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31 May 2007

Walt Whitman

by: Konagod

Walt Whitman was born on this day in 1819.

I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.

Ain't it so. I wonder how old he was when he learned that?
If any thing is sacred, the human body is sacred.

Ain't it so. I wonder how old he was when he learned that?

The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges, or churches, or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people.

Now I know he's rolling in his grave. I wonder what he'd think of the latest crop of Republican presidential wannabes. Or American Idol for that matter.

Whoever degrades another degrades me, And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.

OK, fine then. Never mind. I take it back.

The New Loch Ness Monster Video

by: Dark Wraith

Some readers might have heard about the new, "quality" video footage of the Loch Ness Monster. Take your pick of the big-time news outlets: has it, so does the ever-reliable FOX News, and others have the story, too.

Ah, but you'll notice that, just about everywhere you go, you can read all about it, but you can't see the video, itself.

Well, here it is. From of North Scotland, the news story, complete with the video is herewith offered for your consideration. Now, if you're expecting the slam-dunk, Hollywood-style, O-My-GAWD, you'll be disappointed. The key here is that this footage is not just fairly clear, but also has geographic landmarks visible before the zoom-in on whatever was running in the water. That's important.

Again, only here at Big Brass Blog can you find quality political commentary, the occasional culinary recipe, great writing, and the link to what might be a real, live, sea monster.

The Dark Wraith wants to know what more the blog reader could possibly want.

· ·

Glad to be Here

by: blackdog

Been gone for awhile, peritonitis and diverticulitis will do that to you. Last thing I remember a few months ago was the image of an apricot. It became dryer and began to emit a buzzing/spitting noise. I remember the dry powder it was giving off and then determined that that was me. I was the apricot. Jaundice had me cold.

But I'm back, barely. Surprising how so little has changed.

Be in touch.

It Figures

by: Debra

The Coast Guard has ships that were retrofitted so badly that they became unseaworthy and now the Marine Corps are asking for extra armor on the new vehicles that are supposed to protect them from roadside bombs, but don't. Why am I not more surprised? Have I become so used to the lying, to the incompetence, to the cronyism, to the "they really don't give a flying **** about the troops attitude"; that to find out that the "new and improved" military vehicle is incapable of stopping the IEDs used by the insurgents, is just another everyday example of the supreme stupidity that is the debacle known as Operation Iraqi Freedom?

Two and a half years ago, Donald Rumsfeld uttered the famous line of:
"As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

He added: "If you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up."
Whatever. Did a part of me really expect that after all this time, money, and wasted lives, that things would be different? That the military would have everything it needs because we support the troops with something besides bumper stickers and yellow ribbon magnets? Foolish me, because it turns out that this was just another ploy, another way for somebody who doesn't have our troops best interests at heart, to make money for money's sake. Seriously, if the title of your vehicle contains words like "Mine Resistant Ambush Protected", don't you think they should be able to protect against mines, plus just a little bit more? And without having to tack on extra armor? I thought we already did that and it wasn't all that successful.

What the heck is wrong with the people in charge, are they totally incapable of planning for any future besides a paradise (oops, shouldn't use that word since it seems to have come from the Persian language) that doesn't exist? Do they think the insurgents are so stupid that they wouldn't think of improvements themselves? And what the heck does "developing countermeasures" mean? Please tell me, I want to be prepared when they don't work.

Who would think that Operation Urgent Fury (the invasion of Grenada) would stand out as one of the most successful enterprises in the last fifty years of the world's largest and supposedly best financed military.


30 May 2007

An Upcoming Republication

by: Dark Wraith

In my most recent article published here, "Remembering Shelby," I made reference to previous writings I had published on the subject that was at hand. Although I intended to provide a link to a major editorial I had published in the aftermath of two prior articles, I could not find the relevant post in the online archives of The Dark Wraith Forums. As it turns out, the article for which I was searching, entitled "Ultimate Responsibility and Eventual Retribution," and originally published at The Dark Wraith Forums on December 8, 2006, had been removed. At the time of that publication, the Webhost for The Dark Wraith Forums was Blogger, a division of Google. The apparent deletion was carried out without my knowledge or consent. Links to that article still appear as hits in certain search engine queries, but those links are apparently uniformly all to the article published just afterward. Even the so-called "cached" version of the article is actually the article published just afterward.

Although I have exhausted all means of which I know to locate this article in published form on the server or even in cache on the Internet, I shall not declare with absolute certainty that the article has been purposely and maliciously deleted; however, that appears very likely to be the case, and if so, it is the second instance of which I am aware of an article of mine having been removed when this Weblog was being hosted by Blogger. In the other instance, I quickly caught the deletion, which was executed simultaneously at both The Dark Wraith Forums and at Big Brass Blog, both of which were, at the time, published under Blogger. (The later article was published as an exclusive at The Dark Wraith Forums.) As a general rule, and especially after the first incident, the one I immediately caught, I keep a text-based copy of every article I write.

Of course, now that none of the Websites of Dark Wraith Publishing are in any way associated with any division of Google, I can publish without concern for potential problems arising from mysteriously disappearing articles.

Tonight, I am endeavoring to re-insert the original article somewhere close to its chronological place of original publication. Whether or not I am successful in that regard remains to be seen since the legacy archives of this Website are now, for all intents and purposes, static HTML pages that are difficult to alter without causing major disruption to their original appearance, which I have tried to retain. Whether or not I succeed in republishing the original piece, on Thursday, May 31, 2007, I shall publish an updated version of the original post, doing so to create, to the extent possible, a continuity in the chain of argument I began last year and continued in the article "Remembering Shelby."

For those who have been readers of my articles for some time, the next article I publish will look somewhat familiar, although I will have updated it somewhat. As fair warning, it was a rather strident piece, with sharply critical references not just to the United States, but also to one of our closest allies, a nation whose actions have made it not merely a worldwide symbol of repression, but also a frightful signpost pointing the way to our own future.

Were the Dark Wraith a conspiracy theorist, he would strongly suspect that the original of the upcoming article was deleted because of its brutally harsh references to that other country; but the Dark Wraith is certainly not—and never has been nor ever will be—a conspiracy theorist.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· ·

Who Needs Alan Turing?

by: Jurassicpork

We’ve got PNAC and neocon think tanks. Besides, Turing smoked the pink cigar, if you know what I mean.

Today, my thoughts turn to German U boats and the “war on terror.” What do the two have in common? Absolutely nothing. And that’s the problem.

The wife is currently listening, via her MP3, to an audio book about divers spending years (at a cost of three of their own) trying to identify a sunken U boat found in 1991 under 200 feet of water off the coast of New Jersey.

Although it’s been known for a while, most baby boomers are still ignorant as to how close German U boats had come to our shores. It’s a “revelation” that changes the very dynamics of WW II history, greatly expanding the theater of operations. There was most of Europe, the South Pacific and Northern Africa. Now we can add North America.

Through U boat wreckage, declassified German and American naval records and personal recollections, we now know that U boats had been dispatched by the Third Reich to our very shores, including Cape Hatteras, Manhattan Island and the aforementioned New Jersey. Naval battles were waged right off American soil, including the sinking of many defenseless merchant and, deeper in the Atlantic, cruise ships (such as the SS Athenia).

But my point isn’t about the diligent detective work by these deep sea divers to identify one mysterious U boat, as intriguing as the story is (they turned up several egregious examples of government bureaucrats inflating the tonnage of U boats sank so they wouldn’t have to leave question marks in their final audit.).


Some Important Stuff From Andrew Sullivan

by: Minstrel Boy

There has been a series of postings by Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic where he has produced documents that show the terms "enhanced interrogation" and other euphemisms for torture being coined by the Nazis.

Yep, that's where Bush, Cheney, and Gonzales, with some good high black leather boot action from Dr. (Ilsa the She-Wolf) Rice all took their cues from the anti-insurgency operations of the Germans in Holland, France, and Norway. With only a few differences, like for instance, the Nazis didn't allow waterboarding. It was considered too brutal.

And, by the way, the Nazis who were convicted of things like using stress positions, cold baths, and bog simple beatings were tried, convicted and sentenced, some with death.

The whole article is right here

big tip of the feathered cap to oddjob.

harp and sword (a no waterboarding ranch)

· · ·
29 May 2007

Settling for the Half Truth

by: Jurassicpork

You and Ashcroft

"Aw, hell, you ain’t the Attorney General! Well, lookee, as long as I’m here, you mind signing this here document allowing me to illegally wiretap?"

"Normally, we don't consider Republicans for the BuzzFlash Wings of Justice Award… But, Comey, according to his recent Congressional testimony, did an incredible thing. He actually stood up to the lawlessness of the Bush Administration."

So said the editors over at Buzzflash for giving James Comey their weekly award for his refreshing candor during his testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. And I can understand how refreshing it must also feel to momentarily alleviate themselves of their partisan bias that results in headlines that always seem to contain the word "Bushevik."


Remembering Shelby

by: Dark Wraith

Writer Chet Scoville has published an article at Vanity Press and has graced Big Brass Blog with the cross-post of it, where I read it, along with the considered comments on the resulting thread. The article, entitled "You Did Not Buy It When You Broke It," discusses the schism among progressives regarding the responsibility of the U.S. to Iraq, given that we, as a nation, brought about the unspeakable catastrophe that is now that once well-organized, sovereign nation.

I have touched before on this matter of responsibility for the future of Iraq, and it strikes me that the problem we face is as deep as any possible within the experience of a nation that has committed wrong. We simply cannot stay; and yet to leave—to wash our collective hands of that destroyed place and leave—speaks worlds about us as a people. I keep hearing a refrain that deeply troubles me; its sub-text is almost of the form, "This wasn't my war," or even, "Bush isn't my President." I recall that the latter was almost verbatim the attack upon me quite awhile back in a comment thread wherein I suggested a profound moral dilemma was at hand. I wanted to respond ferociously, to the extent of demanding to know why, if the United States had strayed so far from sensibilities, people chose to stay here, thereby picking and choosing that for which they could feel comfortable in bearing blame; but then it occurred to me that I needed to deal with myself instead of expending incendiary, probative demands upon others.

Upon introspection, for me and for me alone, it was quite clear: George W. Bush is and has been, despite my abiding revulsion of him and all he represents, my president, as awful as that fact is. The United States of America is my country, and it is that country, the one I decline to depart, that began, prosecuted, and finally lost a pre-emptive war of aggression in Iraq. It is I, through the vessel of the United States armed forces, who did this. It is most decidedly not some "they"; not some "that"; not "some evil people." If my nation has a black, soul-absent place wherefrom lashes out the occasion of unjust war, torture, murder, and even genocide, I must be cautious that I have not seen writ large upon an undeserving world the mirror pool looking into a place within myself I would hate every bit as much as I hate what this country is doing to others.

But that's just me. I would honestly not wish this kind of introspective blame-laying upon another living soul. It's just awful to feel this way.

I shall, then, change the subject, but only from the personal present to a personal past, a permanently troubling memory I want to share.

Years ago, one of my cousins, a man who, like most in my family at the time, had little money, went out to the woods of the old family homestead to hunt for food. In his haste and lack of experience, he accidentally shot someone's big pet dog that was running through a thick stand of pine trees.

The dog was horribly wounded but still alive, suffering wildly. My cousin had no money to pay a vet, and he didn't know to whom it belonged. He was simply mortified by what he had done, and he couldn't stand what he was seeing. He was the kind of country boy who just adored dogs. He wasn't cut out to be a hunter by any means: that bleeding mess he ran up to and stood over just tore him up inside.

He ran away. He got in his truck, and he left.

It was only days later that he told my brother, Dan, about it. Dan and I went to the woods and found the dog. It was dead, of course. It had dragged itself for quite a ways, almost reaching the fence line to the back of the property of the family who'd moved in up the hill the previous Spring. The dog was theirs, as we learned when we went to inquire.

The gentleman of the house went out with us to where their beloved animal had finally closed its eyes and died, and the man asked something to the effect, "What kind of person would just shoot a dog and then leave it to crawl around suffering? Why didn't he do something?"

My brother, something of an unintentionally ironic man, answered, "Looks to me like he did. He up and left."

By then, the owner's daughter had come out and seen what we were standing over. She cried that kind of cry that doesn't make much noise; it sort of comes out like soft, sobbing jerks. Her dad picked up the dog—its name was "Shelby," I think—and cradled it in his arms. His daughter clutched its bloody hind legs as the two of them walked back up the hill to their place.

It was only after the fellow had lifted the dog up that I could tell the round had hit it in the left hind thigh. A bad wound, but the kind that can be fixed, especially on a big healthy dog.

The dog had bled to death.


The Dark Wraith is finished with his story, now.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


He died for nothing, and she turns and walks away

by: spyderkl

There have been some heartbreaking stories in the past month, most of which deal with the war in Iraq, but this is the hardest for me to read. Cindy Sheehan, a grieving mother and anti-war activist, announced yesterday that she would be throwing in the towel and walking away from her anti-war activities.

She has, by her own admission, had a brutal time of it. Her marriage has ended, she has had to endure all manner of character assassination and slander by far lesser humans, and she has had to work through the unthinkable for a parent - burying her child, Casey Sheehan. In my mind, at least, she hung in there longer than anybody else would have. Certainly longer than her cowardly detractors, if the circumstances were reversed.

A couple of days ago, she officially left the Democratic Party over their non-stance on cutting off funds for the Iraq War. Hell, the Democrats couldn't even bring themselves to support a non-binding timetable for leaving Iraq. But I digress. For a lifelong Democrat, it had to have been an equally difficult decision. She made the decision in the spirit of principle, and I admire that.

In her own words:

"Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives."

To know that your child died not only for no real cause, but that the country he died for doesn't really care...Yes, I think the only mystery is not that Cindy Sheehan is done with public anti-war activism, but that she hung in there for so long. I hope that she can regain her health and some semblance of a private life.

· · ·
28 May 2007

Memorial Day Thought

by: Minstrel Boy

This memorial day I am setting aside all thoughts and emotions of politics to remember a very brave, very good young man.

I only knew Timmy for a couple of weeks. In my unit in Viet Nam we had a system where when somebody new came to us we would assign them a "sea daddy" who had been in country a while and would try to head off some of the mistakes a cherry would make in those first few critical days. The new guys were all called "cherry" until they had met one of two criteria. A confirmed kill, or a wound that required leaving the field and then returning. Until that, the name was cherry. Even worse, your name was the name of your sea daddy as "his cherry." My call sign and nickname was "Benny" so Timmy was "Benny's Cherry." To everybody but me. I never called him cherry. There was just something about him that charmed me.

I was a few months into my third tour by that time. The time in country had sort of sneaked up on me. My first tour was due to end right about the time we had started to really turn the tables on the gains the enemy had made in Tet, and quite frankly, I wanted to get some. Revenge, payback, all of that. I didn't want to leave when there was so much ass in the field left to kick. So I shipped over. By the end of my second tour there simply wasn't anywhere else in the world that I felt at home. Some of it was paranoid unhinged, some of it was grandiosity on my part. I felt that my experience, my status as a warrior which allowed me to pull rank on people that had higher pay grades but less field experience was something that I felt I could use to help my guys get home alive. My arrogance in that last year probably cost as many or even more lives than it saved. It is something that I will always wonder about. I was an old salt, a hardened vet and an efficient killer, all at the age of 22. Don't laugh. A 22 year old with almost three years of continuous combat is one of the oldest people you will ever meet.

Timmy was brought in on a supply chopper. I was running through my mental roster thinking who I could assign him with when he started talking to me. He talked about the training he had been through, he talked about his home. He kept talking. He finally paused for a breath and said "You don't talk much do you sir?" I told him I wasn't anybody's "sir" that he could call me "Benny" or anything else. I told him to come with me. We got him situated and I showed him around our little firebase.

Things like that were what was happening the first few days. I found myself both softening and warming to this eager young man. He was trying to head off his own cherry mistakes. When we got our first orders for the field he came to me and asked what he should be packing, if there was a special way it should be packed. Usually a cherry packs everything they have with them and would end up discarding things that might have been appropriate on some later trip because the weight of the excess and the jungle heat would begin to tell on him. I was impressed that Timmy was asking first rather than pretending that he already knew stuff. It showed humility and a desire to perform effectively rather than a desire to look good and impress anyone.

Our first time out in the boonies he did well. As a cherry his instructions were very basic and simple. "Stay close to me. I never want you more than two steps and an arm's reach away. And shut the fuck up." He seemed to grasp some of the more important concepts right away. He saw the hard won wisdom of things like staying off the trails, never walking right out into the open, walking in the filthy water and the muck of a paddy rather than on the dry berm. I was so pleased with his performance that first time out that I gave him permission to speak on the way back. I heard him talking with some of the team who were teasing him about being "Benny's cherry." They were filling him in on how some of them hadn't heard me say six words in a row for months at a time. Barney told him that he must be doing alright because "Benny's letting you live. That's something. He doesn't like anybody. Not even himself."

The night before our next turn in the boonies Timmy was able to use one of the senior NCO's Ham Radio gear to phone his mother back in New Orleans. I walked into the ComShack near the tail end of his call. He insisted that I talk to his mother. I assured her that her son was learning fast and that I was personally taking an interest in seeing that he was able to come home safely.

The next morning we were on a very standard patrol. We were going to make contact with some villagers who were friendly to us that had reported some NVA activity in our area.

Timmy was following all the rules I had taught him. He wasn't on the trails, he was walking carefully through the heavier brush. He stepped on a mine anyway. We all froze and began to carefully crawl to where he was. One leg was completely blown off and he was bleeding badly. I called to him to lie still. He didn't. He was screaming in pain and fear and he was trying frantically to locate his lower leg. He triggered another mine, this time with his torso. That killed him.

We carefully worked our way to his body without setting off any other mines. By that time a chopper with a medical team had landed nearby. All we were able to do was to get his entire body collected. The chopper team guys came and started to put Timmy into a body bag. I told them to stop. They looked at me in annoyance. That was as far as they went with their expression. I guess the look on my face suggested to them that silence was the safest course of action.

I put him into the bag myself. Slowly. Gently. Then, before transferring his torso to the bag, I took my canteen and a scrap of Timmy's field blouse. I washed his face and put his cap on. Then I handed his dog tags to the chopper crew. I told them "Thank you for that moment. Carry on."

I wrote to Timmy's family to tell them how sorry I was that their son had been killed. Later, once I was out and back in the world I stopped in to meet them and invite them to a show that I was playing there.

For a couple of weeks, in a brutal war zone, the presence of one young man made an impact on me that I doubt I have been able to describe. Just by being young and clean he drew me out of a very thick, hard shell that I had formed. By being an innocent he reminded me that there was still some innocence left in the world.

This memorial day I am not celebrating, I don't barbeque and carouse. I remember the kids like Timmy. I'll probably be on the phone with a couple of the guys I served with. We'll lie to each other and say how great things are. At least we know that we're lying. We don't buy our own bullshit anymore. We're all too old for that.

harp and sword

A Rich Tradition

by: Jurassicpork

(Crossposted at Welcome to Pottersville.)
To recap: On Memorial Day, May 28, 2007, George W. Bush said that soldiers dying in foreign wars was “a rich tradition” (like throwing out the first pitch, say, on Opening Day or the groom removing his bride's garter) and that going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan was part of our nation’s destiny. At the Tomb of the Unknowns, Bush also seemed to take to heart 174 Marines who supposedly asked to have their enlistments extended and that it seemed to validate for him the stop-lossing of already weary troops who are getting killed in record numbers because they are exhausted and burnt-out.


Memorial Day 2007

by: Dark Wraith

Click here to go to the YouTube page for this video.

Click here for the WMV version for this video (5.13 Mb, 1:20).

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums



by: Foiled Goil

Bivouac Of The Dead

By Theodore O'Hara

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on Life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents to spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe's advance
Now swells upon the wind;
Nor troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow's strife
The warrior's dreams alarms;
No braying horn or screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shriveled swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed,
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms, by battle gashed
Are free from anguish now.
Thus 'neath their parent turf they rest,
Far from the gory field,
Borne to a Spartan mother's breast
On many a bloody shield;
The sunshine of their native sky
Smiles sadly on them here,
And kindred eyes and hearts watch by
The heroes sepulcher.

Rest on embalmed and sainted dead!
Dear as the blood ye gave;
No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave;
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While Fame her record keeps,
For honor points the hallowed spot
Where valor proudly sleeps.

Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone
In deathless song shall tell,
When many a vanquished ago has flown,
The story how ye fell;
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight,
Nor time's remorseless doom,
Can dim one ray of glory's light
That gilds your deathless tomb.

· ·
27 May 2007

Blame The Victim

by: Debra

It's official. Whenever possible the strategy is to blame the victim and then deny all responsibility for causing the mayhem in the first place. Whether it's the new spate of rape cases that are being dismissed for "lack of evidence" despite witnesses, or those people who were too poor or didn't have the means to leave New Orleans so they deserved to be treated less than animals (America's heart and help went out to the abandoned pets) or to the Iraqis who can't live safely in their own country and "allowed" the sectarian violence to mushroom out of control instead of taking control of their own county, the solution is to blame the victim. According to the administration and the neocons view of the world, they have done everything right so therefore it isn't the plan that's the problem, it's the people who don't react as the crew without a clue envisioned. Or as Frank Rich (behind the paywall) points out with this quote from one of the architects of the Iraq debacle.
How we feel about these Iraqis was made naked by one of the administration’s most fervent hawks, the former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, speaking to The Times Magazine this month. He claimed that the Iraqi refugee problem had “absolutely nothing to do” with Saddam’s overthrow: “Our obligation was to give them new institutions and provide security. We have fulfilled that obligation. I don’t think we have an obligation to compensate for the hardships of war.”
That was more than obvious after the Walter Reed scandal hit the news and was replaced with the current blond bimbo story.

Nobody could have foreseen; stuff happens; mission accomplished; purple fingers, etc. What a crock! Of course it was foreseen that the country would deteriorate into sectarian violence, just not by anyone that mattered to the delusional idiot controlling knowledge. Heretofore to be referred to as Dick, for short. How fortuitous, there's already somebody by that name who calls the shots, at least when he isn't busy shooting friends in the face.

Stuff happens all the time and if it happens to the crew without a clue or something they consider valuable, we will get martial law sooner rather than later. Mission accomplished? Why yes it was. That is if your mission was to destroy the military, hamstring the National Guard, devastate the Reserves and set most of the world against us. Purple fingers? Oh yeah, but now it's the middle one, pointed straight up and covered with the blood of their children.

The crew without a clue has actively destroyed a sovereign nation, passively destroyed a domestic city and are heck bent on restricting the rights and freedoms of Americans in the name of "security". But that doesn't matter because Lindsay Lohan is in trouble with the law!


26 May 2007

Monica, Monica, Monica

by: Foiled Goil

Goodling Says Dep. Attorney General 'Incomplete or Inaccurate' in Regard to 'Vote Caging' Allegations About Karl Rove Aide

Says DAG Paul McNulty Withheld Knowledge of Tim Griffin's Involvement in Challenging Minority Voter Registration in 2004

By Brad Friedman

[Note: see comments re: McNulty's response to Goodling's testimony.]
From Monica Goodling's opening statement to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee...

"Despite my and others' best efforts, [Deputy Attorney General, Paul] McNulty's public testimony was incomplete or inaccurate in a number of respects. As explained in more detail in my written remarks, I believe that the Deputy was not fully candid about his knowledge of White House involvement in the replacement decision, failed to disclose that he had some knowledge of the White House's interest in selecting Tim Griffin as Interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, inaccurately described the Department's internal assessment of the Parsky Commission, and failed to disclose that he had some knowledge of allegations that Tim Griffin had been involved in vote "caging" during his work on the President's 2004 campaign."

For the record, it's the practice of sending registered mail to minority voters, asking for a reply, and if one doesn't come back, the voter's right to vote is challenged either at the polls, or attempts are made to remove them from the voter rolls --- usually without their knowledge. Allegations have been made that this was done, based on race, in 2004, when registered letters were sent to the home addresses of African-Americans in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere. Most insidiously, letters were said to have been sent to U.S. troops who were away, serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, and thus did not (and could not) answer the registered mail. Their registrations were then reportedly challenged.

The RNC agreed to cease the practice in a 1986 consent decree in a court case brought after they had "tried to have 31,000 voters, most of them black, removed from the rolls in Louisiana when a party mailer was returned, " according to the Washington Post.
More on Vote Caging Lists at Wikipedia.

The key details follow below...
The list appears to have come to light because of what appear to be e-mails accidentally addressed by Republican campaigners to the anti-Bush site instead of the Bush campaign site. The e-mails had the subject line "Re: Caging" and contained Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file attachments called "Caging.xls" and "Caging-1.xls".

Illegally Blonde: Poor, Poor Monica Goodling

By Rebecca Abrahams
Poor Monica Goodling. Poor, poor Monica. Oh, the indignity of it all --- having to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and all. With Immunity.

She may have violated laws but she didn't mean to. I guess it's all better now. And clearly Committee members agreed --- practically falling all over her with apologies for having been brought forth to testify. Goodling, the former Department of Justice's liaison to the White House and senior counselor to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was granted immunity from prosecution during testimony regarding the White House's role in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. And while she was the liaison to the White House, Goodling asserted that she did not "hold the keys to the kingdom" as some have suggested.

The first three hours of testimony shed little light on the plan to remove the USA's. Although Goodling did say she believed Deputy Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson and Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty had delivered inaccurate testimony before Congress. In particular, Goodling said, McNulty had not been forthcoming about newly appointed Arkansas US Attorney Tim Griffin's use of vote caging lists.

Palast Exclusive: The Goods on Goodling and the Keys to the Kingdom

And The No Longer 'Missing' Rove Emails Revealing the Cagey Scheme to Steal 2008

By Greg Palast
This Monica revealed something hotter --- much hotter --- than a stained blue dress.
Goodling testified that Gonzales' Chief of Staff, Kyle Sampson, perjured himself, lying to the committee in earlier testimony. The lie: Sampson denied Monica had told him about Tim Griffin's "involvement in 'caging' voters" in 2004.

Huh?? Tim Griffin? "Caging"???

The perplexed committee members hadn't a clue --- and asked no substantive questions about it thereafter. Karl Rove is still smiling. If the members had gotten the clue, and asked the right questions, they would have found "the keys to the kingdom," they thought they were looking for. They dangled right in front of their perplexed faces.

The keys: the missing emails --- and missing link --- that could send Griffin and his boss, Rove, to the slammer for a long, long time.

Kingdom enough for ya?

But what's 'caging' and why is it such a dreadful secret that lawyer Sampson put his license to practice and his freedom on the line to cover Tim Griffin's involvement in it? Because it's a felony. And a big one.

Here's how caging worked, and along with Griffin's thoughtful emails themselves you'll understand it all in no time.

The Bush-Cheney operatives sent hundreds of thousands of letters marked "Do not forward" to voters' homes. Letters returned ("caged") were used as evidence to block these voters' right to cast a ballot on grounds they were registered at phony addresses. Who were the evil fakers? Homeless men, students on vacation and --- you got to love this --- American soldiers. Oh yeah: most of them are Black voters.
How do I know? I have the caging lists...

I have them because they are attached to the emails Rove insists can't be found. I have the emails. 500 of them --- sent to our team at BBC after the Rove-bots accidentally sent them to a web domain owned by our friend John Wooden.
Index. * .xls. * 1.xls. * Spread sheets. * 2004 strategy. * Media list.
The committee was perplexed about Monica's panicked admission and accusations about the caging list because the US press never covered it. That's because, as Griffin wrote to Goodling in yet another email (dated February 6 of this year, and also posted below), their caging operation only made the news on BBC London: busted open, Griffin bitched, by that "British reporter," Greg Palast.

There's no pride in this. Our BBC team broke the story at the top of the nightly news everywhere on the planet --- except the USA --- only because America's news networks simply refused to cover this evidence of the electoral coup d'etat that chose our President in 2004.

And now, not bothering to understand the astonishing revelation in Goodling's confessional, they are missing the real story behind the firing of the US attorneys. It's not about removing prosecutors disloyal to Bush, it's about replacing those who refused to aid the theft of the vote in 2004 with those prepared to burgle it again in 2008.

Now that they have the keys, let's see if they can put them in the right door.

· · · · ·

Continuum of War

by: Dark Wraith

The American-Iraqi War will now continue

This graphic may be reposted with attribute (with smaller, 325x229, graphic available here.)

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · ·

Democrats: The Color Portrait

by: Dark Wraith

Democrats against War

This graphic may be reposted with attribute (with smaller, 325x313, graphic available here.)

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · ·
25 May 2007

Less Is More

by: Konagod

At our agency this week we had a big client coming in for our final pitch to lure their business. It's a big client. I won't say who, but they make lawn mowers. I own one and it's a piece of shit.

We got this email encouraging everyone to comb their hair and brush their teeth. Translation: dress up a bit.

So, we're wondering why do so many women come to work wearing LESS clothing than they normally do?

Are they thinking the executives of this company are males and are likely to be seduced by the voluptuous beauty of these scantily clad females?

Inquiring minds want to know. Now. Because had I known the truth, I might have just worn my usual pair of shorts in case one of those executives was gay and happened to like my scarred and chigger-bitten hairy legs.

You never know what might clinch a deal.

Commander Dictator Guy

by: Foiled Goil

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
--George W. Bush
In a White House document released on May 9 entitled "National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51" and "Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20" George W. Bush gives himself the responsibility "for ensuring constitutional government" and entrusts himself with leading the entire federal government, not just the Executive Branch in responding to a catastrophic emergency.

This document defines a "catastrophic emergency" as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function."

A catastrophic emergency would include "localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies."

"This directive shall be implanted in a manner that is consistent with, and facilitates effective implementation of, provisions of the Constitution concerning succession to the Presidency or the exercise of its powers, and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (3 USC 19), with the consultation of the Vice President and, as appropriate, others involved."

This, in effect, makes the President a dictator.
"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."
--George Orwell

· ·
24 May 2007

I'm Apprehensive About the Next President

by: Konagod

Because after 8 long years of W, our next President could be the 2nd worst President of all time, especially if he or she is a distant 2nd, and we might still believe we have great leadership.

Imagine what we'd think if we had a really great President. Just imagine.

23 May 2007

The Hidden Cost of Immunity Deals

by: Dark Wraith

Susan RalstonNow that the Congress has given former Justice Department official Monica Goodling—the youthful Christian Dominionist graduate of Regent University and architect of the U.S. Attorney firings—immunity to induce her testimony, Karl Rove's former aide, Susan Ralston, is demanding the same immunity deal.

Congressional Democrats are quickly going to learn that coddling low-level criminals with grants of immunity from prosecution is a slippery slope, where potential indictees at progressively higher levels smell prosecutorial weakness and desperation, playing it to their advantage.

The Congressmen handing out immunity deals might not understand how it works quite yet, but maybe at least a few of them will when they're voting on immunity to get George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to testify at their own impeachment trials.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · ·
22 May 2007

There is Something Terribly Fucked With This Country, Isn’t There?

by: Jurassicpork

I’m speaking of the dreaded 27%. Yes, again.

Virtually every major religious sect has its own rabidly slavering, slobbering watchdogs who growl and snap at anyone who even looks as if they might encroach on their territory and endanger their masters. Judaism has Marty Peretz, for instance. The Nation of Islam has Osama bin Laden and scores of second bananas within al Qaida. Protestantism had Jerry Falwell and still have James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins and Fred Phelps.

And then the Catholics have Wild Bill Donohue, whom the United States and the world in general need about as much as Bob Marley needed another cancer.


Bushie Cheat Sheet

by: Foiled Goil

Bushies Behaving Badly

Quickie Cheat Sheet: A guide to GOP scandals.
• Paul Wolfowitz in the World Bank With Nepotism

• Federal Employees in the Department of Education With Corporate Ties

• Bushies in the Election Assistance Commission With Fraud

• Partisan Hacks in the Press With Bought Agendas

• Bernard Kerik in the Department of Homeland Security With the Nanny … and the Publisher … and the Mob …

• Karl Rove in the White House With the Delete Key

• Lester Crawford in the Food and Drug Administration With Tainted Stocks

• Bushies in NASA With the Weird Science

• The GOP Leadership in Congress With Dirty Money

• Bored Soldiers in Iraq With the Cameras

• Eavesdroppers at the National Security Agency With the Wiretaps

• Bureaucrats at Walter Reed With Cockroaches

• Jack Abramoff on K Street With the Wallet

• Steven Griles in the Department of the Interior With the "Special Relationship"

• Scooter Libby in the White House With the Faulty Memory

• Alberto Gonzales in the Justice Department With the Pink Slips

• John Doolittle in Congress With the Campaign Donations

• Mark Foley in Congress With the Instant Messages

• Halliburton in Iraq With the Defense Contracts

• Tom DeLay in Congress With the Corporate Funds

• Randall Tobias in the Massage Parlor With Scented Oils

• Rick Renzi in Congress With the Land Deal

• Duke Cunningham in Congress With the Candlestick

• Dusty Foggo in the CIA With the Bribes
Details and Links at Slate

· ·

Superstition Ride - - - Day 2 (Night talk)

by: Minstrel Boy

I go to take care of the horse Silas rode, he's got it saddled with a beautiful, big comfy western rig. He's using a braided horsehair bosal. There are a couple water bags hanging off of the horn, and a set of saddlebags and a bedroll tie off. I know this horse. It's one that I gave to my cousin about ten years ago which makes her about fourteen. I bred her myself, trained her myself. Her name is Ban-Fai which in Thai means "Fire Horse." Because she born on Thai New Year in the year of the fire horse while I was dating a waitress at a very cool Thai joint in Palm Springs. I think to myself that it's probably my cousin's saddle too. It does answer the question about how Silas knew I was up here right now. My cousin is a blabbermouth.

I bring his gear back to the firepit where Silas is slowly savoring a jar of canned peaches, eating the slices and drinking the juice. He has my coffee cup right beside him freshly filled. He says "I bet you got a can of Eagle Brand in that whole house you pack with you when you ride. I love Eagle Brand in camp coffee."

I say "That's Blue Mountain coffee. You want to dump Eagle Brand into it you might as well use some instant." He just gives me a look that says we can play pissant respect and manners games, or we can get along, kid. I rummage around and pull out a can of Eagle Brand that I don't even remember packing. Maybe it's there from my last trip, that shit lasts forever. Archeologists will find that stuff right next to the Twinkies and Big Macs. I open the can and pass it to him. He dumps a slug of that sludge into the coffee and drinks deeply. "That Blue Mountain is pretty good stuff." I say "I'm glad you like it." He gives me an approving glance and says "Your cousin says you have been pretty fucked up for a while now I thought I'd come see for myself." I start to tell him about what's been going on with me and he stops me. He says "We have plenty of time for that. Let's just have some coffee and relax ourselves." I said "That's my cousin's horse you rode up here, nice saddle too." Silas says "It's your cousin's truck I drove to the trailhead on. He couldn't take time off to come with me so I traded him trucks. He said it would be fun to drive my old pickup down to the Tribal Government Building. A truck like mine makes him feel like a real Indin." (Silas has a very old early 50's chevy truck, there's maybe a square inch total of the original black paint job left on it, the rest is rust) We laugh at the idea of my cousin, the brilliant attorney, driving a real "Indin Car" in to see the Lord High Muck-de-mucks of the Tribal Government and council. Silas says "I just took the saddle from his barn when I got the horse. I figured he wouldn't be mean enough to loan me a horse, trade me a truck and trailer and leave me to ride bareback." I ask "Did you get him to pack the saddlebags too?" Silas says "No, I had Maggie's granddaughter do that for me. I told them I didn't need much because I know you like to have all kinds of stuff with you. Let's have a smoke."

Silas gets his pipe in its leather bag from his saddlebags. He pulls out his pouch and begins to fill the pipe. There are some folks who go through a whole rigamarole ceremony when they are filling a pipe. Silas is saying very quiet little words to himself. He sees me watching him and says "There's nothing in this pipe that would cause you any trouble with your sobriety. I know how much that means to you. It means a lot to me too. I missed you while you were gone. This is just some wild tobacco and some mint leaves." I say thank you for that but add that I have been feeling bad enough lately that I would do what ever he thinks I need to so that I can start feeling better. He says "Coming up here tells me that." and lights the pipe with a twig from the fire. He takes a puff and washes the smoke over his head with the palm of his right hand when he exhales. "The mint leaves make it taste real good, have some grandson." (this is a term of endearment, when we call people older than us grandfather and they call us grandchildren it conveys affection, respect and deep connection, it isn't used lightly, even with blood grandchildren) When we pass a pipe from one to the other we always make sure to use two hands and look squarely into each others eyes. When I have both hands on the pipe and our eyes meet he winks at me and says "You'll be alright, you were always a tough kid. You just need me to remind you about that from time to time." I take a smoke and say "You're right, these mint leaves really help tame down that wild tobacco." We sit and smoke for a while. The stars up here away from the city lights are amazing. I hear bullfrogs starting to hum in the pond. I say "Sounds like they are saying breakfast, make me for breakfast." Silas says "I was thinking that we would do Tachih Nádáh tomorrow. There's an old brick kiln not far from here that works just fine for a good sweat." I tell him that it sounds like a wonderful idea. It also takes care of the whole breakfast issue. Although if there's a lot of work involved with getting the place ready, I might nibble here and there to keep up my strength.

As we sit and smoke there are long periods of silence. That's an Apache thing. We have never been known much as talkers. The language is one where single words can take paragraphs of English to do an adequate translation. Silas alternates our subjects between the smallest of small talk and nudging around the big subjects. Like a dentist with a hook, looking for where the exposed nerves are. I ask him how my cousin is doing. Other than blabbing about how fucked up he thinks I've been and telling the world where I was headed.

Silas says "Your cousin is the best friend you have. He loves you and your children more than he loves himself. He's dancing this year. He wants you to be there." (the dance Silas is refering to is a ceremony that is not open to discussion outside the community I am sorry for this but rules is rules)

I say that I will certainly be there with my cousin. I ask how much preparation he thinks it will take to get ready to sweat tommorrow.

Silas says "The place is fine, we're the ones who need work."

I offer to make more coffee. With Eagle Brand.

harp and sword

Politics, War, and a Note on the Linguistics of Cowardice

by: Dark Wraith

As Vice President Dick Cheney so presciently predicted more than a month ago, Democrats are about to cave in to the Bush Administration on conditions for continued funding of the American-Iraqi War. At the national level, congressional Democrats have demonstrated not only an increasingly obvious ability to present themselves as an opposition party without genuinely aggressive legislative action to that effect, but have even gone so far as to engage in an internal campaign to stop calls at the state and local level for impeachment of the President and Vice President.

What may be a broadening disgust at the Democrats elected to Congress just last November could be expressed in any number of ways. Below is an edited and augmented version of my comment—in effect, mirroring the trifling attitude of the Democrats, themselves—made yesterday, May 21, 2007, on a thread from an article at BlondeSense.

When I was a child, we had a particular word we used for a coward:


The more the insulter jutted his face forward, and the longer the vowel sound was held, the deeper the sentiment attached and the more important it was to the speaker that the person being so insulted grasp the depth of disgust being thusly conveyed.

Yes, Democrats in Congress, this is not merely the typical invective that could be mistaken for some ritualistic, friendly challenge two youngsters might exchange in times of sportsmanlike gamesmanship; this is, instead, the "Wuuuuuuus" of utter disdain for you, the summary declaration of the thoroughly decayed state of your willpower.

You cannot muster the courage to stop a war that was begun with wholesale lies, has been prosecuted with rampant incompetence, and is being held together at increasing peril to the very capacity of our armed forces to deal with genuine threats to our security. With that lack of moral fortitude on the table like a glaring neon sign advertising the pre-vertebrate nature of your calamari-only sushi bar and faux-progressive dinner theatre, it is all too clear that you will never muster the strength of heart to impeach either President George W. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney. More damning of your stewardship of the Legislative Branch is that the certainty of this inaction comes not because you fear a backlash either from the American electorate or even from our men and women in arms; rather, it comes from the fact that you Democrats are afraid of Messrs. Bush and Cheney. You fear them. You really do. Hence, without any intent to humor or good-natured jabbing, I reduce you—in fact, I disparage you—with the time-honored charge, bawled loudly so all can hear:


That's right; you heard me:


Given that the nationally elected Democrats have chosen by their fear of this President to marginalize themselves, I should probably set forth for readers a few thoughts on the word that so captures their essence; and I do so with the stated intention of further marginalizing—indeed, trivializing—them. Instead of wasting space defending my use of the term "wuss" to denigrate them, I shall extend to readers here a few thoughts on the etymology of the word, itself, returning briefly at the end of this article to conjoin word meaning, usage, and valence in the context of simpering Democrats who merit far less than the exposition on linguistics with which I herewith proceed.

I was always under the impression that "wuss" was a reduced determinative compounding of the words "wimp" and "puss." The former word, on its own, does not carry a sufficiently high degree of acrimony, being more of a mildly harsh, descriptive noun, while the latter word carries too much potential for interpretation as obscenity. As is typical of young people throughout the ages in their use of strong language, I was under the impression that the obscene definition of "puss" was invented in my own generation. I was disabused of that by watching the 1970s British comedy Are You Being Served, in which double-entendres involving the word "pussy" were a staple always good for a laugh. Thus was I informed that people far older than I had facility in the vulgar use of the word "puss" and its derivatives.

However, returning to the matter of the wusses in Congress, we must address the matter of plurality. Many are the congressional Democrats who have yet to find anything even remotely akin to the testicular structural formalism so greatly valued in Western literature and, indeed, cinematic entertainment. The obvious question, then, is such: What, exactly, is the plural of "wuss"? Above, you will note that I used "wusses" to describe a multiplicity of them; but should we not consider the possibility that, if the Romans understood—perhaps even pressed into service—this derogatory term, would they not have used the appropriate Latin convention—in the present matter, "wi"—to describe the many, each of whom was individually a "wuss"? It is certainly the case that second-declension Latin nouns ending in -us have as their plurals the replacement of the -us with -i.

One wuss, many wi.

"Ah-hah!" the reader must be thinking, "this cannot possibly be correct since there is an extra -s on the end of "wuss," so the plural would not be formed by dropping the -s and adding -i to form the correct pluralization."

I would respond that the incidence of that second -s might be merely an artifact of the word having been carried to modern form from "puss," which was possibly spelled "pus," but pronounced differently from the oozy yellow stuff that comes out of infected wounds. In Modern English, as was the case in its older forms, Old English and Middle English, when two words look or sound too much alike, speakers and writers will have a tendency to force spelling and (especially) sonic differences upon them. Old English speakers adopted the Norse word "egg" because their own word sounded too much like other words having completely different meanings. A great modern example of this can be found in the words "boy" and "buoy": people will go to all sorts of oral gyrations to make the latter word sound quite different from the former, even though they really needn't.

In the present case, the extra -s on "puss" is quite possibly artifactual; hence, "wuss" is really just a modern spelling of "wus," so the totality of the spineless Democrats in Congress, moving as they would in herd-like formation (lest they be picked off at the flanks by predatory Right-wing talk-show hosts) merit the drive-by insult as such:


Unfortunately, those same Democrats would probably figure that the person conveying said invective was nothing but a gamer promoting the latest revolution in online entertainment. That assumes, of course, that legislative types, be they of any political stripe, have some minimal grasp of the Information Age, an assumption probably far too generous given their insularity and their almost uniform training as lawyers rather than as productive citizens.

It's a complicated world, made even more so by the intersection of post-modern politics and the linguistics of the spoken word forever in transition from older to more modern form and modalities of communication. In the breach, however, we must retain hope, not so much that the congressional Democrats will ever be anything other than cowards, but that we, ourselves, in our continuing efforts to speak truth to power, may understand the linguistic underpinnings of the insults we issue forth to those spineless men and women who fear a miserable cabal led by a mendacious President. It is, then, to the end of both catharsis and informative narrative that I once again—and this time with exclamatory release—say to each of the Democrats in Congress:


The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · ·
21 May 2007

Do What I Say, Not Whom I Do.

by: Jurassicpork


What do you get when you pour 800 pounds of semi-congealed bacon grease into an all-you-can-eat buffet muu-muu, mixing in a generous dollop of pedophilia and right-proper Christian hypocrisy? Former South Dakota Republican State Rep. Ted Klaudt, that's what.

Howie Klein, Digby, Tristero, DKos' and MLW's thereisnospoon and Crooks and Liars have already weighed in on this super heavyweight wad o' fuck but that's the beauty of the blogosphere, ain't it? Being able to pile on to make sure the message gets out?

Last Friday, Ted Klaudt, former Republican lawmaker and evangelical Holier Than Thou holy roller, was arrested and charged with "eight counts of rape, two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, two counts of witness tampering, sexual contact with a person under 16, and stalking."


Too Much Text, Too Little Color

by: Konagod

At the risk of invoking the ire of one Miss Adventure, I present you with today's Monday Garden Blog. And this is a Big Brass Blog Exclusive. (OK, the photo is on my blog, but this post is being customized for this particular blog. Don't question my intent!)

Photo credit: txrad. He insists.

A robust tomato harvest is on the way. I predict.

· ·

Global Warming: 26 Myths Examined

by: spyderkl

I started to write "26 Myths Shattered", but I think I'll leave it up to the reader as to whether or not that's true.

The New Scientist has a roundup of their series examining 26 myths about global warming and global climactic change. Each story is interesting, and each one has lots of links supporting their conclusions.

A couple of those relate directly to some arguments intense conversations we've had with my dad about all this. He believes it's all part of a warming/cooling cycle, and we're only at the beginning of the warming cycle. While I suspect that's partially true, I think that human behavior is accelerating this cycle. A lot. There are one or two (links to .pdf files) scientists who agree.

Take a look at the New Scientist series and draw your own conclusions. Either way, it's interesting reading. Thanks to AMERICAblog for the link. Wolfrum at Shakesville also wrote about this story today.

· ·

VIDEO & NEWS: Iraq war shipments from Port of Oakland stopped

by: astraea

Spread the word.

United for Peace of Pierce County, WA

From: Mark Jensen

[A coalition of antiwar, labor, and community groups succeeded in
stopping the loading of war supplies on Saturday by picketing the
Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) at the Port of Oakland; a picket
was also called against American President Lines (APL). -- A Bay
Area TV (CBS 5-San Francisco) station reported on the developments
Saturday evening at 11:19 a 2:27 clip.[1] -- Other than that
TV report, no mainstream media source appears to have reported the
story. -- Several accounts have been posted on Indybay. -- Jeff
Paterson reported on the shutdown of the port for Indybay, which was
achieved by "the Port Action Committee, an ad hoc grouping of
anti-war, labor, and community organizations."[2] -- Twelve of his
photographs accompany his report. -- Indybay also posted the text of
a letter of support, dated Friday, that Port Action had received from
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums.[3] -- An account from the
Internationalist Group claimed that "The dock workers' action shows
the depth of anger against the war in the U.S. working class and the
real possibility of labor action against the war."[4] --Mark]



May 19, 2007


East Bay


By Jeff Paterson

May 20, 2007

OAKLAND, California -- For the second time today, Longshoremen honored
an anti-war community picket line at the SSA Terminal in the Port of
Oakland. Three ships sat at the SSA docks, and cargo did not move.

Organizers accuse American President Lines (APL) and Stevedoring
Services of America (SSA), which are both served by Eagle Marine
Services, with war profiteering. Eagle Marine Services has a contract
to run the Concord Naval Weapons Station which brings in $975 million
annually. Organizers also claim that the Port does $33 billion in
business a year, yet contributes nothing to local schools and social

Picket line organizer Jonathan Nack explained, "It's very important to
understand that the union members knew they were risking losing their
pay. Yet member after member told me that there is no way they that
they would cross the picket line. These workers took a stand to end
the war, and demand the Port give more money to fund local schools and
social services. One worker told me, "We have to stop this war. My
family has children in the Oakland schools. If they think I'll cross
this picket line they're crazy.""

The picket was called by the Port Action Committee, an ad hoc grouping
of anti-war, labor, and community organizations. Port Action
organized a rally on Apr. 7 in front of the Port office building which
commemorated the four year anniversary of the day Oakland police
attacked non-violent anti-war protesters at the Port. (Oakland Tribune
article )



May 18, 2007

--There will be a community picket line to shut down War Profiteers in
the Port of Oakland on Saturday, May 19th at 7 a.m. Themes and issues
of the picketing include: Stop shipping war materiel. Port money for
schools & social services. Bring the troops home now, and give them
the healthcare they need. Below is Oakland Mayor Dellums's letter of
support to Port Action, the ad hoc group which is organizing the



Office of the Mayor (510) 238-3141
Ronald V. Dellums FAX: (510) 238-4731
Mayor TDD: (510) 839-6451

May 18, 2007

Dear Members of the Port Action Coalition:

It has been my long held view that peace is a superior idea. It has
further been my view that for the most part the problems of the world
do not lend themselves to a military solution. The problems of the
world are political, economic, and social in nature and must
ultimately be solved in that context. That said, prior to the
decision to go to war in Iraq, I took the position that to do so would
be counterintuitive, counterproductive, unnecessary, dangerous, and
unpredictable. I believe that that view has been borne out by the
history of this war; therefore it is my honor to join with you in
calling for an end to this war that has caused great suffering and
death to Iraqi people and men and women of our armed forces. Further,
it has caused us precious economic resources that could better be used
in enhancing the quality of human life in this country and around the
world. I believe that history will record that this war was the
greatest foreign policy blunder in the history of America and the
sooner we end it the better.


Ronald V. Dellums


By 'The Internationalist'

May 19, 2007

Yesterday, May 19, in Oakland, California dock workers of the
International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 refused to
cross picket lines outside a notorious war cargo shipping firm,
Stevedoring Services of America (SSA), leaving three ships idle for
consecutive shifts. The picket was also called against American
President Lines (APL), which along with SSA handles war matériel from
the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

When scores of picketers blocked the gates at the SSA terminal
beginning at 7 a.m., the company eventually gave up and called off the
shift. In the evening, an arbitrator ruled that this was not a bona
fide "health and safety issue" and ordered the workers to go to work.
However, the dock workers collectively refused. A black longshoreman
insisted that there was indeed a safety issue because of the heavy
police presence, and everyone there remembered how on 7 April 2003,
shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq began, police shot pointblank
at protesters and longshoremen at the same docks, injuring six ILWU

Yesterday's picket line was called by a "popular front" coalition of
antiwar groups, the Port Action Committee, rather than a labor group.
PAC includes the Oakland Green Party and the pro-Democratic Party
United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ). In addition, Oakland's
Democratic mayor Ron Dellums sent a sympathetic letter to the PAC.
But the Oakland Education Association, which is part of the Action
Committee, declared it was holding an official union picket (not a
bogus "informational picket line"). Union picket signs declared "OEA
Says Honor the Picket Lines." And ILWU longshoremen did.


Bible in Blue

by: Dark Wraith

Liz at BlondeSense has distracted me from what this weekend was supposed to be the preparation of a post on the candidates for the presidency in 2008. It's just as well: I was trying to figure out something very important, and I was getting nowhere.

Fortunately, Liz came to the rescue with the now-famous BlondeSense Friday Sex Post, a regularly scheduled event that seems quite popular over there. It's not like your host here at The Dark Wraith Forums would, for his own part, ever find anything concerning sex worthy of topical interest, not with the intellectual crowd that hangs out around here, and certainly not with the host's own utter disinterest in all things of that salacious kind. However, from a purely historical and religious perspective—my interest in both history and upright religiosity being well known—Liz's "Friday Sex Post: The Bible" caught my attention. As Liz points out from recent news:
Hong Kong residents have called the decency of the bible into question due to its sexual and violent content and would like it to be classified as "indecent"...

Indeed the bible is a sexy and violent book...
Now, call me finicky, but I just can't get particularly worked up about guys with giant beards getting it on with girls or guys or select livestock or any reasonably high-quality commercial device, motorized or otherwise (probably otherwise, given the antiquity of most biblical stories). However, the Holy Bible does offer an extraordinary variety of sex-related stories, vignettes, and allusions. One of the better glosses of Bible sex on the Internet can be found at X-Rated Bible verses. In my continuing efforts to deliver informative online content (and with no small degree of contrite apology for what follows), I herewith offer an improved version of content from several sites, including X-Rated Bible verses: several citations at the aforementioned Website are incorrect, and in some cases the references being made are specific to the King James Version of the Holy Bible. In what follows, I offer a link for every passage, usually electing the more modern New International Version. However, in some cases, I link instead to the King James Version because both the translation is truer to original writers' intended meanings and the way of conveying the point being made is blunter. Below each passage, I offer a brief comment of my own. All citation links are to the marvelous Website,, which offers a number of versions of the Bible in more than a few modern languages. It's my favorite Bible site, although they might prefer I leave them alone after they see this post.

Anyway, brace yourselves; the juicy parts of the Good Book are now open for review.

Genesis 17:9-14 | God mandates circumcision for all eight-day-old males.
•• HEL-lo! This book is already starting off way too damned butch for my literary tastes. ••

Genesis 19:1-8 | The holy guy invites a gang to rape his two virgin daughters instead of the two male angels who are his house guests.
•• No way, man! Those angel guys use the professional skin-care products. ••

Genesis 19:30-38 | Righteous man impregnates his two daughters while drunk.
•• S-s-s-sluts! That poor guy was probably totally messed up when he got sober and realized what had been done to his soggy old man-parts. ••

Genesis 24:2-3, 9 | Place your hand "under the thigh" of someone when swearing sacred oaths.
•• That'll get those 'sacred oaths' a-flowin'! ••

Genesis 25:1-6 | Keeping mistresses is not adultery.
•• Maybe not, but it might be suicide when your wife finds out, Sparky. ••

Genesis 32:25 | God shrivels Jacob's ass-half right in the tender part.
•• FOUL! I don't care if football hadn't been invented yet; that's still a foul, man! ••

Genesis 34:1-31 | Genocide as revenge for the rape of a sister, swapping daughters like cattle, and a whole lot of pillaging; but no sex for the guy who isn't circumcised.
•• Cripe, this could be some Hollywood script. ••

Genesis 35:22 | Reuben, the son of Jacob, humps dad's concubine, Bilhah.
•• BAD Reuben... BAAAAD Reuben! And why the Hell is that woman making you lunch, now?! ••

Genesis 38:1-10 | Onan's method of birth control met with disapproval from God, so God killed him.
•• Well, yeah, 'specially 'cuz the boy told his wife it was body lotion. ••

Genesis 38:12-30 | Tamar pretends she's a shrine prostitute to seduce her former father-in-law: he offers her a goat, but she'd rather have the staff.
•• Dang! but there's an Emmy award in there for the girl, by crackie. ••

Genesis 39:1-23 | The wife of the master wants to ride the "handsome and well-built" but trustworthy slave, he turns her down over and over again, so she says he tried to rape her, yada-yada-yada.
•• This story is so lame it wouldn't even make it onto the Jerry Springer show these days. ••

Genesis 47:29 | Joseph ordered to place his hand under father's thigh.
•• See, now that's just nasty. ••

Exodus 20:26 | God specifies building of altar to prevent exposure of nakedness.
•• The people were all ugly when they were nude, so it was a good thing God did. ••

Exodus 22:19 | Bestiality is declared a capital crime.
•• And the sheep didn't fare so well, either, y'know ••.

Exodus 33:17-23 | Moses can look at God's back side, but not his face.
•• Jeez, and I thought I was the only one who saw backsides but not faces. ••

Numbers 31:1-18; 28-47 | God commands genocide of Midianites, Moses orders his soldiers to butcher all the captives, except that they can keep the virgins for themselves.
•• Well, duh, they didn't have payroll back then. ••

Numbers 5:11-31 | The decreed fidelity test for women includes drinking poison.
•• And the fidelity test for guys includes having beer and watching strippers. ••

Leviticus 12:1-8 | A woman who has given birth is unclean, and there's something about giving birth to females being worse than giving birth to males.
•• Yeah, wait until the teenage years and see how much you regret not killing the males when they were young. ••

Leviticus 15:16-18 | Sperm is nasty; guys need to wash after popping the nut, and they need to wash anything that the stuff landed on. The guy needs to wash afterward, and so does the woman if there was one involved in the relief effort.
•• But what do you tell her if she honestly thinks it's hand lotion? ••

Leviticus 15:19-33 | Menstruation is really, really nasty, so there must be very complicated rules to deal with all the nastiness.
•• Rule 1: These days, leave the woman alone about the rules, or she'll beat your sorry ass so bad you'll think you're having a period, dude. ••

Leviticus 15:29-30 | Menstruation is a sin, so women have to provide offerings of doves or pidgeons for their discharge.
•• Here's a better one: Tampon ceremoniously dropped into toilet; Expanding Divine Clog scares the crap out of the guy trying to take a leak in the dark. ••

Leviticus 18:22 | Homosexuality is detestable.
•• Unless it's Republican homosexuality; then it'll get you a job as a minister or a congressional aide. ••

Leviticus 18:23 | Women shouldn't present themselves to animals for the purpose of having sex.
•• Thank God! Mr. Ed would have been serious competition. ••

Leviticus 19:1,20-22 | If a guy pumps his slave girl, he is forgiven once he offers a ram for atonement; the girl, on the other hand, gets whipped and ostracized
•• Well, geez, do you know how much a ram costs these days? ••

Leviticus 20:10 | Death for adulterers.
•• A lot of people are going to miss Newt and Rudy. ••

Leviticus 20:13 | Death for homosexuals.
•• Not as many people are going to miss Jeff and George. ••

Leviticus 20:15-16 | Death for bestiality.
•• Only a few people will miss Karl. ••

Leviticus 26:29 | Eat the flesh of your sons and daughters.
•• Sort of makes you wonder when someone says, "I love children." ••

Deuteronomy 3:1-7 | Wipe out your enemies' cities and kill every man, woman, and child... and be sure not to leave until you've taken all the valuables with you.
•• Uh... does anyone else get the impression these guys weren't the inspiration for the Geneva Conventions? ••

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 | When you've wiped out your enemies' villages, you can keep a pretty captive girl; but you have to leave her alone for a month so she can get over the fact that you butchered her family. Then you can try her out as a prospective long-term wife.
•• You can see the sentimental side of God coming through here, what with letting the woman have a little time to herself and all before she's raped. ••

Deuteronomy 22:5 | God detests women who wear men's clothing and men who wear women's clothing.
•• Damn! And Rudy looked absolutely delicious in that little number he was wearing. ••

Deuteronomy 22:13-21 | A newly married woman who is not a virgin and whose father can't prove that she is (what's that supposed to mean?) shall be stoned to death.
•• Having to hear about that happening is obviously more than enough punishment for whoever made her a non-virgin. ••

Deuteronomy 22:23-26 | In some circumstances, a raped virgin should be stoned to death because she didn't scream.
•• And wait until she tries to get a morning-after pill in Joe Lieberman's hometown. ••

Deuteronomy 23:12-14 | Dig a hole and cover up the turds you squeeze out because God might be traipsing around, and boy would that ever be embarrassing if He stepped in your pile.
•• Does this book have practical advice, or what? ••

Deuteronomy 25:5-10 | A widow whose dead husband's brother won't marry her can haul him before the elders, rip off his sandals, and spit in his face.
•• Now you just wait a minute! I paid darned good money for those sandals at Walmart last week, wench. ••

Deuteronomy 25:11-12 | A woman shall have her hand cut off for touching a man's penis, even if she's doing so to stop him from killing her husband.
•• Do they pull out her teeth if she bites the assailant's dick off? ••

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 | All the rules for what happens if you get caught after seducing or raping (depending upon how you interpret the passage and the situation) a virgin... for one thing, it's going to cost you fifty sheckels to her dad, and you've gotta marry her for life.
•• Fifty sheckels?! AND marriage with no prospect for divorce? Who says those Hebrews weren't tough on guys for sex crimes? ••

Deuteronomy 23:1 | A man who's had his balls crushed or cut off can't go to church.
•• You see, this is one of those situations where's there's a silver lining to a really dark cloud: sure, you lose your manhood; but you don't have to go to church anymore! ••

Deuteronomy 23:2 | Children born of forbidden marriages (or out of wedlock, from the King James Version of Deuteronomy 23:2) are condemned clear out to the tenth generation.
•• Boy, it's a darned good thing Joseph got Mary to that Elvis wedding chapel when he did. ••

Deuteronomy 23:10-11 | A guy who has a wet dream needs to go be by himself for a while, then he has to wash up before he's allowed to show his face around the camp again.
•• Fine, but just for your information, I'm not wiping off the ceiling before I leave. ••

Deuteronomy 24:1 | A guy can't divorce his wife and then remarry her if she got remarried and then divorced or widowed.
•• Well, heck. That shoots down the sentimental plotline for a couple of decent Hallmark Special Movies I was thinking of scripting. ••

Deuteronomy 28:27 | Hemorrhoids ("emerods" in the King James Version cited, or "boils" in the New International Version of this passage) that won't heal are the punishment for making God mad at you.
•• So... that means I'm wasting my money on all that Preparation H, huh? ••

Deuteronomy 28:30 | One of the Lord's curses is for a fellow to have another man hump his new bride first.
•• If there's something good on TV that night, where's the problem? ••

Deuteronomy 28:53-57 | This curse by God is about as rough as it gets: People will get so mean that men will eat their kids and they won't share the meal, and women will get so mean they'll eat their own afterbirth and not even share it with their husbands and children.
•• I suppose I might be a little selfish, too, if I'd spent a lot of time grilling a kid's thigh meat properly or had sautéed some afterbirth in a really expensive vinegrette. ••

Judges 3:20-22 | The king's gut was so fat and flabby that the sword's handle sunk in after the blade, and in the King James Version of the passage, the king's turds ("dirt") flowed out.
•• I'll stick with the suppository, thank you. ••

Judges 4:4-22 | Treacherous murder by a woman using a hammer and peg through a sleeping guy's temple, nailing the poor SOB's head into the dirt.
•• DAMN, woman, just you see if I ever get into a bed with your ass. ••

Judges 8:30 | Gideon had seventy sons by a whole bunch of wives and (at least) one by a concubine.
•• Gideon had an expensive hobby, that's what Gideon had (and Gideon could have used a prescription for anti-Viagra, too) ••

Judges 11:29-40 | Jephtha has to sacrifice his only daughter because he promised God he would do that to the first thing that came to his door after he'd returned home victorious from battle, and wouldn't you know it but his daughter was the first thing that showed up at his door.
•• You see, this is where God needed to let Jephtha off the hook for that vow, but did He? Noooo. (There's a lesson in there about making promises to a god who holds guys to promises of sacrificing their daughters but tells dads at the last minute they don't have to sacrifice their sons.) ••

Judges 19:1-30 | A man's concubine is raped by homosexuals (who really wanted to rape the guy), and then when her master gets her home, he chops her up into twelve pieces.
•• This is where I need to get up and walk around for a while lest I throw up all over this sick crap hundreds of millions of people think is the Word of a real god. ••

Judges 21:6-25 | Butcher a tribe to get some virgins for your allies, and then, when you find out there weren't enough virgins captured, have your friends hide in the bushes and attack a bunch of girls going to a dance to get some more.
•• Hey, what are friends for? ••

Ruth 3:6-9 | Ruth wants Boaz for her husband, so she curls up next to a him while he's sleeping; when he awakens, she tells him what she wants him to do.
•• This hasn't happened to me. Am I wearing the wrong colongne, or is it because I snore like a buffalo? ••

Ruth 4:9-10 | So Boaz buys all the property of these dead guys, and he gets Ruth in the deal since she was the wife of one of those dead guys.
•• Ruth should go into estate sales. She's gooood. ••

I Samuel 5:9-12 | The Philistines get hit with hemorrhoids ("tumors" in the New International Version of the passage) as punishment for stealing the ark of God
•• I'm not getting the connection between making God mad and His big thing about using 'rhoids as punishment, but I'm not very interested in having anyone explain the logic to me, either. ••

I Samuel 6:1-5 | To atone to God for stealing that ark, the Phillistines have to offer him five gold hemorrhoids.
•• What the Hell is that all about? ••

I Samuel 15:3 | God orders Saul to wipe out the Amalekites, including all the "men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys."
•• What the heck did the donkeys do to deserve this? That's what I want to know. ••

I Samuel 18:23-27 | Saul tells David that, in lieu of money to marry Saul's daughter, David can deliver a hundred Philistine foreskins. So what does David do? He goes out and kills so many Philistines that he is able to deliver two hundred. Saul is impressed. David gets the girl.
•• Killing guys and cutting off their foreskins? Ain't NO bitch worth doing that. I'm sorry. ••

I Samuel 25:22,3 4 | This passage talks about "any that pisseth against the wall," but it really has to do with consequences on conscience of blind vengeance.
•• I guess that means we're talking about the smell you get on you from splash-back. ••

II Samuel 3:7 | Saul's son, Ish-Bosheth, confronts Abner for mounting Saul's concubine, Rizpah.
•• This book really does have parts that read like a lame soap opera. ••

II Samuel 11:1-27 | This is the passage where David sends his friend, Uriah the Hittite, off to battle with secret orders to other soldiers to make sure he gets killed. David does this because he wants Uriah's wife. The plan works, and David gets the woman.
•• Uriah needed better friends, David needed to die, and God needs to explain why He forgives a pig like David but has His holy writers brag about how He oversees the slaughter of men, women, and children. No wonder the people who devoutly read this stuff can be such inconsistent assholes. ••

II Samuel 12:7-12 | Everyone gets to watch the sex show. At least that's what it sounds like God is promising.
•• Popcorn! Peanuts! Handywipes! ••

II Samuel 5:13 | David had lots and lots of concubines and wives, who had kids by the truckload (okay, by the chariotload).
•• Is this whole thing sort of like the religious version of Monopoly for these guys? ••

II Samuel Chapter 13 | Amnon rapes his sister, Tamar; then he hates her so much for what he's done that he has her dragged out of his room. Absalom finally, two years later, has Amnon killed.
•• Ah, happy endings always make me feel good. ••

II Samuel 16:20-23 | Absalom has sex with his dad's concubines on a rooftop where everyone can watch.
•• Is this a great neighborhood, or what? ••

II Samuel 20:3 | David tosses the ten concubines (TEN?! Was that in one night?!) Absalom pumped in a guarded house, where they were kept for the rest of their lives.
•• Hussies. They could have just killed themselves rather than obey a direct order from their master's son. ••

I Kings 1:1-4 | When David got old and sick, his servants found him a gorgeous young virgin to get him warmed up; but alas, David wasn't interested.
•• Uh, did anyone ever stop to think of how fast that boy would have kicked the bucket if he'd actually gotten a young woman started on him? ••

I Kings 11:1-10 | Solomon has "had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines."
•• That's gotta be a misprint... It's NOT?! (Well, sheee-it!) ••

I Kings 14:10 | More of that pissing against the wall stuff, and a reference to hauling away manure, too.
•• Human excrement was sort of an important point of reference back then, wasn't it? ••

I Kings 16:11 | Here's the passage: "[W]hen [Zimri] began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne... he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends."
•• There's another reference to human excrement. Those scribal guys were downright nasty-talking peckers, weren't they? ••

I Kings 21:21 | And here's yet another direct quote: "Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall..."
•• This 'pissing against the wall' kenning is getting old. Can't they do one like "farts into the wind" once in a while? ••

II Kings 6:24-33 | Some woman recounts how her son got cooked and eaten.
•• Okay, the pissing on the wall thing wasn't so bad, after all, compared to this fetish. ••

II Kings 9:8 | They go back to the pissing on the wall deal.
•• ENOUGH! No more pissing on the wall, no more cannibalism, no more anything stupid, sick, or in bad culinary taste! ••

II Kings 23:7 | Male whorehouses got torn down.
•• But fortunately, the guys providing companionship for President Bush escaped unharmed. ••

I Chronicles 1:32-33 | The six sons of Abraham's concubine, Keturah, are named.
•• Sheez, even the sleazy tabloids these days try to be a little more discreet than this. ••

II Chronicles 11:21 | King Rehoboam had eighteen wives and sixty concubines; among these ladies, the king sired twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters.
•• Not bad, but he's not even in the same league as Solomon with his seven hundred. ••

Esther Chapters 1-2 | Xerxes's queen disobeys him, so he holds a sex tournament to decide who will be the replacement queen.
•• O, yeah. I knew we'd get to some good stuff. This what I'm talkin' about. Right here: Uh-huh. This Bible stuff RULEZ, man. ••

Song of Solomon | Goooood sex poetry.
•• I still don’t get the part about how she made his "bowels move." ••

Isaiah 3:16 | God gets mad because women are walking around all uppity, looking at guys, and walking with a merry step; so God has all the men killed in battle.
•• Well, now, that's a twist on the way it usually works out in the Bible, what with the way God normally kicks the women's asses and lets the guys get off Scot free. ••

Isaiah 9:20 | People are going to eat their own kids.
•• This cannibalism thing seems to center around dining on kids, which makes sense considering they're probably pretty tender compared to some old person. ••

Isaiah 14:21-22 | Kids get put to death for what their forefathers did.
•• Cripe, and kids now days hate their dads for just being too busy working at the office. ••

Isaiah 16:11 | Here's the money quote: "Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh."
•• Big deal; my bowels sound like a tuba, and my inward parts can do a damn good runaway freight train. ••

Isaiah 36:12 | The passage is a pretty hurtful commentary on guys for sitting on a wall eating their own turds and drinking their own piss.
•• Yes, but do they use a toothpaste with flouride afterward? That's what counts. ••

Jeremiah 16:4 | Wishes for horribly bad deaths come flowing forth.
•• Someone who could think up this kind of sick stuff needs to be kept away from kids, decent adults, and most family pets. ••

Lamentations 2:19 | This passage is a lamentation to God about all the horrendous miseries he has visited upon people, many of whom didn't deserve it.
•• Give the writer credit for restraint; if I had written that, there would have been some serious use of profanity, obscenity, and vulgarity to get the point across about God being a total asshole. ••

Lamentations 4:10 | Women use their children's flesh to make food.
•• "Honey, have you seen the kids this morning?... Oooo! Sausage links for breakfast!" ••

Ezekiel 4:12-15 | First, God wants the bread cooked over a fire stoked with human feces; then he accepts a compromise that it be cooked over a fire fueled by cow manure.
•• "Honey, how come this bread tastes like ass?" ••

Ezekiel 5:8-10 | Dads will eat their kids, and kids will eat their dads.
•• I guess that leaves Mom to say the blessing over the meal. ••

Ezekiel 8:2 | God shows his loins, and boy are they hot!
•• If we could get that guy into some leather, we'd get free drinks at the bar. ••

Ezekiel 16:15 | Whining about an easy girl.
•• By the guy too uptight to ask for His turn. ••

Ezekiel 16:36-37 | God's going to strip the whore naked in front of all her johns.
•• And... they're going to see what that they hadn't already seen? ••

Ezekiel 23:1-40 | This is a long, gruesome analogy between a pair of prostitutes and Israel. It starts off interesting enough, what with talk about playing with titties, but then it gets down to the usual Bible stuff about suffering, misery, and people getting slaughtered.
•• Ah, a biblical reference to Israel being the whore. That might explain why the American/Israeli Political Action Committee is so obsessed with making sure that our politicians here in the U.S. are the whores for Tel Aviv, these days. ••

Ezekiel 29:7-8 | The vow by God, "Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee" can be taken as a description of chopping off a penis.
•• Memo to Self: Wear metal cup when near angry God. ••

Hosea 1:2-11 | God's mad at Israel so he tells Hosea to find a whore for a wife.
•• Geez, this is going to mean we'll need a whole lot of loose women when God gets down to punishing America for the way it's been acting during the Bush Administration. ••

Hosea 2:1-15 | This is one long rant by God against Israel in which most of the allusions are sexual.
•• That, or the prophet writing this sleaze was just horny that day. ••

Nahum 3:4-6 | I quote God: "I am against you... I will lift your skirts over your face. I will show the nations your nakedness
and the kingdoms your shame."
•• Hey, wait a minute! What makes God think I'm not wearing any underwear under my skirt? ••

Malachi 2:1-4 | God will smear your faces with manure.
•• Before or after the turds have been evacuated from the bowels? That's important to some of us, y'know. ••

Matthew 5:27-30 | You've committed adultery even if you've just lusted after woman.
•• Sheesh. Talk about a real kill-joy of a guy. ••

Matthew 5:31-32 | Unless a man divorces a woman for unfaithfulness, she's an adultress as soon as she has sex with another man after the divorce.
•• So she's a whore because she was divorced, or she's a whore as a result of the divorce, is that how it works? And what does that make the guy in all of this?—Pimp Daddy? ••

Matthew 19:3-9 | This is where Jesus points out that the man who divorces and remarries is an adulterer.
•• Is it just me, or should all those Republican presidential candidates be shifting around uncomfortably in their chairs? ••

Matthew 19:12 | Men might want to accept the fact that they should castrate themselves for Jesus.
•• Castrate yerself for Jesus, you weirdo. ••

Matthew 22:24 | After the resurrection, people will not be married.
•• Ah, so there is a day of rest after all. ••

Luke 2:21 | The eight-day-old Jesus gets His circumcision.
•• What's with this eight-day-old weiner skinning thing, fer cryin' out loud?! Give the damn kid some time to get used to how cold it is outside the womb. ••

Acts 15:24 | There is no commandment requiring circumcision.
•• Maybe not, but it sure teaches the boys who's boss. ••

Acts 16:3 | Paul circumcises an adult.
•• And then goes out and smokes a cigarette. ••

Romans 1:26-32 | Gay men and lesbians "worthy of death," as are their supporters.
•• ..uh, unless they're really religious Republicans or the daughters of 'em. ••

I Corinthians 7:1-40 | To be perfectly holy, don't even touch a woman, much less have sex with one.
•• Okay, fine, I'll start blogging. ••

I Corinthians 7:18-19 | If you're not circumcised, stay that way.
•• NOW you tell me, you asshole! ••

Galatians 5:1-4 | Paul actually condemns circumcision (for his Greek audience, none of whose men particularly like the idea).
•• Wait a minute! In Acts 16:3, Paul circumcises a guy... oh, I see: that guy was a "friend." ••

Revelation 17:1-16 | The whore of Revelation is stripped, eaten, and burned.
•• In that order?! ••

There are more passages in the various translations of the Bible available at your local bookstore or online, but I've just about worn myself out coming up with sardonic commentary with the ones offered above.

The Dark Wraith hopes readers have enjoyed and benefited from this long but informative article.

· ·
20 May 2007

Importing Chinese Toxins

by: Foiled Goil

From WaPo:
Tainted Chinese Imports Common
For years, U.S. inspection records show, China has flooded the United States with foods unfit for human consumption. And for years, FDA inspectors have simply returned to Chinese importers the small portion of those products they caught -- many of which turned up at U.S. borders again, making a second or third attempt at entry.

Now the confluence of two events -- the highly publicized contamination of U.S. chicken, pork and fish with tainted Chinese pet food ingredients and this week's resumption of high-level economic and trade talks with China -- has activists and members of Congress demanding that the United States tell China it is fed up.
Trading with the largely unregulated Chinese marketplace has its risks, of course, as evidenced by the many lawsuits that U.S. pet food companies now face from angry consumers who say their pets were poisoned by tainted Chinese ingredients. Until recently, however, many companies and even the federal government reckoned that, on average, those risks were worth taking. [...]

But after the pet food scandal, some are recalculating.
But deception by Chinese exporters is not limited to plant products, and some of their most egregiously unfit exports are smuggled into the United States.

Under Agriculture Department rules, countries cannot export meat and poultry products to the United States unless the USDA certifies that the slaughterhouses and processing plants have food-safety systems equivalent to those here. Much to its frustration, China is not certified to sell any meat to the United States because it has not met that requirement.

But that has not stopped Chinese meat exporters.
Despite those violations, the Chinese government is on track to get permission to legally export its chickens to the United States -- a prospect that has raised concern not only because of fears of bacteria such as salmonella but also because Chinese chickens, if not properly processed, could be a source of avian flu, which public-health authorities fear may be poised to trigger a human pandemic.

Last year, under high-level pressure from China, the USDA passed a rule allowing China to export to the United States chickens that were grown and slaughtered in North America and then processed in China -- a rule that quickly passed through multiple levels of review and was approved the day before Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in Washington last April.

Now the rule that China really wants, allowing it to export its own birds to the United States, is in the works, said Richard Raymond, USDA's undersecretary for food safety.
So pervasive is the U.S. hunger for cheap imports, experts said, that the executive branch itself has repeatedly rebuffed proposals by agency scientists to impose even modest new safety rules for foreign foods.
Even more info (if you can stomach it) at LA Times:
China's additives on menu in U.S.

Bon Appétit

· · · ·

Classic Shortbread Cookies

by: Minstrel Boy

There are few things more wonderful than these simple, easy, cookies. They are among my favorites, especially served fresh with Earl Grey Tea and a Lemon Marmalade made from Meyer Lemons. Since it just so happens that my neighbors next door have a huge Meyer Lemon Tree sitting there, visible from my kitchen window, I can't think of a reason not to have a few jars of it laid up at all times. At least no reason that anyone would ever buy. There's not a lot of voodoo or kitchen magic required for either of these recipes and the results will have your guests and friends for afternoon tea quivering in ecstacy.

First to the cookies which are the stated favorite of the The Dark Wraith who along with being the person responsible for the beautiful design of my site is also the publisher and guiding light behind the other site where I post my off the wall thoughts and rants the The Big Brass Blog.

This one's for you, your Wraithness.


8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Dump everything into a big bowl. Use your hands to mix it thoroughly. (kids especially love to do this) Press onto ungreased pans. This recipe will perfectly fill an 8" by 8" pan. Or, if you have moulds handy press into those and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325° for about 20 minutes. The result should be lightly brown. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a rack, then while still slightly warm, cut into desired shapes.

That's it. That simple. So very good.

Now on to the Meyer Lemon Marmalade!


6 Meyer Lemons
4 cups water
4 cups baker's sugar
You will also need
6 half pint Mason Jars and lids

Cut the lemons in half crosswise. Use a paring knife to dig out the seeds. Tie the seeds into a cheesecloth bag with the string leaving one long string. Quarter the lemon halves and slice them as thin as you can. I use a plastic cutting board for this that has a small catch gutter for the juice. As you are slicing place the results into a 5 quart non-reactive heavy pot. Cover with the water, drop in the bouquet garni (that's french for the little cheesecloth bag on a string thing you did with the seeds. Now let that all stand, covered for a minimum of twenty four hours. Don't cheat! If you must, go visit somebody, do something else in the kitchen. 24 hours. One whole day. You'll thank me later.

Bring this to a boil (I'm trusting you all waited the required time), over a medium heat without stirring. Then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, until the entire mixture is reduced to about 4 cups total (a little more than half by volume) which should take about 45 minutes. Stir in the sugar with a wooden spoon, bring the heat back up to a medium setting and boil the mixture, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam that comes up until a teaspoon drops onto a cutting board gels, which will take around fifteen minutes.

Ladle the hot marmalade into the half pint Mason® jars to about a quarter inch from the top. Be sure to wipe down the mouths of the jars with a dampened rag before you put the lids on tightly. Put the jars into a water bath canner (or use a big ass stock pot and a small rack, just make sure to not have the jars resting on the bottom of the pot) and cover them with at least an inch of water over the tops of the jars. Bring this to a boil, and boil the whole thing, covered, for at least 5 minutes. Use tongs to remove the jars from the boiling water and cool them completely. Check the jars carefully when cooled to ensure a proper seal.

The marmalade will keep for up to a year in a cool dry place. Be sure to refrigerate it after opening.

As I said at the beginning, a shortbread cookie, spread with a dab of this marmalade, and a cup of Earl Grey tea, is about the best thing going in an afternoon. My British ex-pat friends Ian and Andrea make sure to drop by at least once a week or so, right around four. They use all manner of lame excuses like they are only looking for their kids or Andrea is coming by to pick up or drop off a dog (she's an ace groomer) but, it always seems to happen right around tea time. They're brits and they expect custom to be followed. One afternoon I thought I would really mess with them and serve Lapsang Souchong instead of the usual Earl Grey, they took it in stride.

el rancho harpo

Iraq Daily War Grief

by: Jurassicpork

I’m a bad liberal blogger. I forgot all about Armed Forces Day yesterday. I forgot that it was on the third Saturday of every May. Save for some bloggers this holiday also went mostly unobserved in the MSM. We as a nation, however regrettably, should’ve dropped our coverage of Paris Hilton’s 45 day sentence, Paul Wolfowitz’s shaming in Washington, DC not for getting over 3400 troops killed but for greed and cronyism. We should’ve started by commemorating the deaths of seven troops and a translator killed in Iraq on, with the hideous irony that stalks this administration like Henry Waxman, on Armed Forces Day.

19 May 2007

Superstition Ride - - - Day 2 - - - Packing In

by: Minstrel Boy

I woke up about a half hour before dawn. The eastern sky is behind the mountains so there isn't any judging the halflight. I put some hay out for the horses, changed the water in their bucket, and scooped a measure of oat and molasses mixture into a frisbee for each of them. I had a muffin and some coffee. Then it was time to get to work.

The load for Sally was about 120 lbs. It was mostly water in bags that hang off of the pack saddle. Even though there are known sources of safe water all along this trip, this is the desert. You simply cannot have too much water. I also make it a point to never count water that I haven't seen. Along with the water I packed in a field medical kit, GPS transponder, satellite phone (2 spare batteries), several blankets, and some very light, very basic foods. One of the main foods I like to carry in the wilderness is Hardtack. This is my favorite recipe. It was the ship's biscuit served to the intrepid sailors who followed the great John Paul Jones.


In a bowl combine:

2 1/2 cups rolled or steel cut oats (not quick cooking)
3 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

In another bowl combine:

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bacon drippings (or be a wuss and use lard or crisco)

Mix the dry and liquid ingredients together to form a tight dough. Separate this into eight equal size balls. Roll these out on a floured surface to about 1/4" thickness. Place onto ungreased pizza pans or cookie sheets. It helps to stipple the surface of the crackers to ensure even baking all the way through. This can be done by rolling with a pegged roller or using a meat hammer once the dough is rolled out.

Bake in a 450° oven for 5 1/2 minutes, use a spatula to turn the crackers over and bake for another four minutes. When done the result can be golden brown at the edges but you want dry, light, and stiff units. Cool totally on racks and leave uncovered in the open air for at least a full day before storing in plastic bags. This stuff is nutrient dense, light, and doesn't even taste all that bad. One of the things you will miss when foraging through the wilderness is carbs. This is all carbs. I use it crumbled into soups and stews, or dunked into coffee. Trying to bite into it like a saltine or ritz cracker can cost you money and dental pain.

Along with the hardtack I packed dry cure bacon and some elk jerky left from my hunting last year and a bag of dried fruit. There are also some lemons and a bag of saliditos. For an extra treat I stowed two jars of canned peaches. Then a small hand coffee grinder and some beans, some alfalfa pellets and cut oats. Some pennywhistles to amuse myself and to keep from going into shock from not making some form of music everyday. For a three day trip, even if I find no water and no other food along the way, I won't starve, the horses and I will have plenty to eat and plenty to drink.

I saddled up Rosalita with a McClellan, crossfire rigged saddle. Behind the saddle are two light canvas saddle bags where I have some extra clothing, black licorice nuggets (my horses won't do shit without proper bribery), braided rawhide riata, combination hatchet/hammer, .410 breakaway single shotgun, box of 3" shells, .22 long rifle Remington pump (both in saddle scabbards), shoulder water bags.

I checked Sally's pack rig for balance and comfort one more time, gave her a licorice treat, locked up the truck and trailer, stashed the keys in a hubcap, mounted up and started out on the trail.

The weather was gorgeous. Cool, with a light breeze. Not a cloud in the sky. After about an hour of easy walking we were in full on Sonora desert, the saguaro, cholla, prickley pear, ah hell, all the cactus are in full bloom. Most of the arroyos have a dusting of wild flowers. There had been a decent rain last week, but the melt off from the Mogollon rim and the Tonto range is in full swing. I'm seeing quail, rabbit, lots of coyote sign. A couple of times I see the tails of gopher and king snakes disappearing into the sage stands. The sage is loaded with tiny purple flowers and makes the trail smell like incense.

Another half hour brings us to the first water. Taking a side canyon up about 300 yards (with slight incline) brings me to "the horse tanks." These are brimming full. I take Sally's gear off first and she plunges into the water right off. Even though I'm on the way to Rosalita, she lets me know that I have violated herd senority standards by not letting her play first. She hops right in.

When the horse come out of the water I dry them off well with sage branches and we saddle and mount up again. I get back into the main trail and begin to go through a series of narrow passes. Having shade from the stone walls of the passes is a welcome comfort. The heat isn't brutal, but it is most likely in the mid-eighties and climbing steady. There is a spring fed pond on the outskirts of the abandoned ranch where I am headed after the third pass. We'll stop for a drink and meal when we get there. I reach behind me and pull out my little silver "G" pennywhistle. The high trebles bounce off the stone walls gleefully as I play "I'll Tell Me Ma" and the "Rakes of Mallow." When I start to play "Poor Wandering One" Sally begins to snicker in anticipation and sidles up to me expectantly. I pass her a nugget of licorice then have another ready for Rosalita. I take out one of my lemons, take a plug from the center, stick in a couple of saliditos and suck the squeezed juice merrily. We are making good and easy progress.

At the spring pond the horses drink deeply and Sally begins to browse among the bushes like she's at the best salad bar in the world. Rosalita stands watching, then joins in with gusto. I break out the sterno stove and make a small pot of coffee and soon am happily dunking hardtack and jerky into a steaming mug. For dessert I stick a few dried apricots into my cheek like a chaw of tobacco and we saddle up for the final push of the day. There are about four hours of daylight left and we should be where I plan to make camp in about two and a half hours.

The trail is on a steady incline, but easy travel for my desert bred horses. There are Red Tail and Cooper's Hawks in the air. I am seeing many signs of the people that used to live here. A broken down corral, a section of fence, what used to be fields in cultivation. Once I pass the outline and crumbled chimney of what was once a line shack for a winter fence rider.

A Red Tail shrieks and I answer with the pennywhistle. We come to where the main ranch buildings once stood. There is a large pond, and a creek running full. I take care of the horses and begin to make myself at home.

The quiet of the place is beautiful. The sun is setting with its typically Arizonan gaudy show. I wander through the old orchard snapping off dead sticks to build a small fire. I feed the horses, but they have decided that there is better browsing in between the old fruit trees and are not interested in alfalfa pellets. A measure of oats also goes uneaten. I boil the horses leftovers into a porridge and eat it with a couple slices of bacon and a chunk of hardtack. My coffee tastes like nectar.

I am sitting with my back resting on my saddle. Blankets spread over a patch of soft grass smoking a welcome cigarette when I hear a another set of horse hooves clopping lazily.

A voice I recognize calls out "You got good coffee. Hope you brought me some peaches."

I grin and walk toward the sound of the voice saying "I came up here to be alone, but I do have some coffee and peaches."

Silas grins at me and says "You go be alone then. I'll just help myself. Then we can have a smoke and talk about things."

harp and sword

Aisle Or Window, Chicken Or Pasta?

by: Debra

Thank you, but I would rather have numerous convoy transports and MREs would be considered acceptable dining if the end reward was to bring the troops and the hidden military home from Iraq. For many years camp followers were just that. Followers. Now they are active participants in the debacle that we call Operation Enduring Freedom. Enduring being the operative word because freedom obviously has nothing to do with it.
Nearly 300 companies from the United States and around the world supply workers who are a shadow force in Iraq almost as large as the uniformed military. About 126,000 men and women working for contractors serve alongside about 150,000 American troops, the Pentagon has reported. Never before has the United States gone to war with so many civilians on the battlefield doing jobs — armed guards, military trainers, translators, interrogators, cooks and maintenance workers — once done only by those in uniform.
For a slightly different perspective on the outsourcing, quite a few of those jobs used to be handled by troops of color because they gave you a good chance at having a job that would pay your bills when you got out. Now they are held by civilian contractors who make quite a bit more money doing the same job and don't have to attend formation in the morning. Unfortunately for the contractors, once they are dead or injured, the very government that they were supporting treats them even worse than it treats the troops.
Many contractors in the battle zone say they lack the basic security measures afforded uniformed troops and receive benefits that not only differ from those provided to troops, but also vary by employer. Weekly pay ranges from $60 for Iraqi translators and laborers to $1,800 for truck drivers to as much as $6,000 for private security guards employed by companies like Blackwater. Medical and insurance benefits also vary widely, from excellent to minimal.

Conditions in Iraq are harsh, and many civilians who arrive there, drawn by patriotism, a sense of adventure or the lure of money, are overwhelmed by the environment. If they raise questions about the 12-hour workdays, the lack of armor plating on trucks or the periodic shelling of bases, supervisors often tell them to pack up and go home.
Why have we outsourced jobs to a private security firm for $6000 a week per person (with benefits!), when we supposedly have the best military in the world?
“By keeping the knowledge of this force hidden, it changes one’s perception and one’s evaluation of the war,” Ms. Schakowsky said. “There are almost a thousand dead and a large number of injuries. I think it masks the fact that we are privatizing the military in this country.”
If our troops don't have adequate armor or protection from IEDs or snipers, why the heck is a civilian contractor with even less protection traveling through a war zone on a daily basis to deliver ammunition? And then when they are killed or injured, we can't disavow all knowledge fast enough.
Army Lt. Col. Joseph M. Yoswa, a spokesman for the military in Iraq, said in an e-mail statement, “the responsibilities for tracking deaths, injuries, locations and any other essential requirements lie with the contractor. Unless there is something specifically stated in the contract about accounting for personnel, there is no requirement for the U.S. government to track these numbers.”
How can anyone not be surprised by this? For the last six years it has been someone else's responsibility for absolutely anything that goes wrong so why should this situation be any different?
American military casualties in Iraq have mounted to almost 3,400 dead. The new contractor statistics suggest that for every four American soldiers or marines who die in Iraq, a contractor is killed.

Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who pushed for the buildup of military forces in Iraq, said the contractor casualties were a symptom of a larger failure to send enough troops earlier to provide security throughout Iraq.

“We’re now putting these people in danger that I never thought they’d be under because we cannot secure the country,” he said.
Of course you didn't think. Nobody did. Therein lies the problem. Instead of thinking, everyone experienced a kneejerk emotional reaction and continue to be trapped in a loop of fear six years later. Meanwhile, the rest of the world shakes its collective head at our ongoing stupidity because it is pretty obvious that we need a national anger management class. We continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, might makes right is our battle cry and boy do we love to battle. As long as it's far away and doesn't affect our standard of living or anybody we know.

Ron Paul was right
when he talked about blowback but the American people, aided by an ineffectual Fourth Estate that is easily distracted by the latest floozy escapade, prefer to play the part of the injured party, never caring how many others they injure in the process because they are so sure that they are right and that everyone else is wrong.
As Americans, we believe in forgiving and forgetting, and are terrible at understanding how history affects us today. We are arrogant in not recognizing that when we benefit, someone else may suffer. That will lead to resentment and anger, and if suppressed, will boil over one day.
Before we invaded Iraq I had this patient (royalty) from Saudi Arabia who was explaining why he thought the invasion would not work and he was tossing around words like Wahhabi, Sunni, Shia and Baathists. I remember thinking, what the heck is he talking about? But then why should I be surprised since our schoolkids can't even get a passing score on our own history and we all know that nothing else has ever happened in the world except as it pertains to us. History does repeat itself, sometimes it's obvious, sometimes it's not.

Okay now that I've vented my spleen, let me get back to the birthday already in progress.

Crossposted at Debsweb

· ·

Saturday Cockroach Blogging

by: Jurassicpork

“Nobody move, you cocksuckers, or the aphid gets it!”

Because, somehow, cats just don’t do it for me at the beginning of the weekend. Take Paul Wolfowitz, for instance.

Buzzflash, the news outlets and the blogosphere told us last night that King Roach got squashed at the World Bank. But let’s not shed any tears for the comb-licking little freak: he’s leaving the organization that’s dedicated to fighting poverty with a $400,000 performance bonus.

18 May 2007

Hi. How 'Ya Doin'?

by: spyderkl

Hi. My name is spyderkl - or at least that's my pseudonym. I've commented every once in a while at various odd and assorted places, including Shakespeare's Sister/Shakesville and The Dark Wraith Forums. My own blog is a weird mix of parenting (I'm an adoptive parent of a 5-year-old), progressive politics, and just about anything else that gets me interested enough to write.

I was excited and flattered to be asked to contribute here. Unfortunately, I panicked as well, had no idea what the hell to write about. I thought about it this afternoon, while I was running back and forth from the computer upstairs to the vegetable garden in the backyard. I thought about it while I was getting my daughter to bed just now. And it came to me...why a mom would write about politics in the first place.

I write about politics, and I think other political mombloggers write about politics, because of my child. I love my child, and I love her friends. I want them to grow up in a world where people are valued, just because they exist. I want my daughter to feel happy and proud about being a girl, instead of frightened and ashamed. I want my daughter and her friends to know that as long as you're a good person, that's the only thing that matters. Not where you're from, not who you fall in love with, not whether you attend this church or that (or don't go at all).

Anyway... It's late, and it's been a mighty long day here, so I'll stop for now. Nice to meet you all.

Interesting Observation: Ebb and Flow

by: Foiled Goil

TPM Muckraker notes this exchange during a White House press briefing this morning:
Q: Is it not important for the Attorney General to have the confidence of Congress?

Mr. Fratto: It's important for any public official to have as much confidence as he can garner. And that's going to ebb and flow, but it will not ebb and flow with this President and this Attorney General.
Alberto Gonzales is seen in a positive light by only 14-percent of Americans. That isn't ebb and flow. To put that in perspective, it's a smaller percentage than those who believe humans have been abducted by other intelligent life forms in the universe. And even more unbelievable? It's a smaller percentage than those who approve of Dick Cheney.

h/t Michael Link @ KA

A New Deck Chair For the Titanic

by: Jurassicpork

I can’t help it. It’s the poet in me. While I no longer write poetry and verse, the old instincts remain intact and I’m still sensitive to rhymes. And I could make a case that George W. Bush is just courting satire from other rhyme-sensitive wags by nominating as our first war czar a guy whose name rhymes with “dug loot.”

It’s a phrase that, in light of the revelations in Life in the Emerald City, flawlessly captures the overarching and ultimate rationale for invading and endlessly occupying Iraq.

17 May 2007

Superstition Ride - - - Day 1

by: Minstrel Boy

The day of the funeral I busied myself packing and checking stuff for most of the morning. Then I put brass strung celtic harp, my National Steel Body guitar, a small crate 25watt amp, and my "parlor" pipes into the car and drove to my friend's house. There were many other friends and family there. I made my presence known, and drove to the church.

I got with the sound tech at the church, together we decided that I would set up my own gear and run outside the church's system. I tuned the harp and began to play. For myself. I played some Bach, Turlough O'Carolan, some Palestrina, some Stephen Foster. When I noticed people starting to file in I winked at the organist and went outside to smoke a cigarette.

The family was just about ready to come in and be seated when I returned. As the honor guard brought in the casket I played "The Navy Hymn" (appropriate for a Marine) and "The Marine's Hymn." Then I went down to sit with my friends and my daughter.

The minister wasn't a complete and total asshole. He didn't blame the Iraq war on women's rights and tolerance of gays. He wanted to but he didn't.

After he read some stuff and harangued at little while I went up and played "A Sailor's Grave on the Prarie," on the national followed by my daughter joining me to sing "Mo Ghile Mar" while I played the harp.

I rejoined my friends while other friends and family members gave small little eulogies. I received simultanious elbows to the ribs from my friend and my daughter and went up.

All I said was "I loved this boy. I will miss him from now on. I would rather have been playing Mendholsson and Wagner at his wedding, and sung Irish lullabies to his children. Instead, today, I am doing what I must to honor the memory of a fine young man who has died too soon."

Then I played "The Ashokan Farewell" on the harp and picked up my pipes.

As the honor guard took him out of the church I followed behind playing "The Skye Boat Song."

At the cemetary I played "A Sailor's Grave on the Prarie" one more time because this young man loved that song. Then, after the salute and presentation of the flag I played "Amazing Grace" on the pipes.

I said my goodbyes at the cemetary. I had my daughter drop me off at the house and she went back to our friend's house to be with the family. I was ready to be alone.

I loaded Rosalita and her tack into the trailer, checked the water tanks to be sure that they were totally full and not leaking. I brought Sally and her gear up into it and fired up the old truck. It was about an hour and a half to get to the trailhead point where there are no motor vehicles allowed and I turned the horses out, put some water into a big bucket, threw some hay and made a light camp. It mostly was grinding up some coffee beans, brewing up some good black coffee and sitting there alone watching a glorious sunset. I listened to a little NPR jazz and turned in. I wanted to be riding out into the mountains at first light.

truth so plain

by: astraea

Can We End the American Empire Before It Ends Us?

--By Chalmers Johnson,


Great article. Keeper, for the resources alone. It the way it is, truth so plain.

I'm troubled seeing the Democrats as part of it. The recent poll, saying Congress is hated as much as Bush, is being used to dis-empower the drive to de-fund the occupation and bring the troops home. I don't believe polls, and haven't since the trusted brand names in polling suddenly decided 'the people' were in favor, by 70%, of an Iraqi "war" just before the invasion began. Polls leading up to that time had been consistent in saying that people would go along only if the UN was onboard, and only if it was 'necessary', WMD proven, and limited to taking out Hussein. The UN inspectors were doing their job, a proven, sane, and moral protocol, one that could be built on, continuing the development of essential international cooperation and law. That was the truth of the matter then, and looking back, the loss is very much regretted.

What is there about the whole matter but regret? Invading another country, ignoring our own Constitution, ignoring 60 years of international law; employing private mercenaries who are responsible to no one. War is madness, and in defiance of law -- a way towards resolution, justice -- becomes only perpetual destruction.

Which Bush knows perfectly well.

We have been used. The Democrats are the last, the one hope we have. Bush has stacked the courts in favor of the corporations for years to come, corporations that owe no allegiance to this country even as they pursue their own private interests using American dollars and blood. It's a compromised reality, America. To live here is to know that, and it takes its toll on heart and psyche. But how much worse to be on the receiving end. Looking back, how horrible to be a people -- a culture with its own traditions, families like families everywhere, bonds of time and love bound to place -- and have to face the 20th C having been blessed with oil beneath your feet.

xpost moonsfavors
16 May 2007

Laying Pipe

by: Minstrel Boy

When my screenwriter friends are faced with problems of exposition they call it "laying pipe." You see it all the time without knowing it if it is done well. Since I can't do it all that well I will just let you know that a principal presence in the story of my time up in the hills requires some explaining.

His name is "Silas" and he is an haattaallii which is a medicine singer. He knows the three and four day ceremonial procedures that have been used by the Apache as long as there has been memory. He is also an herbalist and all around gifted healer of both bodies and souls. Nobody that I know has any idea how old he is. He has been old since I can remember.

He really lives somewhere beyond this world. I am not a believer in anything remotely supernatural. Not gods, ghosts, demons, ESP, or any of that bullshit. Here's the thing about Silas though, my whole life I have seen him do things I can't explain for reasons I don't understand. He does this thing where he just shows up.

A couple of quick Silas stories.

This last summer I was booked and ready to do a short run with a very well known singer. I am not a big fan of the road anymore, but this was not only a chance to put away some serious paydays it was a chance to make some incredible music with people I was having a ball doing it with. During the third show of our trip the singer's throat blew. Surgery bad. Instead of going home I was intending to get off my plane at Sky Harbor, pick up my car out of the long term lot, and drive into L.A. to be with the singer as he went through the process of finding out how much damage and what the recovery curve would be. I did this because this person is not only somebody I work for from time to time, but a real and true friend, which is something very rare in a competitive and often vicious business.

When I got off my plane in Phoenix I was startled to see my son waiting for me. He had a bag with him and he said "Silas showed up at the house last night and told me to give this to you. It's for your friend's throat. It's a tea." I hadn't even told anybody what my plans were, the flight thing was done by going to the airport, looking at the schedules and taking the first available flight. I have no idea how Silas knew that the singer I was working for had blown out his throat, I have no idea how he knew when to tell my son to meet me. He's done stuff like that for as long as I've known him. We had the tea checked out by the Ear, Nose & Throat guy in L.A. and he said that there wasn't anything in it that would interfere with the procedures and medications that he was intending to use. My friend (who is Irish and understands the workings of magic far better than I) drank the tea faithfully. His recovery was rapid and complete. The surgeon who sprayed his throat down with the teflon said it was one of the most rapid recoveries he had ever seen.

Another thing with Silas happened around November. I was playing the Phoenix show for La Primera Diva du Monde. My cousin and his partner were also there and because they represent some of the social service programs on the rez that were being benefited by La Primera, they were given double secret awesome access passes for after the show. Their passes were better than mine and I was in the goddamned show. No biggie though. I complained about that shit right away and got my stuff beefed up. The thing was that after the show, Silas was there with my cousin and his partner. He didn't have a ticket but he had gotten in to a sold out show. He didn't have a security pass, but there he was in the deepest, highest access area. La Primera came over to shake hands and schooze with my cousin, we introduced her to Silas and she sailed off into the night. A few weeks later we were talking on the phone and she mentioned meeting Silas. She said that the strangest thing had happened. She remembered him vividly, but, outside of her husband, nobody in her entourage had any memory of seeing him. There was no mention of him on any of the access lists.

I told her not to trip. I said "My whole life, Silas has done things I can't explain, for reasons I don't understand."

Anyway, when Silas turns up as the narrative progresses, you'll have a better idea of what is going on.

harp and sword
15 May 2007

Stupid Is As Stupid Does.

by: Jurassicpork


I could be writing about the GOP presidential debate in South Carolina tonight. I could be writing about the three US troops who are missing (one of whom is from Lawrence, Massachusetts). I could be following up on the death of Jerry Falwell. Hell, I could be writing about literally a million things but I chose to bring to light the plight of a fellow lib blogger who was recently threatened with rape and even death.

She tells us briefly about this in “The Hate Crowd Has Arrived.” It all started with a post by TFLS alumnus sbgypsy who’d posted something entitled "Action Alert."

So what was gypsy’s heinous crime?


Jerry Falwell (1933-2007)

by: Jurassicpork

I had a student ask me, "Could the savior you believe in save Osama bin Laden?" Of course, we know the blood of Jesus Christ can save him, and then he must be executed. - The Reverend Jerry Falwell


No doubt Hillary Clinton will be breathing a sigh of relief while John McCain has been cut adrift from a major wing of Crazy Base World. The Devil’s problems, however, will be just beginning since God will obviously be foisting him off on his former archangel just for old time's sake.

Jerry Falwell collapsed in his office this afternoon and soon thereafter died, possibly of a heart attack. I wish that I could be respectful of Falwell, to not verbally molest the dead. However, that’s not what you’re hoping to read, is it? And, after all the nuclear-tipped potshots that I’ve taken at Falwell over the years, don’t you think that would be a teensy weensy bit hypocritical?

So I’ll shelve the sackcloth and ashes for the infamous televangelist who’d founded the Moral Majority, the well-dressed snake handlers who’d slithered their way into Reagan’s White House and helped establish the foundation for the Christopathic movement we see running the government today.


Rest, Preacher

by: Dark Wraith

Jerry FalwellThe Reverend Jerry Falwell is dead. His Thomas Road Baptist Church, founded in 1956 in Lynchburg, Virginia, was one of the principal well-springs of politicized evangelicalism that waged war against those who worked for a liberal, open, progressive, tolerant society.

Dr. Falwell will be missed by millions of devout Christians who believed his message to have been authentic and in keeping with a strict, literal interpretation of the Holy Bible. Millions of others, however, firmly held that the preacher was a charlatan who preyed on the lonely, the disaffected, the ignorant, and the lost to advance his personal fortune and power using a hateful interpretation of Christianity that imposed suffering on many while doing nothing to alleviate misery, end poverty, and provide earthly hope.

Jerry Falwell was 73 years old.

That was quite a sermon, parson. Didn't agree with much of anything you said, but you sure did know how to kick my progressive ass, sir. We should let the choir sing now for a while.

· · ·

Jerry Falwell Is Dead.

by: Minstrel Boy

He died of heart failure.

I haven't had a joke write itself like that since Kobe Bryant blew the passing part of the NBA Skills Competition.


· ·

Banana Republic Oligarchy 2001-?

by: Jurassicpork


What kind of a country do we live in where psychopaths like Ann Coulter get free interference run for them by the FBI and the Department of Justice gets its marching orders from Karl Rove? As Blue Girl puts it in “How Very Soviet of Him?”, “What, in the name of all that is sacred and holy, motivated Karl Rove to turn the Department of Justice into the enforcement arm of the Republican National Committee?”

You have to admit that Rove has yet to exhaust his powers of breathtaking audacity in siccing Alberto’s goons on four US attorneys who’d been accused of being lax in prosecuting cases of alleged voter fraud, at least one of which (David Iglesias in New Mexico) turned out to be bogus or trumped up.

Where was Karl the Krusader when we needed him in the wake of the 2000, 2004 and 2006 elections, in which massive amounts of evidence pointed to voter fraud and attempted voter fraud? Oh, right. That would’ve led the eagle-eyed hounds of the DOJ straight to Rove’s self-bugged office.

Think about it: The Department of Justice has to take its cues from a blubbery-lipped Inner Party hack like Karl fucking Rove in order to catch lazy US attorneys who couldn’t or wouldn’t prosecute ginned-up cases of voter fraud for a massive Aha! moment in time for the mid-term elections. But nary a word or an investigation into the most massive corruption of our electoral system since the good old days of Tammany Hall.

And not a single African American attorney was hired to work in the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department.

Democrats and suspected Democrats were sniffed out like escaped chain gang criminals by Monica Goodling and the other legal beagles milled out of Pat Robertson’s Regent University.

And all under the dead nose of Alberto Gonzales, a man who has done for American jurisprudence what Rush Limbaugh has done for figure skating.

It all points to one very big and basic fact, one humongous, greasy black stain blotted across our government: That everything has been subverted and perverted for the everlasting glory of the Republican Party, the party of impersonal responsibility because it never takes responsibility, accountability or answerability for anything except in a tribal sense. It’s the party where everybody screams “I’m Spartacus!” or no one does and no one ever knows where to look because nobody remembers shit or takes the 5th or says, "I'm on vacation, see ya in June."


The Supreme Court has become little more than a rubber stamp for every Christopathic, right wing agenda of George W. Bush. The Department of Justice has become Karl Rove’s private little Gestapo/propaganda mill that hunts out treasonous Republicans who refuse to politicize their previously apolitical jobs and hound Democrats out of existence. And even the 110th Congress has become little more than a rubber stamp for whatever Bush wants, refusing to set down exact timelines for our withdrawal despite the will of the American people who changed the political landscape.

True, the Senate’s considering cutting off funding. But since we now know the Pentagon has enough discretionary funding to keep the wars going clear into July, that’s not as courageous as it sounds. Let’s not forget that it wasn’t Jerry Ford who ended the Vietnam War in 1975. It was really Congress who got fed up with Nixon’s inherited blood bath and cut off funding for South Vietnam... two years earlier.

And as long as Congress refuses to do its job and impeach Bush and Cheney, they will be looked upon by a growing percentage of the American voters as yet another timorous, complicit, rubber stamp Congress and Jane Hamsher will be sending them to Democrats next time around.

The government has ceased to become a vehicle serving the will of the people. Lobbyists have had a lot to do with that but this is one massive, abstract illness infecting the body politic that we can’t blame on the sons of Jack Abramoff. No, we all let it get like this. Because we the people and those in the press didn’t challenge obviously skewed poll results then appealed to those undeserving to be in public office to investigate how they got elected.

Ours is no longer a government of the people, by the people and for the people. That had perished from the earth long, long ago. It is now a vast, bloated bureaucracy that serves not 300,000,000 people but people like Karl Rove. And Dick Cheney. And George W. Bush. And anyone else powerful enough to actualize a personal and party agenda.

America the Republic run on Democratic principles: 1776-2001.

"Banana Republic Oligarchy 2001-?"
(Cross-posted at Welcome to Pottersville.)

· · · · ·
14 May 2007

Monday Garden Blog

by: Konagod

Every Monday needs to have some color, so here we go.

We are finally getting a nice patch of Indian Blanket in the yard. One of the highlights of spring in Austin are the wildflowers. We need more Mexican Hat. For those of you unfamiliar with those, I'll try and get a picture up next week. Ideally I'd like to find some on the Kona Ranch.

photo credit: txrad

photo credit: txrad

A year or two ago I bought a purple prickly pear cactus. Last week I saw a blossom I could not resist photographing. It only lasted about a day.

When I peeked inside the blossom I was surprised to see a couple of bugs getting some of the good stuff. That's those little black things you see in there. My camera does not focus well with close-up. Operator error most likely.

I Get Letters -- RNC Propoganda Machine Letters!

by: Gary

I have in the past received letters of propaganda, and I suppose fundraising inspiration from the RNC. On two occasions I got letters from Dumbya himself (complete with dartboard pics of him with Laura). This newest letter is brought to us by Robert M. Duncan, the new Chairman of the RNC. This letter screams of desperation and fear-based speculation...His rhetoric boarders on hysteria in my opinion.

This is what we are up against:

"Today, we face a new threat from insidious forces intent on destroying the best of our civilization and culture -- forces at work in our classrooms, our courts, and in the halls of our federal government."
(Warning...The letter is long and might make your head explode!)

13 May 2007

GOP, Line One... Earth Calling

by: Foiled Goil

Earth to G.O.P.: The Gipper Is Dead

by Frank Rich

Of course you didn't watch the first Republican presidential debate on MSNBC. [snip] Yet the few telling video scraps that entered the 24/7 mediasphere did turn the event into an instant "Saturday Night Live" parody without "SNL" having to lift a finger. The row of 10 middle-aged white candidates, David Letterman said, looked like "guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club."
And that's only half the problem. The other half is that the Republicans don't have a product to sell. Aside from tax cuts and a wall on the Mexican border, the only issue that energized the presidential contenders was Ronald Reagan.
Much as the Republicans hope that the Gipper can still be a panacea for all their political ills, so they want to believe that if only President Bush would just go away and take his rock-bottom approval rating and equally unpopular war with him, all of their problems would be solved. But it could be argued that the Iraq fiasco, disastrous to American interests as it is, actually masks the magnitude of the destruction this presidency has visited both on the country in general and the G.O.P. in particular.

By my rough, conservative calculation — feel free to add — there have been corruption, incompetence, and contracting or cronyism scandals in these cabinet departments: Defense, Education, Justice, Interior, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development. I am not counting State, whose deputy secretary, a champion of abstinence-based international AIDS funding, resigned last month in a prostitution scandal, or the General Services Administration, now being investigated for possibly steering federal favors to Republican Congressional candidates in 2006. Or the Office of Management and Budget, whose chief procurement officer was sentenced to prison in the Abramoff fallout. I will, however, toss in a figure that reveals the sheer depth of the overall malfeasance: no fewer than four inspectors general, the official watchdogs charged with investigating improprieties in each department, are themselves under investigation simultaneously — an all-time record.

Wrongdoing of this magnitude does not happen by accident, but it is not necessarily instigated by a Watergate-style criminal conspiracy. When corruption is this pervasive, it can also be a byproduct of a governing philosophy. That's the case here. [snip] It has become the Republican brand and will remain so, even after this president goes, until courageous Republicans disown it and eradicate it.
"What you've got is everything — and I mean everything — being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."
Meanwhile, most of the pressing matters that the public cares passionately about — Iraq, health care, the environment and energy independence — belong for now to the Democrats. Though that party's first debate wasn't exactly an intellectual feast either, actual issues were engaged by presidential hopefuls representing a cross section of American demographics. You don't see Democratic candidates changing the subject to J.F.K. and F.D.R. They are free to start wrestling with the future while the men inheriting the Bush-Rove brand of Republicanism are reduced to harking back to a morning in America on which the sun set in 1989.
JurassicPork has the entire Rich article.

· ·

Another Violent Spammer

by: Dark Wraith

The Wraith Cometh The Fat Lady Sings has been under attack by a spammer who wants to silence her. He's the usual sort: vile, threatening, obscene; in short, a sociopath—a pathetic excuse for a man who likes to prey on womenfolk because he, like all of his craven kind, thinks women are weak, stupid, and deserving of sexually charged hate speech. These criminals are cowards who think they can hide behind phony e-mail addresses and miserably weak IP anonymizers. They're nothing but belly-crawlers who can't grow up. The same kind of scum that terrorized blogger Melissa McEwan (aka "Shakespeare's Sister") at the behest of a heretik who poses as a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church and the guardian of the legacy of Jesus of Nazareth.

At the end of their days, these monstrosities will burn in the Hell of eternal nothingness; but long before they stew in that infinite, ceaseless, tormenting pot of not-being, they will be caught by law enforcement authorities here on this mortal Earth, and they will be punished. The sicko menacing The Fat Lady Sings isn't far from that fate.

Tonight, he's scared. He should be. He's going to be caught, and he can only imagine what that means.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

· · ·


by: Dark Wraith

Dominionist and CrossSo Monica Goodling, that 30-something graduate of Right-wing religious extremist Pat Robertson's Regent University training school for Dominionism soldiers—that 30-something, Right-wing, still-wet-behind-the-ears religious whacko who was running the show at DoJ concerning which federal prosecutors would be hired and fired—has now been granted immunity by the congressional committee she defied when it issued her a subpoena.

Just for the record, normal people would be thrown in prison to rot for defying subpoenas.

Regular, everyday kinds of people could face the death penalty for subverting the Constitution to create a one-party state.

And at the very least, average Joes and Janes would be paraded in shackles before glaring TV cameras for breaking the laws that these Republican criminals have been spitting on for the past six-plus years.

Yes, this country has gone insane, and now it's the Democrats in Congress, for God's sake, who are handing out immunity to the ones who have made it that way.

It seems the Democrats really do coddle criminals. The Republicans should be terribly grateful for that, now.

· ·
12 May 2007

Thanks, Mom

by: Foiled Goil

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

Author: Mary Rita Schilke Korzan

When you thought I wasn't looking
You hung my first painting on the refrigerator
And I wanted to paint another.

When you thought I wasn't looking
You fed a stray cat
And I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking
You baked a birthday cake just for me
And I knew that little things were special things.

When you thought I wasn't looking
You said a prayer
And I believed there was a God that I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn't looking
You kissed me good-night
And I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn't looking
I saw tears come from your eyes
And I learned that sometimes things hurt --
But that it's alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking
You smiled
And it made me want to look that pretty too.

When you thought I wasn't looking
You cared
And I wanted to be everything I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking --
I looked ...

And wanted to say thanks
For all those things you did
When you thought I wasn't looking.

Dick as John

by: Dark Wraith

Cheney emergesVia PoliShifter at Pissed on Politics, we learn that Wayne Madsen is reporting that he has triple confirmation that Vice President Dick Cheney is one of the thousands of movers and shakers in the Capitol who's on the client list of the so-called "DC Madam," Deborah Jeane Palfrey. As the sometimes-on-the-mark/sometimes-not Mr. Madsen points out in a follow-up, Mr. Cheney's unfortunate registry on that manifest of mounting men might explain why Ms. Palfrey was forbidden by a judge from selling the list and why—despite the self-congratulatory tone of ABC News for getting the free scoop—the names on the list stopped being published after only one or two pathetic Bush Administration hypocrites had been outed.

Should we believe this scurrilous, altogether hateful rumor about the Vice President of the United States of America? Indeed, that's a question we should ponder carefully before jumping to rude conclusions.

Yes, indeed.

And so we begin with the jokes...
(1) Okay, so why do you think people call the Vice President "Dick"?

(2) Look, the guy's been screwing the whole country for six years, so what's so strange about him screwing the country one prostitute at a time, huh?

(3) That hunting buddy of Mr. Cheney's apparently wasn't the only person Ol' Dead Eye sprayed with Mr. Twelve-Gauge.

(4) I'll bet the Vice President thought the DC Madam believed him when he said he was "under cover" only for national security purposes.

(5) See? Mr. Cheney's been hard at work pumping al-Qa'ida in Spandex operatives right here in our nation's capitol! Our troops go to Iraq, and Mr. Cheney goes to Erect.
...but I should stop here before I start channeling visuals of Mr. Cheney's sweaty, naked old butt going up and down on some entrepreneurial lady's virtue (dear God, I think I may ralph at the imagery I just conjured).

This is where you, the creative readers here at Big Brass Blog, must grab the initiative and move forward with further derisive, inappropriate, and downright mean-spirited commentary on our righteous, up-right, mushroom-cloud-with-skin Vice President.

The Dark Wraith steps off to the side.

· · ·
11 May 2007

When Even the Rats No Longer RSVP

by: Dark Wraith

The Republican National Committee held its annual spring fundraising gala last night at the DC Armory in Washington DC. According to, this year's party raised "... the smallest take in years" despite the President's personal appearance at the shindig and the sumptuous menu items, which included crabcakes and tenderloin sandwiches, all for the surprisingly affordable price of $1,500 per person.

Below is a nice graphic, suitable for framing and display at home or in the office, of the ebb and flow of RNC spring fundraiser gala fortunes over the past five years.

Republican National Committee Spring Fundraiser Proceeds, 2003-2007


Feel free to use this graphic with attribute.

· · · ·
09 May 2007

Special Video Post: Exchange Rates

by: Dark Wraith

Click here to go to the YouTube page for "Exchange Rates, Part 1"

Click here for the WMV format version of "Exchange Rates, Part 1" (34.0 Mb, 8:56)

Click here to go to the YouTube page for "Exchange Rates, Part 2"

Click here for the WMV format version of "Exchange Rates, Part 2" (35.5 Mb, 9:58 )

Click here to go to the YouTube page for "Exchange Rates, Part 3"

Click here for the WMV format version of "Exchange Rates, Part 3" (27.0 Mb, 7:42)

Click here to go to the YouTube page for "Exchange Rates, Part 4"

Click here for the WMV format version of "Exchange Rates, Part 4" (20.5 Mb, 7:04)

· · ·

We, The... Guilty

by: Foiled Goil

We're all responsible for Iraq
It's not enough to merely criticize the president or say you voted for another candidate. Every American citizen has a political and moral duty to do what’s right for our troops, and for our country.
By James Reston Jr.
The philosophers tell us that there are four types of responsibility for which an individual and a society can be held to account for aggressive or unprovoked war. Criminal guilt applies to the power structure that drags a country into an abyss against its will or upon false pretenses, or the individuals who engage in crime on the battlefield.
Metaphysical guilt means that every human being is responsible for injustices committed anywhere in the world, but especially crimes that are committed in our presence and with our knowledge. Does this apply to us? The legitimization of torture is one instance that seems to fit. It has been done in our presence, with our knowledge. Or the scrapping of the Geneva Conventions. When both a nation and an American citizen acquiesce in the dissolution of accepted moral norms, metaphysical guilt applies.

The two other categories, moral and political guilt, are most pointedly relevant at this stage of the Iraq conflict. It is not enough to complain about President Bush, or to mock him. To mock the president does not relieve one from responsibility for the war being fought in the name of every American. Bush's disaster has become the country's disaster. Every American is now connected to it politically and morally. We cannot be indifferent to the scorn for all things American that characterizes the worldview of us. We must pay attention. It should move us.

In our safe zone, the hypocrisy toward our troops is another instance of moral and political guilt. When a person flaunts his patriotism and then tolerates the exploitation of soldiers, then that citizen is morally culpable for that outrage and a participant in it.
As for political guilt, all citizens bear the responsibility for the way their country is governed. They are, therefore, liable collectively for the political decisions of those leaders they have elected, regardless of whether one voted for the winner.
If there is no collective grief about what has happened in Iraq, and no collective determination to change course, if the hollow drumbeat for victory and continuing war wins out over withdrawal, then that, at the very least, will define what and who we have become, as a nation, as a people, and as individuals.
VideoVets Ad from

· · · · · ·
08 May 2007

The Open House Project -- Let the Sunshine In!

by: Gary

Today the Sunlight Foundation officially launched the Open House Project, and I for one hope my shiny new Citizen Congressional Press Pass is not far behind!

The Open House Project is a massive bipartisan collaboration offering recommendations to Congress for bringing it openly into the current technical age of Internet and information access. This report is long overdue, and hopefully just the first step in what will be a complete overhaul of how information is shared from within the Congress.
John Wonderlich, program director of the Sunlight Foundation. “This is truly exciting because our simple and straightforward recommendations will discourage corruption and increase accountability, fostering a deeper connection between civically empowered constituents and their legislators.”
I have learned, through discussion with John Wonderlich (Sunlight Project Director and former employee of mine...I miss him!) that Congress is a creature of habit and ritual (much to my dismay). Things are done a particular way because that's how they are done. If you have any experience with Cows, they are like minded creatures. They travel the same paths and the same patterns each day. Interrupt their path, and they are lost. More specifically, the whole heard will stand still and wait for the object to move, rather than go around. Seems to me that Congress as an organism is similar. If you take away the known path, then it gets lost and doesn't know what to do next. So the Sunlight Foundation is going to "pave the cow paths," solidifying the method while allowing us front row seats to the information traveling along those well worn pathways.

John goes on to further explain his motivation and goals in this project on a post on DailyKOS:
"The Open House Project is only a first step in creating a meaningful online movement of engaged activists who understand that the Internet has the potential to redefine the way citizens interact with their government. Creating meaningful awareness has tangible results. Even if you're not an addict sifting through documents from the House Judiciary Committee at 1 AM, collaborative projects on websites like Daily Kos, or TPM Muckraker have staggering potential.

When so many people point a few minutes of their leisure time to activities that are collaborative and constructive, the whole becomes far more than the sum of its parts. We end up changing the way that political incentives work in Washington."
What better reason could there be for us to help the Sunlight Foundation cast the light of integrity, ethical conduct, and conscience on the legislature of this great democracy? If the process is opened to us all, and made to be truly transparent, think of the great work that could finally be done in this nation?! Imagine the progress that can be made if the money that taints the process is obvious to us one and all? Imagine the future where a Congress member does "the right thing" because the light of transparency is enough to keep him honest and connected to his constituents. Contemplate a future where elected officials do what is best for us, not simply what is easiest, most profitable, or merely the will of their party?

Transparency has the power to expose, and by virtue of it's light police, those that would otherwise rule us weakly in favor of their own personal motivations, lined pockets, and those that filter the power and money to them. Transparency has the power to return this government "of the people and for the people" back to the hands of the people. The information age can set us free, but only with the concerted actions of all involved to make change. The Open House Project is the first step in this vitally important process.

To these points John adds:
"To me, that's an important point. We don't need to find smoking gun documents. We don't want them to exist in the first place.

We want lawmakers who make decisions in the interest of their constituents. We want to create an incentive for good legislative decisions. We want corruption to be visible so that it isn't such an attractive option for so many lawmakers.

That's why I'm so excited about my new position. I'm going to be working to empower communities like this one, who see value in good politics. I want it to be the case that good legislative decisions are the same thing as good political decisions."
To "empower" those "who see value in good politics."

Isn't that exactly why we all do this?

Aren't we all armchair, or perhaps keyboard, reporters, activists, and political hacks?

We all sit here and exercise our responsibility to the democratic process of this nation. We are empowered already, and because of the glare of the Open House Project we will be more able to motivate, accurately criticize, and empower our legislators to make the tough decisions for the betterment of us all.

The Open House Project is an open dialog, complete with a blog, a wiki, and a Google group listserv. If you have recommendations, I am sure John would love to hear them! As you are all aware, our democracy requires participation, and this critical movement could surely use yours!

This blogger for one is very proud of his friend and colleague. This project has teeth, and mine is a voice that will be part of the bites it takes from the legislature whenever they follow a mere party path, and not the Constitutional Path that is required of them.

This is our time. The sunshine is bright, warm, and everywhere.

Open the House and let it in!

The Open House Project

· · · · · · · ·

More Light Blogging Ahead

by: Minstrel Boy

So, here we are in the middle of another sleepless night. Even Dickens isn't having his usual soporific effect. I figure, OK, might as well get something done. In about six hours I am going to be at the airport with my friends to receive the body of their son. You may not know it but this is something else the Bush administration had to be shamed into doing.

Before there was a big stink raised the bodies were first sent to Dover, where there were no photos allowed. From there they were treated and processed like any other cargo. They made their way like any other baggage. Now it has changed. A public fuss was made and, like the cowards they are, they caved.

We will be there, this morning, with an honor gaurd. Waiting for our son and friend. My emotions are a lot different, maybe since this one has hit much closer to home. These weren't acquaintences or folks that live nearby. These are friends. This isn't some kid I vaguely knew, this is a kid that used to come over and sit in my house, played my guitars, dated my daughter.

Again, the case is that what I believe when it comes to gods and stuff isn't what's important here. What matters is not my politics or spiritual beliefs. The important thing is that my friends are having trouble, they need help that I can give, and I am going to give it.

It doesn't even matter to me now when I think about the questions like: How many more?

As many as I have to do.

How much longer?

As long as it takes.

I've been doing my usual stuff to pull out of the funk. I was at my doctor for another issue and he noted my downbeat mood. He offered medication for depression and I told him I am not fucking depressed. I am sad. I am not in a "down cycle." I am grieving.

I am also fucking outta here for a few days. When my duty at the funeral is finished I'm taking a couple horses up into the Superstition Mountains. I am going to ride around and simply exist for a few. I am not going to think about work, or finance, or politics, or anything except those age old questions of philosophy. One of the things I really appreciate about being out there alone is that the vastness of the landscape and the healed over natural scars of previous attempts to "tame" the desert by the Hohokam, the Spanish, the Mexicans, and lastly the Americans all speak to me of our smallness and insignificance in the scheme of things. I know of some old spring fed water holes that are near an abandoned orchard. I might even get some fishing in. In this area of the mountains they don't allow motorized vehicles so my reveries won't be disturbed by the fumes and noises of engines burning fossil fuels.

My intinerary is this: A day to pack in. A day to hang out. A day to pack out.

The day I am leaving is the day I turn 58. Fifty eight years old, just celebrated fourteen years of sobriety. One of the things I have learned from the sobriety part is that when I get to feeling overwhelmed sometimes the best thing I can do is to step back, take some time away, and just think about stuff. I am taking my mare, Rosalita and my beautiful little mustang Sally and I intend to lie on my back and look up at the stars.

Hell, I might even pray that there's something out there to believe in.

Talk to all ya'll mas tardes amigos.

el rancho harpo
07 May 2007

Monday Skunk Blogging

by: Konagod

We've had problems for the last couple of years with skunks coming up to eat the cat food. They are getting rather tame. I know I shouldn't get attached but they are rather cute. As long as they don't consider me their "daddy." I have five cats. That keeps "daddy" plenty busy.

Crossposted from konagod

Bush Fatigue And Other Ailments

by: Foiled Goil

Bush Fatigue
You know we're in trouble when our President's father tells Larry King that the country is suffering from "Bush fatigue."

You know we're in trouble when Laura Bush tells the nation that nobody suffers more than she and her husband when it comes to Iraq.

You know we're in Lewis Carroll territory when the most memorable Dubya moments of the last two weeks consist of Bush dancing and drumming with a group of African musicians, appearing on "American Idol" and Bush celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a mariachi band.

You know we're down the rabbit hole when Bush re-defines himself as "the Commander guy" and it takes the White House forty-eight hours to correct the official transcripts to "a Commander guy." This is closely akin to changing the statement "I'm THE moron" to "I'm A moron."

I think "Bush fatigue" is only one of many ailments we're suffering from.

Click here for the entire post by Ed Naha.

· · ·
06 May 2007

Round Three of Port Militarization Resistance

by: astraea

Dear Friend,

See below good information compiled by Mark Jensen on his Pierce County United for Peace blog.

Basically we're talking Round Three of northwest Washington Port Militarization Resistance (PMR).

Our efforts so far have helped force the military to leave the Port of Olympia for the Port of Tacoma and now for Aberdeen in order to ship weapons and equipment to Iraq. It's been hard work--costly, dangerous and time-consuming for protesters and law enforcement alike. Twenty-two were arrested at the Port of Olympia last year, 40 this year at the Port of Tacoma.

Meetings and vigils have begun toward protesting this latest shipment from our region's ports, this time in Aberdeen. It seems unconscionable to us that we're playing host to the sending of weapons and equipment in support of escalating an illegal war--especially when that war is being conducted for the sake of oil profits for private, corporate firms. "War" is too abstract a term, too, when we're talking about killing and maiming on a scale that's almost (but unfortunately not quite) unimaginable.

Then there's the depleted uranum we've used, are using--to harden protective armor of our troop vehicles and to harden the weaponry we use against others. We leave it behind, for centuries, as a testament of our evil-doing. And "evil" it is, if anything is, partly because our own troops are among the first who fall victim to depleted uranium, as veterans of the first Gulf War found out. It is especially hard to bear knowledge of this when we witness these same veterans coming home to no treatment at all, or poor treatment--as evidenced in the recent scandal over conditions at Walter Reed and dozens of other hospitals nationwide (a scandal that's largely vanished from corporate media).

Bush says "Support the Troops," but he cuts funding for their medical and psychological treatment. He uses and reuses the troops to do the dirty work for corporate oil interests, then dumps them off when they're used up. That's evil. I will restrain myself for the time being and not attach youtube videos of Iraqi children who are suffering from congenital disorders caused by depleted uranium; but please know that the harm our nation has done in Iraq will not soon be forgotten by the people of the Middle East.

I hope they will also remember that some of us stood up and said, "Not in our name!"

Thanks for listening. Scroll down for Mark's gathering of news reports.

Yours in nonviolence, Tenzing

Karma Tenzing Wangchuk
Port Townsend, Washington

P. S. There may be arrests in the course of this action. I hope those of you unable to take part will consider making donations to any legal defense fund that's set up. Email me for information if you like. Also, please feel free to send this message to friends.


"The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States,
shall be removed from office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason,
Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors."
--Constitution of the United States, The Artlcle II, Section 4 (1787)

"Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine."
--Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience" (1849)

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Mark Jensen
Subject: AP,DW,O,GS: War matériel and protesters head for Aberdeen;
demonstrations expected

LOCAL NEWS & BACKGROUND: War matériel and protesters head for
Aberdeen; demonstrations expected

[By midday Thursday, more signs appeared that a significant protest is
building around the shipment of war matériel through the Port of Grays
Harbor in Aberdeen, WA.[1] -- A 3:30 p.m. peace vigil on Friday
afternoon outside Aberdeen's City Hall has been called by activists,
and more demonstrations are being planned. -- Local police are
promising to respect protesters' rights, but also consulting with
police units that unleashed tear gas and bullets on peaceful
protesters at the Port of Tacoma less than two months ago. --
UFPPC's Mark Jensen reviews the latest media reports, and also
comments on the background of the 4th Squadron, 6th U.S. Calvary unit
whose equipment is involved. --Mark]


By Mark Jensen

United for Peace of Pierce County
May 3, 2007

AP reported Thursday that antiwar protesters have "started showing up
at the Port of Grays Harbor in Aberdeen" in response to the military's
plans to ship Fort Lewis helicopters through the port to Iraq.[2]

Aberdeen Police Captain Dave Johnson "says police support the right of
the groups to assemble as long as it is orderly and legal"; AP did not
mention temporary parking bans in local neighborhoods that suggest the

The *Daily World* (Aberdeen, WA) said Thursday that more military
equipment, including "[f]latbed trucks carrying sand-colored Jeeps and
other vehicles," continued to arrive at the Port of Grays Harbor, and
that "a ship is anticipated to arrive this weekend."[3] Paula Horton
reported that "peace rallies, protests, and acts of civil
disobedience" are being discussed by Olympia Port Militarization
Resistance (PMR) and Aberdeen peace groups.

Aberdeen police say they support protesters' rights, but local
residents expressed concerns about whether "[a] public assembly area
-- a large grass field east of the Pacific Pride fueling station on
the Port Industrial Road," offered by police as a protest site will be
accepted as appropriate by protesters who believe they have not only a
right but a duty to protest military shipments to an illegal war and

Ominously, Horton reported that "Aberdeen Police are working closely
with the Port, State Patrol, the Grays Harbor, and King County
sheriff's offices and Tacoma Police Department on operational plans to
respond to anti-war activists." (The use of excessive force by police
against peaceful protesters marked both the May 2006 PMR action in
Olympia and, especially, the March 2007 PMR action in Tacoma, where
civil suits against the City of Tacoma have recently been filed.)

The *Olympian* (Olympia, WA) reported that the movement of war
matériel was taking place because "600 soldiers assigned to the 4th
Squadron, 6th U.S. Cavalry will deploy from Fort Lewis in the coming

Christian Hill said a U.S. military spokesperson denied the use of the
Port of Grays Harbor was chosen in attempt to minimize difficultes
from protesters. He noted that the military unit involved is related
to the Stryker brigade whose equipment moved through the Port of
Tacoma in March: "The 4-6 squadron was attached to the 2nd Armored
Cavalry Regiment when it moved to Fort Lewis from Fort Polk, La., in
2005. The regiment converted into a Stryker combat brigade and was
redesignated the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division last summer as
part of an Army-wide reorganization. The air cavalry squadron became
its own unit."

A long-out-of-date text posted on the Global Security web site
describes the history of the unit, which in 2003 "contributed to the
death or capture of hundreds of terrorists that will no longer
threaten Iraq or our loved ones in the United States," according to
the text.[5]

"They also assisted in the seizure of thousands of small arms,
hundreds of heavy caliber weapons, tons of munitions, all the while
making the streets of Iraq safe for her citizens one day at a time."
They also "helped lay the foundation for the establishment of a safe,
secure and democratic Iraq."

And now, it appears, they they are being sent to kill or capture
hundreds of "terrorists," seize thousands of weapons, tons of
munitions, make the streets of Iraq save for her citizens, and help
lay the foundation for the establishment of a safe, secure, and
democratic Iraq -- again.



Associated Press
May 3, 2007

ABERDEEN, Wash. -- Some anti-war protesters have started showing up
at the Port of Grays Harbor in Aberdeen where Fort Lewis helicopters
are being shipped to Iraq.

Aberdeen Police Captain Dave Johnson says a few people gathered at
Zelasko Park in anticipation of a larger peace rally.

Johnson says police support the right of the groups to assemble as
long as it is orderly and legal.

Similar Fort Lewis shipments have drawn protests at the ports of
Tacoma in March and Olympia last May.

About two dozen Kiowa and Blackhawk helicopters from Fort Lewis landed
at Aberdeen Tuesday to be loaded on a ship.


Local news

By Paula Horton

Daily World (Aberdeen, WA)
May 3, 2007

More military equipment from Fort Lewis bound for Iraq continues to
arrive at the Port of Grays Harbor as anti-war activists begin making
plans for protests, demonstrations, and peace rallies in Aberdeen.

The activists say they are not planning any violent demonstrations and
want to have a peaceful co-existence with law enforcement. Police
officials say they support the protesters' right to assemble and also
hope to have a cooperative relationship with them.

Flatbed trucks carrying sand-colored Jeeps and other vehicles arrived
at the Port near The Home Depot this morning.

At least two dozen helicopters with the 4-6 Air Calvary Squadron
landed Tuesday, and additional equipment is expected to arrive
throughout the week. Specific details about the cargo headed to the
Middle East are not being released, but a ship is anticipated to
arrive this weekend.

Meanwhile, local anti-war activists and the Olympia Port
Militarization Resistance are beginning to organize to protest the use
of the Port for participation in what they characterize as the
"illegal occupation of Iraq."

"Because ports are public entities and the war is illegal, using the
ports to support troop movement . . . makes us legally liable for that
illegal act," said Drew Hendricks, with the Olympia Port
Militarization Resistance.

The group, which protested military shipments from the Port of Olympia
last May and the Port of Tacoma in March, met Wednesday night in
Olympia to discuss plans for vigils, rallies, and demonstrations.

A schedule of tentative activities in Aberdeen posted online this
morning indicates a vigil may be held at 7 tonight, along with a vigil
at noon Friday in front of Aberdeen City Hall and possible "major
action, demonstration," on Sunday.

Hendricks said the plans could include peace rallies, protests, and
acts of civil disobedience, but the group is waiting to see how
Harborites want to make their statements.

"We come up with creative ideas for events that will work and that we
can help organize, but they get the final say," he said. "We're just
making contingency plans."

Candace Milne of Humptulips, serving as spokeswoman for a loose group
of Harborites opposed to the war, said in an e-mailed statement that
the group is "saddened" that the Port of Grays Harbor is being used
for the military shipments.

The purpose of the protests is to send a message to elected officials
that it's time to end the war and bring the troops home, her statement
said. Protest times were not yet determined, but she did say a peace
rally is being considered for Saturday.

"It is our view that shipping more military cargo and sending more
troops to Iraq only prolongs the war," the statement said. "We want
things to move in the opposite direction, namely from Iraq back to the
United States and not vice versa."

Milne's statement expressed disappoint[ment] with the Port
Commissioners for not holding a public meeting to let residents know
about the military's plan and to gauge public reaction.

Commissioner Chuck Caldwell said this morning that he wasn't involved
in the negotiations -- it was handled by the Port manager -- but the
Port has to be available for all functions -- whether it's public or
private. He also said the shipment plans all "came about very, very

"I think everybody is working for the best interest of the county and
the Port and the people that we're obligated to," Caldwell said.
"This stuff is going to be shipped from somewhere . . . in my mind
there's no reason it can't be shipped through our Port.

"We don't have to agree with where it's going, but I surely think we
would want to support all of our troops," he added. "We can't cut off
their support, regardless of how we feel about it."

Aberdeen Police are working closely with the Port, State Patrol, the
Grays Harbor and King County sheriff's offices, and Tacoma Police
Department on operational plans to respond to anti-war activists,
Capt. Dave Johnson said.

A public assembly area -- a large grass field east of the Pacific
Pride fueling station on the Port Industrial Road -- has been
established, he said. Local groups have contacted the Police
Department advising them of their intent to assemble and to seek
proper permits, but Johnson said permits won't be necessary.

"We appreciate the spirit of cooperation with these groups," the
police captain said. "We firmly believe that they have the right to
assemble and protest as long as it's done in an orderly and lawful
manner. We would like to work with them and help them address any
needs that they have in order to accomplish this."

Milne's statement expressed concerns about the "free speech zone" that
was prepared, but also stated the group was hopeful the site would be

"We are confident that our Aberdeen police force is fully trained in
civil rights and that they genuinely want to honor these rights," she
said. "We look forward to having a very amicable relationship with

The Olympia Port Militarization Resistance group also wants to reach
out to local law enforcement to try to avoid the "hyper violence" that
occurred during the protests in Tacoma, Hendricks said.

"We don't show up to these things to try to bring more violence than
the military's bringing . . ." Hendricks said. "We're not there to
hurt law enforcement. We're not there to hurt soldiers. At the most
we're talking about putting bodies in front of a truck.

"We are non-violent."


By Christian Hill

** Anti-Iraq War protesters ' planning to do something,' activist says **

Olympian (Olympia, WA)
May 3, 2007

The Port of Grays Harbor in Aberdeen has begun receiving military
equipment bound for Iraq, and war protesters, including some from
South Sound, are expected to head to the area.

More than 600 soldiers assigned to the 4th Squadron, 6th U.S. Cavalry
will deploy from Fort Lewis in the coming weeks. Helicopters assigned
to the squadron began flying into the port this week.

It is the third local port that the Army has used to ship equipment
belonging to a major Fort Lewis unit to Iraq in the past year. People
protested using the public ports for what they call an illegal and
immoral war in May 2006 at Port of Olympia and in March at Port of
Tacoma. About 80 people were arrested during protests at both ports.

Trey Smith of Aberdeen, treasurer of the Green Party of Washington
State, said the Army chose to move equipment out of the smaller
community to avoid protests and publicity.

"They (protesters in Olympia and Tacoma) were so effective, they moved
it here," Smith said.

Joe Hitt, a Fort Lewis spokesman, said the earlier protests had no
bearing on the decision to move the equipment out of Grays Harbor.

"It was selected because of its availability," he said. "We've used
the port in the past. We've used the Everett port before. This is
not unique."

Olympia Port Militarization Resistance met Wednesday night to discuss
how to respond to the Army's use of the neighboring port. The group
invited activists from Aberdeen to participate.

"We are planning to do something," said Jeffery Berryhill, a group
member arrested in the two earlier protests.

Smith said he expected the protests to include Aberdeen residents as
well as people from Olympia and Tacoma.

Aberdeen police and port officials have designated an area for public
assembly across the street from the port's loading area.

"We firmly believe that people have a right to protest," Aberdeen
police Capt. Dave Johnson said. "We'll make every provision for them
to protest, but we also don't want them to commit crimes while they're

The 4-6 squadron was attached to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment when
it moved to Fort Lewis from Fort Polk, La., in 2005. The regiment
converted into a Stryker combat brigade and was redesignated the 4th
Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division last summer as part of an Army-wide
reorganization. The air cavalry squadron became its own unit.

The Stryker brigade recently deployed to Iraq for a 15-month tour. It
shipped its equipment from the Port of Tacoma, drawing protesters.

Previously, protesters demonstrated at the Port of Olympia when
equipment belonging to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, another
Stryker combat brigade based at Fort Lewis, was shipped to the
Mideast. That brigade is expected to come home in October.

Nearly 40 people were arrested during the 10 days of protests nearly a
year ago. Sixteen await a new trial for allegedly trespassing on port
property May 30. The judge declared a mistrial during the first
proceeding in March.



4/6 AIR CALVARY SQUADRON (4/6 ACS) "SABRE" (formerly "4th Squadron
'Winged Dragoon'")

Global Security
[November 2004?]

The Regimental Aviation Squadron, which was previously a part of the
2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, is realigned to the XVIII Airborne Corps
as the 4/6 Air Cavalry Squadron (4/6 ACS). The final unit
configuration for the 4/6 ACS has not been determined as of November
2004. Assuming that unit configuration would be similar to that of
the Regimental Aviation Squadron, the 4/6 ACS would employ a total of
41 rotary wing aircraft as follows:

24 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters
8 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters
9 AH-64 Apache helicopters

4th Squadron is part of the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment and is located
at Fort Polk, Louisiana. The units mission is to deploy on order a
Regimental Aviation Squadron (RAS) to conduct reconnaissance, screen
and air movement anywhere in the world; prepared to fight on arrival.
On order, conduct joint armed reconnaissance in support of operation
Prime Chance [NOTE: The *Olympian* (Olympia, WA) reported (May 3,
2007) that "The 4-6 squadron was attached to the 2nd Armored Cavalry
Regiment when it moved to Fort Lewis[, WA] from Fort Polk, La., in
2005. The regiment converted into a Stryker combat brigade and was
redesignated the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division last summer as
part of an Army-wide reorganization. The air cavalry squadron became
its own unit."]

The 4th Squadron is an Air Cavalry Squadron consisting of...

go. read.

Bring them home.

xposted at moon's favors

· · · ·
05 May 2007

Wacky Wocky Wonky

by: Foiled Goil


by Lewis Carroll
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

by Devilstower

I'm not in favor of a bill making English the national language. Still, every now and then, I'd like to think that my president, my congress, and my press have at least a passing familiarity with... you know, those word things. Clearly, that's not the case. Because anyone able to understand syntax more complex than that of Go, Dog, Go (or perhaps, The Pet Goat) would certainly point out that what the president of the United States is producing -- and the major Republican candidates are parroting -- is pure and utter nonsense.

I'm not talking about lies. Forget whether or not they're lying. I'm not talking about Bush's tendency toward malapropisms. Let him tongule his tang all he wants. I'm talking about a president gone completely
brillig, and a press and congress too slithy to call him on it.

The first stanza of this nonsense poem looks like this:
"It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing," Bush said. "All the terrorists would have to do is mark their calendars and gather their strength and begin plotting how to overthrow the government and take control of the country of Iraq."
If idiocy had gravity, that paragraph would collapse into a black hole. Let's take it sentence by sentence:

1. — Here's a news flash -- there is no such thing as surprise withdrawal. You can't sneak 160,000 soldiers out of Iraq in the trunk of a Volvo. One day, America will leave Iraq, and when we do, we will catch no one -- no one -- by surprise. [...] When we start to leave, it will be broadcast on every station around the world for months in advance and there is not one damn thing anyone can do about that. Whenever any Republican advances the "we can't let them know when we're leaving line," they should follow it with an agonized scream, because stupidity that powerful ought to hurt.

2. — So, knowing when we're going to depart, the terrorists would... settle down and plot while we went on about our business? [...] If giving a timeline would make the terrorists sit down and check off the days like Ralphie waiting for his Red Ryder, then why not give a deadline on day one? Heck, make it an announcement "Hey, bad guys, we're going to leave in a year. In the meantime, why don't you park it some place while the government gets its act together, we repair a few power plants, get the water running, and get people used to peace."

The president is daily delivering a message that directly translates to "We plan on sneaking all our troops out of town, because otherwise they'd wait for us to leave before shooting," and no one is calling him on it. Hell, nine out of ten little tin soldiers stood up at the Republican debate to repeat this message almost word for word.

What's stanza #2 of the national nonsense?
"Al Qaeda terrorists who behead captives and order suicide bombings in Iraq would not simply be satisfied to see us gone. A retreat in Iraq would mean that they would likely follow us here."
I was only sixteen when I worked for my local weekly paper, but there were these things they taught us to ask back then -- questions they called them. Who. What. When. Maybe even why and how. [...] Who will follow us home? How will they do that? What the holy hell have you been sniffing? The insurgents in Iraq are Iraqis, they already are home. [...] If terrorists can really hop a jet and land in America, it's because this administration is fixated on Iraq and had done next to nothing about real problems of national security. In fact, this whole second paragraph translates as "We've done nothing to stop terrorists from coming here." [...]

The idea that anyone would accept the statements above with a response other than laughter or pity, shows that national standards for sanity have been set very low.

· · · ·

Comfort Food - - - Double Chocolate Bread, Peanut Butter, Blackberry Jam Sandwiches

by: Minstrel Boy

This morning when I came in from the barn and the garden I saw my 11 year old niece perched at a counter in the kitchen. I said "Good morning." She said "My mom and dad are painting, they didn't want me around. I told them I wanted to come hang out with you and do some cooking." I said "Great! What would you like to make?" She said "I want PBJ's with that chocolate bread you brought over last week." I said "Sounds like a plan my dear." She said "I want the peanut butter you make." Me "Can't think of anything else worthy of that bread, let me check and see if there's any put up." Her "No, I want to learn how to make it myself. You just watch." Me "Let's get started then."

The first thing to do is to break out the bread machine and make


1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar (we used baker's sugar that has been stored with vanilla beans)
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1/3 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (about 12 squares of a Trader Joe's Pound Plus® 70% cocoa mass Bittersweet Chocolate)*

*or you can use semisweet chocolate chips, but it won't be near as good

Put everything but the chocolate into the machine's baking pan in the order listed. Set the machine for Sweet Bread. Add the chocolate bits when the signal beeps after the first rising. Cool on a rack in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove and cool completely before slicing.

(extremely kid friendly recipe)

2 cups roasted, shelled peanuts
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (if using salted peanuts omit)
1/2 cup chopped roasted, shelled peanuts (for crunchy peanut butter)

Put the first three ingredients in a food processor with the chopping blade. Whirl on annihilate for three to four minutes until a ball forms, then disintegrates slowly. Stop this process two or three times to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Continue to pulse until you have a spreadable product. Then stir in the chopped peanuts to get crunchy peanut butter. (we don't do much else around here, we be fans of crunchy.

Note: This will keep for about a month if kept in an airtight jar in the refrigerator. The oils will separate and it must be stirred before each use. Once you've had this, you'll say "Fuck Skippy." (not skippy, the bush kangaroo but that pasty crap they sell in stores)

We've covered Blackberry Jam already folks.

To assemble your sandwiches, spread two pieces of bread with butter (homemade peanut butter will tear the crap out of even the sturdiest of breads), spread the peanut butter, then the jam, put them together. Serve with BBQ potato chips and tall glasses of cold milk.

This is best enjoyed in the company of children you adore.

el rancho harpo

· · ·
04 May 2007

When the Rocketmen Flew

by: Dark Wraith

· ·

Mandy Steckelberg's "Laura Bush Music Video"

by: Dark Wraith

YouTube link to Mandy's video

· · · · ·

Apology for Light Blogging and a Friday Random Ten

by: Minstrel Boy

I have been burned out in all phases of my life. When I got home last week my knees were aching and sore. Then, I received horrid news when an old friend called me to ask if I would play the harp for the funeral of her 20 year old son, recently killed in Bagdhad. I knew this boy, he has been in my house, he even dated Medschoolgirl for a minute. All he wanted to do was get the money to pay for his college education himself. Which, is, simply something that wasn't neccessary. The money for college was there. I don't know why he joined. I don't know why any of them join anymore. I don't know how anyone can refuse to be aware of six years of lies, schemes, frauds, neglect and incompetence in the extreme. I don't know how we can get this shit to stop. I don't know nothing 'bout birthin' no goddamn babies.

I have been forced to learn how to bury them.

Yesterday, my friends stopped by. They had received the box of their son's belongings. One of the things they brought with them was his iPod. They told me that before he was deployed my daughter, at his request had put some tracks of my playing on his iPod. He had written his mom about one song in particular. He called it "The Slide Song." He said that when he returned from patrols he would listen to it over and over to help himself relax. As they scrolled through the music however, they couldn't find a song by that title. I knew instantly what they were talking about. It was one of my daughter's favorite songs. It's called "A Sailor's Grave on the Prairie," written, and arranged by Leo Kottke. It is a calming, beautiful piece. I will be playing it, both at the church, and at the gravesite.

I was forced to delegate the change of the worship order to my friends. I have already in the course of the week snapped on the minister. I told him I would do my duty as a friend, neighbor, and musician but he must leave me out of the snake oil parts of his show. And, no, I will not wear your fucking stupid robes when I play. The young man's father requested I bring my bagpipes to the grave also.

Of course I will.

Starting with the obvious, the first song on today's list will be

A Sailor's Grave on the Prarie - - - Me
(all others are random)

Lola - - - Kinks
Bird on a Wire - - - Aaron Neville
Many Rivers to Cross - - - Jimmy Cliff
Lawyers, Guns, and Money - - - Warren Zevon (live bootleg, me on guitar)
Bang On The Drum All Day - - - Todd Rundgren
Mr. Soul - - - Neil Young (live, unplugged)
Four Strong Winds - - - Ian Tyson
Baiden Fheilimi - - - Sinead O'Connor
Tipitina - - - Professor Longhair

Bonus Track

How Long Blues - - - Furry Lewis

I will pull out of this funk eventually. I apologise for my silence.

harp and sword
03 May 2007

VA Get Bonuses, Veterans Get Shortchanged

by: Foiled Goil

Lawmakers Wants VA to Explain Bonuses

by Hope Yen, AP
Congressional leaders on Thursday demanded that the Veterans Affairs secretary explain hefty bonuses for senior department officials involved in crafting a budget that came up $1 billion short and jeopardized veterans' health care.

Rep. Harry Mitchell, chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs subcommittee on oversight, said he would hold hearings to investigate after The Associated Press reported that budget officials at the Veterans Affairs Department received bonuses ranging up to $33,000.

Sen. Daniel Akaka, who heads the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, said the payments pointed to an improper "entitlement for the most centrally placed or well-connected staff." He has sent a letter to VA chief Jim Nicholson asking what the department plans to do to eliminate any bonuses based on favoritism.

"These reports point to an apparent gross injustice at the VA that we have a responsibility to investigate,'' said Mitchell, D-Ariz. "No government official should ever be rewarded for misleading taxpayers, and the VA should not be handing out the most lucrative bonuses in government as veterans are waiting months and months to see a doctor."

One member of the House committee, Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., called for Nicholson to resign.
Among those receiving payments were a deputy assistant secretary and several regional directors who crafted the VA's flawed budget for 2005 based on misleading accounting. They received performance payments up to $33,000 each, a figure equal to about 20 percent of their annual salaries.

Also receiving a top bonus was the deputy undersecretary for benefits, who helps manage a disability claims system that has a backlog of cases and delays averaging 177 days in getting benefits to injured veterans.

The bonuses were awarded even after government investigators had determined the VA repeatedly miscalculated - if not deliberately misled taxpayers - with questionable methods used to justify Bush administration cuts to health care amid the burgeoning Iraq war.

Annual bonuses to senior VA officials now average more than $16,000 - the most lucrative in government. All bonuses are proposed by division chiefs, then approved by Nicholson.
Several watchdog groups questioned the practice. They cited short-staffing and underfunding at VA clinics that have become particularly evident after recent disclosures of shoddy outpatient treatment of injured troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

"Hundreds of thousands of our veterans remain homeless every day and hundreds of thousands more veterans wait six months or more for VA disability claim decisions," said Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense. "The lavish amounts of VA bonus cash would be better spent on a robust plan to cut VA red tape."
"Awards should be determined according to performance," said Akaka, D-Hawaii. "I am concerned by this generous pat on the back for those who failed to ensure that their budget requests accurately reflected VA's needs."
"Time and time again, Secretary Nicholson, a former chair of the Republican National Committee, opted to offer political spin instead of preparing for the inevitable influx of new veterans entering the system," Hare said. "Veterans deserve a secretary that will fight for them."


The Denim Demons

by: Konagod

I have more thoughts to share regarding dress codes, so consider this part 2 in an unexpected series.

konagod's views on dress codes in the office date back to 1962.

I remember back when I was a preteen, and on into my teen years, when visiting New Orleans with my parents, we always went to a few restaurants which had one of those requirements for a jacket on men. I thought it was bullshit at an early age so imagine what I think about it now.

It's about a bunch of fucking well-to-do white men and women who don't want their dinner spoiled by someone wearing less than THEIR ideal attire. So, although I'm paying the same prices for SERVICE and the same food, I am required to rise to their "level" in order to preserve THEIR snobbishness. Even if I'm dining in a borrowed jacket. Yep, that's right folks. The restaurants maintained an extensive closet full of jackets of all sizes to make sure everyone conformed. Pardon my crude language, but fuck that shit. And fuck all those people who play the game, and fuck those restaurants. You want me to pay you to eat your food (Brennan’s) I'll wear what I fucking please.


Back when I used to work for another ad agency based in Iowa, I was fortunate in that I worked from home, but I still had to visit the Iowa office once a year or so. And of course I'd be in the email loop of all things going on internally.

The office was located in a small town in a building which could easily have been -- and probably was used as -- a warehouse at some point. The dress code was casual, except when a client would visit. An email would go out reminding employees to clean up their areas and to dress appropriately. "No denim of any color" was always part of the request.

Help me here. Since when did denim become demonized? I always wondered what would happen if the client had happened to be Levi Strauss. Don't you know some things would be worded differently?

Denim is 100% cotton. And it's comfortable. I guess Dockers are also 100% cotton, and of course there's various other pants available that are all cotton or some combination. Who are these fashion police and where do they get off dictating what's acceptable and what's not? Had I been in Iowa for those client visits, I could have chosen to defy orders and worn a nice new pair of denim jeans, or put on a faded and worn-out pair of Dockers. Which looks best?

I know I'm stirring up trouble here, and I do understand the point, however illogical and stupid I believe it to be. I'm a firm believer in being yourself -- and that includes how you choose to adorn yourself with cloth. If you enjoy wrapping a piece of cloth around your neck (which serves no purpose and the cost of which could probably feed a meal to a few families in poverty) and letting it dangle, and then topping it off with a dark jacket, even though it might be 106 degrees outside (41 for my friends in the rest of the world -- we're a little backwards here in the States), then go right ahead. Don't mind me if I laugh at you.

I simply don't like people who are happy about putting on a false facade with attire. Notice how I phrased that statement. I don't want anyone to get offended because you think I won't like you, or think less of you, because you wear dressy clothes. As one or two people made clear in comments, they may work in a place where they are required to dress a certain way. Most people probably need the job. That's fine. Do it and be unhappy with the attire. But challenge it when you have the opportunity. Just be aware that many of these employers can outsource your job to another country at the drop of a hat if they feel it will improve their profits and not jeopardize the company. Most of these corporate employers don't give a crap about YOU personally. You are there as a servant, presenting an image THEY want for THEIR company, and you are simply paid to comply. I often get the impression that job performance is an afterthought; your image is of paramount importance.

Similarly, if you truly enjoy wearing a suit and a tie, or you are more comfortable in "business casual" attire while on the job, more power to you. I won't think less of you if I know it's your choice. I may think you are nuts for wearing a suit in Austin in the summer, but I won't think less of you if you truly enjoy it, because that's you.

As for me, I just want to be who I am. I want to be recognized and judged by what I accomplish on the job. For someone to make an issue of my attire -- particularly in a wild & crazy creative environment such as the one I'm in, is rather insulting if I'm doing my job and achieving success for both the client and the agency.

Another of my all-time favorites is the church routine. Like Jesus cares whether you are wearing a suit and a tie and that's going to get you into heaven. Give me a break.

I hate to come across as crass, but civilization is fucked up.


Epilogue: txrad just told me to zip up my pants. I said "I don't zip them up because we're drinking so much beer and tequila I have to pee often. And I don't want to zip my pecker."

"Put on some underwear," he replied.

My retort was, "I don't want to wear underwear; I'm home, I should be able to relax."

He then went on to insinuate that I end up peeing on myself because I'm not wearing underpants.

"No I don't," I said. I use a piece of tissue to dry myself.

He thought that was strange. "Why is it more strange than allowing your underwear to act as a piss wick?" I replied. "Pissy underwear is OK, but pissy pants are not?"

All he could say was, "I'm telling your mother."

And I was thinking, "Go ahead; she knows I'm odd."

Crossposted from konagod

· · ·

Spineless Twits, Gutless Wonders

by: Debra

It didn't take the Democrats twenty four hours to drop their knickers. What the heck is wrong with them? Have they no backbone? Have they no pride? GHB in the coffee? Are they freakin' deaf? The American people want a timetable and they want the troops to come home. Sooner rather than later. How difficult is this to understand? I work with developmentally disabled people and they get it just fine. Heck, they even talk about impeachment. They want to start with Cheney first. Extremely perceptive, they are.

John Edwards is right. Send Bush back the original bill and let Bush veto it as many times as he wants. His debacle has been funded and like any good lender, Congress should insist on a repayment plan. In this instance, a reasonable time period to bring the troops home. Make it clear that he is the one who is the obstructionist and that they are representing the will of the people.

Gawd, they get on my last nerve. Next week they'll be whining abut how nobody takes them seriously. If only there was some other option besides the Republicans and one issue candidates.


· ·
02 May 2007

a troubled nation...

by: Konagod

so I must play troubled music.

Let's talk about packaging. txrad just old me that Whole Foods Market is selling chopped onions in plastic containers for at least a couple of bucks. And as txrad said, "The packaging is probably worth more than the product."

And I said, "Yes, but the markup is HUGE." Because Americans are a bunch of lazy fucks.

How many of the people reading my blog know how to chop a fucking 75-cent onion?

And that's retail. Which brings me to the next question: "What fucking idiot ASSHOLE pays that much for an ONION?"

How many of you look at your grocery prices? Lately?

And, more importantly, are you prepared, at some point in the future, to start bitching about it.

And by bitching, I don't mean frothing off at the mouth. I mean taking that mean nasty shit to the STREETS?

A Blast From The Past

by: Konagod

In 1992 Wilbur Mills (Representative-D-AR) died on this day. He was romatically involved with Fanne Foxe. Anyone remember that? There used to be a freeway in Little Rock named in his honor. I know it was I-630 but I can't find any reference to it now after doing a search. Anyone have any ideas? Did they take it back?

No birthdays I could find for today. And my brain is rather spent after an extremely frustrating day at the orifice.

But hey, at least tomorrow I'm back to wearing shorts and being myself.

Oh, before I forget, J. Edgar Hoover also died on this day. Speaking of attire.....

"What is that? I know what that is... that's music!"

"What kind of a man are you?"

"What do you want to do with your life?"

What strikes me as odd is that Sarah Jessica Parker looked EXACTLY like Dee Snyder in the old episode of Sex and the City we watched last night.
01 May 2007

No Dress Codes Please, We're Hippies

by: Konagod

I have a long history with an aversion to dress codes. I simply have no use for them outside of uniform dress codes for officers of the law (although some of those are over-the-top), airline pilots (we need to identify them because we sure as hell don't want them dressing like ordinary Americans -- a terrorist could be flying the plane!) and trained chefs.

I do not understand the infatuation with cloth and the symbolic underpinnings. I still maintain it's an archaic idea rooted in class distinctions -- to determine who in society is acceptable vs. not acceptable. God forbid we place what's in a person's brain ahead of what garments they wear.

And I really go batshit over sexist dress codes such as earrings being OK on women but not on men. And pantyhose. Yuck. Who on earth thinks it's their business to dictate that a woman must wear a dress and hose!

I was once fired from a job because I wore an orange shirt. Or so the story goes. I worked in a health care environment, but in a back office with no public exposure. One day some higher-ups from the corporate office came by for a surprise visit (suits) and shortly after that I was let go, despite the fact that I enjoyed what I did, I did it well, and I got along great with my co-workers (who were also casual, but wore more earth tones and muted colors). It was bullshit and I knew it.

One of the reasons I love my job is because it's a creative environment and it's casual. I wear shorts to work most days. I don't wear Lycra® running shorts, or swimwear. So no need to quibble over gray areas about what's appropriate in a work environment. No one can determine the size of my penis from what I wear. And for those curious (you sick perverts!), I wear cargo shorts most of the time.

Yesterday an email went out to all employees from one of the head honchos about a client visit today and tomorrow. Obviously I'm not going to name the client but it's a name you'd all recognize, most likely. The person writing the email explained the importance of this client visit -- our agency has recently lost a couple of high-profile clients and we're really banking on a couple of replacement clients -- and how we need to impress their board of directors. The email finished with a request that everyone make an effort to wear "business casual" attire for the next two days, and to arrive at work earlier than the usual 9-10 routine.

txrad and I get there usually around 7:00am so that's never an issue for us. I put on a very nice unique shirt and a pair of dark charcoal jeans today and headed off to work.

Some of the employees with whom I have regular contact were definitely dressed up more today, while others were less obvious. Some made no change at all. We had our department meeting this morning and the issue came up in the meeting.

Our boss remarked about the email and proceeded to suggest that not only was it a good idea, but that our department in particular should be more dressed up because the nicest conference room, one which is utilized frequently for client visits, is located on our floor and therefore we're more visible to clients. Never mind that the clients must somehow get from the first floor to the third without encountering other employees who might be more casual.

Then he made some reference to the creative folks in our department who work in production and said something to the effect that creative people get a free pass when it comes to dressing, but the rest of us are held to a higher standard, with a reference to flip-flops thrown in.

Oh, please. Now I've seen some people around there wearing shorts and flip-flops but I actually do wear shoes. I have no problem with flip-flops, but they just don't work for me if I'm climbing two flights of stairs several times a day.

He insinuated that any of us might get called into a client meeting when clients are visiting and therefore, according to his logic, we need to dress prepared.

This is just great. I work my ass off. I'm personally handling about 25% of an entire media campaign for a huge telecommunications giant (no names here, but imagine a blue orb), and I'm being told what to wear. My mama could get by with that when I was 4-years-old (well, not really; I'd strip naked and go play in the yard, but that's another post), but I'm generating a huge amount of revenue and profit for this agency; I'd at least like a little respect as far as putting my professionalism ahead of something superficial such as what I choose to cover up my private parts. And don't give me any shit about respect being a two-way street. This is about a double-standard, among other things, and it's just absurd.

After tomorrow, I'm back to wearing shorts again. And if the boss doesn't like it, he can hire someone else, and probably won't find anyone as remotely capable as I am, they'll command the same salary, but I suppose he'll be happy because what they are wearing is more important than the work they actually do.

This is a creative environment. We should praise people for being themselves, for being creative, for being comfortable, and for doing a kick-ass job. It has obviously worked up until now or the agency wouldn't be there, and it sure as hell wouldn't be a major player in the world of ad agencies.

I am not going to allow fashion, and the ugly remnants of class distinctions, to shape me into the appearance of something I'm not. I'm me. You are getting your money's worth and plenty more. You don't like it? Then downgrade.

This position I fell into was plan B of a life-change scenario I was facing as of January 2, 2007. I'm quite happy with it. But I am not afraid to switch back to plan A if some asshole wants to give a swatch of fabric more credit than my 17 years of expertise and professionalism.

Crossposted from konagod