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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Just in case you wondered if our govt is doing anything worthwhile -

White House sends out this press release:


Thanks, Guv

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Beyond satire, beyond hope for our political process

The CPAC announced the recipient of its annual "Defender of the Constitution" Award: Don Rumsfeld
I did not make up this announcement or Award. Some very bizarre, ironical god did, however, make up the conservative movement in this country, as it now stands.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

This was a day of days in Egypt, not so much here.

I keep thinking, "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you."

It turns out that I was not the only one who thought the State of the Union speech was not just not about the State of the Union but was also not worth the time - left out lots of important aspects of the Union's state - poor people, Presidential death orders, unemployment, failure to file criminal charges against ANY bank guys who the Prez's own commission just found caused the recession by their gross negligence and mismanagement, failure of the Prez to relate the costs of two wars to the deficit, ... blah, blah, blah. But, wouldn't you know it, those kinds of things are rarely-if-ever mentioned in what passes for media here.  Meanwhile, CNN & Fox Pretend News make wholly unsubstantiated claims about al Qaeda involvement in the revolution in Egypt.

Alice, you were missing a Wonderland? I've found it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

From Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic

I could not have said this better ... which is why I am using his words:

Posted: 27 Jan 2011 07:09 AM PST

Like so many platitudinous politicians seeking to inspire, in his SOTU President Obama characterized the nation as "the American family," and I suppose Americans are a family in one sense -- all 300 million of us are stuck with each other. We surely don't all like each other or wish each other well; some of us assume others of us belong in hell, quite literally; we don't share the same fundamental values or ideals, much less the "common creed" referenced by Obama.

We don't "all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution," obviously. We differ vigorously and sometimes viciously over freedom of speech and religion, abortion and gay rights, the rights of criminal (or terror) suspects, property rights and unqualified Second Amendment rights, among others. We regularly sabotage, assault, rob, kill each other, and lock each other up. (Some seven million of us are in prison or on probation or parole.) If we are any sort of family we are a highly dysfunctional one, riddled with domestic abuse.
Yes I realize the President was trafficking in metaphor, not intended to be taken literally, but his familiar, familial rhetoric is intended to resonate emotionally. I realize too the futility of railing against such trite and childish sentimentality -- it's like objecting to the now inevitable SOTU anecdotes about ordinary yet exemplary Americans displayed in the gallery -- but I am nostalgic for the Obama who once spoke to us as if were adults (mainly in his speech about race). 

And I fantasize about a time when childish appeals to American exceptionalism are no longer obligatory, when presidential addresses are no longer rife with jingoism, when they no longer rely on illusions, or outright lies, about our allegiance to liberty. If the President were genuinely committed to setting a "moral example ... for all those who yearn for freedom, justice, and dignity," he would not have found favor with Dick Cheney for embracing the Bush/Cheney war on terror. If he were committed to "open government," his Administration would not have invoked the state secrets doctrine to avoid accountability for torture and illegal surveillance. If "American leadership (had) been renewed" and America's standing (had) been restored," the U.N. might not be investigating the arguably torturous treatment of Bradley Manning, who has yet to be convicted of a crime. If the President really believed were were a family, he might show some mercy to all of its members. If he really aspired to lead a morally exemplary country, he might have more regard for justice.

This is a BFD - Big Fucking Day

Syria suspends all Internet services, according to @:

This is the Governor of Ohio, who will oversee redistricting in the state ...

... that may tip the balance in 2012, as it did (with a little corruption assistance) in 2004:

Gov. Kasich To Black Lawmaker: ‘I Don’t Need Your People’

Delivering on his vision for a “new way,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) “is on pace to be the first governor since 1962 to have an entire Cabinet without any racial diversity.” Every one of his 22 full-time agency head appointments has been a white person. Only five are women. Dubbing diversity as “metrics that people tend to focus on,” Kasich said, “I can’t say I need to find somebody to fit this metric” because “it’s not the way I look at those things. I want the best possible team I can get.”

Yesterday, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference to express their waning patience with his dismissive attitude and “implore[] Kasich to make better strides to diversify his Cabinet.” But according to State Senator Nina Turner (D-OH), this time Kasich’s response was a bit more blunt. According to Turner, when the caucus offered him help in finding qualified minority applicants, Kasich told Turner, “I don’t need your people“:
TURNER: Today, in 2001, it feels more like 1811 in the state of Ohio under a governor who just does not get it. I want to read some of [Kasich's] quotes. He said, ‘I don’t look at things from that standpoint. It’s not the way I look at things. I want the best possible team I can get and hopefully we will be in a position that we are fully diverse as we go forward.” As we go forward, as we go along, by and by, someday. I remember Martin Luther King saying so eloquently that wait almost always means never. Through his actions and deeds, Governor Kasich has declared that Ohio is open for business, but if you are African-American you need not apply. If you are hispanic, you need not apply. If you are Asian-Indian, you need not apply. And Oh My God I have a few women but we don’t need many more, so for women, you need not apply.
And then to have the pure unadulterated gall to say that he can’t find anyone. In that same caucus meeting when I said to the governor “if you need help, we can help you” and he said, and I quote, “I don’t need your people.” Now as an African-American, I was kind of perplexed about “I don’t need your people.” I wasn’t quite sure whether or not he was referring to my ethnic group people or my people as in the 350,000 constituents I serve in this state that represent all ethnic groups, all religious groups. I didn’t understand what “I’m not going to hire your people” means.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

More successful fallout from Bush's/our adventure in Iraq ("because he ..

.. tried to kill my daddy.")

A car bomb has ripped through a funeral tent in a mainly Shia Muslim area of Baghdad, killing 48 people.
Officials say that another 78 people were wounded in the mid-afternoon blast in the north-western Shula district.
Angry mourners attacked police who rushed to the scene, accusing them of failing to provide protection.
The funeral attack comes after a series of bombings killed dozens of Shia pilgrims during their annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala last week.
A spate of bombings in the past month against pilgrims, police recruits and security forces across Iraq has killed more than 170 people.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Watch out "free" Americans - Land of the Free even under Dem Prez

The DOJ Thinks Internet Providers Should Store Data on Where You’ve Been

The DOJ Thinks Internet Providers Should Store Data on Where You’ve Been
Photo: iStockPhoto
At a hearing today, the Justice Department told Congress that Internet service providers need to start keeping track of what you're doing online so their criminal investigations don't keep getting "frustrated." Mandatory data retention was something endorsed by Alberto Gonzales under President Bush. Today's guidelines are the first public endorsement of the policy, aligning Obama's DOJ with House Republicans and against privacy advocates, although Attorney General Eric Holder has been supporting the practice since he was last in the DOJ in the nineties. No details have been given whether websites and social networks need to comply, or whether a coffee shop, say, would need to track users that log on and off its Wi-Fi network. So the FTC wants a do-not-track button for advertisers, but the DOJ feels comfortable forcing ISPs to track you more closely and then store that data for an indefinite period of time? It might be muddled, but at least the federal government's Internet policy is getting more nuanced than "It's a series of tubes, right?"

Justice Department seeks mandatory data retention
New York Magazine

For a perspective on what The Prez really said last night, which I share:

translates foreign policy. Prepare to cringe. Especially at the kicker.

Particularly distressing to me - other than the "I spent an hour and said very little"  aspect - Obama seemed clueless about North Korea's "failure" to live up to its responsibilities. When has North Korea done what we thought it should? Why/how should a President be baffled, miffed or confused by that?

And, he did not say a single word about our ally Egypt, a brutal, corrupt dictatorship if there ever was one - talk about not living up to its responsibilities to its people.

Note that the British Govt is continuing to investigate Bush's poodle -

Why isn't our government investigating the poodle owner?

Blair Thought Iraq Legal Advice Was 'Provisional'

Unlike George W. Bush, Tony Blair didn't have his legal counsel give the opinions he wanted to hear, he just ignored them. Blair now says he thought the advice Lord Goldsmith, Blair's attorney general, gave him before the Iraq invasion was "provisional"—that Goldsmith would eventually change his mind about needing a stronger legal case for invasion. Blair is being probed in a second British inquiry into the legality of the Iraq invasion, and said in a written statement that he believed Goldsmith wouldn't think a second U.N. resolution against Iraq was needed once he knew the full details of past British and American negotiations with Saddam Hussein. In a 2003 memo, Goldsmith told Blair that U.N. resolution 1441 did not by itself authorize force against Iraq. A note was found next to that particular sentence in Blair's handwriting: "I just don't understand this."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wenden, Arizona

Thanks for erecting this sign - Tax dollars at work

Back to the blog, after a 6 day trip thru Arizona with a nice companion

It feels strange to be back - can't say "back home" - doesn't feel like that.

There are many beautiful sights in Arizona, and neat oddities, too, such as Desert Confections - a cafe fun out of a small motor home in Aguila, where there is also a very cute and sunny tiny library. Very cool.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Morning in Las Vegas, heading to Grand Canyon

Gosh, there are a lot of lights here! :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Unless the world ends tonight - or my car doesn't start (the same for me) ...

I'll be driving to Las Vegas in the morning to meet Holly who will fly in from frigid/rigid Nebraska. We'll look at lights (but not gamble) that night, then drive to Grand Canyon the next day, thence to Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott - seeing how it goes/we go. I'm looking forward to this very much, w/fingers crossed.

Escaping from the cave, to be with someone who actually wants to be with me!

Uh, ... please put that Pope John Paul II Beatification on hold for awhile -

Vatican warned Irish bishops not to report abuse

DUBLIN – A newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland's Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police — a disclosure that victims groups described as "the smoking gun" needed to show that the Vatican enforced a worldwide culture of cover-up.
The letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican's rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland's first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits.
The letter undermines persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in U.S. lawsuits, that the church in Rome never instructed local bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. It instead emphasizes the church's right to handle all child-abuse allegations, and determine punishments, in house rather than hand that power to civil authorities.
Signed by the late Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II's diplomat to Ireland, the letter instructs Irish bishops that their new policy of making the reporting of suspected crimes mandatory "gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature."
Storero wrote that canon law — which required abuse allegations and punishments to be handled within the church — "must be meticulously followed." He warned that any bishops who tried to impose punishments outside the confines of canon law would face the "highly embarrassing" position of having their actions overturned on appeal in Rome.
Catholic officials in Ireland and the Vatican declined AP requests to comment on the letter, which RTE said it received from an Irish bishop.

50 Big Bankers give back their bonuses, 10 jump from windows [just kidding]

Chase Admits Overcharging Troops on Mortgages, Improperly Foreclosing

JPMorgan Chase acknowledged this week that it overcharged some 4,000 military families for their mortgages and wrongfully foreclosed on at least 14. It's not clear how much the mistakes have cost these families, but the bank told NBC News that it’s collectively refunding about $2 million [1] to those affected. It has also promised to restore the homes that were lost.

This is not "just some crank." This crank is the Governor of Alabama -

Bentley Says Only Christians are his Brothers and Sisters

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) said "he plans to be the governor of all Alabamians and be color-blind, but he also said people who aren't 'saved' Christians aren't his brothers and sisters," the Birmingham News reports.

Said Bentley: "I was elected as a Republican candidate. But once I became governor... I became the governor of all the people. I intend to live up to that. I am color blind."

He added: "Now I will have to say that, if we don't have the same daddy, we're not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother."

Classic headline from Bloomberg (News for Rich Guys) -

Rich Raise Consumer Spending With Little Help From Middle Class

So, now you know, Middle-Classers - you have been letting the economy down by not spending money, and by not having money to spend.

[Don't even think about bringing up the tax laws that have caused money to gush upward to the upper-income classes! Don't even think about bringing up corporate policies of sending factories - entire industries - overseas for cheaper labor! I, of course, would never think of bring up that I have not even been able to GET A FUCKING INTERVIEW in two years.]

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dr. King, Memphis, April 3, 1968

"And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

[Mine eyes saw the glory all through my teen years, and that glory was Martin. I did not know him, although I saw and heard him many times, but he knew me. And you. And you. And you.]

Here is the real America, what we live for, what we value - ?

The Battle for Idol
by Richard Rushfield
An exclusive excerpt featured in Newsweek this week from American Idol: The Untold Story reveals the power struggle that pitted the almighty Simon Cowell against his longtime partner, Simon Fuller. Richard Rushfield discussed Cowell's Idol journey with him, as well as show insiders.

And I remember this [I was 15] -

The horror - and on black-and-white TV: Lumumba's widow, walking through the streets of Leopoldville, breasts bare in mourning ... throngs of tens of thousands on the streets ...

And our CIA in the shadows behind Sergeant Joseph Mobutu - soon to be Mobutu Sese Seko, murderer and then plunderer of a nation ...our CIA - always there to lend a helping hand against the monstrous and inhuman Communist menace ...

An Assassination's Long Shadow

The one thread leading to the past 50 years of human suffering in Congo begins with the assassination of Patrice Lumumba.

I remember -

--TIME Man of the Year, 1963, "America's Gandhi": "King ... has an indescribable capacity for empathy that is the touchstone of leadership. By deed and by preachment, he has stirred in his people a Christian forbearance that nourishes hope and smothers injustice. Says Atlanta's Negro Minister Ralph D. Abernathy, whom King calls 'my dearest friend and cellmate': 'The people make Dr. King great. He articulates the longings, the hopes, the aspirations of his people in a most earnest and profound manner. He is a humble man, down to earth, honest. He has proved his commitment to Judaeo-Christian ideals. He seeks to save the nation and its soul, not just the Negro.'" See the cover http://bit.ly/h8RVSc Read the story http://bit.ly/fOy6eV

It is the aniversary of that lesson & warning

Roger Ebert
Fifty years ago today, Eisenhower warned against the world we live in now. He was right. Nobody listened.
Some of us listened then, some have listened since, but not those with the power and money.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Being in charge means never having to say you're sorry.

Military officials blame "information overload" for deaths of 23 Afghan civilians killed by a Predator drone last year

I don't fucking believe it:

Jets win a football game and one of Jets stars - when asked about how he feels: "God is so wonderful. He just ...."

Don't these people see how this kind of response minimizes and de-legitimizes whatever is left of the seriousness and believability of religious people?  This was A FOOTBALL GAME. Talk about God's impact on your day when you have stopped war, prevented wholesale executions in China, unlawful imprisonments in America.

This, sadly, is not a joke -

Former Haitian dictator Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier makes a surprise return to the country, 25 years after he was overthrown.

For more details: http://www.bbcnews.com

You might want to (re-)read The Comedians, by Graham Greene. 

Not my words, but became parts of me -

"What did you sense in Molly Hendricks? That she was going to be hurt?"
"That she'd already been hurt."
"And that looked like ... what?"
"Helplessness. Like someone was holding her down."
"Why didn't I see it?"
"Because it's never happened to you."
(Places in the Dark, Thomas H. Cook)
"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, Minette Walters)

Only in America ... well, except also Congo & Pakistan

On sale for $139.95 at gun fair in Tucson: "My First Rifle." Pink for girls, black for boys.

El joko

My mother is a narcissist - she thinks she's the only one who gets to use "Priority Mail."

(I think I am the only one who does not deserve to be able to use "Priority Mail.")

Saturday, January 15, 2011

News of the Day Jan. 15, 2011

BAGHDAD — Three American soldiers were killed and one wounded in Iraq on Saturday, raising to five the number of service members from the United States killed here since the beginning of the year.
At the Ghazlani Training Center, south of Mosul, American soldiers were training Iraqi forces Saturday morning when a trainee opened fire on his trainers, according to an Iraqi Army officer.
The exercise was meant to be conducted without live fire, said the officer, who was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media, but the Iraqi soldier had stolen live ammunition for his AK-47 rifle.
He killed two American soldiers and wounded one, according to Iraqi and American military officials. The Iraqi trainee was killed, the Iraqi military officer said. The wounded service member was evacuated to Joint Base Balad, according to the United States military.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Long-time, now deceased, pope - John Paul II - is said to be scheduled to be beatified (question: Why is there  the waiting period - should he be beatified or should he not? Do it or don't do it.) on May 1st. Next step - Sainthood, which I am told, requires proof of several miracles - I'm waiting to learn of his miraculous prevention of all those child molestations and rapes. Or, doesn't that matter?

Hint: Perhaps the church - excuse me, The Church - could spend its top members' time on something of actual value, rather than hocus pocus on "beatification." For example, find out if that really is the signature of the current claimant to the throne on that transfer order of a priest known to have abused children. If it is his - excuse me, His - signature, fucking do something!

Once again, soooo glad that we killed 100s of 1,000s for this democracy

Al Qaeda Suspects Escape Jail in Iraq

A dozen top terror suspects with links to al Qaeda escaped from jail in Iraq on Friday. The men, who were awaiting trial, somehow got their hands on police uniforms, which they put on before walking out of the detention center. A manhunt is now on for them in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city.
"SOMEHOW" - They SOMEHOW got their hands on police uniforms. S'pose they somehow got keys to the cell doors, too, and somehow communicated to get all twelve of them together.

Maybe ex-Prez Bush can comment on how this came to be. Oh, maybe he could write a book.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Morning in America

"In [child's name], we see all our children." -Consoler-in Chief.

Bullshit - I don't see mine. I am sick of politicos telling us what we see, what we feel. When I think of that child - murdered, massacred - I see incomprehensible loss and the ripping of the fabric of hope.

I watched and listened to the memorial service last night, and I am glad I did. I thought Obama's speech was good, not great, and I was moved by hearing the words of Daniel Hernandez. (I was repelled by all the Bible-reading/quoting; that was dissonant to this non-Christian-non-Jew.) I was glad when the throng erupted in applause and cheers, from time to time; I cannot put myself in the place of the people in and of Tucson over these past few days, but I can guess that they needed the relief of feeling some gladness - good for them for having the opportunity to be together, so many of them, and feeling some emotions aside from grief, horror, sadness, anger and outrage.

But I do not see hope, or a rededication to truth, justice and the American way. I see another example of the damage inflicted by the crazies backed by the right wing in its never-ending struggle to subvert the better angels of our culture.

Today, there is a giant American flag hanging from a fire engine outside the funeral church for this slaughtered child - what is the relationship between a slaughtered child and the symbol of the country (that did not keep her safe)? So what if she was born on 9/11/2001? She could have been born on any day. She was slaughtered in her hometown by one of her fellow-citizens. In any world other than our Alice-in-Wonderland America, people would be focusing on helping to minimize the prospect of a repeat of this horror, not focusing on the uplifting spirit of blah, blah, blah - not on (post-massacre) prayer sessions in Congress or condolence books signed by millions, read by no one, while our subservient-to-NRA legislators cower in their weakness and do nothing about 30-bullet clips.

Voice of patronizing TV news anchor reporting "news": "Right now in Tucson, they are unfolding the 9/11 flag - the ONE FLAG that survived the attack on the Twin Towers." To paraphrase Mr. Biden, Big Fucking Deal. How many flags did Gandhi and Buddha wrap themselves in?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wasn't there something about an informed, educated electorate?

PUBLIC OVERWHELMINGLY OPPOSES RAISING DEBT CEILING - We try so hard to give the American People the benefit of the doubt, but they keep making it harder: Two in three Americans now favor defaulting on the U.S. debt and sending the global economy into a tailspin, throwing millions out of work. Reuters: "The U.S. public overwhelmingly opposes raising the country's debt limit even though failure to do so could hurt America's international standing and push up borrowing costs, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday. Some 71 percent of those surveyed oppose increasing the borrowing authority, the focus of a brewing political battle over federal spending. Only 18 percent support an increase... Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner last week warned that a failure to raise the borrowing limit in the coming months could lead to 'catastrophic economic consequences.'" Survey respondents had much less appetite, though, for cutting spending. Their budgets suggestions? "Some 73 percent support scaling back foreign aid and 65 percent support cutting back on tax collection -- two very small lines in the massive federal budget ledger." Yes, cutting back on tax collections will do wonders for the deficit. [Reuters] {HuffPo]

Did you know?

A U.S. citizen is currently being held in Kuwait and interrogated by our FBI, has been put on the No-Fly list, had his passport confiscated ... because he went to Yemen?

Bradley Manning has been held in solitary confinement, not allowed to sleep more than a few hours a day, not allowed to exercise; and he has been convicted of nothing?

What country have we become?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And amazingly, here is a timely article -

Pols on guns: Silence of the sheep, by Roger Simon


A few questions -

Why is it that we keep praying for those massacred by the Tucson killer? It is horrible, but they are dead. Wherever they are, that is where they are - these prayers seem to me to be self-soothing, only. How about if we pray for realism in American culture; how about if we pray - for those of us who must pray - for honesty. How about if we acknowledge that 30-bullet clips have no place in hunting and target-shooting? Why is that so fucking difficult?

Why do commentators continue to say that people terribly wounded are fighting for their lives - some are described as "real fighters" and "tough fighters" - when they are in medically-induced comas or under heavy sedation in order that their bodies are not disturbed by wakefulness? I am in awe at the great human being that Congresswoman Giffords seems to be, but it seems patronizing to make these "fighting" declarations about her. We don't have any idea how her recovery will proceed; she had nothing to do with her injury; at this early stage, we cannot know whether she has anything to do with her recovery - why is truth so difficult to say?

How many more commentators, politicians and other citizens are going to say, "Violence is un-American" when ours is one of the most violent countries in the world? How many more are going to say, "This is not who we are?" If this isn't who we are, how come murders - often mass murders - continue to happen? Are Martians coming down and doing these terrible deeds, masquerading as human Americans?

Must we live in a Disneyland of Fairy Godmothers ALL THE TIME? Is this the core of "America's character?"

Ike's warning re the military-industrial complex -

Andrew Bacevich traces the military-industrial complex from Ike's warning to the present day:
Having defined the problem, Eisenhower then advanced a striking solution: ultimate responsibility for democracy’s defense, he insisted, necessarily rested with the people themselves. Rather than according Washington deference, American citizens needed to exercise strict oversight. Counting on the national-security state to police itself—on members of Congress to set aside parochial concerns, corporate chieftains to put patriotism above profit, and military leaders to hew to the ethic of their profession—wouldn’t do the trick. “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
And now changing gears to words from a novel (don't worry; it does connect) -

"Now in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I came to find myself in a grove of young pines and the question came to me: has it happened at last?

Two or more hours should tell the story. One way or the other. Either I am right and a catastrophe will occur, or it won't and I'm crazy. In either case the outlook is not so good.

Here I sit, in any case, against a young pine, broken out in hives and waiting for the end of the world. Safe here for the moment though, flanks protected by the rise of ground on the left and an approach ramp on the right. The carbine lies across my lap.

Just below the cloverleaf, in the ruined motel, the three girls are waiting for me. Undoubtedly something is about to happen.

Or is it that something has stopped happening?

Is it that God has at last removed his blessing from the U.S.A. and what we feel now is just the clank of the old historical machinery, the sudden jerking ahead of the roller-coaster cars as the chain catches hold and carries us back into history with its ordinary catastrophes, carries us out and up toward the brink from that felicitous and privileged siding where even unbelievers admitted that if it was not God who blessed the U.S.A., then at least some great good luck had befallen us, and that now the blessing or the luck is over, the machinery clanks, the chain catches hold, and the cars jerk forward?" - the opening sentences to Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Remarkable and long post on government by and for ...

by Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com -

Read it if you are feeling brave:

Government-created climate of fear:

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A day in the life

Blogger Bill Zeller took his life last Sunday. In his suicide note he wrote that his "first memories as a child are of being raped, repeatedly" and that this "darkness, which is the only way I can describe it, has followed me like a fog". He continued:
The darkness is with me nearly every time I wake up. I feel like a grime is covering me. I feel like I'm trapped in a contanimated body that no amount of washing will clean. Whenever I think about what happened I feel manic and itchy and can't concentrate on anything else. It manifests itself in hours of eating or staying up for days at a time or sleeping for sixteen hours straight or week long programming binges or constantly going to the gym. I'm exhausted from feeling like this every hour of every day.
[from The Daily Dish]

From Tomdispatch.com -

Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan ... is so large that a special Air Force “team” has to be assigned to it just to deal with the mail arriving every day,  360,000 pounds of it in November 2010 alone.  At the same base, the U.S. has  just spent $130 million building “a better gas station for aircraft... [a] new refueling system, which features a pair of 1.1-million gallon tanks and two miles of pipes.”  Imagine that: two miles of pipes, thousands of miles from home -- and that’s just to scratch the surface of Bagram's enormity.

Spencer Ackerman of Wired’s Danger Room blog  visited the base last August, found that construction was underway everywhere (think hundreds of millions of dollars more from the pockets of U.S. taxpayers), and wrote: “More notable than the overstuffed runways is the over-driven road. [The Western part of] Disney Drive, the main thoroughfare that rings the eight-square-mile base,[...] is a two-lane parking lot of Humvees, flamboyant cargo big-rigs from Pakistan known as jingle trucks, yellow DHL shipping vans, contractor vehicles, and mud-caked flatbeds. If the Navy could figure out a way to bring a littoral-combat ship to a landlocked country, it would idle on Disney.”

Serving 20,000 or more U.S. troops, and with the usual assortment of Burger Kings and Popeyes, the place is nothing short of a U.S. town, bustling in a way increasingly rare for actual American towns these days, part of a planetary military deployment of a sort never before seen in history.  Yet, as various authors at this site have  long noted, the staggering size, scope, and strangeness of all this is seldom considered, analyzed, or debated in the American mainstream.  It’s a given, like the sun rising in the east.

Empire of Bases 2.0 Does the Pentagon Really Have 1,180 Foreign Bases? By Nick Turse
The United States has 460 bases overseas!  It has 507 permanent bases!  What is the U.S doing with more than 560 foreign bases?  Why does it have 662 bases abroad?  Does the United States really have more than 1,000 military bases across the globe?
In a world of statistics and precision, a world in which “accountability” is now a Washington buzzword, a world where all information is available at the click of a mouse, there’s one number no American knows.  Not the president.  Not the Pentagon.  Not the experts.  No one.
The man who wrote the definitive book on it didn’t know for sure.  The Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist didn’t even come close.  Yours truly has written numerous articles on U.S. military bases and even part of a book on the subject, but failed like the rest.

There are more than 1,000 U.S. military bases dotting the globe.  To be specific, the most accurate count is 1,077.  Unless it’s 1,088.  Or, if you count differently, 1,169.  Or even 1,180.  Actually, the number might even be higher.  Nobody knows for sure.

Keeping Count

In a recent op-ed piece, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof made a trenchant point: “The United States maintains troops at more than 560 bases and other sites abroad, many of them a legacy of a world war that ended 65 years ago. Do we fear that if we pull our bases from Germany, Russia might invade?”

For years, the late Chalmers Johnson, the man who literally wrote the book on the U.S. military’s empire of bases, The Sorrows of Empire, made the same point and backed it with the most detailed research on the globe-spanning American archipelago of bases that has ever been assembled.  Several years ago, after mining the Pentagon’s own publicly-available documents, Johnson wrote, “[T]he United States maintains 761 active military ‘sites’ in foreign countries. (That's the Defense Department's preferred term, rather than ‘bases,’ although bases are what they are.)”

Saturday, January 08, 2011

I am so sad. And outraged.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was one of the Democratic members of Congress who was on Sarah Palin's "gunsight" advertisement. Now, she has been shot in the head, five or six other people are dead, others wounded.

Expect all kinds of denials from the haters, including those who talked about "2nd Amendment remedies."

I look forward to Fox Pretend News rationalizing how all that they constantly say - rant and rave - HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS ATTACK.

Whether or not you perceive links between Palin rhetoric & today's murders, the fact that Palin spent all day scrubbing her websites says that SHE does. IF PALIN'S CROSSHAIRS MAP HAD BEEN POSTED IN A SCHOOL BEFORE A SCHOOL SHOOTING, she would be in jail now. Why is she revered by so many?

[from The Daily Dish] A reader writes:
I am standing in the aisle at Costco when I found out my Congresswomen, Gabrielle Giffords, has been shot dead up on the north side.
While I’m scrambling with my phone, two couples in front of me are talking about it and suddenly I hear one of the women say, “Well, that’s to be expected when you’re so liberal.”
And the other woman says, “Ohh, so we get to appoint a Republican?”
I did not trust myself to speak. I’m a Soldier. Please remind me what country I am fighting for? At least seven people are dead. She happens to be the only member of Congress married to an active duty military — he’s a Navy officer serving as an astronaut.

Friday, January 07, 2011

From al-Ahram.com (semi-official Cairo newspaper)

Egypt's Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as "human shields"
Muslims turned up in droves for the Coptic Christmas mass Thursday night, offering their bodies, and lives, as “shields” to Egypt’s threatened Christian community
Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside.
From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.
“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.
Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.
“This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.”
In the days following the brutal attack on Saints Church in Alexandria, which left 21 dead on New Year’ eve, solidarity between Muslims and Copts has seen an unprecedented peak. Millions of Egyptians changed their Facebook profile pictures to the image of a cross within a crescent – the symbol of an “Egypt for All”. Around the city, banners went up calling for unity, and depicting mosques and churches, crosses and crescents, together as one.

Could Congressman Steve King (R (Idiot) - Iowa) be any more stupid?

On the House floor today, he went on and on about how The Orangeman Speaker's mendacity is beyond reproach. This is one of our leaders, maker of our laws. And I haven't even told you about his views on immigration and what to do about those awful illegal aliens ... and their American-born (U.S. citizen) children.

Next, I could talk about Congressman Peter King (R (Idiot) - NY), former backer of IRA terrorists who now wants to deal with the threat of terrorism by .... [oh, it's too much to bear].

While it is true that there are bums on both sides of the aisle, there is only one side on which so many hopelessly foul members reside. Where is the party of Everett Dirksen, Edward Brooke, Dwight D. Eisenhower?

I am happy to report that I have just signed a 5-year, $25 Million contract, so my days of lethargy, ennui and lattes are over. I thank all of you who have faithfully made contributions to your alma mater, so that it could spend your money on its team's coach's salary! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

John Boehner is certainly off to a remarkable start as Speaker.

After years of railing away at Dems, when directly asked what programs he would cut, he could not name one - no, really; he could not name one single program he would like to cut. And we take people like this seriously.

And how about those God-fearing, Constitution-loving right-wingers who were too busy at a fund-raiser IN THE CAPITOL to attend their own swearing-in, so they thought it was sufficient to raise their right hands while facing a TV? Did they turn themselves in to the FBI for raising money in the Capitol, which is against the law? Right. The law is just for us little folks. Elites do what they wish.

Again, remind me ... please ... why do we have troops in 177 countries?

Repetitive, you say? I'll stop asking when we stop being an empire.

[You're gonna miss me when I'm gone.]

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Watching hideous, corrupt Senators being sworn in -

Also, got this word, straight from the mouth of the universe:

Pat Robertson says God told him what will happen in 2011, and it's good news if you're Pat Robertson, bad news if you're anyone else.

Is there any other country in the world where shysters and hucksters and hustlers such as he have respect and influence (are interviewed by the press, own their own pretend universities)? What a country. Anyone can be whatever he can get away with.

In the incoming GOP House class of freshman Reps in 1995, 4 went to prison and others were indicted and/or resigned due to scandals - anyone want to guess how many new Repugnican House members will have resigned or gone to prison by 2015?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

I cannot comment -

DNA Clears TX Prisoner After 30 Years

Cornelius Dupree, Jr. served 30 years in a Texas prison for rape and robbery before DNA evidence cleared him of those crimes on Monday. That means he’s spent more time wrongfully imprisoned than any other exonerated inmate in Texas. He was just 20 years old when sentenced. DNA evidence has exonerated 41 inmates in Texas since 2001, more than any other state.
Well, I found that I can comment - fuck Texas. Please, cretins, secede - do it now.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Why does the U.S. think it has the right to intrude in other countries?

SANA’A, Jan. 2? — Yemen’s Parliament has firmly stood its ground to go ahead with plans to amend its constitution despite calls from the United States to delay the matter.

The latest controversial constitutional amendment could ensure that President Ali Abdullah Saleh rules the country for life. Yemen’s parliament agreed on Saturday – in what seemed like a rushed decision – to review the proposed constitutional reforms following calls from the U.S. that it should delay procedures.

Yemen’s parliamentary procedure states that new proposals must be presented at least 72 hours in advance of any parliamentary debate, vote and subsequent committee referral. However, on Saturday the speaker of the parliament pushed the proposal through in one day in reaction to a suggestion, made by the U.S., to delay procedures.

On Friday, an “urgent” statement was released by the U.S. acting State Department Spokesman Mark C. Toner in Washington, calling on all Yemeni political parties to delay parliamentary action and to return to the negotiating table to reach an agreement that “will be welcomed by the Yemeni people as well as Yemen's friends.”

“We will not submit to the American call not to vote for amendments, because we are not a US chamber here,” said Yahya Al-Ra’ee, speaker of the parliament.

[From The Yemen Times]

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Exactly "why" was he charged with disorderly conduct?

Police say a man stripped to his underwear at a Virginia airport checkpoint in a protest against security procedures.

Airport police said the man took off his shirt and pants at Richmond International Airport on Thursday. He had scrawled across his chest a reference to the Constitution's 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Police identified the man as 21-year-old Aaron B. Tobey of Charlottesville, Va. He told police he was a student at the University of Cincinnati.

Tobey was interviewed by airport police and federal authorities, issued a citation for disorderly conduct and released. He is scheduled for arraignment on Jan. 10. [Associated Press]
So, what was disorderly? If we - any of us - dramatize stupidity (and unconstitutional searches), are we "disorderly?" We have a right to free speech, but we get charged with crimes for exercising it?

Remember when your parents taught you about honor & character?

[Even if they didn't know what they were talking about, or could not be exemplars, themselves.]

How is Martha Stewart still revered?

How is Michelle Bachman a member of Congress?

How can anyone think George Steinbrenner should be in the Hall of Fame, given how he attempted to fix the game by buying all the best players - and ruined the finances of small-market teams?

How can anyone in Kentucky be proud to have either of those Senators?

How can it be that so many Repugnican players become commentators on Fox (Pretend) News - then Fox's acolytes still believe it is - or ever was - fair and balanced? How come people aren't laughing out loud at all that appears on Fox/Fix?

How is it that such jokers/liars as Gingrich,  _____ [I can't write or ponder the next name that comes to mind], Romney & Huckabee are seen by many as serious possibilities to become our President? That's as absurd - and appalling - as the idea that the dumbo-born-again-can't-read son of a one-term Prez might be elected! ... Oh, wait ....

But, on the other hand, at least we have a House of Reps we can count on not to spend money wildly and recklessly - as they have assured us the believe in.


My friend's daughter - a German citizen - is about to give birth to her first child ("Grandma's" first grandchild). The mom-to-be will get three years maternity leave at 2/3 pay and then have an automatic right to return to her job at Lufthansa Airways. The father will receive one year of paternity leave.

Can you say, "Valuing children, valuing parenting?"