Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick er Treat Live Blogging

Ben and the Cheese Nips are trick or treating. I am at home to pass out candy. I can't think of much to do while I wait the little trick or treaters, so I guess I'll live blog the event.

It is 6:19 and thankyou Congress, darkness is just now falling. Last year we had daylight savings time already so it was much creepier at 5pm when trickertreating was supposed to start so no one is really out and about yet.

I've had about five groups so far. Up the street is the coolest house. They have a kid in stilts dressed up as the grim reaper, funky music, smoke machines and candlelit paths. Since they are nearby, we usually plan on lots of little gremlins, but I must say, thus far it has been a little slow.

Ben tried to find creepy music on Sirius, but the best he could come by is Grateful Dead. Maybe a bit esoteric for the little ones. Ah, well, it goes good with my chardonnay.

6:23 Ding Dong: The neighbors grandkids. Forgot the oldest ones name. Damn you wine! Damn you.

6:25 I guess I'll read my pile of National Geographics while I sit and wait......

6:32 Let the dogs out of the bedroom and the doorbell rang. Feckin A', the dogs ran out in the yard and wouldn't come back in. One little girl. Pirate. About the eighth. Pirates are the thing in 2007.

6:34 Mardi Gras girl or something. She was like eighteen. Shouldn't you be out chewing on some of those crystal meth poprocks my hysterical mom friends are warning me about, young lady? Her parent/guardian had a dog who was dressed up. Next year I'm dressing the pug up like the dog in "Men in Black". They have the little suit. I told Ben I was going to buy it and walk the dog in the suit every day.

6:38 Two little girls. Seems the "devilish angel" is a big thing this year. Does nobody actually say "Trick or Treat" anymore? Ben better be telling the kids to say it, damnit.

6:44 Neighbor returning wine glass. Maybe I'll join the kids for a bit. What do you think will happen to the treat bucket if I set it on the porch? Let's see......

6:48 Things are cranking up at the scary neighbors. There is screaming. Last trick or treater was a king or queen or something. Ding dong. going.

6:50 Big group. One kid who asked for like, three rounds of candy for his little brother. Excellent plan, young one. Excellent. The kid was dressed as spidey. What can I say, I gave up four heapin' helpings of tattoos, dum dums and tootsie rolls (the fruit kind - what do you think I am, a crappycandyhanderouter? no way.

6:53 middle schoolers. whassup, you guys?

6:54 dad was dressed as a Viking. Brave in Packer terroir.

7:05 The cheesenips came back. Littlest one was crying because someone laughed at her witch makeup. Then said laughing offender came over. Oh, well. Handed out candy to several people we knew followed by some kids who were taller than me. Don't you kids have jobs?

7:08 First group to holler "Trick or Treat" except for the little girl who was on her cell phone. I am not kidding.

7:09 Older kids again. Sheesh. Shouldn't you be experimenting with cigarettes?

7:11 Big group. One girl (14ish) not even bothering to wear a costume. Next year just phone it in to me, okay Lolita? I'll just send the candy over.

7:18 The pez dispenser wanted to know if the rats on my porch were real. Nope. But you should have seen the Jehovah's witness lady jump when she tried to ring my doorbell a few
days ago. (I stapled one right above the doorbell. tee hee)

7:20 Three kids, all scream masks. Okay.

7:24 I just managed to pop popcorn in the PopCrazytm. Loner kid. Costume: Parka and backpack on backwards with top zipper open to catch candy. Imaginative,

7:26 Young couple (younger than some trick or treating) with baby. Just getting treats for baby. Happy Halloween! Welcome to your nightmare. Then little girl with green face and bright blonde hair. Very hip if you were Regan from "Exorcist", otherwise I think you just lost your hat.

7:54 Okay, it's all over at 8pm. The cheesenips are back and faces washed. (Only two layers of skin removed) there will be stragglers, but it is all over. The tootsie rolls are gone, there are two tattoos and quite a few dum dums. Yes, by themselves dum dums are a shitty handout. But with tattoos? Yeah, uh hum.

See you next year!

Happy Halloween.

Happy Halloween!!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It will be so much more realistic


"When it begins to rot from the inside", said Judith Giuliani.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Frogs are going after the Toadie


According to the Rude Pundit, Donald Rumsfeld was forced to beat feet to get outta France before being indicted as a war criminal. I guess he quick hopped into Germany where they are more sympathic to extraordinary diplomatic negotiating techniques.

(Vee huv ways.....)

According to the Center for Constitutional Rights: "Rumsfeld’s presence on French territory gives French courts jurisdiction to prosecute him for having ordered and authorized torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere."

The Idiots at TownHall Present More Idiocy



If you have an agenda to push, would it give you pause if you were to discover that the American public wouldn't like you much if they knew who you were and the selfish reasons you have to push that agenda?

In other words, if you have to lie to get the job done, is the job you are doing a good one?

Why not just be honest?

This morning Townhall dot com sent me their morning hysteria that I enjoyed with my locally roasted fair trade coffee - I was probably skeptical of their claims since I wasn't drinking the truth.

Here's a bit:
Left-wing activists want to “help” low-income Americans by regulating every niche of the labor market. Minimum wage hikes, “living” wage laws, health insurance mandates -- these are just a few of the policies big-government types want to impose on American employers, all while ignoring their counterproductive effects on the people they are meant to help.

Unfortunately, government micro-managing usually exacerbates poverty by destroying job opportunities.

With a Democratic majority in Congress and the increasing likelihood of a Democrat in the White House, there’s never been a more important time for defenders of free markets to stand up for their principles.

Did You Know?

* The average family income for a minimum wage employee nationally is almost $47,000 a year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Just 14% are the sole breadwinners in households with children.

* In May, Congress pushed through a substantial increase in the federal minimum wage. Decades of economic research definitively show that minimum wage hikes kill jobs and crowd the least skilled out of the labor market. Senator Ted Kennedy has already vowed to push for an even higher rate once Congress is back in session.

* The average annual income of the poorest American families has increased by over a third since 1991 (in inflation-adjusted dollars), according to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office. Among all families, the poorest had the highest overall growth in earnings from wages over the last decade and a half. So much for the old canard about the poor getting left behind by the American economy.

The Employment Policies Institute is a non-profit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding entry-level employment growth
.


Uh, no. The Employment Policies Institute is not a think tank, it is a subsidiary of Berman & Company, which is a Washington lobbying firm whose major clients include...fast food corporations and service industry corporations. Surprise, surprise.

Of course, this is the usual trick of right wing groups. It has been played to the hilt in environmental issues. They need to hide their ideology and then they send out minions to write editorials and punk cable gabfests with their vacuousness.

But their insidious ideas tend to stick with people who don't like to look under the rug to see what is really going on.

Sourcewatch has this to say about the Employment Policies Institute:
EPI has has been widely quoted in news stories regarding minimum wage issues, and although a few of those stories have correctly described it as a "think tank financed by business," most stories fail to provide any identification that would enable readers to identify the vested interests behind its pronouncements. Instead, it is usually described exactly the way it describes itself, as a "non-profit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding employment growth" that "focuses on issues that affect entry-level employment." In reality, EPI's mission is to keep the minimum wage low so Berman's clients can continue to pay their workers as little as possible.

The Employment Policies Institute was launched in 1991, around the time of the economic recession that led to the electoral defeat of then-president George Bush. EPI deliberately attempted to create confusion in the eyes of journalists and the general public by adopting a name which closely resembles the Economic Policy Institute, a much older, progressive think tank with ties to organized labor. In addition to imitating the name and acronym of the Economic Policy Institute, Berman's outfit even used the same typeface for its logo. In reality, the two groups have dramatically different public policy agendas. The Economic Policy supports a living wage and mandated health benefits for workers. Berman's organization opposes both and in fact opposes any minimum wage whatsoever.


Past board members of the EPI are a former chairman of Burger King and the founder of Outback Steakhouse. Outback Steakhouse, BTW, has a political action committee and much of that money goes to the Employment Policy Institute. If I ate at crappy restaurants like that I would declare my boycott, alas, I am a locavore. If you were considering it: stop eating at Outback.

Sourcewatch smacks down many of the statistics cited by Townhall and Employment Policies Institute. Sadly, though, a visit to the EPI website showed prominent editorials in newspapers like the New York Times.

Monday Morning Mud Slinging.




Mud pie. Always makes me feel better

Friday, October 26, 2007

She has done it again!

BAC made that muvee about Chimpy McStagger and I blatantly ctrl+c ctrl+v'd it right here to Just Wondering, commenting that she could also do the same video for Pickles, because the song is Amy Winehouse' Rehab song.

Well, BAC did make the Pickles video but she did not reuse the Rehab song. She picked what should be Pickles theme song. And she has outdone herself.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Please let this man be the GOP nominee


I swear I am not making this up.

Giuliani: The blind should be able to carry guns.

Who is today's Saint?


Today is St. Crispin's Day. St. Crispin and his bro' St. Crispinian were cobblers who shod the poor for free and had their leather stores restocked at night by angels. (Elves are not real, you know).

Naturally, because they were saints they were beheaded. (Why this is so consistently true is beyond me). Post-decapitation their bodies were floated across the English channel where they became revered. Now that is weird. As an aside - did you know that in olden days commoners were beheaded with an axe, but noblemen were beheaded with a sword? Now you do.

If you are a real Poindexter you probably already know that St. Crispin's Day is famous as the day of the battle in Henry V by William Shakespeare.

Here's the part (Act 4, Scene 3):

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.


BTW - I am not such a Poindexter. My Saint-A-Day guide pointed out the literary link. Happy St. Crispins. Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow...oh, forget it.

Apparently, it's not actually Kool-Aid

Townhall.Com sent me this ad this morning. Don't they know they are just writing the jokes themselves? In case you were just wondering: No, Storyville does not seem to do Fair Trade. What a surprise.

Update DGuzman has pointed out that it may be hard to tell who the fat bastard in the ad is. It is Bill Bennett, professional gambler and author of ethics books for children. Bet that coffee tastes good at 4 am as he's putting another cupla grand in the pot in his online poker game.

Update II Are those the words 'French Press' I spy in the upper right hand corner? Didn't they mean "Freedom" Press?

Crank up the ovaries!


If someone gave me one of these I would have another baby just to put in it. Yes, I am deep like that.

What's up with my adopted actors?

I have been neglecting my adoptees here at Just Wondering. Sorry guys, you know I've been giving you the love at home, I just don't broadcast it every day, okay? Here's the whassup:

Paul Reubens should be appearing soon in the new series "Pushing Daisies". Pushing Daisies has garnered lots of buzz, but I have yet to see it because we have HBO for free for the next two months. There are like, 80 HBO channels now so network TV - I've got no time for you. Plus, if something really exciting happens like a former variety show/family act singer passes out on stage after a dance routine, I know the morning shows will replay it ad nauseum. I don't even have to watch the morning shows. They'll show her falling down like a green pistachio souffle in the teasers. Yay teasers!

Also, Paul is starring in a David Arquette vehicle called "Tripper". He plays a sleazy concert promoter. There is a pile of bodies. Mayhem ensues. I will be looking for it.

Mary Wickes hasn't been doing anything. Mary is still dead.

Who's bugging me now



I don't know why. But that baby talk voice is really starting to grate. Renee, you are thirty-eight. Worldly wise is better than cutesy at this point.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Look what BAC made

This is pretty cool. BAC at Yikes made it. Yay! Yikes!



So true. And she can do a "Laura" episode too.

Oh. We have come to this.

Can you imagine Ronald Reagan saying this:


"It [the missile defense system] is not designed to defend against an attack from Russia. The missile defenses we could employ would be easily overwhelmed by Russia's nuclear arsenal. Russia has hundreds of missiles and thousands of warheads. We're planning to deploy ten interceptors in Europe. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to do the math."
-GeeDubya, October 23rd.

And it doesn't take a CIA analyst to look at the photo:



The Caspian region is the new darling of oil drilling. And, stop me if this sounds familiar, there is going to be a new pipeline soon. Last week they held a summit. As a littoral state Russia was in. The agreement included regional security measures. A security treaty, if you will, between Russia and Iran.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Russia has much to gain economically and politically from standing up to the United States in the rift over Iran. A stronger alliance with Iran would help Russia preserve its dominance in the Caspian region and discourage other ex-Soviet nations from launching Western-oriented pipeline projects that would bypass Moscow's monopoly on pipelines out of the oil- and gas-rich area


Yeah, it's all about the islamofascism. Oil's got nothing to do with it. Keep repeating, and soon we'll get our war.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happy Birthday, Earth. From your knuckle-dragging mouth breathing kids

Lookie! all your planetary peers have shown up for your birthday. We weren't real sure what day was your birthday, but thankfully, some guy way back when counted the begats and the whatnots in the holy bible determining that God created you 6003 years ago. Today. At 9 am. Way to go, God.

Earth, no offense, but for such a young planet you're not looking so good. Maybe you are at the age where you should be taking better care of yourself?

I must say that I think you are actually much, much older. You wouldn't be the first to lie about your age, you know. And if I was God, I think I'd be a little pissed off about the rejuvenary revisionism that is going on. Like if I spent three weeks getting Thanksgiving dinner ready, only to have the relatives show up 15 minutes late with the assumption that I just picked the meal deal up from Whole Foods half an hour ago, tossing the take out containers under the sink. Billions and billions of years of work and the little ingrates think it all just appeared, abra cadabra.

As a mom, I know how that feels.

And to you fundie crack-pots: enjoy your own "bEarthday" celebrations. Too bad you can't drink champagne, since there's the "no drinking" clause in your contract with the creator. Try the Kool-Aid. Oh, you've been drinking it right along? Thought so.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Let's hope Bravo doesn't blend its shows


because ProjectTopRunwayChef would suck!

Where was I?


The Wundrun's are back. I said I was taking a break from blogging and that was true. I really did feel like I didn't have a blog post in me that wasn't bitter, plus I had that damned muvee thing. So here's the deal: I finished the first edit of the muvee about 45 minutes before hopping in the car with the cheeseclan and driving through the night to Dallas, TX.

We dropped the movie off at my mom's house so that she could give it to B., the woman who asked for it, since she was leaving for her winter quarters in Arizona while I was in Texas. Also my parents wanted to see my kids and hug them and kiss them before we ended up in a ditch or gully with the vehicle overturned and flames shooting from gas tank just before the whole thing exploded. (That never happened, except in my mother's mind. They still worry, you know).

We had a cousin's wedding in Texas on Saturday the 13th. Then we visited distant relatives - e.g. my husband's deceased step grandpa's third wife's son (no lie) in Texas and we took a couple of days to drive home.

So, there is a gi-normous pile of laundry waiting for me, and it is a beautiful day. No doubt you're dying to hear about the escapades of Ms. Wundrun in the land o' Bush and I am dying to tell y'all about it. I'll get back here in a bit.

Oh, and I really missed you guys.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Blogger's Block


Celebrating my first real case of bloggers block. Usually a bottle of wine could cure it, but I have a very long drive ahead of me tonight, so I have sworn off wine for an entire week. I started so many times this week to write a post but everything I wanted to say needed a lot of time to develop, and time is one thing I have been without.

I am working on a project for a friend of a friend. Last year when friend's husband died, I took some photos, scanned them and made a slide show in Windows Movie Maker for the funeral. (Don't we all?) It was a little show, maybe five minutes long in a loop. Friend of friend asked if I could do the same for her husband who had passed away earlier. Off-handedly I said sure.

Here's what she gave me: 200 photos that needed to be hand scanned. Text to accompany each photo. The text needs to run an appropriate amount of time to be readable, and finding a color for the text to show up on a varied background is probably the most time consuming of the chores. Plus, the text renders in the completed movie completely differently than it does in the edit window. It's like designing with a blindfold on. This little muvee is 52 minutes long. Thus far I have spent about 80 hours, and still am not done. Tomatos have gone uncanned and apples are rotting in a bushel as we speak because I have been working on this. And my kids! I don't even want to talk about the temper tantrums. Sadly, mine, not theirs. She said she would pay me, but if she actually paid me for my time, this movie would cost her several thousand dollars. So I am in a circle of hell. We'll see how it works out.

I'm going to leave Maison de Wundrun quiescent for the next week. The situation in our country has really been working up a case of the mean reds for me. The fight or flight meter has moved way over to flight lately, as I think we have passed a turning point. The greater the Hillary love the MSM shows the deeper my funk. Time to renew my subscription to Ode, the optimists magazine, I think. Cause I am the editor of Pissoff, the pessimists magazine right now.

Miss me. Write often. Leave pithy comments! I'll answer every one when I return, except of course if the little troll shows up. (Bait: I have seen the Gotbaum videos. They don't show anything you describe. Odd, huh? No tearing of clothes, no throwing of cell phone. Just apparently yelling. Which we can't hear.) I'll see you all next week.

Much love,
Jess.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeppppyyyyy: Thompson Edition



I don't use a diaphragm, and I never have. So I can't say with any certainty. But, what in the hell is that girl chewing on? I did some checking and it seems that the larger sizes can be about 4" in diameter. Could it really be?

Let's just say that even if it's not, would you put your child on tv with some household object in her mouth? Like a turkey baster or swiffer sweeper? No, you would not.

My guess is that it is not her mommy's diaphragm. My guess is it is a 'one size fits all' diaphragm daddy keeps in his jacket pocket just in case the barrista at the Foggy Bottom Starbucks is particularly hot today. My 2 centivos.

I confess to not watching this entire video. I stopped right where Hannity asks Mrs. Thompson if she is going to get involved in the campaign like other candidates' wives and she says 'to what? attack Hillary?' d. u. m.

Putting the 'Fun' back into crazy fundies


From the NY Times

Many christian churches are using the violent video game Halo 3 to lure teens and young men back to church.

Those buying [Halo 3] must be 17 years old, given it is rated M for mature audiences. But that has not prevented leaders at churches and youth centers across Protestant denominations, including evangelical churches that have cautioned against violent entertainment, from holding heavily attended Halo nights and stocking their centers with multiple game consoles so dozens of teenagers can flock around big-screen televisions and shoot it out
----
Once they come for the games, Gregg Barbour, the youth minister of the church said, they will stay for his Christian message. “We want to make it hard for teenagers to go to hell,” Mr. Barbour wrote in a letter to parents at the church.
-----
“If you want to connect with young teenage boys and drag them into church, free alcohol and pornographic movies would do it,” said James Tonkowich, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a nonprofit group that assesses denominational policies. “My own take is you can do better than that.”


The article goes on to say that James Dobson's Focus on the Family doesn't yet have an opinion on the controversy. What, God's not talking to you today, Jimmy?

Friday, October 5, 2007

The "Most Famous Song Written in the West"

When John Denver went to China in the early 1990's he was surprised to learn that this song was considered "the most famous song written in the west". When he performed it, everyone sang along.

I have personally witnessed the Jamaican and the German renditions (these aren't my videos, though). Wander through, take a bite at each.

mit kraut und bier:



'pon da buston style chicken:



con sobrasada en Mallorca:



The original with corn:



Or Cash back:



and with 某些年轻人 (sum yung gi):



And in Burma with Ba zun thouk:



Enjoy!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Feel free to feed the trolls!



Ladies and gents, we've got us a troll. I've been engaging him (her? - doubt it) for the last few days. He first dropped his spore over at Fran's place but she's been on vacay, so I've been feeding him.

Feel free to read up on his asstardery here or back where he was first spotted, at Fran's here and here. You have to scroll to the end of the comments. This troll has already been neutered thus lacking the balls to speak up at the beginning of the post. He prefers stale threads. Less engagement, je pense.

You can post a little comment for him. Don't pet though. There seems to be some foam at the mouth. Poke with a stick? By all means. Oh, you might not want to use your linked google account, he migrates like a case of the clap at the Phi Delt House.

Little Willy Won't Go

Dr Monkey von Monkerstein posted a 70's tune that rocked his world in the pre-punk wasteland. It was Sugarloaf "Don't Call Us". That led me on a reverie of my own. My brother used to love that song, plus I remember him dancing around like a fool to this one:



If you and me are at a bar and this song comes on you must know that I will grab you by the wrists and force you from your barstool and make you dance like one of the Peanuts. I may or may not scream like a little girl. Situations vary.

In case you were wondering, yes. That sweater vest worn by the lead singer is currently on sale at Old Navy.

Here's another song that brings to mind my older bro' with his stringy hair and military surplus jacket (you could stash film canisters of herb around the collar)



(here is the straight dope on the "Pompatus of love")

Well, Hung!

America, the new Top Chef is Hung. Yay! His technical skills were always highly praised throughout this season, but he was often criticized for not putting enough "soul" into his food. Dale was smiled upon beatifically for saying you should be able to tell in the taste of the food whether the chef got laid the night before. Um. I don't know about you but I don't really want to be eating my entree and thinking about that. Then I'd wonder about hand-washing and all sorts of other distractions. (Dale also said he gets high marks for his "sauce". )

Last night the text-messaging viewers voted Hung in last place, giving him a mere 18% of the vote, so I'm guessing there are some pissed off TC fans today. Casey had a complete meltdown, failing to really show up for the competition. Based on past performance, though, viewers gave her 58%* of the vote. Had she decided to cook and not whimper about the elevation, she would have deserved to win, having put in a very respectable season. Still, folks. Dale ahead of Hung? Dale was less talented than several chefs who got knocked out earlier. Like Tre.

Last season was a travesty from start to finish. The final test in Hawaii did not showcase the chefs' talents and was really nothing more than another elimination challenge. So I was happy to see that they went back to allowing the chefs a little more leeway this time around. Still, how fair is it to have each chef prepare a four-course meal and then have to serve it alongside two other entrees? If the chef is developing a theme there's a hell of a lot of interference to distract from what he's developing. The first season had the best finale. No bullshit, just let the cooks shop, chop and roll. Hopefully they'll go back to that.

So now that Chef is over I would like to thank the programming folks at Bravo who are giving us more than a month between Chef and Project Runway.


*or something like that. I'm not sure. There was wine. You're just lucky I didn't decide to vlog along with the show like Althouse and her 4 Bucks Box o' Wine.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Who is the fringe?

Despite discontent with Congress this year, the public rates congressional Republicans (29 percent approve) lower than congressional Democrats (38 percent approve). When the parties are pitted directly against each other, the public broadly favors Democrats on Iraq, health care, the federal budget and the economy. Only on the issue of terrorism are Republicans at parity with Democrats

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/01/AR2007100101235.html?hpid=topnews

Monday, October 1, 2007

Waxman has been wondering

WTF is up with Blackwater.

Monday, October 01, 2007
Iraq Reconstruction, Defense and Security
New Questions About Blackwater Actions in Iraq

Previously undisclosed information reveals (1) Blackwater has engaged in 195 “escalation of force” incidents since 2005, an average of 1.4 per week, including over 160 incidents in which Blackwater forces fired first; (2) after a drunken Blackwater contractor shot the guard of the Iraqi Vice President, the State Department allowed the contractor to leave Iraq and advised Blackwater on the size of the payment needed “to help them resolve this”; and (3) Blackwater, which has received over $1 billion in federal contracts since 2001, is charging the federal government over $1,200 per day for each “protective security specialist” employed by the company.


Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Henry Waxman, chair.

Erik Prince, owner of Blackwater, will testify before congress tomorrow.

Could it have been me?


A few years ago I was flying Midwest Airlines from Madison to Milwaukee where I was to get a connecting flight to Phoenix. For some dumb reason, entirely my fault, I thought my flight time was a half hour later than it actually was. When I got to the airport there was a very long line at the ticket desk. Our airport was in the middle of being extensively remodeled so I was hoping to check in at the gate or find a ticket check-in kiosk but nothing was where it used to be. I had two choices: stand at the back of the line and wait for an hour to ask directions of the sole Midwest worker inside the terminal or go to the desk and politely wait to ask the sole Midwest worker where I might find a kiosk or how to get to the gate. When the Midwest worker was through with one customer and was about to help the next I said "excuse me, I really need to catch my flight.."

"Get to the back of the line" she shouted at me.

"Well, I was just wondering if you could tell me--"

"I cannot help you. Get to the back of the line and wait your turn"

"My flight to Milwaukee is about to leave. Is there somewhere else I can check in?"

"Your flight has been cancelled. All of these people were on that flight and I have to rebook them. Now GET TO THE BACK OF THE LINE" She was literally screaming at me. Nobody in line was irritated with my questions. Our flight had been cancelled they weren't going anywhere. They were rolling their eyes at her.

So, I went to the back of the line. I waited. And waited. More waiting. Meantime, since the Milwaukee airport is only about 1 hour and 15 minutes by car from the Madison airport, I thought that my best bet to make my connecting flight would be to drive to Milwaukee. However, if you miss the first leg of your flight, the second leg is usually cancelled. Watching my precious time slipping away while standing in line behind people who were going to wait out the next flight I decided to try to ask if I could cancel the Madison leg of the trip and pick it up in Milwaukee.

Back to the front of the line. "Ma'am, I just have a quick question I need to ask...."

"GET TO THE BACK OF THE LINE!!!!" veins were popping on her temples.

So I went to the back of the line. I was steamed. But I decided to just accept that my flight was gone. Any hope of making my connecting in Milwaukee was shot in the ass thanks to the hour I spent in line waiting to ask a question. I had non-cell phone people in Phoenix waiting for me at the airport, and I was beginning to see that my flight would get me to town well after the wedding rehearsal dinner I was supposed to attend would be over. Oh well.

So when I approached the desk and handed her my flight information I was silent. Better to say nothing, than to let her have it, I thought. Suddenly she started: "I don't even have to let you get on this flight. You got here less than twenty minutes before the flight was to have left, so I have every right to cancel your flight."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me. You got here late. I will reschedule your flight but I just want you to know that I don't have to."

"Go right ahead and cancel my flight," I said. "But I expect a full refund".

"No refund. You were late."

"Lady, I'll keep my flight, then. But I'd just like you to know that I think you'd do better working in a morgue or a funeral home, because you really suck at working with living people".

She stapled my ticket, threw it at me and marched over to the security gate. I saw her talking to a security guard and pointing at me. When I approached security I was asked to step away from the regular area for the thorough "I'll just run my hands up down and around your boobies-oh, nice undies" search.

What a surprise.

This last weekend a woman missed her flight at Phoenix' Skyway Airport. We don't know what was said at the check-in desk, but Carole Ann Gotbaum ran off. Security grabbed her, threw her to the ground and handcuffed her. She was screaming "I'm not a terrorist. I'm a sick mom! Help me!" She was led away in handcuffs and locked in a secure room, alone. When security checked on her she was dead. It is believed she strangled herself trying to bring her hands, cuffed in the back, to the front.

When little, tiny-minded, mean people are given extraordinary amounts of power over their fellow citizens, bad things are going to happen. We saw that in the tasering of a university student whose crime was that his question was a little long winded. A woman ran through an airport (*gasp!* Isn't that what OJ was primarily famous for-prior to killing his ex?). Who hasn't run through an airport? Now that woman is dead. A few years ago a man was thought to have uttered something about a bomb, was chased off a jet and shot dead on the tarmac at Miami. He had no bomb. He had no weapon.

I feel afraid for us.

The Money Shot

If I had a million dollars I would not buy a monkey (haven't you always wanted a monkey?) I would buy an
What I would like to buy next spring, but doubt my family will let me:
What I hope to never buy:
Carry on.