politics, hypocrisy and meanness in public affairs, alligators, anti-empire-ism, occasional personal stuff

Monday, May 31, 2010

I don't know about you, but ...

... watching Joe Biden (or any official/politician) standing at attention - looking grim/serious/meaningful - during a wreath-laying ceremony leaves me beyond cold.  It's just one more thing on a schedule, one more agenda item.

How about this; how about if all future TV commercials for the military services dispense with rifle twirling and marching in pretty uniforms and, instead, focus on mud and blood and pain and death - and killing of others by those sought to be recruited.  How about if all future dead soldiers, marines, seamen, seawomen, airwomen, airmen are referred to as "killed" or "murdered" or "pointlessly lost their lives" rather than the sickeningly sweet, syrupy "fallen," as though they lay down and took a snooze in a meadow - or, at worst, had a painless, instantaneous death.

Let's honor our service people by not sending them into pointless wars, wars in which they cannot succeed, wars with people and countries with whom we have no quarrel, or in situations in which we have no stake, or can do no good.  Let's honor people, rather than pretend to honor them, or only honor them after we - this is all done in OUR NAMES - have killed them.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Let me see, here ...

Sunni Muslim gunment killed 80 people in two mosques in Lahore, Pakistan, yesterday, apparently because the gunmen believe that the Ahmadi believers are not real Muslims. How can they be sure?  Apparently, the Ahmadis cannot be real Muslims because they do not kill other Muslims with whom they have disagreements.  And we non-Muslims are supposed to understand that authentic Muslims can engage in this murderous behavior, and it is somehow all right with Allah?  I don't begin to understand.

We Americans then, through our government topped by our Christian Prez, then fire a drone-bomb that kills eight in western Pakistan. I don't begin to understand that.

We humans are told by various philosophers to accept the world - accept what we cannot change - and I don't begin to understand that, either.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Masters of Deceit/Misinformation

Can Repugnicans be serious that they are thinking "crime" for a job offer from White House to try to get potential candidate not to run for another position?? No one could be serious about that. Now, if someone said, "I'll give you $1 Million - wink, for your campaign, wink - and I HOPE you will listen to my plea for my very important project ... now, THAT might be a crime, except that is what every member of Congress already does.

Why do these jokers think that anyone (without millions of bucks) takes them seriously?  Recall the words of Benjamin Franklin, after the constitutional convention - "a republic, if you can keep it."  We couldn't.  Too bad the Texas Board of Education, in rewriting history, did not acknowledge that we have an oligarchy, and long have had.

Is this America or a former East Bloc state? [Newsweek]

BP's Photo Blockade of the Gulf Oil Spill

Photographers say BP and government officials are preventing them from documenting the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Gerald Herbert / AP
Jean-Michel Cousteau (center) was turned away from a wildlife sanctuary by the U.S. Coast Guard after they discovered that an AP photographer was on board.
As BP makes its latest attempt to plug its gushing oil well, news photographers are complaining that their efforts to document the slow-motion disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are being thwarted by local and federal officials—working with BP—who are blocking access to the sites where the effects of the spill are most visible. More than a month into the disaster, a host of anecdotal evidence is emerging from reporters, photographers, and TV crews in which BP and Coast Guard officials explicitly target members of the media, restricting and denying them access to oil-covered beaches, staging areas for clean-up efforts, and even flyovers.
Last week, a CBS TV crew was threatened with arrest when attempting to film an oil-covered beach. On Monday, Mother Jones published this firsthand account of one reporter’s repeated attempts to gain access to clean-up operations on oil-soaked beaches, and the telling response of local law enforcement. The latest instance of denied press access comes from Belle Chasse, La.-based Southern Seaplane Inc., which was scheduled to take a New Orleans Times-Picayune photographer for a flyover on Tuesday afternoon, and says it was denied permission once BP officials learned that a member of the press would be on board.
“We are not at liberty to fly media, journalists, photographers, or scientists,” the company said in a letter it sent on Tuesday to Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). “We strongly feel that the reason for this massive [temporary flight restriction] is that BP wants to control their exposure to the press.”
The ability to document a disaster, particularly through images, is key to focusing the nation’s attention on it, and the resulting clean-up efforts. Within days of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, pictures of dead otters, fish, and birds, as well as oil-covered shorelines, ignited nationwide outrage and led to a backlash against Exxon. Consumers returned some 10,000 of Exxon’s 7 million credit cards. Forty days after the spill, protestors organized a national boycott of Exxon. So far, no national boycott of BP is in the works, despite growing frustration over the company’s inability to cap the leaking well. Obviously, pictures are emerging from this spill, but much of the images are coming from BP and government sources.

Since the flight restrictions were expanded on May 11, private aircraft must get permission from BP’s command center to fly over a huge portion of the Gulf of Mexico encompassing not just the growing slick in the Gulf, but the entire Louisiana coastline, where oil is washing ashore. If a request is denied, aircraft must stay 3,000 feet above the restricted space.

Photographers who have traveled to the Gulf commonly say they believe that BP has exerted more control over coverage of the spill with the cooperation of the federal government and local law enforcement. “It’s a running joke among the journalists covering the story that the words ‘Coast Guard’ affixed to any vehicle, vessel, or plane should be prefixed with ‘BP,’ ” says Charlie Varley, a Louisiana-based photographer. “It would be funny if it were not so serious.”
The problem, as many members of the press see it, is that even when access is granted, it’s done so under the strict oversight of BP and Coast Guard personnel. Reporters and photographers are escorted by BP officials on BP-contracted boats and aircraft. So the company is able to determine what reporters see and when they see it. AP photographer Gerald Herbert has been covering the disaster since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20. He says that access has been hit or miss, and that there have been instances when it’s obvious members of the press are being targeted. “There are times when the Coast Guard has been great, and others where it seems like they’re interfering with our ability to have access,” says Herbert. One of those instances occurred early last week, when Herbert accompanied local officials from Plaquemines Parish in a police boat on a trip to Breton Island, a national wildlife refuge off the barrier islands of Louisiana. With them was Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques, who wanted to study the impact of the oil below the surface of the water. Upon approaching the island, a Coast Guard boat stopped them. “The first question was, ‘Is there any press with you?’ ” says Herbert. They answered yes, and the Coast Guard said they couldn’t be there. “I had to bite my tongue. That should have no bearing.”

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Agree w/Craig Crawford's assessment, below

"A defensive, un-authoritative, and equivocal Barack Obama did nothing today to show he's in charge of what appears to be our biggest oil spill in history. He couldn't even answer whether or not he had fired someone.

Today's press conference -- his first since July -- was a time for the President to demonstrate he is on top of the crisis. Despite repeated assertions of control, Obama's awkward demeanor suggested just the opposite. He came across as a beleaguered bureaucrat on damage control."

This reminds me of when the University of Missouri's football team was hostilely bullying and bad-mouthing another team - barking at them - but the Tigers were losing the game badly - it just didn't make sense. It is obvious that there is no federal control over the situation - BP officials routinely order around the "authorities" and ride roughshod over the rights of reporters to see, and report on, the situation.  Yet, here is the Prez declaring that everything is under control (Ghost of Alexander Haig declaring that HE was in charge in the White House after President Reagan was shot!).

I must be dreaming; this can't be true.

I have just read several reports that say that BP is controlling airspace - overflight rights - in the Gulf of Mexico, right now.
But I don't believe this; could not happen in the U.S. of A. Could it? No, it couldn't.

Words some have to live by ...

"The triumph of the human condition was to face one small defeat after another and to survive them relatively intact. The tragedy was to face the worst defeat too soon and never to recover."
[The Ice House, by Minette Walters]

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Watching the Cardinals on mlb.tv

Life slipping by, but maybe it is like baseball - there is always another game tomorrow, always another time at bat. Or maybe not.

I wonder what the "topkill" result will be tomorrow on the oil spill effort. If it doesn't work, what then?  I keep thinking of Don Corleone - for enough money, he could probably get it done. Aah, maybe not.

Big booms outside - that storm seems to have a second chapter.

I wonder what Bobby Jindal's stock will look like in another month of this oil spill debacle - what will Obama's look like?  Why does Interior Secretary Salazar keep reminding me of Heckuva Job Brown?  Does anyone have confidence in Janet Napolitano or Salazar?

Sitting on veranda

Two guys come with huge lawn mower, a very noisy leaf blower, and ... yes ... another very noisy leaf blower.  The lawn mower is unusually loud ... but its blade is set higher than the grass; so, it blows a lot of dust and sand around. The first guy comes forth with a leaf blower - there are maybe three leaves in the entire yard - and blasts away, spreading more dust and sand - and three leaves.  The other guy comes with the second leaf blower and blasts away at the same tiny front yard, and then goes into the street, to blast sand, dust and three leaves further into the street.  I have earplugs in.

Anyone out there remember RAKES?

Frankly, this is all getting old - Palin, Oil, BO, Life

A guy might feel very fortunate to be where I am; maybe I'm missing a gratitude gene, certainly a serenity gene.
Why is it so difficult for our "leaders" to grasp that a basic - the basic - reason that al Qaeda and other Muslims-who-hate-us do so because we (your U.S. military and mine) are in their lands?  Read ... listen- we are in Saudi Arabia, Irag, Afghanistan, Pakistan.  They hate us because we are there; they don't hate us "for our freedoms." That has always been a load of horseshit, but it was a Bush/Cheney load of horseshit.  Did we elect people-for-change who had the same (idiotic, self-deluded, impervious to information) beliefs?  And now we have an Army that is operating unlawfully in a dozen countries (and 165 countries as a lawful empire!), and either a Prez who doesn't know, or can't control the Army, or AGREES that the Army - acting in our names - can and should go where it wants to go, do what it wants to do.
Good grief.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Can NYers say h-u-b-r-i-s?

New York/New Jersey gets the 2014 Super Bowl, and NY Mayor (BigHead) Bloomberg says that NY getting the Super Bowl is NY's gift to the rest of the country, in return for the country's help for NY after 9/11 - ???

"They say" the rich are different - yep, the rich, the arrogant, the very, very special. Different.

I could not make this stuff up.

Great patriotic Republicans reject taking care of 9/11 responders

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Tue May 25, 2010 at 02:06:04 PM PDT

I guess they're already over 9/11.
Ailing Sept. 11 responders don’t deserve a permanent, guaranteed program to ensure they get health care, and giving it to them could wreck the country, Republicans in Congress argued today.
Calling the Sept. 11 Health and Compensation Act a new “entitlement program” like Medicare, members of the GOP on the House Energy and Commerce Committee argued the nation already has too much that it must pay for, and making the care of tens of thousands of 9/11 responders mandatory was too much of a burden.
“By making this a new mandatory program, you jeopardize the financial health of the United States of America,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.)....
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) argued New York was trying to dump its responsibility for caring for victims of the terrorist attacks on the feds.
“Our support for them (responders) should not be a vehicle for cost-shifting,” he said, pointing to the lengthy approval process of the workers’ compensation system that generally helps people injured on the job.
Apparently the 9/11 attacks were just an attack on New York, in the new version of Republican history.

I'm tellin' you - you won't believe this (re BP oilspill)


I Can't F___ing Stand it. [from Washington Post, today]

"Inspectors with the Minerals Management Service -- charged with enforcing safety and environmental rules on off-shore rigs -- routinely took gifts from the companies they were supposed to be policing, including hunting trips, college football tickets and meals, according to a new report [by Dept. of Interior Inspector General]."

Whatever Big Business CAN corrupt, it WILL corrupt. The public, the beasts, beaches, the salt marshes, the waters ... be damned.

Now, c'mon, Prez, and that incompetent Ken Salazar - ROLL SOME HEADS, HERE.

Why is it ...

that every successive Administration just HAS to take over more and more power, and do it in secret, expanding "our" military reach over more and more of the world. "Our" - does it feel like "your" military; it doesn't feel like mine. It feels like theirs: the rulers of the empire.  They didn't teach it this way in high school Civics class.

Where, exactly, does this President - or any President - think he gets the authority to make hidden forays into countries with which we have no agreement and no disagreement?  Where in the Constitution does he think he finds justification for invading other countries w/o a Declaration of War - without, even, congressional knowledge that he is sending "your" military in to do his bidding.

Why do we have to ask these questions of each Administration?  Why does the Prez have time to honor Paul McCartney?  He should spend less time on fancy stuff and more time pondering his duties and his Constitutional limitations.  And, he could spend time talking to his daughters about how he got the authority to order the killings of individuals. That might clarify some things for him, when he talks to actual humans, rather than his kowtowing advisors.

Aw, Geez! Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan & over 10 more

Monday, May 24, 2010

This just in!

Got word that friends and [her] children are "surprised at our breakup."  Well, no kidding.  So am I.

Really, really disgusted to see that The White House (our tax dollars, our Leader's attention) are being spent on "honoring Paul McCartney."  Are you kidding me?!  "The White House" is not busy enough with real work, real issues?  We aren't short enough of tax funds?  Once again - as with Kennedy Center Honors and State Dinners - whoever is the occupant of the White House sees it as his personal fun house - divine right of kings.

Is there any point in trying to/believing we can make any REAL change?  We got fooled, again; meet the new boss/same as the old boss.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Orleans, again

... and again ...

Reading so much about Rand Paul - why did he think he was ready for this?  Turning down - canceling - Meet the Press ... wow; that is big; what an opportunity to show his stuff, ... if he had any.

And, OIL - it was not small, to begin with; but now BP admits - ADMITS, as though they have not been quite as candid as they should have been - that the spill/gusher/catastrophe is bigger ... a lot bigger ... than they had said.  C'mon, Prez - time to kick some ass; look back at your history books and videotapes of Lyndon Fucking Johnson when he dealt with a natural disaster in the Gulf that affected the very same area.

"When Hurricane Betsy hit New Orleans in ’65, Johnson flew into town and went to a shelter full of people who had been evacuated from Algiers. It was dark inside and people were scared and didn’t know what was going to happen to them. He shined a flashlight in his face and said ‘My name is Lyndon Baines Johnson. I’m your goddamn president and I’m here to tell you my office and the people of the United States are behind you.'" [from Tin Roof Blowdown, by James Lee Burke]

I hear that this spill "has been inconvenient for the President." Goddamnit, this is what being President is about - events that you didn't expect or plan for.  This is not the time - if ever there was the time - for BO to make 2-3 speeches a week, in different parts of the country; this is a time to hunker down and do the work.  Don't put on another show of rolling up your sleeves - stop getting dressed up every day; dress to work, not to look a certain way.  For just one thing, you could order somebody to stop BP from giving orders to deputy sheriffs and cops to keep reporters away from beaches.  Who the hell is BP to order law officers to do anything; who are those cops' bosses to LET BP give those orders. (And where is the Louisiana governor in this?)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Off to see the wizard, ...

Well, off, anyway.

Delighted to see Senator Arlen Specter lose. What a rat.
Curious about what Rand Paul will do in the general election.
How nice to see reptilian Mitch McConnell's "boy" get CRUSHED by Rand Paul.
And what about Richard Blumenthal saying he served in Viet-Nam when he did not, and instead "served" with the other elite "swells" in a special Marine Reserve unit that did window-dressing in Washington, D.C.? He looks plastic, and it appears that he is.

I am in the South, where I keep getting confused - so many people here hate those who are against the government when it comes to war - calls them traitors and such - yet there are so many Confederate flags here, apparently supporting traitors who joined an army antagonistic to the U.S. Army and fought against them. Very confusing.  And also, those great patriots here are in favor of government acts in war (and in huge expenditures to keep those military bases running and their local economies running) but against government acts of peace and diplomacy.  It's very confusing here.  (Saw a sign on the yard of an old person: NO to government-run health care. The homeowner is on Medicare.)  But, we've had this conversation before.

Had a personal disaster this week, not coping well; blog entries will be short (or missing).

What a short, strange trip this has been.

From now on, I hope to hesitate every time I think - or start to say - that I know something.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Who was this man?

Another invention is a writing tablet called the Nyctograph for use at night that allowed for note-taking in the dark; thus eliminating the trouble of getting out of bed and striking a light when one wakes with an idea. The device consisted of a gridded card with sixteen squares and system of symbols representing an alphabet of [his] design.
Among the games he devised outside of logic there are a number of word games, including an early version of what today is known as Scrabble. He also appears to have invented, or at least certainly popularised, the Word Ladder (or "doublet" as it was known at first); a form of brain-teaser that is still popular today: the game of changing one word into another by altering one letter at a time, each successive change always resulting in a genuine word. For instance, CAT is transformed into DOG by the following steps: CAT, COT, DOT, DOG.[8]
Other items include a rule for finding the day of the week for any date; a means for justifying right margins on a typewriter; a steering device for a velociam (a type of tricycle); new systems of parliamentary representation;[20] more nearly fair elimination rules for tennis tournaments; a new sort of postal money order; rules for reckoning postage; rules for a win in betting; rules for dividing a number by various divisors; a cardboard scale for the college common room he worked in later in life, which, held next to a glass, ensured the right amount of liqueur for the price paid; a double sided adhesive strip for things like the fastening of envelopes or mounting things in books; a device for helping a bedridden invalid to read from a book placed sideways; and at least two ciphers for cryptography.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Panama City Beach - St. Andrews State Park

Beautiful place - beautiful campsite, on the water.
Early this evening, we saw a 9-10 foot alligator, in the water, that approached to within 10 feet, at which point I started to edge back from the water. It was a beauty, wonderful to see it on its home turf.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


Entering B-ham; traffic + construction, as usual. On little sleep - yuck.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, May 08, 2010

On vacation

Blogs, if any, will be sporadic for the next ten days or so.
Traveling with newly-acquired, classic, tiny travel trailer for the first time - two humans plus two sweet beasts - heading south.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Winding down the week ...

We spent much of yesterday in New Harmony, Indiana, which is even more lovely in May than usual; still amazed at what the founders did, and what the scientists of the 19th century did there.

Last night, we picked up the 10' Shasta camper-trailer after two great craftsmen had installed the a/c, micro-wave, hot-plate and futon,  and done the electrical repairs and add-ons. We will ready it today for first road-trip of the Shasta era!

Disappointed in Lib-Dems showing in British election - thought they'd near 30%. Oh, well.

Wonder if we'll see the oil slick next week.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Phillies RHP Ryan Madson will miss at least eight weeks following surgery on his broken right toe. Madson kicked a chair after blowing a save last week.

I must have kicked something today.

Wondering a little more

Further, CBS reported that Army planes intercepted some cell phone calls to and from the attempted bomber, and these intercepts helped ID him. Later, this story disappeared. This is not the first time that stories w/national-security angles - or government-embarrassment angles - have disappeared. Add this to last night's change-in-story re whether the Gulf plane left the gate - and Homeland Security's laughable story that, if the plane had left and gotten over international waters, Homeland Security would have simply called the plane back AND IT WOULD HAVE COMPLIED! Whole lotta coverin' goin' on.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Yesterday, I heard on TV news the audio tape of a conversation between the control tower at JFK and the pilot of the plane carrying the alleged Times Square attempted-bomber in which the controller tells the pilot to abort his taxiing and turn left at the next opportunity AND RETURN TO THE TERMINAL. The pilot acknowledged and affirmed that he would do so. Today, the news emphasized that the plane never left the gate.  Hmmmm.

Today, also, Dept. of Homeland Security stated that the system worked.


Monday, May 03, 2010

Still waiting for 'crusading" Tea Partiers to ... Oh, never mind.

Lynn Redgrave - Georgy Girl star, among many other things - hopefully learned "what's it all about, Alfie?" over the many years. What a star she was, in many ways, I understand.

I keep reading different stories/reports about the oil spill - what safety features were not used, what were - uncertainty why they failed - and seeing various estimates of the daily spew.  Scientists in the area have different estimates, but some say it is a million gallons a day - already exceeding Exxon Valdez spill of '89 - compare it to a Gulf spill in'69, as biggest of all. No one can say that there will be an end to this one, unlike a spilling tanker.  Will this be the end of Gulf seafood industry? If so, will it be the end of south Louisiana?

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Musings on a very rainy Sunday.

A few days ago, I received a monthly Event Newsletter from New Harmony, Indiana, my favorite place in the world. Unfortunately, it included this:

Month of June for Him ~ He showed us how to be selfless, how to give without expectations. He empowered us with the value of hard work and demonstrated how to keep our promises with integrity and compassion. Reward him with a package built "Just for Him". 

I have received and read pablum such as this, many times.  This time, though, I noticed that the sender was from a specific person, not just some entity, so I wrote:

Dear Kathy,

Who is this person that you describe, thusly: Month of June for Him ~ He showed us how to be selfless, how to give without expectations. He empowered us with the value of hard work and demonstrated how to keep our promises with integrity and compassion. Reward him with a package built "Just for Him". ??

This may have been your father - sure wasn't mine!  How about: He showed us how to be egotistical and condescending, not to mention tyrannical and arbitrary, cruel and brutal, cold and belittling.

I love New Harmony, and love the Inn; but these "one type fits all" glam-shots gall those of us who didn't have those type parents.

But, I like getting the monthly event notes; keep 'em coming.

Whew - glad I got that off my chest. Here's more, though.

What is it about us - Americans, our culture - that seems to require fantasy views about so many areas of life? Beautiful people and beautiful houses (we call them "homes" because that is so cozy-sounding) in advertisements; models who are fired when they get to be size 4; ads recently pulled from two networks because they featured normal-size women - yes, women have breasts; idiot Virginia Attorney General who has changed the state seal, covering the breast of the Greek goddess who has been on the state seal for 220 years; huge brou-haha about Vice President using a commonly-used word (hush, hush: we don't like to think our public officials - who we generally despise - cuss; what is that about?); what's it all about, Alfie?

Our tax dollars at worK:

The National Weather Service called us at 2:45 a.m., 2:55 a.m. and 3:05 a.m., to tell us that it has issued a tornado warning for our county ... from 2:15 a.m., expiring at 2:45 a.m. It called us again at 3:15 a.m, to advise us that it has (had?) issued a tornado warning from 3:02 a.m. ... expiring at 3:15 a.m.

I would like to thank the NWS, if I knew who to call.

At 3:08 a.m., I heard the dreaded "sounds like a train" sound, looked out the back ... and saw the train 1/4 mile away that was passing by.

And we, exhausted from not sleeping enough for several days, had gone to bed at 9:00 p.m.