Monday, August 27, 2007

Goin on Vacay - See you after labor day!

I'm headed up nort' to the land of sky blue waters. See ya later, decorators! I'll crack some cold ones for you while I'm away, or you can enjoy this:

Happy Birthday Paul!

Fortunately, when you sign up to adopt an actor, Splotchy himself helps out as your case-worker, advising you on whether you should send your actor to join Amy Winehouse in rehab, or giving gentle reminders on special days in the life of the actor.

And thus, was I informed that it is Paul Reubens 55th birthday. I also learned through IMDb that Mr. Reubens is currently in production on the film version of "Pee Wee's Playhouse". whoot! whoot!

I guess it is important to talk to the kids once in a while.

Can I Adopt This Actor?

Apparently, this actor's bio includes only an advertisement for a now defunct wakeup call service. But still, that's acting!

I wonder if that makes him adoptable?

OK, I won't adopt you D-Cap. Since I have a blog crush on your stone cold foxiness, it would be too Woody Allen/Soon Yi.

Is Alberto leaving to spend more time with his family?

Unbelievably, I've heard Michael Chertoff's name mentioned as a replacement.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Today I learned new things about Katrina

Thanks to a post at Buzzflash by the incredible journalist Greg Palast (if there was just one Greg Palast at the NYT, WaPo, and the three major networks the world could be saved - alas there is only one)

I learned two amazing things about New Orleans today.

1. Federal helicopters witnessed damaged levees and knew they were going to fail but told no one. Local emergency centers were not told. They were not told on purpose because it is the federal governments' responsibility to rebuild if a federal levee breaks. It happened in 1992 in Westhampton Dunes and the government rebuilt the million dollar homes along the seashore. They even trucked in sand.

The charge is devastating: That, on August 29, 2005, the White House withheld from the state police the information that New Orleans was about to flood. From almost any other source, I would not have believed it. But this was not just any source. The whistleblower is Dr. Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, the chief technician advising the state on saving lives during Katrina.

I'd come to van Heerden about another matter, but in our talks, it was clear he had something he wanted to say, and it was a big one. He charged that the White House, FEMA, and the Army Corps hid, for critical hours, their discovery that the levees surrounding New Orleans were cracking, about to burst and drown the city.

Understand that Katrina never hit New Orleans. The hurricane swung east of the city, so the state evacuation directors assumed New Orleans was now safe -- and evacuation could slow while emergency efforts moved east with the storm.

But unknown to the state, in those crucial hours on Monday, the federal government's helicopters had filmed the cracks that would become walls of death by Tuesday.

Van Heerden revealed: "FEMA knew at 11 o'clock on Monday that the levees had breeched. At 2 p.m., they flew over the 17th Street Canal and took video of the breech."

Question: "So the White House wouldn't tell you the levees had breeched?"

Dr. Van Heerden: "They didn't tell anybody."

Question: "And you're at the Emergency Center.'

Dr. Van Heerden: "I mean nobody knew. The Corps of Engineers knew. FEMA knew. None of us knew."

2. There are NOLA residents who have been locked out of their public housing since the storm even though these public housing units were NEVER damaged in any way by the storm.

Here are the links:

Greg Palast editorial
Greg Palast video

Thanks, FranIam! And BAC! Yikes!!!

Last week Fran gave me the Partisan Pissant Provocateur Award. Thank goodness there wasn't too much drinking at the awards banquet or we would have all been spitting on each other just trying to get the name of the award out.

This is a meme award and thusly, I am supposed to name five other bloggers who I think are Partisan Pissant Provocateurs like the newly inducted me. I am not going to do that for two reasons: 1) I only read the blogs of Partisan Pissant Provocateurs. If I have ever left a message at your place, you are one and you know it. And I love you and I thank you for being in cyber land and not letting me think I am the only one who is totally hacked off by the events of the day. And B) well there's no b.

Thanks Fran. But thank you too, Mr. George "W is for Wrecks" Bush! I mean, sure we were partisans in the eighties and nineties. But your particular brand of diviseness has driven Americans to frothy levels of foaming at the mouth hate for one another that I am only too happy to participate in! Without you, people might have continued to consider conservatives as old guys in yellow cardigans who smelled like aftershave and loved the Wall Street Journal. Really rich old farts who would only spare a silver dollar for your birthday. Guys who lived in Colonial style homes with eagle plaques above the door. Oh, those halcyon days. No, now we know our partisan enemy is NOT those conservatives. Those conservatives we'd like to give a little hug to. Barry Goldwater, even though you are dead, people are practically remembering you as a liberal! Here are the conservatives that have taken over rending the fabric of our nation into two partisan shammycloths.

UPDATE: BAC at Yikes gave me one too. Thanks times two!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why are the GOP such whiny little snot-nosed brats?

When was the last time you heard the hue and cry for term limits? 15 years ago that was the hot political topic. But then, through the normal political process Republicans gained control of congress and those rallying cries were silent. You also don't hear as much bitching about gerrymandering these days as you did in the 70's and 80's. Same reason. You knew these bastards on the playground, they haven't changed. If the game's not going their way they have to change the rules and act indignant the whole time - it's not that America is beginning to hate the GOP and is voting that way. No. It's just that the rules, they're not *sob* fair! I could go on about the filibuster dust up, but I've got lots to do today.

Here's the latest GOP ploy to retain control of the White House even though Americans are sick to fucking death of them:

Award California's electoral votes by congressional district to each presidential candidate. Currently, like every other state, California awards all of its electoral votes to a single candidate. It has 10% of all electoral votes at 55. The split is assumed to be somewhere between 33/22 and 36/19. The result is to move those 19 or 22 votes out of the democratic candidates tally over to the republicans, which would win the country for the republican.

Or so goes the thinking.

Here is the USA red/blue state map for 2004:
Does look like half of California would be the cherry on the GOP's cupcake doesn't it?

Let's look at the red/blue divide by county in California. This is where we get a better idea of the logic of the GOP:

Ooh. That does look good for you, GOP. Those blue counties are only in the affluent coastal areas. Limousine liberals. But let's look at another map. This is again of the 2004 race but it includes shades of purple to indicate how solidly each county fits into its respective category:

This map represents sentiments from three years ago. The blue counties remain blue but the red counties become quite purple. Even Orange County doesn't glow bright red like parts of Utah and Nevada. Feelings have changed.

California is a big prize, dems could counter with similar proposals in North Carolina (15 votes) Ohio (20 votes) and Louisiana (15 votes). These are states with winner take all that went red in '04 but which would evenly counter California's 19 or 22 net bleed. They also all have democratic governors. A similiar proposal might be harder in Texas with a republican governor and legislature, but with very solid blue counties and 34 electoral votes, I wouldn't bet the farm on it either. Texas has a legacy of producing some very strong democrats. While it will go in the red column in '08, would you want to be so sure of it in '12? I dare you to open that box, Pandora.

Meanwhile, back in California, dems are proposing doing away with electoral college votes and granting votes based on the popular vote.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

If you want to know about there, go here

If you haven't already seen the amazing vlog series "Hometown Baghdad" you need to spend some time watching it.

It is about a group of young twenty something men and their friends and families. These are guys who are trying to get through dental college, play in bands, play basketball. You can watch and sometimes forget that they are not young Americans.

If you want to understand why the professionals are leaving Baghdad in droves, watch. I was going to say if you want to understand their anger at Americans, watch. But, there is not as much out and out anger as you might expect. In one webisode the subject is the death of a favorite uncle in an ambush at a busy intersection. There is anger, sorrow, grief but not rage.

There are about 38 webisodes in all. Each one fills in the missing spaces that our sad lack of coverage of the Iraq occupation leaves out.

The humanity.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Suzy

Suzy at Luminiferous Ether has just turned 32! Amazing since she also just sent her first born off to college, armed with magical soap and handcrafted slippers.

How stupid do they think we are?

Don't answer that question.

Caught the news story on Michael Vick this morning. He has pleaded guilty in his dog abuse case. There is a possibility of sentencing. And though he skipped a trial through his guilty plea and though sentencing has not yet been imposed, this morning on the teevee we heard the inevitable:

Mr. Vick is being treated unfairly due to his celebrity.

I wish I could tell you who said it. I don't think it was any of his counsel. Still, Virginia, the state where the crimes took place, has some of the most draconian of the nation's capital punishment laws. Sister Helen Prejean (the nun in Dead Man Walking) has outlined cases where demonstrably innocent people in Virginia have been executed because the ability to appeal a death sentence there is severely restricted. I'm trying to think of ways in which our system of justice treats people more unfairly than executing the innocent. Ummm, I got nothing.

I'm not making the comparison because I think the degree of the crimes are comparable. Rather, my point is one regarding the nature of regular people who cannot afford to hire an entire law firm v. celebrities who cry when their abundant supply of privilege dries up leaving them to face the consequences. It is expected that Michael Vick will receive a 10 to 18 month sentence. It is longer than his co-defendents because they squealed on him. It is not longer than it would have been were he Buford T. Scratchizass.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Did you know who is today's TCM star?!

All day. ZZOMGBBQ!!

Auntie Mame will be on TCM tonight at 9pm central time, 10 pm Fran Time.

Remember: "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death"


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Three examples of personal wardrobe malfunction

The year - 1986.

I was a cocktail waitress at a nice restaurant. The backbar in the lounge was about 15 feet high and had glass shelves over a mirror that held liquor bottles all the way to the top. To reach the top shelf the bartenders used an old fashioned sliding library ladder.

One night someone brought a camera and we workers posed for pictures on the ladder. I was wearing a short wool mini-skirt with a tan houndstooth pattern and a cream colored sweater. Classy. But in posing for the picture I failed to put my knees together and the photographer got a shot straight up my skirt. Because I was sitting on the ladder my crotch was at about eye level, and hence was perfectly centered in the picture. Bad, yeah. But what was worse was that I was wearing my nylons inside out, so the crotch shot is of that white cotton panel that should have been on the inside.

The year 1989 -

Before Manhattan became the 'New Disneyworld', like in the David Dinkins days, people were actually kind of afraid to go to New York. Saying you were going to New York was akin to saying you were going to Beirut. I had my college internship in Manhattan and was really nervous. People said things like 'don't make eye contact' as if Manhattanites were zoo animals likely to throw you to the sidewalk and sever your achilles tendon with their teeth. On my first day on my own in Manhattan I was wearing a tailored rayon blouse (this was the 80's, remember. Rayon was stylish!) and some of those really wide legged Kate Hepburn pants with the "paper bag" waist that was cinched in with a belt.

As I walked around midtown I realized that everything I heard about New Yorkers was wrong. Lots of people were making eye contact with me and lots of people were smiling too! I had heard that this vile breed never smiled. I strolled down Madison Avenue and swung into an irish pub (Dwyer's, I think) to go to the bathroom and get a beer so they wouldn't mind me using the bathroom. Once I got into the bathroom I realized that all the smiles were because my big pants with the extra long fly -thanks to the high waist that meant from about my bottom rib to my crotch - were unzipped. This was not a subtle 'oh, your barndoor is open'. This was hey, I can read all of the word 'Monday' on your undies, open.

I still think most New Yorkers are nice.

The year 2007 -

At the pool last week my two girls were throwing their swim goggles and then swimming to the bottom of the pool to get them. Eldest threw her goggles over to the swim lane area and couldn't find them. Though I was at the pool in my suit I didn't plan on swimming, but lost goggles are getting to be a thing around here so I went in after them. My child was characteristically vague about where she thought the goggles might be so I ended up covering most of the swim lane area of the pool as well as the big kid area. This space is governed by no less than three life guards. I was trying my best not to get in the way of the swimmers in the lanes. I kept making surface dives, at one point coming up beneath a lifeguard chair. The lifeguard looked at me and started to say something but then she stopped. I thought maybe she could see the pink goggles from the surface, but no.

Finally I found them lying on top of a black lane stripe on the bottom of the pool. I went over to the side and when I reached out of the pool I noticed that my left breast was about 3/4's out of my swimsuit top. The 3/4's part that includes nipple.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What did you do on your summer vacation?

The summer I was eleven my mother took my two older brothers, my younger sister and me to a cabin on a little lake near Minocqua, Wisconsin. Dad wasn't with us for the first few days because he had a big work project that he couldn't get away from. It was August but the weather was cold and gray. My brothers weren't too keen on fishing, so mom took us into Minocqua for t-shirt shopping and salt water taffy. We also went to see the movie "The Deep" which launched my two older brothers into fits of professed love for Jacqueline Bissett. Our little house-keeping cabin wasn't much. Tawdry comes to mind. The vacation itself was feeling a little tawdry. We just didn't seem right without dad there.

Our usual family vacations have been portrayed with painstaking accuracy by National Lampoon in their movie of the same name. Our green station wagon had wood siding but the rest was pretty much spot on. In fact, a vacation to a northern Wisconsin tourist town where we stayed put was very unlike us. Our trips were marathon drive through the country affairs. Ball of Twine? Yes. Flintstonesland? Yes. Rickety fricking bridge over some gulch 1000 feet below? Oh, we'd go out of the way. We had driven through South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa on one trip. We looped the Great Lakes and drove on to Quebec on another. Another trip was south to Knoxville, where dad attended an Ace Hardware convention. He owned a hardware store just long enough for us kids to get a lifetime supply of left-over ice skates in every size. From there we went to Georgia (See Rock City!) and to Florida where he bought a piece of investment property in the panhandle for $5000. 32 years later he unloaded that same piece of panhandle property for $5200. We got to go to Disneyworld that year, which must have been a stretch for my dad because he hated crowds, cities, large groups of people. My dad's favorite move on vacation was to drive on mountain roads as close to the edge of the road as was physically possible. My mom would scream for dear life each and every time clutching wildy at the door handle as if to throw herself out before the car caromed off a cliff.

The best part of these road trip vacations was getting up early in the morning and getting on the road. My parents big metal thermos filled the car with the smell of coffee. We'd stop after a while and have cereal in those little boxes where you can cut an 'H' shape in the box and pour the milk right in. We got to buy comic books. My brothers were all 'Conan the Barbarian', which I really liked, too, but my sister and I felt compelled toward the Archie comics. The worst parts mostly had to do with my big brothers trying to out-fart each other in a closed-up car. And the time we drove through Utah and it was my turn to ride in the back of the station wagon where the greenhouse effect raised the temperatures to 160 degrees farenheit and the air conditioning couldn't hope to reach that far back in the car but the fart contest miraculously could. I laid in the back of the car and croaked out my very last dying words for at least three hours.

So the Minocqua trip was static. It lacked my dad, lacked the good times on the road, lacked movement. Finally after three days dad drove up and met us at the tawdry cabin. The weather got colder. We had to turn on the furnace in cabin to keep warm at night it was that cold.

Dad woke up during the night and felt odd. He realized the pilot light had gone out on the furnace and that we were all being gassed. He managed to wake us up, got us out of the cabin and threw all the windows open. I can't imagine we'd have survived if he wasn't there.

The next day the sun was shining but it was still brisk outside. We drove a little west of Minocqua and dad pulled the car over on a stretch of highway that had nothing of any tourist value whatsoever. It seems he found out about a small lake that was for sale. Technically you can't buy a lake but this one was small enough that you could buy all of the property surrounding this lake. I'm sure that today that lake is utterly surrounded by condos that go for several times the asking price of the whole lake back in the '70's.

We started out down a trail and were maybe four hundred yards from the road when my little sister, who was nine, stepped on a ground hornet's nest. In an instant hundreds of bees were on her. I remember crouching down and seeing bees swarming up the inseam of her jeans and collecting in yellow fistfuls in her crotch. Dad picked her up and ran for the car.

We all climbed in the station wagon. Before car seats and seat belt laws four kids could sit on one bench seat. Dad had just pulled out onto the road when I casually informed him that my sister was puking on the floor of the car where my feet had just been.

Have you ever seen a Pontiac station wagon, green with wood side panels fly? Dad got that car up to a speed that passed the 90 mile hour top out on the spedometer. There was a hospital in Woodruff, a town right next to Minocqua, that mom and dad knew all about because somehow the hospital got Elizabeth Taylor to come and cut the ribbon when the hospital opened, just a year or so earlier. So dad, who had EMT training knew how serious her condition was when she started vomiting, and knew right where to go to get her help.

We raced into the hospital, dad carrying my sister. An intern ran up and took her from my dad just as she passed out. I must have been hanging on the glamour of Elizabeth Taylor, because it seemed like the most romantic thing I had ever seen. She might have only been nine, but to me watching her being carried away by the young doctor- oh, Hollywood. Cue the music.

They gave her adrenaline and kept an eye on her for a while. When we left the hospital it was late in the afternoon and we were all starving. Dad stopped at the Hardees on the way out of town. Just as I opened the door of the Hardees my sister walked in and barfed so copiously that the puddle was a solid four feet across.

Mortified, I ran away. Mom and dad were welcome to stay by her and admit to knowing her, but I couldn't get far enough away. I ran up to the counter and pretended to be a world weary traveler all on her own in northern Wisconsin. A gypsy kid, maybe.

Two teen girls behind the counter were talking.

"Did you hear?" the first girl asked.

"Hear what?"

"Elvis is dead".

That's how I learned the news. You?

Life is hard when you're a monkey on the lam

Why am I not surprised?

From ABC News:

The Bush administration opposes a Democratic effort to restore full educational benefits for returning veterans, according to an official's comments last week.

Senate Democrats, led by Virginia's Jim Webb, want the government to pay every penny of veterans' educational costs, from tuition at a public university to books, housing and a monthly stipend.

Such a benefit was a major feature of the historic 1944 G.I. Bill, which put more
than eight million U.S. soldiers through college and is now credited by historians as fueling the expansion of America's middle class in the post-war era.

I would argue that the GI Bill was one of the greatest pieces of legislation of the last century, and that had more impact on American's lives than almost any other.

Many of today's conservatives believe their parents pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to land themselves in the heart of the middle class. What they forget is that those were GI boots paid for by the government of the United States of America. Yes, I mean asshats like you Cal Thomas. Now that the middle class is again slipping away, I think the men and women who are fighting this war ought to at least have a promise of some security when they get home. On any given day in America there are more homeless veterans than there are veterans serving in the Gulf. (About 200,000 per day. As many as 400,000 at some point in a year).

The Administration is arguing that the cost of fully funding education for Afghan/Iraq war vets would be an additional $5.4 billion dollars.

This from the same people who sent $9 billion to Iraq --in cash --on pallets only to have it go missing. And they haven't even bothered to look for it.

A guest on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! program this morning discussed her psychological evaluation of Jose Padilla.

Result: Crazy.

Proof: Mr. Padilla wants his mother to contact George Bush because Padilla believes Mr. Bush can help him out of this situation.

That, my friends, is Stockholm Syndrome.

The rest of the details of his treatment are pretty shocking. Of course you know that. Her evaluation includes possible physical brain damage from his treatment, which she found unprecedented in her experience, which includes evaluations of prisoners in totalitarian regimes. (Am I being redundant?) When a link is available I will put it up.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Where will Dr. Monkey go?


By STEVEN ELBOW The Capital Times

A monkey that has bitten at least two people in recent months is getting its marching orders.

"We ended up declaring the monkey dangerous because of the number of bites," said Doug Voegeli, Madison Environmental Health Services supervisor. "We have ordered it to be out of the city." Suri Dr. Monkey von Monkerstein, a 46-year-old capuchin monkey, gained a lot of attention last Wednesday after he bit a 21-year-old woman on the thumb around 1 a.m. at the State Street Brats beer garden. It took police until 2 p.m. Wednesday to corral the animal.

Suri Dr. von Monkerstein is in quarantine at the Dane County Humane Society, where he will remain until Saturday so officials can monitor him for disease. He was earlier placed in home quarantine after biting someone on July 11, and there was another unconfirmed report of him biting someone on May 19.

Suri's Dr. von Monkerstein's owner, Hyacinth Kustin Samurai Frog, told police that Suri Dr. von Monkerstein was a service animal, but it was unclear what services he performed. Kustin Samurai Frog could not be reached by phone this morning for comment.

SuriDr. von Monkerstein is being booted from the city under Madison regulations, Voegeli said, but he added that, if necessary, officials would likely eject him from the entire county under county ordinances.

Voegeli said Suri Dr. von Monkerstein will have to leave town immediately upon his release from quarantine.

Who is today's saint?

All my devout Catholic friends are saying "It's the Feast of the Assumption!" All non-Catholics are saying "when you assume you make an ass of u and me".

Wait, hoa, I say unto all of ye! There are so many saints that they have to stack them up like holy cordwood to get everybody a spot. That's why it is essential to look on holy days like this one at who is not getting their proper due because of everyone celebrating the beta test of the rapture on Mary the Mother of God who was assumed into heaven whole, just like that guy in the car in front of you this morning on the way to work will be because he has the bumper sticker that says "in case of rapture this car will be abandoned". Pretty cocksure, mr. guy driving the '89 brown Taurus.

Today's saint is Saint Arnulf of Soissons. The Patron Saint of Brewers!

According to my Saint-A-Day book:

Arnulf of Soissons was a French soldier turned clergyman. After reluctantly becoming the Bishop of Soissons, he was driven from his episcopate by invaders and moved to Flanders. When a plague broke out he noticed that the water drinkers were dropping like flies, but the beer drinkers were thriving. He hastened to brew up a big batch of beer and saved the town.

Beatified for Beer, hurrah!

On a side note, Saint Arnulf - we've lost eight of the last twelve games and are sliding down in contention. Please watch over our Milwaukee Brewers and do not allow them another 12-4 loss like that stinker last night. Amen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hey, did anybody notice this?

Apparently, Google Blogger has a new linked feature so that anyone with a Blogger account can compare the interests they listed in their profile with all other profiles and perhaps find a friend who shares said interests. Just click on each entry and it sends you to a list of all other like-minded Google Bloggers.

My first interest is Rosalind Russell films except for the one in which she plays a nun and co-stars with Hayley Mills. It is called "The Trouble With Angels". (Note to Sleestak - Hayley is kind of good in it, but Rosalind should never have starred in a vehicle that doesn't allow her character to drink martinis). In the interest of full disclosure I should add that my adopted actress, Mary Wickes, has a large supporting role in this film.

I am the only one. So lonely.

I also like dirty jokes. Only 62 of my fellow blogging brethren confess to this (I find the low number a little surprising). One of the 62 is this guy:
Interests: porn, girls, naked pictures, landscape pictures with naked girls in them, sex, sex with girls, girls who like to have sex, dirty jokes, dirty women, dirty hoes, dirty minds, and more naked pictures. ...and some other stuff.."
Uh, ok so we kind of begin and end with dirty jokes eh, compadre blogger?

I am also the only person who likes to do things involving lake water (I'm sure there are many other waterski, canoe, sail, pontoon party, swim, scuba, float, pee-in-the-water enthusiasts out there. It's just that none used my exact phrase.) And I am the only person who says she likes kid stuff. Grown men who say that could be problematic. No one else is interested in collecting antique globes. Thank you all non-collectors for leaving me the pre-WWI globes I would like to someday own. (Aside from the 1905 schoolhouse globe that I do own but which is still in storage wanting a place to be hung).

I like to knit. So does Threading Water, Blue Gal and 28,197 others. Wow, an enormous pool of potential friendsters! Let's see: "Books, cats, knitting, writing, Second Life, Church, Sunday School" Ummm. Nope.

"Knitting, scrapbooking, dance, music". Hey, that's my mother-in-law! But I already know and love her so what else?

Well there's "Zwar: WWE, footy, ultimate fighting Snodgrass: Warhammer, lego, knitting,".

You know, I think we used to have things called "bars" where we could go to meet others who had nothing in common with us. I wonder if I can find a babysitter.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sign on to Russ Feingold's censure resolution

Do it for Russ.

Do it for you.

Sign on to the Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund citizen patriot call for censure.

Thanks, Jess.

The New Gilded Age. Or Workers: F-U

"Mitch McConnell calls me one of the five finest men
in America, and last I checked he was sleeping with your boss."

Mine owner Bob Murray threatening mine inspectors with the wrath of McConnell and wife, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao if they dared to do their jobs. (The quote is several years old)

Government is supposed to have an adversarial relationship with industry. That does not have to mean antagonistic. But we are now in an era where there is no longer the slightest hint of government standing as a check on an unfettered and out of control industrial sector. The line is so seamless now that I have a hard time imagining how it can be undone in the years to come.

The above quote is from an article by West Virginia reporter Ken Ward, Jr.who covers the coal mining industry as his beat. The entire article asks the questions that theMSM won't cover, in their interest of marginalizing the story with the same breathless reporting they give the missing white girl/car chase/celebu-rehab stories. Please do not believe that I feel callously toward these families that are suffering under the glare of the media spotlight. But I believe their interests are better served by a media that would care to discover why one man can own so many mines and garner so many fines and deaths under his watch and still be allowed to be in business. Much less 'championed' by Mitch McConnell and ElaineChao.

More from the article:

Beneath it all of this seems to be this assumption that violations of federal mine safety and health laws is acceptable – that the coal industry is simply unable to comply with all of the rules that history has taught are needed to protect what Congress declared to be the coal industry's "most previous resource – the miner."

I fall into this trap, too. It's hard not to. Over the years, when one coal company I cover has had miners die at its operations, I've frequently listed the hundreds of violations that those operations have been cited for. Almost every time, the company's publicist calls me to complain that I need to give the story some perspective, that their hundreds of violations aren't really anything out of the ordinary. There are mines around the country that make it through the year without deaths and injuries. Reporters should be asking why they can't all do that, and why they can't all follow the rules all the time. Industry lobbyists and regulators say that they won't settle for anything less than zero injuries and deaths – but then they want to play comparison games to avoid criticism when disaster strikes.

"We need a serious attitude adjustment," said Celeste Monforton, a former federal mine regulator who now teaches and studies at George Washington University. "Violating safety and health standards – and that's what citations are – is illegal.

"If an airplane had 50 safety violations, it sure wouldn't be cleared for takeoff," Monforton said. "Why is it OK for miners to be exposed to 50 or more hazards, and it's considered 'normal?' That attitude must become a thing of the past."

Well, there's good news and bad news

Karl Rove is resigning at the end of August. Yep, to 'spend more time with his family'. First you heard of a family? Me too. Apparently having lived his entire teen years - you know, the easy ones - without his dad, the young Rove spawn now needs Pa because he is away at college.

While I would like to view this as good news I find it strange coming just one day after the Iowa straw polls. Rove loves campaigns. The first and second place finishers in Iowa, Romney and Huckabee respectively, are both fine Rovian candidates. Romney because he is utterly willing to debase himself before anyone to get the vote, and Huckabee because he is the darling of the evangelicals. 2008 absolutely cannot be won without the evangelicals.

So a year out we will see Rove hooking up. I'm glad he's leaving the White House, but I hardly believe that he won't still be around in an unofficial capacity. Recall that they changed his title before the '06 elections in a dubiously legal move so that he could help out there. Only an indictment would protect the American people from the scourge that is Karl Rove. Truly, I had wished for this:

Update Matty Boy at Lotsa 'Splainin 2 Do reminds us that Karl Rove actually did act as a foil to the empirist dreams of Dick Cheney. The end of this administration is going to be very interesting indeed. Matty says war with Iran is a distinct possibility. Did I say interesting? I did not mean that as a good thing.

Suzy at Luminiferous Ether draws the parallel between Rove and Count Olaf of the Lemony Snicket series. Olaf never goes away. In each book he is back under a new guise and no one recognizes him but the orphans whose money he wants to steal. Truly a great allegory for us the American people as orphans up against the blatant evil no one (like the MSM) dares to name.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Question: How Many Dead Americans is Saddam Worth?

Answer: Not Many.

According to Dick Cheney in 1994. Watch this video. You may not recognize the man being interviewed. He discusses Iraq with clarity and shows an understanding of the factional tensions that would make undertaking regime change there a folly.

What changed between 1994 and 2003 for Mr. Cheney?

In 1995 he became CEO of Halliburton.

In 1997 he helped to found the Project for a New American Century.

In 2001 he became vice president of the United States.

Which led to this:

Friday, August 10, 2007

This is one of my favorite things.

When the Omnipotent Poobah posts his "Randomness" entries there are always great treats (and hideous gross-outs) behind his blind links. This is one he posted earlier this summer. It makes me happy. And guess what? It is Distributorcap's birthday. Here is your cake D-cap. (However, I'm not sure what Distributorcap will think of it - he has a love/hate thing going on with singing nun-nannies. )

But who can turn down cake? Zaius-take two slices, please.

Where is Dr. Monkey von Monkerstein?

Dr. Zaius, as you may know an ape from 1,971 years hence, has somehow managed a visit to Dr. Monkey von Monkerstein's quarantine, delivering this photo (in the future, words show up on digital media - neat!)

Dr. Monkey is saying his absence from the tubes was due to Charter Communications Craptacular Servicetm but it's not the case at all. Fortunately, Dr. Monkey did not fly to Greece, Canada and Colorado with whatever vile infection is forcing him to bite young hot women (please be careful, Whiskeymarie-he's gazing at your picture like it was the Moon over MyHammy photog on a laminated Denny's menu).

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Dr. Monkey, why didn't you just call?

From WKOW-TV in Madison, Wisconsin:

"Missing Monkey Captured in Madison

Wednesday afternoon, a Madison resident, city animal control officials and Madison police captured a capuchin monkey on the loose in downtown Madison since early Wednesday morning.

Police say the monkey bit a 20 year old bystander outside State Street Brats overnight.

Authorities spent the day searching the State Street area for the monkey, who was wearing a diaper.

Broom Street hardware store employee Jason Shaw tells 27 News he helped corner the monkey and keep it calm so it could be captured.

Madison Animal Control officials said the monkey, named SuriDr. von Monkerstein (that's shteeeen), will be quarantined and a decision on its future will be made in about ten days. Authorities said the monkey was also quarantined recently after a previous biting incident.

The monkey's owner told 27 News Suri serves as a service animal for her. Monkeys have been known to be used as service animals to provide companionship, and in some cases, perform tasks for people with severe disabilities. But Madison prohibits some exotic animals as pets, such as monkeys and alligators."

Maybe Dr. von Monkerstein was in town to personally hand me my Thinking Blogger Award. I noticed that he gave me this a few days ago. Since then I have been savoring it like a candy store butterscotch. Holding it on the roof of my mouth and sucking on it every now and then just to savor it. (How's that for search optimized copy?)

All I can say is that I am really touched to have been given this award. I'd like to thank my mother, but I can't because this little blog is a secret. So I'll just thank the good Dr.

I am supposed to tag five other bloggers who make me think. Without fail, everyday Johnny Yen makes me think. So I tag you, Johnny.

I am tagging the geographically closest blogger to me, Suzy who not only makes me think on her blog but who will hopefully meet up with me for book swappin'.

And I tag Fran. She is not just a thinking blogger, but a thoughtful blogger. She has amazing powers of both blogging and telepathic drunkeness. Amazing.

Tengrain. Regards. Tengrain's blog is like potato chips on the web. With dip. Fortunately he is prolific so you never have to jones for more.

And Pygalgia. He says he's a hippie gone mean but I doubt it. He posted his picture. If that's a mean guy I'm a neo-con. Always insightful.

I am sure everyone of these bloggers has already received this award. If so, please just accept my thanks for all the thinkable thinky thoughts you plant in my craw every day.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Is this TMI?

On the day my littlest cheese nip was born my obstetrician delivered a total of ten babies at St. Joseph's Hospital in Milwaukee. When he told me how many deliveries he had that day I blurted out 'did everyone get drunk at the State Fair?

Not missing a beat, my doctor said 'Yes. That's why I go the the Fair and hand out my card to all the drunk couples.'

Happy Day Five of the Wisconsin State Fair, littlest one. If you were a boy we were going to name you 'Dayvis Fivel' in honor of the day you began the long journey of cell division.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

If something has gone wrong here?

In a remarkable turn of events, the government of the United States of America recalled pre-millenial times when it did its job and stood up to corporations who went over the line and acted destructively toward the American citizen:

NEW YORK – July 24, 2007 -- The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) announced today that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has rejected four key Monsanto patents related to genetically modified crops that PUBPAT challenged last year because the agricultural giant is using them to harass, intimidate, sue - and in some cases literally bankrupt - American farmers. In its Office Actions rejecting each of the patents, the USPTO held that evidence submitted by PUBPAT, in addition to other prior art located by the Patent Office's Examiners, showed that Monsanto was not entitled to any of the patents.

In other news, Jon W. Dudas, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, has tendered his resignation effective immediately. Mr. Dudas cited the need to spend more time with his family in his resignation, noting that pissing off the world's largest agribusiness firm had nothing to do with his leaving DC and moving to the Kaczynski cabin in Montana.

(okay, I made up the whole last paragraph. Not like it won't be true by next week though.)

Who said this?

Below are the comments of a well-known politician. See if you can guess who said:

"None of you should believe we are winning this war. There is no evidence that we are winning this war,"

"I believe we need to find leaders who are prepared to tell the truth ... about the failures of the performance of Republicans ... about how dangerous the world is,"

"We've been engaged in a phony war. The only people who have been taking this seriously are the combat military."

"We used to be a serious country. When we got attacked at Pearl Harbor, we took on Imperial Japan, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. We beat all three in less than four years. We're about to enter the seventh year of this phony war against ... [terrorist groups], and we're losing."

"First of all, we have to have a national energy strategy, which basically says to the Saudis, 'We're not going to rely on you.' "

The answer is in comments.

Monday, August 6, 2007

What will Christmas be like at the Giuliani household?

It just gives you the giggles.

Would you like your moment of zen?

It's been pretty gloomy here of late. I wasn't going to post the cheese nips on this blog, but you know what? This picture taken last week just makes me happy. Grandpa H. was over and was watering our plants and babies. Hope it makes you happy too.

What if?

What if?

A favorite anecdote among historians who play the 'what if' game is the story of Annie Oakley and Kaiser Wilhelm. It is said that Annie performed a gun trick that involved shooting the lit end of a cigarette from the mouth of a male audience volunteer. The volunteer was a shill - her husband. But while on tour in Europe with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Annie asked for a volunteer for the trick and got a real one: Prince Wilhelm of Germany. Though Annie had spent the night before in a beer garden, her aim was true and she performed the stunt without incident.

But, ask historians, what if she hadn't? What if she had shot the future Kaiser in the ear, killing him? If not for Kaiser Wilhelm we wouldn't have had World War One. Some say we are still battling the repercussions of that war: it spun itself out into the conflicts that engulf the middle east to this day. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was, according to Iraq anyway, predicated on the fact that Kuwait should not have been partitioned by the British following the First World War. In more obvious examples, the First World War gave rise to the bitter German who eagerly embraced fascism. Without the kaiser there wouldn't have been Hitler. Without Hitler there wouldn't have been the millions of deaths at the hands of his reich.

What if Thomas Jefferson hadn't been such a fan of John Locke's? What if George Washington thought like John Hancock and believed the United States of America should be ruled by a king? What if Abraham Lincoln weren't the president during the civil war? What if FDR wasn't president during World War Two. What if Kennedy wasn't president during the Cuban Missile Crisis? These are fortunate what ifs.

There are unfortunate what ifs, like the assassinations of Kennedy and Lincoln, of Martin Luther King, Jr. They fill my chest with a weight like buckshot. And today, August 6, 2007 the ghosts of two thousand nine hundred seventy four terror victims, the ghosts of four thousand six hundred and nine coalition soldiers, the ghosts of thousands of Afghanis, the ghosts of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis beg the question 'what if?'

What if George Bush took seriously a memo entitled 'bin Ladin Determined to Strike in the US'? What if he asked the question 'How would that be likely?' What if our intelligence and law enforcement agencies were tasked with estimating how that attack might happen? What if FBI agents in Minneapolis and Arizona and Florida were granted the search warrants they had requested just days after the August 6th PDB for suspicious foreigners taking lessons at local flight schools? What if the president, upon reading the PDB, reached out to the Hart Rudman commission and implemented its recommendations, rather than the path he chose, which was to reject Hart Rudman and turn the issue of terrorism over to the vice president who did nothing but hand the issue over to FEMA.

Would there have been the Afghan war?
Would there have been the Iraq war?
Would Americans stand for the Patriot Act?
Would Americans approve of the suspension of Habeas Corpus?
Would Americans allow total information awareness data mining?
Would Americans have voted in record numbers to return the worst president in American history to office?
Would Americans agree that torture is situationally okay?
Would we have New Orleans rebuilt by now?
Would our bridges and tunnels get fixed before falling down?
Would we still be held with esteem by most of the other nations of the world?
Would we still be improving our country with the money in our 'peace dividend' account?

Would the towers still stand?

If that memo had been taken seriously, if the president acted with the same determined haste he managed to show for Terri Schiavo's parents, how different would our lives be today?

One afternoon. One piece of paper. One choice.

A frozen accident.

Thanks to tengrain for the picture and the inspiration for this blogswarm.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

House to George Bush: kick our nuts harder too, please

In passing legislation to increase already out-of-control powers of spying on Americans, which the administration still feels compelled to lie about, House republican Lamar Smith of Texas remarked “The intelligence community is hampered in gathering essential information about terrorists.”

With a straight face.

House Passes Changes in Eavesdropping Program

Saturday, August 4, 2007

How does Keith do it?

Keith Richards is writing his memoir.

Keith Richards is a man who so loved him the smack that he used to have to exchange all the blood in his body for new blood just to detox*.

Keith Richards remembers things well enough to write them down in a manner that people will want to read.**

Alberto Gonzales is the numero uno lawyer in all the land.

Alberto Gonzales has neither admitted nor denied exchanging all of his blood for new blood***

Alberto doesn't seem to be able to remember shit.

*Snopes says that Keith did not exchange all of his blood for new blood. Rather he underwent hemodialysis, a process that separated the toxins from his blood through a membrane.

** Apparently, Mick Jagger has tried to write his memoir but is unable to remember anything interesting. Jerry Hall agrees there are some interesting things Mick has forgotten. Like not getting married.

***Just saying. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Senate to George Bush: Yes, you have been kicking us in the nuts. We have just voted that you should kick us in the nuts harder

The needle is on 'flight' on the fight or flight meter today.

I feel despair.

Senate passes Bush-backed spy bill

Friday, August 3, 2007

Who was in charge at State?

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has just released a matrix on foreign contributions that were accepted or denied in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Using FOIA requests, they were able to put together thousands of documents to create a unified look at the world's response to the disaster. They also collected e-mails from officials around the globe.

According to CREW

The matrix includes all international offers, whether they were rejected or accepted and the reasons why, if available. The documents reveal a number of disturbing responses to offers from 145 countries and 12 international organizations from around the world.

For example, an email from Jeffrey Goldstein, a U.S. Embassy official in Estonia, to several DOS officials, states:

It is getting downright embarrassing here not to have a response to the Estonians on flood relief. And now I see from the staff meeting notes that the task force may disband soon. We know that what the Estonians can offer is small potatoes and everyone at FEMA is swamped, but at this point even “thanks but no thanks” is better than deafening silence.

Another email responding to an offer from Argentina to DOS officials reads “All, The (sic) word here is that doctors of any kind are in the 'forget about it' category. Human assistance of any kind is not on our priorities list....It’s all about goods, not people, at this point.”

Another email describes how the transport of Israeli relief supplies loaded on a C-130 aircraft was delayed for over 48 hours on the tarmac while Israeli officials waited for clearance from the U.S. government. The unidentified author states: “I’ve been on the phone with the [Israeli] attache every couple of hours since noon . . . they’re patient, but not amused by our delay, obviously.” The documents do not reveal if or how the issue was resolved.

Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director said today, “A review of the State Department documents reveals distressing ineptitude. Countries were trying to donate desperately needed goods and services, but as a result of bureaucratic bungling and indifference, those most in need of these generous offers of aid never received it.”

The State Department as you may recall, has been headed by Condoleeza Rice since the beginning of Bush's second term. Condoleeza Rice left for vacation on Wednesday, August 31, 2005. Get that? On the first two days of the hurricane crisis, Condi was on the job. But on Wednesday morning she woke up, said to herself 'all's well at the office' and flew to New York to buy some shoes and take in a Broadway show.