Thursday, November 30, 2006


First Steve Irwin. Which was shortly followed by another stingray that lept from the water onto an old man's boat, stabbing him in the chest. And this unholy trinity of Satanic Stingray attacks was completed yesterday when yet another of the vicious brutes stabbed an Australian fisherman in the chest!

But lest you think this tale of marine-borne woe is confined to the ichthyological world, think again. The scourge has spread to the mammals.

For instance, we have this story about violent Sea Lions, which Yahoo! News has been beating into the ground lately. (Hell, I tried to raise the clarion call last spring, warning everyone that those cuddly sea lions were nothing but a crew of drunken, horny, rowdy frat-boys! But does anyone listen to me? Noooooo.)

I respect the sea.

And today, in an act that will undoubtedly get everyone on board with the realization that the marine world has gone to war with the terrestrial, we learn from AP that Shamu himself has gone to the dark side, attempting to inflict harm on the hand that feeds him. Yes, America's favorite captive Orca attacked his trainer, a man who "has been working with animals for 16 years, including 12 spent at Shamu Stadium." I'm too stunned to explain, so I'll let the news piece speak for itself:

The mishap occurred around 5 p.m. when the trainer and Shamu were to go underwater as planned. They were to emerge with the trainer jumping off the whale's nose. "While underwater, the whale opened its mouth and grabbed his foot and kept him underwater for a period of time" . . . When both came up for air, the trainer attempted to calm Shamu by gently rubbing it, but the whale took him down a second time . . . According to the SeaWorld's Web site, a show at 4:30 p.m. "blends new killer whale behaviors with elaborate set pieces, music, choreography and state-of-the-art multimedia."

Hmmmm. Actually, now that I read this, I have to admit I understand the sea creatures' grievences a bit. Maybe I'm just uptight about these things, but I can see attacking someone who "jumps off my nose," "gently rubs me" in an effort to calm me down, and forces me to perform in a cheesy, underwater version of a Broadway musical. Especially if my natural existence involves none of these activities, but instead finds me hunting down other sea creatures in large packs.

They're called killer whales for a reason.



Please reconsider. To wit:

1. The situation in Iraq is a mess: Civil War, anarchy, death squads.

2. The Baker-Hamilton Commission's Report recommends a "gradual pullback" of troops in Iraq. But Bush says:
"I know there's a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there's going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq. This business about a graceful exit just simply has no realism to it at all."
3. The Commission also suggests "direct diplomacy" with Iran and Syria. Iraqi President Maliki, himself, says:
"We are ready to cooperate with everybody who believe that they need to communicate with the national unity government, especially our neighbors. Our doors are open."
But Bush says:
"I appreciate the prime minister's views that the Iraqis are plenty capable of running their own business and they don't need foreign interference from neighbors that will be destabilizing the country."
4. Although he eventually met with the the U.S. President in a "hastily arranged summit," Maliki earlier snubbed Bush by cancelling the planned summit in Jordan at the last minute. Why?

Because National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley called him a no-good bum in a "leaked" report. Because Bush pretty much wants to kill al-Sadr, the only man who can keep Maliki in power at this point. Because Maliki is a no-good bum.

(Incidentally, in addition to plans for "augmenting," "improving," and "growing" Maliki's "capacity," Bush now says that Maliki "doesn't have the capacity to respond. So we want to accelerate that capacity.")

5. The American people told George Bush earlier this month that they think he's a no-good bum. That's how you got your latest job, remember? The American people want "this business" about a graceful exit.

Nancy, this is a disaster. Americans dying by the hundreds and thousands. Iraqis dying by the hundred-thousands. Our reputation falling so fast that the tin-pot noboby that runs the country we're ostensibly defending snubs us at an internationally-acknowledged summit. A Civil War that threatens to become a regional, religious war, even though the President of the United States says it's not a Civil War. He contradicts his own security advisors, a bi-partisan commission, the governement of the nation we're trying to prop up, and the will & mandate of his own citizens. As he is clearly uninterested in listening to anyone else (or has gone mad), he's unfit to hold office.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006


According to A.P., the United States has decided that the best way to punish maverick North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il is to deny him access to the luxury items he so craves: I-Pods, Segway Scooters, plasma TVs, cognac, Rolex watches, cigarettes, artwork, expensive cars, Harley Davidson motorcycles, Jet Skis.

Just to review: in order to punish Kim for acquiring uranium and other nuclear/fissile materials on the international blackmarket, the US government has determined it will no longer legally export I-Pods and cognac to Pyongyang.

And on the domestic front, Drug Enforcement Agents plan to fight the trafficking of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, & marijuana by outlawing sales of Ziploc Bags to any known drug dealers.


Continuing with my "Let's Beat On The Dying Corpse Of The Bush Presidency Til It Stops Causing Harm" theme, a federal Judge struck down Bush's post-9/11 executive order which designated 27 groups as "specially designated global terrorists." Holding that the order was unconstitutionally vague, U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins rammed one more spear into the still-beating heart of America's Six Year Experiment in undemocratic governance known as The Bush Adminstration.

One thing I find interesting here is the timing of the decision:
The judge's ruling was a reversal of her own tentative findings last July in which she indicated she would uphold wide powers asserted by Bush under an anti-terror financing law. She delayed her ruling then to allow more legal briefs to be filed.
We'll never know if she deliberately delayed things to allow for a final adjudication after the November Elections, perhaps hoping a change in public perception regarding Bush's "mandate to fight terror with any & all weapons" would shelter her decision from the piercing winds, sleet & hail of the Administration Bullshit Storm.

Either way, another step forward, as Bush continues to step backwards on his wild tour of PR gaffes and botched diplomacy in Eastern Europe.

The worm continues to turn.


Straight from the "Oh Man, This Hadley Guy Is Sooooooo Fired" Files, the NY Times is reporting that after an October 30 visit to Bagdad, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley wrote the following in a November 8 report about Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki:
“His intentions seem good when he talks with Americans, and sensitive reporting suggests he is trying to stand up to the Shia hierarchy and force positive change. But the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action . . . . If Mr. Maliki fails to carry out a series of specified steps, it may ultimately be necessary to press him to reconfigure his parliamentary bloc, a step the United States could support by providing “monetary support to moderate groups,” and by sending thousands of additional American troops to Baghdad to make up for what the document suggests is a current shortage of Iraqi forces.
Whoa. Change this guy's name to Diem and the Vietnam parallels get so obvious they speak for themselves. Now, if we can return from the exotic, desert heat of Iraqi politics to the more familiar climate of the Administration Bullshit Storm ("ABS"), let's see what the Big Boy and his spinners have to say. Well, AP reports that Bush himself said the following at a summit in that hotbed of NATO power, the Latvian capital of Riga:
"[Maliki & I] will discuss the situation on the ground in his country, our ongoing efforts to transfer more responsibility to the Iraqi security forces, and the responsibility of other nations in the region to support the security and stability of Iraq."
Americans are dying every day, the nation we've invaded is engulfed in civil war, and in a Saigon '75-like scene of chaos and anarchy, roaming bands of "militiamen" murder Iraqi civilians by the score. And Bush, before the eyes of the world, looks for solutions and shared responsibility from a man his own advisor says is "either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action."

This man is unfit to be President of our nation. Unfit.

Whew. If I can lighten things up a bit (so I don't burst a cerebral blood vessel as I type in rage), a quick weather report from the ABS. From Bush, himself:
"We'll continue to be flexible, and we'll make the changes necessary to succeed. But there's one thing I'm not going to do: I'm not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete."
He's lying. Again. There's something else he's "not going to do": devise a stategy to win, exit, stop the spending, or stop the dying. Then this, from a "senior administration" official, speaking on condition of anonymity:
"You have a constant reiteration of the importance of strengthening the Maliki government, the need to work with him, to augment his capabilities . . . [Bush & Maliki] have a personal relationship [allowing them to] talk candidly about the challenges."
I believe we've heard this about Bush and every foreign leader, potentate, dictator, or apparatchik he's met. Never anything about vision, strategies, plans, or strength. Nah. They like to hang, they're buds. Remember folks, this is the President you'd like to sit down and have a beer with. Another "anonymous" official (what's that about stormy seas, rats, and sinking ships again?) said about the Hadley Report and its suggestions, that it's:
"[not] a slap in the face, but it's how do we grow his capability."
I have no idea what that means. Any help? And finally (to drive this "Storm" trope so far into the ground it'll be deeper than the enriched uranium buried beneath the Iraqi soil), the Bullshit Miser himself, Tony Snow said:
"The president has confidence in Prime Minister Maliki, and also the administration is working with the prime minister to improve his capabilities. [Maliki] has been very aggressive in recent weeks in taking on some of the key challenges."
Key challenge? Like listening to Bush without laughing? Good for him. Let him read about all this from the shoes of an American (or one of the citizens from his soon-to be-doomed nation) and see if he can avoid crying, screaming, or both.

In the meantime, at least he can feel swelling pride that powerful men from the world's most powerful nation are committed to augmenting, improving, and most importantly, growing his less-than-impressive "capability." I'm sure Mrs. Maliki is pleased.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


From the "Well, That Sure Sounds Like Good News" Files, we learn from A.P. that customers at the International House Of Pancakes in Quincy, MA will no longer be required to show picture ID to be seated.

Nah, I'm not sure I understand either. Hey, check out the article, it's short.

More importantly, however, could IHOP's liberalizing of its draconian anti-privacy measures be the sign liberty-loving Americans have been waiting for? That Constitutionalism will soon be returning to the Halls of Congress, to the town squares of Middle America, and to the Phone Lines, WiFi Connections and Internet Tubes of our great nation's telecommunications channels?

Or is it just a house of pancakes?

(Get it? Like a house of cards, only this one's a house of pancakes, because IHOP stands for . . . oh, never mind.)


According to A.P., President Bush continues on his journey to the very foundations of NATO -- former Soviet Republics, Latvia & Estonia -- spewing forth a hail of bullshit so extreme that meteorologists predict the worst winter for the Baltic region since 1941-42. What's the latest from the Chief Exec? Hmmm, a selected sampling if we may (I won't make any comments about grammar or diction. You don't need me to point them out; they're there for the taking, like fruit drooping on vines in overripe glory):
"There's a lot of sectarian violence taking place, fomented in my opinion because of the attacks by al-Qaida causing people to seek reprisal."
"Al-Qaida," like "Liberty," "Freedom," "God," "The Terrorists," or "Evildoers" is a phrase Bush reflexively throws into his answer anytime he doesn't know what to say. For example, if a reporter asked him about stresses to the economy, he might answer, "Money spent to fight terror, the evildoers. Gotta preserve our freedom from Al-Qaida. God bless America." From there, he moved on to Iraq's relations with neighboring states:
"If that's what they think they ought to do [meet with Iranian leaders], that's fine. One thing Iraq would like to see is for the Iranians to leave them alone. The Iranians and the Syrians should help — not destabilize — this young democracy. That government is being undermined, in my opinion, by extremist forces encouraged out of Syria and Iran. Why? Because a democracy will be a major defeat for those who articulate extremist points of view."
You can play your own version of "Switch the Names of Nations" at home. I won't stop you. Then, when asked if a state of Civil War existed in Iraq, Bush was coy:
"When you see a young democracy beginning to emerge in the Middle East, the extremists try to defeat its emergence."
Having studied Bushese for the last couple years, I'll translate: "Civil War? Hell yeah." Referring to the alliance, he also said:
"Members must accept difficult assignments if we expect to be successful."
This one translates as a request for other allied nations to send their boys (and girls) into the meatgrinder known as The Extremist-Threatened Emerging Democracy Non-Civil War Civil War. And finally, in the most interesting turn, addressing the constant sectarian violence against civilians, soldiers, militiamen, and every other human being in every corner of Iraq, the White House Big Boy said that:
"We've been in this phase for a while."
You don't say? That'd be the post-Mission Accomplished Phase, I presume. But, what makes this especially notable is the following, from National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, aboard Air Force One on the way to Estonia yesterday:
"We're clearly in a new phase characterized by an increase in sectarian violence that requires us to adapt to that new phase."
I don't wanna overplay my hand here. I know folks will make mistakes, verbal gaffes, communication miscues. But you'd think that before a multi-nation tour, for the purpose of galvanizing support for the endless war that we're embroiled in, the friggin' President and one of his advisors on the same damn plane, would have their stories together! And they wonder why Americans increasingly worry that there's no plan to win, no plan to exit, no plan to do anything except die and spend money.

But, have no fear, all is well. Things are going just as they always have. How's that? Well, as Hadley went on to say:
"We're not at the point where the president is going to be in a position to lay out a comprehensive plan."
No shit. Yeah, that "point" isn't likely to come til January 20, 2009, at the earliest. But thanks for letting us in on that, Stephen. And for your honesty, I think we can all expect you to be fired by the time you return stateside.

Might wanna leave this gig off the résumé though.

Monday, November 27, 2006


The Monday after Thanksgiving has many connotations. But it means the same two things for everyone: Back-to-work dread, and Random Flickr Blogging, featuring artful pictures & world-class captioning from your's truly. Here's "100_2343," uploaded by "jondon" on October 9, 2006:

In addition to a lovely pond, vibrant autumn foliage, and a bountiful supply of whatever the hell it is that geese eat, both Honker and Lucy claimed the thing for which they were most thankful was "not being a turkey."


From the "Well, There's An Interesting Juxtaposition Of International News" Files, we learn from A.P. that President Bush will "press[] alliance members to increase defense spending" at this week's NATO summit in Latvia, and "leftist economist," Rafael Correa, defeated "Bible-toting billionaire," Alvaro Naboa, to win the Ecuadorian Presidency.

(How did Naboa, Ecuador's wealthiest man, earn his "billions"? He inherited his father's banana business. Insert dated Latin-American government joke here: _______.)

So what do these two stories have to do with each other? For starters, Correa ran on a ticket calling for Ecuador to cut ties to the World Bank and the IMF, plus he "wants to hold a referendum to rewrite the constitution to reduce the power of traditional parties and limit U.S. military activities in Ecuador."

Kind of like Bush is trying to do with some of NATO's poorer countries, like Latvia and Estonia, plus non-NATO War On Terror ally, Jordan. Seems that those in the know are concerned that most NATO members aren't spending quite the same percentage of GDP on defense that the US spends.

Those ungrateful bastards.

So the goal seems to be, let's pressure these nations to spend more! For example, "[s]ome members have agreed to buy the alliance four C-17 transport planes." The C-17? That'd be the transport plane produced by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.

Military-industrial complex, indeed.

And why are these Fair-Weather Allies failing to work with America, to America's standards, in the Global War On Terror? Michele Flournoy, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told reporters that "Many of the European nations, particularly the smaller and medium-sized powers, are hitting the budgetary wall."

Haven't they heard of deficit spending? They won't be happy til the Muslim hordes overrun their Christian ramparts.

Makes you wonder why folks like Chavez & Morales haven't started winning yet in Eastern Europe. How long til they do?

I don't like Chavez, or Morales, or Correa from what I've heard. I'm not even sure how I feel about Lula or Kirchner. But you know what, I'm not Venezuelan or Bolivian or Ecuadorian, so it doesn't matter what I think. It matters what they think. And the US leadership ignores this phenomenon at its peril.

Friday, November 24, 2006


In light of last night's prodigious demonstration of gustatory prowess on the part of the 13 Old Men we know as the Elders, there will be no Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day today.

(And mostly in light of the fact that I expect a maximum of about 4 visitors to the blog today.)

Indeed, that baker's dozen geezers ate so much turkey they're still sleeping off the tryptophan haze this morning. And the snoring! The farting! Good god.

Anyway, the FSMOMYOTD will be back, as scheduled, next Friday. Knowing full well that no one's gonna respond to my query, I'll nonetheless ask . . . any requests? (And please know full well, yourselves, that I may not be able, willing, or up to the task of fulfilling those requests, but I'll ask nonetheless.)

So enjoy the extra time you'll now have! Think of the added freedom, not reading a 14,000 word treatise on some obscure flick.


The lede from this Reuters piece just about says it all:
A fence along India's disputed border with Pakistan designed to keep out militants is curbing the movement of wild bears and leopards which are now wandering into villages and killing people
Keep the Sikhs out, but let the leopards in? New strategy? Will Osama soon follow the wild beasts into town, to rampage and destroy?

I'll say this though: every blog in existence has posed some variation on the What Are You Thankful For On This Thanksgiving question. Well, I have a new number one answer: I'm thankful that wild bears and leopards don't wander around, threatening to kill me and my family.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


As you've all probably heard by now, director Robert Altman died Monday night. The list of films he directed is a long one, including a bunch I never saw. One thing I find interesting are the titles of some of his earliest directorial efforts, including, "Modern Football," "Better Football," "The Builders," and "How To Run A Filling Station." Were these shown in schools? As shorts before features? Did that 50's guy narrate these efforts? You know, that "And Billy always crosses 50 feet behind the bus. And Dad always sticks to three shots of scotch on weekdays, and only takes Mrs. Smith in the missionary position on the days she ovulates" guy that narrated every one of those films we saw in school on the old-fashioned projector.

Robert Altman, starting with instructional films! Gotta love the way a real artist'll do anything to get in, get started, get funding. I also bet he stuck something subversive under the radar in those flicks. Something so subtle, no one noticed it. Who knows? And from there he moved into TV, doing some quality stuff like "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Combat!" Although he made his first full-length film, The Delinquents, in 1957, his feature career didn't begin in earnest until the late 1960's, when he was already in his mid-40's.

Anyhow, as we know, Altman went on to helm some real classics, some "essentials": M*A*S*H, Nashville, Short Cuts, Gosford Park. I know folks who swear by McCabe & Mrs. Miller, but I haven't seen it {ducks lightning bolt}, so I can't judge. I've never sat through Popeye in its entirety either, but P.T. Anderson (an acknowledged Altmaniac) used Shelley Duvall's rendition of "He Needs Me," penned by Harry Nilsson, to great effect in one of my favorite movies, Punch-Drunk Love. As many have noted, Anderson's style mimics Altman's, in the use of ensemble casts, overlapping plots, tracking shots, etc. See, Boogie Nights & Magnolia mostly, but even the eccentric Punch Drunk Love uses great tracking shots and overlapping dialogue.

Altman was 81 when he died, and in addition to his film career he flew B-24s in WWII, studied engineering, married thrice, had 6 childen, 12 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He lived a full life; no tragedy here.

But no more films from one of the greats. Not a tragedy there, but a sad realization. And for that, he'll be missed.


According to APF, China will join Australia among the ranks of countries building huge, 100+ megawatt, solar power stations. The cost? $765 M, which sounds relatively cheap to me. I can't imagine it would take long to recoup that in saved petrodollars.

Meanwhile, the U.S. does nothing. Even acknowledging that maybe we don't want direct, multi-billion dollar allocations from Ted "Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens and others to develop these schemes, what about tax breaks and incentives for private sector R&D into solar? What about "aid" in the form of low-interest loans? I'm not a policy-maker, but there are options.

Actually, we've done something: in 2002, President Bush "installed 'building-integrated photovoltaics' or BI-PV solar electric generators at the White House for personal safety and national security." I guess that means the Administration believes in the technology.

It's the "personal safety" of their financial portfolios that's throwing them, I guess.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Gimme a "C." Gimme an "L." Gimme an "E." What's that spell? Scam!

Yup, that's right. Another CLE session (that's "Continuing Legal Education" for you non-shyesters out there). A short five days after spending an entire day listening to lawyers drone and prattle about legal arcanalia, I'm back today for round two (and, in fact, round three is on the slate two weeks from now, though that's only a half day). And, as you've probably figured out by now, I did let this shit slide for 23 months of the 24 month cycle I'm given to earn the damn credits. That's how it goes.

Anyway, a couple brief thoughts on something unrelated to the law:

Anyone else notice that Thanksgiving, and the food surrounding it, is entering quasi-news story range this year? It seems that since early November, I'm not only inundated with cooking shows about turkey, cranberry sauce, etc., but also "news stories" about these products. Today's feature story on Yahoo! is about the health benefits of cranberry sauce and other harvest festival treats. Just further down in the headlines is a piece about Butterball turkeys, and their position as icons after the company's sale. There's also an attached video explaining why turkey is "traditional."

I know this shit has always gone on before, but it was usually relegated to newspaper "features" stories, the Wednesday before the holiday. Anyone else noticing this? Disagreeing? Thinking I'm nuts?

And you know what, I was in a supermarket with Mrs. Mike this weekend, and what was playing on the sound system? On November 19? Christmas songs. That's right, Christmas songs before Thanksgiving! That's just wrong. We haven't earned those songs yet. It's not dark enough, not cold enough. That fruit -- so sweet, so pleasant, so eagerly awaited all year -- is not yet ripe.

What's next? A quarterback going to Disneyworld before the superbowl? Vote recounts before Election Day? Drug & alcohol troubles for a lead singer before the first number one record?

I think we're being bamboozled, folks. The selling season, a horror show of manipulation and marketing savvy, seems to be coming juuuuuuust a bit earlier this year. Also, keep your eyes open for the pre-Thankgiving Christmas lights on store and some homes. Not allowed, but there nonetheless.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Random Flickr Blogging #1635

Monday morning, so time for the usual (delayed this morning due to Blogger randomness). This one was uploaded by "cristian," as "IMG_1635," on April 24, 2006:

Deep down the guys knew that if they kept jamming, eventually folks dressed in bee costumes would show up and dance.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


The Cunning Realist has a great post up today, dealing with inflation-as-policy. A key quotation:
[I]t's been interesting to watch the stock market march higher with the attendant hype about "new all time highs" for the Dow. Of course, outside of niche market commentators, there's no mention that those new highs are nominal . . . Jude Wanniski would have been proud -- and I'm sure he'd be reminding us right now that the Dow would have to rise several thousand more points to reach a "real" all-time high after accounting for inflation. This is one reason why, despite the stock market's rise in recent months, the economy still ranks as a major concern in public opinion polls. Give me a large truckload of million-dollar bills to distribute randomly for a few years, and I guarantee you the stock market will rise. I also guarantee that everything we need to live will get more expensive, and everything we merely want will get cheaper.

At this point, it's clear we've entered a period in which policymakers have decided that it's never a good time for a stock market decline or a recession. Natural ebbs in the business cycle used to be times of cleansing and adjustment. Now, with a Federal Reserve chairman whose scholarly interest is the Great Depression, soft spots are considered "deflation" and are to be avoided at all costs . . . After the Fed's brief dalliance with sanity (draining liquidity) earlier this year -- during which the Nasdaq fell about 15% and some overseas markets plunged 25% or more -- the liquidity jets are blasting away again at full strength.

It's hard to predict how long this can continue (and risky to bet against it, of course). Monetary policy is the art of the possible, and much depends on our overseas creditors.
(Emphases added.) It's worth reading the entire post, which includes a discussion of When Money Dies by Adam Fergusson, a book about the Weimar Republic's hyperinflation, and the attendant economic and social upheavals that bedeviled Germany during the inter-war years. One of the most interesting, and enlightening, of the comments:
The book is an account of the inflation that ravaged Europe in the 1920's, particularly in Germany. Let's be clear....anyone who thinks we're living in Weimar-redux is either shrill or uninformed. Despite our current fiscal and monetary mess, the dollar is still the world's de facto reserve currency (although certainly not to the degree it has been in the past) and the U.S. still makes things the rest of the world buys. Germany enjoyed neither of these advantages eighty years ago, and that's important. But the basic dynamic of inflation doesn't change, and certain parallels are worth noting if only to understand the potential dangers of the path we've clearly started down.

I'd always thought Germany's runaway inflation in the early 1920's resulted from the harsh reparation terms imposed after World War I. Instead, Fergusson shows that inflation was a calculated path chosen by Germany's central bank to boost the country's exports and thus its domestic employment.
Wow. That's a damning revelation, and one I'm curious to look into. We know the road to ruin is often paved with good intentions. And by way of comparison, I'm sure Ben Bernanke, unlike his predecessor, believes his polices help the country. But the subquestions I focus on are: When? For how long? For whom, precisely? At what cost to fundamentals and soundness?

Again, I recommend checking out the entire post. Enjoy.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. And last night it happened: the first Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day conflict. And the fight had nothing to do with the redundancy or awkwardness of the FSMOMYOTD name. No, it was deeper than that, closer to the heart of what it means to be a silly movie of the day, that day being Friday.

Now, you may be wondering. Conflict? Is Mike fighting with the voices in his head again? Didn't he say he woke up hungover yesterday? Did he go on back-to-back benders? Is there a ghost-writer, a second idiot behind the goofiness, silliness & more-than-occasional crankiness? No, none of the above. And in fact, The Nabe is a solo effort . . . nearly all of the time.

But the FSMOMYOTD involves . . . The Committee.

Yes, that's right. Behind the lightest, most frivolous & harmless of my weekly posts hides a secretive, controlling, all-but fascist cabal, seeking nothing short of untrammeled power & world domination. Ok, maybe not world domination, but an undeserved sense of it's own influence. These old men, these . . . Elders meet every Thursday at at 6:00 pm (before their early bedtime, after the Blue Light at the local diner) to decide the fate of the world. Or, if they're feeling a little less ambituous, the FSMOMYOTD.

Last night's meeting ended at 4:42 am this morning. Lots of cries of "oh, my aching back" and "Seymour? Are you awake?" as the evening progressed. And, contentious as it was, not a few "Are you crazies?" as well.

And the grist, the gravamen, the cause de guerre of this throw-down? Why the very definition of the word at the heart of the project: Silly. Silly in the way it's been used for the past couple months, as in "cheesy," "unintentionally laughable," "childlike," or just plain "bad"? The group that by 2:30 am came to be known as "The Tories" took this angle. Hidebound to tradition and protocol, they couldn't be moved. Stubbornly adhering to the definition they've used since boyhood, these gents argued that the world as we knew it was at stake.

They lost. "The Vanguard," the other fellows, wedded to the very notion that things change, that in a decade that saw the Red Sox win the World Series, the Democrats re-take Congress, and The Terminator win the governorship of California, decided that the notion of silly could swing away from its unchanged, two month course. Yes, by a vote of 7-6, the new wave broke through. It's a new day, folks. A new Friday. And, for one week at least, a new kind of Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day:

The Warriors

Now, assuming you understood a word of what I've been babbling about (which assumes, dangerously methinks, that any of you even bothered reading a word above the picture), you have to be asking, Ok Mike, so these imaginary old men in your head changed a definition that never seemed too defined anyway. But what makes The Warriors "silly" by any definition? It's a great cult movie, with great action, a wild plot, and some fun characters.

This is true. But I'll add a couple more facts: A gang convention with hundreds and hundreds of bangers, and not one cop notices. A small group of white, pretty boys beat the shit out of every violent thug they come across. Even though all the action plays out around the NYC subway, the trains seem to run in a manner so haphazard, I can't believe writer-director Walter Hill bothered to look at a map. And most importantly . . . The Baseball Furies. The scariest gang the Warriors meet are skinny white boys, dressed in Lee Mazzilli/Bucky Dent-style, late 70's skin-tight pinstripes. With painted faces.

This, my friends, is a silly movie of the most profound sort. Good? Yes. Fun as all hell? Absolutely. A cult classic of the very highest order? I think you have to give it to them. Silly? With. Out. Question.

I know that every week I declare something along the lines of "Yeah, this movie was silly, but I loved it when I first saw it." That's why I choose them . . . errr, I mean, that's why The Committee votes for them. But in this case, I'm saying without so much as a whiff of equivocation, I LOVED this movie when it came out. I cannot express that adequately enough.

1979. 11 years-old. Growing up in the outer NYC suburbs. Into town from time-to-time for grandparent visits, Met games & the airports (Queens), for Ranger games, the circus, dragged kicking and screaming through department stores (Manhattan), for great-grandmother visits & the drive back home (The Bronx). NY was at its late-70's craptacular best, with garbage, & burned-out buildings, & whores on 8th Avenue and drug dealers in Bryant Park, and dinged & dented police cruisers . . . and graffiti-covered subway cars, visible on any-and-all of the elevated subway tracks that seemed in my pre-teen eyes to cover every square foot of the outer boroughs.

And then I saw a movie that took place on that subway. With gangs, and gang fights, and dumb cops doing dumb things as they threatened the gangs. I was transfixed. And thus began my life-long fascination with the NYC subway, one that lasts to this day. Twice in my adult life, I spent the entirety of days off riding the trains. I've ridden every mile of the system. Every line, every station. I own a book, written by none-other than self-appointed hockey maven, Stan Fischler, called Uptown, Downtown, about the history of the subway system. When'd I get it? 1979.

I had a subway map that year. Even though, as a suburban kid, I never rode it! For a year or so, I wanted us to move out of the 'burbs, into the Bronx or Brooklyn, so I could ride the subway and be in a gang like the Warriors. Now maybe you can see where this "silly" thing springs from.

Anyway . . . I assume all of you reading this have seen The Warriors, hopefully more than once. If not, stop reading RIGHT NOW, and go rent the damn thing. Can you dig it? Not much then to say about the movie, other than to play-ee-ayyy the rest of the game. On to The Cast:

First off, we've got James Remar, a generally serious actor, best known (to me) as Gentry, the hard-ass detective that battled Matt Dillon's Bad Bobbie Hughes in one of my all-time favorite films, Drugstore Cowboy. Remar played Ajax, the "tough" Warrior, whose pugalistic tendencies led him into multiple fights, and saw him offering some variation on "Fuck you, I'm tired of being a wimp, let's fight" in just about every scene. Some examples, if I may:
Since when are you a fuckin' diplomat?
Well, good! I'm sick of runnin' from these wimps!
Not if they're wimps!... and I'm sick of this running crap.
Maybe you're all just goin' faggot.
He's right! We're acting like faggots!
Come on, what kind of chickenshit crap is this.
I'll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle.
Ah, fuck him!
Fuckin' A.
And my personal favorite Ajax quotation:
Those lousy skin-headed Fucks!
Damn straight. Moving along, we come to nominal gang-leader, Swan (not my idea of an ideal gang name. Ajax, at least, is a Greek warrior in addition to being a cleanser). Swan was played by Michael Beck, about whom I have nothing to add, except that he also appeared in a movie that FSMOMYOFD regular reader & commenter, John, has requested: Xanadu. Simply stated, Xanadu will not be making an appearence here, as none of The Committee has seen it.

Ok, it was only a matter of time, and here we are. Warriors, come out and playyyy-eee-yayyy. Yes! It's . . . David Patrick Kelly. The man who played Luther, the leader of the ratty-ass gang that shoots Cyrus (for no reason, he just likes doing things like that), before pinning the blame on the Warriors. Which brings the Gramercy Riffs down on them, and . . . ohh, like I said. We've either all seen it, or you need to STOP READING and rent the damn film.

Incidentally, this was Kelly's first movie. What a sweet way to start off. And, perhaps more interestingly, he later appeared in 48 Hours, also directed by Walter Hill, in which he played a former acquaintance of Reggie and Ganz (played by James Remar), named . . . Luther. And just this year he played President Truman in Flags Of Our Fathers.

That's a career trajectory no one was predicting as he clinked beer bottles and screeched.

Now, among the various cops, other gang members, etc, there appear a veritable rogues gallery of second and third (and fourth) tier actors, all of whom seem to have appeared in The Wanderers, the other NYC gang-themed movie of 1979 & 1980. The Wanderers had pretensions to being a serious movie in a way The Warriors didn't bother with. But it also had that flat-out bizarre fight scene on the football field at the end of the movie where one of the gangs appeared to be composed of zombies and other undead. I'm not sure what to say here.

Nonetheless, this brings me to Joe Zimmardi. Who? I don't know. But I notice that his entire acting career is composed of The Warriors and The Wanderers. His only two movies. Think about that.

(Or don't. I'm cool either way.)

Johnny Barnes played Sugar Ray Robinson in Raging Bull. Sugar Ray wasn't a major role in that classic, but as one of Jake LaMotta's obsessions, his scenes were memorable, including of course the amazingly-filmed fight scenes. You never got me down, Ray. You never got me down.

Leon Delaney, another who?, was in last week's FSMOMYOTD, Kiss Meet The Phantom Of The Park. That's all. Nothing important to add, just keeping you informed.

And, approaching the merciful end of this week's post, we get two that are so unclassifiable, I don't even have a joke. First up, Sonny Landham, as one of the dumb cops. You may not know his name, but you know who he is: the American Indian-looking actor who often plays, who'd guess, American Indians. He played Billy, the American Indian-looking character in Predator. And he also played Ganz' American Indian-looking sidekick, Billy Bear, in the previously mentioned 48 Hours. And, though I've never heard of it, and I'm not sure what it is, Landham also appeared in Billy Lone Bear. All of which reminds me, maybe Billy Jack, about an ass-kicking Native American . . uhhh, ass kicker (what was Billy Jack?), needs to have its day in the Friday sun.

And, the stangest of all: Charles Silvern. I look at his IMDB profile, and I discover that among the roles he's had, he was a munchkin in the Wizard Of Oz!!! I don't remember any dwarves in The Warriors. Any help?

He was also in The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three. So, dwarf specialist or not, he's a staple of subway crime movies. I wonder why he wasn't in Money Train? It's gotta be a Wesley Snipes thing.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


No time for a full post this morning. I'm off to a round of that wonderful boondoggle known as "Continuing Legal Education," or CLE. That's right, folks. In order to charge clients outrageous hourly fees (or, more accurately, allow the firms that employ them to farm them out at outrageous fees) , lawyers have to sit and listen to other (highly paid) lawyers drone on about some arcane topic or another.

But what am I complaining about, right? As Black Francis screamed, It's Educational! (Look it up.)

So, for that reason (plus I'm hungover and I overslept) I gotta boogie soon. Maybe I'll check back in later today.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


AP reports that Florence Rideout Elementary School in New Hampshire has decided to ban students from playing with "electronic games and gadgets" during recess.


Among reasons given for the decision: "the games are a distraction"; they "can lead to fights"; and "theft . . . since elementary students can't lock their lockers." I'm not sure I follow that last part entirely, but who am I to question it? Anyway, my favorite passage from the article is this:
Principal Edmund Heffernan said the problem has increased in the last year and a half and involves a small group of older students who "don't like to run around."
That's right! It's always the "older" kids sitting around, setting bad examples for the innocent & active youth. As opposed to, let's say, their parents, who never sit on their asses staring at an electronic screen, right?


This is great. Louisville, Kentucky has apparently joined the ever-growing list of world cities in banning smoking from public places. Pretty ironic, in that Kentucky trails only North Carolina in US tobacco production.

Anyhow, I'm not going to rehash my opinion about these ordinances, which seem to be on their way everywhere in the world. What makes this story interesting is the basis of the latest court challenge: seems the Louisville ban exempts Churchhill Downs, the site of the famous Kentucky Derby. from compliance with the ban. The article is short on details, but I'll assume the lawyers for the racetrack cite case law subtly supporting this sort of exclusion on policy grounds. Because, based upon the facts as I see them here, how can they justify it otherwise? As the plaintiffs' attorney wrote in his brief:
Churchill Downs, an establishment that serves food, that serves alcohol just like my clients, gets a free ride.
I have no idea how independent Kentucky's state judiciary is, but I can't see how this ordinance passes muster with the included exemption. What will likely happen, I suspect, is that the judge'll strike down the ordinance, leading the state legislature to write in an exemption on far-broader grounds, one that includes both Churchhill Downs, and a lot of other theoretical, but insignificant or non-existent businesses.

We'll see.
By the way, as an additional bit of info for anyone who cares, I have something I call the Google-Porn Theory. (Actually I just made up that name as I was typing, but I've considered the theory in unnamed form for a while now.) The theory says that if one conducts a google image search to supply a goofy picture for one's snarky blog post, one will get a porn-related picture by page three of the search results. Try it at home (NOT at work), you'll see.

This has never failed. Whatever, I'm not squeamish about that sort of thing. Let's just call it an Occupational Hazard. Heh, heh.

That said, when the search terms include the words "horse" and "smoking," the results reach juuuuuuust a bit further onto the squeamish side. In fact, I have to projectile vomit right now, so I'll need to turn away from my monito--


(A.P.hake) -- Due to growing popularity for both the "Walking Tour of Notable Texas Air National Guard Sights" and the "Alabama Air National Guard: Your State, Your Country, Your History" Tour, President and First Lady Bush opted instead for Vietnam as the locale for their November vacation (as opposed to the upcoming January vacation for Rick Santorum, George Allen and some of Bush's other Congressional allies).

Bush cited a life-long fascination with "that curious mixture of French and Oriental architecture," as well as "that Pho stuff, that beefy soup y'all are seeing in Houston's Vietnamese restaurants," in attempting to explain why he chose to travel to the nominally-communist Southeast Asian nation.

Asked if he saw any irony in the trip, the Commander-in-Chief merely recited, "No quagmire, no parallel." Reporters were perplexed by the seemingly incongruous answer, but dutifully wrote it onto their notepads anyway.

Finally, in related news, Dick Cheney was scheduled to travel to Iraq this week on a diplomatic mission, but cancelled at the last minute, explaining that he had "other priorities."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


According to AP, Bush will meet with leaders of the US auto industry today. But, straight from the "Fat Cat Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks" Files, those same leaders insist they're seeking no bailout! For horror, who could imagine such things? They just wanna chat. Don't believe me? Well, take a look at what they said:
"We're not going into this meeting seeking specific relief for our industry," GM spokesman Greg Martin told reporters, right before enumerating the specific relief he wants for his industry. "We understand that we have to win in the marketplace but there are issues of national importance like health care and trade that affect the competitive balance."

Explaining that he wanted no governmental help, Ford chief Alan Mulally explained to the Detroit Free Press last week the precise form of governmental help his struggling company needed: "It's just so important that the governments around the world ensure that the market sets exchange rates."
And proving that there'll never be an end to those who think of the federal government as little more than a repository for local concerns bolstered by federal money, Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow said that the big three "built the middle class of this country, and it's critically important that the president understands that how the U.S. government acts in a global economy to create a level playing field is critical to whether or not we are going to have a middle-class way of life."

Democratic Representatice Sander Levin added, "The Big Three are making good cars. We haven't been making good policies." And there the real bullshit is left in the open where its smell can sift through every nook and cranny of our country. It's not the cars, Congressman Levin tells us, it's the selfish, short-sighted policies of everyone outside of Michigan.

No, Sander, the problem is the crap cars they make. Too big, too inefficient, not as good as they can be. Make better cars that the American consumer wants to buy, maybe you can come to DC begging for handouts. But until they so much as try to make a good product, no way. As Bush, of all people, told Detroit's automakers last winter, they need to "make a product that's relevant."

For goodness sake, when Bush calls BS on you, that's a sign to look inside and see what the hell you've been doing. These guys need to wake up.


Less than one week after being informed by the American people that they weren't interested in its bullshit, the Adminstration started shoveling again yesterday, making it clear that immigrants have no legal rights whatsoever. Affirming the grist of the Military Commissions Act, Justice Department lawyers filed papers with the 4th Circuit, arguing that the new law "applies to foreigners captured and held in the United States . . . regardless of the location of the detention."

Basically, label an immigrant an "enemy combatant," and hold him indefinitely, denying him all facets of due process: a lawyer, a speedy trial, a civilian court, rules of evidence recognized under the common law or the Federal Rules, and most damningly, any habeus corpus review of the detention in the first place.

And this is precisely what's happening to Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar. He was "arrested in 2001 while studying in the United States," and is still held in a South Carolina prison, denied any due process.

Getting back to where I started, this is the sort of nonsense for which we smacked down Bush & his allies last week. And here's one -- just one -- area that the Dems can do something when they take over in January. I'm not saying they have to walk in the door, take their oaths, and start freeing every terror suspect. For all I know this guy could be guilty, which is one reason he should be tried and if required, convicted.

But the Dems should start early enough exploring the repeal of certain distasteful laws & initiatives. This is certainly one. The renewed Patriot Act is another. Bush & the NSA's wiretapping program. I'm not up on Administrative Law, nor do I know much about parliamentary procedure or congressional rules. But they should be looking into every option.

From now til January, we can continue to bitch about this stuff. And it's up to the press (yeah, right) and we noisemakers to draw attention to Administration efforts to ram unfavored policy down our throats. But starting in two months, this kind of thing is on the Congressional Democrats. We gave them a role. They should act it out. Aggressively.

We want our country back, they want their jobs. Both sides need to keep the bargain.

Monday, November 13, 2006


. . . and half the crowd said No Shit, while the other half didn't give one.

At any rate, a Massachussets state court judge heard a case involving restrictive covenants in a lease, determining that because of the distiction between "two slices of bread" and "one tortilla," a burrito ain't a sandwich. Among the (presumably expert) witnesses who appeared, "Cambridge chef Chris Schlesinger" testified:
I know of no chef or culinary historian who would call a burrito a sandwich. Indeed, the notion would be absurd to any credible chef or culinary historian.
"Absurd," he says!

But I think he's protesting too loudly. I bet he does know a chef . . . or culinary historian, who thinks a burrito is a sandwich. That guy may be a pariah in the food community. Hell, he could a radical, a renegade! But I think he exists, and I bet Chef Schlesinger knows him.

And damn it, if I were the opposing attorney in this case, I'd have scoured the earth to find him. As it is, the actual attorney didn't, and burritos all over the nation are suffering for his lack of diligence. And the more I think about it, maybe there's a racist element in play here, what with the cultural diffences between bread and a tortilla . . .


Monday Morning. Here we go. This pic was uploaded as "img_6842.jpg" by Gregoire Hamon on November 1, 2006:

"Abeline" Tony was such a great bluffer, he nearly took the pot, moving all-in with nothing but some folded pieces of dough for a hand.

But . . . the mirror behind him would be his undoing.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Friday Morning. Time again for the Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day. Let's get to it.

KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park

Let's set the scene: 1978. Kiss is about as huge as a band can be, as the popularity of disco, the emergence of punk, and the bloated excess & corporatism of mainstream rock have split the music scenes into subcultures. It seemed that every kid between the ages of 8 and 18 was completely obsessed with Kiss. The makeup, the spectacle-filled concerts, the merchandizing.

And their horrible music.

Say what? That's right. I was not a Kiss fan, and I hated them in fact. Most of my friends loved them. I owned a cassette version of Rock n' Roll Over, which one of them gave me for my 10th birthday in December 1977. I secretly liked the make-up and the over-the-top image. But even at 10, it was about the music. And on that count, as we all know today, Kiss sucked.

Just awful. Beth was, and remains, one of the worst songs I've ever heard. It's unlistenable, except as comedy. All of my friends loved Destroyer, and insisted on playing it at ear-shattering volume every time I went to their houses. They were all completely nuts about Detroit Rock City, which while a fantastic title for a song, was not actually a good song to listen to. I liked the Beatles, and declared that the Beatles were better than Kiss to any-and-all who listened.

Where are those who argued with me today? Huh? HUH???

Anyhow, I started a new school, in 5th grade, which represents a story in its own right at another time. (For instance, that's where I began to follow a sport I hardly knew about before then -- NHL Hockey, and the Rangers in particular -- one of my late-70's and early-80s obsessions. I actually ended up attending all Ranger home games in the 1994 Stanley Cup playoffs with a friend I met in 5th grade.) And, more germane to this tale, every freakin boy in my class was a Kiss fanatic. Fanatic! And . . . new kid in school, everyone liked the same thing which I hated, I wanted to fit in . . . Do the math.

I still never liked them, and still never added to my one album collection. But I became more superficially open-minded. I joined the teeming masses in drawing the "Kiss" logo, with the vaguely Nazi-ish, jagged "SS" at the end of the name.

(Which reminds me. Remember in 1980-81, when the Jim Morrison bio, "Nobody Gets Out Of Here Alive" and The Doors Greatest Hits came out, starting a Doors renaissance? I remember everyone drawing the "Doors" logo, with the weirdly-formatted, two-part letters, on notebooks and textbooks all the time.)

Return to scene: Spring of 1978, flying back from great-grandmother visiting in North Miami Beach with my mother (on the now defunct National Airlines), trying desparately to find something listeneable on the in-flight music. One of the loops was called "Contemporary Hits," or something along those lines. Among other "hits," it featured Evil Woman, by Electric Light Orchestra (Bloated Excess & Corporatism alert!), Slip Slidin' Away, by Paul Simon, and wouldn't you know it, Shout It Out Loud, by none other than the glam boys from NYC.

{Whispering} And I liked it.

And told no one. Oh well. And then KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park came out on TV the following autumn. As usual for the FSOMYOTD, I remember absolutely nothing from the movie. In fact, until I looked it up today on IMDB, I thought it was a cartoon movie. I mean, it was, in a way, but it wasn't an animated movie. That should tell you something about the relative quality of today's movie, as well as most of the FSMOMYOTDs. I can remember particular songs from a flight 28 1/2 years ago, but I can't remember anything about this movie, which if you were alive & sentient in 1978, you'll remember was quite hyped up.

And I guess it marked the pinnacle of Kiss's popularity. After 1978, they were never the same cultural icons. Dynasty, with the dreckish I Was Made For Loving You followed in 1979, the year of the disco crossover hit: Blondie with Heart Of Glass, the aforementioned ELO with Don't Bring me Down (Bruuuuuuuuuuuce), and many, many others (recall others off the top of your head?). In fact, by 6th & 7th grade, the "music wars" were rock vs. disco and classic rock/hard rock/new wave vs. punk/glam (the ever-reliable Beatles now facing off against The Ramones & David Bowie, and I have to hand it to the two kids who supported the latter: not bad for 6th grade!!!). In my school, none of the boys liked disco, and only one or two girls liked rock at all.

And Kiss was nowhere to be found in any of the battles.


Well, all snark aside, it looks like solidarity still works. You may recall that I joked yesterday about Christians, Muslims & Jews finding common ground in their offense at a Gay Pride parade through the Holy and sanctified streets of Jerusalem.

Guess what? It worked. Parade organizers cancelled the event, due to "security concerns and pressure from fundamentalist religious leaders who called such a public display in the holy city offensive."

According to the piece, the unified offensive against offensiveness was a success:

Rabbi Yosef Elnikaveh, a prominent religious leader, has said allowing the parade to proceed was surrendering to "mental illness."

Top Muslim leaders said homosexuality is a crime and demanded police punish those involved in the parade.

Christian evangelical groups in Jerusalem have called the parade "provocative" and demanded the public venue be changed.

A predictable response when you think about it. The Jewish leader says "send 'em to therapy," the Muslim leader wants to "send 'em to jail," and the Christian leader wishes to just "send 'em away."

Here's my predictable response: a hearty Fuck You to all three.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Macaca concedes. The GOP loses both houses of Congress. That's it for me, mission accomplished, see ya' in 2008.

{Interlude music}

Ok, I changed my mind. I'm back. I don't feel like waiting two years to prattle and rant. There are hundreds of other topics besides politics for me to pontificate about.

And as we've learned over the past few years, just cause someone says "mission accomplished" doesn't make it so.


The inexplicable, and truly offensive "The Times They Are A-Changing," the Broadway musical set to the tunes of Bob Dylan, is closing. According to the piece, theater critic Ben Brantley called it "the latest heart-rending episode in Broadway's own reality soap opera, 'When bad shows happen to great songwriters.'"

"Bad broadway musical based on Dylan's songs" is redundant in my opinion, but I'll nevertheless roll with his bon mot.

None of this made a bit of sense to me from day one, but there you have it. Apparently Dylan's cashing in on every cent of his cultural icon status before he starts drooling. But I'll say this: if Highway 61 Revisited shows up in a freaking Chevy Truck commercial, the TV's going through the window.


Looks like the world's Christian's, Muslims, and Jews have found something upon which they can agree. In Jerusalem of all places, it's unalloyed outrage at the "offense" to religious people of all creeds! And Rick Santorum wasn't even involved. According to The Vatican:

The Holy See has reiterated on many occasions that the right to freedom of expression, sanctioned by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is subject to just limits, in particular when the exercise of this right would offend the religious sentiments of believers. It is clear that the gay parade scheduled to take place in Jerusalem will prove offensive to the great majority of Jews, Muslims and Christians, given the sacred character of the City of Jerusalem.

War, slaughter, terror on the Mount of Olives? Unoffensive! Shlomo, Paul & Akhbar holding hands as they stroll past the Dome of the Rock? Offensive! I get it. Quite simple actually.

Mohammed, Moses & Jesus will release their own joint statement this afternoon, soon as they determine who's name comes first on the letterhead.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Well, lookie there. George has decided to shitcan Rumsfeld. I thought it was The Donald who said "you're fired," not the other way around.

Now we've all gotten six-and-a-half months of kicks over Bush's "I'm the Decider, and I decide what's best" comment. But how many remember what it was that he was actually deciding?

Give up? Can't remember?

It was in response to requests that he . . . shitcan Rumsfeld. But back in April, he insisted that he knew best.

Heh, heh. Maybe he should've listened.


Jon Tester won Montana, beating the hideous Conrad "Montgomery" Burns. In addition to the running themes I've talked about, this is good in-and-of itself. Burns is a nightmare, as I wrote about here back in early August.

It'll be good to send his ass back to Montana, where hopefully he can put out his own fires.


It's still too early for me to make much sense of what happened yesterday, and I'm sure I'll have more to say later on. But in the immediate aftermath, a few things are clear.

One, and most importantly, the Bush train is derailed. Nothing else matters nearly as much as this. For all the talk of specifics like Iraq, scandal, whatever, the true crime against our country was the unchecked expansion of executive power. Into the hands of a cadre of officials no better at finding the truth than finding WMDs, Hurricane relief supplies, or the text of the US Constitution. Unless the Dems, who have to feel somewhat emboldened, continue to do nothing in the face of Bush's demands and adventurism, the White House's momentum will slow, if not stop.

That's enough for me.

Beyond that, looking to specifics, I really can't say. In addition to the complete demolition of the House GOP, it looks pretty good for the Dems in the Senate. I was wrong with my early call for Talent last night (I'll chalk it up to the beer I was swigging!), and I'm glad for that. Assuming Webb & Tester hang on, not only will two of the most horrid people in the nation lose their undeserved positions of power, but the GOP will lose control of both houses. That's my perfect storm scenario: gridlock, gridlock, gridlock. And maybe a little more gridlock.

Congress decides to deliver some pork? Maybe Bush learns what a veto is, and uses it. Bush starts chattering about some overseas adventurism? Maybe the Democratic congress discovers those two things in its collective sack, and refuses to supply funding. In sum, gridlock = less spending, less meddling, less overbearing federal interference at home & abroad.

But again, to reitterate the great news, we removed Bush's fangs. Without a shot of novocaine. Toothless! As Yukon Cornelius said about the Abominable Snowman, He's nuthin' without his choppers! Lame Duck. What wonderful words.

In the abstract, yesterday reaffirmed my faith in our country more than anything has in a very, very long time. We may disagree on all sorts of specifics: Precise policy on Iraq; the economy; social issues like abortion, gay marriage, & religion; the role of the regulatory state, etc. But explicitly or not, we sent a strong message to the Hill, the White House, the World, and Ourselves, that the basic foundations of our system still work. We want them. Separation of Powers. Rule of Law. Some degree of honesty & accountability. A requisite amount of competence & planning.

And it looks like we got it. I've haven't been this proud as an American in years.


Who's the Decider now?

The American people have routed the GOP out of the House. Looks like Tester should beat Burns in Montana, and the CV says Webb will eventually beat Allen on the recount. But it seems that Talent & Corker will hold their seats, making it 50-50, if you include Sanders & Lieberman (boo!) on the Dem side.

And we know how Buckshot Dick breaks that deadlock.

But the immediate goal of blocking Bush's unchecked power grab looks to be accomplished. I sleep well tonight. More tomorrow.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Yee-hawwwww! Down goes Santorum, down goes Santorum, down goes Santorum! (In his dreams, huh?)

And no, just one beer. This is exhuberance, not drunkenness.

Menendez retains his seat in Jersey. I guess the"VOTE" button worked, Sheadenizen. And Ellsworth beat Hostettler in Indiana for a normally Republican seat in the house. Yes.

I just heard that Chafee lost in Rhode Island too. Oh yes, this is going well.

I do have to ask, though: what the hell is wrong with Connecticut voters? Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. Damn.

Oh boy, maybe the Senate goes too.


Let's just get this one out of the way, and let it rest for the next two years: Regardless of how tonight's results go, George Allen is a scumbag. If you have any thoughts of supporting him for him for the Presidency, listen closely right now, and return here daily for the next 731 days (leap year). I repeat, George Allen is a scumbag.

As you've all noticed, there are a bevy of news stories coming out constantly about all sorts of election day craziness. Since I got over the morning adrenaline rush (returning by the way), I've followed news pieces all day, and have opted not to write on most of them, to see how legit and how important they are. And I've decided this one qualifies.

According to AP (though take your pick on news services), the FBI is investigating a series of threatening calls to Virginia voters.
State Board of Elections Secretary Jean Jensen said her office had forwarded several reports to the FBI of phone calls to voters apparently aimed at misleading them into not voting or directing them to the wrong polling place.
Nice. Real nice. Check out some specifics:

In Arlington County, resident Timothy Daly said he got a phone message Sunday, said to be from the "Virginia Elections Commission," telling him he was registered to vote in New York so he couldn't vote in Virginia. "If you do show up, you will be charged criminally," said the message, the text of which appeared on Daly's affidavit to the Board of Elections.

Beautiful! And how 'bout this gem:

Lawrence Peter Baumann, a Northampton County resident, said in his affidavit that he got a call on Friday from a woman claiming to be from the Webb campaign. He said he assured her he planned to vote for Webb.

"She then told me that I would be voting at West Reed Street. I told her that there was no street by that name and that if she was supposed to be helping Webb, she needed to give correct information," Baumann's affidavit said. "She never gave me the correct precinct and never offered to get back to me with my correct precinct."

Are these calls made by GOP ops? Probably not. From Allen's people, specifically? Don't know, don't care. After months of utter garbage emanating from Allen's mouth, from his TV ads, from his handlers (see that video of his goons tackling blogger Michael Stark last week?), I'm fully prepared to lay repsonsibility for these calls at his feet.

George Allen is a scumbag. Don't forget it.

(And hopefully he'll be Scumbag Without A Seat On The Hill after tonight.)


Well, it seems to have started early: Electronic Voting Machine headaches pretty much soon as the polls opened. And in what states are these troubles occurring? You'd never guess, but among others . . . Ohio & Florida. As AP reports:
Programming errors and inexperience dealing with electronic voting machines frustrated poll workers in hundreds of precincts early Tuesday, delaying voters in Indiana, Ohio and Florida and leaving some with little choice but to use paper ballots instead.
Florida's had six years to get this shit straight, and Ohio a mere two. Yet, in a world where we can drop a smart bomb accurately on a 10 foot-in-diameter target & determine whether a nation thousands of miles away possesses nuclear weaponry, we still can't get vote collection straight???

Uhhhh, scratch those examples, but the sentiment's the same. There's no excuse for this crap to be happening, and whichever party emerges victorious needs to figure it out once and for all.

That needs to be an issue in 2008.


Early exit polls show that the GOP will be turned out in record numbers, leaving them with only 47 seats in the House and 29 in the Senate. In fact, these losses looks to be of such historic dimensions that historians are already suggesting we re-write the 2004 election results in order to adequately express the magnitude of defeat.

Ok, I'm making this up, but I want to create a field of positive, optimistic energy around me and all who come within my sphere, cyber or otherwise. It's the least I can do, right?


(Ok, I'll calm down now. I promise.)


Well, here we are. Referendum Day. The day we decide if the Administration continues to trample on the economy, the military, the Constitution, the truth without encumbrances for two more years.

As far as I'm concerned, that's what's at stake today. I frankly don't care if the "Democrats win," per se, so long as the entrenched, Bush-supporting Republicans lose. That negative stance is one I've never before taken, and I hope not to feel the same in two years. I remember in 1990 (and obviously in '92) feeling really jazzed-up about some of the "new" Dems who seemed poised to take us into the next century. Wellstone was the most obvious, and just a few months into his term he made an impassioned argument against the First Iraq War.

But that seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? Even were he still alive, one has to wonder if his voice would matter. Russell Feingold voted against the first Patriot Act, and it hardly galvanized anything. Ron Paul (not a Dem, and not a Senator) speaks out against all sorts of Congressional bullshit, but remains a voice in the wilderness, even among his own party.

No, my youthful optimism for the Glorious Revolution of a vehement opposition party has long sense left the scene. I turned my back on party politics. But you know what? After the past six years, I've never felt as isolated from our country's basic tenets & traditions. I want them back. So I'll re-embrace party politics in the negative: with the exception of the rare & brave Republican who's dared to repudiate Bush & Friends' nonsense, I hope they all lose. I'm from New York, which is more blue than my mood'll be tomorrow morning if the GOP retains control, so my vote hardly factors into what I'm talking about here. Hillary Clinton, who I loath, for instance, will win, as will every other national Democrat from the Empire State. In a way, too bad, as these narcissistic pork-hunters represent so much that's wrong with Democratic party politics. But you know what? I'll deal with it for one greater good: De-fanging the bastard in the White House.

Incidentally, I was scanning back through the archives here, trying to see when I first piped in regarding my opinion that the GOP had to lose in these midterms, so that the status quo could become the status go, and maybe we could rise from the morass into which we'd sunk. And you know when I first talked about it? Day one.

Yes, on April 18, in writing about Bush's declaration that he was The Decider, I wrote the following:
I'll say it now, and I promise I'll say it many more times: If November 2006 passes without an historic loss for the status quo GOP, I fear for our Republic. With a quagmire in Iraq, the possibility of a new theater of war in Iran, and a teetering economy marked by debt, inflation, and monatary shenanigans, it's impossible to believe Bush and his allies on the Hill could maintain their power.
Ok. I'll admit I'm fairly proud to see that I felt the same 6 1/2 months ago. But in the same piece, I also wrote this:
Yet, would it surprise you in the least of he stood proudly in front of the White House on a cold Wednesday morning in November speaking yet again of a mandate?
Well, it still wouldn't surprise me, though the reasons differ. What I meant back in the spring was that our nation couldn't survive without a population prepared to hold accountable those who's fucked up so badly. Yet, at the time, I was unsure we'd do the right thing.

Well, if one believes polls & indicators at all, it looks like we've awoken. Conservative pundits calling for a GOP defeat. Administration popularity at all-time lows. The wonderful spectacle of "moderate" Republicans scrambling to distance themselves from their monstrous, nominal party-head. Numbers reasonably predicting the Dems take the House & threaten the Senate. It re-affirms my faith in our country, in our citizenry. In our future.

If the election's on the level.

I'll leave the Diebold/election fraud discussion to those who understand better than I the technology, techniques, and technicalities of computer systems, election laws, vote counting, and the like. I've never really bought into the cries regarding the "theft" of the 2004 election, and I try desparately to avoid thoughts of "Conspiracies."

That said, I've never before feared a dishonest election more than I do now. Even if I'm wrong (and are all the others who fear), look where we've come to. An Administration so dishonest that intelligent people have to either consider the possibility, or take the time to debunk the potential, of election fraud at the institutional level. Or as my Korean-born wife said to me the other day as we discussed it, "In the United States! Wow, I never thought anyone would even think about it."

"In the United States." That's right. The United States: dishonesty, venality, militarism, incompetence, dictatorial power grabs, theft. My reasons may have changed, but I'll stick with what I said. If Bush & friends are talking tomorrow about their continued mandate, about two more years, we're all in a lot more trouble than we'd choose to admit.

Today matters. Here's to it mattering in the positive.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Monday morning.

I'm already a bundle of anxiety about tomorrow. And I have a dentist appointment this afternoon. Anyone think of anything else to throw my way, something to -- you know -- raise the Tums Quotient? Surprise speaking engagement? Unexpected visit from in-laws? Mets trade Jose Reyes for Sammy Sosa? November Surprise?

Oh, did I mention that it's Monday?


Monday morning. You know the deal:

Don't even think of walking through that door if you're voting Republican.

Friday, November 03, 2006


Friday morning. And in light of the calendarial proximity of the coming Tuesday, with all the fears of potential chicanery & outright theft, I'm going to do a conspiracy-minded Friday Silly Movie My Youth Of The Day today. Confused? Let's see how you feel after I attempt to explain what the hell I'm talking about. So, with out further -- oh, what the hell, you know the drill by now:

Capricorn One

Yes, indeed. As described in the plot summary on IMDB:
Classic conspiracy tale about the first manned mission to Mars. All appears to be going well until the astronauts are pulled off the ship just before launch by shadowy government types and whisked off to a film studio in the desert. It transpires that the space vehicle has a major defect which NASA just daren't admit. At the studio, over a course of months, the astronauts are forced to act out the journey and the landing to trick the world into believing they have made the trip.
That pretty much matches my memory of the 1978 flick, which I saw when I was about 11 years-old. Of course, there are other plot details that I don't remember:
[Elliot] Gould stars as a journalist determined to crack the conspiracy.
Ok. Elliot Gould, starring as a conspiracy-cracking journalist is straight out of the 70's movie playbook, so nothing too wild there. But, there's more:
Telly Savalas is an eccentric farmer coming to Gould's aid.
There we go! One of those classic moments out of the 70's "Don't Play It By The Handbook" Handbook, that made that wacky decade so damn wacky. Keep in mind, that as a pre-adolescent kid, I knew Telly as Kojak. Who loves ya, baby? That's it. I didn't yet know Dirty Dozen or Kelly's Heroes or any of his early films that showed him as a tough guy, crazy guy, or a combo of both.

And, speaking of crazy, tough guys, look who else was in Capricorn One: Orenthal James Simpson, back in that awkward period when he transformed from The Juice to Arnold Palmer's car-renting sidekick & America's most mediocre actor! Of course, "Arnold Palmer's sidekick" seems far less strange than "homicidal maniac." It's odd to look at his IMDB page, and see how it just stops cold at 1994's Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, even though his biographical info shows he's still alive.

Back to the movie. As a geeky kid living in the post-Watergate, post-Vietnam era, I was just the audience for the half-baked conspiracy stuff that floated this film. I loved that sort of thing: evil "leaders" selling out the good men and women who worked for or followed them, only to be discovered by a well-meaning rebel, blah, blah, blah. But you know what? Even as an 11 year-old, this movie never got me to thinking that the Apollo 11 moon landing (only 9 years earlier) was staged.

Which some people were saying. Or are saying. Check this out. Or this. Or this. Hell, there are probably hundreds more. Do your own damn Googling!

But at an age where I was inclined to believe this shit, I didn't. You know why? Most likely because as a boy, I wanted men to have gone to the moon. Conspiracies about elections or wars or bankers or whatever else were utterly abstract to my to my young brain. But paradoxical though it sounds, a trip to the moon seemed tangible.

Whatever, enough of that quasi-seriousness, or the not-so-subtle allusions to fears of Diebold & other Republican shenanigans next week. Instead, let's talk about the Capricorn One cast: in addition to Gould and Savalas we've got serious actors like Sam Waterston, Hal Holbrook, and Karen Black, back in the days when her appearence in a movie was a good thing (see: Five Easy Pieces and Nashville, as opposed to Zapped Again or Bound and Gagged: A Love Story). And semi-serious actors like James Brolin, Bobby Walden (Lou Grant's sidekick, Rossi) James Sikking (Lt. Hunter on Hill Street Blues) and Brenda Vaccaro (a career's worth of raspy-voiced, mildly sexy ladies).

And if you think I'm letting Hal Holbrook's name pass without a Wall Street quotation, you're nuts:
Kid, you're on a roll. Enjoy it while it lasts, 'cause it never does.
(You thought I was going with either the "Main thing about money . . . ," or "Man looks into the abyss . . ." line, didn't you? C'mon, admit it.)

And, speaking of Wall Street, James Karen (Lynch, the two-faced office manager) was in Capricorn One. He's done a lot in his odd career. Any Given Sunday, The China Syndrome (late-70s conspiracy movie alert!), even Return of the Living Dead, in which he played a helluva dead guy. And by the way, if the FSMOMYOTD ever reaches the 80s, you know that mo-fo's getting its own post. But to me, he's always the Pathmark guy on their commercials, the one who used to lightly tap the items that were on-sale any particular week. Just as Telly's always Kojak, OJ's always an All-Pro RB (or at least the guy running through the airport, Go O.J., Go!), and Chevy Chase is always funny.

Scratch that. He wasn't always funny even then.