Friday, December 30, 2005

Every Day Is Bowl Season When You're a Dog

For Dog Blog Friday: Keep in mind that tomorrow night if you're using a bowl, you're probably drinking too much. Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Birds Do It, Bees Do It, Even Hippos and Tortis (sic) Do It

Support Unions or Die

Here's one for the "The Company Saves Money, You Lose Your Life" file. It seems that the Alaska Airlines jet that had a hole in its fuselage the other day suffered a teensy-weensy accident. On the ground. When a non-union baggage handler rammed the plane with his cart prior to its take-off. And didn't tell anyone. The Los Angeles Times (via the Houston Chronicle, since all papers are one as all those journalism jobs get cut, too) reports:

The Alaska Airlines jet was parked at its gate when a baggage handler bumped his loading cart into the plane. Just a minor bump, he later told investigators; so minor, he said, he did not even tell anyone about it at the time.

And so the MD-80 twin-engine jet took off from Seattle late Monday afternoon, bound for Burbank, Calif.

Twenty minutes into the sky, however, with a loud popping sound, that little bump abruptly sheared into a 12-inch gash in the fuselage. The sudden, painful loss of pressure caused nearly all the 140 passengers on Flight 536 to tug at their ears, said Lisl Wright, a production assistant at American Idol, who was in seat 31-F.

Oxygen masks dropped down, and there was a loud rushing noise that another passenger, Jeremy Hermanns, a marketing manager in 28-D, likened to "a leaf blower in your ear." The pilots launched into a sudden descent from 26,000 feet, returning to Seattle.


The incident also has touched off renewed tensions between Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and its unions over the outsourcing of baggage-handling jobs.

The airline let go of nearly 500 baggage and ramp-service employees last spring and, in a move it said would save $13 million annually, hired British-based Menzies Aviation to handle the job instead.

Alaska said at the time that it was confident it could "continue moving Seattle customers' bags reliably while reducing our operating costs significantly."

But unions said the lower-paid, less experienced contract workers would hurt operations, and in the first several weeks of the new arrangement, various snafus led to so many delayed flights and late deliveries to baggage claim that the airline issued a public apology.

It's one thing for baggage to be late, but you don't want to make your passengers late, as in "the late, great Lisl Wright, production assistant at American Idol." Something tells me those lawsuits will cost you a lot more than $13 million.

Oh yeah, people will die and the lives of those who survive them will be wrenched into miserable hell, but I thought by pointing out the money lost I might get Alaska Airline's attention. You got to learn to talk business with these people.

Fight Fire with Fireworks

Sitting here in California it's kind of odd to read about huge fires in other states, especially Red ones like Texas and Oklahoma. I mean, any good Christian like Pat Robertson could tell you that California is the land of fires, earthquakes, mudslides and the Scientology Center on Melrose because we've turned our backs on the one true God who wants us to teach intelligent design, hate gays and vote for Republican presidential candidates. But when the righteous Texas burns, well, it just doesn't seem like we live in a just world ruled by that intelligent deisgner, does it?

As of Tuesday, it's clear that Texas was doing all it could to stop the fires. Without stomping on folks' rights, of course. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported:

[Parker] county extended its ban on outdoor burning until Feb. 27. The ban does not include fireworks, but Parker County Judge Mark Riley urged vendors not to sell missiles with fins and skyrockets with sticks.

After all, how could you welcome 2006 without a missile with fins? It's just not the new year without that sweet whistling sound that precedes the big ass boom.

Alas, that was Tuesday, and with fires still raging, stricter rules are being set. NPR this morning reported a ban on all fireworks. Instead, Texas state officials urged merry-makers on Saturday night just to fire their pistols skyward.

Not a Triumph of the Will

Sure, he's carped a bit about W. of late, but George Will is still Country Club George at heart. Today he opts to write about SEIU President Andy Stern and includes the following paragraph:

Mr. Stern was an Ivy League graduate when he went to his first union meeting. He went, he says, because pizza was being served. The class struggle, like God, moves in mysterious ways.

How lucky for George Will never to have been lured to an event because it meant a free supper. And to compare someone else doing so to something miraculous, like water being changed into wine or a Republican having a non-condescending thought about how the less fortunate live is, how shall we say, rich.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My Life in the Ghost of Bush

It would seem easy to write something condemning the NSA secret wiretaps given there's a perfectly open and legal way to get the court approval for any wiretap the White House might need. In fact, so many people (to pick just one) have written so well on the topic, it's kept me from saying more, saying the same, saying the obvious. (Which somehow isn't obvious to rightwingers who seem to think secret and illegal government activities are just dandy, as long as they keep us free from attack. Keeping us free, and all the good things we supposedly cherish in this country, that's not so important to the rightwingers.)

But the new NSA story dug up this story again: "President Bush and other top officials in his administration used the National Security Agency to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitor private email accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council in early 2003 to determine how foreign delegates would vote on a U.N. resolution that paved the way for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, NSA documents show."

So I guess we're to assume that all delegates to the U.N. are spies? Terrorists? Or maybe they just don't agree with the U.S., so therefore need to be spied on. Which means anyone who doesn't agree with the U.S.--heck, it spells us, and whose side are you on, buddy?--can get wiretapped.

If only having the government against us was enough, it seems the press is, too. You see, the U.S. media decided to ignore the UN wiretapping back in 2003, despite it being a big story in the UK, where the story originally broke. Only the Baltimore Sun did much about it, while papers like the New York Times barely mentioned it. Months before President Bush was re-elected. And the Times was also onto the wider NSA wiretapping problems, too, we now know, but held back on that story at the President's request. (Note in Great Britian the woman who broke the NSA/UN story was immediately arrested for leaking the memo that proved what the U.S. was up to. So maybe the folks at the Times figured keeping quiet was in their own best interest? Why couldn't Judith Miller got to jail for something like this?)

So, our government isn't governed by its own laws. The media knows two different ways this is true. The media says nothing.

Oh, and in case you don't recall, and I didn't till I fell into a Google-induced rabbit hole looking all this stuff up, but President Bush used Iraq's bugging of weapons inspectors as one reason we had to take Sadam out. Go re-read Bush's speech to the nation on March 17, 2003, accurately enough entitled "Denial and Deception," even if the White House meant Iraq was doing that D&D. But that wiretap irnoy is just one of many, for here are some choice Bush quotes from that night, prior to 2,000+ U.S. military dead, 30,000+ Iraqis dead, all the new terrorists created, all the good will spent, all the shock and awe...

"Over the years, U.N. weapon inspectors have been threatened by Iraqi officials, electronically bugged, and systematically deceived." (the U.S. was known to bug Hans Blix, of all people)

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." (no comment)

"The regime...has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda." (just ask our discredited informers)

"The United States and other nations did nothing to deserve or invite this threat." (Is that how the Palestinians see it? Those next to U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia, our "friend," who happens to be one of the most repressive states in the Middle East?)

"Today, no nation can possibly claim that Iraq has disarmed. And it will not disarm so long as Saddam Hussein holds power." (oops)

"A broad coalition is now gathering to enforce the just demands of the world." (And things that gather disperse, too--but don't forget Poland!)

If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you." (Well, even we will have collateral damage--sorry, Pat Tillman.)

"In a free Iraq, there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms." (Bush continued under his breath: "I didn't say when it would be a free Iraq.")

"The terrorist threat to America and the world will be diminished the moment that Saddam Hussein is disarmed." (Just ask people in London and Barcelona.)

"Free nations have a duty to defend our people by uniting against the violent." (And let's face it, there's no better way to unite against the violent than by bashing them with big sticks.)

Part of me almost hopes that it's true that Rove and Friends had the fix on in Ohio. How, how could we have re-elected this man? Not that the press did its job to help.

A Quick One

This Reuters headline--"The Who to tour in 2006, Townshend says"--ignores the much more important news buried down the article. Since the group will miss both the late Keith Moon and the late John Entwistle--who in the days before drum and bass groups comprised what is known as a rhythm section--the group on tour would also cut its name in half. Townshend was quoted as saying, "Since we haven't released a studio album in 23 years, we figured we could just call the band 'Who?'"

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Meme Myself I

Nobody asked me to play, but this is a computer, I can type with one hand and play with myself.


Seriously, there's a meme about, and I always figure if you do them before they sneak up on you that you end up with a less painful case of whatever it is.

Eewww, part deux.

And without further eeewww....

Four jobs you’ve had in your life: Delivery man to Plato's Retreat (I was delivering mouthwash, actually, and you can insert your own joke), writing teacher, janitor, van driver for Johns Hopkins students so they wouldn't get mugged in scary Baltimore

Four movies you could watch over and over: Citizen Kane (really), Manhattan, The Band Wagon, Duck Soup

Four places you’ve lived: East Hanover, New Jersey (check your Oreo packages), Baltimore, Iowa City, State College, PA

Four TV shows you love to watch: recently House, regularly Daily Show, historically Buffy, as a child Batman (which taught me camp and I think I had my first dirty thoughts about Julie Newmar)

Four places you’ve been on vacation: Provence, Anderson Valley, Florence & Venice (Italian versions), Spring Training in Phoenix

Four websites you visit daily: TBogg, Folly's House of Mirth, Baseball Prospectus, Google (how can everyone not say Google?); I tend to visit no sites on weekends, which I save for the lord (naw, I just try not to turn the computer on)

Four of your favorite foods: the pot roast at Jar in LA, any mulberry dessert at Downey's in Santa Barbara, the wild sturgeon at Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino, Santa Barbara spot prawns in Pernod cream in our kitchen (I kept this to CA foods) (no, you can't come over for dinner)

Four places you’d rather be: San Francisco, Provence, The Other Place, any good small club with any of my favorite bands on stage (say, Maxwell's in Hoboken)

Four albums you can’t live without: Yo La Tengo, Fakebook; Brian Eno, Another Green World; Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs; Mekons, Mekons Rock 'n' Roll

Monday, December 26, 2005

This Is Pop 2005?

Top Ten Albums, 2005 (in preferential order)(why my preference, of course):

New Pornographers, Twin Cinema
Sleater-Kinney, The Woods
Son Volt, Okemah and the Melody of Riot
The Decemberists, Picaresque
Andrew Bird, & The Mysterious Production of Eggs
Shout Out Louds, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
Nouvelle Vague, s/t
Sufjan Stevens, Illinois
Amy Rigby, Little Fugitive
Petra Haden, Sings the Who Sell Out

Top Ten "Singles" of 2005 (in alpha order and in without respect to anything resembling an actual single release):

Andrew Bird, "Fake Palindromes"
The Decemberists, "This Sporting Life"
Brian Eno, "This"
Fountains of Wayne, "Maureen"
Stephen Malkmus, "Freeze the Saints"
M.I.A., "Bingo"
My Morning Jacket, "Gideon"
New Pornographers, "The Bleeding Heart Show"
Spoon, "Sister Jack"
Chris Stamey Experience, "McCauley Street (Let's Go Downtown)"

Friday, December 23, 2005

Greyhound, Now with Piney Fresh Scent

For Dog Blog Friday: A liver training treat was eventually harmed in the making of this picture.

Mookie, the Other Reindeer (Olives Are for Martinis)

For Dog Blog Friday: Super Glue really helps keep those antlers on.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wal-Mart to Employees: Let's Not Do Lunch

At this rate, Wal-Mart will be on the hook for another $6,880,000,000, or for the zeros-challenged, almost 7 billion (good thing the company makes $10 billion a year). Here's the details from the Associated Press:

The world's largest retailer was ordered to pay $57 million in general damages and $115 million in punitive damages to about 116,000 current and former California employees for violating a 2001 state law that requires employers to give 30-minute, unpaid lunch breaks to employees who work at least six hours.


The class-action lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court is one of about 40 nationwide alleging workplace violations by Wal-Mart, and the first to go to trial. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer, which earned $10 billion last year, settled a similar lawsuit in Colorado for $50 million.


"We absolutely disagree with their findings," attorney Neal Manne said of the jury's verdict. He conceded that Wal-Mart made mistakes in not always allowing for lunch breaks when the 2001 law took affect, but said the company is "100 percent" in compliance now.

I know that it's not in quotes so I might be maligning Mr. Manne and his client unfairly, but this is un-fricking-believable: Wal-Mart only thinks workers should have lunch breaks because a law says they have to give employees lunch breaks.

Which means if we were the NSA taping phone conversations between members of the wealthy but dastardly Walton clan, who are terrorists to those who simply want to make a buck, we might hear a snippet something like this:

"But do we have to pay the employees? Isn't there some way just to make them work?"

"Damn, if Dad only keep all the stores in the South, we might have gotten somewhere."

Don't miss this website for the Wal-Mart Foundation, too, which takes the Frankenstein monster language course to new heights with its motto "Wal-Mart Good. Works." I wish I made that up, but go check for yourself. Laugh. Good.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Cheney of Fools

Let’s run a little scorecard for the Republicans today with their Senate budget cuts. They managed to:

a Take away money from the sick elderly (sorry Medicare)

a Take away money from the sick non-elderly (sorry Medicaid)

a Take away money from those wanting to go to college (sorry students needing loans)

a Take away money from those wanting to retire with a pension (because employers love spending more money on pensions—right NYC transit workers?)

That seems to be their agenda, since they are so much for helping the elderly, the poor, students and workers. It’s good to see that the perfect image of their boogieman ugliness, Dick Cheney, had to come and make the tie-breaking vote. Don’t forget the Cheneys’ 2003 tax return claimed income of nearly $1.3 million. The couple owed $253,067 in federal taxes. So they paid in taxes more than 5 times the median income for the rest of Americans.

Thanks, Dick.

We Destroyed the Constitution in Order to Save It

So we get this headline from Reuters:

Bush warns of dangers in Patriot Act delay

But you have to wonder why the White House needs the Patriot Act, when they figure it's ok to wiretap anyone no matter what the law says.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Wilderness too ANWAR

Reuters reports, and we can only hope:

Senate Democrats have nearly enough votes to force Republicans to drop a provision attached to a massive defense spending bill that would allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the chamber's second-ranking Democrat said on Tuesday.


"ANWR is germane to the bill. Nothing is more germane and essential to national defense than energy," [Republican Alaska Senator Ted] Stevens said, adding that the Pentagon consumes about 112 million barrels of oil annually. "Extreme environmentalists think it (ANWR) is their playground, that they should set the policy for Alaska."

So, the Republicans admit that we're in Iraq because of oil? That's how it would be germane, no, Ted? Would the Pentagon consume that many barrels of oil if it wasn't invading sovereign nations? And let's cut tossing around the bogus "extreme" adjective. I don't think ANWR is my playground. I think it's a playground for caribou, polar bears and migratory birds. And we should let them keep it. Since they don't get votes, and even worse, there's no Polar Bear Pac to keep Stevens and the Republican candidate machine well-greased, then too bad for the flora and fauna. After all, since 2001 Ted Stevens has received almost 15% of all the $70 million the oil and gas industry has contributed to Republicans. Pretty good for being 1 of 100 Senators. Wonder what the oil and gas industry might want from Stevens, huh.

On Tape (or The Night Harman Kardon Died)

Lots to explain here, but the good news you've probably already heard (sorry, we'll turn it down) is we have a new receiver after our old one (how old was it? when it sat around the house, it didn't have a CD input) gave up the transitored ghost. The new one could push 7 speakers if there was space enough for seven speakers in our living room, but we own a house in Santa Barbara, which means there's room enough for us, plus we were the silly ones to get two dogs approximately the size of shetlands. The new one is a Harman Kardon, too, but much fancier and varoomier.

Of course, after checking out how it sounded on a variety of musicks (Eno's Another Green World, my sonic taste test of choice, Archers of Loaf's "Web in Front," Glenn Gould playing Beethoven, Peter Gabriel's "Down the Dolce Vita," my kind of classical music, Andrew Bird's "Fake Palindromes"), I had to finish that cassette tape I was a few cuts shy of completing. You can take the boy out of the twentieth century, but you can't take the twentieth century out of the boy.

Whoa Nelly and the Horse You Came In On

Side A
Laura Veirs "Galaxies"
Stephen Malkmus "Loud Cloud Crowd"
Nouvelle Vague "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
The Decemberists "We Both Go Down Together"
Wilco "Jesus, Etc." (live)
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions "Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?"
Fountains of Wayne "I Know You Well"
Drive-By Truckers "Tornadoes"
Chris Stamey Experience "McCauley Street (Let's Go Downtown)"
Sally Timms & Jon Langford "Broken Bottle"
New Pornographers "Streets of Fire"

Side B
Amy Rigby "The Trouble with Jeannie"
Elvis Costello "Tears Before Bedtime"
The Raveonettes "Love in a Trashcan"
Blue Hawaiians "Jet Black" (live)
Big Star "Dony"
Son Volt "6-String Belief"
Television "Glory"
Neko Case "If You Knew"
Bettie Serveert "Attagirl" (acoustic)
Richard Thompson "Oops! I Did It Again" (live)
Silver Jews "How Can I Love You If You Won't Lie Down"
Magnetic Fields "A Chicken with Its Head Cut Off"
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! "Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood"
Shout Out Louds "Please Please Please"

Monday, December 19, 2005

Perfectly Puzzled

It's probably too many years thinking about literature and movies that hasn't been totally beaten out of me yet by 4 years of marketing flack work (that is, not thinking), but it's always easy for me to look for those crystalline moments when life gets rubbed down to its nub.

So when I'm trying to play along to Will Shortz's NPR puzzle on Sunday morning, in a game in wihch he gives you the first word of a two-word term and your job is to come up with the second word, which is always four letters long and begins with the same letter as the first word and ends with the same letter as the first word, I instantly divine "white wine" but am stumped by "work week."

Friday, December 16, 2005

Don't Let Your Gay Boys Grow Up to Be Cowboys

Who knows if mainstream America (motto: we vote for Geroge Bush so you don't have to) will have a cow over Brokeback Mountain (or as Village Voice wit Michael Musto would have it Bareback Mountin' or Crouching Cowboy, Hidden Penis or Eat Drink Man Man), but here in Santa Barbara, which still takes its Wild West heritage seriously enough to market it as Old Fiesta Days every summer, the cowboys are having none of it. As the local paper the News-Press reports:

Just above Si Jenkins' desk at Jedlicka's Saddlery Inc. hangs a panoramic picture showing a row of cowboys saddled up on a Santa Ynez ridge.

"I can guarantee none of them are gay," the shop owner says, the smell of leather wafting through the saddle, boot and Western clothing store on De la Vina Street in Santa Barbara.

Now, let's leave aside how you guarantee someone isn't gay without some serious testing (parade Ruppert Everett in his skivvies around them for awhile? I'm not sure), but if as some estimates say 10% of American males are gay, how can 0% of American cowboys be gay? Is it because the numbers of priests (gay model soon to be discontinued) and hair dressers balance out those hunky, sweaty guys home on the range with mostly just other guys all wearing chaps?

It's possible that cowboys can only become gay not around other cowboys, but in the right combinations--like if there's an Indian and construction worker around.

God Rest Ye Merry Greyhound Men

For Dog Blog Friday: Having been good boys all year, Mookie and Nigel look to the skies for the arrival of Santa's souped-up sleigh. And then if he doesn't show, they'll be sure to go eat the cookies left for him.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

One Voter, One Ballot (Offer Available till Noon)

If the early reports for voter turnout in Iraq are true (and remember, the numbers in January were originally estimated much higher than they turned out to be, for some reason), perhaps the U.S. needs to be invaded so we can realize more of us should vote. Then again, it sounds as if some of the birthpangs of Iraqi democracy needed a better midwife, or at the least my tortured metaphor needs to force in a printer with lots more ballots on hand. On NPR tonight Anne Garrels, who, it must be pointed out, has spent more time in harm's way during wars than W., Cheney, Rumsfeld and numerous other chickenhawks combined, reported from Fallujah, interviewing Iraqis amidst the rubble from our attempts at destroying the city to save it from terrorists. She related that many polling places ran out of ballots, including one site that claimed out of 4000 who came to vote, only 2000 did. She asserts that 11 of 35 polling stations reported problems. Perhaps this just means that Fallujah is Arabic for Ohio.

There's also good odds that John Murtha garnered more votes than President Bush, although admittedly both were no more than write-in candidates. Garrels says that to a person, every Iraqi she talked to wanted a timetable for U.S. withdrawal as proof we would eventually leave. That's the way things go--give people the vote and the next thing you know, they don't want to be occupied anymore.

Places to Walk the Dog Blog Thursday

This is why it's good to have dogs, because you end up walking in places like the Douglas Family Preserve, aka the Wilcox Property for those not into corporate naming rights.

Sorry it's winter most places in the U.S.

It's Not a T Ball, It's a T Party!

Friday is the 232nd anniversary of one of the precursors to the American Revolution, namely the American Revolution Pre-sales Event! I mean, the Boston Tea Party. As every schoolchild knows, the English put a tax on the tea, which made the tea painful to drink (you have to know your Bugs Bunny for that one, otherwise duck, you daffyless one, you). So the pre-Americans, led by Samuel Adams, Brewer-Patriot-Mad Marketing Genius™ who knew that by eliminating the tea he could get more colonists to drink his beer, snuck onto the English ships and dumped the tea into Boston Harbor, which remains polluted to this day. Samuel Adams was not an environmentalist. Many of Adams’ compatriots, boiling with rage over the steep tax, disguised themselves as Native Americans when dunking the tea, and later pointed towards real Native Americans’ directions when the British came a-calling all steamed about the incident and looking for someone to bag for the crime. The Native Americans didn’t even bother to RSVP for Thanksgiving from 1774-81, and you can’t blame them.

As punishment the British passed the Intolerable Acts, and that’s was their name for them. Perhaps the most severe punishment was the “if you don’t want our tea you can’t have any” clause, which led the rebellious town to be called Bos-on until after the Revolu-ionary War, which is hard to say even with a Bos-on accent. Luckily the colony’s name had two t’s, and therefore still got to keep one, although it led to area first-graders failing many a spelling quiz.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Let's Put the Riot in Patriot

Luckily for the powers that be (hint: they don't have to write blogs to have a tiny say in the world) Americans don't seem able to hold 2 news stories in their heads at one time. Especially when all who are evil in the world, or at the least non-Christian, want to stop Christmas from coming!

Still it seems very instructive that while we get this headline from the AP just hours ago:

Senate GOP Fights to Sustain Patriot Act

Yesterday MSNBC ran this headline:

Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?

So while President Bush says, "The Patriot Act is essential to fighting the war on terror and preventing our enemies from striking America again," what he and the Rummy-led Pentagon might mean by "our enemies" might be "non-Republicans." That MSNBC report goes on to claim:

The DOD database obtained by NBC News includes nearly four dozen anti-war meetings or protests, including some that have taken place far from any military installation, post or recruitment center. One “incident” included in the database is a large anti-war protest at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles last March that included effigies of President Bush and anti-war protest banners.

It seems that the DOD is even infiltrating the Quakers, I guess afeard they might try to attack tanks with hardened oatmeal. Perhaps Bush Co. hope that someday they can combine two things they've never quite felt comfortable with--the First Amendment and the Miranda warning--and make one new and improved thing. In their dream world the Bill of Rights will begin: "You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." If we decide you should ever come to trial, you Quaker--which even has some of the same letters as al-Qaida--you.

Plot to Seize Ferry, Leave More Garbage on Staten Island Foiled!

The AP reports:

Federal air marshals are expanding their work beyond airplanes, launching counterterror surveillance at train stations and other mass transit facilities in a three-day test program.

As of Wednesday, the Transportation Security Administration said, teams of undercover air marshals and uniformed law enforcement officers were descending on bus stations, ferries and transit systems across the country to protect them from potential terrorists.

Not to mention from crazy people who have bad flee instincts.

And I promise that's not a typo and there's no "n" missing in the adjective before law enforcement officers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Imagine an Anti-Arnold

"Tonight I have decided to remit Stanley Tookie Williams' sentence. I do this not because I believe him innocent. I also do not believe that any of his work in jail trying to stop youth from joining gangs is at issue, although I commend him for showing humans can learn and grow.

"No, tonight, I want to stop his execution to do what he should have done in 1981 to his victims. Show mercy.

"In this country where the phrase 'culture of life' gets bandied about so easily, and cheapily, and almost always not to save lives but to save votes, it's not often a single person can grant life. As the elected governor of California, however, I am in a unique position to do just that. So I will.

"What better time than at the holiday season should we be reminded of the power of mercy. It means that we can forgive, can get beyond a need that blood calls for blood. A death does not right a death. I challenge everyone to find the mercy in his or her heart, for if we kill Mr. Williams we have become him."

Monday, December 12, 2005

I Will Rot in Hell-adays

According to a headline from USA Today about the boy killed by the plane that skidded off Midway's runway:

Victim, 6, was singing a carol

And already Bill O'Reilly is starting the boycott against Southwest Airlines for its attack on Christmas.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Good Thing King Tut Is in Ft. Lauderdale Or Egypt Would Be Next

Today's Multiple Choice Quiz

We have invaded a sovereign nation, killed 100,000 Iraqis, 2100 Americans, and created a new haven and training ground for terrorists in order to:

a) Save the world from Iraq's WMDs and keep a smoking gun from turning into a mushroom cloud
b) Punish Iraq for training Al Qaida members
c) Eliminate a vicious and ruthless dictator
d) Spread democracy in the Middle East like slathering butter on a croissant
e) Save priceless antiquities, because W. turns out to have an art history minor from Yale

That's right, the correct answer is (e). Thanks to the mightily left-leaning NPR, we now know that all the bloodshed, all the terror we have caused in Iraq, all the payback terror around the world, it was and is and will be completely and totally worth it. After all, as the nearly breathless Matthew Bogdanos--who just happens to be hyping a book he wrote--will emotively tell you, a bunch of soldiers got to hold the Clay Pot from Tell Hassuna and have their pictures taken. Just further proof of the liberal nature of the press that thinks these photos are worth publishing instead of marines craddling a jar that took dominion everywhere.

Nigel Nose Is Coming to Lens

For Dog Blog Friday: That's not a trick of the camera, you really can see light in his eyes.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Misery Breaks

So how much is $56 billion in tax breaks?

It would fund 287 days of war in Iraq. At $195 million a day.

And who really really needs those tax breaks, according to the Republicans?

The House vote for capital gains and dividend tax cuts sets up tricky negotiations with the Senate, where lawmakers could not muster enough support to insert the extension in their version of the bill. The Senate's GOP leaders vowed to make sure the investment tax breaks make it into the final legislation.

The 15 percent tax rate for investment income is currently scheduled to disappear at the end of 2008. If the reduction runs out, the top capital gains tax rate would be 20 percent and dividends would be taxed like ordinary income at rates up to 35 percent.

But clearly the Republicans are doing all of this because they want to protect the majority of Americans, all of us making all that money off our dividends. Is that correct, Mark Shields?

About one out of six American families, according to the authoritative Tax Policy Center, had stock dividends in 2000, the last year for which figures are available.

Less than 9 percent of families had dividends of $1,000 or more. Less than 4 percent of American families had stock dividends over $5,000, but perhaps not surprisingly, that lucky 4 percent of families collected 83 percent of all the dividends paid.

It's good to know that the family names among that 4% most likely include Bush and Cheney.

Which Way Did He Joe?

Joe-mentum might finally get his wish and be able to kiss W., or at least a part of him, every day. According to the New York Daily News (Motto: We Just Print in Tabloid Form. Hey, No Giggling.):

White House officials are telling associates they expect Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to quit early next year, once a new government is formed in Iraq, sources said yesterday.

Rumsfeld's deputy, Gordon England, is the inside contender to replace him, but there's also speculation that Sen. Joe Lieberman - a Democrat who ran against Bush-Cheney in the 2000 election - might become top guy at the Pentagon.

Clearly by early next year Rumsfeld's job in Iraq will be done--he's screwed things up just about as good as anyone could. And you have to worry a bit about the reporters' (it took 2 to come up with this whopper) keen attention to detail when they claim Lieberman "ran against Bush-Cheney in the 2000 election." He never even got past running against Al Sharpton and the Dems and dropped out of the race in February. We're talking about a guy who skipped the Iowa caucuses to campaign for months in New Hampshire--he even moved there--but ended up in fifth place in that state's primary.

But if you need one more bit of evidence that L is not just for Lieberman, there's this:

The Daily News has learned that the White House considered Lieberman for the UN ambassador's job last year before giving the post to John Bolton, a Bush adviser said.

You know you really rate when people think John Bolton is a better candidate for a position than you are.

Calling All Canines

It has come to this: dogs can now have cell phones.

Look I like dogs as much or more than anyone, but they don't need to chat with one another. There is just too much money in the wrong hands in this country.

And the last thing I need is Nigel shushing me when I'm trying to tell him to do something because he's on a call. That is if he doesn't manage to get the annoying thing off his neck and eat it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

There's No Business Like the Writer Is a Little Bit Slow Business

From the "it doesn't need to be logical, it's showbiz writing" file, we get this ridiculous "insight" from today in a story about the best way for stars to play the court an Oscar game:

On the other extreme, contempt is a recipe for losing. Sean Penn was scornful about awards and didn't bother showing up Oscar night the first three times he was nominated, losing each time. Two years ago, he played nice, attended the Oscars and won best actor for "Mystic River."

Since, after all, they do the voting right there in theater after they check to see who showed up.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

That's No Office, That's My Life

Perhaps the best thing about watching The Office is you realize your miserable job isn't that bad, even if you do Yankee trading at your the holiday party every year.

Krugman Shrugged

True, I'm not an economist (how many INOTBB posts have said this?). I didn't even take an Economics class in college, not that I really remember even the college courses I liked, and one focused on numbers wouldn't have made that list. I didn't even take Home Ec in high school, probably because our Catholic high school was worried such a course might weaken us boys and give us "deep seated" tendencies that might become a problem if any of us fell into the priesthood.

True, Paul Krugman has a PhD from MIT, teaches at Princeton, and is a columnist for the New York Times (but so is David Brooks, so that might not be such a big accomplishment).

But Krugman, in the column that ran today in the Santa Barbara News-Press but no doubt ran earlier in parts of the world where news happens sooner, ends a very strong piece on a very weak note, as if he just ran out of column inches, or interest, or brain cells, or chemically-induced inspiration or something. The thrust of the essay is this: the reason average Americans aren't thrilled (he actually uses the word joy, which no doubt would get him kicked out of the Economists union, not that most of them would ever belong to anything vaguely pinkish like a union) about the state of the economy is:

It [2004] should have been a good year for the American family: The economy grew 4.2 percent, its best performance since 1999. Yet most families actually lost economic ground. Real median household income - the income of households in the middle of the income distribution, adjusted for inflation - fell for the fifth year in a row. And one of the key sources of economic insecurity got worse, as the number of Americans without health insurance continued to rise.

(I'd link to the editorial, but it's behind the stupid pay wall at the NYT. So I will just liberate parts of the article in what I see as an act of wealth redistribution.)

Krugman goes on for awhile examining these facts, makes the case that things have been as bad in 2005, not that the final figures are in, and builds to this underwhelming conclusion that threatens the anti-thrilling moment of Geraldo opening Al Capone's safe in the lore of dull thud-dom:

Wages and median family income often lag behind profits in the early stages of an economic expansion, but not this far behind, and not for so long. Nor, I should say, is there any easy way to place more than a small fraction of the blame on Bush administration policies. At this point the joylessness of the economic expansion for most Americans is a mystery.

Excuse me? In what way is cutting taxes over and over for the top 1% helpful to the median wage earners? And what White House champions these endless tax cuts? What party repeatedly insists the economy would fall apart if the minimum wage budged a few quarters? And who is the figurehead of that party? Sure, we can argue whether the true decision-maker is Cheney or Rove, but we know who the figurehead is.

Earlier in the editorial Krugman says, "The growth in corporate profits has, as I said, been spectacular. Even after adjusting for inflation, profits have risen more than 50 percent since the last quarter of 2001. But real wage and salary income is up less than 7 percent."

So, how about someone seriously proposes a maximum wage? What would the correct ratio be: a CEO can't make more than 50 times his or her poorest paid employee? Pay your employees at least $10 an hour, you can make $500. That's $20,800 yearly for your employee, $1,040,000 for you. Not enough? And why, exactly? If you want a 19th-century Louis-Philippe commode, go into politics and take bribes for it. Business is for honest people.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Us Liberals, Who Aren't in Charge of Anything, Cancel Christmas, and Other Explosive Ideas

It seems that the California Highway Patrol (we can't call them CHiPs as Erik Estrada trademarked the name so he would have something to claim as his own on VH1 specials) is just one more force for evil trying to stop Christmas from coming. The AP reports:

Both directions of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge were temporarily closed twice Sunday, after a suspicious package was found on the bottom deck.

The green suitcase turned out to contain nothing more than old-fashioned Christmas lights, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Mike Wright.

Maybe nothing more than old-fashioned Christmas lights to you, you most likely California liberal pinko Mike "Not Right" Wright, but to those who stand-up for all that is good and true like the Fox Network, those lights signify the brightness shone upon the world by the sweet newborn Baby Jesus. Plus more shopping, more use of electricity, and therefore more oil consumption to keep pals of W. and Dick happy.

The CHP shut down all lanes for 15 minutes as officers blasted it with a water cannon, Wright said.

Bill O'Reilly and his ilk surely hope this water cannon was their beloved Bull Connor model.

Traffic on the bridge was halted again for about 15 minutes at 11:25 a.m., as officers X-rayed the package and found that it had electrical components, according to the CHP. A robotic device was used to throw the suitcase over the railing and into a dirt ditch below.

Toby Keith is already at work recording a new version of "Away in a Manger" entitled "Dumped in a Dirt Ditch." The opening lines will go: "Dumped in a dirt ditch, a suitcase of lights / Who will honor this Christmas symbol except for the Right?" And President Bush is also arguing that this incident is one more bit of evidence that his new immigration plan is the best one for America, claiming, "The kind of indentured servitude, I mean, temporary work visa, I'm suggesting would put that robotic arm out of work and give a nice Mexican a good job. For a morning. That's only deadly about one in a hundred times. But it's a job no American would do. Because they'd expect to be paid."

Pleased to Meet Me

From AFP Story, 12/5/2005:

In a question and answer session with students and faculty, Rumsfeld acknowledged that the war has not gone as planned and that the insurgency was larger than expected.

"There is no question that there were people who believed they would be met as liberators, and indeed they were for a period, and still are in a number of parts of the country," he said.

From Donald Rumsfeld, Media Roundtable, 9/13/02:

"Think of the faces in Afghanistan when the people were liberated, when they moved out in the streets and they started singing and flying kites and women went to school and people were able to function and other countries were able to start interacting with them. That's what would happen in Iraq."

From AP Wire, 12/5/2005:

_ The U.S. military said a soldier assigned to Task Force Baghdad was killed when a patrol hit a roadside bomb on Sunday.
_ A French engineer was abducted by gunmen on his way to work in Baghdad.
_ British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw encouraged the kidnappers of four Western peace activists in Iraq to make contact.
_ Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al-Yawer said the training of Iraqi security forces has suffered a big "setback" in the last six months, with forces increasingly used to settle scores and make political gains.
_ Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari urged Tokyo to extend its humanitarian mission to Iraq, a day after stone-throwing demonstrators in the town of Rumaythah demanded its withdrawal.
_ An Iraqi election official was killed and his assistant wounded in Baqouba.
_ Small explosions reverberated through Baghdad, apparently from mortar rounds.
_ Protesters in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit began tearing down election posters during a demonstration of support for the former ruler.

Strike, Dear Mistress, and Cure His Heart

Continuing its "there's no defense like a good, lying, sliming aggressive offense" on all fronts, Bush Co. has Condoleeza Rice in Europe trying to convince Europeans that torture isn't torture as long as you don't call it torture. The AFP reports:

Like other US officials, Rice stopped short of confirming the existence of the reported detention centers but took no pains [at least no pains of her own, as for those in the detention centers...] to deny it.

"We cannot discuss information that would compromise the success of intelligence, law-enforcement and military operations," she said. "We expect other nations share this view."

And if they don't share this view, we will be sure to compromise them.

She was unapologetic about the use of severe methods to combat terrorism since the September 11, 2001 attacks, particularly the practice of "rendition," or transporting suspects to another country for interrogation.

"Renditions take terrorists out of action and save lives," she said, insisting that they were permissible under international law when traditional extradition is not a workable option.

She then turned in her pair of fabulous boots and offered her own stirring rendition of "Under My Thumb."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Mookie & Nigel -- The Toss of the Where-Rabbit

For Dog Blog Friday: It might be inanimate, but that toy looks scared if you ask me.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I Miss France

No, that's not I'm Miss France. After all I'm married.

And if you're wondering about how many pictures we took, the answer is over 700. So these entries could go on and on.

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane, Don't Know When I'll Be Tortured Again

The AFP picks up a story from the Guardian UK (which makes me yearn for the days of bands that had the UK appendage, like Charlatans UK, but then I stop longing when I remember the music of such bands):

The United States was facing mounting embarrassment as allegations continued to emerge of a shadowy network of both secret prison camps and CIA "torture flights" carrying undeclared detainees through European and other countries.

In the latest such report the British newspaper The Guardian said Thursday it had seen navigation logs showing that more than 300 flights operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency had passed through European airports, as part of a network that could be involved in the clandestine detention and possible torture of terrorism suspects.

Or maybe CIA agents just like going on junkets to Ibiza. (So, how does one get a computer to slur that z?) The good news, though, is even while countries pull out of Iraq ahead of us because they are both smarter and tired of getting bullied around, the article informs us of the following:

The paper also said that the CIA had used planes to send more than 100 suspects to the hidden global internment network, not including prisoners picked up from Iraq.

The world is still on our side, just part of the hidden global internment network (not to be confused with the Christian Broadcasting Network, which isn't hidden enough, although watching it is torture). The real question is where did the 100 suspects come from if not Iraq? And who is that knocking on the door as I type...
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