Seeing Trees, But No Forests

In one of his latest Slate article, Christopher Hitchens discusses the mutual (negative) influence Iraq and Iran are having on each other. Once again, he tries to shift the blame for the mess in Iraq from the United States to Iran. The level to which Hitchens has become deluded is summed up in his last sentence, in which he says the following about Iran:
Whatever the case, it cannot be that such a despotic and arrogant regime feels that it can meddle everywhere without any cost to itself.
Hey Chris, can you think of any other countries to which this line of reasoning could be applied?


For La Patria, and Other Thoughts on Dear Leader Bush

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier...just as long as
I'm the dictator..." - George W. Bush

Well, we might well be on our way there.

In case you’ve been too wrapped up in the holidays, errr, I mean Christmas, to notice, it has been revealed that our president has ordered the NSA to spy on U.S. Citizens without any sort of court warrant. At the least, this probably consists of tapping phones and intercepting emails, at the worst full-on data mining on individuals. Now, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillence Act prohibits the government from spying on U.S. Citizens, UNLESS a warrant to do so is obtained. Recognizing the importance of preventing crime (and especially nowadays, terrorism), getting such warrants is pretty damn easy, and very rarely are they denied (19,000 approved, 4 rejected since FISA was established). In fact, to make the process quick, you can even begin wiretapping immediately as long as you get the warrant within 72 hours. Some argue that the FISA court itself is just a rubber stamp to get around Fourth Amendment protections.

See, we’re a country with laws. We respect the right to privacy, but we realize that to protect citizens, sometimes we have to snoop, and therefore the legal means to do so are available. The government chose to ignore the legal requirements. Their rationalization blows my mind. Here’s what Dick Cheney said:

“Especially in the day and age we live in … the president of the United States needs to have his constitutional powers unimpaired, if you will, in terms of the conduct of national security policy.”

What struck me the most is how this resembles the justifications used by South American militaries and leaders when they want to consolidate power or to justify a military coup. They cite the constitution.

When I was in graduate school, this was sort of my area. My favorite professor was Brian Loveman. Dr. Loveman is one of the leading experts on civil-military relations. He has an excellent book, The Constitution of Tyranny, which maps out phrases in the Constitutions of various Latin American countries which allow for “regimes of exception” under which civil liberties are curtailed and martial law is imposed. The constitution itself allows the constitution to be suspended. Invariable, regimes of exception are invoked after citing terrorist threats, domestic enemies, and internal instability, whether or not the threat is credible or not. They usually refer to their Constitutional duty to protect La Patria (fatherland). Actually, For La Patria is another book written by Dr. Loveman on the subject.

I’m not saying we’re there yet. But the latest course of events has me worried. The President and his defenders tell us they are eavesdropping on terrorists, but without a court order, why should we believe them? Conservative bloggers certainly have no insight on the issue, they're just guessing on whos privacy is being invaded. If no court orders are required, what was to stop Bush from eavesdropping on John Kerry during the last election campaign? How do we know he didn't?

The President has gone so far over the line on this that a credible argument for it does not exist. Yet, there they are, the Bush brigade, defending it and calling us who oppose traitors. It makes me wonder what Bush has to do to gain their ire. I think David Cross had it right: Bush will need to eat a Jewish baby on live TV before people wake up to this shit. "That’s the only crazy evil thing for Bush left to do … ‘Mmm, that’s good Jew-baby heart! What’re ya gonna do, Grandma, vote for Kucinich?’”

Six To Eight Black Men

Davis Sedaris is one of the funniest writers I have ever had the pleasure to read. He especially enjoys writing about Christmas, and his best Christmas story ever is “Six To Eight Black Men”. Yes, I realize it’s copyrighted and trademarks, and blah, blah blah. I don’t care. This story should be deemed a national treasure, and re-read every single Christmas by everyone. I highly doubt Mr. Sedaris would object, but I bet his Grinch publishers would. Hopefully I don't get sued. In this story, Sedaris compares our Santa to Holland’s Saint Nicholaus, aka St. Nick. Merry Christmas!
I've never been much for guidebooks, so when trying to get my
bearings in a strange American city, I normally start by asking the
cabdriver or hotel clerk some silly question regarding the latest
census figures. I say silly because I don't really care how many
people live in Olympia, Washington, or Columbus, Ohio. They're
nice enough places, but the numbers mean nothing to me. My second
question might have to do with average annual rainfall, which,
again, doesn't tell me anything about the people who have chosen
to call this place home.

What really interests me are the local gun laws. Can I carry a
concealed weapon, and if so, under what circumstances? What's the
waiting period for a tommy gun? Could I buy a Glock 17 if I were
recently divorced or fired from my job? I've learned from
experience that it's best to lead into this subject as delicately
as possible, especially if you and the local citizen are alone and
enclosed in a relatively small space. Bide your time, though, and
you can walk away with some excellent stories. I've heard, for
example, that the blind can legally hunt in both Texas and
Michigan. They must be accompanied by a sighted companion, but
still, it seems a bit risky. You wouldn't want a blind person
driving a car or piloting a plane, so why hand him a rifle? What
sense does that make? I ask about guns not because I want one of
my own but because the answers vary so widely from state to state.
In a country that's become so homogenous, I'm reassured by these
last touches of regionalism.

Guns aren't really an issue in Europe, so when I'm traveling
abroad, my first question usually relates to barnyard animals.
"What do your roosters say?" is a good icebreaker, as every country
has its own unique interpretation. In Germany, where dogs bark "vow
vow" and both the frog and the duck say "quack," the rooster greets
the dawn with a hearty "kik-a-ricki." Greek roosters crow "kiri-a-
kee," and in France they scream "coco-rico," which sounds like one
of those horrible premixed cocktails with a pirate on the label.
When told that an American rooster says "cock-a-doodle-doo," my
hosts look at me with disbelief and pity.

"When do you open your Christmas presents?" is another good
conversation starter as it explains a lot about national character.
People who traditionally open gifts on Christmas Eve seem a bit
more pious and family oriented than those who wait until Christmas
morning. They go to mass, open presents, eat a late meal, return
to church the following morning, and devote the rest of the day to
eating another big meal. Gifts are generally reserved for
children, and the parents tend not to go overboard. It's nothing
I'd want for myself, but I suppose it's fine for those who prefer
food and family to things of real value.

In France and Germany, gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, while
in Holland the children receive presents on December 5, in
celebration of Saint Nicholas Day. It sounded sort of quaint until
I spoke to a man named Oscar, who filled me in on a few of the
details as we walked from my hotel to the Amsterdam train station.

Unlike the jolly, obese American Santa, Saint Nicholas is painfully
thin and dresses not unlike the pope, topping his robes with a tall
hat resembling an embroidered tea cozy. The outfit, I was told, is
a carryover from his former career, when he served as a bishop in

One doesn’t want to be too much of a cultural chauvinist, but this
seemed completely wrong to me. For starters, Santa didn’t use to
do anything. He’s not retired, and, more important, he has
nothing to do with Turkey. The climate’s all wrong, and people
wouldn’t appreciate him. When asked how he got from Turkey to the
North Pole, Oscar told me with complete conviction that Saint
Nicholas currently resides in Spain, which again is simply not
true. While he could probably live wherever he wanted, Santa chose
the North Pole specifically because it is harsh and isolated. No
one can spy on him, and he doesn’t have to worry about people
coming to the door. Anyone can come to the door in Spain, and in
that outfit, he’d most certainly be recognized. On top of that,
aside from a few pleasantries, Santa doesn’t speak Spanish. He
knows enough to get by, but he’s not fluent, and he certainly
doesn’t eat tapas.

While our Santa flies on a sled, Saint Nicholas arrives by boat
and then transfers to a white horse. The event is televised, and
great crowds gather at the waterfront to greet him. I’m not sure
if there’s a set date, but he generally docks in late November and
spends a few weeks hanging out and asking people what they want.

“Is it just him alone?” I asked. “Or does he come with backup?”

Oscar’s English was close to perfect, but he seemed thrown by a
term normally reserved for police reinforcement.

“Helpers,” I said. “Does he have any elves?”

Maybe I’m just overly sensitive, but I couldn’t help but feel
personally insulted when Oscar denounced the very idea as grotesque
and unrealistic. “Elves,” he said. “They’re just so silly.”

The words silly and unrealistic were redefined when I learned that
Saint Nicholas travels with what was consistently described as “six
to eight black men.” I asked several Dutch people to narrow it
down, but none of them could give me an exact number. It was always
“six to eight,” which seems strange, seeing as they’ve had hundreds
of years to get a decent count.

The six to eight black men were characterized as personal slaves
until the mid-fifties, when the political climate changed and it
was decided that instead of being slaves they were just good
friends. I think history has proven that something usually comes
between slavery and friendship, a period of time marked not by
cookies and quiet times beside the fire but by bloodshed and
mutual hostility. They have such violence in Holland, but rather
than duking it out among themselves, Santa and his former slaves
decided to take it out on the public. In the early years, if a
child was naughty, Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men
would beat him with what Oscar described as “the small branch of
a tree.”

“A switch?”

“Yes,” he said. “That’s it. They’d kick him and beat him with a
switch. Then, if the youngster was really bad, they’d put him in
a sack and take him back to Spain.”

“Saint Nicholas would kick you?”

“Well, not anymore,” Oscar said. “Now he just pretends to kick

“And the six to eight black men?”

“Them, too.”

He considered this to be progressive, but in a way I think it’s
almost more perverse than the original punishment. “I’m going to
hurt you, but not really.” How many times have we fallen for that
line? The fake slap invariably makes contact, adding the elements
of shock and betrayal to what had previously been plain, old-
fashioned fear. What kind of Santa spends his time pretending to
kick people before stuffing them into a canvas sack? Then, of
course, you’ve got the six to eight former slaves who could
potentially go off at any moment. This, I think, is the greatest
difference between us and the Dutch. While a certain segment of
our population might be perfectly happy with the arrangement, if
you told the average white American that six to eight nameless
black men would be sneaking into his house in the middle of the
night, he would barricade the doors and arm himself with whatever
he could get his hands on.

“Six to eight, did you say?”

In the years before central heating, Dutch children would leave
their shoes by the fireplace, the promise being that unless they
planned to beat you, kick you, or stuff you into a sack, Saint
Nicholas and the six to eight black men would fill your clogs
with presents. Aside from the threats of violence and kidnapping,
it’s not much different from hanging your stockings from the
mantel. Now that so few people have a working fireplace, Dutch
children are instructed to leave their shoes beside the radiator,
furnace, or space heater. Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black
men arrive on horses, which jump from the yard onto the roof. At
this point, I guess, they either jump back down and use the door,
or they stay put and vaporize through the pipes and electrical
wires. Oscar wasn’t too clear about the particulars, but, really,
who can blame him? We have the same problem with our Santa. He’s
supposed to use the chimney, but if you don’t have one, he still
manages to come through. It’s best not to think about it too hard.

While eight flying reindeer are a hard pill to swallow, our
Christmas story remains relatively simple. Santa lives with his
wife in a remote polar village and spends one night a year
traveling around the world. If you’re bad, he leaves you coal. If
you’re good and live in America, he’ll give you just about anything
you want. We tell our children to be good and send them off to bed,
where they lie awake, anticipating their great bounty. A Dutch
parent has a decidedly hairier story to relate, telling his
children, “Listen, you might want to pack a few of your things
together before you go to bed. The former bishop from Turkey will
be coming along with six to eight black men. They might put some
candy in your shoes, they might stuff you in a sack and take you
to Spain, or they might just pretend to kick you. We don’t know
for sure, but we want you to be prepared.”

This is the reward for living in Holland. As a child you get to
hear this story, and as an adult you get to turn around and repeat
it. As an added bonus, the government has thrown in legalized drugs
and prostitution-so what’s not to love about being Dutch?

Oscar finished his story just as we arrived at the station. He was
a polite and interesting guy-very good company-but when he offered
to wait until my train arrived, I begged off, saying I had some
calls to make. Sitting alone in the vast terminal, surrounded by
other polite, seemingly interesting Dutch people, I couldn’t help
but feel second-rate. Yes, it was a small country, but it had six
to eight black men and a really good bedtime story. Being a fairly
competitive person, I felt jealous, then bitter, and was edging
toward hostile when I remembered the blind hunter tramping off
into the Michigan forest. He might bag a deer, or he might happily
shoot his sighted companion in the stomach. He may find his way
back to the car, or he may wander around for a week or two before
stumbling through your front door. We don’t know for sure, but in
pinning that license to his chest, he inspires the sort of
narrative that ultimately makes me proud to be an American.


Tookie Politics

So, last night Tookie Williams was put death by the State of California. Every time there is an execution scheduled in California we get to have a big debate on the death penalty. My position on the issue sways back and forth (whenever I'm against it, I end up thinking of Polly Klass' killer, then I'm for it again), and doesn’t always make sense, but I respect both views on the issue. It is a legitimate debate on a serious issue. I cannot stand it when the debate gets infantilized and turns into “murderers” versus “sissies”. It’s a complex, tragic issue all around. Whatever side of the issue you fall on, an execution should be a somber event, and a chance to reflect upon who we are.

So, after the execution, on more than one network, the debate turned to how this affects Arnold Schwarzenegger politically. Will his popularity go up or down? Will it help or hurt his bid for reelection?


A man was just put to death by the government. A bad man, yes, but still, have we lost all sense of decency? Can we take a moment to reflect or is life all politics, all the time now? Are decisions over whether a human being is put to death being determined by opinion polls? This is all grotesque. It furthers my belief that the United States has become the shallowest, most superficial society that has ever walked the face of the Earth.


1. Five minutes after writing this a co-worker comes in cracking Tookie jokes. God Bless the USA.

2. This hardens my belief that executions should be televised. If you support it, you should have no problem watching it.


Johnny Cash, Punk Rock, And Emo Pussies

I have a desk job, and my work is pretty solitary. I can go a whole day without saying a word to anyone. So, my lifesaver is my Dell DJ (think iPod, but made by Dell). Well, the other day, good ole Johnny Cash popped up on the playlist, and a strange thing happened. I got really emotional. I had to actually hold back tears. For the life of me I could not understand why.

See, I think of Johnny Cash as one of the first punk rockers. To me, punk is pretty much anything that says Fuck You to the status quo. I don’t mean in an ignorant, mohawk, anarchy type way, either. I mean those who passionately speak for the underdog, the poor, and the disaffected. It’s kind of hard to explain, but I know it when I see it. Johnny has too many songs to list about prisoners, workers, racism, war, take your pick. As you can see, I don’t necessarily define punk by the sound. So in my punk worldview, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, Public Enemy are punk rock, Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, Fall Out Boy, and New Found Glory are definitely not. In fact, they are the opposite of punk, whatever that is. You may disagree with me, but you shouldn’t, because I am right.

I should also mention that I truly do love Johnny Cash. It’s become quite cliché lately to love Johnny Cash. I mean who doesn’t, right? The same thing happened a couple of years ago with Sinatra. But my love goes beyond the later American Recordings albums and “Ring of Fire”, and I’ll love him when the hipsters move on to the next retro-cool artist. I’m not trying to be elitist; it’s just a simple fact that a large percentage of Johnny Cash fans have only probably heard a few songs, but they know they should like him, so they say they do.

What was I talking about again?

Oh yeah, so how does this old school punker Johnny Cash get me weepy?

I’m still trying to figure that out. So far, I have three theories.

Theory Number One is that this guy I love is dead. And hearing him reminds me of that, same as when I listen to the Ramones or The Clash. It reminds me of my own mortality, and that’s not exactly a cheery notion.

Theory Number Two has to do with my parents. My mom and dad listening to “I Walk The Line” on the record player is my earliest memory involving music. They, like Johnny, are both now gone. You do the math.

Theory Number Three is the sheer beauty and simplicity of the music and lyrics. Today’s lame emo bands try as hard as they can to come up with a clever metaphor for their pain and/or feelings (sample retarded lyric from Fall Out Boy: “We’re making out inside crashed cars, We’re sleeping through all our memories, I used to waste my time dreaming of being alive”, man, I’m gonna be sick.) My friend eats up that bullshit like candy, and I tease her mercilessly about it. It’s just complete stupidity, and the fact that they try that hard to be clever but end up sounding like seventh grade poetry makes me doubt their sincerity all together. Johnny was different. How does a guarded soul with a penchant for doing the wrong thing express his devotion to the woman he loves? Not with stupid metaphors about guarding doors like goalies in the playoffs or making out in crashed cars. “Because you’re mine, I walk the line.”

I guess it’s a little bit of all of these theories. That, or deep down, I’m just an emo pussy myself.


Richard Pryor, R.I.P.

Extremely troubled, extremely funny, and extremely influential. A sad day for comedy.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Richard Pryor, the caustic yet perceptive actor-comedian who lived dangerously close to the edge both on stage and off, has died, his ex-wife said Saturday. He was 65.

Pryor died of a heart attack at his home in the San Fernando Valley sometime late Friday or early Saturday, Flyn Pryor said. He had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

The comedian was regarded early in his career as one of the most foul-mouthed comics in the business, but he gained a wide following for his expletive-filled but universal and frequently personal insights into modern life and race relations.

His audacious style influenced an array of stand-up artists, including Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and Damon Wayans, as well as Robin Williams, David Letterman and others.

A series of hit comedies in the '70s and '80s, as well as filmed versions of his concert performances, helped make him Pryor one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. He was one of the first black performers to have enough leverage to cut his own Hollywood deals. In 1983, he signed a $40 million, five-year contract with Columbia Pictures.

His films included "Stir Crazy," "Silver Streak," "Which Way Is Up?" and "Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip."


Bill O'Reilly & Don Quixote, Hunting Windmills

I can't believe millions of Americans watch and trust this nuerotic, paranoid motherfucker Bill O'Reilly. Lately he's been on his yearly "War On Christmas" crusade, insisting that there is a plot to take away Christmas. His evidence? Hold on to your seats....some stores are actually, get this, saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". I KNOW!!! WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?! THOSE ANTI-CHRISTMAS, HOMOSEXUAL, JEW LOVING "STORES", KILL THEM ALL!!!

I hate to break it to Bill, but there is no "war" on Christmas and there never was. He made it up. I do not know of one person who is offended by the word Christmas, or a store using it. It's a fake crusade. Sure, there are a few examples of schools and other places going a bit overboard, but a few examples do not a war make. If stores prefer to use "holidays" over "Christmas", they are thinking about dollars. They want Jews, Muslims, Agnostics, Athiests, Devil Worshippers, Wiccans, EVERYBODY, to start spending this time of year. Now if you are a good Christian, and you are helping the poor, going to church, turning the other cheek, being a good person, whatever you people do, and you are sure that you will be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven when your days are done, does it seriously bother you that Big Lots says "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas"? Apparently it bothers Big Bad Bill, cable TV toughguy and egomaniac. Do these sound like the words of a sane man?
I am not going to let oppressive, totalitarian, anti-Christian forces in this country diminish and denigrate the holiday and the celebration. I am not going to let it happen. I'm gonna use all the power that I have on radio and television to bring horror into the world of people who are trying to do that.
Keith Olbermann: "Bill, just remember, to bring horror into this world, all you have to do is open your mouth."
And we have succeeded. You know we've succeeded. They are on the run in corporations, in the media, everywhere. They are on the run, because I will put their face and their name on television, and I will talk about them on the radio if they do it. There is no reason on this earth that all of us cannot celebrate a public holiday devoted to generosity, peace, and love together.
That's right. No better way to celebrate generosity, peace, and love than threatening and bringing "horror" to those who happen to disagree with your fucked-up outlook.
There is no reason on the earth that we can't do that. So we are going to do it. And anyone who tries to stop us from doing it is gonna face me.
Oh yeah, Bill? Me and you, after school, between the bike racks and the tetherball courts. You're dead meat.


Fuck Bats

National Geographic:
Bats eaten by people in central Africa may host the deadly Ebola virus, according to new research...Researchers have now found evidence of Ebola infection in three species of fruit bats. The bats show no symptoms of the disease, indicating that they might be spreading it.
The likely source of the respiratory disease Sars is the horseshoe bat, a new study suggests. Researchers found a virus closely related to the Sars coronavirus in bats from three regions of China.
I'm starting to think that George Bush is actually a bat.

Missing The Point On Murtha

Christoper Hitchens, Bill O'Reilly, and everyone else attacking Jack Murtha are missing the major point of him speaking out. He didn’t on a whim decide to call for a strategic withdrawal from Iraq. Murtha, a decorated Marine and Vietnam vet, has extremely close ties with military leaders. It is very safe to say that his proposals echo those of the military commanders in Iraq. It’s no great leap of imagination to think that Murtha went forward at their urging. Commanders in the field are not able to simply spout their opinions publicy, so they need a credible proxy like Jack Murtha. To wit:
Because he is known as a friend and champion of officers at the Pentagon and in the war zone, it is widely believed in Congress that Murtha often speaks for those in uniform and could be echoing what U.S. commanders in the field and in the Pentagon are saying privately about the conflict.
Whenever you read a criticism of Jack Murtha, just mentally substitute “military commanders” for Murtha’s name. You’ll see how ridiculous and arrogant the argument becomes.

So, if Hitchens and his ilk want to attack the commanders actually fighting, they should say so, and maybe give them some suggestions on how to fight and tell them what is going on on the ground. After all, they're much smarter than the commanders, right?

Fuck David H. Brooks

Read this story:
DHB Industries Inc., which principally operates in the field of body armor, announced today that its subsidiary, Point Blank Body Armor has received a new delivery order for $30.1 million from the United States Army for its Interceptor(TM) OTV (Outer Tactical Vests) System
Now read this one:
The Marine Corps is recalling 5,277 combat vests issued to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti after a newspaper article raised concerns that they failed a test to determine whether they could stop a bullet...The armor in question is called the "Outer Tactical Vest" and it is part of the Interceptor body armor package issued to troops in combat zones. The vest, when combined with protective plates, is designed to stop a rifle round.
Time to get pissed. Now read this one:
For his daughter's coming-of-age celebration last weekend, multimillionaire Long Island defense contractor David H. Brooks booked two floors of the Rainbow Room, hauled in concert-ready equipment, built a stage, installed special carpeting, outfitted the space with Jumbotrons and arranged command performances by everyone from 50 Cent to Tom Petty to Aerosmith.

I hear it was garish display of rock 'n' roll idol worship for which the famously irascible CEO of DHB Industries, a Westbury-based manufacturer of bulletproof vests, sent his company jet to retrieve Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from their Saturday gig in Pittsburgh...The party cost an estimated $10 million, including the price of corporate jets to ferry the performers to and from.

Don't you love it?. The CEO of a company which sells faulty combat vests to the U.S. military has $10 million just laying around for a bar mitvah? Do you pay taxes? Yes? Guess what? YOU PAID FOR THIS.

Immoral and disgusting war profiteering, plain and simple.

Oh, Christopher

It’s sort of embarrassing to admit that I used to be a big fan of Christopher Hitchens. How could you not love someone who attacked Mother Theresa? But his odd way of arguing against those who think the war in Iraq is a mistake makes me wonder if I overlooked his dishonest method of argument when he was on “my” side.

So, if you want to argue like Hitchens, here’s what you do:

1) Simplify your opposition into an easy-target metaphor, like Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, (or as of late Jack Murtha). Therefore, if you oppose the war, you’re in Cindy Sheehan’s camp, and you now believe everything Cindy believes. You now are against the war in Afghanistan, even if you aren’t, because Cindy is. Remember, you are now Cindy Sheehan.

2) Casually dismiss this group you've created and have conveniently given a uniform worldview with idiotic terms like “sinister piffle” and “kerfuffle”, which make you sound like the arrogant, elitist asshole you are. You are required to use at least one of those terms, or a similarly retarded one, in everything argument you make.

3) You must make it sound like no one could possibly know the things you do, even though volumes have been written about it. Remember, you are providing insight no one else has ever thought of, even though every expert in the field has already thought of it. No one but you has ever been to Iraq, no one else has Kurdish friends, and no one else realizes that ethnic political split in Iraq is much more complicated than Kurd-Sunni-Shi’ite.

4) You must cast your lot with the scruffy “underdogs”. This makes you sound like some sort of hero; a hero who says "piffle" a lot. Mention a lot of people in this group that know one has ever heard of; it gives you street cred. You must also ignore or minimize the heinous past of those on your side (coughAhmedChalabicough), but not of those who don’t agree with you, they must be crucified with their misdeeds.

5) You must make false analogies between two things which aren’t alike (i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan), and then disprove one, thereby disproving the other. In other words, you must argue like a twelve-year-old, but hide your arguments in scholarly, elitist jargon so they get lost in mumbo jumbo.

I used to buy into this crap. Thank God my bullshit detector has gotten better since then.


LT Saves The Weekend

Fresno State lays a big turd and loses to Nevada moments after I publicly praise them, then the Chargers look like hell playing the Redskins. But wait. For once, instead of collapsing in the fourth quarter, the Chargers come back to force overtime. In overtime, LaDanian Tomlinson rips of a huge run to win the game and slavages what could have been a really shitty football weekend. Hail LT!


Um, We Went To War Why, Again?

Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Ties To Al-Queda.

Saddam abuses his own people.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Nevermind that deep down, most Americans who cite this reason could give a rat's ass about those "camel jockeys" and "towel heads".

Oh, shit.

Saddam abuses his own people.
LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Abuse of human rights in Iraq is as bad now as it was under Saddam Hussein, if not worse, former prime minister Iyad Allawi said in an interview published on Sunday.

"People are doing the same as (in) Saddam Hussein's time and worse. It is an appropriate comparison," Allawi told British newspaper The Observer.

"People are remembering the days of Saddam," said Allawi, a secular Shi'ite and former Baathist who is standing in elections scheduled for Dec. 15. "These are the precise reasons why we fought Saddam Hussein and now we are seeing the same things.

"We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated," said Allawi in an apparent reference to the discovery of a bunker at the Shi'ite-run Interior Ministry where 170 men were held prisoner, beaten, half-starved and in some cases tortured.

"A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations."

College Football Rant

Okay, so last week, I spent the little money I have on a ticket to see my beloved Bulldogs of Fresno State take on the big, bad, USC Trojans, the #1 team in the nation, a team which hasn't lost a game in nearly three years. Ticket cost me $100, but it was well worth it, as my underdog Bulldogs gave USC all they could handle, almost winning the game before succombing in a 50-42 loss that no one who watched will soon forget.

While not quite on this level, the Bulldogs do this sort of thing every year. In the past five years we've beat the Big Boys: Georgia Tech, UCLA, Virgina, Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas State, Washington, Oregon State, and almost beating Oregon twice. We can hang. We are one of the big boys.


we are not in a BCS conference, so we are a perennial outsider, locked out of the big bowls and the big exposure and big payouts that come with it. I was always a little ticked about it. Now, I'm just pissed. Turns out that if South Florida or Connecticut turned out to win the Big East, they would get into a BCS bowl.

Connecticut has been playing Division I football since 2000.

South Florida has been playing football PERIOD since 1997.

Fresno State has an excellent tradition of football going back decades, with tons of players in the NFL.

It's an insult that we have no chance of a BCS bowl, yet every single year Connecticut and South Florida can harbor BCS dreams.

UPDATE: After I posted this Fresno State went on to fucking lose to Nevada. Me and my big mouth.

You Serve America, Not Republicanica

In the latest issue of The Atlantic, Paul Starobin writes about the political system in Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan, they basically have a benign dictator (officially he is "president", but the elections are a sham) who espouses a free market economic philosophy. He is a dictator, and there is a pro-democracy opposition, but the opposition isn't a popular uprising. In fact, many ordinary people support their dictator. The West supports him, too.

The dictator, Nursultan Nazarbayev made a statement which made me think about our present government. About his opposition, he says, "Just get them a tasty pie and a good position, like the mayor of a city, and they will forget all about their opposition views."

They way government is currently being run is similar. The only difference is that it's not the opposition being given comfy positions, it's cronies and financial political supporters. But why? You're the president, why are you still kissing ass? When you give positions to friends with no experience in that field, are you really trying to make your nation better? The urge to entrench your political party in power for the next 50 years is an entirely autocratic and anti-democratic urge. You would think that when you get to the most powerful position in the world, increasing your wealth and your grip on power would be irrelevant. You would think that, while adherance to the party line may have gotten you to where you are, you are now responsible for a nation, a nation of Democrats, Republicans, apathetic, rich, poor, healthy, sick, smart, stupid, sane, insane, black, white, and every color in between, so you may want to honestly work for ALL of them. You are above party labels now. You have four to eight years to make your mark on history.

Presidents are just people, and most people have huge egos. You would think the the biggest ego stroke in the world would be to be remembered as someone great, who made tough choices in the face of adversity, who spoke to all Americans, who didn't get drunk on power and turn your back on American ideals, and whose main priority was to help people, not parties. When in comes to our current president and his gang of inept cronies, you would be wrong.


Link Wray, RIP

If you love rock’n’roll, punk, heavy metal, or anything with an aggressive guitar sound, then you should be saddened to learn that Link Wray has passed away. Who is Link Wray? Well, in a nutshell, he is generally considered to be the inventor of the power chord and just all around bad ass. The 60’s image of the rock 'n' roll rebel, decked in a leather jacket and smoking cigarettes? Link Wray. “Rumble” is his signature tune, but the vast majority of his stuff is excellent. My personal favorite is the goofy, up-tempo “Run Chicken Run” and “Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby”, which shows of his raspy voice. He was 76, and still playing until earlier this year.

This isn’t a post to make you feel bad about not knowing about this guy and look how cool I am because I do. I didn’t even discover him until about ten years ago. That’s the beauty of music, it’s never too late to appreciate something. It lives on after its creators die. So if you’re not familiar with Link Wray but are interested in the history of rock’n’roll, here is where to start learning about Mr. Wray.

Big Oil Lies To Congress. Yawn

I told you. Oil industry executives were called before Congress. They were not required to take an oath before testifying. They were asked if they had taken part in the Vice President’s Energy Task Force. It’s always been suspected, but the identities of those participating have been kept secret. What is known is that there were no consumer or environmental advocates present.
The chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate “to my knowledge,” and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know.
Uh-oh. It turns out that Secret Service documents this kind of thing.
The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.
So, no big surprise, they lied. It’s no wonder Republicans didn’t want them to testify under oath. I believe it’s a crime to lie to Congress whether you took an oath or not. Hopefully, there will be charges against these sleazeballs. I’m not holding my breath.

Oh, and keep in mind what has happened since this meeting between oil executives and the Vice President’s Office. Oil prices have doubled since then, and oil company profits have reached levels not seen in any industry in the history of mankind.

I’m sure it’s all coincidence.

Who Said It?

This quote is from 1993, in response to criticism for GW Bush not taking Saddam out in the first Gulf War:
“If we’d gone to Baghdad and got rid of Saddam Hussein — assuming we could have found him — we’d have had to put a lot of forces in and run him to ground someplace…Then you’ve got to put a new government in his place, and then you’re faced with the question of what kind of government are you going to establish in Iraq? Is it going to be a Kurdish government, or a Shia government or a Sunni government?” [he] continued. “How many forces are you going to have to leave there to keep it propped up, how many casualties are you going to take through the course of this operation?”
Answer: Dick Cheney.


CSPAN: Must See TV

Shit is going OFF tonight.

Man, I don't watch C-SPAN on a regular basis, but I saw just saw the most disgusting debate I've ever seen. Here are the Republican arguments:

1. The Iraqi War is just like World War II.
2. ANY mention of withdrawing troops "emboldens the enemy".
3. Al-Jazeera is Al-Queda.
4. If you repeat "cut and run" enough times, the opposition will shut up.
5. It's "debatable" which resolution is on the floor.
6. Not having a strategy is better than having a strategy.
7. Staffers can write e-mails pretending to be a soldier.
8. Soldiers want to keep fighting in Iraq for as long as possible.

Fucking idiotic. I thought Murtha made a lot of sense, but in all honesty, I wish some time would have beed ceded to a Democratic firebrand.


Because HMO's RULE!!!

Some times the simplest concepts get lost in argument and everyone misses a major point.

Take universal health care.

If the government provides health coverage, businesses no longer have to. When you buy a GM car, $1500 goes to paying for health care of GM workers. Businesses are bogged down by these costs. God knows how the economy would take off if you took this burden off of U.S. businesses.

GM is in the car business, not the healthcare business. We should support universal health care and join the rest of the world, who pay less, and are more satisfied. Yeah, there will need to be tweaking for efficiency, but we’re Americans, we can solve those problems.

But apparantly I'm a Socialist or Communist for supporting such a wacky idea.

Women: The Government Hates You

Plan B, the “morning after pill”, is available by prescription (at least if your pharmacist decides he’ll let you have it) but was headed for approval for over-the-counter. But before that kind of approval is given, the FDA has to do a study. Well, even though the scientists who conducted the study deemed Plan B safe for over-the- counter use, the application for approval was denied. Hmmm. That’s kind of suspicious, don’t you think?

Well guess what? The decision to deny it was made before the study was even completed.
FDA officials…told us that they were told by high-level management that the Plan B OTC switch application would be denied months before staff had completed their reviews of the application. The Director and Deputy Director of the Office of New Drugs told us that they were told by the Acting Deputy Commissioner for Operations43 and the Acting Director of CDER, after the Plan B public meeting in December 2003, that the decision on the Plan B application would be not-approvable. They informed us that they were also told that the direction for this decision came from the Office of the Commissioner. … Both office reviews were not completed until April 2004.

Just The Facts

Nice little pissing match we got going on.

Democrats complain the Administration led us into a war based on half-truths, cherry picked information, and outright lies. The evidence clearly leans this way.

But now the Administration is saying Democrats are twisting the facts of how the war began. They’re claiming everyone had the same information. Other countries felt the same way, blah, blah, blah (This argument gets demolished here.)

But it got me thinking. Let’s settle this. How about instead of citing vague “intelligence reports” and third hand assessements of the original “intelligence”, we take a look at the actual intelligence? Names. Places. When aerial photographs were taken of “chemical weapon labs”, what was that based on? Who made the assessment? Did we have spies or moles on the ground? Were we just guessing? At the U.N., Colin Powell was pretty goddamn confident. Let’s see the ACTUAL intelligence that made him feel that confident. We already went to war and scoured the country, so I fail to see how releasing this detail, first hand, intelligence could be harmful now.

Let’s put all the cards on the table and see whose fault this is and make sure it never happens again.


Did Osama Win?

Republicans hate Democrats. Democrats hate Republicans. Red States hate Blue States and Blue States hate Red States. The U.S. hates everybody. Everybody hates the U.S. We invade a country and make more people hate us. We torture people and even more people hate us. You’re either with us or you’re against us.

Think about it for a second. Did Osama win? Isn’t this exactly how he would want it?

Domestically, there’s nothing that can be done. I will never agree with a religious fundamentalist and they will never agree with me. Someone who is adamantly against universal health care and me will never see eye to eye. It’s always been that way. But something’s changed. Disagreements are vicious in their intensity now. It reminds me of Needful Things.

I can’t help but think Osama may be our Leland Gaunt.

Asshola-palooza: Bill O’Reilly and Pat Robertson

I report, you decide: Who’s the bigger asshole?

In this corner, Bill “The Patri-idiot” O’Reilly (responding to the voters of San Francisco approving a measure restricting military recruitment in public schools):
If you want to ban military recruiting [in public schools], fine. But I’m not going to give you another nickel of federal money. If Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.
Reread that last sentence.
You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.
Wow. Guess Bill forgot that Coit Tower is a tribute to the firefighters who fought the fires which followed the 1906 earthquake.

Okay, our other contestant is none other that Pat “I’m Not Insane, I Swear” Robertson (speaking to responding to Dover, Pennsylvania, a town which voted out all members of the school board who wanted to include “intelligent design” in the curriculum):
I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city….And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for His help because he might not be there.
My vote is for O’Reilly. Robertson is pretty much a joke. I mean, who takes him seriously? O’Reilly should be a joke, but unfortunately, many take the idiot seriously.


All You Need To Know About Republicans And Gas Prices

Okay, so oil executives were called before Congress to testify about recording record profits while gas prices went through the roof. But check this little nugget out:
The hearing opened with Republicans refusing a request by Democrats that the five executives take an oath before testifying.
The Republicans refused to make them tell the truth? WHAT THE FUCK? If they’re allowed, hell practically encouraged to lie, what’s the point of the hearings anyways?

And am I the only one who assumed that anyone testifying before Congress HAD to take an oath?

Proving Bush Lies = Shooting Fish In A Barrel

President Bush on Monday defended U.S. interrogation practices and called the treatment of terrorism suspects lawful. “We do not torture,” Bush declared in response to reports of secret CIA prisons overseas.
I only need one example to prove that Bush is a liar, but if you’re not satisfied, I can produce many, many more.

Dilawar arrived as a prisoner at the Bagram prison in Afghanistan on December 5, 2002, and was declared dead on December 10, 2002. He was a 22-year-old Afghan taxi driver and farmer who weighed 122 pounds and was 5’9”. He left behind a 3 year old daughter, Bibi Rashida. Leaked internal US Army documentation has ruled that his death is due to a direct result of assaults and attacks sustained by interrogators of the 519th Battalion of the US Army during his stay at Bagram.

The various accounts of abuse have been detailed as follows:

-A black hood pulled over his head limiting his ability to breathe
-Knee strikes to the abdomen
-Over 100 peroneal strikes
-Shoved against a wall
-Pulled by his beard
-His bare feet stepped on
-Kicks to the groin
-Chained to the ceiling for extended hours depriving him of sleep
- Slammed his chest into a table front

The findings of Mr. Dilawar’s autopsy were succinct. A death certificate for Dilawar, aged 22, from Yakubi in eastern Afghanistan, and signed by Major Elizabeth Rouse, pathologist with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, states that the cause of death was “blunt-force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease”.[2]

The military had publicly claimed that Dilawar had died from natural causes.
If you want to call me soft for giving a fuck, well, then fuck you. This guy (read the article) was completely innocent. If that doesn’t matter to you, you’re simply a racist dick. And even if he wasn’t, the bottom line is that this is not about them, it’s about us and what we stand for. But if the point is not getting across, just pretend that Diliwar is your father, and was an innocent killed by a foreign army. You would be pissed, and rightly so. But when they say, “but you do this, too”, what’s your simplistic, "patriotic", macho answer then, tough guy?

T.O. Gets A Time Out

T.O. Gets A Time Out

This is old news by now, but I only blog once in a while, so deal with it.

If you follow sports you know all about Philadelphia Eagles’ wide receiver Terrell Owens. He is immensely talented on the field, a crybaby and egomaniacal jerk off the field. Well, after Owens’s recent run of childish behavior, criticizing players, owners, and fighting with a revered former Eagle, the Eagles decided they had enough and suspended him for the year. Since they are going to trade or release him, he’s basically fired. Good for them.

Most people seem to agree with the decision. But there are still those who put winning above anything and everything. If you’re good, goes the reasoning, anything short of criminal behavior can be overlooked. I’m sure used car dealers and telemarketers feel this way.

If you’re being treated like a chump at your job, in your relationship, or as a consumer, there’s only so much you can take, because you have this little thing called ‘self-respect’. Well, an organization, even an NFL one, has to have some self respect, too. This will hurt the Eagles in the short run, but will unify the team and benefit them in the long run. For T.O., it’s just more publicity and more bridges burned. Some idiotic team will sign him. And that’s sad. It would be nice if the NFL as a whole could show the self respect that the Eagles have shown.

The perfect ending to this saga would for TO to start dating the scandalous (former) Carolina Panthers cheerleaders.

Vegas, Baby, Vegas

Slate reports things in Vegas are cooling off. They blame a slowing economy, Indian casinos, blah blah fricken blah.

Here’s my theory:

The sleaze and cheese of Las Vegas has been replaced by an upscale atmosphere The average American can fake being upscale once in a blue moon, but he or she isn’t going to be able to do it on a regular basis.

Vegas went through its glamour period, its cheesy period, its family period, and now seems to be trying to get back to its glamour period. I say: Bring back the cheese and sleaze!

I liked the sleaze and cheese. I liked looking for the best $5.99 buffet. I liked getting a hotel room for $25. But now, Vegas has turned into some sort of cross between Maxim and Playboy. I don’t have $200 for a room and $30.00 for every meal. And I don’t have the looks or money to hook up with the supermodels now frequenting Vegas. Where have my four-tooth-havin’, truck driving women gone?

Plus, last time I left Vegas, going from my hotel to the airport, I mysteriously morphed into a goddamn ATM. I tipped the bellboy. I tipped the guy who opens the door for the cab. I tipped the cabbie. I tipped the skycap. What the fuck is that all about? I should have just pretended I was from Europe and not tipped anyone. It would also excuse why I stink. Two birds with one stone.

I Was Wrong. And I Am Glad.

Oh, um, about my election prediction...pretend that never happened. Thanks.


Election Day Prediction

I’m calling my shot.

Tomorrow’s vote on various propositions in California will be a major victory for Arnold Schwarzenegger (who I just found out is in Microsoft Word’s spell-check dictionary).

I base this on three highly scientific reasons.

First, people are stupid. The proposals are by and large anti-worker and anti-union. Simply, they are against you and for your dickhead pig boss. Unions are the only ones who stand up for and protect the rights of workers, yet a lot of working class people are anti-union because they are Fox News watching morons. Apparently they want to make less money and work more hours in more dangerous conditions. And tomorrow they will vote to do so.

Secondly, Democrats are waaaaay too confident that the propositions will NOT pass. That’s usually a good sign they will.

Finally, I am against most of the propositions (except the redistricting proposal). That means they won’t pass. I have spent a lifetime rooting for the San Digo Padres and the San Diego Chargers. Between the two are exactly ZERO championships. Things just don’t go my way.

So, congratulations, Arnold, you magnificent bastard.

The Pope Supports Darwin, Does Pat Robertson?

Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the Genesis description of how God created the universe and Darwin’s theory of evolution were “perfectly compatible” if the Bible were read correctly.

His statement was a clear attack on creationist campaigners in the US, who see evolution and the Genesis account as mutually exclusive.

Calvin & Hobbes: Ten Years Later

Slate has a great slide show essay on Calvin & Hobbes. Man I can’t believe it’s been ten years since the last one.

It calls Calvin & Hobbes the last great comic strip. That is absolutely true. It had a philosophical and sometimes punk attutidude that the retards who put “pissing Calvin” stickers on their pick ‘em up trucks will never understand.

There’s also a HUGE book (23 pounds!!!!) which contains every Calvin & Hobbes comic strip. Someone rich please buy it for me.


The Fetus and The Soldier

It seems to me that once extreme right wing Republicans have politically exploited certain issues and people their attitude turns to “fuck ‘em”. The two best examples of this tactic are the fetus and the soldier.

The abortion issue is a very decisive one, and I understand the feelings on both sides of the issue. But what I don’t get are those people who fight so hard for the rights of the unborn, but then fight against the rights of babies and children. I mean, I know universal health care causes all sorts of controversy, but shouldn’t it be a no-brainer that at least every CHILD should be guaranteed access to health care? Nope, programs that try and do just that are voted against by right wingers. They cut Head Start programs. They cut after school programs. They cut breakfast programs. Pretty much, if a program helps out a child born into poverty, the extreme right wing is against it. But they want to guarantee that child has to be born into poverty. It’s just sickening.

The same thing occurs when the military is concerned. They’ll pay lip service to them. They’ll wave their flags. They’ll criticize any dissent as being unpatriotic. But when the time comes to put their money where their mouths are, suddenly it’s “fuck em”. Veterans benefits = cut. Mental Health programs for returning soldiers = nonexistent. Hell, look how long it took just to get soldiers proper armor for themselves and their vehicles.

When the extreme right speaks on these issues, it’s all just diarrhea of the mouth. They’re fighting a political war, not a moral one. So the next time you hear a politician rail against abortion, look up where they stand on issues of childhood poverty and healthcare. When they talk about the military, look how they voted on Veteran’s benefits.

And remember that shit on election day.

My Review Of The Entire Dropkick Murphys Catalog

I’m not from Boston, and I’m not Irish, so I don't care.

Give 'Em Hell, Harry

I love how the “experts” fail to see the forest for the trees.

Earlier this week, Minority Leader Harry Reid used a Senate rule that allowed him to call a closed session of the Senate. The public, cameras, and those without the proper security clearances had to get out. In a nutshell, here's why he called for the closed session: Democrats have been asking for an investigation into how faulty and fraudulent intelligence has beed used by the Bush administration to make the case for the war in Iraq. Republicans have been stalling and dragging their feet in getting such an investigation going. So Reid basically did some behind closed doors ass chewing, demanding answers.

So how has this been reported?

That Reid “shut down” the Senate and Democrats are being “obstructionists”.

Uh, what?

The exact OPPOSITE happened! Reid got the Senate to do its fucking job! You know how in a movie, when someone isn’t focused, someone else slaps the shit out of them? THAT’S what happened. And it worked.

Using the phrase "shut down" in this case is just stupid, and I see Democrats using it just as much as Republicans. It relays the wrong message to Joe Average about what really happened.

So cut it out.


Hollywood, Listen To Mark Cuban

Some people deserve to be rich. Some people do not deserve to be rich. George W. Bush would belong to the latter. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, belongs to the former.

Cuban, a man of ideas and new ways of thinking, is on a mission to change the way Hollywood and consumers think about movies. His ultimate goal? New releases would be available in theaters, on DVD, and on Pay-Per-View at the same time. That way YOU decide how and when to see a movie.

At first it seems like a weird idea, but once you really think about it, it makes total sense.

Read this Slate article for the whole story.

Whitey Will Complain

This is the latest stupid chain "outrage email" I received.
Yesterday, I was shopping for my mother in Dillard’s at Lakeline Mall in Austin, TX. I admired a suit, but it was too expensive for me to purchase. You can imagine my shock when I witness the suit being purchased by a Katrina “refugee” using the government-issued debit card!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I thought certainly there must be controls on these debit cards that would preclude recipients from using the money to purchase items other taxpayers cannot afford, but I was mistaken. I heard the sales clerk call the Dillard’s business office and confirm that the “American Red Cross Debit Card” could be used for the woman’s purchase. After the transaction was completed, I asked the sales clerk to confirm this and she did.

Now, when these debit cards that we the taxpayers provided are used up, what will happen? Will you give them even more of our money to purchase items the taxpayers cannot afford? I already know the answer. Based on the social welfare system that exists in our country, you will just give them more money. This system does not pass the “is this right?” test. You have hard-working, tax-paying citizens who worry every month whether they’ll make it financially. And, you take their earnings and “re-distribute” it to others who do not work but wear better clothes, drive newer cars and have manicures, cell phones, and designer handbags. Yea, if you’d just send me one of those debit cards, I could buy my mother that nice suit.

I have copied everyone in my address book. I am asking them to send this to everyone in their address books. This is the reality of our social welfare system. It must stop.

Suzzette Chapman
223 W. Mockingbird Lane
Harker Heights, Texas 76548
What self righteous bullshit.

I understand the anger to some extent, but with fucking $250 million bridges connecting a small town to an island of 50 people, with politicians getting paid golfing trips to Scotland, with tax cuts in the billions aimed at those with the most money, whether they earned it or not, I think I'm gonna give hurricane victims a pass on this one. Yeah, it’s wrong, but fuck it, waaaay biger fish to fry. They should have put some restrictions on the cards, but they didn’t and now we get to blame the people instead of the government. This lady is probably a Bush supporter anyways. You voted for an idiot and you get idiotic results. BIG SHOCK. Fucking people.

Oh, and we know who “the people” are in this case. Black people. I can read between the lines, honky. You hate black people. This gives you a way to express it without actually sounding racist. You don't fool me, Whitey.

Besides, this is a country swimming in debt. I bet the people complaining about this have huge credit card debts and probably don’t manage their money wisely. But give an American a chance to point a finger or kick someone when their down, they usually oblige. It's easier than facing up to your own shortcomings.

Ok, Archie Bunker, you may get back to your whining now.

Voting With Your Dollar: Target Vs. Walmart

The most frustrating thing in the world is to feel powerless. Like when you go to an auto mechanic for an oil change and they tell you you need $200 worth of repairs or you will die in a fiery accident as soon as you leave. You don’t trust the guy as far as you could throw him, but you don’t know the first thing about cars, so you pay the man. And you feel used.

Or when you see stories about how Wal-Mart sells things produced by child labor, closes stores that attempt to unionize, and doesn’t offer affordable healthcare to its (usually) poor workforce. You might not agree with these practices, but damn, those prices are cheap. If you’re like me, money’s usually tight, and you eliminating Wal-Mart from your life is simply not an option.

But you can try to shop at Target more. Yeah, they are a little more expensive, but by voting with your dollar, you are actually flexing your power. You may think Wal-Mart won’t miss your ten bucks, but Wal-Mart operates on very thin profit margins, so multiply your ten dollars by thousands of people, and Wal-Mart will miss your ten dollars. And maybe they will start to change.

And maybe sometimes it works.

This week, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott came out in favor of raising the minimum wage, unveiled plans to make health care more affordable for employees, and vowed to be more efficient in energy use.

This could be just a PR campaign to stave off complaints of consumers groups, but it is a step. And it makes me feel better about shopping there. Not great, but better.

Especially because of what’s going on at Target.

In late September, a pharmacist at a Target store in Missouri refused to fill a prescription for emergency contraception, and referred her to another store. Hard to blame Target for the actions of a single pharmacist, but when Target was asked about the incident, they replied that Target allows pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions on moral or religious grounds. Fuck that. It’s a legal prescription; pharmacists should not be playing God, deciding who gets what. God forbid a rape victim’s prescription be refused because some nutty pharmacist isn’t cool with it.

Now it should be said that Wal-Mart has the same policy regarding pharmacists, but Target was supposed to be my (relative) guilt free shopping experience. Now they’ve blown that. So now I get to reward Wal-Mart with my business until Target straightens its policy out, once they do, it’s back to Target until Wal-Mart comes around.

Yeah, this is all probably meaningless, but deciding who gets to have the money you work so hard for is, sad to say, probably the most power you have over Corporate America.

BTW, if you’re a Democrat and want to know what are some “safe” places to shop, check out BuyBlue.com


MP3 of the Day: Zeke - Punk Rock Records

I've probably seen Seattle's Zeke live more than any other band. Usually at the Casbah in San Diego. They are probably best mix of Motorhead and the Dwarves there's ever been. This song, "Punk Rock Records" is from the Dirty Sanchez LP, where Marky's vocals were WAY over the top.

You can download it here (you will need an Amazon account).

You Hallo-weenies

Every year around this time people ask me what my Halloween plans are.

In a perfect world, my plans would be to pass out candy. Unfortunately this no longer happens because not that many kids seem to trick or treat anymore. Why?


I don’t even really like kids, but I’ll let them have Halloween. What the hell is wrong with you people? Does EVERYTHING have to be about you? Look, your costume is going to be stupid, you’re not going to have nearly the good time you think you’re going to have (although you will pretend to, and take pictures and post them on the internet to try and convince me how fun it was. NOT buying it.), and you will probably embarrass yourself.

So get your ass home and pass out candy.

Who Gets Fired First?

Associated Press (10/20/2005):
Top White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis ''Scooter" Libby discussed their contacts with reporters about an undercover CIA officer in the days before her identity was published, the first known intersection between two central figures in the criminal leak investigation.
Scott McClellan (White House Spokesperson)(10/10/2003):
Those individuals (Karl Rove and Scooter Libby) -- I talked -- I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands.
Obviously, both of these things cannot be true. Someone is lying. Lying is unethical. So when President Bush said this:
We must remember the high standards that come with high office. This begins careful adherence with the rules. I expect every member of this administration to stay well within the boundaries (that) define legal and ethical conduct. No one in the White House should be afraid to confront the people they work for over ethical concerns, and no one should hesitate to confront me as well. (07/22/2001)
...was he lying too? If not, who gets fires first, Rove, Libby, or McClellan?

Bankruptcy Bill Revisited

On Monday, the new Bankruptcy Bill took effect. Written and paid for by the Credit Card industry, it hammers middle class families who find themselves in financial trouble. Over 90% of bankruptcies come from medical bills, loss of a job, family breakup, or a combination of the three. There was an amendment presented which would exempt those who filed bankruptcy due to natural disasters. That amendment was voted down.

You would expect Republicans to vote for the bill. You would be right. You would expect Democrats to vote against it. You would be wrong. Most did, but 18 senators did not (Hillary Clinton snaked out by not voting at all). Thankfully, my two senators voted against it. But the 18 who voted for it are done for me. If any of them run for President (at least two of them, Joe Biden and Evan Bayh, have presidential ambitions), I will not vote for them.

There are issues that I can disagree on with a fellow Democrat and still support them. This is not one of them. This is cut and dry. This is kicking someone when they are down.

Among the ironies is that one of the 18 is Mary Landrieu, Democrat from Louisiana. Think any Katrina victims will need bankruptcy protection? This might make it impossible for a middle class family who lost everything to do so. The vote was taken far before Katrina, but senators should have some sort of foresight. And Democrats should be working to protect citizens in any case.

I’m curious to see if suicide rates increase over the next year.

Here are the 18 spineless Democrats you should never support for President (bold represents high profile Democrats who should be doubly ashamed of themselves):

Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Byrd (D-WV)
Carper (D-DE)
Conrad (D-ND)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Stabenow (D-MI)


Real Reality TV That's Not Real But Real. Sort of.

Tonight at 10 on HBO there’s a 45 minute movie called “Last Best Chance”. Basically, it summarizes, in dramatic form, the biggest threat to the U.S.: Al Queda getting their hands on Russian nuclear material and using it against us.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the inventory sheets on the nukes they should have and what they actually have didn’t add up. It became obvious that we needed to secure as much of these nuclear materials as possible. How to do that? Spend a lot of money. Money talks. Think about it, you’re a nuclear scientist, your government has just crumbled and now you have no source of income. You are literally starving. But the things you know and the information and materials you have access to are worth untold amounts of money, money that terrorist groups can offer. So basically the U.S. buys security for the nukes. Under Bush I and Clinton we started to do just that. Under this Bush, even though he talks a good game about it, efforts have slowed down, even after 9/11. He’s been more concerned about cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

That should be enough to get you pissed; “Last Best Chance” should be enough to get you scared.

If you can’t watch it or do not have HBO, you can order a FREE DVD here.


Homicide, Heat, & Raisins

Everyone bags on Fresno but me. I love Fresno. Went to college there and stuck around for a couple more years, I liked it so much. The people tend to be modest. They know they come from a shitty town, and they accept it, unlike people in Sacramento who act like they live in some great city and pretend they are in “the Bay Area”. The Bay Area doesn’t want you, Sacramento. You’re Fresno on steroids, so lose the attitude.

But even I know Fresno has many problems. I just didn’t know they were this bad:
Fresno, Calif., nestled among the country’s highest-grossing agricultural fields, has the nation’s highest concentration of residents isolated in extremely poor neighborhoods, according to a study released Wednesday by the Brookings Institution.

This is Your (Lying) Vice President:

People complain all the time about “liberal bias”. It’s all a crock of shit. Can you imagine if the following concerned someone with the last name of Clinton or Gore? Courtesy of the fine folks at ThinkProgress and Raw Story.
Dick Cheney on “Meet the Press”, September 14, 2003:
“Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest," the Vice President said. "I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years.”
Oh really, you lying bag of liquid shit (yes, my second "shit" reference in a single post)?
An analysis released by a Democratic senator found that Vice President Dick Cheney’s Halliburton stock options have risen 3,281 percent in the last year, RAW STORY can reveal.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) asserts that Cheney’s options—worth $241,498 a year ago—are now valued at more than $8 million.

Cheney continues to received a deferred salary from the company. According to financial disclosure forms, he was paid $205,298 in 2001; $162,392 in 2002; $178,437 in 2003; and $194,852 in 2004.

So what has fueled the upsurge in Halliburton’s stock? Answer: No-bid contracts in Iraq. I don’t like to get involved in conspiracy theories, but this is getting harder and harder to ignore.


Won't Get Fooled Again

The U.S. should hire this guy for, uh, something. His “talent” must be good for something. He could be a real life Fletch or something. I mean look at that picture. He looks like Miles Crane and people thought he was a 15 year old?
A 31-year-old serial impostor who passed himself off for a whole month as a schoolboy – aged 15 – is being questioned by police in France.

Frederic Bourdin, nicknamed “the Chameleon”, attended the Jean Monnet school in Pau posing as “Francisco Hernandez-Fernandez”, a Spanish orphan.

I Like To Be Validated

A while back I said this.

Today,the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said this:
Workers can expect an average pay raise of about 3.7 percent his year, but because of sky-high gasoline prices, they’ll pour all but a smidgen of that extra cash down the gas tank commuting to work according to an analysis by Salary.com.

Calculating the toll of higher gas prices in 88 cities nationwide, the Needham, Mass., compensation software and data firm found that workers making the average annual salary of just above $40,000 last month were spending 3.3 percent of their paychecks gassing up for work.


I Love Buddyhead

If you don't know about Buddyhead's gossip section, I highly recommend you check it out. Here are some examples:
Motley Crue are making a new record. Their 145 year old guitar player, Mick Mars, had this to say about it… “There is a new album in the works, but we're taking our time on it. For me, I would like to see like a Sgt. Pepper, an Electric Ladyland, something really outstanding and new. I have a zillion ideas and I'm sure Nikki and Tommy and Vince do, as well.” Yeah dude we bet you’d like to see yourself make an album like The Beatles or Jimi Hendrix, but let’s get real here Mick… You guys wrote “Home Sweet Home” and you’re prolly gonna make something more along the lines of Poison or Warrant. And what kind of ideas is Tommy gonna have? “Dude, bro! Let’s get fucking fucked up you fuckin fuckers!” We can’t wait to hear that “masterpiece”.

DIPSHIT QUOTE OF THE MONTH: Benji from Good Charlotte: “Without MTV and the radio I never would have gotten into punk, I never would have heard punk bands like Green Day…”
If you like that kind of shit-talking, throw them a few bucks in support.

What Am I Doing Wrong?

I've been trying to figure this out for a while now, and I have no answers.

I don't have some prestigious job or anything, but it's alright. I don't make a ton of money, but I make enough to where a single guy should be able to get by pretty easily. So why am I not?

I look around and I see new cars everywhere. I see people taking trips left and right. I see new homes. I see consumption on a mass scale. And I'm cutting coupons and milking my paycheck to the next payday. How did everyone but me get rich?

It's weird, people I know who make the same amount as me seem to be living large. So what am I doing wrong? Are they faking it through credit?

Growing up, my dad worked a civil service job and got a pension from the Air Force. My mom didn't work, yet he supported a family with four kids and a ton of problems and we seemed to do alright. We weren't rich or anything, but we never lived hand to mouth. My friend Chad, his dad was in the Navy and his mom worked for the county. Not glamourous jobs. Yet they had a really nice house, always had new cars, and just seemed really, really well off.

I know these are all material things, and I shouldn't be so shallow. But dammit, I'm an American, and wanting things is part of our DNA. Home ownership, new cars, overseas vacations, they all seems so completely out of my reach that for the most part, I've stopped even thinking about it.

Am I the only one who feels the American Dream is passing them by?


The History Of The World in Nine Sentences

This explains everything:
Men whose masculinity is challenged become more inclined to support war or buy an SUV, a new study finds.Their attitudes against gays change, too.

Cornell University researcher Robb Willer used a survey to sample undergraduates. Participants were randomly assigned feedback that indicated their responses were either masculine of feminine.

The women had no discernable reaction to either type of feedback in a follow-up survey. But the guys' reactions were "strongly affected," Willer said today.

"I found that if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle," said Willer said. "There were no increases [in desire] for other types of cars."
Those who had their masculinity threatened also said they felt more ashamed, guilty, upset and hostile than those whose masculinity was confirmed, he said.

Wanna Bet We Never See The Evidence?

Tom Delay is soooooo used to dealing with the Conservative media that he forgot that not everyone is as gullible as Fox News. Check out this exchange with Wolf Blitzer from CNN's Late Edition:

DELAY: Ronnie Earle does this to all his political enemies. He did it to conservative Democrats. He did it — and he does it to Republicans. And particularly in my case, he did it in conjunction and working with the Democrat leadership here in Washington, D.C.

BLITZER: Well, that’s an explosive charge you make… What evidence, if any, do you have to back that up?

DELAY: It’s very good evidence, that they announced this strategy publicly, they put it on their website and this strategy is in their fund-raising letters.

BLITZER: Who specifically — who announced this?

DELAY: The DCCC, the Democratic Campaign Committee, run by Chairman Rahm Emanuel.

BLITZER: They announced that they were working with Ronnie Earle to get you an indictment?

DELAY: No, they didn’t do that.

BLITZER: What evidence is there they consulted with Ronnie Earle, that they talked to him or they had any dealings with him whatsoever?

DELAY: That evidence is coming. But the point is, they announced the strategy… I’m sure they worked closely with Ronnie Earle on this strategy.

BLITZER: When is the evidence going to be made available? You say it’s coming. When are you going to make that evidence available?

DELAY: When it’s timely.
BLITZER: What does that mean?

DELAY: When it’s timely.

BLITZER: All right. Well, we’ll have to wait and see for that evidence.

Another Lie

2 Years, Billions of Dollars, 2000 American Lives = 1 Battalion?

From Think Progress:
President Bush, 9/28/05:

At this moment, more than a dozen Iraqi battalions have completed training and are conducting anti-terrorist operations in Ramadi and Fallujah. More than 20 battalions are operating in Baghdad. And some have taken the lead in operations in major sectors of the city. In total, more than 100 battalions are operating throughout Iraq. Our commanders report that the Iraqi forces are operating with increasing effectiveness.

Associated Press, 9/29/05:

The number of Iraqi battalions capable of combat without U.S. support has dropped from three to one, the top American commander in Iraq told Congress Thursday.

Why We Cannot Win In Iraq

In calling for an American withdrawal, Edward Luttwak makes the following point in Foreign Policy. It is not anti-American or reactionary; it is simply the truth of the matter. If you disagree with this assessment, please make an intelligent argument against it in military terms. Do not use slogans. I am curious to see this issue argued on purely military terms.
While the U.S. armed forces are formidable against enemies assembled in massed formations, they are least effective at fighting insurgents. Insurgents strive to be especially elusive, and as targets diminish, so does the value of American firepower. This was demonstrated in Vietnam in many different was over many years and is unnecessarily being proven all over again in Iraq, damaging the reputation of the United States, wasting vast amounts of money, inflicting added suffering on Iraqis at large, and taking the lives of young Americans, whose sacrifice, one fears, will soon be deemed futile.

The Craigslist Project

Recently the squealing coming from my car finally convinced me I needed brakes. So I priced brake work at many different shops and even got an estimate from one brake specialist. Since I’m on a pretty tight budget nowadays, I decided to see if I could cut the costs so I did a little investigating for my brakes and some other work I need. The results were eye opening. I will never go to an auto repair place again.

What I did was I went to Autozone and simply bought the needed parts on my various estimates myself. I then posted an ad on Craiglist for a mechanic to do some work for me. Someone emailed me and refered me to “Gus”, a very cool guy from Liberia who was skilled in Auto Pepair.

Here’s what I found.

1. Brakes

I got an inspection from BrakeMasters. They indicated I needed pads and rotors. Their estimate?

Brake Pads: $91
Rotors: $182
Labor: $140
Total: $413

Brake Pads: $18.99
Rotors: $80.00
Labor: $60
Total: $158.99

2. Tie Rod End

Firestone told me I needed a “outer front tie rod end”.

Part: $103.83
Labor: $70.20
Total: $174.03

Part: $25
Labor: $0 (included in brake work)
Total: $25

3. Transmission Service

Estimates again from Firestone.

Part: $50
Service: $70
Total: $120

Part: $25
Service: $50
Total: $75

4. Misc Service

Estimates also from Firestone:

Winshield Wipers: $21.98
Labor: $6.00
Headlight: $10.99
Labor: $23.60
Air Filter: $13.99
Labor: $20.00
Total: $96.56

Air Filter: $8.00
Windshield Wipers: $6.00
Headlight: $5.00
Labor: did myself, I’m not completed retarded.
Total: $19.00

Do all the math, and I saved $525.60 by simply buying the parts at Autozone and putting an ad on Craigslist.

I understand auto shops need to make money, but that’s just fucking ridiculous.

Oh, the car runs perfectly.

The Hot Lava Monster

Growing up, the biggest fear me and my friends had was falling into hot lava and/or having “the hot lava monster” get us. Keep in mind, there was no hot lava in Lemoore. No hot lava monsters, either.

This is going to be hard to explain, but on sidewalks there’s usually a line towards the edge. Well, the deal was, you had to walk on that ledge. If you fell into the gutter, well, you were fucked, because that was the lair of the hot lava and/or hot lava monster. If you crossed the line toward the sidewalk, you would get frozen or something. I can’t really remember. All I know is it wasn’t lava on the sidewalk side. The lava is what I remember.

So what the hell was our deal with hot lava? My closest contact with lava was the lava rocks in my neighbor’s lawn (those damn things were hell on bare feet). No family members had ever died in a fiery lava pit. And for the most part, this was all before Mount St. Helens erupted. If it was just me and my friends obsessed with hot lava, that would be one thing. But I’m pretty sure males across this country can remember their own hot lava games.

I don’t really have a point here. I just get mesmerized by my lava lamp sometimes, and these stupid thoughts erupt. Get it? Erupt? You can use that one if you want.


Advice for Democrats, Pols & Bloggers Alike

Regarding Bush's latest Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers:


It's a long process and we can research her and get our message together over time. We don't need to start nitpicking every single issue yet. Meanwhile, let's enjoy the show....there's blood in the water and the far right is attacking. LET IT HAPPEN!



WASHINGTON (Sept. 26) - President George W. Bush urged Americans to cut back on unnecessary travel to make up for fuel shortages caused by Hurricane Rita as he prepared to take his seventh trip to the Gulf Coast.
Hey, idiot, gas is almost $3 a gallon if you haven't noticed. I know flying around on Air Force One and shit keeps you out of the loop, but most of us eliminated "unneccesary" travel long ago.

You schmuck.


Flipper's Got A Gun

Today's "WHAT THE FUCK" story:
Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico. Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.


Don Young = Asshole

Considering Congress just passed a transportation bill filled with wasteful "pet projects", many are thinking some of that money can be redirected to the Gulf Coast. The biggest offender of wasting your tax money is Alaska Re. Don Young, who got Federal funding for a multimillion dollar bridge to an island of fifty, yes, fifty, five-zero,people (residents were fine with the existing ferry service).

So someone asked him about it, and he revealed himself to be the cocksucker I always knew he was.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaska Representative Don Young is scoffing at suggestions that Alaska should forfeit funding it got in the federal highway bill to help Hurricane Katrina victims.

Editorials this month in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have suggested money for the Knik and Gravina bridges be diverted to the Gulf Coast.

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona raised the charitable pork idea on the Senate floor last week, although he stopped short of endorsing it.

When Young was asked by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner what he thought of the suggestion, he replied --quote-- ``They can kiss my ear!''

Young says the suggestion is --quote-- ``the dumbest thing I've ever heard.''

Like Father, Like Son

I was listening to a CD of Comic Relief '91 (don't ask), and Bobcat Goldthwait spoke about Daddy George Bush's delayed response in responding to the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster.

While Daddy's bungling of the Hurricane Andrew response in 1992 is well documented, I totally forgot about the Valdez.

God bless Google.
Above all, Exxon avoided responsibility and only wanted to control imagery. By April 2, the oil had fouled 8oo miles of beach, and President George W. Bush had declined to federalize the cleanup.

Watch Out Jenna Jameson! Osama Who?

Talk about your unwinnable wars.

A war on porn will make the war in Iraq seem like a cakewalk. But that's what the FBI wants to do.
Early last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and, by extension, of "the Director." That would be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

Glad to know there are no more terrorists.


Down The Wire

Padres magic number down to 8.

Thanks Jeff Spicoli...er...I mean Khalil Greene!


Oh, The Humanity

Sterling Sharpe: "Talented athletes make more tackles than untalented athletes".

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Fuck Reality TV

Man this is fucked up.

ABC picks this woman for their Extreme Makover bullshit, tapes family and friends trashing the way she looks, gets her hopes up for transforming her, then at the last second flakes out. The woman is crushed and sues ABC.

I hope she wins.

Fuck ABC. First they break up the Sunday Night Football crew (see post below). Then they pull this shit.

Reality TV (why the fuck do we insist on calling it that anyways? When's the last time you found yourself stranded on a deserted island, ate monkey nuts for money, or were offered free plastic surgery?) is getting more and more irresponsible. It uses the gullible to sell shit to the gullible. So fuck them and fuck you for watching it.

Except the Surreal Life. I dig that shit.

Bad Football Weekend

Why do my teams hate me?

First Fresno State blows a 17-0 lead to lose 37-34, then San Diego blows a 14-3 lead to lose 20-17. Egads. This is my life in a nutshell.

Well, at least my Fantasy team is cruising towards a win.

Now I turn on ESPN Sunday Night Football, and I hear the Bland Mike Tirico and Sterling Sharpe doing play by play. What happened to the best booth in football - Paul McGuire, Joes Theismann, and uh, that other guy? I tuned into games I didn't care about them because those guys were entertaining and willing to argue with each other. I'll have to google and find out what's going on.

Padres Magic Number = 9.

EDIT: Okay, apparently ABC/ESPN is already transitioning for 2006, where Monday Night Football shifts to ESPN, and Joe Theismann will be in the booth with Al Michaels. Paul McGuire is doing college football, and the other guy (who I found out is Mike Patrick), I have no idea what his future holds.

I also found out, based on what the google results brought up, I may be the only person in America who liked them.