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30 November 2006

Spam In The Box

by: Foiled Goil

Snail Mail Scam Spam

This an online reproduction (including errors) of the actual snail mail received yesterday:

U.S. Postage

2020 Pennsylvania Ave N. W. #544
Washington DC 20006

Statement of 2006 Probate and Estate Tax Update

XX Street
Any Place




A recent report found that the outdated probate process may create Unreasonable legal fees estimated nationally at 1.5 BILLION ANNUALLY. Depending on the value of your estate, upon your death probate cost and estates taxes can be a heavy burden for your heirs.

As of January 1 2006 ,even with a will your estate and Assets will go through probate when you pass away . It is now your legal right as a United states Taxpayer to establish a living trust and avoid the probate court. Our government has allowed methods for you to preserve your estate and pass it to your heirs by taking advantage of current taxation laws .

For more information on how to qualify return this card
within 5 days.



PO BOX 797627
DALLAS TX 75379-7627

Mistrusting as I am, the first caution was the mis-spelling in the first name of the addressee, as were the typos in the message. The second caution was the mailed from address was different from the reply to address. Third time is the charm...

A quick search at Google revealed

Acc-U-Lead, Inc., which operates under the name "United States Senior Services," is not licensed to do business in Oregon either as an insurance company or as an insurance agent. The company has distributed various business reply mailers to Oregon residents since at least April, 1996 advertising life insurance or Medicare supplement health insurance. Each mailer asked the recipient to complete an accompanying card with personal information and mail the card to receive additional information about the insurance. Mailers relating to life insurance also asked recipients to specify how much life insurance they wanted. The mailers were postage paid and pre-addressed to either the "National Processing Center," "National Data Research Center," or "U.S.S.S. - National Data Research Center," [...] Dallas, TX [...].

Mailers received in 1996 had statements like "Social Security Update," "[Important] 1996 Medicare Update," or "Important 1997 Information" printed on the outside of the mailers. Mailers received in 1997 also contained symbols identical to the United States seal printed on the inside of the mailers. All of the mailers indicated that postage fees were paid by "U.S.S.S."

These statements, names and symbols together created the impression that the mailers were from a United States government agency and contained information about changes in Social Security or Medicare benefits. The mailers relating to Medicare supplement health insurance also failed to identify the name of the actual insurer and the policy form number.

And this:
A lot of junk mail masquerades as official documents. But a recent mailing from something called the National Data Research Center really takes the prize. [...]

Why is all this so suspicious?

For one thing, there's no directory listing for a National Data Research Center at 2020 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington.

An employee of one genuine tenant of the office building at that location, Courier America, said he knew of nothing at the site going by this name.

For another, the Oregon insurance commissioner issued a cease-and-desist order in 1997 to a Texas company called Acc-U-Lead, which was sending mailers to local residents that pitched insurance plans. The mailers included cards to be returned to the National Data Research Center at a post office box in Dallas. [...]

Recipients of the National Data Research Center's latest mailer should keep all this in mind before replying.

Remember, it's your Legal Right as a United States Taxpayer to receive all the Information available to you.

And now you have.

Consumers need to be vigilant in avoiding scams.

I Told You So

by: Foiled Goil

Are George W. Bush lovers certifiable?

By Andy Bromage
A collective "I told you so" will ripple through the world of Bush-bashers once news of Christopher Lohse's study gets out.

Lohse, a social work master's student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse's study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person's psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

But before you go thinking all your conservative friends are psychotic, listen to Lohse's explanation.

"Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader," Lohse says. "If your world is very mixed up, there's something very comforting about someone telling you, 'This is how it's going to be.'"

New Haven Advocate

Mama's New House

by: Konagod

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Incarceration rates for women are outpacing men -- many of them for non-violent drug offenses in our failed "War on Drugs."

A record 7 million people — or one in every 32 American adults — were behind bars, on probation or on parole by the end of last year, according to the Justice Department. Of those, 2.2 million were in prison or jail, an increase of 2.7 percent over the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday.


Men still far outnumber women in prisons and jails, but the female population is growing faster. Over the past year, the female population in state or federal prison increased 2.6 percent while the number of male inmates rose 1.9 percent. By year's end, 7 percent of all inmates were women. The gender figures do not include inmates in local jails.

"Today's figures fail to capture incarceration's impact on the thousands of children left behind by mothers in prison," Marc Mauer, the executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based group supporting criminal justice reform, said in a statement. "Misguided policies that create harsher sentences for nonviolent drug offenses are disproportionately responsible for the increasing rates of women in prisons and jails."

From 1995 to 2003, inmates in federal prison for drug offenses have accounted for 49 percent of total prison population growth.

This is insane. The fact that 3.5 million Americans are either in prison, probation, or parole for non-violent actions should serve as a blaring wake-up call to America that we have a seriously unhealthy prison fetish -- at the expense of rehabilition which could help keep these families together for the sake of children involved.

I would be particulary interested in seeing a breakdown of how many inmates are serving time for nothing more than marijuana possession (thanks, Radical Russ!) -- a "crime" in the league of cigarette or alcohol possession, and definitely several notches below certain legal pharmaceutical possessions, with their plethora of unpleasant side effects , dispensed by doctors like peanut M&Ms. I could easily argue that marijuana is actually less harmful (and definitely more "natural") than any of the aforementioned substances, but why bother when others have done the work for me.

Crossposted from konagod

Fundies chew out Rick Warren over Obama church appearance

by: Pam

Boy the bible-beaters are really eating their own on this one.

Pastor Rick Warren of the mega-sized Saddleback Church is taking a lot of lumps from other evangelicals for inviting rock-star Illinois Senator Barack Obama to speak because of the elected official's pro-choice stance.

Obama is scheduled to appear at the church on December 1 at a seminar on addressing the worldwide AIDS crisis, but the bleating by fundies calling for Warren to rescind the invitation is deafening.
"You cannot fight one evil while justifying another," a joint statement from dozens of leaders of Christian groups said in condemning Obama's support for abortion and Warren's support for Obama.

"The evangelical church can provide no genuine help for those who suffer from AIDS if those involved do not first have their ethic of life firmly rooted in the Word of God," the group said. "Accordingly, we call on Pastor Rick Warren to rescind his invitation to Sen. Obama immediately.

...As those who have worked to defend preborn children from the horrors of abortion in America and who have stood uncompromisingly against the legalized slaughter of an estimated 50 million Americans in the womb since 1973, we join with one voice in expressing our indignation and opposition to Rick Warren's welcoming of Sen. Barack Obama to his church."

...The name of the seminar at which Senator Obama will be appearing is entitled, 'We Must Work Together.' No, Mr. Warren, Mr. Obama, we will never work with those can support the murder of babies in the womb.

Obama will not be addressing the Saddleback flock, mind you, but a conference of leaders focusing on the HIV/AIDS crisis.

Who are the crazies going after the Purpose-Driven Life author? Look at the list of the usual suspects...


Why do WingNutDaily readers hate blind people?

by: Pam

As Konagod pointed out below, a U.S. District Judge ruled that the government must create a way to distinguish paper money so that the blind can tell the difference between in the currency. Considering blindness falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act, this would seem a no-brainer.  Not printing accessible currency is actually a violation of the Rehabilitation Act.

You wouldn't think your average person would have a problem with making our currency friendly for the visually impaired, but look at this WND poll; talk about callous lowlifes -- for them it is all about "activist judges."

What do you think of judge's ruling mandating new paper currency to aid the blind?

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May these "Christian" cretins never lose their sight.

29 November 2006

The Speed of a Meme Test

by: Minstrel Boy

Via PZ and our own Jack Goff comes a project to measure the speeds of the internet meme.

All you have to do is post this link Acepholous on your blog, ask your readers to do the same (he suggests begging but homey don't play dat).

Then when he presents his findings at MLA he will have some concrete data to show whether or not we really have the voice and visibility we claim. . .worth finding out.

Unfortunately this exercise planted a John Prine song in my head. The best way I know to get one out when that happens (and if you work in the jingle game like I do a song stuck in your head and be fucking hell with teeth) is to give in and run it through. . .

The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness

You come home late and you come home early
You come on big when you're feeling small
You come home straight and you come home curly
Sometimes you don't come home at all

So what in the world's come over you
And what in heaven's name have you done
You've broken the speed of the sound of loneliness
You're out there running just to be on the run

Well I got a heart that burns with a fever
And I got a worried and a jealous mind
How can a love that'll last forever
Get left so far behind

Repeat Chorus:

It's a mighty mean and a dreadful sorrow
It's crossed the evil line today
Well, how can you ask about tomorrow
We ain't got one word to say

Repeat Chorus:

You're out there running just to be on the run
You're out there running just to be on the run
You're out there running just to be on the run

Harp and Sword

Major Overhaul of US Currency Overdue

by: Konagod

One thing I recall from overseas travel was how easily one could distinguish the various denominations of currency. In England for instance, a £50 note was larger in size than a £5 note. At the time I was there, £1 notes were in circulation but I believe those were replaced by coins -- a smart move and one we should have replicated here in the US years ago. I don't even have impaired vision but it made it very easy for me to know how much cash I had in my hand by the size of the banknotes.

The $1 note is not cost-effective to produce given it's lifespan relative to the larger notes. Furthermore, the US Treasury has issued $2 notes that have never been used in widespread circulation. Ditto for the $1 coins which should have replaced the $1 notes.

It is doubtful that very many people in the US have ever contemplated the challenges faced by the blind and vision-impaired when it comes to handling currency. Unfortunately, seeing eye dogs have not advanced that far. Things may soon change:
U.S. District Judge James Robertson on Tuesday ordered the Treasury Department to start working on the problem, leaving it up to government officials to determine the best solution. Possible changes include making bills of differing sizes or adding embossed dots or raised ink.

The government has 10 days to decide whether to appeal the ruling. The Treasury Department had no immediate comment.

The possibility of an appeal makes my blood boil. There is no logic in appealing.
Electronic devices are available to help blind people differentiate between bills, but many complain that they are slow, expensive and unreliable. Visually impaired shoppers frequently rely on store clerks to help them.

''It's just frankly unfair that blind people should have to rely on the good faith of people they have never met in knowing whether they've been given the correct change,'' said Jeffrey A. Lovitky, attorney for the blind plaintiffs in the lawsuit.


''Of the more than 180 countries that issue paper currency, only the United States prints bills that are identical in size and color in all their denominations,'' Robertson wrote. ''More than 100 of the other issuers vary their bills in size according to denomination, and every other issuer includes at least some features that help the visually impaired.''

In court documents, government attorneys said changing the way money feels would be expensive. Cost estimates ranged from $75 million in equipment upgrades and $9 million annual expenses for punching holes in bills to $178 million in one-time charges and $50 million annual expenses for printing bills of varying sizes.

Boo hoo. Pity the poor government. Why do we continue to mint pennies when the cost to stamp them out is more than they are worth?
The US mint produces about 7 billion pennies every year (roughly half of all coins made each year), at a cost of $100 million dollars. About one-third of this money is used to pay for the zinc that pennies are made out of, which is why the zinc industry is lobbying to keep the penny in production.

When I see wasteful spending it's usually not hard to find a lobbyist culprit just below the surface.

In addition to ceasing production of the penny, we need to stop printing one-dollar bills. We already have the dollar coins which are not being used, and will not be used, as long as $1 notes are still thrust on us.

Retailers wouldn't even need to redesign their tills. Elimination of the penny would make room for the dollar coins and elimination of the $1 note would allow the $2 note to replace it.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The dollar coins coupled with the $2 bill would be a wise first step for the government to take as we begin the process of making our currency more easily recognizable to all citizens.
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Let's stop wasting money; call off the lawyers, forget the appeals, and move forward with a currency plan that makes sense... for once.

Crossposted from konagod

Shock And Shame

by: Debra

No awe. Our military is stretched too thin, flailing uselessly in a country that is in the midst of imploding. Currently there are several units preparing to return to Iraq for the third time, like it's going to make a difference. Meanwhile the Pentagon is considering writing off the Anbar province and moving the marines to Baghdad which is tantamount to defeat. On several levels.

The draft, while evenly distributing the pain of loss across most economic levels, is not the answer. Neither is contracting out to private companies for the day to day running of the military (at a greater expense to the taxpayer) or having almost 30,000 immigrant soldiers (almost 2% of the military willing to die for a chance at citizenship) but that has been our solution. War is no longer a matter of honor and citizenship, it is a financial decision. From the war mongerers to the lowly private.

This creates several issues, not the least of which is a mercenary army whose loyalty will not be to the United States of America but to the almighty dollar, such as it may be. Serving in the military will become the poor person's only option for improving their life. Provided they survive whatever conflict that the war profiteers have deemed necessary for that decade.

Of course we could always supplement active duty military with the Reserves and the National Guard. Oops, we did that already. What to do, what to do? The cynic in me says the most expedient solution is to go back to that idea of selling citizenship for military service. If they are willing to die to live here so real Americans don't have to, why not? Umm, because it's wrong?

This begs the question, why would someone be willing to die for a country where the citizens don't care enough to participate by backing up their words with actions? It's not like veterans are held in high regard after their usefulness has passed. Why would you want to take the chance of dying for a country that starts a war and then blames the victims for not doing more to make it a success?

In war the only flowers are the ones on the graves of the service members who died in vain. Death doesn't care if you are a citizen or trying to provide for your family.

Crossposted at the usual place.
28 November 2006

In The Corners of My Mind

by: Foiled Goil

Back To '68 and The Way We Were

Article excerpts:
'This is going to be painful,' Tom Hayden said with a slight sigh as he settled into his seat in a darkened theater. Moments later, larger-than-life images of Robert Kennedy on the 1968 campaign trail in California filled the screen, and there was no way to avoid the feeling that the next two hours, however entertaining they might be, were going to lead to some psychic discomfort. [...]

The movie from actor-director Emilio Estevez takes place entirely at the Ambassador Hotel, on June 4, 1968, the day of Kennedy's victory in the California presidential primary, hours before he was shot by Sirhan Sirhan, who appears briefly at the end of the film. [...]

Though the movie is less about Kennedy specifically and more about Kennedy's time and place, the foregone conclusion is poignant and shocking. For political activists like Hayden, who knew Kennedy personally and came to see him as a potential hero of the impoverished and oppressed, not to mention a presidential candidate who would commit himself to ending U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the movie is sure to revive feelings that are not always so far below the surface.

'I feel anger, which I am not over, and loss, which I am not over,' said Hayden. [...]

For Hayden, 'Bobby' was a painful, and salutary, reminder of the high price of violence, of what was lost. The tide of mayhem that culminated in Kennedy's death - starting with the murders of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, on Nov. 22, 1963, of civil rights activist Medgar Evers on June 12, 1963, and of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968 - struck a blow to the progressive movement whose reverberations are still felt today...

But the idea of what might have been still haunts, and watching 'Bobby' can't help but reopen old wounds.

Full article by Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times


Day of Affirmation

Robert F. Kennedy
University of Capetown, South Africa
June 6, 1966

This is a Day of Affirmation -- a celebration of liberty. We stand here in the name of freedom.

At the heart of that western freedom and democracy is the belief that the individual man, the child of God, is the touchstone of value, and all society, all groups, and states, exist for that person's benefit. Therefore the enlargement of liberty for individual human beings must be the supreme goal and the abiding practice of any western society.

The first element of this individual liberty is the freedom of speech; the right to express and communicate ideas, to set oneself apart from the dumb beasts of field and forest; the right to recall governments to their duties and obligations; above all, the right to affirm one's membership and allegiance to the body politic -- to society -- to the men with whom we share our land, our heritage, and our children's future.

Hand-in-hand with freedom of speech goes the power to be heard -- to share in the decisions of government which shape men's lives. Everything that makes men's lives worthwhile -- family, work, education, a place to rear one's children and a place to rest one's head -- all this depends on the decisions of government; all can be swept away by a government which does not heed the demands of its people, and I mean all of its people. Therefore, the essential humanity of man can be protected and preserved only where the government must answer -- not just to the wealthy; not just to those of a particular religion, not just to those of a particular race; but to all of the people.

And even government by the consent of the governed, as in our own Constitution, must be limited in its power to act against its people: so that there may be no interference with the right to worship, but also no interference with the security of the home; no arbitrary imposition of pains or penalties on an ordinary citizen by officials high or low; no restriction on the freedom of men to seek education or to seek work or opportunity of any kind, so that each man may become all that he is capable of becoming.

Full text of speech.

Bobby Kennedy: On the Mindless Menace of Violence

City Club of Cleveland, Ohio - April 5, 1968
27 November 2006

In the Crossfire, The Fat Lady Sings

by: Dark Wraith

This is a rather long, tortuous recap of a fiasco, a blogger's nightmare, if you will. For the most part, the exposition that follows is from my perspective, and that is to the purpose of giving readers some sense of how I saw this story connecting both to larger and to personal issues. Perhaps if I had focused more on the problem at hand and less on the "big picture" and on the petty, personal sidestreams, I could have been more productive in keeping the trajectory of what happened from reaching such proportions as it did. One way or the other, the whirlwind has abated somewhat, at least for the time being.

The Fat Lady Sings published an article entitled, "The Problem with Lou Dobbs" on her blog. The post set forth her difficulty in assessing Mr. Dobbs, the anchor and managing editor of "Lou Dobbs Tonight" on CNN. Mr. Dobbs, who describes himself as a "populist," offers both liberals and conservatives positions to like and dislike. The Fat Lady Sings expressed the rather common frustration that, in some matters, his rants resonate with the progressive spirit; but at other times, his thinking is disturbingly close to a kind of conservatism that is anathema to progressivism.

As a particular example, one The Fat Lady Sings singled out, Mr. Dobbs is an advocate of all manner of anti-immigration policies and actions. He has gone so far as to feature the self-style, so-called "Minutemen," those self-appointed, private vigilantes patrolling the borders of the Southwest, supposedly "helping" legitimate border patrol authorities stem the tide of illegal immigration from Mexico and countries farther south. Dobbs even put the founder of the Minutemen, Jim Gilchrist, on his show, not bothering to mention that Mr. Gilchrist had gone to the defense of white supremacists in dismissing allegations that such racists not only shared his views about immigration, but that some had in fact become members of the Minutemen.

Before proceeding to the next phase of the Land of Bad Weirdness through which The Fat Lady Sings has just journeyed, I must take this opportunity to state in no uncertain terms that Lou Dobbs presents me with no conundrum at all. His advocacy for meat-and-potatoes issues of the so-called "middle class," his tirades against George W. Bush, and his other apparently quite liberal stances do not fool me for a minute. The man is a classic fascist, and I use that term without reservation. He is cut from the same cloth as the fascists, particular Adolf Hitler, of early-20th Century Europe. His, in point of fact, is the very siren song that Karl Marx called out in "The Manifesto of the Communist Party": the cry to the middle, the bourgeois, if you will, that their issues are his issues, all the while drawing them into the trap of classist separation. This is a subtler, nicey-nice version of the same gambit the Republican Party has played over and over again through the years: cutting taxes for the "middle class," ending the "marriage penalty" tax, getting rid of welfare for those lazy people who are obviously of a lower class, keeping "good" jobs here at home, asymmetrically punishing the habits and addictions of the low-class slobs, getting tough on the crimes that are obviously committed in disproportionate numbers by those lower class people. The astute crypto-fascist of the modern age never once has to use a racial slur, never once has to actually call out the poor as lessers, and never once has to pull out the bluntly hateful speech. It's all about "middle class" values, it's all about "neighborhood schools," it's all about "welfare cheats," it's all about honest, hard-working "Americans" and "their" jobs. It's a game that works way too often; and that game is once again sweeping across Europe, as nativist, anti-immigration, nationalistic parties are rising up from the local councils to the provincial tables, and finally to the national stage, where their carefully crafted hide-and-seek of semantics allows the mainstream news media little room to make an excoriating judgment call, even though everyone knows very well this is at once both nothing more and nothing less than the old-fashioned teeth of Fascism (and note the capitalization at this point in usage), barely covered by the political grin of "I-care-most-about-the-middle-class."

Now, having gotten that out of my system—and cautioning readers that it was to a purpose I shall complete below—let us proceed with the saga of The Fat Lady Sings. The part of her article where she chewed out Dobbs got noticed by a group on the other side of midnight: Aztlán, a sort of catch-all name for a group of which hardly anyone in the reading audience here has ever even heard, despite the fact that this is more than just a group: it is in reality a rapidly growing movement in the southwestern United States, complete with a more-or-less intellectual wing, the part to which I loosely refer here as "Aztlán," and what looks and sounds for all the world like a nascent provisional wing, called Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, or MEChA, for short. According to the MEChA "constitution," the group is dedicated to "liberating" Aztlán, a mythical nation that includes Arizona, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Oregon and some of Washington. The MEChA fascination with all things anti-American extends from Chavez and Castro on through to the Ba'athists and the Taliban. In their literature and their constitution, the "Machistas" repeatedly refer to themselves as La Raza, which means "The Race."

You might be thinking to yourself, "Oh, how cute! A little band of junior Che Guevara people!" Try again. They have clubs in many, many high schools throughout the Southwest, as well as on college campuses; the influence of the overlying, political organization has led to some school books that describe the so-called Aztlán as if it were a real thing. Steeped in myth presented as reality, something they share with Christian fundamentalists, inspiration teeters perilously on the edge of prophesy, and that feeds the seedlings of purpose being focused through the lens of destiny. Great stuff for movies, but a little tricky as a conversation starter at the town council meeting in Heartland America.

Are these people dangerous? It is easy to start thinking about this movement as some pre-pubescent ETA (the Basque Separatist organization) or perhaps a Little League version of the Irish Republican Army (with the Minutemen playing the role of the Ulster Defense Association knee-cappers). Some people consider MEChA a genuine threat, and that is perhaps an overreaction. However, whether it be a handful of pot-bellied White men hanging out in a musty meeting hall giving Heil Hitler salutes or a group of high school kids being indoctrinated about their destiny to take over eight states of the U.S., any collection of people whose members refer to themselves as "The Race" is more than a little disconcerting to those who prefer to be exposed to a little less machismo in their daily diet of expressive creativity.

But that's America of the 21st Century for you: polarized and getting more so, all while we now sit anxiously waiting for the Democratic majority in Congress to do something to make everything a little better.

The folks publishing articles at the Aztlán Website saw fit to think that The Fat Lady Sings was sympathetic to their cause. Well, she isn't. Go to that Aztlán site, and you'll find anti-Semitism veritably dripping out of articles. We're not talking anti-Zionism, here, something I myself would gladly take as a label when that delicate political expression of destiny takes the turn around the ugly corner onto the streets of violence that have guided Zionist solutions to problems faced by Israel and by Judaism in the modern world. No, Aztlán people don't have a problem with Zionism per se; their beef is with Jews.

The Fat Lady Sings found out her article criticizing Lou Dobbs was used as a referential link in an article at the Aztlán Website. The poor woman was mortified. As soon as she found out, she fired off an e-mail message to me asking what the Aztlán was all about. At the time, I was in the midst of an impressive run of people and pets close to me dying, and my response to her, though long-winded, was short on advice other than something to the effect that she needed to ignore the situation and not let it bother her.

That advice was based upon the general rule I have that it's best to walk around even a small nest of hornets as long as all they're doing is calling your mom bad names. As it turned out, though, that advice had a downside.

Enter a gentleman who runs a blog called The AmBoy Times, a Right-wing Website with a distinctively anti-immigration smell all around it. "Kevin"—the American Boy, himself—was on a rant about Aztlán, taking righteous umbrage with a side of indignation about the anti-Semitism of La Raza, and he decided to throw in the link to The Fat Lady Sings article that the Aztlán site had used! In other words, The AmBoy Times was associating The Fat Lady Sings with Aztlán, despite the fact that she wanted nothing to do with them or their politics, particularly the anti-Semitic stuff.

The Fat Lady Sings sent me a follow-up e-mail telling me about this latest round of nonsense, so this time I took the opportunity to get her up to speed on Aztlán, MEChA, and "La Raza." I vowed that I would publish an article that would appear across all of the blogs in The Dark Wraith Publishing network, and that I would ensure that news and blog aggregators got pinged until they couldn't hear their own choking on the flood I would make to ensure that all of these false associations were repudiated.

In her e-mail message to me, she indicated that she'd already gone over to the AmBoy site and put up a comment on his post. I high-tailed it over there, myself. Sure enough, she'd laid out a no-two-ways-about-it repudiation of any association whatsoever with Aztlán. I jumped right on the bandwagon and posted a comment of my own, one of my classic, long-winded, over-wrought, grammatically contorted affairs, complete with my famous run-on sentences and odd arrangements of predicate components. I signed it,

Dark Wraith
Publisher and Administrator
The Dark Wraith Forums
Big Brass Blog
The UnCapitalist Journal

just to emphasize the point that I have a much bigger server (with thicker bandwidth, no less) than AmBoy does.

Within a few hours, once AmBoy had wandered onto his own blog and seen these comments from The Fat Lady Sings and me, he deleted them.

That's right: the fellow deleted the comments we'd made.

Okay, in all fairness, AmBoy most likely had no idea, as others who know me do, that I can turn an annoying person's computer into a terrarium. I have to make this assumption with respect to AmBoy with the same degree of caring sentimentality I do for trolls like the couple of them who slithered into the comments thread over at fatcat politics, where a recent article of mine was republished by the fatcat.

The deletion of those comments simply mortified The Fat Lady Sings. How is one supposed to defend herself if those who have falsely accused her of association with Aztlán deliberately delete her clear denial of association?

In my last e-mail message to her yesterday, I told her I would publish an unwavering statement in her defense, and that I would mince no words about either AmBoy and his Minutemen whackos or Aztlán and its MEChA whackos. I asked her to get my back by publishing her own post on the whole fiasco after I had published mine.

As events would have it, she posted hers first. Not only did she put up a clear and compelling statement, but she also made no bones about the depth of her frustration with all that was happening.

Well, wouldn't you know it: Kevin, himself, of The AmBoy Times came on board and published a comment to her article. He claimed that he deleted her comment and mine on his article because he thought they were "spam."

Yeah. Right. Sure. "Spam," huh? My blithering, over-wrought, grammatically contorted writing has been called a lot of things, but "spam"? Well, I never!

Aside from that aside, "Kevin" was kind enough to apologize for inappropriately associating The Fat Lady Sings with Aztlán, and he assured her that he had removed the link to her original post about Dobbs from his article attacking Aztlán. The Fat Lady Sings is not quite satisfied with that. She responded to him by stating her preference that he delete the post entirely and then republish it (in the revised form without the link to her article, of course), so the original permalink is broken. Kevin replied that he isn't willing to go that far, and that's where the whole story stands as of the time of publication of this article of mine.

Complicated, isn't it? The good news is two-fold. First, The Fat Lady Sings will find that her defense of herself in the article she just published will win the day; and eventually, she'll be left alone both by the Minutemen and their apologists and by the "The Race" of Aztlán. Second, this whole fiasco has not only given me the opportunity to once again stop taking the quiet road against people who thrive on their opponents' silence, but it has ultimately, and herewith, afforded me the opportunity to close with a heavy-duty, if rather brief by my standards, hard-core lecture; and it goes like this:

Folks, the Minutemen are a face of Right-wing hate. Lou Dobbs is another face of it. It is wolf packs and their hyena brethren that scour the world looking for targets, "others," that they can push and shove, hurt and brutalize, hate and marginalize.

Sooner or later, those "others" find leaders who tell them they don't have to live and die on their knees, that in their unity, in their strength of hope in themselves, they can stand up and shove back. Sometimes, they shove back hard, and that gives the wolves all the excuse they need, and then some, to turn really ugly, and far worse, to cry like little babies to the mainstream of usually detached people in the society and bawl, "See? See?! This is what those others do! This is what we're dealing with!"

Soon thereafter, all Hell breaks loose: we get dumb-ass vigilantes turning into genuine thugs on one side of the equation of destruction, and we get radicals with fanatical vision turning into "terrorists" with prophetic excuses on the other side. The masses run to the teat of the government, which almost inevitably brings down a fist of repression, occasionally a Left fist but more frequently a Right one.

People start getting hurt. Buildings get blown up. People get killed. Men and women go to prison. Sooner or later, some if not most of those men and women being hauled off are innocent of the crimes with which they are charged. "Populism" replaces reason, and the government becomes infused of those literally champing at the bit to go to excess, even as the society goes to Hell. The great, bulging "middle" ebbs and flows, but every ebb is further into the abyss of repression.

The Fat Lady Sings was briefly swept into the whirlpool that is our world of this new century. She was horrified that her words became the pawn to be at once vaunted and damned by those with whom she wants no association. She made her position clear, and the parties to the war of the worlds will now move on.

But they'll be back. Not for her, mind you, but for all of us.

Fear that time more than anything else; then stand up to your fear that you will have the strength to decline the invitation to theirs.

The Dark Wraith has had his say.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

In Pursuit of the American Dream

by: Konagod

There was a riveting piece in the New York Times today highlighting a low-income family struggling to make ends meet -- particularly an employee of this Burger King in Dallas.

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Her name is Gloria Castillo. She is a 22-year-old American citizen, born to an illegal immigrant from Honduras who came here while pregnant with Gloria. She works from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and earns $252 a week before taxes. She also works a second job cleaning toilets in a bar while her husband also works in order for them to have the means to care for their two children. And they're just barely getting by. It's a gut-wrenching story for those of you who can actually put yourself in her position.

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The customers are rude tonight, drunk and bellicose. One guy doesn’t want to pay for his food, figuring it ought to be free. If he had wanted to rob the place, Ms. Castillo says with a tight smile, it would have been easy enough; the window doesn’t lock here like it does at the McDonald’s.


But consider the life inside that window on Loop 12 in West Dallas. There is a woman with children and no health insurance, undereducated, a foot soldier in the army of the working poor. The fry cook sneezes on the meat patties*. Cigarettes go half smoked. Cameras spy on the employees. Customers throw their fries and soft drinks sometimes because they think it’s funny.

(*Don't worry about a little snot on your food; if you are a frequent consumer of fast-food, you've probably had worse.)

Perhaps I'm the true "compassionate conservative" because I happen to care more about this woman's financial situation than anyone on the board of directors of Burger King.
...Burger King CEO George Brenneman abruptly announced his resignation recently, right after the company posted a net loss for its fiscal third quarter. Lucky for him, he signed an agreement with Burger King to ensure that he receives his base salary of $1.03 million for three years, and his annual bonus of $2.06 million for fiscal 2006. Thanks for the memories, indeed.

Nice. I sincerely hope Mr. Brenneman has enjoyed a tasty burger prepared by the same fry cook at this joint.

This isn't going to portray me as a very good capitalist, but I honestly feel the minimum wage in the U.S. should be $15 per hour. People struggling to feed families and working two or more shitty jobs deserve more. There should also be a "maximum wage" to offset the minimum. The idea of some prick in an expensive suit sitting in a glamorous office "working" (or in Brenneman's case, not working) and receiving over $1 million a year while the peon underlings are struggling to get one foot on the first rung of the economic ladder is unconscionable and repugnant.

Needless to say, with so many people like Gloria working two jobs and her husband working a different shift, proper nutrition is not going to be on the menu for her family.
She takes the boys to a McDonald’s for breakfast at 7:15 — the same place she used to work — before dropping them off at school at 7:45. A man named Carlos works the window there. They used to work there together.

Every morning, the boys’ order is the same: one sausage, egg and cheese biscuit; one bacon biscuit; two hash browns; and two orange juices. Ms. Castillo could take free food home from Burger King, but the boys like McDonald’s better.

She returns home, sleeps until 2 and collects the boys from school. She cooks them supper prepared from frozen packages, and sometimes they eat it in front of the television. It takes time and money to eat healthy, she says.

Damn right it does.
On Saturdays she attends community college, hoping that in a few years she will be a paralegal going to work in a downtown office tower, wearing a pantsuit. She is hoping for $20 an hour and a lunch break.


She looks at the crummy little house across the parking lot with peeling paint. “That would be good too, a little house. I don’t want much.”

I wish her luck in that endeavor. She'd be making $5 more than my suggested minimum wage. She'd have more time to spend with her husband and kids, and they might actually have a crack at the American Dream someday -- peeling paint and all.

photo credits: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Related recommended links:

USA Today: How the USA's largest companies compensate their chief executives.

In 2005, the average CEO of a Standard & Poor's 500 company received $13.51 million in total compensation, according to an analysis by The Corporate Library. This represents a 16.14 percent increase in CEO pay over 2004.

CEO’s Free Ride to Perksville…

How to Fight Poverty: 8 Programs That Work.

Crossposted from konagod

Bob Herbert Nailed It Today

by: Konagod

Bob Herbert's While Iraq Burns hits one of my hot buttons -- the fact that most Americans are just too busy with their own lives to really pay much attention to Iraq. And honestly, many don't even seem to give a rat's ass one way or the other. As long as it stays "over there," we're fine "over here."
There is something terribly wrong with this juxtaposition of gleeful Americans with fistfuls of dollars storming the department store barricades and the slaughter by the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including old people, children and babies. The war was started by the U.S., but most Americans feel absolutely no sense of personal responsibility for it.


With no obvious personal stake in the war in Iraq, most Americans are indifferent to its consequences. In an interview last week, Alex Racheotes, a 19-year-old history major at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, said: “I definitely don’t know anyone who would want to fight in Iraq. But beyond that, I get the feeling that most people at school don’t even think about the war. They’re more concerned with what grade they got on yesterday’s test.”

His thoughts were echoed by other students, including John Cafarelli, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, who was asked if he had any friends who would be willing to join the Army. “No, definitely not,” he said. “None of my friends even really care about what’s going on in Iraq.”

Something is terribly wrong here when students were far more involved in global affairs back in the late 60s and early 70s than they are in a day and age when the internet provides far more contact with world events and has, in many ways, made the world a much smaller place. I honestly fear for our future if it winds up in the hands of these students who are so detached from reality. And sadly, it will.

Crossposted from konagod

Where gay couples are coming out

by: Pam

A report, available from the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law & Public Policy (of UCLA's School of Law) shows a great breakdown of where queer couples are settling. Its synopsis:
The release of new data from the American Community Survey (ACS) offers the first opportunity since Census 2000 to update our knowledge of same-sex couples in the United States.  This report assesses changes in the geographic characteristics of same-sex couples and estimates the size of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual population in states, large metropolitan areas, and all Congressional Districts (109th Congress). 

Analyses reveal that the number of same-sex couples in the U.S. grew by more than 30 percent to almost 777,000.  The largest percentage increases occurred throughout the Midwest, an area that had relatively low rates of same-sex couples in Census 2000.  Six of the eight states with a 2006 ballot initiative that would ban same-sex marriage experienced increases in the number of same-sex couples in excess of the national rate of 30 percent.  The ACS data also reveal that gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are found in all Congressional Districts in the U.S. 

The important thing to note is that these are couples who are clearly out if they are reporting. This can only bode well for electoral success in the future. We have to be seen to make a difference. Here are a couple of charts, after the flip.


Exodus ‘ex-gay’ Close Encounters planned for summer youth camp

by: Pam

A fundie promotional release just landed in my inbox for something called Ignite Student Outreach’s “Close Encounters” Youth Summer Camp ‘07, an event targeting student evangelists.

The camp locations: Bradenton, FL, Winnsboro, SC, Ridgecrest, NC, and Norman Park, GA. You can join the fun for a mere $239 (a fire sale $219 if you go to the Bradenton camp). According to the flyer, these locales were selected to “keep your students entertained and engaged as God begins to do a work on their hearts.”

You can experience the excitement and wisdom of guest speakers such as Scott Davis, director of Exodus Youth and Alan Chambers, “former homosexual” and ex-gay-for-pay head of Exodus International. That should set the alarm bells off about what this camp is about.

Davis’s bio makes his mission at the camp clear:
Scott’s goal is to encourage the evangelical church to reach out to youth grappling with their sexual identity with God’s radical grace and unswerving truth. He educates and trains college and youth leaders on this issue and currently oversees the Groundswell Conference — nationwide training seminars that equip community leaders with a powerful, redemptive response to the growing crisis of pro-gay initiatives in America’s schools.

Fun fact: Camp speaker and “youth communicator” Justin Lookadoo, a low-rent “Christian author” and abstinence “educator,” found himself in a lot of hot water earlier this year when he gave one of his bottom-feeder motivational talks at Merritt Island High School in Florida.

…the controversy over Monday’s assembly at Merritt Island High School made its way all the way to school district offices. Meanwhile, students were split over the message some said insulted female students with statements like “you can kick my woman…but you can’t kick my dog.”

“[The Christian author said,] ‘Women shouldn’t be surprised, if they dress like a piece of meat, if men want to put them on the barbeque,’” said student Dana Tarasabage.

* ‘Motivational speaker’ at school compares girls to meat

Dixieland, Ethics, and Maple Bread Pudding

by: Minstrel Boy

If you've been reading this for any length of time then you have most likely come to the realization that the closest I come to having a style is that I really don't have a style. It's been a strange week. Family pressures for sure. My mother's Parkinson's syndrome keeps getting worse. The stress of having company can nearly paralyze her, her balance goes to hell, she will be trying to walk but her legs freeze up, it's all stuff we try and work with. Lord knows we can't offend the sensibilities of godly men like Ted Haggard and John Ashcroft by doing research to find a treatment or a cure. I came back after a weekend of playing Dixieland jazz in San Diego to find the house still a shambles from Thanksgiving, this morning her attendant hasn't made it across the border from Mexicali (thank you Chertoff and Homeland Security, you've made our country safe from decent people looking for work, you Skeletor looking motherfucker). So I'm trying to wade through stuff, doing laundry, gathering up stuff (if she drops something it's usually not safe for Mom to try and pick it up so there it stays). I found two trays of dinner rolls that have been on the counter since Thursday's dinner. They are stale as hockey pucks (that's where the Maple Bread Pudding comes in). So I'm taking a little break to use the net to organize my thoughts and vent off a little pressure.

Here's how the weekend in San Dee went. Bloody marvelous. The band that hires me every year for this convention comes from the Sacramento area, their regular banjo player is getting too old for travel and the stress of the convention. They found me one year when my Uncle and I went through the convention to check out the music. They explained their situation (you can play Dixieland without a banjo but it just isn't all the way there) and I told them that I could stand on the back beat, do a little flash stuff here and there, and that I would be happy to do it for them (for my usual fee of course). It's been a fun weekend, on Sunday we do a Dixieland Jazz Church Service at my Uncle's church. All in all we have a good time. I would go straight up batshit if this was the only music I played. I love it in small doses though. For me, Dixieland is a lot like Barbershop harmony, or even Bach. It's way more fun to play than to listen too. It possesses a history and a structure that allows for incredible improvisation, and, without Dixieland roots there would have been no Kansas City, no Chicago, no soundtrack for Langston Hughes' poetry. It's essential study if you want to understand Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Bessie Smith. It's like having to study Palestrina to understand opera.

Where the ethics dilemma came in was when our little group got picked for the honors concert. That's the prize showcase for the groups, where the best of the week gets another chance to shine for their peers. The problem came when I looked at the classification of the band. It said "amatuer." I told the band that we needed to clear that with the committee because, hey, I'm a pro. They explained that they viewed me as a placeholder for them, that they were amatuers and if my status as a pro was honestly evaluated they felt the status would hold. I told them that while I agreed with their evaluation we still needed to take it before the committee so that they could rule on where things stand. I didn't feel it was fair to the other groups or to the committee to be in a position that might be open to different interpretations.

We found a couple of committee members and explained things. That I was mostly just holding a place for a regular band member, that I wasn't a featured part of the act, all the reasons that the band felt they qualified in the category they had entered. The committee agreed. Whew! At the honors concert, I did my place holding thing. I stood on the back beat like a metronome and the band kicked ass all around me.

If the President and his minions would have the same regard for the courts and congress that a bunch of retired Dixieland players showed this weekend we'd all be better off.

Now, that I've vented and spouted off, let's get into the bread pudding. It's a great way to manage leftover or stale bread. It's essentially a custard that gets poured over bread cubes. Anything more and you start to to lose all perspective. Traditionally it is served with a Bourbon or a Hard Sauce. I like a nice light warm caramel sauce though. It's a nice counterpoint to the maple flavor.


2 cups stale bread cubes
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup maple syrup (the real stuff, from a tree in New England)
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (this is about half a whole nutmeg grated on a microplane)

In a mixing bowl, mix everything but the bread cubes and milk together. The breadcubes should be put into an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan that's been buttered or sprayed with a nonstick spray.
Scald the milk and pour it over the other ingredients, mix it well, and dump over the bread cubes. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.

Served warm, with whipped cream, or your favorite dessert sauce (taking care not to overpower the beautiful maple flavor) or, in a bowl with cold milk for a wonderful breakfast.

We just found out that Leticia (the helper for Mom) has gotten through the border and should be here in a few more minutes. I'm hitting the kitchen, then I'm going to throw the ball for Abbie and find an AA meeting.

Harp and Banjo

Peace, out.
26 November 2006

The Gift Horse

by: Foiled Goil

"Trust not their presents, nor admit the horse."
~John Dryden

Bush administration’s Trojan Horse gift to America and
the Democrats:
Former CIA Director and Iran-Contra insider Robert Gates

With the Democrats and Democratic Party voters euphoric over a purported election victory, and a possible “change of course” in Iraq, the Bush administration quietly added poison to the Democrats’ celebration champagne by dredging up former CIA Director and Iran-Contra participant Robert Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary.

The "war on terrorism" will not only continue, it will expand and deepen with Gates heading the Pentagon.

Who is Robert Gates?

Robert M. Gates was the CIA’s Deputy Director for Intelligence (DDI) from 1982 to 1986. He became CIA Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DDCI) in 1986, and moved up to Acting Director of Central Intelligence (ADCI) that same year. In 1991, George H. W. Bush nominated Gates to head the CIA (as Langley’s DCI).

As a protégé of the infamous William Casey, and as both deputy director and director of the CIA, it goes without saying that Robert Gates was involved in every geopolitical crime and cover-up of the Reagan-Bush and George H. W. Bush era.

The encyclopedic list includes Iran-Contra, CIA narcotics trafficking, criminal covert operations, the infamous October Surprise, and the Bank of Credit and Commerce (BCCI) scandal. [...]

The Rumsfeld resignation is not a sign of desperation or surrender in response to Democratic Party heat. It was a long-planned tactical move that strengthens the Bush administration's inner circle, while slapping the political opposition in the face. [...]

The Bush administration has done what it has always done: replace a political liability with something even more dangerous, a loyal insider to the very highest positions of authority. The move adds insult to six years of injury, an openly provocative act that dares the perplexed Democrats to do anything to stop it, knowing that they will not.

If Robert Gates does with his new Pentagon power what he did at the CIA during his previous tenure, the world is in for tremendous suffering and death, and more covert and overt warfare -- all well-"managed," packaged and sold to Congress. Gates, unlike the divisive Rumsfeld, is a criminal who is capable of uniting the elite consensus.

Full article.
- - -

Filling a gap in Robert Gates’ resume

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of overblown intelligence about Soviet power and objectives was to create a monster by allowing the Islamic world to develop a nuclear bomb. It made training Islamic fundamentalists in sabotage techniques look like the Boy Scouts. [...]

Mel Goodman summed up the Gates-Casey offenses to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1991: "the politicization that took place during the Casey-Gates era is directly responsible for the CIA’s loss of its ethical compass and the erosion of its credibility . . . The fact that the CIA missed the most important historical development in its history -- the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the Soviet Union itself -- is due in large measure to the culture and process that Gates established in its directorate."

In essence, the CIA was so busy distorting intelligence to sabotage our perceived boogeyman, the Soviet Union that was collapsing under the battering . . . so busy doing this that it missed the very creation of what would become the bugaboo of Muslim “terrorism,” replete with its own atomic bomb.

Full article.
25 November 2006

And... they're off! Tis the Season of Conspicuous Consumption

by: Konagod

I really hate this time of year. Americans show their true colors as a society of debased lunatics with the arrival of "Black Friday." I've heard that our economy would collapse were it not for this frenzied shopping season. If that's indeed true, then it's a sad reflection of our depraved culture. I am embarrassed to be an American. I get even more frustrated by comments suggesting that this is what Christmas is all about.

Sorry to break the news to you. This is not what Christmas is all about and it really has nothing to do with Christmas. It's about marketing, greed, and thought control. And it's successful.
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photo: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/KAREN E. SEGRAVE

From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Saturday:
At the Best Buy on Chenal Parkway in Little Rock, customers lined up as early as 12:30 p.m. Thursday for the 5 a.m. opening. As the time approached, about 800 people were lined up around the building and police were directing traffic.

I guess I'm in the minority here but I do not understand why anyone in their right mind (key phrase there) would line up at 12:30 pm on Thanksgiving day waiting on a Best Buy to open at 5 am the next morning. These people don't need PlayStations or HDTVs; they are in dire need of therapy.

I will confess: I am not immune to the lure of a bargain, but I am more sensible about it.

Best Buy was offering an 8-disc Spanish language course marked down from $39.99 to $4.97. I went after lunch. It wouldn't have surprised me if they'd been sold out and my life would not have been shattered. There were several on the shelf and now, for $5.00, perhaps I'll learn enough to communicate on some level with my brothers and sisters from south of the border.

It's not a sin and the last time I checked, it still wasn't illegal for me to voluntarily choose to speak Spanish. Most importantly, my motivation was driven by a desire for self-improvement and personal growth rather than greed.

Attention, Holiday Shoppers: We Have Fisticuffs in Aisle 2

That is the title of an article in today's New York Times which offers up more shopping mayhem for your reading pleasure.
Shortly after midnight yesterday, an estimated 15,000 shoppers pushed and shoved their way into the Fashion Place mall in Murray, Utah. Police soon joined them, responding to reports of nine skirmishes.

Once inside, shoppers ransacked stores, overturning piles of clothes as they looked for bargains. A retailer’s dream — too many customers! — quickly turned into a nightmare, forcing store clerks to shut their doors, and only let people in after others left. The mall even briefly closed its outside doors to avoid a fire hazard.

“It’s like a mosh pit,” said Lexie Dewegel, 19. “You get pushed everywhere.”

Merchants love this but they are equally responsible for the madness with their deceitful practices of heavily advertised "doorbusters" which are often sold out within seconds of opening the doors.
“Sold out, sold out, sold out,” announced the manager at a Staples on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan yesterday at 7 a.m. “When?” asked the incredulous customer. “An hour ago,” replied the manager — in other words, the minute the store opened.

In Lewis Center, Ohio, near Columbus, Cindy Milsap, 43, and her daughter, Ashley, 20, woke up before dawn to drive to the nearby Wal-Mart Supercenter, which advertised a 52-inch high-definition television for $474. “We don’t really need a new TV, Ms. Milsap said. “But at that price? C’mon.”

But the bargain eluded them. The “limited quantity” in the ad, she said, was three TVs — all sold by the time the pair arrived.

And people wonder why I prefer to be a hermit between now and the new year.

Crossposted from konagod
24 November 2006

The Very Best in Very Bad Timing

by: Konagod

Thank God I'm a vegetarian.

This story is a little late...
An Ohio-based company is recalling 46,941 pounds of turkey and ham products that officials fear could cause listeriosis, a potentially fatal disease...


HoneyBaked Foods Inc. is voluntarily recalling the meat, which includes cooked, glazed and sliced ham and turkey, USDA said in a statement.

At this point, I'd be interested in knowing how they plan to recall it. On second thought....

Crossposted at konagod

November, 1963: Four Tragic Days

by: Foiled Goil

“Don't let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment
That was known as Camelot”

In the space of four days during November of 1963, John F. Kennedy transcended from being merely an American president to the more mythical position of King of Camelot.

The end of our Camelot:

November 22

November 23

November 24

November 25

Detroit Free Press - November 22, 1983:

JFK's Death Still Hurts Us, Still Haunts Us

~Bob Talbert (1936 - 1999)

It changed everything.

Twenty years ago on a Friday afternoon in Dallas, the bullet that killed President John F. Kennedy lodged itself in America's heart.

It is still there.

The angry scar tissue has never healed the hurt, nor closed the wound that brought an end to the era of the American Dream and the American Hero.

The moment is still alive in my mind. So vivid it's as if I'm once again standing over the Associated Press news wire machine with clattering keys and clanging emergency bells exploding in my ears. The newsroom swam before my eyes in a numbing moment of dizziness, fright and tears.

If you were of the age of reason then, you probably had your own moment of fear, doubt, hopelessness. Maybe even a frightened few seconds, as I had, when you feared, quite possibly, that the world was coming to an end.

The world didn't, but worlds of things did.

The end of innocence

Our national innocence ended.

We didn't know it, but the American Hero was dead and the American Dream was over with the bullet in Dallas.

How vulnerable we seemed at that moment. We sensed that nothing would ever be the same again, and we were right.

It changed our national attitude.

We were invincible, argumentative among ourselves, but united and comfortable in our role as the best nation in the world, the savior nation.

Our symbol was this Hollywood-handsome, intelligent, humorous, rich, sophisticated young president with a pretty wife, cute kids and a large loving family.

He had our confidence, admiration and a love few before him had enjoyed. We knew the country was in great hands.

Regardless of party affiliation, whether you were Catholic or not, whether you liked his show business friends or father's past, John Kennedy looked liked this country's best chance, maybe ever.

I remember this country thinking John Kennedy was a pretty sensational fellow. We liked his youth, his vigor. He'd faced some hard problems, he'd come down on the side of right and he certainly seemed to be leading us toward attainable goals.

I'm prejudiced. John Kennedy was the first president I actively supported and worked hard to see elected, first one I really cared about and felt close to, could identify with.

It was also as if a part of my family -- a favorite relative -- had been killed. Eisenhower was somebody else's grandfather. Nixon was someone's uncle I didn't like. Johnson was the sort of backroom politician you couldn't warm up to.

Kennedy's shooting changed a lot of us. It changed our media habits overnight. For four days, the nation watched television. Freeze-framed forever -- in black and white: Jackie's blood-spattered dress. Oswald shot in the hallway. The riderless horse in the funeral procession. John-John saluting. Television took over our lives after that.

But nagging my mind forever is one question: Would this American Hero have led us all to that American Dream of world peace and prosperity?

John Kennedy -- memories that won't go away, questions that go unanswered.

Assassinations and the Beneficiaries

by: Dark Wraith

The death in less than two months of the second of two prominent, Russian critics of the regime in Moscow has produced not the slightest hint of audible outcry from the West. Former Russian Federal Security Service agent Alexander Litvinenko died yesterday from being poisoned, most likely while eating at a sushi restaurant. The Washington Post now reports that what had been the mystery poison that slowly, inexorably killed Litvinenko was, in fact, polonium 210, one of the rarest of radioactive substances. It might have been part of an assassination cocktail, or it might have been used on its own; but regardless of how exactly the man's murderers did their dirty work, Litvinenko is finally dead after a valiant fight to stay alive as his immune system collapsed, his hair fell out, and his internal organs finally succumbed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, claiming support from 'British medical records' in the matter, sniffed that "...there is no ground for speculations" that Litvinenko's death was the "result of violence." Mr. Litvinenko felt otherwise and dictated a statement to the effect before slipping into the coma from which he would not return. His final statement was a broadside condemnation of Vladimir Putin as a leader and as the ultimate authority in his killing.

Mr. Litvinenko is preceded in death by Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, described in an October 7, 2006, press release by the U.S. Department of State as "[p]ersonally courageous and committed to seeking justice even in the face of previous death threats." That press release notes that, in the past six years, twelve journalists have been murdered, including the Russian editor of Forbes, American Paul Klebnikov. Ms. Politkovskaya was preparing the publication of a scathing article about the war being waged by Russia against neighboring Chechnya. She was found in the elevator of her apartment building, her head and body having taken four rounds from a Makarov pistol fired at close range.

While an on-going investigation of the death of a prominent figure in another country might be cause for diplomatic caution in prematurely assigning blame, the Bush Administration has had little problem in broadly hinting at just that in the case of the assassination of Right-wing politician Pierre Gemayel in Lebanon. Gemayel, the son of former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel, was the Minister of Industry and a rising star in the Christian Phalangist political party, the rival of Syrian-backed Hezb'allah, led by its Secretary-General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, a man that even some Israelis grudgingly admire for having survived the August bombing and land invasion of Lebanon by Israeli Defense Forces intent on killing him and neutralizing his party.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton went right to the brink of an outright accusation of Syrian involvement in Gemayel's assassination. Conflating the on-going UN investigation of the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri—an investigation, objectively or otherwise, that has implicated Syrians—Bolton intoned ominously, "I think people can draw their own conclusions [about Syrian involvement in Gemayel's assassination]."

The hypocrisy of the double-standard being applied by the Bush Administration and others is palpable. On the one hand, those who stand to gain the most in the deaths of ex-spies and journalists in Russia are being treated with kid gloves; yet, at the same time, those who certainly do not stand to gain much of anything by a string of assassinations in Lebanon are immediately subject to barely-veiled implication.

The judgment Victor Litvinenko expressed on his deathbed about Vladimir Putin is widely shared by those who have suffered under the Russian president's rule. In Mr. Litvinenko's own words:
"You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value. You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilized men and women...

"You may succeed in silencing one man, but the howl of protest from around the world, Mr. Putin, will reverberate in your ears for the rest of your life. May God forgive you for what you have done."
Yet no one in the Bush Administration—certainly not soon-to-be-has-been Ambassador Bolton—is taking the lead in rallying world condemnation of Putin's iron-fisted, corrupt regime.

But in Lebanon, where the Syrians were literally forced to end their long-standing military presence in the wake of outrage over Prime Minister Hariri's slaying, the presumption is that Damascus is at it again, ticking off what would be the regime of Bashar al-Assad's fifth assassination in the past two years. But as weak and irresolute as Bashar al-Assad might be, especially in comparison to his father, the late Hafez al-Assad, only the dullard would assume that the Syrians would not have calculated the extraordinary outpouring of grief and anti-Syrian hatred that has occasioned the murder of the popular, youthful Pierre Gemayel.

It is no overreach to predict that Syria has now lost all hope of being a significant force, political or otherwise, in Lebanon, as has its Lebanese hand-maiden, Nasrallah's Hezb'allah; and it is furthermore not beyond consideration that the assassination of Gemayel will ultimately become the pretext for Western punitive measures to be taken against Damascus, such measures including economic sanctions, international tribunals, and even possibly military actions, covert or otherwise.

Syria stood to gain nothing from involvement in the assassination of Pierre Gemayel; and unless the regime is Damascus is riddled with profoundly stupid decision-makers, al-Assad and his henchmen would have known this. So, too (although perhaps not as certainly) would Hezb'allah chief Nasrallah.

This all leads, of course, to the big question in the current round of Lebanese intrigue: Who, then, would stand to gain the most from the death of Pierre Gemayel? That question might best be framed in terms of who—or more accurately, what country or countries—would stand to gain the most from a world intent upon blaming, and then punishing, the suspect favored for punishment by the United States and certain interests of the Middle East?

That which binds the assassinations of prominent Russian dissidents and prominent Lebanese politicians is the suspiciously inconsistent manner in which either blame is assigned or judgment reserved by other countries, particularly by those with a recent history of selective use of military force in prosecuting their parochial interests. For Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs in Russia, a quiet Western front is all for the best for everyone concerned.

For the Bush Administration, righteous indignation and nearly open finger-pointing at Syria serves an equally beneficial purpose, at least as far as the United States and its dearest ally in the Middle East are concerned.

Chocolate Cremé Brulée

by: Minstrel Boy

Here's how most of my family time went "Hi, so good to see you, did you bring truffles?"
I had to admit that with the still warm temperatures, the recent move back to Arizona, the fact that parts of my kitchen are still awaiting some guys to finish off the drywall process (tape, mud, mountains of dust) and the fact that I've been working on a lot more music projects than I anticipated (which is not a complaint just a statement) I haven't gotten the truffle operation going this year. I had to promise that there will be truffles for Christmas, and Valentine's, and Mother's Day. But we are talking batches made at home and not the full on industrial operation that they've become so reliant on over the years. I will still be running the "Win a Dozen Truffles" contest in December.

So, to keep peace in the family, and to please my own palate, before the relatives scatter hither and yon, I am making Chocolate Cremé Brulée for the final send off dinner.

This is not that tricky a dish. The main technique that is required is tempering. This is where you take a hot liquid and slowly merge it into eggs or chocolate. To do this without scrambling the eggs or breaking the chocolate is a critical step. Plus, right before serving you get to whip out the blowtorch and go to town. That's always fun.


(for six)

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (Trader Joe's® Pound Plus 70% Cocoa mass bars simply rock, but if you have a particular favorite bittersweet brand, by all means serve to your own Jones)
1-1/3 cups whipping cream (Smart & Final® Manufacturing Cream)
5 large egg yolks
3 Tablespoons Baker's sugar
1-1/2 cups raspberries, chilled (frozen works just fine here)
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon Baker's Sugar (very fine ganulated for an even crusting on the Brulée)
For garnish: whipped cream & 18 whole rasperries (Fresh only, if you can't get fresh raspberries use a sprig of mint)

Melt the chocolate, either over simmering water or in the microwave. For the microwave melt (which is what I do because chocolate hates water of all kinds) put it on high for 30 seconds, stir, high for 20 seconds, stir, then 10 seconds at a time until completely melted and smooth. Set aside and allow to cool slowly.

In a heavy saucepan (I have a copper clad cast iron monster) scald the cream. This means to bring it right to the edge of boiling, where there are small bubbles beginning to form around the edges. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl until they are smooth and lemon colored, then whisk in the 3 tablespoons of baker's sugar until well blended. Now it's time to temper. Using a standard size kitchen ladle whisk the hot cream gradually into the egg yolk/sugar mixture. Do this a little at a time, mixing thoroughly each ladle full. Keep at this until the cream and the egg yolk/sugar/cream mixture are roughly the same temperature then you can put the egg/sugar/cream mixture all into the saucepan at once and mix it completely. Cook this over a low flame, stirring constantly, taking care to scrape the bottoms and sides with a wooden spoon. Cook for around five minutes until the custard is 160° or, if you're so barbaric that you don't have an instant read thermometer handy, until the custard begins to evenly coat the back of the wooden spoon.

Now it's time to temper into the chocolate. Transfer the custard to a bowl, stir it gently for about 30 seconds to help cool it down. Then allow it to cool another five full minutes. You do not want the custard to be hotter than 120° (are you about ready to hit the cooking supply store for your instant read thermometer yet?) when you mix it into chocolate. For you brave luddites out there who resist sensible technology I will now describe the "ouch" test. If you stick your finger (your clean and dry finger) into the custard and you pull it out saying "Ouch" before 15 seconds, your custard is too hot. If you sucked the custard off of your finger, wash your hands again, dry completely with a cloth towel and repeat the process. Once you can hold your finger, one knuckle deep in the custard for a full fifteen seconds either the custard is below 120° or you are trying to prove to everybody how tough you are. If it's the latter condition you deserve to have the chocolate break and the recipe fail. You should have gotten yourself a thermometer.

Transfer the custard about a 1/2 cup at a time into the chocolate. Stirring until completely mixed. Again, once the two mixtures are roughly the same temperature you can then mix in the rest of the custard. The resulting chocolate custard should be glossy, silky, and voluptuously aromatic, be prepared to defend your kitchen from assault here. They will come after it right now, but stand firm. What you need to do now is to allow the custard to cool to room temperature while stirring it every few minutes to prevent it forming a skin.

Once it is at room temperature you can transfer it into the individual ramekins. Put the raspberries and their juice evenly around the bottom of the six ramekins. Carefully spoon about 1/3 cup of custard over this and smooth it with a spatula. Cover this closely with plastic. That means to get the plastic wrap right on the surface of the custard. Any air pockets will skin up. Small little defects of this type won't hurt anything but a skin across the top is just gross. Refrigerate the ramekins four to six hours before serving.

When it's time to serve, put around a tablespoon and a half of baker's sugar evenly over the custard and torch it until the sugar melts and begins to brown and bubble.

Garnish with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. (or a mint sprig if there aren't any raspberries available) Serve this immediately to rapturous accolades, enthusiastic applause followed by blessed silence as they dig into it. Be gracious in your acceptance of this acclaim, you truly earned it this time. The best companion beverages for this are espresso (in a demitasse with a twist of lemon---this is not cappuchino time, not latté this is time for full on unflavored espresso in the proper, petite cup), brandy, or calvados. Stay away from liqueurs or (ugh!) dessert wines. This is a dessert of strong flavors and deserves to be alongside something with teeth.

also at "El Rancho Harpo"
22 November 2006


by: Dark Wraith

On this Thanksgiving Day, I shall give thanks for many things. Above all else, though, today I must give thanks to one person for whom I am most grateful, a person of whom I have spoken many harsh words and for whom I have harbored much ill will. Today, however, I cannot but think of this person and be filled with gratitude, and it would be wrong for me not to express that appreciation, if only in summary.

I am thankful for our President, George W. Bush. I want him to know that; but more importantly, I want everyone to know that, and I want everyone to know why.
To Mr. Bush:

You, sir, have given me such a renewed sense of life, even as your policies have taken the lives of almost three thousand of my fellow Americans who are soldiers and perhaps 650,000 of my brothers and sisters in a land of which I knew little and cared less only six short years ago. I should be dispirited by such appalling carnage, yet I am curiously—perhaps troublingly—enlivened by the scope of this engine of death that has become my country.

I want it not to be this way; but in the effects of what you have done, I now have returned to something I had forgotten: you were always there.

I don't mean you, personally, but you as an attitude, a posture, a way of Americanism that had been lurking in the shadows all the years I was becoming complacent, all the years I was imagining a world becoming better. It was not; and it was not because you as a face of America had always been there waiting to return from the receding memories of Vietnam, Central America, and other places most people don't even know about.

I almost forgot, as I drifted into this century in a sort of self-assured, half-slumber of comfort about America's future.

You reminded me that my America is not everybody's America; and if I should want my America, I must be forever diligent, eternally at the guard, and permanently ready to fight for it, perhaps even with my life, which you, I am most certain, would be willing to take if I were to become too much a vexation to you and your kind.

I am thankful for you, sir, because I now know that my kind probably outnumber yours: for you to stop us from stopping you, you will have to hurt a lot of people. Several hundred men being tortured in horrible isolation from the world? Three thousand or so American GIs dead? Twenty or thirty thousand more wounded? Six hundred fifty thousand Iraqis who have ceased to breathe?

You haven't even begun to see what you'll have to do to stop the world from stopping you.

Even from the tiny hill upon which I stand here in cyberspace, I can see thousands upon thousands who share my revulsion at you. Not merely at your policies, Mr. Bush, but at you: you as a coward, you as a liar, you as a manipulator, you as a torturer, you as a breeder of death, you as a destroyer of America's future, you as a taker from the poor, you as a giver to the rich, you as a phony from the day you set foot on this good earth.

You have bound millions and millions to a vision of America radically at odds with your own; and in so doing, you have made many of those people realize that they really do love that America, the one with broad and ever-expanding liberty, the one where laws compel the enforcers far more than they do the masses, the one ever striving to the promise of a living constitution that commences with a long bill of rights, not a summary manifesto of repression. I could not have hoped for a man whose America is so vile that he would make so many strive so hard for a nation so fundamentally different from that.

You have made patriots, Mr. Bush, the kind who will not yield their country to an outcast from a bleak, brutish land of cruel people. You have made patriots of tens of millions, not just here in the United States, but around the world. Have you any idea how grateful the world will be when you are finally removed from the stage and sent back to the shadows whence you came? Have you any idea, sir, how many people around the world will celebrate, certainly with great caution, the return of hope that this nation can lead by moral principle and not by incompetent violence? The world needs the United States, and the world will once again have it, staggered, poorer, a bit humbler, and all of that to the better if it is to pose as the wise and chastened leader.

I am thankful for you, Mr. Bush. You have made me once again the patriot I once was, and in this renewed vigor to a better world, I am willing to withstand you, and I can do so in no small part because you have made so many, many others utterly resolute in reclaiming this nation and, indeed, this world from your kind.

May you have a good and bountiful Thanksgiving, George W. Bush; and may you be secure in the thought that you are appreciated so much by me, as I contemplate the world and this republic in the hard and joyous task of rebuilding this nation from the shattered land you have made of it. I shall in that glad time, then, end my days pursuing the purpose that was reborn in the time of your tyranny; and every one of those days of that future, I shall rejoice in the certain knowledge that you and those like you can do no more harm, at least until a future generation falls into that slumber of complacency.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

Better Than A Stupid Ribbon On Your SUV

by: Minstrel Boy

Last night I got an email from tata about a thing that's being done by Coalition of the Swilling. It seems that they are "adopting" a unit of Marines that are stationed on the Syria/Iraq border. Go read their posts.

This is an excerpt from the email I got from Coalition of the Swilling (egad, I love that name!).
It is our second year taking care of this unit as best we can. Lemme tell you a little about our kids ~ we took care of them last year through the holidays (and by that i mean from before Thanksgiving until the mail cut off end of Feb) and we're adopting again this year. Yep ~ you heard that right ~ SAME Marines, same station. They run the unmanned drones and, since there's only two units PERIOD, they rotate in and out of country every 6 months. (one of their young captains is on his FOURTH tour.) So they left Iraq in March and got back there mid-September. That's a LOT to ask of anybody, but they just pack up and go, bless their hearts. (And NOW our Sara is being transferred to a camp a mile from the Syrian border ~ absolute nasty, back of beyond real estate ~ and we'll be looking for more friends for the half dozen or so Marines stuck out there.)

Our aim is to get everyone's name called at mail call at least once in a while. We try to shoot for at least a couple names per leatherneck, that way cards and packages get pretty evenly distributed.

Please don't hesitate to ask any questions if I've forgotten something. I'd be delighted to send you a Marine ( or two or three if you can hook some friends up {8^P) if you're sure you'd like to sign on. I look forward to hearing from you!

They are assembling packages that contain little things to make life in the boonies a bit easier for the kids. I have told many "I support the troops" folks about something that happened while I was in Viet Nam. One year, out of the blue, my unit received a big package from Clover Valley Elementary School, Oak Harbor, Washington, Mrs. Grove's 4th grade class. It contained hundreds and hundreds of packages of Pre-Sweetened Kool-Aid®. That was big stuff for us boonie rats. Better than dope (actually the dope over there was way better than stateside but I digress). The pills (Halzone) that we used to "purify" the water we drank (and there was some totally funkatized water over there) made it taste very bad. The Kool-Aid helped a lot. Along with that was the reminder that somebody back in the world knew where we were and was thinking about us. We wrote them letters of thanks. They wrote us back. It was a little bit of sweetness from home that touched parts of us we had buried deep inside during our little vacation in hell's half-assed acre.

I'm getting me a couple of Marines, I'm encouraging everybody I know to do the same. Something like this only takes a moment and will give a homesick, scared kid a little bit of home and hope.

You have your mission troops, carry the fuck on and stuff.

over there, over there

Alice's Restaurant

by: Debra

Mom just reminded me that my song is coming up. Every year at Thanksgiving, some time around noon, a radio station near you will play Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie. All twenty something minutes.

It is, in a word, classic. The lyrics tell a brilliant story (antiwar, about the draft), extremely humorous, easy to identify with, and unfortunately, just as skeweringly accurate now as it was then. It's a good time that shows you that not much has changed in forty years. It gets me how topical it still is.

Have a listen, you'll enjoy it. If you sing along you burn calories and it makes you smile. That's always a good thing.

Cross posted at the usual place.

Twenty seven eight by ten glossies. I love that line.

Thanks Giving

by: Foiled Goil


~Edgar A. Guest

Gettin' together to smile an' rejoice,
An' eatin' an' laughin' with folks of your choice;
An' kissin' the girls an' declarin' that they
Are growin' more beautiful day after day;
Chattin' an' braggin' a bit with the men,
Buildin' the old family circle again;
Livin' the wholesome an' old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.

Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother's a little bit grayer, that's all.
Father's a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an' to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin' our stories as women an' men.

Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we're grateful an' glad to be there.
Home from the east land an' home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an' best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We've come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an' be frank,
Forgettin' position an' station an' rank.

Give me the end of the year an' its fun
When most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin' with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An' I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers.

Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959) signed on with the Detroit Free Press as a 13-year-old office boy in 1895. He stayed for 60 years.
21 November 2006

You Bastards!

by: Konagod

Out-of-wedlock births are at an all-time high.

Out-of-wedlock births in the United States have climbed to an all-time high, accounting for nearly four in 10 babies born last year, government health officials said Tuesday.

While out-of-wedlock births have long been associated with teen mothers, the teen birth rate actually dropped last year to the lowest level on record. Instead, births among unwed mothers rose most dramatically among women in their 20s.

Experts said the overall rise reflects the burgeoning number of people who are putting off marriage or living together without getting married. They said it also reflects the fact that having a child out of wedlock is more acceptable nowadays and not necessarily the source of shame it once was.

konagod has no opinion on the matter. I'm sure the fundies will.

20 November 2006

Olbermann: Lessons From Vietnam

by: Foiled Goil

Olbermann: Lessons from the Vietnam War

Keith Olbermann responds to Bush's comparison between
Vietnam and Iraq


It is a shame and it is embarrassing to us all when President Bush travels 8,000 miles only to wind up avoiding reality again.

And it is pathetic to listen to a man talk unrealistically about Vietnam, who permitted the “Swift-Boating” of not one but two American heroes of that war, in consecutive presidential campaigns.

But most importantly — important beyond measure — his avoidance of reality is going to wind up killing more Americans.

And that is indefensible and fatal.

Asked if there were lessons about Iraq to be found in our experience in Vietnam, Mr. Bush said that there were, and he immediately proved he had no clue what they were.

“One lesson is,” he said, “that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while.”

“We’ll succeed,” the president concluded, “unless we quit.”

If that’s the lesson about Iraq that Mr. Bush sees in Vietnam, then he needs a tutor.

Or we need somebody else making the decisions about Iraq.

Mr. Bush, there are a dozen central, essential lessons to be derived from our nightmare in Vietnam, but “we’ll succeed unless we quit,” is not one of them.

The primary one — which should be as obvious to you as the latest opinion poll showing that only 31 percent of this country agrees with your tragic Iraq policy — is that if you try to pursue a war for which the nation has lost its stomach, you and it are finished. Ask Lyndon Johnson.

The second most important lesson of Vietnam, Mr. Bush: If you don’t have a stable local government to work with, you can keep sending in Americans until hell freezes over and it will not matter. Ask Vietnamese Presidents Diem or Thieu.

The third vital lesson of Vietnam, Mr. Bush: Don’t pretend it’s something it’s not. For decades we were warned that if we didn’t stop “communist aggression” in Vietnam, communist agitators would infiltrate and devour the small nations of the world, and make their insidious way, stealthily, to our doorstep.

The war machine of 1968 had this “domino theory.”

Your war machine of 2006 has this nonsense about Iraq as “the central front in the war on terror.”

The fourth pivotal lesson of Vietnam, Mr. Bush: If the same idiots who told Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon to stay there for the sake of “peace With honor” are now telling you to stay in Iraq, they’re probably just as wrong now, as they were then ... Dr. Kissinger.

And the fifth crucial lesson of Vietnam, Mr. Bush — which somebody should’ve told you about long before you plunged this country into Iraq — is that if you lie your country into a war, your war, your presidency will be consigned to the scrap heap of history.

Consider your fellow Texan, sir.

After Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson held the country together after a national tragedy, not unlike you did. He had lofty goals and tried to reshape society for the better. And he is remembered for Vietnam, and for the lies he and his government told to get us there and keep us there, and for the Americans who needlessly died there.

As you will be remembered for Iraq, and for the lies you and your government told to get us there and keep us there, and for the Americans who have needlessly died there and who will needlessly die there tomorrow.

This president has his fictitious Iraqi WMD, and his lies — disguised as subtle hints — linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11, and his reason-of-the-week for keeping us there when all the evidence for at least three years has told us we need to get as many of our kids out as quickly as possible. [...]

And yet President Bush just saw the grim reminders of that trip into hell: the 58,000 Americans and millions of Vietnamese killed; the 10,000 civilians who’ve been blown up by landmines since we pulled out; the genocide in the neighboring country of Cambodia, which we triggered.

Yet these parallels — and these lessons — eluded President Bush entirely.

And, in particular, the one over-arching lesson about Iraq that should’ve been written everywhere he looked in Vietnam went unseen.

“We’ll succeed unless we quit”?

Mr. Bush, we did quit in Vietnam! [...]

Finally, in Vietnam, we learned the lesson. We stopped endlessly squandering lives and treasure and the focus of a nation on an impossible and irrelevant dream, but you are still doing exactly that, tonight, in Iraq.

And these lessons from Vietnam, Mr. Bush, these priceless, transparent lessons, writ large as if across the very sky, are still a mystery to you.

“We’ll succeed unless we quit.”

No, sir.

We will succeed against terrorism, for our country’s needs, toward binding up the nation’s wounds when you quit, quit the monumental lie that is our presence in Iraq.

And in the interim, Mr. Bush, an American kid will be killed there...

Full article.

Hi Jolly

by: Minstrel Boy

The anticipation of a date shake at the mid point of a long drive had me singing an old song from my youth.

Hadji Ali was a real person. While Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis imported camels and drivers to traverse the distances of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. After the experiement was abandoned Hadji Ali (Hi Jolly is a fair enough approximation for pronouncing his name) kept his train running. Miners, desert rats and the Indian Nations all benefitted from his service.

There were reports of feral camel sightings in the Arizona desert well into the 1970's. The Apache called them ga'an libah or "grey ghosts."

From the singing of the New Christy Minstrels as far as my memory can recall.

Hi Jolly
Hi Jolly, Hey Jolly, twenty miles today by golly
Twenty miles before the morning light
Hi Jolly Hey! I gotta be on my way I
Told my gal I'd be home Sunday night

Hi Jolly was a camel driver long years ago
Followed Mr. Greyson way out west
He didn't mind the burning sand
In that God-forsaken land
And he loved the pretty girls the best


There's pretty girls in Albequerque
Least that's what I hear
Pretty girls in Tucumcari too
Hush honey, I ain't blind
I don't pay them any mind
I'm savin' all my loving just for you


Old timers out in Arizona tell you that it's true
You can see Hi Jolly's ghost a riding still
When the desert moon is bright
He'll come riding through the night
Leading four and twenty camels down the hill


I loves me a good ol' singalong on a road trip.

humming off into the sunset

Travel Notice

by: Minstrel Boy

I'm headed off to my mother's for the holiday. The only real news to report is that, in the absence of myself and two of my children, the lovely Pool Girls have agreed to both care for the critters and hang out at the house. In exchange for Suns tickets and a cash stipend of course.

A small, but not unsurprising little tidbit came about when I made the offer initially as being open to one or the other. They told me that in business and in life they are "a package deal." I told them that this was totally fine with me. I think they make a fine couple. They told me that they had considered "coming out" to me in the past but they decided that since they assumed it would make no difference to me anyway that they should just allow events to unfold naturally. The mere fact that I have needle tracks and gunshot scars older than these girls precluded any "hitting" on them alone, to say nothing of my not being willing to risk losing them on a business level. My son will have to adjust the scenarios of his fantasy life accordingly. In honor of the road trip I will offer up an unscheduled Random Ten for the highway. I've chosen the Big Bill Broonzy to start us off, everything to follow is the result of "shuffle."

Key to the Highway - - - Big Bill Broonzy
Big River - - - Johnny Cash
Safety Dance - - - Men Without Hats
The Mighty Quinn - - - Grateful Dead (live bootleg)
Sweet Home Chicago - - - Robert Johnson
Shame Shame Shame - - - Jimmy Reed
Whistlin' Past The Graveyard - - - Tom Waits
Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone - - - Billie Holiday
I Can't Get Next To You - - - Temptations
This Is the Sea - - - Waterboys

Bonus Track

WAR - - - Edwin Starr

Bonus Bonus

Shelter From the Storm - - - Joan Armitrading

Date Shakes in Quartzite will be consumed at the tomb of Hadji Ali and the proper respects will be paid to one of our true Arizona heroes.

crosspatch draw the latch, sit by the fire and spin

Mitt Romney's Anti-Gay Crusade Continues

by: Konagod

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is so hellbent on being the anti-gay presidential candidate in 2008 he simply can't leave the gay marriage issue alone in his state.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
photo: Chitose Suzuki/Associated Press

Opponents of same-sex marriage rallied Sunday in Boston. About 8,000 same-sex couples have married in Massachusetts since gay marriage was legalized. The sky didn't fall. The wrath of God wasn't inflicted upon the people. Straight couples continue to marry and divorce, as before. Life goes on. And Romney just can't take it.
Mr. Romney, a Republican, said he would file a request this week for a justice of the Supreme Judicial Court to direct the secretary of state to place the question on the ballot if lawmakers do not vote on the issue on Jan. 2, the final day of the session.

The governor, an opponent of same-sex marriage who decided not to seek re-election as he considers running for president, made his announcement to the cheers of same-sex-marriage opponents at a rally on the Statehouse steps. Supporters of same-sex marriage staged a protest across the street.

This whackjob is a pro when it comes to twisting reason in an attempt to motivate his base of fundamentalist hypocritical bigots.
“A decision not to vote is a decision to usurp the Constitution, to abandon democracy and substitute a form of what this nation’s founders called tyranny, that is, the imposition of the will of those in power, on the people,” Mr. Romney said. “The issue now before us is not whether same-sex couples should marry. The issue before us today is whether 109 legislators will follow the Constitution.”

This frothing-at-the-mouth hatemonger needs to be slammed down hard. It was bizarre enough that he was governor of Massachusetts -- a man who is ultra-conservative even by Utah standards. He clearly is not mentally fit for his presidential ambitions.
“One of the tenets of the Constitution is that you do not put the rights of a minority up for a popularity contest,” said Mark Solomon, campaign director of Mass Equality, a group that supports same-sex marriage. “It is one of the very principles this country was founded upon.”


Dec. 22 is marked on my calendar

by: Konagod

Somehow I doubt the Pope will approve. Two peace activitsts have planned a Global Orgasm For Peace on December 22 as an anti-war demonstration.
The Global Orgasm for Peace was conceived by Donna Sheehan, 76, and Paul Reffell, 55, whose immodest goal is for everyone in the world to have an orgasm Dec. 22 while focusing on world peace.

"The orgasm gives out an incredible feeling of peace during it and after it," Reffell said Sunday. "Your mind is like a blank. It's like a meditative state. And mass meditations have been shown to make a change."

The couple are no strangers to sex and social activism. Sheehan, no relation to anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, brought together nearly 50 women in 2002 who stripped naked and spelled out the word "Peace."

I don't celebrate the holidays but I do observe the winter solstice. However, I don't recall every celebrating it in this manner. Never one to shy away from a good meditative state, consider me on board for this peace movement.
19 November 2006

Lay Off It, Mr. Rangel

by: Dark Wraith

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) went on "Face the Nation" today and called for reinstating the draft, claiming he would introduce legislation to the effect in the next session of Congress. He claimed a draft would keep the country from going to war.

According to, the Selective Service now has approximately 16 million individuals who have registered, as is now required by law.

Preventing wars is a noble goal, provided we are preventing thoroughly ill-planned, useless wars of opportunity based upon lies, the kind of military adventures the neo-conservatives favor. Preventing wars by pursuing honest, concerted, no-holds-barred diplomatic, economic, and political channels is statecraft in its most sublime form, and it is unfortunate that the American people have not been treated to examples of this since the Clinton Administration, even though many of those same Americans seem thoroughly unconscious of the scope of peace and brevity of military conflicts the United States had during that better era.

All of that aside, to Rep. Rangel I offer this advice:

While I respect your uncautioned and extensive criticism of this vile Administration, please use gamesmanship on something other than young lives, Mr. Rangel. You know exactly what you're doing: you're trying to hang 16 million human lives in front of a blood-thirsty band of hooligans, thinking they wouldn't dare pick a fight if a few of those millions were their children.

It's bad enough that we have the Bush Administration and its lackeys—both Republican and Democrat, I might point out—who drag us into bad wars, but your plan is going to provide them with all the flesh and blood they need to round out a war machine they're finally figuring out just doesn't work on the small-Army/big-technology paradigm of the Donald Rumsfeld era.

You seem to think it would be a good thing if, say, Jenna Bush were to have to serve in combat. Maybe that would disabuse her father of his fantasy world where wars are for the dumb, the brown, the poor, the outcasts, and the crazies to fight and die in. Maybe it would. Then again, maybe it wouldn't.

First, the rich will always find a way around the conscription of their kids if they really want to. That's just the way it is and always has been, and you cannot construct a draft that would not be made an instrument of the age-old sorting of the wretched, who will go to the trenches, from their betters, who will not.

But let's say, in a brief suspension of reality, that we really could send Jenna Bush into combat, and her father could not keep it from happening. Let's get down and dirty, shall we?

Do you know how an improvised explosive device does its savagery? You're driving along, and all of a sudden, the entire planet changes: your whole brain is full of roaring sound, and you're going up in their air: sky and ground flash alternately in front of you.

A bizarre cold is all over your back, your ass, and your legs: that's your skin melting into the seat.

When you hit the ground maybe 50 feet from where you started this split-second eternity, you're dead. Your optic screen is closing down from the periphery to the center: that's the "white light" people describe as some near-death experience, except that you're going to get to die all the way.

You can still hear for a few minutes; auditory perception will be the last thing to vanish into the black well. Even if you're screaming, you really don't know about it so much. You might stay around long enough to hear people: boots running and getting louder; someone yelling, "Aw, fuck, man... Oh-god-oh-god-oh-god... SHIT!"

You might hear the second one go off. That would be the one for some guys from the truck behind you: they were too shocked to think about a sucker bomb.

You get to close down, even though what's left of your body is jerking violently even after you're hopelessly dead.

You go away forever. The black well has finished swallowing you whole.

That's good because that means you don't have to hear the people who grieve for you when that guy plays the Taps on that forlorn bugle and those other soldiers do that painfully slow, methodical folding of the flag so they can hand it to someone who loved you.

You've gone away forever. That's if you're some crazy kid who signed up because he needed some way to prove he was a man, or if you're some rich kid who got sucked up in a draft whipped together by a Congressman who wanted to make a point.

Mr. Rangel, making war unpalatable to the war-mongers is no substitute for making peace attainable by the peacemakers.

Lay off this crusade of yours, sir. For the sake of 16 million people now, and countless millions who will come of draft age in the years ahead, let it go.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Tea Party

by: Foiled Goil

Celebrate an American Anniversary:

December 16, 1775 - The Boston Tea Party

By Melinda Pillsbury-Foster:

On August 14, 1765 a small group of colonists came together to form a secret society in furtherance of independence. They first met in Boston under a tree located at the corner of Essex and Orange Streets near Hanover Square. They had gathered to protest the Stamp Act. When they left they had founded a secret society that would promote independence for the colonies, a front line for action. Effigies of two tax collectors had been hanged from what was ever after known as the Tree of Liberty.

The Liberty Tree
(A Song by Thomas Paine, 1775)

In a chariot of light from the regions of the day,
The Goddess of Liberty came,
Ten thousand celestials directed her way,
And hither conducted the dame.
A fair budding branch from the gardens above,
Where millions with millions agree,
She brought in her hand as a pledge of her love,
And the plant she named Liberty Tree.

The celestial exotic stuck deep in the ground,
Like a native it flourished and bore;
The fame of its fruit drew the nations around
To seek out this peaceable shore.
Unmindful of names or distinctions they came,
For freemen like brothers agree;
With one Spirit endued, they one friendship pursued,
And their temple was Liberty Tree.

But hear, O ye swains ('tis a tale most profane),
How all the tyrannical powers,
Kings, Commons, and Lords, are uniting amain
To cut down this guardian of ours.
From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms,
Thro' the land let the sound of it flee:
Let the far and the near all unite with a cheer,
In defense of our Liberty Tree.

The Sons of Liberty came into existence because awareness was growing that action would soon be necessary. As the 231st anniversary of the Boston Tea Party approaches all Americans should take a moment to thank those stalwart men who agreed on the need to preserve the autonomy of the colonies and took action. Today we have lost sight of the specific events that motivated the dumping of artificially cheap tea into Boston Harbor. But the reasons went to the insistence of the colonists that they were free, a truth we should never forget. [...]

The Taxed Tea
(aka “A New Song” - Pennsylvania Packet, 1773)

As near beauteous Boston lying,
On the gently swelling flood,
Without jack or pendant flying,
Three ill-fated tea-ships rode.

Just as glorious Sol was setting,
On the wharf, a numerous crew,
Sons of freedom, fear forgetting,
Suddenly appeared in view.

Armed with hammers, axe and chisels,
Weapons new for warlike deed,
Towards the herbage-freighted vessels,
They approached with dreadful speed.

“Soon,” they cried, “your foes you’ll banish,
Soon the triumph will be won;
Scarce shall setting Phoebus vanish,
Ere the deathless deeds be done.”

Quick as thought the ships were boarded,
Hatches burst and chests displayed;
Axes, hammers help afforded;
What a glorious crash they made.

“Captains! once more hoist your streamers,
Spread your sails, and plough the wave;
Tell your masters they were dreamers,
When they thought to cheat the brave.”

On December 16th America will celebrate the 231st anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. It is an occasion that has been overlooked and neglected for far too long. The date marks the occasion when a small group of people thought through the issues and took action that kept control local, changing the future of the world.

This December 16th many of us will gather to read the account of Hewes, toast the Sons of Liberty in whatever beverage most pleases us, and hold a moment of silence for those who took the actions that lead to Lexington, Concord and finally to the Declaration of Independence, establishing for the first time in human history the principles that each of us possesses our rights directly from God and through no king or government.

By steps we became free; by the same small steps we could return to serfdom; that was the possibility that kept the Sons of Liberty active long past the ratification of the Constitution. The events that set our original course speak a truth we need today to turn America back towards the foundation of God-given rights that changed the course of history. The cost of liberty will ever be eternal vigilance and the willingness to take action.

Please, come to Boston.
Celebrate an anniversary Americans should remember.

Sunday Rant And Movie Review

by: Debra

Torture is something I believe is wrong. Morally, ethically and spiritually. More wrong than murder, unless the victims were tortured first. The type of person who can willingly commit inhumane acts of of physical, emotional and mental violence is only slightly less despicable than the people watching who do nothing to stop it. The people that authorize and encourage such behavior in the futile hope that they will recover something of value should be treated as any rabid animal. Since I don't believe in the death penalty, at the very least they should be segregated from regular society, before their insanity spreads.

Not that I have an opinion on the matter. Speaking of torture, I went to see Casino Royale yesterday. It rocked! Probably the best Bond movie in decades. Daniel Craig did an excellent job and provided more "whoosh" (definitely sexier than Clooney) moments than any movie in recent memory. More of Judi Dench, which is always a good thing, and a storyline that made sense. What a concept. And a relief.

What does this have to do with torture? As soon as I realized Bond was naked (airblurred the good bits, unfortunately) I started to squirm and not all of the reasons had to do with the torture scene to come. The scene was effective in conveying my objections to torture and still managed to make me laugh while I empathized. Which explains the basis of my objection to torture.

Lack of empathy. How can you not imagine how it feels? How can you willingly terrorize another human being and move on to the next victim? If you torture ninety nine innocent people and one guilty, does that make it right? Other than deliberately withholding your help from someone who will die without it, nothing else shows a lack of empathy more clearly. Nothing. Even the people who work on death row are forever changed by the experience. They are not inhuman, a torturer is.

Back to the movie. Why don't American cell phones do all those cool things? Why don't they look that good? We are so far behind the times when it comes to bluetooth and convenience. The blond woman looked way too skinny. She may not have low food security but she and food aren't close friends. Running guy definitely deserved to be in the title credits. That was one of the best chase scenes I've seen in a long time. I felt like I lost a pound from all the exercise.

Cross posted at Debsweb.
18 November 2006

Pool Girls, Spurs, Crops, Boots and Saddles

by: Minstrel Boy

In case you think that this might be about something kinky allow me to disappoint you right up here at the top. I have been told that a headline with a suggestion of sex and kinky will increase traffic. Which totally explains the time I wrote about politics but titled the post "Edible Panties."

I was already half inclined to go for a ride yesterday. I was in a puttering mood, which for me, includes whipping something up in the kitchen. I am also doing the National Eating Day (hat tip to PoP) at mum's out of town and my local family has let it be known that if I leave without delivering pies and other goodies that they will be roundly disappointed. So I was in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on two pecan and two pumpkin pies when the Pool Girls showed up.

Just as a refresher on how this works out here. These girls are simply one of the best services I've ever engaged. They are totally professional. They do a great job at a competitive price. The fact that both of them happen to be drop dead gorgeous is NOT why I hired them. They had been working out here for two weeks before I even met them. I had been gone off to Vegas on a gig. Their little company was the first listing I called where a human being answered the phone. Since then our relationship has been cordial but never personal.

They are out getting prep work done for some winter surface conditioning, and since there's finally an autumn chill in the air the bikini action I grew so fond of over the summer is not happening. I was on my way out to the barn and I stop by the pool to tell them that I am heading off for a ride, that their check and the pie of their choice is on the counter. (it's no small character reference in my book that the dogs will let them come and go in the house without a second glance. Dogs just know stuff like that)

The upshot is that the girls have a very light schedule this week and yes, they would love to go for a ride. I also understand what it means to be a horse person without access to a mount. I, of course, tell them to come along. They begin putting their gear into their truck while I head out to the barn to start getting things ready.

I'm planning to ride Casey. Casey is short for Awa a Kasim Kasim which is Arabic for 5150 (police code for "danger to self and others"). He's not crazy, but he's a stallion and sometimes suffers from what the lovely April terms "testosterone poisoning." None of the mares are in season, today he looks like he just wants to get the hell out of there and roam. The other two horses are Rosalita, a gorgeous little Arab mare who is a dream to ride. She's a fully five gaited push button sweetheart. When she's in her walking canter it's like being on a living merry go round. Then there's Mustang Sally. She's the one I have to check people's skill levels with. Sally is the perfect choice for a child, a rank beginner, or a very experienced rider. She can be frustrating for an intermediate whose ambitions exceed their skill levels. If she gets upset with her rider she doesn't buck, but she will stop, lie down and roll. She doesn't want to hurt anybody, but she does not suffer fools gladly. I think that's why she and I get along so well.

I am busying myself with all the little things that must be done before a ride. Filling the water tank in the trailer, stashing goodies in the stash bins, picking hooves, brushing down. I have Casey's tack out. I ride him with an Australian Stock saddle (any riders out there with bad knees should check one of these babies out), a snaffle rigged with double reins and a martingale. I figure I will learn a lot about where the girls are as riders by letting them choose their own tack styles.

The girls arrive and start to pitch in immediately. It's obvious that they both know what they're doing. I ask what kind of tack they like and BlondeGirl (here after called "BG") says that she grew up riding Western. Fair enough. I ask the RedhairedGirl ("RG") what she likes and she says "It really doesn't matter. I'm fine with a bareback pad." I suggest that we go pick them out a horse. RG and Sally bond instantly. I can tell it's love at first sight. BG and Rosalita are then paired by default but I know that as soon as she starts moving for her love will come.

We get everybody saddled up, the trailer loaded and head down the road about 10 miles to be right at the base of the SanTan foothills. We set off and are having a grand old time. The girls are enjoying the hell out of themselves. They are also a wee bit starstruck from seeing some of the pictures of me with people I've worked with. I tell them that the relationship I have with most of them is strictly business. They want to hear about last night's show. I give them a worker bee's eye view of what that's like. It goes something like this. I show up, I do my job, I go home. I don't get to meet La Diva or pal around with anyone. The highlight of the day for me was when I showed up to the venue and flashed my parking pass at the guard. They had different parking areas for performers and for crew. He asked "Talent?" I said "Of course I have talent, but I practice all the time." He didn't get it, but that happens to me a lot.

We're just having ourselves a grand old time when my cell phone goes off. It's my son calling to tell me that he has been given a better offer for amusement than the Suns game tonight. I figure hey, it's an 82 game season and I would quite frankly rather go alone than to go with a teenager who would rather be somewhere else. I remind him that it's Philadelphia and Iverson is playing. Nope, he'd rather hang out with Becky and her crew than the old man. Besides that, the new Bond film is opening and....and....and..... OK kid, I get it. On a whim I announce to the girls that I have an extra ticket for the Suns tonight. They both want to go. I figure, no problem, we'll do like I used to do before I could afford good seats. We'll buy an extra ticket and negotiate something with the other season ticket holders so that we can sit within shouting distance of each other.

We head back to the house, get the horses all snug and cozy and I tell the girls that it would probably be best for us to meet at the arena. They kind of hem and haw a little before they let me know that since this is their off season for work money's a little tight and the parking fees and other expenses of a night at the basketball game would be a burden to their budget. I say "How about this then, you guys go get yourselves ready to go to the game, come back out here, I'll fix dinner, we'll all go to the game and have a great time." They tell me that I'm not only old, I am wise. You have to love girls like that.

I didn't do anything fancy or special for dinner. Spinach salad (mine's coming in beautifully from the garden and spinach is still an item of suspicion in the stores for most folks, I figure it will be a hit), Reuben sandwiches, chips, and, of course, pie for dessert (I was planning to give them to my sister but I can always make more today).

The highlight of the evening is when my son stops in to gather his stuff for his night out. He sees the two gorgeous pool girls eating and chatting happily about going to the game and says "Dude, you my hero." I tell him Pshaw, we're just going to the game. There's nothing there beyond basketball and a fun night. He looks at them again and says "No, really Dude, you my hero." I tell him he's a good son.

We negotiated the seating arrangements with ease. One of the people that sits close by had a cancellation and there was an extra seat up there for me. The best thing about it for the girls is that they made contacts for a couple of potential clients right there in my section. The Suns win. Iverson was amazing. We all go home happy.

The girls are coming back out to finish up their work from yesterday. Life is good in the country.

cross fire rigged
17 November 2006

When to Pay Respect

by: Dark Wraith

Yesterday, I published here an article noting the passing of Milton Friedman, a Right-wing economist awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for a lifetime of "achievements" that presumably included the theory and policies broadly termed "monetarism," which now guide the actions of central banks around the world. Dr. Friedman is perhaps best known, however, for his unwavering belief in "free markets" as the liberators of all that is best within individuals and societies.

In comments to my article as it was published at The Dark Wraith Forums, the long-time and much appreciated commenter who goes by the handle "ballgame" in part had this to say:
"DW: I was worried when I saw the title of your post that you had written a favorable obituary. (Somewhat relieved when I actually read it.) I guess I was remembering your mildly laudatory (IIRC) post mortem of Louis Ruykeyser. ["Financial Journalist Louis Rukeyser Dies"]

"I tend to think of both Rukeyser and Friedman as two 'let them eat cake' peas in a pod. What is the salient difference between them that you saw that would prompt you to be favorably disposed towards Rukeyser but view Friedman negatively?"
Herewith, I offer my response in particular to ballgame and more generally to others who might wonder why I occasionally speak favorably of some whose beliefs are considerably at odds with those I purport as my own.
Good evening, ballgame.

Louis Rukeyser was a creature of the business world, curiously able to communicate prevailing sentiment therein through the medium of television. He had a masterful stage presence infused of an inborn sense of humor that glibly hid a great deal of knowledge. I don't have to like a person's politics to admire his execution of craft. It is for that same reason I have admired the preaching of Jimmy Swaggart, the writings of Niccolò Machiavelli, and even the proselytizing of Paul.

Many times in my life, I have watched with great awe as warbirds flew over me. I know very well that these airplanes, be they of a by-gone era or of the latest technology, are soaring engines of almost incomprehensible butchery. They are roaring, flying, careening, monstrous weapons of indiscriminate death and destruction. Were there ever a time when the lives of innocents near me were threatened by one of them, I would do what little I could to bring it, its pilot, and its weapons officer to earth in flames; and I would celebrate for the rest of my days were I to actually accomplish such a feat before the weapon and its flyers sent me to Hell.

Yet, still, I have and shall continue to watch with great awe as warbirds fly over me.

It is the same sense of wonder—what little remains of it in these later years of my life—that grants me such awe at great and small religions of the world in the same breath that I may revile them for inspiring untold landscapes of misery, savagery, and despair.

I am what I am in that regard. For me to apologize, or even for me to find and then offer excuse, would be so contrary to my nature that I could not muster words to the disingenuous task.

But as I honor the person, contrary as his or her beliefs might be to my own, earnest in his work and genuine in his desire to be of good will, I give no quarter to the intellectual charlatan, that pale howler who cannot but lie to himself as he lies to the world about the consequences of what he desires. Dr. Friedman suffered the flaw so common to fascists and their brethren: these are people who imagine themselves strong even though they are, at their hearts, cowards convincing themselves of their great independence by crawling only to the most brutish while they revile those who, by nature of temperament or circumstance, lie under the jackboot of such brutes.

The world is just overflowing with strong people. I have seen so many of them; but virtually all of those whom I consider strong are only such when and if their strength is nurtured carefully and parsimoniously by a civil and civilized society, be it rather conservative in its leanings or far more liberal.

Strength does not come from merely saying, "I am strong, and almost all of the rest of you are weak compared to me."

Neither does strength come from saying, "I am my own man, and that's what I've always been." I learned long ago that most self-made men are self-made fabrications.

No doubt, there comes a time for some—and I truly do not wish this upon most—when an inner wellspring of strength must be dredged to the surface for hope to become action. Its consequence is often failure; but absent failure resulting in death, it is the touchstone upon which individuation—real, permanent, and quiet individuation—is born.

It is not a cry to the public, it is not a first clenching of some fist to be set upon one's fellow creatures of the Earth, it is not the opus of a life of accolades and material riches, it is not the gateway to a land where monsters draw near in kinship. Those who fancy the greatest power of the human spirit arising from a wasteland of every man for himself are not merely fools, they are dangerous fools, for they give inspiration to beasts, offer validation to tyrants, and provide justification to the unmerciful.

I leave to barbarians the desecration of the dead; yet I have within myself no cause to honor the departed who have earned no such moment of my silence.

And so I ride on my own journey past the grave of Milton Friedman without so much as a hush.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

Blue Tiger Dems

by: Foiled Goil

Michigan is the first state to adopt the Blue Tiger Democrats program, starting in 2007

MI Dems Article:

Jackson Hole, Wyo. — Determining that the Democratic Party must embrace civic engagement in order to further restore credibility and respect among citizens, Mark Brewer, Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party and Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee, announced today that Michigan will become the first state in the nation to adopt the principles of the Blue Tiger Democrats organization and make it a permanent part of their state organizational structure. [...]

Brewer also announced that he would form a Blue Tiger advisory board that includes Democratic state chairs, vice-chairs, executive directors and elected officials to provide input on Michigan’s new program. To start, Brewer named the following officials to the advisory board:

Terry Lierman, Chairman, Maryland Democratic Party;

David Waid, Chairman, Arizona Democratic Party; and

David Paterson, New York State Senator and Lt. Governor-elect

“Despite the gains the Democratic Party made in the midterm elections, many people still do not believe either party cares much about them. Our goal is to regain respect for the Democratic Party and for the political process.” Brewer said. “The Michigan Democratic Party is committed to making civic engagement an integral part of our state organization. By giving Democrats things to do between elections and providing meaningful services we Democrats can show citizens that parties want to engage them more than just on election day.” [...]

“Blue Tiger’s approach of civic engagement, campaign finance reform and greater accountability and transparency in government can go a long way to helping address the respect gap between people and party. It’s time to put the self back in self-government.”

Blue Tiger Principles


16 November 2006

Killer Kranberry Sauce

by: Minstrel Boy

I like this one very much. Of course, if your family tradition to open a can and you're OK with having that kind of family far be it from me to criticize. This is something I like to keep on hand. It's also very good with toasted bagels and cream cheese.


1-1/2 C sugar
1 large navel orange
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
4 Cups cranberries (that's one bag)
1/2 Cup (2 oz.) toasted pecans

Juice the orange and put it into a heavy saucepan. Grate the peel and put it with the ginger and sugar in with the juice and heat over a medium flame until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the flame to a slow boil, add the cranberries and boil until they pop. Remove from the heat, stir in the toasted pecans. Chill. Done.

A variation to this is to add a kiss of Gran Marnier, Triple Sec or Ruby Port with the orange juice. Another cool thing to do for presentation is to mould it. Of course, you all have moulds lying about don't you? If the cans are what your people are used to having you could be all sneaky and chill this in a can. That way you won't have to fight that whole contempt prior to investigation that can happen when traditions are bucked.


Economist Milton Friedman Dies

by: Dark Wraith

Milton FriedmanNobel Award-winning Right-wing economist Milton Friedman has died at the age of 94. The Washington Post charitably describes him as " of the most influential economists of the past century." The economic policies collectively described as "monetarism" long attributed to him were largely the work of far less popularly recognized economists such as David Ricardo (1772-1823) and Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), but Dr. Friedman used the platform of his fame to eventually turn the central banks of many countries around the world to more or less strict discipline in the growth of their money supplies, thereby dampening the strong inflation/deflation swings that had wracked economies in the past. These same policies, however, were imposed upon developing countries by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to far less impressive ends in terms of the misery visited primarily upon the poor of those nations.

Among the leaders he advised on economic policy were Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, and General Augusto Pinochet, the brutal dictator of Chile.

Friedman's status as a Nobel laureate allowed him considerable ability to promote his radical views that markets free of government intervention were ideal, and he was rarely brought to task, particularly in his writings like the book, Free to Choose, for his persistent conflation of "free markets," a paradigm of economists, with human freedom, a reality denied to the vast majority who labor under the fist of free market economics that always seem to favor the few over the many.

Contrary to that negative view of his work, Dr. Friedman was honored in 2002 by President George W. Bush, who said of him: "He has used a brilliant mind to advance a moral vision: the vision of a society where men and women are free, free to choose, but where government is not as free to override their decisions."

Milton Friedman is survived his wife and two children, as well as by a large and still-growing number of economists who, like the late Dr. Friedman, just don't give a damn about anything but the elegance of their theories.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

Congressional Committees Project: Update

by: Gary

The Congressional Committees Project, otherwise thought of as the "citizen media" or better yet the " Bloggers Shadow Congress" (thanks Rook) is moving right along.

Thus far, this DailyKos/Greenreflex creation has well more than 50% of the committees signed for. Bloggers from all over the country are signing up to follow, report, and provide citizen oversight to the Congress. Pressure will be applied to any member or committee not acting in the best interest, or at the will of, We the People.

Naturally, I have signed up for the Senate Judiciary Committee...Specifically focusing on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights. I know, big surprise!

has signed up (Veteran Affairs) as well as a few others.

Watch for me on DailyKOS as FISG. I will only post copies of original content from Declarations Of Pride over there, so don't go to KOS looking for something unique from me there. wink

More developments to come as they happen! As of this morning the Wikipage for the Project has taken 3,700+ hits! Not too shabby for an idea just born this past weekend.
15 November 2006

A Message to Dem Leadership

by: Foiled Goil

(As posted...)

Cheers and Jeers: Wednesday

A Message to the Democratic Leadership:

Okay, you're in and they're out. Welcome to the winner's circle. Since C&J is the most widely read publication on "The Hill" (named after Senator Hillary Clinton) I know you're expecting me to provide some personal guidance. Consider this a freebie:
Do the nation's bidding, not just the Democrats' and certainly not just your own (one Joe Lieberman is enough, thank you).

If I have to fork over a third of my income to you guys in taxes, I damn well expect you to be responsible with it. My broker doesn't take my money with the intent of building bridges to nowhere and neither should you.

I'm retiring in 23 years. I don't expect sweets and flowers but I do expect Social Security to be strong and non-privatized. Make it so and keep it so.

Silly flag-burning and gay marriage amendments are a waste of everyone's time. They are now off the table. A constitutional amendment establishing a permanent three-day weekend is back on the front burner.

Communicate with the netroots once in a while. Come to YearlyKos in August. Talk to us---we're a big ball of Democratic fusion (or is it fission? Whichever one doesn't make us literally explode, that's us) and we're here to help. That said, we will be watching and judging you based on spine, principle, talent and the swimsuit competition.

President Bush is not a moron---he just plays one on TV and in person. To put it diplomatically: when dealing with "43" "31 Percent," trust but verify. To put it less diplomatically: don't trust him ever.

The days of Republicans calling our side terrorist sympathizers are over. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can show you how to deliver a right hook to the jaw. If that's what it takes to stop this nonsense, so be it.

America's health care system is ranked lower than Cuba's. Fix that.

There is much Republican-fueled chicanery to investigate and many subpoenas to issue. Start with the war profiteers, the real traitors in our midst. Make them pay for putting their country club lifestyles ahead of our soldiers' lives.

You will memorize the following phrases and use them when the traditional media tries to push an inaccurate frame or outright lie about you or the Democratic agenda: "Where do you come up with this stuff?" "Prove it!" "Who said that?" "You've got to be kidding---is that what you really think?" "You want to step outside and tell me Democrats are weak?" You will not let the talking heads off the hook until they either prove their assertion or they admit they're full of bull. If the interviewer has been a total jerk, end the interview with, "Thanks for having me on. I hope next time we talk you'll do your homework first."

We understand that democracy is messy. We get that you're all jockeying for position and protecting your little fiefdoms---it goes with the territory. Just try and keep it a notch or two below Level Embarrassing, okay? If you're stooping, you're losing.

You promised to bring transparency and accountability back to Congress. Good. We the People are your boss and we pay your salary. We deserve to see what you're doing in our name.

For our men and women in uniform: 1) Body armor NOW. 2) Vehicle armor NOW. 3) Full funding of VA services NOW. 4) Unrelenting pressure on the president NOW to present his "plan" for getting us out of Iraq. (He, not you, is the Commander-in-Chief. This is his hot potato.) Our troops have been through---and continue to go through---hell. Let's reverse the Republican course and start showing `em some goddam respect.

You've got a helluva mix of seasoned veterans and new recruits with a golden opportunity that's been a long time coming. We don't expect you to be perfect. But we do expect you to be competent. Dear Lord, at least be that.


---Bill in Portland Maine
American Pundit of Great Influence

The Boy and the Lion

by: Minstrel Boy

Once upon a time there was a young boy who lived in Bavaria. His name was Peter. He felt very out of place in the little town he grew up in. Then when the tragedy of war took both of his parents, he found himself living with his Uncle Jan and his aunt.

Another thing Peter discovered was that the farm his parents owned was now part of his Uncle's farm and Peter was not only an orphan, he was dispossessed.

He did what any rational young man at the age of 14 would do. He ran away with the circus.

At first life in the circus was pretty lonely. He survived by working very hard and learning many different jobs. He helped with putting the tent up and down. He made a little extra money and food by helping the people who had animal acts take care of their stock. Coming from a farm he was not afraid of hard work and the circus folks soon began to appreciate having him around.

His hero was Hans the Black. The lion tamer. Hans was everything Peter wanted to be. He was dashing, brave and handsome. Every show Hans would stride into the cage full of lions and the lions would do his bidding. Peter was very happy the day when Hans came to him and said “My regular helper has left the circus. I need to replace him. I've seen you working around the other animals and I like what I see. Would you consider being my assistant?”

Peter didn't have to think very long at all. He said he would love to be the assistant of Hans the Black. He found out that his main duty was to feed the pride of lions twice a day. Well, that and to deal with the main result of feeding them. To feed the lions he had to chop up vast quantities of meat. He would then take the load of meat in a wagon to the lion's cage and give it to them. He always watched the lions closely while they ate. Observing them allowed him to see the structure of the lion's society. How one large black maned lion named Solomon always ate first. He asked Hans the Black one day “Why isn't Solomon ever in the show?” Hans said that “Solomon is the Boss Lion. His job in the show is to run the cage. If I show displeasure during a performance when the lions return to the cage, Solomon will make sure that the one who misbehaves will see the error of their ways.”

Then Peter asked “How does one become a lion tamer?” Hans said “The first thing you must do is to make friends with a lion.”

Peter took that to heart. Every time he came with the meat to feed the lions he always made sure that the choices and juiciest parts of the day's food were right on top. These tidbits he began to personally give to Solomon. It got so that Solomon began to wait at the edge of the cage and roar out with joy when he saw Peter arrive. It was about this time that the circus people bestowed a stage name on Peter. Because of his job, cutting and chopping up meat for the lion's most of his clothes were stained a dark red from the blood. The circus people thought that the perfect stage name for the assistant of Hans the Black could only be Peter the Red.

As time progressed Solomon began to not only roar his delight upon seeing Peter, he began to sit up on his haunches. They developed a game where Peter would throw a juicy chunk of meat high in the air and Solomon would leap into the air to snatch it from mid flight. Peter began to believe that his best friend in the whole world was Solomon the lion. Many nights, instead of sleeping in the caravan wagon with Hans, Peter would be down at the lions cage, curled up with his friend Solomon. He learned that lions purr. A deep, rumbling basso profundo sound, but a purr nonetheless.

Peter really didn't know what his birthday was. He knew that he had been with the circus for three whole seasons. Hans the Black asked him if he knew when his birthday was and he had to tell him that things like that weren't very important on the farm. Hans said that the blooded horses from the Rosinback rider's show were all born on New Year's Day. He asked if that would be alright with Peter. Peter said yes.

New Year's day arrived and when Peter awakened that morning, right there on the chair next to his cot was a beautiful leather outfit. Bright red with brass buttons. And shiny red boots to match. On top of that was a gorgeous red leather whip and a light red chair. There was a card on top of it all that said “To Peter the Red from Hans the Black.”

Peter was thrilled and excited. He had never once in his life been given a present. He had never once in his life been treated like anything but a boy by any adult he could think of. Now, here was his hero, Hans the Black treating Peter the Red like an equal member of the act.

Peter was brimming with energy and happiness. He put on the new set of clothes and admired himself in the mirror. He looked every inch the tamer of lions. He felt every inch the tamer of lions. He wanted to shout and show the whole world that Peter the Red was a lion tamer.

He ran down to the lion's cage to show his new things to his best friend Solomon the Boss Lion. Solomon was sitting where he usually sat, he roared out his usual delight at seeing his friend Peter. It took Solomon a bit of time to realize that the thing that was missing today was the wagon load of meat that usually accompanied Peter's arrival. No matter, he sat up upon his haunches. Peter showed his friend Solomon his new red leather whip. It made a loud Crack! when Peter snapped it in the air. The crack of the whip startled Solomon so much that he jumped into the air just like when Peter would throw up a chunk of fresh meat. Except there wasn't any meat in the air for him to snatch. Only Peter. Solomon did what any rational lion would do faced with this set of circumstance. He gobbled Peter down rapidly.

The moral of the story will appear in the comments section


Utterly Tasteless

by: Konagod

What's the point?

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Fox will slaughter the competition the final week of the November ratings sweeps when it airs a two-hour interview in which O.J. Simpson details how he would have murdered his wife, Nicole, and Ronald Goldman more than 10 years ago.

Had he done it.

Which he didn't.

Just ask him.


"If I Did It" is also the title of the former pro football player's new book that, Fox said yesterday, hits bookstores Nov. 30 -- just in time for the holiday gift-buying season, ho, ho, ho.

This is one of the most unbelievably disturbing and shameless promotions I've seen in awhile. FYI, the murderer of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman is still at large.

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Alternate category: "Speechless."
Crossposted at konagod

Poll shows Iraq, not the homostraw man, was focus of voters

by: Pam

No surprise. Fundies and the Rove Machine, it's time to put away the bibles and the homostraw man. While Dear Leader was f*cking up Iraq -- and you were focusing on everyone else's bedroom proclivities -- the swing voters you needed for a GOP win slipped from your slimy grasp. The voters are simply not in sync with what your "moral issues" when it comes to priorities.

An exit poll, commissioned by Faith in Public Life and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, has been released, and it shows where faith voters stand on major issues -- and the priorities would like to see addressed in the new Congress. Punishing gays and lesbians is not at the top the agenda, no matter how hard you are bleating to the sheeple already in your camp.

Some of the findings:
-- Faith groups urging people to vote according to kitchen table moral issues had a 20-point higher national favorability rating and a 20-point lower unfavorable rating than religious groups urging people to vote according to abortion and same-sex marriage. This difference was even starker between Catholic groups.

-- In Ohio -- an epicenter of faith organizing -- religious groups urging people to vote according to kitchen table moral issues had a 25-point higher favorability rating and a 26-point lower unfavorable rating than those urging people to vote according to the wedge issues.

-- Iraq was considered the "moral issue that most affected your vote" by 45.8 percent of voters, almost 6 times as many voters as abortion and almost 5 times as many as same-sex marriage.

-- Poverty and economic justice topped the list of "most urgent moral problem in American culture."

-- Asked to name the most important value guiding their vote, 67 percent of Catholics chose "A commitment to the common good -- the good of all not just the few" while 22 percent chose "Opposing policies such as legal abortion, gay marriage, and embryonic stem cell research."
How will this shape the candidates the GOP will field in 2008, or are they going to stick to the usual boogeymen of the "brown menace", sexually wanton women aborting their fetuses (so they can f*ck), and the gay predator to scare up votes?


Lou Sheldon: full steam ahead for the Homosexual Agenda

by: Pam

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We tried to warn voters what would happen should liberals gain control of Congress in January. We fear our predictions will be correct—and religious freedom and free speech will die by a thousand cuts—beginning in 2007. Fortunately, the people can change course in 2008, after they’ve seen the horrors to be offered them by the sick ideology of homosexual activists and liberals. My hope is that the damage done to our cultural foundations will be minimal during these next two years of liberal occupation. With Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House and Harry Reid as Senate Majority leader, God help us.
-- Rev. Louis "Unhinged" Sheldon, Chairman, Traditional Values Coalition
Hooboy, I feel a fundraiser coming on for the folks at Traditional Values Coalition.

Lou Sheldon is out...of...control in this column. The loss of the House and the Senate is simply too much to bear; he's preparing for a political Armageddon -- an army of homos (and enablers, of course) is about to descend on Washington, ready to order its elected slaves to do our legislative bidding. It's time for payback (haven't we heard this already?).

Lou is truly an oracle to behold.
With the Democrats taking control of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives this January, we can expect the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and its pro-homosexual surrogates newly elected to Congress, to begin an aggressive push for passage of a “hate crimes” bill designed to provide federally protected status to the behavior of homosexuality. This hate crimes bill is likely to be a re-engineered version of the old Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (LLEEA). The pro-homosexual, anti-Christian Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is another bill that will be revived as part of the homosexual agenda.

Americans voted for a change in Congress. They obviously have not seriously considered the kind of changes they may have to cope with once the homosexual agenda goes into full swing in the Senate and House.
Have you armed yourself with a copy of the Homosexual Agenda, ready to press into the hands of all those pro-homosexual elected officials? Lou already has you pegged. How on earth does he have this inside dope?

14 November 2006

Citizen Oversight: The Congressional Committees Project Launched!

by: Gary

I am so proud. This gem of an idea was born on DailyKOS by one of my friends! He is brilliant!

Essentially he has created a citizen media to provide oversight to, and information from, the various Congressional and Senate committees. The hope being that we can motivate legislators to do the right thing becasue they know we are looking over their shoulders...Ready at a moments notice to bring the blogsphere crashing down on them if they step out of line with our money, our Constitution, or any other sacred American standard.

I have cut and pasted it here for you. This is a real movement with insane momentum behind it. Especially as you consider that Greenreflex created it just this past Saturday. Do you have a committee you would like to provide oversight too? If yes, then you need to check this out!

From the DailyKOS Diary that started it all:

"My idea (completely inspired by her comment) is that we arrange to divvy up the house and senate committees, so that we are ALL aware of what is happening at any time in our new congress. A spread out, amateur press is always superior to a centralized corporate one, right? Here's our chance to put the magnifying glass right over, and I mean directly over our elected representatives.

As I said, I have little to no experience with this sort of thing, but this is how you get it, I guess (insert gate crashing noise here...) To fill in some of our collective gaps in understanding, I decided to do some research.

According to the Wikipedia entry on Committees, there are 20 House standing committees. "Standing" basically means permanent, or used to treat ongoing issues, like agriculture. There is one permanent "Select" committee (select means impermanent, so this seems a little weird to me), and there are four "Joint" house and senate committees. (That just means there are members from both houses in them.)

The senate has 17 committees. When added with the Houses 25, that makes a total of forty-two assignments. I believe each has a webpage, and probably one of the twenty democratic staffers (the majority gets two-thirds of the thirty staff members for each subcommitte, I think) would be willing to occasionally commmunicate with us, if we were the self appointed netroots media liason, no?

If we became really ambitious, we could cover each committee and subcommittee (or at least monitor them for important or questionable votes--this is about action and awareness) and that would give us a total of 133 assignments (if I counted correctly).

We have quite some time to set this up, and should probably use the dailykosopedia to help organize who is going to volunteer to watch which committee or subcommittee. I have no experience with wikis, and submitted a probably unseen plea for help here. don't laugh. smile

So, what do you think? What have we got to lose? Let's see if we can organize ourselves into a body that is completetly aware of our new legislators. I want to enter into a relationship with them in good faith, and create a way for us to know what is coming, from all corners of our legislature.

Is that too much to ask?

Tom Robbins wrote, in "Skinny Legs and All" (which I'm not done with yet, so don't spoil it!)...

The thick veil that shields a being from the transformative and tricky light of liberty, from the dizzy incandescence of self-determination, that veil had been briefly parted for Can o' Beans. Obviously, freedom's glare is too bright for many. They panic when any sudden gust lifts the hem of the brocade. Eyes blinking frantically, they'll cling with their last broken nail to the protective folds of social control. A few, among them Can o' Beans, bask in the glow. It warms them in hidden and unexpected places that might have been forever dark and cold. (p. 111)

Inanimante objects, destined to spend their existence in outwardly passive and obedient behavior, understood perhaps more sharply than humans that true freedom was an internal condition not subject to the vagaries of politics. Freedom could not be owned. Therefore, it could not be appropriated. Or controlled. It could, however, be relinquised. (pp. 118-119)

Now that our election is over, and we've finally gotten our walking legs, let's use them! Together we can form the gap between the populace and the inner workings of our house and senate. Lets make our democracy a little more direct, and it starts with organization and awareness.

So I need some help!

Who is with me? Update: Noon on Sunday I just got online and am almost in tears to see where our idea has already gone! You all are fantastic. With so many people volunteering to help monitor committees, I'm sure we could easily get *every single* committee and subcommittee watched and monitored for interesting or breaking events. This could work as a model for anything that was traditionally hard to keep track of due to its size of complexity. We have a huge community full of expertise and spirit prepared to each adopt a small part of our government. The hardest part is going to be the organization! I'm going to get to work organizing the information about who has said they're interested, and in what, and try to get things running. I think we're over the hump, however, since you have all now seen the idea, and understand where I'm coming from. Thanks for all of your interest, and you'll be hearing more from me soon!

Update number two, 5pm Sunday: I'm being inundated with emails and comments on several threads and on the wiki. This is really exciting! Please remember that I'm one person right now, thrust into an organizational position. I'm going to be going through my email and all of the comments on this thread to find people interested in helping to maintain a clear view of our legislators. This might take a day or two, since I am employed and this thread is /still active/. I'm fully committed to getting the assignments out so you all can start researching your committees, and perhaps make your own committee or subcommittee specific page on the dkosopedia to go along with the assignments chart. These things are under rapid construction right now. I feel almost like the sorcerer's apprentice, putting things together at the right time. It was a great feeling to be entering the information into the wiki chart and then to have it start fixing itself behind me as others decided to help! This whole day and a half feels like that... What an exciting project. Rather than emailing me, I'd prefer that you leave a comment here if you're interested, so I have things in one spot. After we get to that point, I'll start assigning committees and decide how upon procedures, contact information, guidelines, etc. I'm really proud to be a part of this community."

Congressional Committees Project --> Link Here!

Get involved today!

Did I mention I was proud of Greenreflex? Cause I am!

Missouri House report: abortion to blame for immigration problem

by: Pam

"Suggestions for how to stop illegal hiring varied without any simple solution. The lack of traditional work ethic, combined with the effects of 30 years of abortion and expanding liberal social welfare policies have produced a shortage of workers and a lack of incentive for those who can work."
-- report by the Republican-led Missouri House Special Committee on Immigration Reform
For these folks the "brown menace" streaming across the border represents a sordid salvation to American companies looking for workers -- because the employers have no one to hire -- all the prospective American workers were aborted, dont'cha know.

My god, there is a serious a grey matter deficit going on there. It should be noted that all the Rethugs signed the report, and the six Dems refused. (STL Today):
The report from the Special Committee on Immigration Reform also claims "liberal social welfare policies” have created a disincentive for Americans to work and an enticement for foreigners to cross the border illegally.

..."There's a lot of editorial comment there that I couldn't really stomach," Rep. Trent Skaggs, D-Kansas City, said Monday. "To be honest, I think it's a little delusional."

The statements about abortion, welfare policies and a recommendation to abolish incomes taxes in favor of sales taxes all were inserted into the immigration report by the committee chairman, Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar.

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..."We hear a lot of arguments today that the reason that we can't get serious about our borders is that we are desperate for all these workers," Emery said. "You don't have to think too long. If you kill 44 million of your potential workers, it's not too surprising we would be desperate for workers."
Aside from that batsh*ttery, we have a candidate for "most engaged" committee member, Billy Pat Wright.
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Although he had signed the report, Republican Rep. Billy Pat Wright, of Dexter, said Monday that he didn't recall it including the connection between abortion and illegal immigration and wanted to first read the report before commenting about it.
I can understand (if not agree with) a reasoned pro-life position, but people like Emery don't do anything to help their movement.

H/t A.J., and Paul.
13 November 2006

Thanksgiving Feast Favorites: Creamed Pearl Onions

by: Minstrel Boy

I love this dish. It's a rich, tasty counterpoint to a perfectly roasted turkey. It will also make you feel like a jerk and a slacker for ever thinking about those bricks of salt and glue you used to thaw out and call food.

It's not very complicated. Like a lot of other very good dishes this one is made glorious by excellent ingredients and simple straightforward preparation. Get fussy about the stuff you put into it and you'll have some memorable stuff on the table.


3 lb white pearl onions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (if you can find European style butter get that)
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt (be prepared to use less)
5 whole cloves
About 4 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Blanch the onions in heavily salted water at a rolling boil for about two minutes. Drain, cool until you can handle them without flinching and peel them. (you can do this part ahead of time, just bag and refrigerate them)

Heat the butter in a large, heavy (cast iron rocks for this) skillet until the foam subsides, add the onions and sauté until tender and you start to see little flecks of golden brown. About eight minutes should do the trick. Add enough water to cover the onions, stir in the sugar and cloves, add in a little of the salt and simmer covered until the onion are tender but not falling apart (25-30 minutes). Taste and adjust the salt to suit yourself. Crank the flame up and boil uncovered until the liquid in the pan is reduced to about 1/2 cup. If you're worried about your kitchen backing up on the big day, you can halt this process at this stage too as long as you have it in an airtight container and it's kept refrigerated.

Pick out the cloves, and stir in the heavy cream. Simmer for about five minutes until the cream slightly thickens. Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste (remembering that if your family is anything like mine there are some real barbarians that will hose everything down with the salt and pepper before they even taste shit). Stir in the chopped parsley just before serving.

You can also make this entire dish the day before and heat it before serving in a double boiler.


The Harvest and the Wind

by: Dark Wraith

A very long time ago, the villages of the land called Eerf Acirema had been savaged over and over again by the Hordes from the South and the West, who would always come in the time of the Hunter's moon, rampaging across the provinces, destroying whatever they chose to wreck, taking whatever they wanted to have, leaving nothing untouched by their violent and hateful hands and swords.

In one harvest season, when the autumn rains came, the people, as they always did, braced for the onslaught of They Who Have No Remorse; but that year, the Hordes did not come, and the people, after much anxious waiting, realized they had been spared.

They rejoiced in their harvest, they drank deeply from their full vats of wine, and they ate heartily of the meats of the livestock that had not been taken from them as had happened every year before for so very long.

In the Great Hall of the Eerf, during the Night of Feast, a drunken man, John the Younger, stood with his full cup of wine and hollered, "I propose a toast! A toast, I say, to the Hordes."

Everyone stopped. The room fell silent in puzzlement.

The drunken man went on, "They who have vexed us for lo these many years, they who have been the scourge of our land, they who have taken so much from us and left us with so little... they who have now SPARED us: we humbly thank them."

No one in the hall spoke, for even though each and every one of them had such bitterness, such rage, such personal tragedy brought by the Hordes, John was saying what they all felt deep within: not bitterness; not rage; not anger; but instead, gratitude.

Esther of Evarb spoke up: "They heard our prayers, you see. I told you, if we all prayed as one, if we all held hands and sang as one voice, they would hear our plea and leave us in peace. I told you!" And what seemed like everyone in the room nodded silently.

But the quiet was soon broken by an old man who stood up and slowly, deliberately crossed the center of the Great Hall, walking as he was toward the back door. The clunk-clunk-clunk of his cane let everyone know his unspoken disgust as he made it to the door, which he opened. The bitter autumn wind swept into the room; then he turned around to look at the people.

He scowled at them, and then he growled: "Feel that cold, cold night wind. Feel it right down to your bones.

"You forget that wind when the Spring comes, don't you?

"You forget the bitter cold when the breezes turn warm and soft in the summer sun, don't you?

"But then comes this ill wind again: it blows as it chooses, coming here, going there, swirling across the world...

"But always, always, it returns to our land... when it chooses."

He turned and walked out, leaving the door open behind him. As he disappeared into the night, he called back, "The Hordes are letting you rebuild this land they have shattered these many years. When they come back, they will have far more to take here than they've had for a long, long time...

"And you all will be as fattened and drunk as they please."

John the Younger marched briskly over to the door and slammed it shut. "Old fool," he grumbled.

And the party continued.

The Dark Wraith has told his story for the day.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums
12 November 2006

Big Brass Blog Poll: The Republican Nominee in 2008

by: Dark Wraith

As a follow-up to Pam's post earlier today, let's see who Big Brass Blog readers currently think the Republican Presidential nominee in 2008 will be. The field is just chock full of brilliant, progressive, tolerant, god-fearing folks, any one of whom would be most capable of carrying this nation forward on the shining course set by our current leader, that warrior-man, that ace combat pilot, that Liberator of People from their Mortal Bodies, George W. Bush.

Yes, Mr. Bush, is certainly a tough act to follow, but the field of contenders is thick with powerhouses not only ready to lead, but also more than capable of accessorizing a disastrous foreign policy with a darned nice faux polyester overcoat of moderation when the political winds call for it.

Where the Hell was I? Oh, yes: the poll. Vote, good friends, and help set the course of this nation.

Who will be the Republican Presidential nominee in 2008?

  — Poll results —

1-3-07 - Veterans Day?

by: Foiled Goil

January 3, 2007 Should be "Veterans Day"

The day the 110th Congress is sworn in should be a day of rejoicing for America's veterans
For six years America's veterans have heard one story and lived another. The Jekyll & Hyde, Republican-controlled Congress loudly proclaimed their support of veterans while voting their cost-cutting political agenda. There was little, if any, Congressional oversight as the Republican political appointees who run the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) knowingly requested inadequate healthcare budgets and implemented a program that prevented hundreds of thousands of qualified veterans from even enrolling for benefits.

Yes, January 3, 2007 should be Veterans Day, for just one year, anyway. The day the 110th Congress is sworn in will mark the demise of two of the most controversial Chairmen on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN), will no longer be the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. [...] Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), will no longer Chair the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. [...] These two Chairmen, while tasked with the care of America's veterans, have rightfully earned the contempt of their charges. [...]

Rep. Buyer has turned his two-year tenure chairing the House Vets' Committee into a living hell for veterans. Buyer tried to redefine who is a veteran. He claimed the intent of Congress was that only disabled and indigent veterans should be eligible for VA benefits. He pushed for a VA run by political appointees and not healthcare and business professionals. He locked-out veterans' service organizations from meaningful input into the VA budget process. His list of transgressions is long and hurtful to those who have served their country.

Sen. Craig runs a close second to Buyer. Craig has said the VA has too much money and has gone out of his way to obstruct additional funding for veterans' healthcare. He has deliberately confused the issue of unemployed and unemployable veterans and pushed the VA to find jobs for those veterans already deemed unable to work because of physical and/or emotional disabilities. Craig, along with Buyer, will NOT be missed. [...]

The current Secretary of Veterans' Affairs is Jim Nicholson, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee. This is Nicholson's only qualification to run the agency charged with the care of the nation's 24-plus million veterans.

Nicholson's mistakes read like Chapter One of "Bad Management for Dummies." He allowed the loss of massive amounts of veterans' data by not implementing tight information technology controls. He colluded with the White House to accept inadequate VA budgets and was caught by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). He did not distribute over $100 million in funds earmarked for veterans' mental health needs and was again nabbed by the GAO. And, his most blatant transgression is his constant claim that the VA is "well-funded and well-staffed" while veterans wait months and years for necessary mental health and medical appointments. (Documentation of all Buyer, Craig and Nicholson facts available at VA Watchdog dot Org.) [...]

The challenges facing a Democratically-controlled Congress are legion. The Veterans' Committees are no exception. They must work to ensure a properly-funded VA where veterans are not turned away or told to wait for necessary healthcare. The cost will be in the billions of dollars and these expenditures must be supported by the American people. They must provide oversight of a VA system paralyzed by incompetent political appointees. And, Congress must hope and pray that President Bush doesn't find his veto pen.

Full article.

Thou Shalt NOT Steal

by: Foiled Goil

They're Already Hacking the 2008 Election;
Paper Ballots -- the Only Acceptable Solution

How the 2008 Election Was Stolen

The military-industrial complex and the big corporations have been very much aware that some people know that the Presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 were stolen, and that many people are angry with the black box voting machines that make mass election rigging child's play. So they have had their Plan B in place for years to deal with public outrage, should it ever arise.

As usual, rather than sacrifice a corrupt system that benefits them to the tune of trillions of dollars annually, they will make some cosmetic reforms to the system, enough to let people think there is hope when there really is none. This time it takes the form of paper trails and open source software that will leave the hackable voting machines in place and permit another stolen Presidential election in 2008. The Democratic Party, Common Cause, and many other large organizations are rallying around HR550 (see full article) which calls for paper trails, or calling for open source software. [...]

The people pushing to keep some type of voting machines in the elections process are very dangerous. They denounce anyone who wants paper ballots as being a "Luddite" or "technically challenged," yet some of the most respected experts have clearly explained why technology is not appropriate for elections systems, as they need to be transparent to the public, not just to experts.

These are desperate times for the war profiteers. If the wrong person is elected President in 2008, they could all be tried for crimes against humanity. And if we had honest elections, it could actually happen. Someone with a conscience like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. could become President, instead of somebody like Hillary Clinton or other top Democrats who own stock in or accept donations from big defense contractors and happily vote to fund any war that comes along while the country sinks further and further into debt.

So the paper trail and open source people are taking no chances. They have targeted the top political leaders in the country and they are on every blog and mailing list. If anyone talks about hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB) they start the smears, personal attacks, belittling, and dismissals that are their only weapons in lieu of reasonable arguments.

HCPB is the cheapest, most reliable and transparent elections system known. With HCPB you don't have the wrong candidate sworn in while the experts are still trying to examine the software or demand a recount--in fact you don't need experts at all. Machines and experts have no place in our elections, they belong to We the People. But only if we can take them back from the experts who have stolen them.

Full article


Rumsfeld replacement (Robert Gates) was director of voting company

by Bev Harris - Founder, Black Box Voting

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will resign, reportedly to be replaced by former CIA director Robert Gates. Did you know that Robert Gates was involved in the voting machine industry?

Gates was on the Board of Directors of VoteHere, a strange little company that was the biggest elections industry lobbyist for the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). VoteHere spent more money than ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia combined to help ram HAVA through. And HAVA, of course, was a bill sponsored by convicted Abramoff pal Bob Ney and K-street lobbyist buddy Steny Hoyer. HAVA put electronic voting on steroids.

Weak GOP field for 2008

by: Pam

The horse race has begun. There are rumors swirling about Tool McCain setting up an exploratory committee for a 2007 bid, but he shot it down today.
John Weaver, McCain's political advisor, tells CNN that "there will be no formal announcement this year," but acknowledged, as has McCain, that the senator is seriously considering a White House bid. Weaver did say McCain and his political team did meet in Phoenix on election night and the following day.

On its website Friday afternoon, ABC News reported that the exploratory committee "will be set up this month -- perhaps as early as next week." Weaver said the creation of the exploratory committee is inaccurate.

"We are doing the same thing today on Nov. 10 that we were doing on November 6, before the midterm elections," Weaver said. "We are gauging interest. We are talking to a lot of people. But when John and Cindy gather with their children for the Christmas Holidays, as a family they will make a decision.
How much of a tool is McCain? Take a look at what he said about Ken Mehlman, upon learning of the RNC head's departure.
Calling his tenure "a remarkable success," Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, praised Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman's contributions to the GOP Friday and said he took the party to "new heights."

"As chairman, he brought a badly needed civil tone to our political debate- one I hope our next chairman emulates," McCain said in a statement "Taking the GOP to new heights, Ken dramatically improved the 'get out the vote' machine and created the most efficient system we've seen for spreading a cohesive Republican message."
Man, the Kool-Aid must be tasty to the Arizona senator.

Anyway, here is the latest CNN poll on the horses at the gate.

October 27-29
Registered Republicans'
Choice for Nominee in 2008

Giuliani -29%

Sampling error: +/-5% pts

How Brownback had enough recognition to even land on that list is pretty funny. And how on earth did video diagnostician Frist even manage to grab 6%?!

Check out a nice roundup of Dem and Repub 2008 contenders in Congressional Weekly, "The '08 Race for the White House Begins."

Porno Pete: George Allen's gay cabal sabotaged the GOP

by: Pam

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
"In recent weeks, homosexual activists have sought to ‘out’ various high-level GOP staffers and leaders as homosexuals, to highlight their hypocrisy in working for a socially conservative party. Now we in the pro-family movement are calling for full disclosure for a different reason: because homosexual GOP staff and pro-‘gay’ policies in the party are undermining the wholesome values Republicans say they support.”
-- undercover homosexual agenda investigator Peter LaBarbera, on the secret (and successful) plan by gays to destroy the GOP
I see that Peter LaBarbera has weighed in on the election in a truly unhinged fashion. It's quite delicious, actually. I always look to the head of Americans for Truth to provide a unique homo-centric perspective to political events, and this screed is no exception.
Americans For Truth President Peter LaBarbera today called on the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) to rescind its “sexual orientation” policy as inconsistent with the GOP’s professed pro-family values, and said pro-“gay” Political Correctness contributed to Sen. George Allen’s narrow loss for re-election in Virginia.

LaBarbera also called on all homosexual staff in both major parties to be open about their lifestyle in the interest of full disclosure to the public and each Member's constituents.

Allen's defeat—after failing to strongly embrace Virginia’s successful marriage amendment—led to the GOP’s loss of the Senate. Allen is widely reported to have homosexual staff. Jay Timmons, a senior Allen aide and former director of the NRSC, is among those being targeted for “outing” by homosexual bloggers, as is Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.

..."George Allens lukewarm support for Virginia’s marriage amendment cost him his Senate seat," LaBarbera said. "Now we are left to wonder: did the stealth influence of gay Republican staffers move him toward this course that would ultimately turn the Senate over to the Democrats?"
This friends, is an example of why the Bush admin referred to the bible-beating homo-obsessed fundies who dropped in the West Wing behind their backs as "insane," "ridiculous," and that they "had to be controlled." That was revealed by David Kuo, the evangelical Christian and former number two at the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and author of Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction.

Aren't we powerful? Oh wait, our cabal didn't stop any of those amendments did it?

* Letter from Peter LaBarbera
* LaBarbera heads to the bathhouse with a 'Love and Truth Offensive' at Gay Games
* LaBarbera's up late at night thinking about The Homosexual BlogosphereTM
11 November 2006

Veterans Day 2006

by: Dark Wraith

Veterans Day 2006

The Dark Wraith grants permission to use this graphic with attribute.

Screw The Parades

by: Debra

Screw the Veteran's holiday sales too. A national holiday whose purpose does nothing to benefit the people who served their country and are promptly forgotten till the next year when they are dragged out again for a token holiday that is more concerned with commerce than honor.

For the thirty years that I have been a veteran I have watched people enjoy themselves without a clue or a care for the major sacrifices that veterans made and are still making.

For thirty years I have watched my government strip the benefits from the veterans and the retirees. People who were considered for the duration of their enlistment to be the property of the United States Government. You become the numerical equivalent of equipment from the moment you raise your right hand and swear the oath to protect the United States. You go where they tell you, when they tell you and how they tell you. You dress as they tell you, when they tell you and how they tell you. You eat where they tell you, when they tell you and how they tell you. You are property and are never allowed to forget it. It is not a joke when they tell you that if you get a sunburn you have damaged government property, some commanding officers have been known to award the offending troop with an Article 15 and a dock in pay.

For this, we get a parade and the rest of the country gets between ten and fifty percent off at the nearest mall.

For thirty years I have watched as veterans became a significant portion of America's homeless.
Although accurate numbers are impossible to come by ... no one keeps national records on homeless veterans ... the VA estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And more than half a million experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless males who is sleeping in a doorway, alley, or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served our country ... now they need America to remember them.
For this, children get another day off from school while veterans who have jobs, work to stay afloat. Almost two years ago this article in the Christian Science Monitor appeared, alerting some of the public to the impending problem. What has been done since then? Congress cut benefits and care for veterans. The people's response? Magnetic ribbons for their cars, not the veteran's.

Representative Chet Edwards has a proposal that would be helpful and honor those who are serving their country at this very moment. It is the very least that should be done to help repair the damage that war inflicts on the survivors. Never forget that all gave some and some gave all.

Screw the parades.

Cross posted at Debsweb.

Veterans' Day 2006

by: Foiled Goil

Tom Engelhardt, The Nation:
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, an armistice was signed that ended World War I, the first great bloodletting of the twentieth century, "the war to end all wars" that proved but the prelude to World War II.

Now, here we are at the 11th day of the 11th month of the sixth year of the twenty-first century and another great bloodletting is underway that, despite the recent electoral thumpin' of the Bush administration and the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, has no end in sight. In Iraq, 2,839 American troops have already died, tens of thousands have been wounded, and unknown hundreds of thousands of Iraqis — military, insurgent, and civilian — have been killed in every grim and bloody way possible.

Opinion, The Times-Standard:
We take time to honor those who have served and are serving, and we remember those who paid the ultimate price as flags are placed alongside the hundreds of thousands of tombstones in cemeteries around the world.

We also take time to honor and pledge our support for the tens of thousands who are recovering from wounds they suffered while serving.

We should also take time to remember the families who await the return of their fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives. Their wait is hard because in war, there are no guarantees.

The war to end all wars, we know, did not. There was World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, the Iraq War and numerous other horrors in between during the 88 years between the end of the war that was so horrible it should have ended all wars to the horrors that come at us on a daily basis today from Iraq.

Opinion, South Bend Tribune:
Truly honoring veterans requires more than throwing a nice parade and cheering the uniformed heroes who march by. Besides reminding us all of what war veterans fought for, the proximity of Election Day and Veterans Day should remind members of Congress that a nation's gratitude ought to be in deeds as well as words.

It is the responsibility of elected representatives to stand up for veterans and make sure that the services they need are properly funded. And it is the responsibility of those who cast their ballots to tell their representatives that they expect veterans' services to be accessible and first-rate.

10 November 2006

11th Hour, 11th Day, 11th Month

by: Minstrel Boy

Was when the armistice of World War One (or The Great War) took effect. Today, we call it "Veteran's Day." It might well be that the writers who came out of the crucible of that war were forged of a less pretty metal. I am going to present poems by Wilfred Owen, Alfred Lichtenstein, e.e.cummings and Siegfried Sassoon.

These were writers who held few illusions about the consequences of war. They knew well the depravity, fear, filth and chaos of battle. They lived for months at a time in muddy disease ridden trenches, they inhaled the gasses and breathed the stench of the rotting bodies with their breakfast eaten cold from a rusty can.

Wilfred Owen
Stange Meeting

It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,-
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

With a thousand pains that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
"Strange friend," I said, "here is no cause to mourn."
"None," said that other, "save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also, I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled,
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery,
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now . . ."

Alfred Lichtenstein
A Prayer Before Battle

God protect me from misfortune,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
May no high explosives hit me,
May our enemies, the bastards,
Never take me, never shoot me,
May I never die in squalor
For our well-beloved Fatherland.

Look, I'd like to live much longer,
Milk the cows and stuff my girl friends,
And beat up that lousy Josef,
Get drunk on lots more occaisions,
Till a blissful death o'ertakes me.

Look, I'll offer heartfelt prayers,
Say my beads seven times daily,
If you, God, of your gracious bounty,
Choose to kill my mate, say Huber
Or else Meier, and let me off.

But suppose I have to take it
Don't let me get badly wounded.
Send me just a little leg wound
Or a slight gash on the forearm,
So I go home as a hero
Who has got a tale to tell.

e.e. cummings
i sing of Olaf

i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or

his wellbelov'd colonel(trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but--though an host of overjoyed
noncoms(first knocking on the head
him)do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments--
Olaf(being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds,without getting annoyed
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"

straightway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)

but--though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat--
Olaf(upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"

our president,being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died

Christ(of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:more blond than you.

Siegfried Sassoon

SOLDIERS are citizens of death's gray land,
Drawing no dividend from time's to-morrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of firelit homes, clean beds, and wives.

I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train.

stripped bare of illusion those of us who know well the look on the face of war, who know it as a living greedy thing want only that our children never have to learn these vile truths.

Next time there is a vote to go to war perhaps the only people who are allowed to vote yes or no should be veterans who have been there and mothers who have sons.

crossposted at harp and sword

Democracy Delayed in Kilroy versus Price Outcome

by: Dark Wraith

Although major news services like the Washington Post have yet to declare a winner in the Ohio 15th Congressional District, at first glance it would appear that Republican Congresswoman Deborah Pryce unofficially, and quite narrowly, won the November election against Democratic challenger Mary Jo Kilroy, as the table below, generated from data at, indicates.

Ohio 15th U.S. Congressional Race Votes Currently Tallied
CandidateVotes Tallied
Pryce (R)100,343 votes
Kilroy (D)97,508 votes
Total197,841 votes

These figures give Pryce a 3,536 vote lead.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the preceding figures do not, however, include 9,137 absentee ballots, 9,469 provisional ballots, and some part of 918 absentee and provisional ballots from two counties partly in the 15th District. Taken all together, this means more than 10,382 votes have not been counted in the Pryce-Kilroy election.

The Kilroy campaign believes that a significant number of those absentee and provisional ballots were cast in her favor, a position supported by somewhat more objective analysis.

First, ballots designated provisional are often the result of some problem the voter had in establishing his or her right to vote, a problem more likely to have been experienced by lower income, non-White, and other individuals who traditionally favor Democratic candidates.

Second, an indeterminate but probably large percentage of the absentee ballots were cast by those who believed that, by voting in such a way as to avoid the electronic voting machines, their votes would not be subject to the manipulation many Democrats believe have caused recent elections to go to Republicans. In other words, many if not most absentee ballots could very well have been cast by Democrats trying to ensure that their votes would be counted.

Deborah Pryce, fourth highest in the Republican hierarchy in the House of Representatives, has long been the incumbent in the 15th District of Ohio, in no small part because of the favor she enjoys among Right-wing and conservative individuals and families that for decades have controlled political power in the state capitol of Columbus. Called by the Kilroy campaign a "rubber stamp" for President Bush's policies, Pryce would be an expected casualty of the shift in voter sentiment away from policies of the Bush Administration. The tone of her campaign bordered at times on the strident: in her final debate with Kilroy, Rep. Pryce at one point declared her willingness or desire to continue the debate "outside," as if she were challenging Ms. Kilroy in a barroom confrontation. In that same debate, Kilroy accused Pryce of being "wrong on the defining issues of our time."

The official vote count is supposed to begin on November 18, but Ohio elections chief John Damschroder, a Republican, has postponed the start of the count for one day, conceding that the delay is due in part to the upcoming Ohio State football game against its long-time gridiron rival, Michigan. Damschroder claims that, although this all-important game was a factor in postponing the determination of who actually won the race in the 15th District, 'worker fatigue' was the deciding factor. He did not, however, explain why Board of Elections workers in Franklin Country were more fatigued than those in the many thousands of other places in the United States where official counts have not been delayed.

At this time, a winner in the 15th District cannot be projected, although it is very likely that Democratic challenger Mary Jo Kilroy will prevail, provided irregularities that plagued previous elections in Franklin Country don't resurface, and provided the vote counters are not even further fatigued by the physically and emotionally draining experience of watching the Ohio State/Michigan football game.

The Dark Wraith Forums will provide updates to this article as important information becomes available, herewith noting for the record that the football game between OSU and Michigan is not even in the same universe with "important information."

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums
09 November 2006

I have a couple of questions...

by: Jersey Cynic

that I would like to ask the ENTIRE nation, by means of a national referendum. Is there such a thing Red, Jaye? There were some great questions on some of our states' ballots yesterday. It is becomming obvious that a great number of people want religious beliefs out of politics, OUT OF GOVERNMENT!! Wait -- let me rephrase that: It's obvious that many people want government out of their PERSONAL lives.

In Liz's post the other day, she concluded that we can no longer govern properly unless religion is removed from the mix. But how do we do that? I guess, to start, you just ASK the people by means of a referendum. BUT, we need to ask the RIGHT QUESTIONS.
Losses on ballot measures jolt religious

In March, South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds signed a bill that would make it a felony--punishable by five years in prison--for doctors to perform an abortion, even in cases of incest, rape or a threat to the health of the woman.

Abortion rights supporters(Planned Parenthood) responded by taking the ban to voters. In just nine-and-a-half weeks, they gathered more than 38,000 signatures to get the No on Referred Law 6 referendum on the November ballot.

WOW! -- 38 thousand signatures in 9.5 weeks!! Can any question, with the proper amount of signatures, be put before the citizens to be voted on? Can this be done on a national level as easily as it was just done in the individual states that had referendums?

Is this 56/44 'win' in SD great news? Yes it is, but on the other hand, it's not, IMO.The South Dakota case strays from the strategy that anti-abortion forces have used so successfully since abortion became legal--making the right to choose less and less accessible by imposing more and more restrictions

Some feel that this 'referendum' in South Dakota was just a strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade, others contend that this is a victory; the people have spoken, and they want their personal decisions out of the law maker's hands. The anti- abortion folks in SD claim that the question posed was confusing to many people. (YES to preserve the ban was confused with YES to abortion.) This 'question' was a great example of pussyfooting around what the REAL question should have been.



(pick one)

(yes or no)

(yes or no)

In other words: SHOULD 'GOD' BE REMOVED FROM POLITICS??????? It's time to ask that question to everyone. It's the year 2007! What are we afraid of?

2007 -- most of know right from wrong. We really don't even need laws that tell us what is o.k. to do and what is not -- WE HAVE MORALS. And, for those who don't know right from wrong, well, we have pretty much spelled it out in our legal system. Most of our laws today are legislated morals and are also attached to religious beliefs. I know many 'religious' people whose 'morals' suck, and I know many non-believers who are very moral, like me. Actually, most of the morals I hold near and dear are Jesus' morals -- he really did have some GREAT ideas on how people could get along!!

Birthing a child is a woman's choice -- Period! I'm the mother -- I'm the Boss. I'm the DECIDER!! And, I'll consult MY DOCTOR in special circumstances also, thankyou very much!.

If I want to marry a woman -- that's my PERSONAL choice. Love is Love. If I want to marry a man, that's also my choice. Love is Love.

If I want to use a stem cell to help my father who may some day suffer from Parkinson's Disease, or use my own stem cells
after I have a heart attack, then that is MY CHOICE. If I am a religious person and believe what my 'God' tells me then NO, I would probably have to pass on the stem cell, (sorry dad); marry who I am told -- even if they turn out to be an asshole -- too bad -- you won't be able to divorce them either. Oh, Wait -- yes you can!! -- for $1,000, you can get it annulled and 'God' will look the other way!

All three of these issues, IMO are PERSONAL choices that have NO EFFECT WHATSOEVER on anyone else -- NO MATTER WHAT THE CHOICE IS.

We all live together in ONE world, divided in TWO communities: The faith based and the reality based. We need to accept each others differences. A lot of people can't though. You all know what my mother said to me the other day: "I could care less what goes on in your head -- I am at peace with my religion, and that's all I need to know". I'm happy for you mom, really. I am also at peace with MY non-religious life, and have chosen to live mine like it's heaven on earth, instead of waiting to rise up and 'live' forever and ever and ever and ever. I think a lot of people feel this way also. They just want to live their life, within the law and, could care less what joe blow does, or who she worships; as long as it doesn't interfere with or hurt them. I think a lot of religious people today would answer those questions above in the same way non believers would - especially with all the different 'Gods' that keep popping up!




"What would happen if the poor and working class of the United States said “no mas” to the Corporatocracy? What if the wage slaves finally became self aware and leveraged the overwhelming strength of their numbers against their parasitic masters?

Over 250 million US Americans acting in unison and embracing Christ as their leader “in absentia” would overwhelm the relative few manning the bulwarks of exploitation, imperial conquest, and obscene militarism. While it is unlikely Jesus would have advocated open revolt, it is a virtual certainty that he would have instructed his followers to minimize or end their participation in a system driven by avarice and abject cruelty.

Improbable that such an evolution will transpire? Yes. Impossible? No.

So let’s indulge ourselves by taking a glimpse at the potential results of a mass movement of the wage slaves and disenfranchised in the United States acting in accord with the enlightenment of Christ:

[Five years have slipped by since the “rise of the Proletariat” in the United States. Working in unison according to the spiritual principles embodied by Jesus Christ in the Synoptic Gospels, the poor, the working class, and the besieged middle class had finally renounced their allegiance to their pecunious over-lords.

Consumers staged mass boycotts, decimating the cash flow that served as the life-blood of predatory capitalism. Sweeping strikes and sick-outs deprived the vampiric moneyed class of their wretched wage slaves. Spreading like a plague, civil disobedience infected the fascist titan and brought it to its knees. Military personnel refused to serve, bringing the war machine to a grinding halt. Law enforcement personnel rejected their loathsome task of enforcing unjust laws, exposing the miscreants ruling the nation to the terrifying possibility of enduring......."

Jesus Camp Closed

by: Minstrel Boy

From The Toronto Daily News.

Controversial Religious Summer Camp Closed
The documentary about summer camp where children would tearfully beg God to end abortion and bless President Bush prompted to close the camp.

The summer camp "Kids on Fire" where children would tearfully beg God to end abortion and bless President Bush, will shut down for at least several years after a documentary about the camp.

The film, showing young evangelical children steeling themselves for spiritual and political warfare, includes scenes with pastor Ted Haggard, the evangelical leader accused of gay sex and drug use.

In one scene, Haggard tells the audience, "We don't have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It's written in the Bible."

Titled "Jesus Camp," the documentary sparked a negative reaction, said the camp's director.

"Right now we're just not a safe ministry," Becky Fischer, the fiery Pentecostal pastor featured in "Jesus Camp," said Tuesday.

The pastor, who has been accused of "brainwashing" the children, said she's shutting down the camp for at least several years.

Up to 100 children visited the camp each year. [1]

Oh my goodness. We will be losing ground again to the Muslims. We will not be turning out enough wildly fanatical children to be future bombers of Abortion Clinics or picketers of Military Funerals. Our supply of toughly indoctrinated homophobes might be in danger.

But wait! A ray of hope just glimmered! This is Jesus Camp!

Expect a follow up story in about three days.

crossposted at Harp and Sword
08 November 2006

Webb Wins Virginia, Dems Take the U.S. Senate

by: Dark Wraith

UPDATE 3, November 9, 2006 at 6:00 p.m. EST:
Saying, "The Bible teaches us there is a time and place for everything, and today I called and congratulated Jim Webb and his team for their victory," Republican Senator George Allen this afternoon conceded to Democratic challenger Jim Webb in the November 7 election for a U.S. Senate seat from the Commonwealth of Virginia. With 49 Democratic Senators and two Independents who will caucus with them, the Democratic Party will control the United States Senate, as well as the House of Representatives, when the 110th Congress convenes in January 2007.

UPDATE 2, November 8, 2006 at 9:06 p.m. EST:
NBC has now projected Democrat Jim Webb the winner over Republican incumbent George Allen in the race for the U.S. Senate seat in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

UPDATE 1, November 8, 2006 at 6:24 p.m. EST:

As of 6:19 p.m. on November 8, 2006, the Commonwealth of Virginia is reporting the following unofficial results (including 2,364 write-ins not shown in the table that follows):

Virginia U.S. Senate Race Votes Currently Tallied
CandidateVotes Tallied
Webb (D)1,173,755 votes
Allen (R)1,166,408 votes
Parker (O)26,226 votes
Total2,368,753 votes

While Virginia Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb has declared himself the winner in the tight race for the U.S. Senate seat in Virginia currently held by his opponent, George Allen, most mainstream media outlets have so far declined to declare him the victor. Based upon publicly available voting results, I am now projecting that Mr. Webb is, indeed, the winner because an insufficient number of votes remain untallied for George Allen to overcome Webb's lead even if Allen were to get every single one of them. This projection must be qualified by two disclaimers: first, it is possible that some uncounted absentee and/or provisional ballots are not being reported in the percentages by and other media outlets; second, little doubt exists that George Allen will demand a recount based upon the knife-edge difference of fewer than 7,000 votes separating him from Mr. Webb.

According to the Virginia Senate race tallies at as of 4:35 p.m. EST, here are the Virginia voting results with 99% of precincts reporting:

Virginia U.S. Senate Race Votes Currently Tallied
CandidateVotes Tallied
Webb (D)1,169,688 votes
Allen (R)1,162,908 votes
Parker (O)26,056 votes
Total2,358,652 votes

According to the county-by-county breakdown, only one county, Isle of Wight, in Virginia does not have 100% of its precincts reporting; in Isle of Wight, 8% of the precincts had not reported results as of the latest update from that county at 2:48 a.m. EST this morning. With 92% of the precincts reporting, these are the results for Isle of Wight:

Isle of Wight Votes Currently Tallied
CandidateVotes Tallied
Webb (D)5,050 votes
Allen (R)6,984 votes
Parker (O)144 votes
Total12,178 votes

Assuming that precincts in Isle of Wight have roughly equal numbers of voters (and even if the county were somehow extraordinary in having huge variations in numbers of voters in different precincts, the essential conclusion would hold), I can project an approximate total number of votes when 100% of the county's precincts have reported: 12,178 ÷ 0.92 = 13,237 total votes in Isle of Wight to be cast, of which 12,178 have already been counted. That means 1,059 votes (13,237 votes in all minus 12,178 votes counted) have yet to be counted. From the first table in this article, Allen trails Webb by 6,780 votes, which mean that, even if George Allen were to get every one of the 1,059 votes still to be tallied in Isle of Wight, he would not overcome Jim Webb's lead.

That makes Webb the winner of the U.S. Senate race in Virginia, and that means the Democrats take majority control of the United States Senate.

The Dark Wraith will update this article if errors in tallies reported are found; otherwise, the congressional Republicans, as well as the President, are now certifiable dog meat.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

Resistance Is Futile

by: Debra

While English may be the language of business and air traffic control towers, it is still subject to manipulation, addition and enhancement. This is a good thing because as people move around the world they introduce new foods, attitudes and culture to their new country of residence. They eventually become assimilated into the society of their choice but with tiny differences that ripple out and affect the whole.
"A dictionary of the hybrid language has been gathered by Baljinder Mahal, a Derby-based teacher and published this week as The Queen's Hinglish.

"Much of it comes from banter - the exchanges between the British white population and the Asians," she says.

"It's also sometimes a secret language, which is being used by lots of British Asians, but it's never been picked up on."

And in multi-cultural playgrounds, she now hears white pupils using Asian words, such as "kati", meaning "I'm not your friend any more". For the young are linguistic magpies, borrowing from any language, accent or dialect that seems fashionable."
This helps to explain why I can't understand so many of the kids when they speak Ebonics, a language I and most adults are completely unfamiliar with, which is why the YouTube video of Bill Maher explaining rap lyrics is so funny.

It makes me wonder what hybridized English exists in Iraq after three years of occupation. Anybody up for a nasty game of Ghraib?

Yes, this was a deviation from the election centered posts, we return you now to your regularly scheduled programming.

Dems Blamed For Election Losses

by: Foiled Goil

Republicans Blame Election Losses On Democrats

11/07/06 - The Onion:
WASHINGTON, DC—Republican officials are blaming tonight's GOP losses on Democrats, who they claim have engaged in a wide variety of "aggressive, premeditated, anti-Republican campaigns" over the past six-to-18 months. "We have evidence of a well-organized, well-funded series of operations designed specifically to undermine our message, depict our past performance in a negative light, and drive Republicans out of office," said Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who accused an organization called the Democratic National Committee of spearheading the nationwide effort. "There are reports of television spots, print ads, even volunteers going door-to-door encouraging citizens to vote against us." Acknowledging that the "damage has already been done," Mehlman is seeking a promise from Democrats to never again engage in similar practices.


Rumsfeld Out the Door

by: Konagod

Heads will roll.

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Now MSNBC is on it..

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, architect of an unpopular war in Iraq, intends to resign after six stormy years at the Pentagon, Republican officials said Wednesday.

Officials said Robert Gates, former head of the CIA under the first President Bush, would replace Rumsfeld. NBC News’ Tim Russert confirmed Rumsfeld’s resignation and the replacement pick.

Good riddance.

Dreams of permanence, taste of ashes

by: Waveflux

Remember this?

DeLay himself drew the line sharply the day after the 2004 elections. "The Republican Party is a permanent majority for the future of this country," DeLay declared. "We're going to be able to lead this country in the direction we've been dreaming of for years."

Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform and a leading figure in both the DeLay and Bush political operations, chose more colorful post-election language to describe the future. "Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans," he told Richard Leiby of The Post. "Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant. But when they've been 'fixed,' then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful."

Artifacts of hubris and arrogance: In every way imaginable, the Republican Party behaved as though it would control the levers of power for the next thousand years. Abuses of majority rule. Refusal to consider compromise. Neutering the filibuster tool. Rejection of comity and reciprocity. Attempts to shield corrupt party leaders. These are the acts of a party detached from reality and blind to history, a party that actually thinks that it will hold a majority position forever.

So, GOP: How's that working out for you?

Hat tip to Harold's Blog.

(Cross-posted at Waveflux.)

One Mission Accomplished

by: Missouri Mule

Last night's power shift was not a referendum upon what the Democratic Party offered but rather, what the GOP had provided for the past five years. Now we cannot afford to waste this most glorious opportunity.

The war must end. Its time to resuscitate the fundamental document of our republic. American dose not stand for torture. Its now time to go find the garbage can Habeas Corpus was tossed into so casually and put it back. It's now time for real investigations into Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. It is now time to get rid of "free speech zones" and signing statements indicating the president will not follow the law. It is now time to restore the image of the country and our basic moral character.

Forget voting reform, the system needs to be overhauled and it must happen in the next two years. Make no mistake democrats, you won because so many people voted that the GOP could not steal it.. But the apparatus is still in place.

Its time to call a spade a spade. The new trickle down economics has not worked any more than the original one did. It is time for the rich to start paying their fair share. NO more of this nonsense about tax cuts for everyone, which is really just GOP-speak for a tax cut for the rich. No more nonsense about Estate Tax. It is time to heal the middle class. It is now time for universal health care, at least for children for now.

It is now time to stop the special interest and lobbying priorities that suppress the real concerns of the people, over corporate interests. It is now time to balance the budget and bring back a shred of fiscal sanity to the those who actually pay the bills. It is now time to correct the horrific debt enslavement of "bankruptcy reform" paid for by the credit card lobby. It is now time to correct the injustices to Pell Grants and college financial aid amd to put education back within the reach for ALL students. It is now time to tell the GOP to stop trying to screw around with Social Security.

It is now time to uncover what happened early in the Chimp's administration in those closed door sessions when our energy policy was crafted by the energy lobby. It is now time to put to rest the scam of Health Savings Accounts. It is now time to correct the egregious problems with prescription drugs. It is time to restore the prospect of the American dream, sold off to corporate interests, to the American people!

This may seem like a daunting task but America deserves nothing less. The glee of victory must be quickly muted by the awesome responsibility that will now ensue.

Now I must sleep.
07 November 2006

Welcome to Hell, Mr. Bush

by: Dark Wraith

Welcome to Hell, Mr. Bush

The Dark Wraith gives permission to use this graphic with attribute.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

Election Day Random Ten (Go and Say Goodbye edition)

by: Minstrel Boy

I'm sitting at the computer screen, phone in hand, making calls to people, reminding them what's at stake for today.

I'm about to take a break and pick up a nice old lady I was talking to yesterday. She wasn't able to arrange a ride through the republican she's supporting and I told her that I would be proud to give her a ride to the polls. I do not intend to do any persuasion or anything beyond helping a fellow citizen to the polls to exercise her right. I'm also giving her a pumpkin pie (I make the stuff I write about).

So I'm sitting here with the player on random and the first song up is

Go and Say Goodbye - - - Buffalo Springfield
Eres Tu - - - Mocedades (mexican bubble gum pop at its finest)
It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleedin' - - - Bob Dylan (live at the Purple Onion '66)
Dream a Little Dream of Me - - - Nat "King" Cole Trio
Euphoria - - - Holy Modal Rounders
Izinkomo Zombongo - - - Mzykanifani Buthelezi
Aoibhienis Eilies Na Cheilliagh - - - me on harp
Since You Been Gone - - - Aretha Franklin (best soul singer ever)
Come Monday - - - Jimmy Buffet
Candy Man - - - The Reverend Gary Davis
Hazy Shade of Winter - - - Bangles (fuck your judgemental shit these chicks ROCK!)

Bonus track

Saint Louis Blues - - - Bessie Smith

bonus bonus (cause one good bessie deserves another)

The Obvious Child - - - Paul Simon (try to sit still when these drums are throbbing)

So, folks, my plan is this, if the Republicans manage a theft of our election process, which I interpret to be if they do anything but get their corrupt assess handed to them (narrow margins mean they've been STEALING AGAIN) I am going to start finding a place in the street. I hope for something along the lines of the Czech Velvet protests or the Ukrainian everyone in the street standing there waiting for the theives to realize that they've been caught this time.

Who'd have ever thought the United States of America would be looking to Eastern Europe for lessons in Democracy?

Vote! Make it count!

i normally don't crosspost the random tens but today ain't normal.

Update: I forgot to add that after my little side trip to the polls I'm headed off to an AA meeting. Cause for celebration or an excuse for drowning sorrows means homie does a meeting.
06 November 2006

Breaking News: Ohio GOP Poll Workers Received Supplemental Training Last Thursday

by: Dark Wraith

Updated at 1:00 p.m. EST, November 7, 2006.

The Board of Elections of each county in Ohio chooses a certain number of people from each political party to serve as poll workers at elections. A gentleman who initially asked to be selected by the Board of Elections for Franklin County (which includes the state capitol, Columbus) on the Democratic side was told there were no slots remaining, so he called back and got a slot on the Republican side. This poll worker has requested that his name not be used in this article.

On November 1, he attended the formal training provided by the Franklin County Board of Elections (BOE) and thought he was ready to go. To his surprise, that very afternoon in the mail he received a form letter from the Ohio Republican Party informing him that, although he had completed the "required" training, on Thursday (November 2) he could receive "optional" training provided by the Ohio GOP at a private facility. Again, the letter was not from the Franklin County Board of Elections nor from the Secretary of State of Ohio (the state department that oversees Ohio elections) nor from any department or agency thereof; it was from a political party offering what appeared to be its own training beyond what state and county officials have deemed appropriate and adequate for poll workers.

Click here to view a facsimile copy of the letter in pdf format.

Because of the short notice for this extra training, the poll worker could not rearrange his schedule to attend, so I cannot report anything whatsoever about what the Republican poll workers were taught, but a representative for the Ohio Democratic Party assured me in a Sunday afternoon phone conversation that no such supplement to the formal training was being provided to Democratic poll workers.

The poll worker who received the letter says that he heard nothing at the formal training about the possibility of supplemental training being subsequently provided by the political parties, themselves, so it appears that this Thursday event was not sanctioned by the Board of Elections.

The mystery, of course, remains as to what, exactly, was covered in the supplemental training, as well as what organizations or corporations were delivering content.

In addition to contacting the Ohio Democratic Party campaign headquarters on Sunday, I contacted a top campaign official for a state-wide Ohio candidate about this supplemental training. He said, "It's news to me." The official, who asked to remain anonymous, went on to say, "I haven't heard anything about this [extra training]."

Aside from long-standing and persistent accusations that recent elections in Ohio have been tainted by vote rigging, outright fraud, and vote suppression tactics aimed at keeping Republicans in political control, new problems are already expected with Ohio's recently enacted voter ID law. Application of the law to voters voting by absentee ballot was suspended pursuant to a temporary restraining order issued by US District Judge Algenon Marbley pending a hearing on Wednesday, November 8; however, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has since stayed that temporary restraining order upon request of Republican Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro.

The Democratic candidate for Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, has called in her platform for Ohio to "[r]educe reliance on training and Election Day assistance now contracted for from voting machine vendors to avoid the 'outsourcing' of our elections to private companies," indicating that the formal training Ohio poll workers are currently receiving is already under the partial control of private, third parties brought in at the behest of the office of the Secretary of State, which oversees elections.

Clearly, even if Ohio law (and laws in other states) is modified to ensure that thorough training is uniformly provided to poll workers through the development and implementation of "best practices," political parties themselves must still be assured that they need not offer their own "optional" training to help poll workers of their own party have a differential advantage when it comes to ensuring free and fair elections at the level of the polling sites.

Whether or not the extra training delivered by the Ohio GOP was unethical or possibly illegal is beyond the scope of this article, but the very existence of such extraordinary "training" of Republican poll workers in the Buckeye State is certain to further fuel suspicions among some Democrats that Republicans are not about to play by any set of rules accepted and embraced by others when it comes to winning elections.

Further information, should it become available, will be posted here as updates and edits to this post.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


by: Foiled Goil

Where are the checks, balances?
Bush has been 'making it up' for too long, and the people have let him

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment - November 6, 2006


How startling it was, sir, to hear you introduce oil to your stump speeches over the weekend.

Not four years removed from the most dismissive, the most condescending, the most ridiculing denials of the very hint at, as Mr. Rumsfeld put it, this “nonsense.”

There you were, campaigning in Colorado, in Nebraska, in Florida, in Kansas -- suddenly turning this ‘unpatriotic idea’ into a platform plank.
"You can imagine a world in which these extremists and radicals got control of energy resources," you told us. "And then you can imagine them saying, 'We're going to pull a bunch of oil off the market to run your price of oil up unless you do the following.'"

Having frightened us, having bullied us, having lied to us, having ignored and rewritten the Constitution under our noses, having stayed the course, having denied you’ve stayed the course, having belittled us about "timelines" but instead extolled "benchmarks," you’ve now resorted, sir, to this?

We must stay in Iraq to save the $2 gallon of gas?

Mr. President, there is no other conclusion we can draw as we go to the polls tomorrow.

Sir, you have been making this up as you went along.

This country was founded to prevent anybody from making it up as they went along.

Those vaunted Founding Fathers of ours have been so quoted up, that they appear as marble statues: like the chiseled guards of China, or the faces on Mount Rushmore. But in fact they were practical people and the thing they obviously feared most was a government of men and not laws.

They provided the checks and balances for a reason.

No one man could run the government the way he saw fit -- unless he, at the least, took into consideration what those he governed saw.

A House of Representatives would be the people's eyes.

A Senate would be the corrective force on that House.

An executive would do the work, and hold the Constitution to his chest like his child.

A Supreme Court would oversee it all.

Checks and balances.

Where did that go, Mr. Bush?

And what price did we pay because we have let it go?

Saddam Hussein will get out of Iraq the same way 2,832 Americans have and thousands more.

He’ll get out faster than we will.

And if nothing changes tomorrow, you, sir, will be out of the White House long before the rest of us can say we are out of Iraq.

And whose fault is this?

Not truly yours. You took advantage of those of us who were afraid, and those of us who believed unity and nation took precedence over all else.

But we let you take that advantage.

And so we let you go to war in Iraq to oust Saddam or find non-existant weapons or avenge 9/11 or fight terrorists who only got there after we did or as cover to change the fabric of our Constitution or for lower prices at The Texaco or…?

There are still a few hours left before the polls open, sir. There are many rationalizations still untried.

And whatever your motives of the moment, we the people have, in true good faith and with the genuine patriotism of self-sacrifice (of which you have shown you know nothing), we have let you go on making it up as you went along.

Unchecked and unbalanced.


Full transcript.

The Race for Governor of Texas

by: Konagod

I hate this state. Really.

Non-Christians will be condemned to hell.
Rick Perry, Republican, up for re-election tomorrow.

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Now I see that upChuck Norris has endorsed Perry. That's sure to swing a few hundred thousand new votes.

I can't turn on a radio again until the polls close Tuesday night. If I hear the ad with Rudolph W. Giuliani pitching Rick Perry because "the greatest threat facing America is terrorism," I might smash a radio.

Anybody want to buy a house in Austin?
05 November 2006

In Moot Defense of Saddam

by: Dark Wraith

In the honorable if under-exercised tradition of dissent against overwhelming embrace of outcomes, I must briefly put the sham trial and sentencing of Saddam Hussein in context.

A "fair" trial does not include members of your defense team being shot to death.

A "fair" trial does not include the lead judge being removed for having the audacity to contradict other judges by declaring you "no dictator."

A "fair" trial does not include a panel of judges shaped by the very occupation force that attacked the country on the pretext that you were, in fact, a dictator whose activities were contrary to America's foreign policy objectives.

Saddam Hussein did not get a fair trial because a fair trial cannot exist under the present conditions in Iraq.

I include in this editorial no expected or required disclaimer about Saddam really, after all, being a dictator, a monster, a murderer, or whatever other word might display sufficient disapproval of him; and the reason I use no such word here is that I do not know beyond a reasonable doubt what is and what is not the truth about Saddam, the former Ba'athist regime in Iraq, or even Iraq, itself, either as it stands or as it was. Everything—everything—about Iraq has for years flowed to me and to just about every reader here through the filter of media in the West parroting propaganda pumped out by all manner of disreputable, suspect, and self-serving propagandists: Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress and its paymasters in both the CIA and Iran, a cabal of American neo-conservatives drooling over the prospect of a live proving ground for their model of American global domination, the Israeli intelligence community, various Arab interests, and others, each of which had its own vested interest in toppling the Ba'athist regime in Baghdad.

Exactly how does the truth arise from a maze of lies that started with those that put and kept Saddam in power and then turned on him when he flexed the might of his military against Kuwait? How many readers know any of the grievances he had against the far wealthier country to the South? (Hint: try one that involved rich Kuwaitis feeding a thriving human trafficking trade in Iraqi women and girls for everything from housework to prostitution, an industry again alive and well.) How many readers here ever asked how in the Hell it was that the Presidential administration of George H.W. Bush knew for weeks before Saddam's invasion that he was massing troops in the South for what was obviously an impending attack on Kuwait, yet the U.S. was utterly incapable of doing anything at all about it before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait had to be rectified by a full-scale interventionary attack by a U.S.-led coalition?

Saddam Hussein's armed forces attacked Kuwait in 1990 because the latter country had such wealth that the Iraqis were willing to invade to take it? That's how the story went, and we swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

We attacked Iraq in 2002 because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction? Do readers here really think Americans were initially so wildly in favor of the war because of that, or have progressives figured out that the American public was ga-ga about the whole thing because we were by that invasion going to control the fourth largest reserve of crude oil on the planet?

Look at Iraq today. Find a military, geo-political, or even moral standard by which that country is now better than it was before our invasion. And for the bonus round, find a military, geo-political, or even moral standard by which this country is now better than it was before our invasion.

Hang Saddam? Let's watch the Iraqis do it, the same Iraqis who now live in an anarchy that the American media gravely but politely intones is on the verge of some "civil war," as if that over-used term even begins to describe what has already become of what was once a pro-Western power that served as a massive, unbreakable girder holding the Iranians in check to the West while those Persians were being held in check to the East by another of our subsequent basket cases, Afghanistan.

Hang Saddam? Let's watch George W. Bush and his neo-cons make this a crowning achievement in an alternative to Hussein that has cost as many as 650,000 Iraqi lives, nearly 3,000 American lives, and more than 300 billion dollars of American money, most of which we've borrowed from the ever-helpful Communist Chinese, to whom we shall one day not too long from now pay dearly for our self-delusion of being able to make the world just what we want it to be.

But, by God (or Allah, if you will), those Iraqis are going to learn to live in peace without fear of violence once Saddam gets his hands tied behind his back and chokes to death at the end of a noose. That'll teach those restive Iraqis how to resolve conflict without resorting to killing each other.

Yet one more fabulous step into a future degraded immeasurably and probably irreparably by the most incompetent cabal of fools who have ever tried to rule the world.

Even stipulating every nickel and dime of propaganda about Saddam Hussein, he was a mere piker compared to the man we have—by flag-waving support or ineffective opposition—allowed to be our leader these past six years; but George W. Bush will never get dragged kicking and screaming to the gallows. Unlike the Iraqis, we Americans were afforded the luxury of pretending that we chose our despot.

It would be terribly unseemly to then hang him for doing what he was expected to do.

The Dark Wraith has said his peace on this matter.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

What would you do if... ?

by: Foiled Goil

“What would you do if you were crossing the desert on a donkey and the donkey dropped dead? You get up off your dead ass and start moving.” (~ My Dad)

The November surprise:
Mainstream media changes subject after outrageous Election Count Theft.

WARNING: When the slimy Republican leadership claims to have somehow won a slim majority in both houses of Congress again, most of the mainstream media will try to feed us lame explanations and distractions to cover the real November surprise:

Traitorous FRAUD and Election Count Theft don't require an October surprise!

The traitors already have the vote count machinery in place, vote count aggregators and individual voting machines with purposefully vulnerable security holes waiting to declare the count winner by a prearranged "believable" margin.

Everybody who watches the polls knows that the only way the Republicans can "win" a Congressional majority at this late stage is to simply CHEAT. [snip]

Well enough is enough already! Critical mass has already been reached. If the Republicans claim a narrow victory, everyone will know that they lie, cheat, and steal. Are you going to sit there and just take it? Are you going to let them take away your heritage, your birthright as an American? Our fathers and grandfathers fought and died to defend America, the Constitution, and Democracy. Your forefathers and mothers crossed the oceans to escape this kind of tyranny and to provide their children with a better life. Are you going to let our Constitutional Democracy whither in the grip of virtual despots, because the media suppresses the story that should incite any true patriot into action? [snip]

Full article here.

- - -

HBO's "Hacking Democracy" and
Where the Heck are those Minutemen When You Need Them?

Minutemen were farmers, blacksmiths, lawyers, artisans and shopkeepers who laid down their tools at a moment's notice. They fought to throw off the British yoke and when that was done, they went quietly back to their lives. We must learn from their example.

We have to be willing to invest some time and effort in this uphill battle to regain our democracy; it won't come easy and it won't come at all without a massive mobilization of public support. Think about it: is anything more important than this? [snip] Without free, fair, secure and transparent elections, there is virtually no chance that any of these issues will be dealt with to your liking any time soon. Fair elections are the foundation of democracy and without them, it is a charade. What will our legacy be? Will your children and their children wonder where you were during the fight to get our country back? What will you say? What will you do? As Bernie Ellis said “We are the ones we've been waiting for.” The buck stops here, with us. [snip]

Full article here.

- - -

A Prescription for Activists - Take As Needed

Since 2000, the Republican national strategy has been to marginalize dissent, to make us feel as if we are all alone in having serious doubts about the direction this country is heading, its leadership, and our moral compass, which is totally out of whack. The Great Uniter has divided us as never before. This attempt to dismiss or ridicule anyone who doesn't support present policies is, simply, a bully's tactic. [snip]

As long as each of us feels ourselves alone, isolated and powerless, they have us right where they want us. That's why I'm prescribing a regimen of TLC (tender loving care) for the foreseeable future. We have a lot to do to get our country back. It will be a long, hard fight and we must be in top condition to pull it off.

So, I'm going to tell you what I do (or try to do) and how it works for me. Adapt it to your own situation and see if it doesn't help. [snip]

That's what this is all about. How we can work together, each person bringing his or her strengths to the table. I'm giving you these tips now, before the election, so you can keep them in mind after November 7th. The temptation will be to sink into depression. Trust me, I understand completely. But, I'm telling you now: don't go there. It'll just complicate our efforts to bring about change. Accept what is and move on to the challenge ahead. [snip]

Full article here.

The Finest Pumpkin Pie, Ever

by: Minstrel Boy

I'm doing this one early so that you can test fly it before Thanksgiving. This pie is so rich, so sinfully smooth, such delectable stuff that doesn't lose or compromise the beautiful taste of the pumpkin. Even you hard core pumpkin jacks out there should give this one a whirl. I'm even going to throw in my ultra-double-national-security-this-is-so-good-I-still-make-it-and-I-don't-even-drink-secret recipe for Pumpkin Liqueuer for the sauce at the end. (The liqueur ends up mostly in seasonal Pumpkin truffles.) I haven't even fired up the truffle kitchen yet this year what with my busy schedule of work that actually make me money and stuff. But I still remember my promise to give some away as a prize, my promise to send a dozen to Sarah In Chicago. I also know that I am expected by family and friends to not give anything else for Christmas gifts so, all of you who are worrying about that, take heart. They will be coming. Let's all of us get through Thanksgiving first though. I haven't figured out what kind of contest to run for the truffles so, since my six or so regular readers are already in the running as winners, please leave any and all ideas in the comments. Remember that the judging process will be arbitrary and probably biased and unfair. That said; Who Wants Pie?


3 eggs
2 cups solid pack pumpkin puree
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (the manufacturing cream at Smart & Final does nicely here)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (grind it fresh yourself)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (OK, get this one at the store)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (use your microplane, or buy a microplane and use that)
2 tablespoons crystalized ginger, chopped small
(per pie)

Make your crust using the recipe from the peach pie. This pie filling is deserving of an outstanding crust. You can be a lazy git, all indolent and stuff, and get one from the frozen section of the supermarket and people will still rave about this pie. It's just that they will look at the cheap ass crinkly foil pie dish and, if you bring this as a guest, think you don't trust them with your dishes or they will think that you just don't fucking care what they think. So, as we say out here in the West, cowboy up and get working.

Roll out the pie crusts, transfer to the pie pan. Do something decorative and nice with the edges. I do a spiral roll all the way around the pan, then I take a three tine crudité fork and put in some scoring. This makes for a nice lip on the edge of the pie. But, knock yourself out. This is all decorative, not functional beyond the esthetic.

Beat the eggs until smooth and lemon colored. Beat in the other ingredients in order and mix until perfectly smooth. Pour into the pie shell, put a strip of foil around the edge of the pie and bake at 400° for 35 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the crystallized ginger bits evenly over the top, and bake for another 15 minutes. The center of the pie might be a little jiggly, but a knife inserted halfway to the middle will come out clean. The edge of the crust should be a perfect, golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack.

I serve this mit schlag (which for you barbaric uncultered types is whipped cream without any flavorings or sugar) and drizzled with a half and half mixture of Creme Anglais and the above mentioned Pumpkin Liqueur.


24 ounces fresh (not canned) Pumpkin
Fresh lemon, Juice and rind
25 ounces Rum (Havana Club, but if you don't want to support the Castro regime and are willing to compromise your quality for politics Mount Gay will do you asshole)
Sugar in equal volume to the amount of lemon juice and rind combined.

Cut the pumpkin into small squares (about 1/2") and place in a large pan on top of the stove. Completely zest a lemon with a microplane or a fine grater, then cut it and juice it. You can eyeball your amounts or you can measure. I eyeball, but I'm really fucking good at this, rate yourself honestly and behave accordingly. Do this until the pumpkin is almost covered with lemon juice. Turn the heat to medium high and cook until the pumpkin is soft and squishy. Force this through a sieve (I have one of those wonderfully handy chinahat sieves) into a large jar. Add in the rum and the sugar. Cap tightly and set in a cool dark place for at least a week. Then filter through a fine sieve lined with a cheese cloth into a bottle.

There are some Pumpkin Liqueurs out on the market, they all suck. This doesn't.

Now you're set to be a real hero this holiday season. People will love the new and creative ways you work with the old tired clichéd Pumpkin. Or you can be a slacker and swipe the recipe right off of the can and plunk it into a salty, chewey frozen pie shell. Or you can even go to one of those chain places like Marie Callander's and get one of theirs already made and sitting on the shelf for a few weeks. It's up to you. You can do these dishes for real or you can just pretend to do stuff like our current president. The pictures will come out the same whether or not you really fly the plane or the mission is really accomplished. My work here is done.

find this one also at harp & sword

The Crazy Girlfriend Story

by: Minstrel Boy

This was provoked by one of my favorite bloggers. John Rogers who writes the wildly unpredictable, thought-provoking, and often hilarious Kung Fu Monkey. If you've never read him, now is the perfect time to start because he has his Index Fu that lists his finest work up right near the top of the screen.

In the post that got me this morning he likens the Republicans and George W. Bush to the questionable hook-up that all of us at one time or another fall into. It instantly took me to the time, while I was working in Las Vegas, that I had a straight up batshit crazy girlfriend.

Anika (of course this is not her real name, it's not even close) was a dancer in a big, huge Vegas show that I was playing the orchestra. She had a lot of the issues dancers who work Vegas shows have. You see there are a lot of young girls who spend years enduring the discipline and pain required to study dance with the dream of dancing "Swan Lake" in New York, or being the "Sugar Plum Fairy" at a production their entire family, including their own daughters attend one perfect Christmas Eve. For what ever reason, they grow too tall, their boobs become too big for ballet, they might even just not have that Je ne sais pas, quelque chose that the dance world is looking for. These girls do have talent. They can dance beautifully. The Sugar Plum Fairy ain't happening though. It's never going to happen. A lot of these women end up dancing in Vegas. The pay's great. They are professional dancers. Here's the rub though. I don't care if the producers are spending $25 million pre-production on the show. If the girls take off their shirts, it's a tittie show. That's all it will ever be. This means if you're dealing with one of these dancers on an emotional level, there's a great deal of cognitive dissonance at play already.

This doesn't mean that I was anybody's poster child for mental health. Far from it. I was in full-blown (only ten years removed from combat) PTSD, taking every drug imaginable (and some that weren't), drinking like a fish, and dealing with my own disillusionment with the state of my career. I was in creative hell. In an orchestra that spent most of the show in the basement, playing along with a tape of singers. I first dated Anika on a bet with my sax playing buddy Rico. He bet me $400 that I wouldn't be able to get a date with the new Ice Princess who had started in the tall nude line that night.

I snuck up right before the cocktail show to see what I was up against. She certainly fit the bill for casting in the tall nude line. At about 5'10" she would top me by two inches before she put on the heels. She also had beautiful, honey blonde hair, flawless skin and then she turned from the mirror to look me straight in the face. Her eyes were astonishing. They held several shades of blue, starting light at the pupil and darkening to almost black at the edges. Ice Princess? Hah! One look, one whiff of sulpher and I knew that this girl was nothing but fire.

I figured since I was caught looking I might as well make the move. I walked up to her and introduced myself. I told her that my friend Rico had just bet me $400 that I couldn't get a date with her. Then I hit her with my closing "You can pick where we go, what we do and keep any money out of the 400 we don't spend." She said "OK, I've just moved here and I want to go shopping. There's stuff I need for my apartment." I kissed her hand like a courtier and told her that I'd see her between shows and we'd make the arrangements.

Things started out pretty tame. We did the courting dance. There were early signs that I should have seen though. The first Sunday while we were dating we had to go to her church. That wasn't all that bad but on the way out as we went through the handshake line with the minister and stuff she volunteered me to play harp for free. I told her that I didn't do stuff like that and she said "The Lord gave you your talent, you need to give back to the Lord." She also did the crying after sex thing. We would have wild, semi-kinky, athletic sex and before my after cigarette was halfway smoked she'd start sobbing.

It only got weirder. There was the time I was coming out of a late session (in Vegas a late session can get out at around 6:30 a.m.) to find her parked in the studio lot. Then there was the time she just showed up at my place, and let herself in with a key I didn't know she had. Then there were the phone calls. Calls during rehearsals, calls during ball games, calls while I was visiting my mother and other family.

I tried to be diplomatic and reasonable. It didn't work. I didn't quit the show because of her, I quit because I was musically bored silly and had other offers. I started doing the Vegas Turn Around circuit where we would do two weeks in Vegas, two weeks in Tahoe followed by two weeks in Reno. I would leave the stage and see Anika in the wings, waiting for me. I told her things weren't working. That I needed "time to myself." She said "You kissed me in church before God." I kept trying to break it off and she kept refusing to listen to me.

I started acting like a total shit. I fucked around openly and shamelessly. I increased my already alarming levels of substance abuse. I was rude to her. I was mean. I changed the locks. I got a new phone. I bought a new car. Then I moved to Reno.

One night I woke up to find Anika sitting on top of me. Her once flaming eyes now flat and cold, her hands around my throat. She had broken into my house, the dogs knew her and didn't raise any alarm. She was crazed. My friends had tried to warn me about her craziness. My buddy Rico (whose fault this all was remember) had even had a T-Shirt made for my birthday which said "FOOL" on the front and "KICK ME" on the back. Part of my discounting all the warning signs and warnings from my friends was being in complete thrall to this beautiful woman. Part of it was my being ashamed of being in thrall so completely. Part of it was that I knew that the pool of gorgeous, sexually adventurous women who will date short, fat, hippies who walk with a cane is not all that big and I didn't think I would ever do all that much better. Part of it was that there was a lot to love about this girl. Now she's sitting on top of me trying to choke me in the middle of the night.

I got free and away without hurting her. I never called the cops. I told her that I never wanted to see her again. I did though. About a month after that she called me to tell me that she was in therapy and that she wanted me to come and talk with her counselor and her "for closure." I went like a chump. The therapist turned out to be the shithead preacher (who she was fucking by that time) and he was trying to line me up for an exorcism or some shit like that. I ran like a scalded dog.

I only told you that story so I could tell you this one. (hat tip to Arlo Guthrie)

I became a Republican much the same way. Instead of a bet it was tax cuts. Over the years there were signs though. I ignored them. Then the Christian Right came into the tent. Then the Racists felt it was safe to spout off all their venom in public. Then the Congress started spending like drunken sailors on shore leave in Bangkok. Then the scandals started piling up one after another. Then Iraq. The Patriot Act, the torture the secret prisons. Now they are wanting to classify the torture itself which means that if they pick you up without charges, whisk you away in the dead of night and torture your ass. They will not allow you ever to have a day in court. Because you might tell your lawyer that you were tortured you will not be allowed a lawyer for reasons of national security. Wake up you fools! She's sitting on your chest and her hands are around your fucking throat!

This is how you do it. Cut it off. Now. Move to a new town, or even a new country if you must. But get away from them. They're fucking nuts. Don't take anymore calls. Ever. Not even to say goodbye. Make your own closure. Above all, do not date any of her friends. Look, I know how hard this can be. It's the only way. You will have to hurt some feelings here to save your own stupid life. You'll thank me in the end though. If she calls, tell her "NO!" Then call me, we'll go to a Suns game or something. I'll help you through this. But take it from somebody who has been there.

Get. Away. Right. Now. Tell them on Tuesday that you are not going to run with the crazy anymore.

crossposted at Harp and Sword
04 November 2006

Weekend on the Homefront

by: Dark Wraith

After the Thursday installment of my Principles of Microeconomics telecourse, a few of the students at the main campus studio follow me out to the open area between two of the big buildings on campus. We talk for a while about this and that.

One of the students is regular Army, in a unit that's between rotations into Iraq. He is always joined out there in the open area by several other college students in his unit. They're not my students, but they usually hang around, maybe hoping for a turn in the conversation to something about training, deployment, scuttlebutt, whatever. The fellow in my class is always so darned respectful to me. It's almost strange: none of the slight condescension, none of the cold distancing, none of the "you're not one of 'us' attitude" I get in vague hints and impressions from the others. They're not openly disrespectful, of course. They're not quite sure how to take me, especially considering one of their own seems so loyal. I do wonder, however, how many of the professors on campus know just how little those service personnel think of them.

My Army student is in his mid-thirties, but he looks younger, this despite several rough tours in Iraq already. He's forever struggling in his classes, but Lord knows that guy is persistent. Aside from teaching him economics, I've been helping him with his calculus course work. I never thought he'd make it as far as he has since he just struggles with remembering very basic concepts from one tutoring session to the next. However, at least in part because I use a break-down, simple-step-by-simple-step approach to everything I possibly can when it comes to math, he's getting it. In a way, it's similar to a military training approach without the screaming and name-calling, although I prefer to think of it more as a "mechanic's approach" to math. Call it whatever, it works for a lot of people who otherwise have trouble learning methods and processes in mathematics courses. The economics material he's learning in my class is just overwhelming to him, at least the quantitative and graphical stuff. The memory work is what's keeping him going.

Thursday, I made arrangements to meet him on Friday for an hour of calculus tutoring: the product rule, the quotient rule, and the chain rule. We'll deal with word problems next week.

On Friday, we did the tutoring session—about an hour that gave me a lot of hope for his success in the course. He was finally seeing how to do the simple, bite-size steps instead of trying to look at and tackle the problems like undifferentiated blobs. He was getting answers, and they were right. He couldn't simplify the answers because he cannot do numerical fractions or see algebraic tricks to make long expressions shorter with factorings and cancelations, but his answers were right nonetheless, and telling him that made him grin from ear to ear. Such a boyish smile, especially when he hears praise that has almost a tough edge to it. ("Well, I'll be damned. You got that right. Well, shit, boy, you're going to be a PhD in mathematics one of these days.")

We went back outside to visit for a few minutes before I had to leave.

"Looks like we've got a cold weekend coming up," I said, feeling the blustering wind chilling me to my bones.

"Yeah, this sucks," he said as he lit a cigarette. "I'm out in the field from six tonight 'til God-knows-when on Sunday."

"Cripe, out in the bush, huh?"

"Naw, not like last time. This weekend we're training at the base," he answered, staring out at the clouds above the just-harvested corn field.

He's a mortar guy, and he's something of a rising star, despite his desire not to be. He doesn't want to make the Army his career, but all indications are that he's being moved up the line, with "First Sergeant" written all over their plans for him.

"Training on mortars at the base?"

"Naw, civil defense," he grunted absently.

I figured that meant he and his unit were being prepped for redeployment back to Iraq; then he added, "Homeland Security bullshit... just the usual riot control training."

"You want to cancel the tutoring session for Monday and do it on Wednesday?" I asked him as I picked up my books and got ready to leave.

"That'd be good. I'm going to be exhausted Monday," he answered.

He always likes to part company with a firm handshake. As we did, he thanked me for all the help. The genuineness of his gratitude was so evident. I swear, right there and then I knew he wouldn't kill me. I just knew it.

Someday, he might have to, though. After all, that's what he's being trained to do.

The Dark Wraith hopes this story makes your blood run cold.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

New Type of War? New Type of Enemy?

by: Minstrel Boy

My half-breed ass. This is something that gets trotted out time after time in the history of human conflicts. Every single time we go to war it seems there's somebody who wants to cite "a new type of war" to justify the committing of atrocity and crimes. For those who really want to call this war in Afghanistan and Iraq something new or something different I give you - - -

Alexander the Great addressing his troops on the approach to Afghanistan from History of Alexander by Quintus Curtius

Do you believe that so many nations accustomed to the name and rule of another, united with us by neither religion, no customs, no community of language, have been subdued in the same battle in which they were overcome? It is by your arms alone that they are restrained, not by their dispositions, and those who fear us when we are present, in our absence, be enemies. We are dealing with savage beasts, which lapse of time only can tame, when they are caught and caged, because their own nature cannot tame them. . .Accordingly, we must either give up what we have taken, or we must seize what we do not yet hold.

New? Nope. Different? Not much. Sounds pretty much like the same old imperial bullshit to me. But then, I am a documented attitude case.

crossposted at Harp and Sword
03 November 2006

Hacking Democracy:

by: Konagod

After reading this review in yesterday's WaPo about the HBO film, Hacking Democracy which aired last night, I was so disappointed by the tone of the review and therefore expected the documentary to be an inconsequential letdown. It was neither. Here's some of what the WaPo reviewer had to say:
The documentary's basic theme is that elections can be stolen by people able to manipulate the vote-recording software in electronic balloting machines. That should not shock anyone who has touched a computer. Given the increasing use of electronic voting machines -- they are counting about 80 percent of the votes cast today, according to the documentary -- it's no stretch to imagine that they could be worked to subvert democracy.

Could be. But "Hacking Democracy" doesn't actually show democracy's corruption. The documentary merely suggests the possibilities and tallies the suspicions, leaving viewers to come to the obvious conclusion.

Actually, the documentary did far more than "suggest possibilities; they clearly demonstrated how easy it is to adjust vote totals without arousing any suspicion or leaving any trail of the adjustment.

And where was this reviewer during the segment on Volusia County in which certified election polling tapes were found in the trash?
"We were sitting there comparing the real [signed, original] tapes with the [later printout] ones that were given us," Bev said, "and finding things missing and finding things not matching, when one of the elections employees took a bin full of things that looked like garbage - that looked like polling tapes, actually - and passed by and disappeared out the back of the building."

This provoked investigator Ellen Brodsky to walk outside and check the garbage of the Elections Office itself. Sure enough - more original, signed poll tapes, freshly trashed.

"And I must tell you," Bev said, "that whatever they had taken out [the back door] just came right back in the front door and we said, 'What are these polling place tapes doing in your dumpster?'"

Oh, I guess it was just innocent coincidence. Who on earth would suspect foul play?

The WaPo review continues:
To make their story more visual, and to humanize it, they've built their narrative around Bev Harris, a Seattle writer and gadfly who is convinced that electronic voting machines threaten the political process. Harris comes across as a zealot, imbued with the spirit of the righteous crusader, which is a nice way of saying she's a little hard to take.

Hmm, the issue here concerns elections that can be easily manipulated rendering our democratic election process obsolete, and this asshole is concerned about Bev Harris' overbearing personality? Personally, I didn't get that impression of her whatsoever.

He finishes the review with this irrelevant utter nonsense:
In case you miss where "Hacking's" sympathies lie, the documentary pounds home the message with sinister music, grave voice-over narration and an oft-repeated rock song that goes, "Something's broken in the Promised Land / A broken promise in the Promised Land."

That lyrics quite possibly might be true. But you'll want more proof than this.

I highly recommend the documentary for those of you who missed it. There is plenty of worthy information presented to cause concern about our political process. We can all cite plenty of examples of blatant corruption in politics and and campaigns, as well as surrounding elections. There's a myriad of ways to affect the outcome of elections aside from rigged voting equipment. Restricting the rights of ex-felons to vote, people incorrectly purged from voting registration lists, and insufficient numbers of voting machines in minority districts which force voters to wait for hours to cast a ballot, and obviously resulting in many voters just giving up, are but a few of the methods. To reject the probability that machines have been or will be tampered with simply because they can be is a rather foolish position.

I'm still heavily biased against Diebold. I believe if we are going to entrust a corporation to supply voting machines, the process of how the votes are counted must be transparent. The temptation for corruption is too great.

Here are some other interesting tidbits to digest. Aside from the tampering probabilities, let's not lose sight of the financial windfall flowing to the three major suppliers of electronic voting equipment, just in the US. That we are paying to potentially have our democracy hijacked is a staggering thought, but the dollar amounts on a national level are mind-numbing:
According to New Yorkers for Verified Voting, touch screen voting machines cost two to six times as much as optical scanning systems, and last only five to eight years, while optical scanning systems have a life span of between 10 and 20 years.

The cost differential is striking, stressed Rick Schwab, of New Yorkers for Verified Voting. Schwab told members of Community Board 10, gathered at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 13th Avenue and 86th Street, for their October meeting, that the cost of replacing four lever machines with optical scan systems is $3,000, because one optical scanner can handle between 3,000 and 4,000 voters in a single day.

In contrast, he said, each touch screen voting machine costs $8,000, and can only handle 200 voters in a day, so it would take 12 touch screen machines to replace four lever machines, at a cost of approximately $100,000. “That’s why they (the manufacturers) want us to buy them,” added Schwab.

This is from the Columbus Dispatch in March, 2006:

The full coverage plan offered by Diebold Election Systems to service its touch-screen voting machines in Fairfield County, for example, would cost $90,000 a year.

That's just a service contract, not the actual machines themselves, for one county in one state.

From the St. Petersburg Times...

Florida knows more about the clerk who sells lottery tickets at the corner store than it does about the technician who troubleshoots voting machines at the corner precinct.

That’s because lottery ticket retailers must undergo criminal background checks, but there are no such state requirements for the employees of the companies that manufacture and maintain voting equipment for Florida’s 67 counties.


Louisiana requires some background checks, which it began doing after its elections chief pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from an independent Sequoia equipment distributor. Separate charges were filed and later dropped against a Sequoia executive.

The case led Pinellas County officials to delay signing their $14-million contract with Sequoia while they looked at the backgrounds of “key employees.” But county officials ultimately didn’t require continuing background checks for technicians in its contract with Sequoia.

Here's a very interesting Fortune magazine piece posted today at CNN Money. Some snips:

Though other voting-machine companies have also had their difficulties, it is "the dreaded Diebold," as one blogger on DailyKos refers to it, that stirs up the likes of Michael Moore. "The reason Diebold gets so much heat," says activist Bev Harris, author of "Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century," "is not because they're any worse than their competitors. It's because we got more information on them early on."

The drumbeat of bad news has never stopped. This year, researchers have found more security flaws, and another version of the software was leaked. In Maryland, Diebold allegedly knew that some of its machines had defective motherboards but did not replace them for a year. Both candidates for governor there advised their supporters to vote via absentee ballot rather than use Diebold machines.

America deserves better. It's unlikely we'll get it in this year's elections.

Other HBO playdates: Nov. 5(9:00 a.m.), 7 (9:00 a.m., 6:30 p.m.), 13 (12:30 p.m., 10:00 p.m.), 18 (6:00 p.m.) and 26 (1:15 a.m.). HBO2 playdates: Nov. 4 (noon), 7 (11:45 p.m.), 10 (6:30 p.m.) and 15 (3:00 a.m.).

In case my opinion was unclear, the documentary was excellent, and I disagree with most of the insipid review in the Washington Post. Also, check out what
Pam has to say, and she posted some photos.
02 November 2006

Even Now To Be Free

by: Dark Wraith

Imagine November 7, 2006. You awaken to pollsters and pundits on the news telling viewers that Democrats are poised to rout the Republicans across the land. Little doubt exists that the Republicans will lose control of the House of Representatives, and all indications are that the balance of power in the Senate will either fall to the Democrats or sit right on the 50/50 fulcrum. All of the cynicism you've had for the past six years cannot keep you from that irrepressible, undeniable excitement welling up inside you. No matter how dour you try to appear when you talk to other people that day, you cannot help but have something you haven't had for a very long time in your view of national politics: you have hope. And it's not just the hope that comes from naïveté: it is real hope; and you cannot deny it, not to yourself, anyway.

You vote. You listen for indications of how other people around you voted. You can't wait for the polls to close so you can start hearing results. You become more convinced that this is the day for which you've waited so long.

As the night of November 7 comes to fullness, results start to come in. They look good. Not as spectacular as you had hoped, but good.

You stay up. Networks start making projections of winners. It's not what you had thought would happen.

Republicans are winning House races all over the country. Republicans are winning Senate races all over the country. Republicans are winning everywhere they couldn't possibly have won. You go to bed in a state of utter despair.

When you awaken on November 8, almost hoping against hope, you turn on the television to see if it's really like what you remember from the night before.

It is. The Republicans have retained and even expanded their control of the House. They have won Senate seats where they should have lost, and they have taken a couple more they shouldn't have won. Several governorships have gone from Democrats to Republicans.

GOP faces are all over the TV, smirking, waving, smugly preening themselves before the cameras, talking about the "future," "the people's vote of confidence," and all manner of other sound bites that make you just sick to your stomach.

Yes, an election has been stolen. Again.

What, exactly, was it that you thought would happen? That the Republicans would play fair? That the rigged electronic machines, the tainted software, and their corrupted manufacturers from 2000 and 2004 had all simply vanished into thin air?

That the party of a President who had committed all manner of crimes both personally and by proxy through his subordinates would simply let all Hell break loose in a free-for-all hanging that could very well include humiliating disclosures, removals from office, and even prison terms?

That a party corrupted to its core even as it is insanely convinced of the rightness of its vision would merely stand down and let that vision of the Republic get savaged in such a way that it might be generations before people once again would forget how wretched that vision always turns out to be in practice?

Yeah, right.

Hope is for the blind. Trust is for the foolhardy. Optimism is for idiots.

You knew that all along, now didn't you?

So what's a person to do?

Here's the best way to deal with the awful scenario described above.

Give up now. Don't bother to vote; it's obvious that your vote will be wiped out anyway. Don't even bother to watch the election returns coming in; they'll just depress you. Get up the next morning and do something nice for yourself; that's what matters in a world gone mad.

Maybe down the road in a few days when you can better face the debacle that happened on November 7, write an angry letter to the editor. If you have a blog, post some vitriol. Write some angry sentiments in comments at other people's blogs.

Get it out of your system and then move on. It's over for democracy, so just deal with it.

Good choice all the way around.

Now, let me tell you what I'm going to be doing.

I'm going to spend every day between now and November 7 busting my ass to see that every son of a bitch in the Republican Party gets kicked out of office on Election Day. I'm going to stand right in people's faces, and I'm going to be telling them just what I think. I'm going to get on the horn, and I'm going to talk until I can't talk anymore.

I'm going to be calling Secretaries of State in as many states as I can, and I'm going to make myself the biggest pain in the ass their staffs have ever encountered. I'm going to ask who's who at the precinct level; who knows what about how many voting machines are in each and every precinct. I'm going to want to know where the voting locations are or where I can find out.

Then I'm going to call local election officials. I'm going to go to polling places. I'm going to take my cell phone and my camera with me. I'm going to spend as much time as I can making sure that everyone knows that at least one person is watching. Anyone who gets in my way will be made famous on the Internet, and I'll tell that to anyone who acts like I'm some kind of irrelevant intrusion.

I'll pick up the phone, I'll pick up my feet, I'll pick up some extra-strong coffee, and I'll get to work. Anyone who wants to join me can; but don't act like I'm some kind of embarrassment. Get with me or get out of the way. Please.

And on November 7, I'll vote. I'll also drive people to the polling stations. I'll also be keeping an eye on those polling stations to see if any voting machine "repairmen" show up who want to be on no fewer than three large blogs read by people across the planet.

And on the night of November 7, I'll watch the returns like some people watch their dinner cooking in the microwave.

In other words, from now until the end of the night on November 7, 2006, I'll have my hope, and by God! I'll have it in spades because I'll make it with my own two hands.

And on November 8, if the election goes to the Republicans, I shall set aside that hope, and I'll replace it with rage. No, I won't write letters to the editor; no, I won't write about my depression here on this blog; and no, I won't go out and buy myself something nice to numb the pain of having once and for all lost any prayer of a democratic America.

I will take to the streets, and I will do so with the certain knowledge that I have nothing whatsoever to lose because I will have already lost that which is so compellingly important to me: my citizenship in a free and democratic country. Anyone who wants to join me on that terrible day is welcome, but I won't be particularly sympathetic when the bitching starts about how rough it gets. I won't be in the mood to hear people who are still surprised that those who run this country are vicious.

Hope against all hope from now through November 7; then bitter anger fleeing to the refuge of even greater rage should November 8 dawn in the blackness of continued, unfettered, unendable Republican rule.

To live without hope and then die without cause is never to have been free. Once upon a time, I lived as a free person in a free country.

But you'll have to choose your own way.

And then, of course, you'll get to live and die as that choice has dictated.

It's your call.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

Indian Pudding

by: Minstrel Boy

This dish has a long and storied history in America. It was a favorite dish of my favorite of the Founding Fathers, John Adams. He had it for dessert at night and then reheated in the morning and served with cold milk. He also drank hard cider at every meal. There are no monuments to Adams, he knew that there most likely would not be and was bothered by that knowledge. Yet, he was instrumental in almost every single event in our early history. His ranting and railing at the Continental Congress was the stuff of legend. His outburst before his resolution on "independency" was brilliant stuff. He pointed out that King George had already declared the colonies to be in rebellion and that Congress had yet to do so. He, with remarkable self-awareness told Jefferson that he should be the writer of the Declaration because "I'm not half the writer you are, and besides, I'm obnoxious and disliked." I think I admire Adams most because of his human failings. I understand his single minded pursuit of excellence. I admire his fidelity and love of his wife and family. I am in awe of the courage it took for him to stand in the Court of St. James as the first Ambassador and be ignored. That he was able to rise above his frailties and truly achieve greatness was brilliant and courageous stuff. Would that we had politicians of that mettle now. Since we can't seem to find anyone that is willing to act like John Adams, at least we can eat like him. There are many variations to this dish. This recipe is from the lovely and strong Abigail. It is plain and simple. I will list some of the possible variations after the original has been presented. My kids adore this. When I would have it on the table they would, when they were little, exclaim "Indian Pudding! 'Cause we're Indians!" (the last words shouted at proper war whoop volumes) My stock reply was always to say "Indeed you are my darlings."


1 quart scalded milk
1/3 cup corn meal (she means yellow or yankee corn meal here)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup molasses
1 good teaspoon ginger (slighty more than level will do nicely)

Scald the milk and strain through a sieve into a double boiler pan with the corn meal (milk skin is icky and I have discovered that tossing it to the dogs keeps them out from underfoot while I'm moving about the kitchen, they also manage a good floor cleanup while they're at it). Over rapidly boiling, salted water (there's some scientific principle about salting the water, it makes it go a little hotter or a little cooler I never can remember which one) mix together with the salt and cook, stirring often (you don't have to do this constantly but scorching and lumping are to be discouraged) for 20 to 25 minutes. You're looking for a thick, rich porridge here. Bubbles should bulge and hiss steam like Yellowstone mud pots and the granularity of the meal should be tenderized. Mix in the molasses (and I like to start with 3 tablespoons of good maple syrup then top off with a viscous dark blackstrap molasses to make 1/2 cup) and the ginger and transfer to a buttered soufflé dish (see that's not a totally single use item) or a sturdy baking dish and bake at 300° for about 2 hours. This is orgasmic if you serve it with a top flight vanilla ice cream.

Now, to variations. Dried fruit can be added without any changes at all. If you choose to add eggs, you will be making it more of a custard and will have to increase the milk proportionally. You might be tempted to add cinnamon or nutmeg or a dose of brown, white or maple sugar. Resist these foolish thoughts! Think of John Adams scowling at you for putting on airs! Molasses and ginger were huge treats at a colonial New England table. Cinnamon and nutmeg were only available through the same East India Tea Company bastards that were fouling up a pretty good system, while ginger could be smuggled easily by good neighbors like Hancock through New Orleans from the Islands. Show your solidarity with our Founders, eat some Indian Pudding, drink some hard cider and imagine Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine taking turns bitch slapping our current President while John Adams, Sam Adams, Paul Revere, John Jay, Jefferson and a handsome young Hamilton smoked their pipes and offered technical advice.

crosspudding at El Rancho Harpo
01 November 2006

Will Ann Coulter Go Down?

by: Dark Wraith

Ann Coulter behind bars?The election supervisor of Palm Beach Florida says that he will refer his allegations of vote fraud by extremist right-wing columnist and author Ann Coulter to the State Attorney General by Friday (November 3) because of her refusal to submit a written response to the charge that she falsified her voter registration by listing her real estate agent's address as her own, thereby allowing her to vote in a precinct other than the one of her actual residence.

Coulter's attorney justifies his client's refusal to respond to no fewer than three requests (or four, according to Tampa Bay's 10 News) for written clarification by claiming the election supervisor, Arthur Anderson, had previously disclosed information to the media. The attorney, Marcos Daniel Jimenez D'Clouet, says that, because of this, he and Coulter will respond only in person or by telephone, offers Anderson has declined in lieu of formal, written response.

Under Florida statute, the crime alleged to have been committed by Coulter is a felony punishable by a maximum penalty of five years in state prison.

Hive Mind! Assemble!

by: Minstrel Boy

I got this email this morning from one of my sisters. It's an interesting thing to think about.
Hi guys! My mom is heading home in the next couple of days after a month's visit. How that pertains to my book is, I haven't had 5 spare minutes to work on it during her visit, I was lucky to get to my emails sporadically. Anyway, I'm getting ready to finish the first draft for my test readers, and hope to have it sent out by the end of the year. But I'm stuck on an idea that I need a word for, and I thought my panel of experts could help.
The book is about fighing evil, and how a couple of midlife sisters manage to do that. There are lots of delightful characters. I can't wait for you to meet them and it will become clear to you that I didn't have to reach past my personal experience to describe these rich & wonderful people.
Anyway, at one point some of the ladies are talking about the female version of "macho". We all know what a macho man is, but what would be a word to describe a female who dominates in traditionally feminine skills like cooking and sewing. And it would need to be an affectionate term, not an angry one.
Any ideas you have would be welcome! We have a couple of weeks, too, because that's something I could add on at the last minute. Thanks, guys

Ponder. Discuss.

I'm flogging this one all over the net, harpandsword