Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thanks Ever So

Remember the picture of Ann Coulter Time mag put on their cover, the one that made her look like she was about eight, sitting in Daddy's chair and playing dress-up in Mommy's shoes? The same photographer, it seems, has worked his magic upon Obama. This is not the magazine I saw this morning in the grocery store, but the photograph is very similar. The one in the store was even more pronounced. Shooting him from below, at a child's perspective, is intended to evoke the Lincoln Memorial, I suppose. I'm getting the Stalin vibe, too. that may be unintentional. And since it's in Time it will become part of the secular iconography of the left. We'll be seeing this shot angle over and over again, which suits me fine. I didn't see 'monumental' or 'heroic' in that photo. The angle is so pronounced it makes his body look disproportionately large. They tried so hard to make him look like Our Hero they ended up with Zippy the President. There's your metaphor.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Muslim thugs, primarily from Somalia, have captured and are holding 17 ships for ransom, including a shipment of munitions and an oil tanker. Ninety ships have been attacked just this year. The reaction by the world community has been to bravely run away, sending cargo around the Cape of Good Hope so as to avoid the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aden. Me, I would have scuttled every captured ship, taken the write-off and sent the families a ham. That's probably why I'm not in charge of anything important. You'd really only have to do it once or twice, though. Just saying. Oh, and can we stop minimizing the threat by calling them "pirates?" Brings to mind little boys playing pretend. Some of them may well be little boys, but they aren't playing. It's only a matter of time before they figure out a cruise ship warrants a much larger, more expedient payday.

The Russians have taken a different approach. They are sending warships down to the Horn to protect their interests. Interests that will undoubtedly include monitoring ship traffic. It's the only way to find those nasty pirates, doncha know. So when they find a ship with something really bad on it -- or something really good -- they have a responsibility to detain that vessel until they neutralize the threat. Or get paid. After all, who's to stop them? We're swapping one set of thugs for a more organized, better-armed set, one prone to, um, accidents. Even if they get paid. And nobody's going to do anything about it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Sudden Rush of Brains to the Head

When the Russians start in on us about the lack of trust between our two nations, that means they have a blackmail file. Allow me to formulate a theory:

OK. Brace yourself.
Medvedev/Putin is 'optimistic' about having favorable (to them) relations with the Obama administration because...drumroll...
They have a certified copy, or the original, of Obama's birth certificate.
And it doesn't say 'Hawaii' on it.
It might not say 'Obama' on it, either. Awkward. But that's a stretch. I figure it's something very disqualifying (But Mrs. Clinton would have ripped his throat out, so to speak, and she didn't) or it's something intensely personally embarrassing, which would be not actually being an African prince but the son of some anonymous Leroy.

Hawaii has sealed the records so no one stateside can go look, but the campaign's been going on since the Battle of Hastings. Two years is plenty of time for a determined intelligence-gathering operation to work up a dossier on anyone, and I don't think even Mr. Obama saw himself as the nominee back then, much less The Office of the President Elect. So the true document is loosed into the wild and it's only a matter of time before it is produced. The only suspense is under which circumstances.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Six Degrees of Barack Obama

Barack Obama is friends with Bill Ayres. Bill says so.

Bill is friendly with Hugo Chavez. He went to Venezuela in 2006 to speak at an education conference, where he expressed his admiration for Chavez.

Hugo Chavez is friendly (like the snake is friendly with the mongoose) with Dimitry Medvedev and by extension Vladimir Putin, the hand up Medvedev's back. He probably likes Putin better, actually. How could a kung-fu fighting pet tiger owner not appeal to the Napoleon Dynamite of world politics?

Medvedev is planning a sit-down with Mr. Obama to discuss Russian-American relations. He says he's optimistic. I bet. Even if The Office of the President Elect saw fit to ask for advice, who'd he consult? Ayres, his bomb-throwing surrogate daddy, would welcome taking it all down, man, so long as he gets a dacha on Lake Michigan. His cabinet will be resuscitated Clinton staffers so we (and people we negotiate with) can mostly predict what they'll say. Biden can only be counted upon to say something stupid and unhelpful. Probably a recipe for glazed ham he swiped out of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. If McCain's age was a liability, why'd we elect Grandpa Simpson as VP?

Russia sees Obama as an insecure lightweight, a grasping, overcompensating punk. They'd have to. Chavez thinks the guy is no big deal. I can't decide whether that's hilarious or insulting. And the people who elected him will be too busy trying to keep ahead of the bills to care if Obama sells out the home world.

I must say it makes me uneasy when life imitates punk.

An interesting footnote: I was looking for the NYT article I saw where Ayres came out after the election and said he was in fact all buddy-buddy with Obama. Can't find it, on two different search engines. It must never have existed...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Want Change, Do You?

I didn't talk about Joe, the plumber from Ohio because I thought he'd been done to death, poor thing. That was before I found out about this. It seems some bureaucrat at the State of Ohio has been looking Joe up on the Government databases and leaking that information to the press.

This man is not a criminal. He is not a terrorist. He poses no threat to the candidate Obama. Obama does just fine threatening himself, thank you. All he did was take advantage of a moment where he and Obama were in the same vicinity to ask the guy a question. Joe wants to buy the company he works for from his boss. The company makes more than Obama's caste demarcation line of $250k a year, so Joe as the owner would have to pay so much in taxes -- being rich and selfish now -- that it wouldn't make economic sense to buy the business. Joe the private citizen asked Obama the famous presidential candidate why this should be. Idiot Boy responds with some tired socialist exhalation about spreading the wealth, at which point every small business owner in America actually felt their intestines knot up.

So, how to salvage this situation. I know, let's investigate the crap out of this Joe guy. There's bound to be something embarrassing about him we can use to take attention off that lightweight doofus we're running for president. Look, he's not a licensed plumber. Maybe when his livelihood is wrecked he'll have less time to think of questions. And he owes back taxes. Hmm. Maybe a good foreclosure is what's needed to bring ol' Joe current with the great State of Ohio. You know he's divorced, right? The ex-wife is usually a font of salacious detail, especially if we camp out by the kids' school at pick-up time. They hate that. Let's see if he's behind on child support. They can yank your drivers license for that, you know. And while we're in there we can check to see if he owes for tickets or has any points against him. Please, please let him have a DUI so we can ask him if he was drunk when he asked that question.

It almost goes without saying that if a Republican presidential candidate had pulled these kinds of dirty tricks against a private citizen who had committed no crime the opposing party would be demanding he quit the campaign. But for some reason everybody's cool with the idea of investigating Average Dude as punishment for making a candidate embarrass himself by stating what he truly believes. Obama didn't think there was anything wrong with what he said until it was picked up by the news. This is all spite, all ego, and it's calculated to destroy a man's life. What if he had had an outstanding warrant? That's what they were hoping for, a chance to imprison a citizen who disagreed with their candidate. Why else check the Motor Vehicle records? What if it was a candidate you disagreed with trying that crap? What if it was you they were investigating? To quote a young lady in a conversation I recently overheard, "And he's not even President yet."

Oh, yeah. Silly me. Nixon resigned. In retrospect, he showed a lot of class that way.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm Baffled

The democrat party is supposed to be the one with the new ideas and all. Progressive. Whatever. So why is it that ever since I've been paying attention (I was for Ford against Carter when I was six) the democrat candidate is always portrayed as the smartest guy ever and their women are such noble creatures while the Republican is always dumb as a stump and their women are spendthrift kook control freaks?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Girlfriend, look out.

I don't know an awful lot, but I know we're being set up.

When the person you are dating drops their company manners it can be seen as a sign the relationship is developing. As you become more secure in the affections of your sweetheart, more of your real personalities come through. You begin to notice things about each other, things that cross the line between 'quirky' and 'obnoxious;' his secret love of Air Supply, her shopping issues, etc. You must decide which foible is a dealbreaker, and if you go on with the relationship you may hear, during the course of an argument, "You knew I was like that before...." See, it's your fault. They were honest about who they were. They don't have to change. You have to accept them. Be supportive. Or else you're a heartless jerk.

We have reached that point in our relationship with Misters Obama and Biden. Perhaps it is a good thing that the campaign has been going on since the Bronze Age; it's taken this long for the new to wear off. Obama's tacit approval of the hounding and investigation of a private citizen tells us what will happen to those who help Obama look bad. Remember, it wasn't that guy's question that was the problem. And now Biden has said in so many words we will face some kind of crisis in the first six months of Obama's administration, one that won't be handled appropriately, and we should all just suck it up and support the guy anyway.


As a woman and a cynic, I respectfully decline. This relationship will turn out like so many others have. He won't improve; in fact, as he discovers our tolerance for bad behavior, he will only get worse, more unreasonable, more erratic. And it will always be our fault. We never beleived in him. We always stood in the way of his dreams. We were just so damn negative all the time.

I can totally see why Oprah digs him. Personally, I'd feel better with grown people in charge.

Friday, October 10, 2008

More Projection Than Sundance

James Carville is an ass. There, I said it. I feel cleansed. There have been simperings in the media before this, but leave it to Mr. Matalin to reinforce the stereotype of the unreconstucted ignorant bigot cracker. But first, allow me to address the dolts at the L.A. Times, since their story came first.

This started a few days ago, the murmurings that Gov. Palin might not be following the literal word of the Bible by being submissive to her husband, as if this made her somehow less than Christian. First of all, I should like to congratulate the author of the article, Teresa Watanabe, for reading a biblical passage without vaporizing or whatever. Second of all, if she were possessed of shame, she should feel it for blithely assuming that telling those backward fundies that Miss Sarah wasn't toeing Watanabe's interpretation of some obscure New Testament sentence fragment would be all it took to send them for the tar and feathers. Or perhaps she had a good old- fashioned stoning in mind. At least it's plausible to the layman that Gov. Palin practices some sort of faith. Unlike some people. Anyway, it's not like Christians-- other than my ex-inlaws-- keep score about who's the most observant. Sort of not what it's about. The whole brouhaha was concocted in the fevered imaginations of the godless, who arrogantly assume they are the clever ones. I thought ignorance was supposed to be bliss. These people seem awfully chapped.

Speaking of suppurating pustules, James Carville achieved the dubious distinction of making a statement of incredible racism against both blacks and whites simultaneously. I didn't think I'd live to see it.

Now let me be clear here, if Obama goes in this race with a 5- point lead and losing this election, the consequences are -- bull, man. I mean I don't think that's going to happen, but I think David it's a point to bring up. But you stop and contemplate this country if Obama goes in and he has a consistent five point lead and loses the election, it would be very, very, very dramatic out there."

Al Gore was 11 points ahead at this time in 2000, by the way.

he consensus has been that Carville meant riots. So he must think of black folks as unreasoning beasts that can be called out like dogs to ravage the countryside if whitey wills it. At the same time, he seems to think that the specter of angry blacks breaking windows resonates on a visceral level with the white and uptight. In short, blacks are animalistic and whites are supposed to fear them. Now, I like antiques, but honestly. Step out of the wayback machine, will ya?

These are the people who want to lead us into the future? These unevolved cro-magnons who think everybody is as heart-rendingly, teeth-grindingly, head-poundingly stupid as them? You know what? Get out of the damn way, and be grateful that some people think all life has value, even as a bad example to to others.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Days of Swine and Poses

Isn't it interesting that Obama seems to have forgotten his opponent is McCain? Maybe it's because he understands Palin could get the big job. Not because McCain might keel over in office; they said that about Reagan, too. Stay Classy, people. On the slim chance Obama wins the election he could be running against Palin four years from now.

For some reason it's particularly galling for a man to be bested by a woman. I don't get it -- I can't even make myself think like that -- but I understand the opinion exists here on this planet and I'll play along. There is, though, something unbecoming about descending into grade-school epithets in place of actual reasoned debate. While Palin can discuss McCain's platform at length in terms that resonate with the other average people, I don't think she will respond to Obama they way they must do it at Harvard, by thumbing her nose and saying, "I know you are, but what am I?"

The Democrat line is that, among other reasons, Mrs. Palin is a poor choice for VP because she has no foreign policy experience. We hardly ever trot the VP out to do the heavy lifting on foreign policy. In fact, sending the Veep is our way of telling you, foreign leader, we don't think you rate. It must be part of the whole 'rooting-for-McCain-to-die' thing. Lovely. Mr. Obama has said his foreign policy would mainly consist of sitting down with other leaders and talking things out. Now I really wonder how that's going to go. Boy, I sure hope they all agree with him.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Nobody Asked Me...

OK, so I'm a little late to the Palin party. I wanted to see how things were shaking out. So far I've got: She's unqualified, inexperienced, too religious, frumpy, and a bad mother. Also, she's evil. She purposefully afflicted an innocent baby -- her own baby --with a genetic disease. Your baby could be next.

Of course none of this is true. Alaska's pretty big and it borders on two foreign countries, one of whom hates us while the other merely tolerates us. You pick which one's which. People in the lower 48 ( No, really, Mr. Obama. 48. ) tend to forget about Alaska, all tucked away up there like that. It's got military installations, some that are en clair and some that aren't. I suspect she already has a working relationship with the top brass. They produce and export energy, although I don't think they have refining facilities up there, so they pay the most for the petroleum and propane they consume. More than Hawaii, even. Sucks. Because Alaska's so big it's a logistical challenge to get anything civic done statewide, like law enforcement. Mrs. Palin has to coordinate the activities of state and local authorities with the Feds, who are run from DC, the opposite of Alaska. She's had as much experience running a government as Harry Truman did when he became President. He managed.

So she's got to be on the ball to do all this and coordinate the activities of all those kids. And don't start on the pregnant daughter. The same thing happened to my son, his cousin on dad's side, my oldest uncle on mom's side, Mr. Obama, and several members of your own family whether you know about it or not. The dinosaurs of feminism, Quinn and Steinem, for whom Sarah Palin represents everything they claim to admire, say she has too many children and she can't look after them properly and work outside the home. Nobody said that to Al Gore, who has four kids, or Grammaw Pelosi, who rounded up every child in a five-mile radius and a couple of short adults for her swearing-in photo, or JFK, who had his kids in his office with him while he was President. Maybe men are better at thinking about more than one thing at a time.

I think I know what the problem actually is. I ran into this attitude a lot when I was working construction. The idea of me appealed to the "hear me roar" crowd. You know, single mommy gets herself off welfare, works in a nontraditional field, competing with the menfolk on their level, yada yada yada. The most patronizing and obnoxious people, the ones who took the most care to remind me that I was there because of affirmative action and not because I worked damn hard, the ones who expected me to be grateful to them specifically, were my union reps, every man Jack a good liberal. When I made it clear that I not only did not feel beholden, but that I thought they should thank me for making it so they could work indoors swinging a pencil was when they started in with the "stupid girl" crap. Like in that movie -- "Full Metal Jacket," I think it was-- where the soldier slaps the Vietnamese guy upside the head and says "We're doing you gooks a favor, here!"

Sarah Palin's problem is that she's uppity and she doesn't know her place.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

This has me wondrering.

Three Million Bees Found in Miami Home

Who counts them? Is it the new guy? The allergic guy? He'd do a thorough job.The guy who didn't find air traffic control enough of a challenge? How do they count them? Do they take a picture? Do they mark them some way? I'm getting a visual of the guy who paints the "m" on the candy. Do they have a one-bee-at-a-time vacuum cleaner attachment and count them as they go through?

Maybe they just guess. I'd just guess, through binoculars. Sealed up in a car a half mile away. With the engine running.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Meanest Nice People in the World.

I get a lot of heat from my family and friends over my political views, especially from friends I've reconnected with after a period of being out of touch. It varies from indulgent disapproval (hi, mom) to vitriolic name-calling. That would be my older brother. He's bald and bitter. My friends and I share a mutual befuddlement; them over "how conservative I've become," and me over how they managed to get lead poisoning. Kidding. It's more likely mercury from the fluorescent lights. I feel like the guy in the Joe Walsh song: "Everybody's so different/ I haven't changed."

And I really think I haven't changed. I've always thought that we were each in charge of our individual destiny, that women and men are complimentary equals -- as in, not the exact same, thank God, that race doesn't matter; like love, stupid sees no color. I also think the strong should show consideration for the weak, and that the weak have an obligation to become stronger so they can shoulder their responsibility for themselves. My favorite freedom, though, the one I really miss, is -- as W.S. Burroughs put it -- the freedom to mind my own damn business. I never really thought of these as conservative views. I always kind of saw them as the way things were supposed to work.

And once upon a time my friends felt the same way. Some still think they do. But they see the world in childish, comic book terms, where the "Neo-Cons" are the Forces of E-vil and the "Progressives" are the superhero class, like the X-men. All war is bad, unless neither side is white, and then we're not touching that one. That doesn't happen. No person is illegal, unless they are more wealthy than you. Everyone has a right to earn a living, unless it's in oil production or whaling, in which case those damn Eskimos can starve. Women are always better than men. No religion and all religions are better, more virtuous than Christianity, the dominant religion of Western Civilization. Because we're too big, too wealthy, our citizens deserve to be attacked and we don't deserve to defend ourselves. We had it coming.

I'm telling you that to tell you this: If we lay back and allow things to progress the way they are there will come a group of people who aim to take us over for real, people whose lines of reasoning and life philosophies are foreign to ours in every sense of the term:

Is it obligatory for the husband to provide medical treatment for
his wife?
Q: If the wife becomes temporarily or chronically ill, does the husband have to pay for her treatment? If she for example, wants to have children but suffers from problems preventing her from having children,
does her husband have to seek treatment for her and pay for it? If it is not compulsory on the husband to do so, then what shall the wife do if she becomes ill while she does not have money and her husband doesn’t give her money to save?

A: Praise be to Allaah.
According to the majority of fuqaha’ from the four madhhabs, the husband is not obliged to pay for medical treatment for his wife. Some of them gave the reason for that as being that it is not one of the essential needs, rather it is something extraneous. Imam al-Shaafa’i (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Umm (8/337): The man is not obliged to offer a sacrifice on behalf of his wife or to pay the fee of a doctor or cupper for her. End quote.
It says in Sharh Muntaha al-Iraadaat (3/227): He is not obliged to provide medicine or pay the fee of a doctor if she falls sick, because these are not essential needs, rather they are incident and are not obligatory. End quote

See: Haashiyat IbnAabideen (3/575); Sharh al-Kharashiala Mukhtasar Khaleel (4/178).

This is the website that quote came from. To be fair, it ultimately says that it would be a nice thing to do to pay for your wife's medical bills. Do check out the home page, and notice it's in English, among several other European languages.

I don't know how it is that my close circle seems to think that just because the guy down at the corner store is nice that I'm a sheet-wearing racist for implying that maybe Islam is not as benign as they think. I can't understand other women I know who rail and cry over how unfair our society is to them, and I don't understand how anyone who claims to believe in personal liberty could be sanguine with a society that demands you pray to their god five times a day, that bans pet dogs, literature and music, that punishes homosexuality with death, the same way it punishes teaching little girls to read.

I wish there was a way to make them see, before we all have to learn by example.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nice Work if You Can Get it.

Remember how John McCain was roundly mocked for suggesting a couple months' gas tax holiday, where we could all buy gas at the price for which it was being sold? It was actually an idea with bipartisan support; the host committee for the DNC convention has been using Denver's municipal pumps to avoid paying gas tax. This would be the gas that goes in the vehicles donated by GM for use by the committee. They've also been getting free car washes, presumably from city employees. It's not salt season, hi. Write "Hope! Change!" in the dust on your back window and go already.

Mayor Hickenlooper, whose surname makes him sound like a musical-theatre villain, uses the classic 9th-grade excuse: B-b-but, the RNC is doing it, too! "My understanding is in Washington or wherever where this happens on a regular basis, that it's standard operating procedure. I do know for a fact that they're doing the same exact thing in Minneapolis," he said yesterday. Cool, if by 'fact' you mean "Something I pulled directly out of my arse." According to Theresa McFarlane, spokeswoman for the RNC host committee in Minneapolis. "We're not getting a tax break on fuel. That's not the set-up at this end."

Time for a little math. You poor saps in Colorado pay 40.4 cents per gallon in state and federal fuel taxes. Mayor Hickenfooler has based his "Please. It's pocket change." defense upon the vehicles in question having a 14-gallon tank, so it's only a $5.60 ripoff of the rest of you per tank. Even at the Conoco in Lakewood that's the equivalent of 1.33 gallons of free gas per fillup; at the Western Convenience in Aurora it's almost one and a half. Now, about the average size of the gas tank. My Subaru four-banger has a 14-gallon tank, which I need to fill this morning at $4.26 a gallon. Lucky me. GM does make cars, but somehow I don't see the DNC tooling around in Saturns. I think maybe they tend more towards the Yukon, since that's what I see them riding around in in DC. That is more like a 25-gallon capacity, or a cool ten-spot per tank. I don't know for sure; I got that number off my ex's 1999 F-150 truck.

The point is, you're buying rich people gas for their free cars. And they're only stopping because they got caught at it. And instead of apologizing and paying their taxes like they expect you to they're making excuses you wouldn't accept from your children. Jerks.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Oh, Please

In the most pointless civic action I've seen in a while, ordinary citizens are petitioning a major corporation in an attempt to convince said corporation not to shut down manufacturing facilities in their local communities. The communities fear loss of this facility will cause other businesses to close or not to expand into their localities, thereby causing an economic hit to the towns. I'd root for the little guy, except in this case; the corporation in question is Starbucks.

I'm not going to claim to be one of those Luddites who like their boiled Maxwell House, thank you. Nor am I a coffee snob; I couldn't tell you if the beans were grown on the leeward side of the mountain or in a roadside ditch, and my idea of "Fair Trade" is my cash for your coffee. I just know what I like. I will say that not only do I prefer Peets to Starbucks, I prefer the house coffee at the Flying J truck stop in Grapevine, CA to Starbucks. It's not that it's swill, it's the whole Starbucks lifestyle, the prepackaged ersatz intellectual thing. Along with your coffee, you can purchase an appropriate book to be seen with and the right sort of jazz -- just edgy enough to seem hipster but without alienating anyone. This is profoundly irritating to me, even as it saves me time in my daily interactions with people. I know if you are carrying a Starbucks book or raving about the new CD they're flogging that there is exactly nothing interesting or original about you and I can ignore you with a clear conscience.

There are independent bookstores and record shops full of people who love music and books, with staff who have actually read or listened to most of the stock. They can speak engagingly and instructively about their fields of passion and a lot are genuinely interesting people to be around. (hi, Cute from Baltimore at Idle Time!) There are small diners, coffeeshops, and restaurants where the food's pretty good, the staff are happy to be there and the conversation flows between people who enter and leave as strangers but for the duration of their coffee or their meal are bonded by their mutual affection for a place where everything isn't always the same, where there are up days and down days. These businesses would be happy to step right in to the empty spot Starbucks will leave behind. Some might even make a go of it, if you'd stop whining about how it's not a guaranteed hit right out of the box like Starbucks. Hint: if that were so they wouldn't be closing 600 stores. McDonalds isn't popular because the food is good; it's popular because children like consistency. Starbucks is McDonalds for the natural fibers set. They can't leave soon enough for me.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ol Bidness

There's a gas station up the road from me that's cut the price dramatically enough for lines to form around the block. It's a promotion of some kind. You've seen the same thing where you live. Here in California, of course, there's a punchline: the bargain price is $4 a gallon.

The price for a barrel of crude has been sneaking up on $140. It may have gone over; I really haven't been keeping track. I've been off having a growth experience. It did dimly register that the Speaker of the House of Representatives said we couldn't "drill our way out" of this problem. Ann Coulter had a good line about that. She said it was like saying you couldn't sleep your way out of tiredness. Well, it seems Ms. Pelosi and us in the Great Unwashed can both have our way. We don't have to drill to bring down the price of crude; all we have to do is say we'll drill and the price drops by 20 percent. How efficient.

President Bush has lifted an executive ban on drilling for oil on non-park public lands. There have been several thousand of acres in Alaska released for drilling. They'd already found oil, they were just waiting for permission to go get it. The corresponding congressional ban expires September 30. This settles the question once and for all in my mind over whether Mr. Bush is stupid or crooked. That move was pure evil political genius. On the strength of this news the price of oil dropped $5 a barrel. When it was reported that the oil could be in refineries by 2010 is when things really took a dive.

I have a running debate with a friend of mine. He's of the "Chimpy McHitlerburton" school of thought on our president. Both of us think the oil market's fixed, but we're at odds over who's doing it. I think I got this one. Now, if we could just settle that whole 9/11 thing...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I will say up front that I have only been on the receiving end of law enforcement. But I do watch those "dead people and how they got that way" shows on cable so I kind of know a little about how a search should be conducted. In short, not like this.

Professor Steven Kurtz of the University of Buffalo had a truly crappy week in May 2004. His wife died in her sleep of congenital heart failure. Somehow during the 911 response to this event emergency personnel became aware of a home laboratory and the biological equipment therein. Mr. Kurtz is an artist with an interest in science. It was decided to charge Mr. Kurtz with mail and wire fraud for illegally obtaining two bacteria cultures and transferring them to a colleague. The FBI became involved, detained Mr. Kurtz for 22 hours, searched his house for three days, trashing the joint in the process, took some of his stuff -- which he is only now just getting back-- and removed his late wife from the funeral home for 'analysis.' Forgive me for thinking they dissected the late Mrs. Kurtz. A judge dismissed the indictment and the Justice Department will not appeal or seek new charges. So they expend all the time and expense chasing this poor guy and they can't even prove their case.

Maybe this is why: Mr. Kurtz documented the devastation left behind by law enforcement and intends to put his pictures on public display. Even on "Murder, She Wrote" the pretend cops make a big show out of not disturbing the crime scene. Here in real life, when the alleged crime scene involved potential biohazards, Mr. Kurtz' house was left adrift in pizza boxes and Gatorade bottles. Yep. They felt strongly enough to bodysnatch the Mrs. so they could have a peek at her innards, and then these goofs ate and drank in the possible hazmat site. Not only was no effort made to preserve the integrity of the scene, but the G-men left behind lists of the things they were looking for and maps of Mr. Kurtz' home along with the garbage, so if he was up to something nefarious he'd know where not to hide the stuff on their list. Was it 'Take the kids to work day' that week or something? Did somebody lose a bet?

There is a very good reason most people have a low opinion of the FBI. They may have some very sharp people working for them, but the folks they put out front are a flat embarrassment. It is in the nature of intelligence (pardon me) that the successes are never spoken about, but must the failures be so spectacularly oafish?

Monday, June 23, 2008

My Short Duration Personal Hero

I love this guy. Not because of the amount of money potentially involved -- nobody's really going to pay him $2.2. The idea captures my imagination. He's selling everything he owns, including his job and introductions to his friends, and walking away with his passport and the clothes on his back. And the money. His only plan so far is to climb the Eiffel Tower, which even though it is in France is still a pretty cool idea. He decided to pack it all in and split because his wife left him. Nothing says "The feeling is mutual, honey" like dropping off the face of the earth. Go, daddy.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Things to Look Out For

We have two seasons where I live: mud slide and grass fire. Grass fire season has been upon us since early May. For other parts of the country, the advent of summer is heralded by the issuance of a partial list of things allegedly caused by global warming.

I say 'partial' because it misses a few major quality-of-life issues. 'Excessive sweating' failed to make the list, as did thirst, funky smells, steering-wheel burns, popsicle cravings and leather upholstery adhesion. Also missing: Air Conditioning envy, Dog Wilting Syndrome and information overload from hearing all your neighbors' business due to open windows. I know; I was surprised they missed those, too, especially the sticking to your seat thing. I suppose that's what comes from allowing journalists to play with science. Important, life-altering details are overlooked. For instance, it was 104 degrees in my apartment yesterday and I couldn't get up to get another popsicle until after sundown.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Earth Has a Cold Sore

Al Gore, Oscar winner, Nobel Laureate, and Darwin Award nominee, has long been pestering all of us about the noxious effects of global warming, the primary one being it seems to make him sweat like a pack mule. Last year the Tennessee Center for Policy Research discovered what he actually meant was for us to cut down on electricity so there'd be more for him. The same way the father of four was about overpopulation back in the 1980's. Remember that, back when he was just some ineffectual nerd senator with a pushy wife?
Mr. Gore has taken my personal approach to financial management and applied it to his home's energy consumption. After the news broke in Feb. 2007 that he was a hypocritical slob, he fell all over himself to make his home more energy-efficient. Now, after the improvements, the house actually burns more energy than before. In fact, every single month Maison Gore consumes an amount of energy equal to what one and two thirds average houses consume in a year. That's a carbon footprint the size of a horse's ass. Poetic.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Greetings From Bizarro World

If the democrats are the Party of Peace, why is the city of Denver investing in riot gear in advance of their convention? It's certainly not because Denver is a nest of right-wing fascists; I've been there. I was born in Boulder, in fact, a dubious honor at best and a tradition I've carried on to the next generation by forcing my child to admit to having been born in Berkeley. Nope, they're all peace, love and cheap incense in Denver. The place that you'd think ought to be battening down the hatches is St. Paul, MN, host to the republican convention. Yet after a diligent five-minute search on Dogpile the most I was able to find was this protest site. They plan to 'Demand peace, justice, and equality.' They don't say for whom. Ron Paul intends to hold a parallel convention outside the venue if they won't let him speak inside. He could carpool with the peace guys.

Meanwhile, back in Denver, The police are investing in everything from the "brown gun," a sonic device that allegedly makes you -- ahem -- let yourself go, to pepper spray grenades. There is a group called Recreate '68 that plans to -- I forget. Do something, I suppose. Get high on Oaxacan ditch weed and run people down with their Lark Scooters, maybe. I'm thinking that the brown gun might have been money poorly spent. Certainly this is not the crowd to test it on.

What a freaking headache all the way around for poor Denver. Imagine the police brutality lawsuit after some fragile firebrand shatters a hip. Or the property damage done by their more vigorous great-grandchildren. Remember Seattle? Also, I'm sure the local criminals would never take advantage of the chaos downtown and the slower response times to carry on with their business in other parts of the the Metro Area. No wonder DPD is considering the logistics of carpet bombing and napalm. I'm kidding. They would never use napalm. The carbon footprint is huge.

Somebody really ought to explain to Denver how this is supposed to be an honor for them. I bet they forgot. In the meantime, St. Paul seems pretty sedate, considering they're hosting a group of folks quite a few of them disagree vehemently with. I wonder how that's going to go. Hopefully it will be dull. Republicans are very good at dull. I'll bet they clean the hall up on their way out, too. That would be cute, and it's happened before. With the passing of my dear grandmother last year I no longer have family in Denver. If you do, seriously, you should offer them refuge come August. The Peace Lovers are coming.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summertime Rules

During the summers my giant child goes to live in Oakland with his Dad. They're both on summer vacation. I get to stay here and live like my first ex-husband.

Life calms down considerably. I don't have to share the computer. I can walk around naked in my living room. I can make what I want for meals and eat -- or not -- when I please. There's no arguments about what music to listen to, no cereal box with three Cheerios in the bottom put back in the cupboard, no hovering presence absorbing my phone calls, no waiting for the bathroom. And it's quiet. Luxuriantly, blissfully quiet. Hear yourself think quiet. The rest of the year is taken up in the racket and bustle of hamster-wheel existence, of forgotten homework assignments, permission slips produced at the last possible second, the Russian circus of getting him the places he needs to be the time he needs to be there, the endless round of the Next Size Up. And where does all the food go?

Summer is when I get to play by my own rules. This summer especially, my life is my own. Last year I was hiding out from the Second Mr. Right. I can go out at night. Every night, if the mood struck me. Such an odd concept. Probably seems perfectly mundane to you. There's a full moon tonight, or almost. I could go up into the hills and see them awash in moonlight bright enough to read by. See them how those first guys who walked out here from Virginia saw them, thinking their treasure was here. Feel the wind and smell the grass. This place -- the beauty of it can break your heart.

Thursday there's a Dixieland band playing at Armando's. I've never been. It's time I went. Music and people and beer and fun. Live drums tickling my feet through the floor and my shoes. Live trumpet ringing in my head, vibrating every one of my parts. I could go down to the water and watch the ships. Or I could stay in and work on my reading pile, or watch wierd old movies, or just go to bed when I felt like instead of waiting for homework to be finished. I sleep in the living room. I could take a soak in my big old fashioned tub, marvelling at the elbow room therein. People who don't even like each other could shower together in there. Thinking about it gives me a naughty thrill of environmental responsibility.

I'll miss him, my awkward funny darling boy. My pet giraffe, all elbows and knees and ears and feet, booming, authoritative voice issuing from a coltish, uncertain, treacherous body. Always taking up more space than he thought he needed. Usually on the wrong end of the joke. Not really caring about it. His loopy demeanor hides a fierce intelligence. It's easy to think he doesn't pay any attention to the world outside his peculiar passions, until he shocks me to my core with with an observation about me that goes right to the bone, tossed off as an afterthought or non sequitor, and I remember we once shared the same heart. I will miss him terribly, as I always do every summer.

Just not yet.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

They Blow up in the Most Delightful Way.

For years I have been wondering what it will take for western Feminists to finally get get all in a wad over how the Muslims seem to treat their women. Not allowing women to drive or go out unescorted by a male relative gets a yawn. Making them walk around in black tarps in 875-degree heat because the sight of the female hairline would incite the menfolk? Whatever. Beatings, rapes, arranged marriages between little girls and old men? Nope, nope, and nope. For some reason the whole 'honor killing' thing, where women exist at the whim and the pleasure of their male relatives, has failed to motivate the gang at NOW to voice a single cackle. Psst, wimmin -- I bet they're against abortion. Just saying.

I think I may have hit on it, the issue that will make them rev up the email blasts, hire the screen printers, and rouse them into a fury of righteous indignation in cute tops and shoes. Ready? Al-Qaida has a glass ceiling. You know, like at CBS. No girls allowed. Your place is in the kitchen, mama, barefoot and pregnant, making boy babies and shawarma for the cause. How could the poignant words of Rabeebat Al-Silah fail to stir the heart:

''How many times have I wished I were a man ... When Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahri said there are no women in al-Qaida, he saddened and hurt me,'' wrote ''Companion of Weapons,'' who said she listened to the speech 10 times. ''I felt that my heart was about to explode in my chest...I am powerless.''

Wow. Elizabeth Cady Stanton expressed the same sentiments at Seneca Falls in 1848. Only I think she was talking about being denied the vote, not slaughtering infidels. I hope the little ladies don't worry their pretty heads about it too much; after all, we all have our place in this world. Theirs is to be brood mares and collateral casualties. Oh, and occasionally a really special girl comes along who has what it takes to blow herself up. Affirmative action, doncha know.

I realize "Sex and the City" opened this week so we can't expect to hear from the feminists any time soon, but I'm sure they'll be right on this just as soon as their hangovers clear and they figure out he's not actually going to call.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Brett Somers to Leave Country If Obama Loses

Brett Somers, celebrity panelist from the extremely old "Match Game" show, is threatening to leave the country if we don't smarten up and vote right. She says, "I've had it up to here with the American people, and now every time I (blank) I blow bubbles." Unless her candidate wins, she's going to pack up her oversized sunglasses and her flamboyant sweaters and find a new motherland.

What? Susan who? Oh. Janet from "Rocky Horror," right? If McCain wins she's moving to Italy? Good plan. The Italians appreciate an old piece of leather.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm Just Saying, Is All

Nancy Reagan, who was never the president and never ran for the office, caught all kinds of crap for consulting with an astrologer. Candidate Hillary Clinton, who claims to have been "co-president" (although she may have meant to say "-dependent") copped to channeling Eleanor Roosevelt. No word on if she was hoping for fashion tips or dating advice. Her critics had a field day with that. And now we have the boy genius Obama, who's campaigned in 57 of our 58 states and yesterday demonstrated that either he doesn't know what Memorial Day is or that he possesses a sixth sense. And unless you listen to AM radio you've heard nothing about any of it. Weird.

Now I can die...

....because I have officially seen everything now:

George Carlin's Solution to Save Gasoline:

Bush wants us to cut the amount of gas we use.....

The best way to stop using so much gas is to deport 11 million illegal

That would be 11 million less people illegally using our gas. The
price of gas would come down...

Bring our troops home from Iraq to guard the Borders...

When they catch an illegal immigrant crossing the border, hand him a
canteen, rifle and some ammo and ship him to Iraq!

Tell him if he wants to come to America then he must serve a tour in
the U.S. military...

Give him a soldier's pay while he's there and tax him on it...

After his tour, he will be allowed to become a citizen since he
defended this country...

He will also be registered to be taxed and be a legal patriot...

This option will probably deter illegal immigration and provide a
solution for the troops in Iraq and the illegal aliens trying to make
a better life for themselves...

If they refuse to serve, ship them to Iraq anyway, without the
canteen, rifle or ammo...

Problem solved!

If you think this is a good solution to both the problems, forward it
to your friends.

That's right. George Freaking Carlin, hero of my teenage years. From "AM and FM." The Class Clown, for crying out loud. Wow. The older you get the more likely you are to embrace a more conservative worldview. In his case, it took , like, 78 years. I may actually be able to listen to him again without feeling like a shmuck. Thanks for snapping out of it, George. Although 11 million is a lowball figure. There may be 11 mil in California alone. Still, his heart's in the right place.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I fail to understand.

Foreign Policy magazine has compiled a list of the top five worst places to be a terrorist. The U.S. is not on the list. France, charmingly, is at the top. So why are we catching hell for being all xenophobic and awful and whatnot? Why doesn't everybody pester the two muslim countries on the list, Egypt and Jordan? Because we're "racist" and they're not?

Maybe they know something we don't, living in the same region with radical Islamists as they do. Maybe the "You horrible people are racist" thing works so well in England it gives the bad guys the impression we'll fold faster than Superman on laundry day. I doubt it. For one thing, a lot of us pride ourselves on being contrary. Oh, and a lot of us are armed.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Stupid %*#^ Nature.

I'm moving to a new apartment, but I've still got a couple of months on my old lease, which means I can take my time moving. The second weekend in June -- the day after school ends -- me and my giant child are moving the furniture and we'll be completely out of there. Right now I'm taking stuff bit by bit in the car. So I'm on my balcony yesterday taking down my hanging plants and I find a bird's nest in my Wandering Jew. The cutest little round nest made of grass with five perfect little eggs inside. Aw, crap.

I let loose with a volley of foul invective about my rotten luck and the stupid damn birds. I'm standing on a stool on my balcony loudly cursing at my plants. The neighbors are gonna miss me. I want nothing more than to scoop them out and stick them in a tree and make them not be my problem. But their little bird mom and dad won't find them and the raccoons will. And when you think about it, they were pretty slick, those birds. A hanging plant is like an island, and four feet away on the other side of the glass door is human activity and my idiot dog to scare away any predators with ideas. I can't mess that up for them, not now that they've gained my respect.

I hang the plant back up the exact way I found it, making a mental note not to water that side, and I wait for the birds to turn up. They're finches, I think; brown with an orange neck. They will probably hatch around the beginning of June, which means by mid-July they'll be out of there. Which is good, because my lease expires the last day of July. Wait, what? I say to myself, You'll be out end of June. July's rent here is therefore optional. Are you actually going to pay rent on a second apartment you don't live in... for Mr. and Mrs. Finch? Are you nuts?

Looks that way. I gave them a place to settle in and make more finches. The least I can do is make it so they can raise them. It'll be neat to watch and a good example for the kid. Besides, it might balance out something crappy I did back when. But we all have to be out before my lease expires. I'm not sure how to tell them. Maybe I'll post a little tiny notice.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I wrote last month about the situation at the Yearning for Zion Ranch. Here's a link. I thought the state was heavy-handed -- to put it charitably -- in its approach. Turns out the appeals court agreed:

"The Department (CPS) did not present any evidence of danger to the physical health or safety of any male children or any female children who had not reached puberty," the panel wrote in its order. About half of the more than 460 children placed in protective custody are babies or toddlers.

Again I have to say, the objective of the State was not so much to protect the children so much as to modify the behavior of the scary Christians, so as to look like CPS protected children from religion-based violence and abuse. Like the late Amina and Sarah Said of Dallas, who were murdered by their father in January of this year. Yaser Abdel Said had a problem with his daughters, aged 17 and 18 respectively, going out on dates.

That's some fine police work there, Lou.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This Should be ...Different

Remember the Ninth Circuit Court's recent decision to tell the voters of California to drop dead, the court will decide what laws shall be enacted? They overturned the law against same-sex marriage, the one that passed with two thirds of the popular vote? That would be about 12 million people? Governor Conan found an upside to that.

Arnold displays quite a gift for nonlinear thinking. At first he was thinking he'd balance the state's budget by borrowing against future state lottery revenues (quit laughing) but now this fell into his lap, so to speak. California is going to dig itself out of its hole through... drumroll, please... Gay weddings. Think of it. It's genius. The demographic renowned for its lavish Oscar parties, the people who plan most of the weddings in SF and LA anyway. Imagine a 500+-guest "Last Days of Pompeii"-themed wedding where both men are brides. Sure, most weddings will be low key, you-me-and-a-JP affairs, but even then the receptions will still be pretty happening. Before you get all snippy about stereotyping and so forth I'll have you know I've been to the Folsom Street Fair and to Halloween in the Castro and all the gay people there said they were just your average folks. I do my research and I listen to the experts.

So anyway, the Gov. is certain the fierce and fabulous will come out here (pardon me) to get all married up. The license fees will be a windfall for the state government, as will sales taxes for all the various palm greasing (sorry) that goes into putting on a lavish do. I for one am relieved that we have a plan.


I heard Senator Byrd's reaction to the tragic news that his colleague Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with brain cancer and it made me want to run up a tree. ( the action begins at 1:00 and really picks up at 2:30) It actually made me cover my ears and scream. I was driving.

It could just be me, but Byrd seems to be referring to his "dear, dear, dear, dear friend Ted" in the past tense. I realize he's 327 years old and he's from a different era where men were more expressive of their feelings. I understand at his time of life he feels his mortality keenly. I'm sure the Senator from Massachusetts is one his best friends ever. That old man is on hard drugs. Seriously.

Pimp My Rally

Here's a picture from the Obama rally in Portland, OR last Saturday. That's him climbing up to the dias, I suppose. Pretty impressive crowd. You'd think they were there to see a band or something...

They were. The Decemberists, a local favorite and nationally known indy folk/pop/rock/alternative group opened for Obama. Free admission, natch. The band's named in part after the Decembrist uprising in Russia and they usually open their shows with the Soviet national anthem, but they're pretty mainstream. They've been profiled on NPR and everything.

All the media outlets covered the rally, but no one thought to mention the reason why so many people were there. 75,000 people would not have assembled just to hear Obama exhale hope and change all over the place. You know, if I was the Decemberists I'd be steamed. Here they are trying as best they can to make a go out of the one job they're suited for (I've dated a lot of musicians. It's the only employment they're suited for) and they land a career-making gig, attracting a crowd of more than 75,000 -- two football stadiums' worth -- and no one even mentions they were there. Bummer.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Meanwhile, Back in the Jungle...

Chavez to Order $2 Billion of Russian Arms, Kommersant Reports

By Lyubov Pronina
May 12 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez will order $2 billion of Russian weapons, including submarines, during a visit to Moscow this month, Kommersant reported, without saying where it got the information.
Venezuela, which has bought $4 billion of Russian arms in the last three years, will order four Project 636 diesel subs, Mi-28 combat helicopters and airplanes made by Ilyushin Co., Kommersant said.

Chunk-style has also been purchasing a variety of small arms and equipment, including night-vision goggles and other geegaws useful in guerrilla warfare. The boats are likely Varshavyanka-class submarines, also known as Kilo 636. The subs are powered with diesel fuel and equipped with six torpedo tubes, 18 torpedoes, 24 mines and eight surface-to-air missiles. They're also supposed to be extra quiet and the missiles they carry have a range of 7,500 nautical miles. Last June Chavez bought five of these subs.

Miami is 1360 miles away from the Venezuelan coast. DC is 2053 miles. NYC is 2127 miles, as the crow flies.

The Ilyushins -- troop transport planes, combat helicopters and small arms will come in handy, too, for intimidating the neighbors. Columbia and Brazil must be very...interested right about now. And see if Crazy doesn't involve himself in the tempest brewing between England and Argentina over the Falkands oilfields.

The argument can be made that Putin is unloading a lot of old junk on Chavez, but having learned from back when he used to buy his arms from us only to find we wouldn't supply him with spare parts, now he knows to buy the extended warranty. The boats are coming with parts suppliers, maintenance crews and trainers for the operations crews. In future the Kalashnikovs and their ammo will be manufactured in country. So he is bright enough to become self-sufficient. Sorry if you just lost the bet.

I wonder if this is what would have happened if Tony Montana were given a nation to run.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Whaling Moan

This is another one of those news stories where the comments section is more illuminating than the story itself. The Makah Indians would like the opportunity to exercise their rights under an 1855 treaty and take up whaling again.

The readers of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer who chose to comment on the topic display an effortless, reflexive paternalism that would not seem out of place at the East India Company. A "DennyP" quotes Article 4 of the treaty, which reads in part: "The right of taking fish and of whaling or sealing at usual and accustomed grounds and stations is further secured to said Indians in common with all citizens of the United States..." DennyP goes on to say, "As far as I know the rest of us aren't hunting whales anymore. In fact, it's against the law, and should be, IMHO." It's not against the law, DennyP, and we do take whales. In Alaska, the Inuits take about 50 bowhead whales a year.

"Pahart" takes a more compassionate tack: "While my sympathy lies with the Makah and I can have some feeling for why whaling is an important cultural tradition, we must ask: do they need whale flesh as food? The answer is: NO. Not only do they not need to eat it, but to do so would subject the eaters to the toxic waste soup that is contained in whale flesh and blubber. This could lead to a significant rise in cancer and endocrine-disruptive problems in the Makah population." See? Those people are too ignorant to make their own decisions. Why, they'd eat poison if we weren't here to stop them.

"Ahkamiokole" says, "No outboard motors, no tow boats, no rifles!" and "Kwisn" agrees: "Paddle out there, stick a stick in it with something tied on to float and slow it down, and then tow it back to the beach. We don't hunt with M-16's or FA-18 Hornets (I don't hunt at all, personal choice)." Because Native Americans have an obligation to remain in the Stone Age, so visiting them seems more like a theme park and we can feel all warm and squishy and superior for keeping them in their place -- er, maintaining their cultural integrity.

The Japanese, Russians, Norwegians, Canadians, Icelanders, and Greenlanders are all whaling nations, plus a few more that are really hard to pluralize. While I doubt they hunt with fighter jets (although that's a cool visual) nor do I think they paddle out there in a Nantucket Sleigh to heave harpoons at ol' Moby. They use modern technology to kill the whale with the least amount of suffering to the animal. Versus throwing a pointy stick -- think it over, treehugger. They take the parts of the whale that are commercially viable and toss the rest overboard, where other animals cheerfully eat it, or am I the only one who watches "Blue Planet." And it's not like we're talking about thousands of whales a year, like back when we used the blubber for fuel oil and the bones for corset stays. There's only so much whale people feel like eating in a year. The notorious over-fishers of Japan say they only kill about 50 a year, so even if they're lying by a lot, that would still be fewer than 300.

"JonS" has the last word: "...The Makah Tribe have certain traditions (songs and dances) that can only be performed when a whale is killed. Each family has their own set of traditions around a hunt. Furthermore each family has training traditions to prepare for a whale hunt. So without whaling a whole part of the Makah culture is lost." He said he got that information from the Environmental Impact Statement, which has since been taken down.

My advice to the Makah? Move to Canada. I'm sure by now you know better than to think the Great White Father will honor any stinking treaty.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"So, Jimmy, you like Gladiator movies?"

An Air France Passenger jet had to make 10,000ft climb to dodge another plane because the pilot was 'showing off' to a 13-year-old boy who'd been allowed in the cockpit, contrary to EU aviation rules and common sense.


Scary, and Cute.

Everyone who has a cell phone has done this at least once. You accidentally hit redial while the phone is in your pocket or wherever and the party on the other end is treated to a little slice of your life. It happened to Army MP Stephen Phillips while he was engaged in a firefight in Afghanistan. The last number he'd dialed was his parents. They returned home to find three minutes of terror on the family voicemail.

"They were pinned down and apparently his barrel was overheating," said Jeff Petee. "It's something a parent really doesn't want to hear. It's a heck of a message to get from your son in Afghanistan."


"You could hear him saying stuff like, he needs more ammo, or he needs another barrel," said John Petee, Phillips' brother. "At the end, you could hear a guy saying 'Incoming! RPG!' And then it cut off."

Of course, his folks were frantic. Of course, it took ages to get in touch with Phillips (The news story doesn't disclose his rank, probably because it's Oregon.) but eventually they were sucessful. Phillips was embarrassed; he asked his parents not to play the voicemail for his grandmother, maybe because of the swearing. Awww.

What a man.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Dear Ms. Tillman,

Shut up.

Your son was a popular young man, an NFL draft pick, a natural showboater, and a patriot who gave up that fame and fortune for useful work in an outfit that shies away from publicity. He died. He was shot while in the field. He died of his wounds, in the arms of his brothers, behind enemy lines, doing what he was trained to do - something he volunteered for at least twice.

Apparently his earlier years of grandstanding came from you - HE gave up FAME when he joined the Army Special Forces. He will always be your little boy, you have pictures, memories and artifacts from his life, and a nice crisp flag from his funeral. Your job is to be his cheerleader now as when he was alive. Stop talking about how he died and just cherish your memories of his life. You disgrace the memory of your child and degrade the morale of the U.S. people, the military, the government, and his brothers-in-arms when you give interviews, speak at hearings, sell books or made-for-TV movies questioning the minute details.

Part of Special Forces Operations includes psychological warfare. The enemy needs to be scared of American forces. American forces need to be confident and proud. American citizens need to be supportive of the volunteer professional warriors of which our entire military is made. The story of your son's life and death was important to our psy-ops. The exact circumstances of his demise should not be public - or even, in my opinion, shared with you. He's dead - that's the important point to your family.

He was a man, of legal age, and a trained warrior. He followed his orders with vigor. He doesn't need you to defend him now, or to attack that which he stood for. He was a positive role model and he now needs you to carry on with his living wishes.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Just Plain Sad

Judging by this list of 2007's top 10 most controversial ad campaigns in England, we won't have to worry about them resurrecting the Empire anytime soon. They're much too busy complaining about TV commercials that "might discourage mothers from breastfeeding" or contain "a depiction of a threat of violence and was therefore irresponsible and condoning bullying." That's not the same ad, by the way.

Also, there's an ad for the Sun newspaper that drew complaints for being too racy. No, really? A British tabloid with a picture of a mostly naked woman? Whatever group that offended must have moved to England recently...


Part of a conversation I and my son had over breakfast. He was describing an article he read by Dave Barry about a ride he took in a fighter jet:

Me: Yeah, I heard that the ride makes you pretty sick if you haven't trained for it. That's why the pilots like to take journalists along, to make them scream and puke. Fighter pilots think that's funny.

Then follows details from the article outlining bodily-fluid related fighter pilot humor. There's a lot of bodily-fluid related humor in any conversation with a 15-year-old boy.

Me: In fact, they actually prefer to take the ladies along because there's more screaming.

He: Really?

Me: Of course. I bet money changes hands over screaming vs. puking, how much, when...

He: Nuh uh!!

Me: I bet. That's got to be part of it. Ladies are much more likely to scream than men, so that has to be part of why so many ladies get invited to go. But a soft guy will do just as well. So if you're ever a journalist and you get invited to fly along it might be because they think you're a sissy. Go anyway, of course...

He: Have you ever gone on a fighter jet?

Me: Umm, no.

He: (delivered in perfect deadpan) Too manly?

Me: (Pause) No one in a position to invite me knows who I am.

He: If you went, would you scream?

Me: I would scream, puke, and wet myself. The inside of that plane would look like a rented limo on prom night.

He: You're just saying that to get a ride in a jet.

The child is a smart aleck. I don't know where he gets it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Portal Into Another Dimension

Join me now as we travel to the Huffington Post. Scroll down past the teaser for Absinthe and the one with the headline about having a three-way with God (not making it up). See this week's "little kid steals grandma's truck and wrecks it" story? Watch the video if you like; I didn't. Check out the comments. They're like flipping over a rock. Every aspect of the child's life is dissected, from his given name to his weight to his home situation to wild speculation about the ages of his parents and grandparents.
Great. No conscience, no sense of right and wrong, ignoramus grammar, and
fat as a pig. They ought to just preregister him at the county jail because
that's where he'll end up. Grandmother has custody. That means mama is mostly
likely a druggie. Where's dad? And grandmama drives a big ole gaz-guzzling SUV.
I don't feel sorry for the family; they raised him that way. Videogames, lack of
supervision, bad diet. So many things wrong with this picture I can't even stand
it. They ought to start saving up for attorney's fees.

Oh, and they're real worked up about that SUV.

Part of the reason I didn't look at the vid was I wanted to see if I could figure out what demographic the kid was part of just based upon the comments. We are a post-racial society, after all. Mr. Obama says so, and then Mrs. Obama smacks him in the head. How's she been, anyway? Haven't seen her in a while. At any rate, sixteen comments down the page and TA DA!!
This kid's got some of the qualities and tendencies of Your Typical
ReThugLieCon. Now if only he was white (or Clarence Thomas), he'd be afforded
the opportunities to hone his craft.

OOooo. Twofer. But he's not bigoted. At all. And that's not even the first post to blame 'society.' My favorite, and not just because he accidentally points out what might be a root cause of the little boy's resentment by misspelling his name:

So Latarina was out for a joy ride .... even though he is not of age
for a Driver's License, nor of age to get Car Insurance, nor is he of age to own
a car. But I bet anyone his driving abilities performed alot more better than of
those who are adults that goes out drinking and then drives. Sure, it shows he's
not growing up in a great environment that teaches him to be more disciplined
within his natural surroundings, a kid with no father figure perhaps, nor a
mother who teaches him right from wrong. This just clearly shows that, this is
the direction to where a country is going because the politicians are more
worried about corporate interests and their bank accounts, even at a time of
war. They could of done better things with their war money, such as give a kid
like Latarian a better living environment, not nooooooooooo .... that didn't
happen.Remember now, oppression is a dysfunctional disease brought to you, by
the country's political infrastructure.

I'm sorry; your what hurts? Shouldn't you be lecturing at a community college somewhere right now? Sociology, perhaps, or maybe pre-law? These are the people we share the roads with, the people blocking the aisle at the grocery store who give you that look when you try to go around them. The people who won't take their clothes out at the laundrymat when the machine is done running, like they're renting real estate. These people vote. They think they're right. About everything, all the time. Good thing that's funny.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fine. We'll Just Sit Here in the Dark, Then.

Syria's ambassador to the U.S. -- who sounds like a real fun guy, by the way -- says the CIA's full of crap. Well, not really. He was... diplomatic about it. Imad Moustapha said the photographs the CIA had that were allegedly taken inside a Syrian nuclear facility were fabricated. "The photos presented to me yesterday were ludicrous, laughable." Okey Dokey. What was the building for, then? Hello? Israel bombed it last year, the Syrians promptly bulldozed the ruins and built a larger building on top of it. They won't say what it's for.

Other annoying countries like N. Korea and Iran like to pretend that they need reactors to generate nuclear power, but it's argued that the reactors are really for generating weapons-grade plutonium. Here's the quick-and-dirty on how inspectors might figure that out. I'm not a scientist. Real, actual scientists are invited to correct me. Preferably over cocktails.

From what I just read, the difference is in how short a time a fuel rod is used in a reactor. The objective in power generation is to turn the turbines. Nuclear power plants use steam, and the heat to boil the water to make the steam is generated through nuclear reaction. The fuel rods are made of Uranium 238. During the course of the reaction the uranium isotope picks up an extra neutron and decays into Plutonium 239. You have the option of removing the fuel rods at any point in the reaction process. If you were generating heat for steam you would allow the rods to remain in place until all reactivity tapered off. You would no longer have much uranium 238 and you would have the higher isotopes of plutonium (240,241, and so on). P239 is the one you want for weapons, and if you remove the fuel rods earlier in the process that's what you'll have. So I guess if you have more uranium being expended in a given period of time at a given reactor than 'should be' you have a reason to ask what they're using it for.

Meanwhile, back in Syria, Mr. Moustapha isn't saying what the reactor is for. I guess it doesn't have wires hooked up to it. Bit of an oversight, that. He says there's no military checkpoints, air defenses or even a fence, so it can't be a sensitive facility. It's in the middle of the desert where it's flat and there's a whole lot of nothing. Good luck sneaking up on it, and who needs a fence? Anti-aircraft defenses would be like asking to get bombed again. So what's it for, Moose?

I Suppose "Murdering Crapweasels" is Out.

Style tips from our enlightened betters at the Associated Press. It would be funny if I didn't think it might actually kill us to be nice.

Some do's and don't's from the National Counterterrorism Center:

_ Don't use the term "jihadist," which has broader religious meanings beyond war, or "mujahedeen," which refers to holy warriors.

_ Do say "violent extremist" or "terrorist."

_ Don't use the term "al-Qaida movement," because this makes al-Qaida seem like a legitimate political movement.

_ Don't use "Islamo-fascism" and other terms that could cause religious offense.

_ Do use the term "totalitarian."

_ Don't label groups simply as "Muslim."

_ Do use descriptive terms to define how a group fits into society. For example: South Asian youth and Arab opinion leaders.

_ Don't use "caliphate" when explaining al-Qaida's goals, as this has positive implications.

_ Don't use "salafi," "Wahhabist," "sufi," "ummah" and other words from Islamic theology unless you are able to discuss their varied meanings. Particularly avoid using "ummah" to mean the Muslim world, as it is a theological term.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Politics Made Simple

One one side we have a Harvard-educated lawyer married to a harpy that's also a lawyer, running against a Yale-educated harpy lawyer married to a lawyer. Whoever wins will be running against a guy married to a good-looking blonde who owns a beer distributorship. I can't believe we even have to have an election.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Elian Times 437

Starting in 1983 the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, CA became the center of the largest, most expensive criminal trial in U.S. history. Three hundred and sixty children were deemed by the State's social workers to have been victims of abuse at the hands of the McMartin family. Lurid tales of satanic rituals and sexual abuse made international headlines. After seven years and $15 million dollars not a single conviction was obtained. The entire thing was a hoax, claiming the livelihoods of the McMartins and the innocence of the children involved.

On April 19, 1993, a Federal raid on the Branch Davidian home in Waco, Texas resulted in the deaths of 87 people when the building was burned to the ground. The rationale behind the raid was alleged to be the illegal stockpiling of weapons, but what brought in the tanks and the Bradleys was an allegation of child abuse. The Davidians midwived and homeschooled. Their children had little to no contact with those representatives of State authority euphemistically referred to as "the outside world." There was no way to prove the children had been or were being mistreated. It was impossible to make that determination from their charred remains.

Fifteen years later we have Waco without the flames. On the basis of a now-discredited allegation of abuse the State of Texas has raided the home and ranch of Yearning for Zion, a fundamentalist Mormon group in Eldorado, Texas. A phone call to a family violence shelter (not the police) purportedly from "Sarah Jessop Barlow" alleged sexual abuse was occurring at the ranch. After removing 437 children from the custody of their parents -- in some cases lying to mothers and children about where they'd go and if they'd stay together -- "Sarah Jessop Barlow" has yet to make her presence known. This is in spite of several identifying characteristics, such as her pregnancy, she gave to authorities. A 33-year-old woman in Colorado Springs is currently being investigated for placing the call. I thought I'd get that into print as it has already dropped down the memory hole.

Of course the State's argument for its thuggery is "It's for the children. We must protect the children." Towards that end Social Services has removed them from the only life they've ever known, interrogated them without benefit of counsel, separated them from their support network, and plans have been made to scatter them in a diaspora that encompasses the great State of Texas. They've promised to "try" to keep siblings in foster care together. That seems unlikely, as in many cases there are five or more siblings. An argument can be made that since the children were raised communally -- by the village, as it were, that all 437 of them perceive themselves as siblings.

The life of a foster child is very stressful. You know that at any time you can be returned like a pair of shoes by people you've grown to trust who are much too nice to tell you why. You're like a leased car; you receive the bare minimum of required maintenance and no improvements. If your table manners are abysmal, if you're lacking in the social graces, if you can't make heads or tails of Algebra, it's no matter. Your grades or behavior won't reflect upon your foster family since everybody knows you're not 'theirs.' In a few months you'll be someone else's problem. And if you're not lucky enough to get placed with a family you get to live in a group home, an experience I need not describe to anyone who's read "Lord of the Flies." It is a soul-eroding grind of a life for which you are perpetually expected to be grateful. There has never been designed a more mentally abusive system than that orchestrated by the State under the guise of protecting children.

This farce will continue into the indefinite future. The children will never be returned to the only home they've known. How long do you suppose it will take to perform 437 DNA tests? Most of them will be grown by the time the State can even figure out if it's been the recipient of a prank phone call. But the State's objective has already been accomplished: to remove those children from the weird scary Christians. That's why there's been nary a peep from the thousands of communes, group marriages, same-sex unions and polyamorists. They believe being raised in a fundamentalist Christian manner is more damaging to kids than being raised in foster care, and the State seems to agree.

The purpose of all those DNA tests is to determine which if any of the children were the result of a union with an underage girl and an adult man. In this setting a pregnant teenage girl is evidence of a crime. Let the exact same pregnant teenage girl turn up at Planned Parenthood for an abortion and she is embraced. No one would dream of asking her who drove the car she rode there in, much less who knocked her up. And polygamy is horrible and oppressive, unless the women are in charge. Cloaking the practice in religion is despicable, unless they're Muslim.

In fifteen years all the further we've come is nobody gets set on fire this time. The kids at Waco may have had it better, though. They got to stay with their family until the end.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The LAT Picks on the Cripple

Ralph Vartabedian (ralph.vartabedian@latimes.com) is an extremely tough man. He laughs at danger with a boisterous, hearty guffaw. He thinks those guys on "Deadliest Catch" are pansies, that oil rig workers are mincing pantywaists, that the ice road truckers need to suck it up. He must; he also thinks John McCain, a fighter pilot who was shot down and spent five years as a POW in Viet Nam (thank you, sir), isn't disabled enough to rate a tax-free disability pension. After all, McCain has said he felt well enough to hike in the Grand Canyon. One wonders how ill one of Ralph's children would have to be in order to miss a day of school. I don't think chicken pox would cut it. Just out of curiosity, does John Kerry get a pension for his heiney-full of rice?

In the same story, Vartabedian worries that McCain might be too disabled to be President, given his history of skin cancer. One of the Left's secular saints, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was wheelchair-bound from polio. He seemed to work out OK enough. John Kennedy, a fellow veteran, had back trouble. Some days the pain was so bad he could barely cheat on his wife. So which is it? Is McCain too old and broke down, or not old and broke down enough?