its oil for the same purpose.

Nice try at the faux (or is it now spelled Fox?) outrage, Sean my boy. Whoever's balls regularly rest on your manly chin must be proud of you. There's nothing more liberating that to come out of the closet and admit for all to see that you want the US to go pirate and start acting like the empire that one conservative analyst called our Republic back about ten years ago.

Well, Sean my boy, we no longer have that imperial reach. Thanks largely to the Bush Administration and the apotheosis of the military-industrial complex, we have two wars going on (one over ten years, the other nearly eight), an increasing number of our troops are on anti-depressants, and the rest of the world no longer trusts us. China's developing a ballistic missile capable - even with a conventional warhead - of destroying one of our capital ships with one shot.

These are just a few of the things I'm thinking about on this sunny Sunday.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Huh? What Right-Wing Hate Rhetoric?

Gee Whillikers, I don't see anything amiss.

Do You?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Best. Dessert. EVER.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Another Sign of the Times

Ever watched a show called Jersey Shore? It's supposedly aired on MTV, which used to be "Music Television" back when it first showed up and was relevant.

Never seen the show?

Good. Neither have I.

Supposedly it's about a group of shallow, narcissistic and wholly ignorant and poorly-spoken people. A kind of "reality show" (as if 'reality' weren't shitty enough) featuring stellar performances by nuanced actors called 'The Situation' and 'Snooki.'


They couldn't even get that right, since there's supposed to be an 'e' at the end, but I suppose the producers chose it to hearken back to Baby Snooks, the endearingly funny Fanny Brice vaudeville character.

Well, vaudeville's dead, folks.

And 'Snooki' has written a book.

Hmm. Perhaps not 'written,' per se - a more descriptive passage might be 'scrawled on a wall in her own feces and menstrual blood, then transcribed by a brain-dead amanuensis.' Better?

Someone over at penned a quick review of this load of fetid dingo's kidneys, but I shall copy and paste a few excerpts here:

"He had an okay body. Not fat at all. And naturally toned abs. She could pour a shot of tequila down his belly and slurp it out of his navel without getting splashed in the face."


No, I refuse to post any more than that, or I might end up shivering in a corner.

I've published three novels and write fiction as a hobby, but after reading the review of this 'book' I'm tempted to call myself the reincarnation of John Steinbeck.

Ye gods.

Ready, America?

Remember, a lot of you voted for this:

And you'd better learn to enjoy that feeling - a lot - because unless you're an insanely rich person, a millionaire banker or completely stupid, you're in for a rough ride. Even though I am a Republican, I didn't vote for any of the Republican candidates who now infest the House of Representatives like a plague of bedbugs.

Or stalking the halls of the State Capitol in Tallahassee, looking for the blood of virgins to slake his unholy thirst.

Yes, I'm talking about (p)Rick Scott, our new Governor.

Florida is currently dealing with a large budget deficit (largely the result of Marco Rubio and the other GOPers bullshitting the people into thinking that if they vote to cut property taxes everything will be better. As a result of an election (yes, people actually voted for this) the Legislature now has a Republican super-majority - anything can get passed now, and all the Democratic minority can do is say "We told you so" when it all comes crashing down.

But getting back to (p)Rick. A writer for the Huffington Post pointed out that he needed seventy Million dollars worth of "turd polish" in order to get elected, and even then damned near lost to Alex Sink. So he decided to celebrate, so in a state with a big budget deficit and high unemployment he threw a lavish $2.5 million party that lasted two days. Interestingly, the press was restricted from the coronation (by the "Transparency" Governor's staff) to one forlorn pool reporter who was apparently kept on a short leash. Other members of what used to be the Fourth Estate were herded out, even though there were empty tables.

Still, the inauguration gala was open to anyone - if you could pony up $95 to get in.

There was a minor speed bump, though. One woman yelled "Criminal!" at (p)Rick as he gave his Speech from the Throne. She was escorted out, but I don't think she was charged with lese majeste or violating state secrets.

But let's raise the sights a bit and take a look at the rest of the country, now that a Republican majority of teabaggers and kooks infest that august chamber under the enlightened leadership of new Speaker John "Take This Tobacco Check Or I'll Cry Again" Boehner.


Yeah, we're buggered.

So, strap in and strap down, America. It might be asking too much for them to use lube, but we can always hope they'll kiss us afterward.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

From the M2C Sports Desk

It's January 2nd, and for me that means only one thing - the final week of Football Season. I'm a pro football fan, so basketball and hockey really don't hold much of my attention, so there.

So let's hit the gridiron, folks!

The playoff picture is gelling like a Jello mold consisting of horse manure and sweet honey, with the loathsome New England Fucking Patriots beating the Miami Fucking Dolphins (have I mentioned that I HATE HATE HATE the Dolphins?) and cementing their top seed in the AFC playoffs. To the West, Kansas City's headed to the playoffs, damn them (but at least they aren't the Chargers).

The Raiders win a prize for being Most Improved, ending the season 8-8 on the year and unbeaten in their division. Unhappily, I am hearing speculation on ESPN that Oakland coach Tom Cable will not see another season with Oakland. That's a damned shame, as the Raiders have had five coaches in the past seven years, and you can't get any continuity with that rate of turnover. Cable's made a case for staying on; 6-0 in the AFC West, and the first time since 2002 that Oakland's finished with less than eleven losses. Al Davis may yet defy augury and keep Cable.

Now, for the NFC. Ho, hum. The afternoon games are still going on, but who really cares? Most of the pundits are already awarding the Lombardi Trophy to the fucking Pats.

So, what after the NFL season? I suppose I'll watch association football, which we call soccer and the rest of the world calls football.

And that's all for now, from the Sports Desk.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

National Alcohol Poisoning Night: The Hangover

First, allow me to say that I don't drink enough to poison myself, and never have. I dislike vomiting and think cirrhosis is a tad icky.

So I toasted in the New Year with a wee dram of whiskey well-watered with ginger ale, hummed "Auld Lang Syne" in pidgin Klingon just for fun, and was asleep by about 12:30.

Most of the night had been consumed in the Iron Chef marathon and in a bit of reflection, as I can look forward to the start of my fifth decade in this Best of All Possible Worlds (tm). I can look back on a life well-spent and rich in horrors.

But enough of that. A new year dawns! Let's go to the news desk!



Troublemakers have set off bombs in Egypt and Nigeria, we reportedly whacked another "top Taliban official" in Afghanistan, Afghan President Karzai is thumbing his nose at us while pining for the halcyon days of the Bush Administration, and my state government will fall into the hands of a scam artist on Tuesday.


The scam artist in question is (p)Rick Scott of Florida, a Republican I'll have you know. Like many modern Republicans (which probably includes most of the GOP-dominated state legislature), (p)Rick believes in the Underpants Gnomes Theory of Economic Growth:
1. Cut taxes
2. Cut spending on services (education, etc.)
3. Everybody wins!

But it doesn't work that way, unless it's all part of the basic Republican plan to reduce as many people as possible to economic serfdom, leaving most of the population stupid, ignorant, poor and fearful - and therefore malleable.

In other news, the national GOP is squealing like abused goats at how much the departing Congress was able to accomplish between Election Day and now. Chief among these is the DADT repeal, which has the American Family Association clad in sackcloth (from Armani, of course!) and wailing about the end of America.

Quite naturally, the rancid core of the Party, the so-called "Tea Party," is still up in arms and is planning on removing the people it helped vote into office. The war within the Party can only get better, and it's fun to watch. Of course, we still have Rush, Glenn and their slimy ilk cheerleading on the sidelines while all the time disclaiming responsibility if their inflammatory rhetoric kills someone.

(I will give you the mental image of Rush Limbaugh in a cheerleader uniform, and you can thank me later, okay?)

The collection of bums, also-rans and never-have-beens known as the GOP Presidential candidate field lost Tim Pawlenty last month, and will probably lose Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Dumbass Christie of New Jersey. Good times, and get out the popcorn - the GOP primaries in 2012 will be fun to watch.

I plan on enjoying my New Year's Day by watching a parade, watching some football (I'm currently watching Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion), and baking a loaf or two of bread.

So buckle up, keep calm and carry on, because it's going to be a fun year!