Friday, September 30, 2005

Batters Up

Ted: So who do you like tonight Joe?

Joe: Well that blonde over there is lookin' pretty tasty at the moment.

Ted: What is it with you and blondes?

Joe: Well, you know I was married to Marilyn Monroe and...

Ted: Yeah yeah yeah. You and a half-dozen other guys.

Joe: Well at least my kids didn't stick me in a freezer!

Ted: You always got to bring that up! Come on, focus for a minute, will ya' Joe. I'm talking about baseball. The Yankees versus the Red Sox in a end-of-the- season fight to the death.

Joe: I thought we were already dead?

Ted: We are, you flippin' chowderhead! But I'm talking about the Red Sox and the Yankees. Somebody is going to leave Fenway on vacation.

Joe: Oh yeah popsicle boy? Where are they going?

Ted: Home, Joe. They're going home.

Joe: Well, then it'll be a hell of a game won't it?

Ted: A hell of a game, Joe.

Joe: You got beer?

Ted: My place, in a hour.

Joe: I'll be there.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

It's All about Baseball...Again

All I want is a three-game sweep,
Far away from the Yankee creeps
Then Ortiz sends it deep,
Aow, wouldn't it be loverly?

Lots of base hits for me to cheer,
Lots of strikes called around the ear
Warm face, warm 'ands, cold beer,
Aow, wouldn't it be loverly?

Aow, so loverly goin' abso-bloomin'-lutely' mad.
Sox take down the Yanks in three
Hey, George you've been had!

Some Yank's 'ead busted on my knee,
Thin an' tender as a sweet June pea
Yo! Yank-ho! Take care of me!
Aow, wouldn't it be loverly?
Loverly, loverly, loverly, loverly


We've got a bet going with (evil pin-stripes fan) Portia.
People Pets will die if she wins.

Judge Roberts Confirmed As Chief Justice

By voting agains the conformation of Judge John Roberts, the following Senators have shown themselves to be, not only partisan hacks, but extremely anti-gay:

Akaka (D-HI)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Boxer (D-CA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Clinton (D-NY)
Corzine (D-NJ)
Dayton (D-MN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)*
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Obama (D-IL)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)

For your selfless service to this nation, out goes a big Heigh-ho fart in your general direction.

*(Who by the way served in Vietnam but still can't find his records)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

We Will Bury You...Soon

Breaking news:

Kremlin Official Calls for Lenin's Burial
Sep 28, 2005
MOSCOW (AP) - A senior aide to President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday the time has come to bury the embalmed body of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin - a statement that could
be the Kremlin's attempt to gauge public reaction to the divisive issue.

Lenin's Corpse patiently awaits internment.

Georgy Poltavchenko, Putin's envoy to the Central Federal District, said Lenin's body should be removed from its granite tomb on Red Square and buried in a cemetery along with remains of other Bolshevik dignitaries. "In the winter it's not so bad,"Poltevenchicko Polkadotchicca Georgy said. "But in the summer, ewwwwwwwww! The whole Kremlin stinks like sunbaked prune yogurt! "Poltavchenko said he was voicing his private opinion on the matter and did not elaborate, except to say "Please don't use my name in the news story! Please I'm begging you!"

Putin has said in the past he was against burying Lenin's body, but would'nt object to burying Georgy. "Here I am trying to rebuild this nation in the image of our glorious past," said Putin angrily, "and this слабоумный is trying to plant the star attraction! Putz."

Lenin, dead as his political philosophy since 1924, has occupied a refrigerated cube in the heart of Red Square long coveted by Starbucks as the site for a new coffeehouse. " A spokesperson for the Seattle beverage chain speaking on a condition of anomynity, said only that it is "company policy to remove corpses from their stores once they finish their lattes." The spokesperson also hinted that Starbucks is somewhat disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court's holding on eminent domain in Kelo isn't applicable in Russia. "We would have had a field day with that one," he added.

About 400 Bolshevik leaders and other dignitaries also were buried along the Kremlin wall during Soviet times. Tens of millions more were buried in the more rustic setting of Central Siberia. Former President Boris Yeltsin strongly pushed for removing Lenin's body, but he was stopped by vigorous opposition from the Communist Party and others. Putin said in 2001 he opposed removing Lenin's body from its Red Square tomb so as not to disturb civil peace in the country.
"Many people connect their own lives with the name of Lenin," Putin said at the time. "Burying Lenin would mean ... that they had lived in vain."

The Romanov family could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mean Stupid Media

Three full weeks ago, I wrote about the MSM going off half-cocked about the stories of horror and violence at the New Orleans Superdome in the wake of Katrina. Why has it taken this long for that same irresponsible bunch to report their own failings?

Some Reports of N.O. Violence Exaggerated

Sep 27 2:01 PM US/Eastern
By MICHELLE ROBERTSAssociated Press Writer
New Orleans

On Sept. 1, with desperate Hurricane Katrina evacuees crammed into the convention center, Police Chief Eddie Compass reported: "We have individuals who are getting raped; we have individuals who are getting beaten."

Five days later, he told Oprah Winfrey that babies were being raped. On the same show, Mayor Ray Nagin warned: "They have people standing out there, have been in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

The ugliest reports _ children with slit throats, women dragged off
and raped, corpses piling up in the basement _ soon became a searing image of post-Katrina New Orleans.

The stories were told by residents trapped inside the Superdome and convention center and were repeated by public officials. Many news organizations, including The Associated Press, carried the witness accounts and official pronouncements, and in some cases later repeated the claims as fact, without attribution.

But now, a month after the chaos subsided, police are re-examining the reports and finding that many of them have little or no basis in fact.

I asked it then and I'll ask it again: Proud of yourself MSM? Proud that what you reported slandered the people of New Orleans of every race, the rescue workers and rescue planners, the President, and even the United States itself? Proud that your reporting of lies, fabrications, and wild-asses speculation has resulted in the national "shame" you seem only too eager to promote? Who needs facts when its "truth," right?

But, then of course, now you get to do a great big story about yourself and the way you gather and report news, don't you? Now the News is the news. That makes you happy, doesn't it. The media becomes the message. The message becomes the media.

My contempt for you knows no depths.

More Signs That The Apocalypse Is Upon Us

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Anna Nicole Smith Case
Sept. 27, 2005
WASHINGTON (AP) - Former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith is going to the Supreme Court.
Justices said Tuesday they would consider Smith's appeal over the fortune of her 90-year-old late husband. The stripper-turned-reality television star stands to win as much as $474 million that a bankruptcy judge initially said she was entitled to. ***

For this Judge Roberts went through hell?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Another Sign of the Apocalypse

Sopranos Actor Pastore to Plead Guilty

September 26, 2005
Filed at 12:51 p.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Vincent Pastore, who played gangster Salvatore ''Big Pussy'' Bonpensiero on HBO's ''The Sopranos,'' has agreed to plead guilty to a charge that he attempted to assault a former girlfriend last spring.
The plea bargain, which has yet to receive final approval from a judge, calls for Pastore to perform 10 days of community service and attend a counseling program for batterers, lawyers involved in the case told a judge Monday.
Leaving a Manhattan courthouse after the brief hearing, the actor said he was satisfied with the deal.

''I want this to go away. What do you think, I want to die of
a heart attack?'' he said, adding that he is still recovering from an emergency triple bypass heart surgery performed about two months ago.

''I can't do nude scenes now because of the scar,'' he said.

Pastore was originally charged with two counts of assault, attempted assault and harassment for allegedly attacking Lisa Regina, 44, in April. Prosecutors alleged that he punched her in the back of the head, grabbed her hair and forced her head down on a car's gear shift during an argument. (But officer! It was in the script!)

The 59-year-old actor has remained free on bail while the case is pending on the condition that he refrain from contacting Regina. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to as much as a year in jail. Pastore's ''Sopranos'' character was killed early in the series as payback for snitching on the mob.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rita Who?

Tyra Banks proves breasts are real on TV

September 21, 2005, 2:07 PM EDT

NEW YORK -- Talk about keeping it real: Tyra Banks underwent a televised sonogram on her new talk show to prove that her breasts aren't fake.

"I'm tired of this rumor. It's something that's followed me forever," the supermodel said Tuesday on "The Tyra Banks Show."

After Banks asked the men in the audience to leave [Sexism!!!! -spd], Dr. Garth Fisher from ABC's "Extreme Makeover" performed a touch test and then the sonogram. He concluded: "Tyra Banks has natural breasts; there are no implants." [ Dr. Fisher then hurriedly excused himself mumbling something about having to "take a phone call."]

"By no means am I saying a breast implant is a bad thing, but it's not a choice that I made," the 31-year-old model said. "But it's something that a lot of the public ... think that I have, and that's so frustrating for me." [Me too. Let's commisserate over at my place.]

Banks, who models for Victoria's Secret [No! She sends my her pictures persoanlly every month! She doesn't getr paid for that! She does it for love!], also displayed how her push-up bra exaggerated her body. [Oxygen is on stand-by, Dr. rdr.] However, Banks said she's not totally real.

"I got fake hair, y'all. I got fake eyelashes." [Fake eyelashes! Oh, Tyra! How could you!]

The hour-long show was, as Banks declared, "all about breasts!" It also featured lessons on proper fitting and an appearance from a slimmed-down Anna Nicole Smith. [This part is a joke right? Right?]

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Thanks But No Thanks

[I originally wrote this for a new blog that I set up, "Thanks But No Thanks," that was to be dedicated to drumming up grassroots support to turn the Highway Bill into money for Katrina rebuilding. Because I am so slow, however, events have overtaken me and now there is a growing coalition of bloggers jumping on the bandwagon with the same fine idea. I'll talk more about that later. But first, the tardy post. -spd]

There’s an old saying that “pigs get fed, but hogs get slaughtered.” Too much of a good thing leads to the butcher’s knife. What the United States is about to discover is that it is living well beyond its means, and without some meaningful cutbacks the future welfare of its citizenry is in dire jeopardy. The federal government is spending money like a crazy uncle and as of September 15, 2005 has amassed a public debt of $7,918,009,471,434.33. Got that number? Almost eight trillion dollars… and we haven’t even begun to count the $200 billion or so that it will take to clean up the devastation from Hurricane Katrina.

The amount of fraud, waste, and mismanagement included in that staggering sum is incalculable. To give you an idea of the magnitude of the problem, however, the General Accounting Office reported that it discovered $45 billion in overpayments made by just 17 agencies in 2004, and it’s only just getting started on its count.

The outlook is as clear as it is unbearable. As the GAO so bluntly puts it: “Over the next few decades, the nation’s fiscal outlook will be shaped largely by demographics and health care costs. As the baby boom generation retires, federal spending on retirement and health programs—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—will grow dramatically. A range of other federal fiscal commitments, some explicit and some representing implicit public expectations, also bind the nation’s fiscal future. Absent policy change, a growing imbalance between expected federal spending and tax revenues will mean escalating and ultimately unsustainable federal deficits and debt.”

What to do? Well, we can stand around waiting for the crazy uncle to spend himself, and us, into unsustainable debt, or we can intervene. “Thanks, but no thanks.” Stop throwing money around, Uncle. We love you but we can do with a little less of your largess.

I am not so naïve to think that the ingrained political culture of spending oneself into re-election will suddenly disappear, but casting a little common sense into the discussion can’t hurt either.

“Policy change” requires leadership. “Leadership,” by all accounts, is lacking, on both sides of the political aisle, when it comes to balancing the requirements we believe necessary for our present comfort with the inevitable result that the irresponsibility of our current fiscal culture will drown succeeding generations.

Our forbearers wrote that “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." That sense of “Posterity” has been lost to our representatives in Congress. “We” never decided that bike paths should be built in New Jersey, rainforests in Kansas, or bridges to nowhere in Alaska.

“We” must now decide, and do so as individuals: Does America really need this stuff?


Enter . NZ Bear has put together a really easy way to see what's in the 600 page highway bill . Oops! I mean the "Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005." The very title of the Bill bespeaks of its efficiency, n'est pas?

I have broken down the bill's thousands of projects into word files, but I don't yet know how to post them. In the meantime, pick one or two of those at The Truth Laid Bear and start asking questions of your federal, state and local representatives.

Ask them if we really need this stuff right now.

Tell them to give it back.

Feds To Investigate Punctuation Shortage in Vermont

Today's winning Letter to the Editor comes to us from the Boston Globe.

The reckless George Bush is to blame
September 19, 2005

THIS SHALLOW, reckless, monolithically complacent man who touts his belief in the philosophy of Jesus but advocates tax cuts for the richest of the rich instead of succor for the poorest of the poor, who has entangled us in an unnecessary, unwinnable, and increasingly murderous war against shadows, who consistently favors the interests of big business over those of the imperiled environment, and appoints an official of the International Arabian Horse Association to be in charge of managing horrors like Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, surely the second George Bush is not the only one to blame for his insane and tragic chapter in our history, but it is hard to imagine a more appropriate symbol of it than the never-to-be-forgotten Mission Accomplished dance he did on the carrier's deck for all the world as though he really believed it.


Well! Mr. Buechner's 140-word sentence not only leaves one breathless in the writer's ability to pile adjective on top of adjective, thus pulling the reader into the downward spiral of doom and depression that so typifies everything about the Bush administration, even going so far as to hammer the stake through the heart of the matter with a pointed reference to Bush’s Mission Accomplished dance, which according to the Mr. Buechner Mr. Bush didn't really believe in anyway, thus making him not only a "monolithically complacent man," but a murderous dancing liar as well, but also in Mr. Buechner's uncanny skill at manipulating the English language in such a manner that, when read in its entirety, and despite the awesome opportunities for debate–stirring argument the subject offers, he still manages to avoid making a lick of sense, although his punctuation conservation is enormously appreciated. Really.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Lunchtime Loonacy

Ok, folks. Hang on to your hat.

From The Scotsman via FARK:

Burger King recalls 'sacrilegious' desserts

The fast-food chain, Burger King, is withdrawing its ice-cream cones
after the lid of the dessert offended a Muslim.
The man claimed the design resembled the Arabic inscription for Allah, and branded it sacrilegious, threatening a "jihad".
The chain is being forced to spend thousands of pounds redesigning the lid with backing from The Muslim Council of Britain. It apologised and said: "The design simply represents a spinning ice-cream cone.

The offending lid was spotted in a branch in Park Royal last week by
business development manager Rashad Akhtar, 27, of High Wycombe.
He was not satisfied by the decision to withdraw the cones and has called on Muslims to boycott Burger King. He said: "This is my jihad. How can you say it is a
spinning swirl? If you spin it one way to the right you are offending Muslims."

A Muslim Council spokesman said: "We commend the sensitive and prompt action that Burger King has taken."

Now you might just think that this is another example of one lone fool with his turban wrapped too tight, but it's not. According to another story Burger King recieved "dozens of complaints." What is the culprit here? Burger King's insensitivity? Why would Burger king want to put "Allah" on its ice cream cones for chrissakes? Maybe it's just that the Arabic written languge, already incomprehensible to westerners, permits permits its viewrs to derive offense at simple symbols by holding them just right and then squinting. Look at the history in the NEWSMAX story:

  • In 1997, Nike pulled tens of thousands of basketball shoes after it was told that the logo - the word "air" in flame-like letters - looked like "Allah" in Arabic when viewed from a certain angle.Newsweek reported in July of that year that Nike had launched a program of "sensitivity training on Islam" and gave a donation to an Islamic school.

  • A year later, Unilever scrapped a new logo it had begun to use on Walls ice creams in the Middle East - again after Muslims said the intertwining red and yellow hearts looked like "Allah" in Arabic, when viewed upside down and backwards.

  • In 1994, Lagerfeld designed a dress incorporating a pattern he had copied from Arabic lettering on India's Taj Mahal monument. The lettering included the phrase "They are the ones who found guidance," used a number of times in the Koran. German supermodel Claudia Schiffer received death threats after wearing the dress, prompting her mother to make a public plea for her safety. The designer apologized and burned the garments. He also destroyed photographs and negatives of the dress.

  • Coca Cola has for years struggled to dispel the rumor that the soft drink's trademark swirly-writing logo, when seen at a particular angle, looked like the Arabic script for "No Mohammed, No Mecca." The company's website has a "myths and rumors" section where it contests the charge, arguing that "the trademark was created in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia, at a time and place where there was little knowledge of Arabic. The allegation has been brought before a number of senior Muslim clerics in the Middle East who researched it in detail and refuted the rumor outright," it says.
Now I am not saying that these people have all received their masters from the Jesse Jackson School of Phoney Outrage and Corporate Shakedown, but where is this going to stop?

Look at this baby blanket:

Now look at this script:

Can another "jihad" be far behind?

You Want Me To What????

The New York Times today launched its new "Times Select Feature." This innovation allows readers of the online version of the NYT the privilege of paying $49.95 per year to read "select" columns appearing in its daily edition. The program is similar to that of the Wall Street Journal's online program, with one very important difference: what you're paying to read.

Here's today's "select" materials:


Good Grief
The country has put its faith in President Bush many times before, and come up empty.
Video: Meet Bob Herbert Herbert's Heroes
Columnist Page

Tragedy in Black and White
Race is the biggest reason America treats its poor more harshly than any other advanced country.
Video: Meet Paul Krugman Money Talks

Talking Points
The biggest casualty of the Iraq war could be America’s all volunteer army. By David Unger, the Times editorial board expert on military affairs.

Sports of The Times: A Run to Daylight Was Never an Option
Sports of The Times: As Passes Wobble, So Do Prospects for a Stadium
Sports of The Times: Missing the Playoffs Is So Foreign a Concept

More Stuff
Video: MeetJoe Nocera

Video: MeetJoyce Purnick

Video: MeetSelena Roberts

Video: MeetBob Herbert

Video: MeetFrank Rich

How can I live without it?

Sure, I'll pay $35 bucks a year for access to their crossword puzzles, but not a nickle for Herbert, Rich, or Krugman. I read them only as a form of penance.

Good luck, boys.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Heaven? Or Hell?
(click for bigger)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Meanwhile, in San Francisco...

Not again.....(groan)

Federal Judge Declares Pledge of Allegiance in Public Schools Unconstitutional

Sep 14, 2005 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal judge declared the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools unconstitutional Wednesday in a case brought by the same atheist whose previous battle against the words "under God" was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court on procedural grounds.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."
Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.
The Supreme Court dismissed the case last year, saying Newdow lacked standing because he did not have custody of his elementary school daughter he sued on behalf of.
Newdow, an attorney and a medical doctor, filed an identical case on behalf of three unnamed parents and their children. Karlton said those families have the right to sue.
Karlton, ruling in Sacramento, said he would sign a restraining order preventing the recitation of the pledge at the Elk Grove Unified, Rio Linda and Elverta Joint Elementary school districts in Sacramento County, where the plaintiffs' children attend.
The order would not extend beyond those districts unless it is affirmed by a higher court, in which case it would apply to nine western states.
The decision sets up another showdown over the pledge in schools, at a time when the makeup of the Supreme Court is in flux.
Wednesday's ruling comes as Supreme Court nominee John Roberts faces day three of his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He would succeed the late William H. Rehnquist as chief justice.
In July, Sandra Day O'Connor announced her plans to retire when a successor is confirmed.
The Becket Fund, a religious rights group that is a party to the case, said it would immediately appeal the case to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If the court does not change its precedent, the group would go to the Supreme Court.
"It's a way to get this issue to the Supreme Court for a final decision to be made," said fund attorney Jared Leland.
The decisions by Karlton and the 9th Circuit conflict with an August opinion by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. That court upheld a Virginia law requiring public schools lead daily Pledge of Allegiance recitation, which is similar to the requirement in California.
A three-judge panel of that circuit ruled that the pledge is a patriotic exercise, not a religious affirmation similar to a prayer.
"Undoubtedly, the pledge contains a religious phrase, and it is demeaning to persons of any faith to assert that the words 'under God' contain no religious significance," Judge Karen Williams wrote for the 4th Circuit. "The inclusion of those two words, however, does not alter the nature of the pledge as a patriotic activity."
Newdow, reached at his home, was not immediately prepared to comment.


I'm taking bets as to how the Ninth Circuit is going to rule.

Winner gets a dozen stuffed marmosets currently awaiting delivery as caption contest prizes.

In Other Florida News....

Lunchtime news:

Police arrest suspect in Jacksonville samurai

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police say they have
arrested the man who used a samurai sword to rob a lunchtime crowd of $32.

Matthew Scott Ball, 31, was being held Wednesday at the Duval County Jail on $102,506 bail on armed robbery and possession of drug paraphernalia charges.

Ball was arrested late Monday, hours after the robbery at the Mudville Grille.

Witnesses said the robber whipped the sword across two tables, clearing the tabletops of condiments, before slamming his hand on the counter.

Several patrons emptied their pockets and the man grabbed the cash and fled in a green minivan. It was later found abandoned with the sword inside.

Police said witnesses identified Ball from a photo lineup. His next court
appearance was scheduled Sept. 30 and there was no information immediately available on his legal representation.

Sigh.... This story raises so many questions it's hard to know just where to begin.

  • The headline says that this was a "samurai robbery." Yet it does not inform as to what all of these samurai were doing at the Mudville Grille when Mr. Ball burst in with his sword. Wasa this the scene of some kind of Samurai Kiwanis lunch meeting? Or was the sword itself robbed? And if so by whom?
  • Was John Belushi the server?
  • Why is was the bail set at $102,588 instead of $102,587? Local taxes gone up again?
  • What has Mr. Ball got against condiments?
  • Are you telling me the all the patrons in this restaurant put together could only come up with $32?
  • Did the victims have to pay for their lunches? With what?
  • The green mini-van was described as being found "abandoned," but no mention that the sword was also "abandoned" by Mr. Ball. Were the sword's feelings hurt by this callous oversight?
  • What do they mean "no information" is "immediately" available about Mr. Ball's legal representation. We know two things for sure: 1) it will be a lawyer, and 2) he's going to lose this case.

CSI: Degas

What is Manet thinking?
(click for bigger)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Saints Be Praised

In a display of incredible pluck, the New Orleans Saints overcame their personal emotions and the crushing loss facing the citythey represent nationally, and gave their fans a clutch last minute on-the-road win over the much ballyhooed Carolina Panthers, 23 -20.

I meant to (and did) write much more about the cosmic intersection of this social/sports phenomenon...but now I realize that it would add more noisy brain gas to the daily tally of global warming. It's just a game, afterall... but sometimes, that game means something, maybe everything.

If you don't understand what I am talking about, I am sorry. I can't help you.

But it is somehow a small reassurance of our capability for justice and renewal that the Saints should win on September 11th, 2005.

That's my opinion. If you have an issue with that, you can take up with God.

Well done, guys.

September 11, 2005

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

- Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Here's to Common Sense Judgments

Fresh from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals:

Appeals Court Reverses Lower Court, Says 'dirty Bomb' Suspect Can Be Held Without Charges
Sep9, 2005RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A federal appeals court Friday sided with the Bush administration and reversed a judge's order that the government either charge or free "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla.
The three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the president has the authority to detain a U.S. citizen closely associated with al Qaida.

"The exceedingly important question before us is whether the President of the United States possesses the authority to detain militarily a citizen of this country who is closely associated with al Qaeda, an entity with which the United States is at war," Judge Michael Luttig wrote. "We conclude that the President does possess such authority."

Well, hush my mouth! The President can lock up a guy who wants to kill Americans for our enemy! Amazing.

But Judge Luttig? This might just take you out of the running for Justice O'Connor's seat. Maybe not...I mean I'd PAY to see Ted Kennedy attack you for this decision!

Required Reading

Mark Helprin has never pulled punches. His piece in today's Wall Street Journal takes aim at our nation's continuing hesitancy and outright blundering in matters strategic - and scores enough direct hits to make nearly everyone feel a bit uncomfortable. It is a big story - as is fitting - but it's one that slaps you across the face with a "snap out of it" of generational proportions.

An excerpt:
Ceaselessly, we court strategic error. At the end of the Cold War, assuming that history had concluded, we discarded too much military power. This continues through the present, rationalized by reference to transformation. But it is yet further error to believe that military-technical evolution can make up for the kind of deficiencies and poor strategic judgments from which no machine can save an army. Continual and remarkable innovation is both indispensable and expensive, but President Clinton required budgetary choice between innovation and everything else, and his successor has yet to disagree. The root of the error that offers transformation as a substitute for so much that is crucial is the conviction that having both would exceed reasonable military expenditures and somehow break the common weal.

Having made many wrong choices, we find ourselves at yet another strategic crossroads, where invisibly to the general public we are about to choose wrongly again. We are reshaping the military into a gendarmerie, configured for small wars, counterinsurgency, peacekeeping and nation-building, all at the expense of the type of force that could deter or defeat a rising China. Although we need a gendarmerie, we cannot do without heavy formations and the many additional ships required for a navy--now less than half the size of the Reagan fleet and shrinking--to exploit our natural advantage in the Pacific.

Regardless of your political stripe, you will no doubt find something disagreeable in Mr. Helprin's blunt assessment. Which is exactly why it has such a powerful ring of truth. His is a stern talking-to that reminds me of the parental scolding I recieved (routinely) as an under-performing high school student. "You are a danger to your own future" it went. I eventually learned the lesson, and not too late for my life. But then again, I didn't have to hammer out an agreement with a split personality. The politics of self are a dictatorship.

At bottom, Helprin is scolding the lack of political will and leadership in this country, and I cannot fault him for that. But in a larger sense, the idea that the nation is busy stamping on cockroaches while theives loot the house is troubling.

Chew on it for a while.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Stupid Navy Tricks

Portia (who must have a WHOLE lot of free time these days) sent me an update on this story from CNN. (It's a video entitled "Navy Pilots Scolded for Helping Victims" under the Special Coverage section in the middle of the page).

It turns out that Uber-Admiral Rumsfeld got wind of the story through the New York Times (bad, very bad). The Times included a report that the AP didn't have in the story I read: "In protest, some members of the unit have stopped wearing a search and rescue patch on their sleeves that reads, "So Others May Live." It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure Rummy's response. ..something akin to a very quiet large explosion.

The Navy started bailing faster than Sean Penn. Now the actions of these two pilots are to be "commended." Heh. Commander Holdener's in the dog house now. Bonehead.
Navy Commander 'counseled' Pensacola Pilots for Non-Assigned Rescues
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - Two Navy helicopter pilots were reminded of the importance of supply missions after delivering their cargo and then rescuing 110 hurricane victims in New Orleans instead of immediately returning to base, the military said Wednesday. One of the pilots was temporarily assigned to a kennel but that was not punishment, said Patrick Nichols, a civilian public affairs officer at Pensacola Naval Air Station. "They were not reprimanded," Nichols said. "They were counseled."
"Counseled" in official Navy parlance means "We took a fire ax to these Hollywood flyboy's egos. Broomsticks should be emerging from their nether regions any day now."

Lt. Matt Udkow and Lt. David Shand returned to the base from their mission on Aug. 30, a day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Nichols said. Udkow and Shand met with Cmdr. Michael Holdener, who praised their actions but reminded them their orders were to fly water and other supplies to three destinations in Mississippi - the Stennis Space Center, Pascagoula and Gulfport - and then return to Pensacola. "The Hollywood role [What did I tell you? Ed.] of this thing is search and rescue," Nichols said. "Logistics was just as important. They realize that."

I bet they do. Oh, I know what you're going to say: "Orders are orders. If you don't follow orders the entire world will become so disorganized that graph paper will look like "spin art" and the terrorists will have won." Been there, done that. The world spins still. But a kennel for godsakes? C'mon Skipper! Lighten up!

The two air crews picked up a Coast Guard radio call that helicopters were needed for rescues in New Orleans, said Lt. Jim Hoeft, another Navy spokesman. They were out of radio range to Pensacola, so they decided to fly their helicopters to New Orleans and join the rescue effort without permission.
It took only minutes for the H-3 helicopters to fly to New Orleans, where Udkow's crew plucked people off rooftops. Shand landed his helicopter on the roof of an apartment building where more than a dozen people had been stranded. When he returned to get more, two crew members entered the building and found two blind residents and led them to the helicopter.
Udkow later received permission to continue with the rescue missions when he landed to refuel in New Orleans.
Both helicopters returned to Pensacola, about 200 miles east of New Orleans, by dark, as required by flight rules. Nichols said no supplies went undelivered as a result of the rescues. The pilots and Holdener were not available for interviews Wednesday, Nichols said. He said Udkow was flying and Shand was resting between missions.
"We all want to be the guys who rescue people," Holdener told The New York Times. "But they were told we have other missions we have to do right now and that is not the priority."

Tell that to the blind folks, Commander.

The air over New Orleans was so thick with helicopters a few days later that crews were having a hard time finding people who needed rescuing, but that was not the case when Udkow and Shand flew their rescue missions.
"I would be looking at a family of two on one roof and maybe a family of six on another roof, and I would have to make a decision who to rescue," Udkow told the Times. "It wasn't easy."
Nichols said Udkow was in no way being punished by being put in charge of a temporary kennel in Pensacola for pets of military personnel who had been evacuated from hurricane-stricken areas.
"It's a collateral duty," Nichols said. "These guys don't just fly. They do other stuff."

Listen, you twerp. These "guys" are dedicated and highly freakin' trained Naval Aviators (rotary wing). Do the country a favor and put these guys back in the air, now. You need somebody to guard the kennel? Then call the Marines! (Heh).

Seriously, I realize that you guys hosed-up big time with the Skipper. I for one, however, am glad that SOMEBODY showed a little goddamned-out-of-the-box-initiative in the middle of what was otherwise a bureaucratic cluster-f**k to end all cluster-f**ks.

And Commander?
Your men know it.

Rant light is extinguished.
Carry on.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Evidently Portia has a lot of free time today, and so she has thoughtfully supplied the answer to today's exercise.

And what do you know, it really is all about S-E-X!

Portia kindly provided a brighter version of the same painting.
But I still don't see any cake.

I'm restless and frustrated.
Time for CSI Art.

I read recently about a program where New York City detectives were taken (by surprise) to a famed NYC museum to The drill was for them to delve into the scenes depicted in famous and not famous paintings and explain what was going on. It was/is a lesson in observation so vivid that even those already so naturally atuned to soak in every detail found the experience both enlightening and enjoyable. Hell, I say, if it was good enough for the NYPD, than how much damage could I possibly do to the concept?

Tonight's subject: The Letter, by Vermeer.

(click pic for bigger)
What do you see, detective?

Better said

Portia said...
Potent montage, spd and a troubling one, too. * I don't know...maybe I'm wired differently but I believe the world is a lot less dark and cynical place than you paint it. Once you peel back the layer of politics and pundits and stand in the "light," you may find that we do care... sometimes with our pocketbooks, sometimes with our hands, sometimes with our prayers. From the clothes collection held in parking lots, to the volunteers hitchhiking to the Gulf Coast, to the three Gulf families my firm has adopted, to the Kids for Katrina drive underway, to the 90 countries who have offered aid (even $25,000 from Sri Lanka, God Bless it), we do care a lot, and when our neighbors are in trouble, we rise up. "My City" learned that first hand--and in spades--after 9/11. I refuse to believe the same compassion does not exist today...or tomorrow. This song has been playing in my head for days as its brilliant and painful words take on new meaning for another city in ruins. With these hands....

City of Ruins
There is a blood red circle
On the cold dark ground
And the rain is falling down
The church door's thrown open
I can hear the organ's song
But the congregation's gone
My city of ruins
My city of ruins
Now the sweet bells of mercy
Drift through the evening trees
Young men on the corner
Like scattered leaves,
The boarded up windows,
The empty streets
While my brother's down on his knees
My city of ruins
My city of ruins

Come on, rise up!
Come on, rise up!
Come on, rise up!
Come on, rise up!
Come on, rise up!
Come on, rise up!

Now's there's tears on the pillow
Darlin' where we slept
And you took my heart when you left
Without your sweet kiss
My soul is lost, my friend
Tell me how do I begin again?
My city's in ruins
My city's in ruins
Now with these handsI
pray lordWith these hands
For the strength lord
With these hands
For the faith lord
With these hands
I pray lord
With these hands
For the strength lord
With these hands
For the faith lord
With these hands

Come on
Come on
Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up
1:13 PM

* Portia is referring a montage I put up earlier, and have since deleted.
It just wasn't helpful.
Thanks, old friend, for bringing me to my senses.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Quick! Stuff this Koran In Your Pocket!

Man Charged With Shooting at Helicopter

September 6, 2005, 4:35 PM EDT
NEW ORLEANS -- A New Orleans man was arrested and charged with shooting at a military rescue helicopter. Authorities said the bullets apparently did not hit anything. Wendell Bailey, 20, was taken into custody Monday night by agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The agents were in the neighborhood to investigate neighbors' complaints of gunfire and heard shots from an apartment window as a helicopter flew over.


Surprised? You Shouldn't Be.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg jumps all over it. And much better than I.

From today's Guardian

Murder and rape - fact or fiction?

There were two babies who had their throats slit. The seven-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in the Superdome. And the corpses laid out amid the excrement in the convention centre. In a week filled with dreadful scenes of desperation and anger from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina some stories stood out.

But as time goes on many remain unsubstantiated and may yet prove to be apocryphal.

During a week when communications were difficult, rumours have acquired a particular currency. They acquired through repetition the status of established facts.

One French journalist from the daily newspaper Libération was given precise information that 1,200 people had drowned at Marion Abramson school on 5552 Read Boulevard. Nobody at the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the New Orleans police force has been able to verify that.

But then Fema could not confirm there were thousands of people at the convention centre until they were told by the press for the simple reason that they did not know.

"Katrina's winds have left behind an information vacuum. And that vacuum has been filled by rumour.

"There is nothing to correct wild reports that armed gangs have taken over the convention centre," wrote Associated Press writer, Allen Breed.

"You can report them but you at least have to say they are unsubstantiated and not pass them off as fact," said one Baltimore-based journalist.

"But nobody is doing that."

Well, I'm not so sure about that. Look at the courageous retraction issued by Randall Robinson. It turns out, afterall, that "black hurricane victims in New Orleans" were NOT eating corpses to survive," as Mr. Robinson reported last week. Seems the reports were *cough* "unsubstantiated." No shit? You mean that black Americans don't immediately resort to canablism when confronted with a hungry tummy? Wow. You mean that black Americans don't immediately starting murdering and raping other black Americans just as soon as the cops aren't around? Amazing.

But I never thought those kinds of reports credible in the first place. You see, I have more faith in humanity than you.

But do you knuckleheads realize what your reporting of such "unsubstantiated" rumors has done to the reputation of black Americans both at home and abroad? Do you realize that "armed gangs roving the city" prompted one tsunami victim to quip that "now we know where the civilized peoples live." (STFU, asshole.) Don't believe me? Here's some more from the Guardian piece:

Reports of the complete degradation and violent criminals running rampant in the Superdome suggested a crisis that both hastened the relief effort and demonised those who were stranded. By the end of last week the media in Baton Rouge reported that evacuees from New Orleans were carjacking and that guns and knives were being seized in local shelters where riots were erupting.
The local mayor responded accordingly. "We do not want to inherit the looting and all the other foolishness that went on in New Orleans," Kip Holden was told the Baton Rouge Advocate. "We do not want to inherit that breed that seeks to
prey on other people."

The trouble, wrote Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune
is that "scarcely any of it was true - the police confiscated a single knife from a refugee in one Baton Rouge shelter". "There were no riots in Baton Rouge. There were no armed hordes."


Ashamed of yourselves, yet? Thanks for nothing.

Monday, September 05, 2005


Cass' comment to the "Sunflowers" posting below intrigued me:
"I was trying to figure out why I don't like a lot of paintings and why I do like the ones I like, and the only thing I could think of was that the painters I like all manage to make their paintings seem infused with light, which is rather an odd thing to say about Van Gogh since his technique is so heavy. Most of the others I like are Impressionists or post-Impr., but when you look at his work, even though he just slathers the paint on, they do just seem to almost glow from inside."

How true. Look at this beautiful study by the Italian Impressionist Federico Zandomeneghi (1841-1917), "In Bed."

It's not the subject matter that so draws us to the painting; certainly we have seen people sleeping. The face of the young girl is almost obscured, so it is not her personal beauty that attracts us. Rather it is the quality of the light that invites us to speculate about the sleeping figure, and her dreams.

The Virtue of Graciousness

Chief Justice William Rehnquist's remarks at the close of the Senate impeachment trial of William Jefferson Clinton, February 12, 1999:

"More than a month ago, I first came here to preside over the Senate, sitting as a court of impeachment.
"I was a stranger to the great majority of you. I underwent the sort of culture shock that naturally occurs when one moves from the very structured environment of the Supreme Court to what I shall call, for want of a better phrase, the more free-form environment of the Senate.
"I leave you now a wiser, but not a sadder, man. I've been impressed by the manner in which the majority leader and minority leader have agreed on procedural rules, in spite of the differences that separate their two parties on matters of substance.
"I have been impressed by the quality of the debate in closed session on the entire question of impeachment, as provided for in the Constitution. Agreed-upon procedures for airing substantive divisions must be the hallmark of any great deliberative body.
"Our work as a court of impeachment is now done. I leave you with the hope that our several paths may cross again, under happier circumstances."


Ladies and Gentlemen of the United States Senate, here is your opportunity to demonstrate that the values described by Chieff Justice Rehnquist are not dead on Capital Hill. By all means ask your questions of Judge Roberts, but do so civilly and with an eye towards the good of the nation, not the TV camera.
I trust that each of you will do his or her duty. Please do not let me down.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Mr. Chief Justice Rehnquist 1924-2005

I am the very model of a modern Major-General
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical

I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse

With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotepotenuse

I'm very good at integral and differential calculus
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
I am the very model of a modern Major-General

In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
He is the very model of a modern Major-General

I know our mythic history, King Arthur's and Sir Caradoc's
I answer hard acrostics, I've a pretty taste for paradox
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous

I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies
I know the croaking chorus from the Frogs of Aristophanes
Then I can hum a fugue of which I've heard the music's din afore
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore

And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinapinafore

Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform
And tell you ev'ry detail of Caractacus's uniform
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
I am the very model of a modern Major-General

In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
He is the very model of a modern Major-General

In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin"
When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a javelin
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at
And when I know precisely what is meant by "commissariat"

When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery
In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy
You'll say a better Major-General had never sat a gee

You'll say a better Major-General had never sat a gee
You'll say a better Major-General had never sat a gee
You'll say a better Major-General had never sat a sat a gee

For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
I am the very model of a modern Major-General

But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
He is the very model of a modern Major-General

Rest in peace, Mr. Chief Justice.
Thank you for your service to this Nation.

Friday, September 02, 2005

These Boots

Best intentions.
Best efforts.
Best results.

Shiny Thing Updated???

Hey everybody! It's half past hamster!!!

You need this towel!!!

It really flaps its wings!

Today's Shiny Thing Update is a sure crowd pleaser. will provide you fives-of-minutes of fun looking at what is, without any doubt, the stupidest collection of useless junk since the Ted Kennedy-Chuck Schumer celebrity circle-jerk.

But don't take my word for it.
Take his.


Russian Diplomat at UN Charged With Conspiring to Launder Payouts From Companies Seeking Work

Published: Sep 2, 2005
NEW YORK (AP) - A Russian diplomat who chairs a powerful United Nations budget committee was accused in an indictment Friday of helping hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in payouts from companies seeking U.N. contracts.

The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering against Vladimir Kuznetsov was contained in a grand jury indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The FBI arrested Kuznetsov on Thursday, less than a month after arresting another Russian U.N. official over alleged money laundering. He was awaiting arraignment Friday in Manhattan federal court.

According to the indictment, Kuznetsov established an offshore company in 2000 to hide criminal proceeds he received from an unidentified U.N. procurement officer who had taken secret payments from foreign companies seeking contracts to provide goods and services to the United Nations.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan waived Kuznetsov's diplomatic immunity at the request of U.S. authorities, U.N. associate spokesman Farhan Haq said. Kouznetsov heads the General Assembly panel that oversees the U.N. budget.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton praised Annan "for his personal and very prompt decision," and declined to comment further.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said his government was awaiting more information from U.S. law enforcement agencies and the U.N. Secretariat before making any statements, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

On Aug. 8, Alexander Yakovlev, a Russian who worked in the U.N. procurement office, was arrested for allegedly soliciting a bribe from a company seeking an oil-for-food contract. He has already pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering for allegedly accepting nearly $1 million in bribes from U.N. contractors in his work outside the oil-for-food program.


Well, well. It didn't take long for John Bolton to make his presence known at the United Nations, did it?

Time Out

If, like me, you're feeling a bit frustrated by world events, may I suggest that you take a few moments out of your busy day and go poke Alex in the eye???

A Thing of Beauty