Friday, August 31, 2007

NOBODY Scoops General Petraeus

Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, My Left Wing, and the Independent Bloggers' Alliance.

This week the General Accountability Office slipped an advance copy of its progress report on Iraq to the Washington Post. Their report was "strikingly negative." The GAO thinks that Iraq has failed to meet all but 3 of its 18 mandated benchmarks. But that's because the GAO is a bunch of girlie-men. Don't they know that we are all supposed to -- say it with me now -- "Wait to hear what General Petraeus has to say!"

Well General Petraeus is speaking, to The Australian, and guess what: The Surge Is Working!

"We say we have achieved progress, and we are obviously going to do everything we can to build on that progress and we believe al-Qa'ida is off balance at the very least," he said.

At the "very least," he says. Pshaw. I think the thing I love most about General Petraeus is his modesty. Let's face it. He is kicking insurgent ass, over there.

Here are a few things the terrorists didn't know about General Petraeus when they provoked his wrath:

  • General Petraeus's tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.

  • When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night he checks his closet for General Petraeus.

  • General Petraeus can make a woman climax by simply pointing at her and saying "hooah."

  • General Petraeus does not sleep. He waits.

  • General Petraeus once tried to sue Burger King after they refused to put razor wire in his Whopper Jr., insisting that that actually is "his" way.

  • General Petraeus took my virginity, and he will sure as hell take yours. If you're thinking to yourself, "That's impossible. I already lost my virginity," then you are dead wrong.

  • General Petraeus can slam revolving doors.

  • General Petraeus doesn't have hair on his testicles, because hair does not grow on steel.

  • General Petraeus counted to infinity - twice.

  • When General Petraeus exercises, the machine gets stronger.

  • General Petraeus is allowed to talk about Fight Club.

  • General Petraeus sleeps with a night light. Not because General Petraeus is afraid of the dark, but because the dark is afraid of General Petraeus.

  • Water boils faster when General Petraeus watches it.

  • If General Petraeus is late, time better slow the fuck down.

  • When General Petraeus jumps in a lake, he doesn't get wet. The water gets Petraeus.

  • General Petraeus once ate three 72 oz. steaks in one hour. He spent the first 45 minutes having sex with his waitress.

  • General Petraeus refers to himself in fourth person.

  • Superman owns a pair of General Petraeus pajamas.

  • As a child, General Petraeus played Hungry Hungry Hippos with real hippos.

  • General Petraeus's sperm can penetrate 13 condoms, the birth control pill, a brick wall, and the 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line in order to impregnate a woman.

  • General Petraeus always gets blackjack. Even when he's playing poker.

  • The only thing we have to fear is fear itself... The only thing fear has to fear is General Petraeus.

But Curmudgette, you are saying, aren't these just warmed over Chuck Norris and Vin Diesel jokes? Yeah. What are you gonna do about it?

EVERYTHING is better with General Petraeus in it. The following video, for instance, is only good, if you close your eyes and imagine he's singing about General David Petraeus.

Random Ruminations in August

Apropos an email discussion with a fellow recovered alcoholic, I fell into a reverie this evening about my astonishing journey over the past decade and change...

On November 22 this year, barring relapse (which is highly unlikely, frankly, though I remain humbly alert for those pitfalls that led me to relapse in the past), I will mark my 11th year without a drink.

This blows my tiny fucking mind, truth be told. Whenever I contemplate this fact of my existence -- I, Maryscott O'Connor, alcoholic nonpareil, have not had a drink in ELEVEN YEARS?!?! -- I truly wonder what on EARTH kept me sober through the trials and travails of the cocktail-free life I've led all these years.

Meetings? Steps? Fellowship? Helping others? Higher Power?

And, of course, the answer is:

"All of the Above."

And not a little willpower, mind you... That and the sharp, indelible memory of my last few months of drinking -- the Bottom to end all Bottoms, the pitiful and incomprehensible demoralisation that was the inexorable, inevitable result of so many years of drinking (started at age 5 with a bang, sipped my way through childhood and emerged a full blown alcoholic by age 15), the rock bottom despair and helplessness that finally could no longer be drowned in scotch and drove me, finally, to sobriety.

In the past, when people expressed to me their incredulity regarding the perpetual relapses of Hollywood types (and my god, poor Lindsey Lohan, my god, she's a mere child, how much longer will her revolving door keep spinning? And while I'm here, goddamn her fucking parents to hell for their abysmal stewardship of this one time innocent, whose alcoholism and drug addiction may have been in the cards all along, but was certainly mitigated not a whit by her so-called parents and their astoundingly selfish and appallingly grotesque neglect of even the most basic parental responsibilities in favour of their own desires), I would try to explain to them the concept of the Bottom, the concept of that experience people in AA refer to as Pitiful & Incomprehensible Demoralisation... They never really got it, and eventually I learned to stop trying to explain it.

If you don't get it, you don't get it. It's only something that people who have actually experienced it will truly understand, beyond intellectually. I think the part with which they have trouble is the idea that someone can HIT bottom, can experience the seeming finality of that pitiful and incomprehensible demoralisation -- and drink again.

Mel Gibson and Robin Williams, to name a couple of high profile alcoholics, each had over 20 years of sobriety; you'd think whatever kept them sober all those years would have continued to keep them sober -- but they drank again. They... forgot.

Been there, done that. Certainly, I never had that kind of time under my belt and relapsed -- but I know damned well it CAN happen to me. Eternal vigilance is the price of sobriety, I'm convinced of it. There is no such thing as "home free."

Eleven years, no anesthesia. And trust me, there have been a myriad of excellent reasons for anesthetising myself. You don't drink, as an alcoholic, for the fun of it. Sure, it might have begun that way for many a drunk -- though in my case, from Day One, I drank to obliterate pain. But by the time an alcoholic has reached the point of no return (no return -- to the good old days, to the good times, to the happy happy joy joy party times, to the era when it actually was fun), that scotch and water isn't merely a social lubricant; it's Novocain for the soul.

And here's the thing only a sober alcoholic knows: once the Novocain wears off, the pain it masked is still there -- and along with it a raging, throbbing, gaping wound that needs healing. And the thing you want more than anything in the world once the anesthesia goes away is... more anesthesia. Or, at least, a hefty prescription for Vicodin. But it ain't in the recovery plan; you have to heal stone cold sober.

In many cases, when the painkillers join the list of Things You May Not Have, the pain is a thousandfold worse than it was before you started self-medicating, because while you staggered through your years of intoxication, you managed to fuck up your life but good. The things on the To Do List you staved off with a decade of highballs comes crashing onto you in a Time to Pay the Piper fucking avalanche -- giving you ever stronger reasons to want a fucking drink.

No can do, buddy; you gotta face the music clear-eyed and utterly, irrevocably, exasperatingly sober. The unpaid parking tickets result in a towed car your first month sober; the late fees accrued on your credit cards bring you face to face with the creditors you've been hanging up on for god knows how long; and the hordes of people you've harmed and avoided are lining up around the block for the Amends they know they've got coming -- somehow that 5th step has made its way into the popular consciousness and whoever wrote the James Spader-ice cream parlour-apology-to-Jason Alexander scene in Seinfeld has hit the Most Wanted list of every AA newbie.

What's surprising is how many people manage to stay sober, not how many of them relapse. Jesus, if I weren't so viscerally fucking aware and terrified of the certainty of my return to that pitiful and incomprehensible demoralisation, you can bet your ASS I'd be heading down the block to the dive bar with triple scotch and soda Wednesdays...

I have no pithy wrap-up for this segment. Just thought I'd, you know, share.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In other news: My uncle Thomas's stem cell transplant went off without a hitch yesterday. (I'd been under the mistaken impression that it happened a few weeks ago, but apparently that was a pre-transplant thing. Hard to keep track of all these medical procedures and their jargon...)

A lightly edited version of the letter Sherry sent me today:

Success! Thomas has received the stem cell transplant and is home and doing well!!

Thomas' brother Terry was a terrific donor - lots of stem cells! Thankfully Terry weathered the process pretty well, although he will be more tired than usual for several weeks. We are so grateful for his wonderful gift. He left this afternoon to get back to his lovely wife Jennifer, their two pooches and bird.

Thomas spent a couple of nights unexpectedly in the hospital, and received his transplant while in-patient. His electrolytes were a little off the day before transplant, so they admitted him to receive fluids and a transfusion. He had a bit of a difficult night on transplant night after the total body irradiation session that afternoon (nausea, headache, etc.) - but he was much better this morning. He is fatigued, but otherwise feeling good.

All is well on Day +1. That is how we measure things now. Certain "next" tests will happen on certain days - for example, next bone marrow biopsy on Day +28, etc.

Now comes waiting for engraftment (for Terry's cells to take hold - and eventually take over). He will have blood tests every day, and will be very carefully monitored. They are pros at this here, and we are so grateful for the wonderful care.

Please keep your love, prayers and energy coming. This is a complicated process, and we need good healing energy, love and grace for continued success.

We will keep you updated. Again, THANKS for the help you've given us to get to this point. You were in the room with us last night at 7:00 p.m. when they walked in with the stem cells and said, "Happy Birthday!" (That's when I started to cry.) The staff came in this morning and sang Happy Birthday to Thomas as well. We couldn't have done it without you. We are so, so blessed!

Love, love, love. Be well.

Sherry & Thomas

This entire ordeal has taken so much out of them both, in their separate ways; but Sherry and Thomas are one of those bafflingly happy couples who seem to have been designed for each other before time began, and to no one's surprise, they have been each others' source of strength and hope.

When Thomas was first being diagnosed, things seemed truly bleak. The doctors were talking about his survival rate in terms of weeks -- and now it appears the only hurdle left after this engraftment is Thomas's heart, which took a thorough beating and now has permanent damage from the chemotherapy. And even that, the doctors described as likely to be his undoing; "Well, the good news is, you won't be dying of leukemia. The bad news is, you'll probably die soon because of the heart damage done by the treatment that got rid of the leukemia."

In other words, Sherry had about 15 minutes of relief and joy on hearing the leukemia would likely be eradicated by the combination of chemotherapy and stem cell transplant -- before the doctors began warning her that he'd probably die soon anyway.

True to form, Sherry and Thomas bore down and did the work they needed to do -- and though he has a severely weakened heart, it looks like he'll be living a long life of taking it easy. (When they gave him the physical that discovered the leukemia, Thomas was described as being 60 years old with the physical health of a 30 year old. Now, sans leukemia but with the heart damage, he is a 60 year old with the physical health of a... 60 year old. In all, a damned fine outcome.)

I'm taking Sherry's tack and speaking fairly optimistically about a situation that is doubtless fraught with unknown and known peril at every turn -- but since her way of tackling this kind of shit seems to be working pretty damned well, I've decided to work very hard at adopting it as the way I approach my own life as well as those of my loved ones.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I've buried the lede, as they say in Journalism Schools (wait, they still HAVE Journalism Schools?). Too late to change it now, it's going to press and I'm in no mood to rewrite the damned post...

Thanks to the generosity and combined efforts of several determined MLWers, The East Coast MLW Gathering scheduled for September 8th in Philadelphia will include at least one West Coast representative: ME!

Yes, the crazy fuckers have put their heads and wallets together and gifted me with a trip to Philly next weekend. I said I'd come if they managed to find a rich motherfucker to pay for it and they did ALL the work, I wouldn't lift a fucking finger, I said -- and they called my bluff. Seems all I have to do is accept a ride from my husband to the airport here on Friday afternoon, and have him pick me up at said airport on Sunday morning -- because those crazy fucks on the East Coast have taken care of everything else.

According to the itinerary I received in email form a short while ago, I depart LAX on Friday afternoon, arrive PHL Friday evening -- spend Saturday whooping it up with the East Coast Contingent of MLW Crazy Motherfuckers -- and depart Philadelphia at the ungodly hour of 8:15am Sunday to arrive home in Los Angeles just before lunch time.

See you Saturday, you Crazy Motherfuckers.

With bells on.

I no longer fear the Kucinich Revolution: Part 4

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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In Parts One and Two, I discussed the support Kucinich has and the irrational fear also associated with electing Kucinich. In Part Three, I discussed Kucinich's time as Mayor of Cleveland and how the GOP slander machine stating "he drove Cleveland into bankruptcy" is an out right lie. Today we are moving on to the real important stuff - issues.

I have heard a lot of talk from the candidates stating "any Democrat running for President will be better than Bush." I believe that sentiment is true. But I also believe there are varying degrees of HOW MUCH BETTER they will be than Bush. In the comments in the previous parts of this series, there are claims that the changes we (The People) want to make to this country "can't be done." "The shift is too fast, these things will take time to change." Oh I hope not.

We have 50 million people in this nation without health care. The rest of us have health insurance that is precarious. My wife just got a letter from our policy holder, Blue Cross, asking whether her recent yearly physical was the result of a work related injury - she has been out of the workforce for over ten years, yet we had to go through the damn motions with these chuckle-heads to get the claim paid. If it was something serious like cancer, I can't imagine the red tape that would get thrown at our face. With Americans daily needing health care that either allows them to live or die, this is not a problem we can gradually ease our way out of. We need swift, decisive legislation and leadership to get us out of this mess. Kucinich is the lone candidate that has universal health care for all as part of his platform - everyone else is offering "insurance." I have enough of insurance. Haven't you?

Our jobs are being sucked out of this country at an alarming rate. A very alarming rate. When I was growing up in the real town of Dobson, NC, the town of 1,200 people was teeming with textile mills. They were everywhere. Even the gas station across from the court house had rented out one of the car repair bays to a guy who was making socks day and night. Jobs were plentiful, parents could send their kids to UNC or NC State and there was enough money to retire at 60. That was the horrible days of the Carter Administration in 1980. When Reagan got into office, the borders began to open for business and the jobs from my hometown were siphoned off and weren't replaced with new jobs. Now, the number one industry in North Carolina is logging. People in that Congressional District (NC-05) have had to go through "skill retraining" several times since then. You simply can't have a single career anymore in rural America. Hell, you can't even keep the same employer for more than four years - right about when you would receive matching funds for your 401K you find yourself out of work. Now, 27 years later, our economic base, the middle class has been pushed off a cliff and they (we) are tumbling toward a very nasty end. Our open border policies need to be clamped shut and not over the span of three decades. We need to exit NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT and the WTO today, now, 10 minutes ago. Which candidate has this as a policy? Take a guess. Kucinich. And oddly enough, this actually makes him appealing to conservatives.

This brings us to the mother-fucking war. BushCo wants another $50 billion on top of all the other requests. Hillary wants to keep troops there, Obama wants to take our time getting out of Iraq. Biden wants to split Iraq into three pieces and keep troops there (that means we will be fighting a six front civil war). No thanks. We need out, we need out now. Kucinich is the only one willing to state the obvious - the war was a failure and we need to get out. He was the only one in the race not snookered into voting for the damn thing to begin with. Hillary was for the war up until six months before the 2006 election. If it took her that long to figure out the war was an idiotic idea, then for me, she doesn't have the mental capabilities to get this nation out of the cesspool of despair we are in.

If you look at Kucinich's voting record and his anthology of submitted legislation over the past 10 years, they read as if written by someone with prescient abilities. I am not saying he is a soothsayer or a prophet from Ohio, I am saying he is one smart guy and we need more of people like him in Congress, not less.

Our nation is in serious trouble and we have long since passed the point where half-measures would make any difference. Unless we get a President that is willing to actually take, Honest-To-God bold steps, we may be seeing the last days of Jefferson's America.

Hillary, Obama and Edwards would be an improvement to what we currently have in the White House, but their histories show they are ill-equipped to handle the challenges ahead of us.

Only Dennis Kucinich has risked ridicule and even his political career to do the right thing. His political past has been nothing BUT a series of career-ending decisions, but every decision has been for the benefit for the citizens, never corporate interests. That is why he keeps getting re-elected.

He is the only one that has ever gone out on a limb for We The People. Now, I wonder how many VOTERS will join him? How many will join the Second American Revolution?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Nuking Tehran - How do you say Ground Zero in Persian?

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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When I was in high school, I was well educated in Soviet geography. Vladivostok, Novosibirsk and of course Moscow were all familiar places on the world map. Sadly, Americans seem to get the bulk of the geographic education when we go to war (fake or otherwise). Mosul? That is in Northern Iraq and Highway 2 goes right through it. Basra? Oh that is the seaport on the Gulf. Minnesota? What the Hell are you talking about?

Despite our highest hopes of electing a Democratic Congress, they seem to have no intent of removing a war criminal from power. Nor does it appear they will make any serious moves to prevent nuclear war with Iran... yet ANOTHER nation that has done nothing us. (OK, the hostages were an issue 3 decades ago, but we did open diplomatic channels with them again - oh, my bad, that was back when we practiced DIPLOMACY. Back to our nightmare at hand.)

BushCo has reneged on every nuclear arms control treaty this nation has ever signed plus he has not lifted a finger to negotiate new ones. On top of that he started building NEW nukes. The idiot never met a law he didn't want to break.

Now we have this recent history of invading countries that hasn't attacked us (and avoiding those who have - ahem... Saudi Arabia) is it any wonder the United States is seen as the biggest threat to peace and stability on the planet?

If we drop ANY kind of nuclear device on Iran, it will open up a Pandora's Box of sorrow that we have managed to keep shut for more than 60 years. Even if it is a bunker buster, America will then become the world's NUMBER ONE rogue nation without a doubt.

When the only global friend you have is Communist China, it speaks volumes of how far we will have fallen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Where's my Civil Defense Guide to Fallout?

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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From Satan's Temple of Deceit:

And Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.

One thing I will say about Reagan (and Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson and JFK), if that quote above was uttered by one of them, I would have thought the threat was real because back in the good old days of the Cold War (can't believe I wrote that) it would have been an accurate portrayal. Leave it to Bush Junior to create the threat of nuclear annihilation where there isn't one.

I am MORE worried about what Bush will do with nuclear weapons than I am Iran. Bush has broken every nuclear treaty we have ever signed, avoided new nuclear arms control agreements at every turn and has even ramped up American production of NEW nuclear weapons. I guess the weapons we had on hand weren't enough, you know, the ones where we could destroy the planet hundreds of times over.

Has anyone in the Bush Administration EVER set down at a table for peace talks? Has he ever just chatted about peace at the White House water cooler? Has BushCo ever taken a break from thinking about TOTAL UTTER DESTRUCTION for one single minute since they took control?

Let me go back to my tired-assed Africa analogy, before we invaded Iraq over WMD I stated you could have thrown a dart at Africa and chances were you would find someone worse than Saddam Hussein. Well, Iran is even farther from WMD development than Iraq was and the rogue nations that have REAL nuclear programs far out number Iran. So why Iran? I hope everyone ASKS that question NOW before Bush goes off and nukes Iran.

And will someone please tell Pelosi to stop this madman? Please?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Class Warfare-Making Sure That The Wealthy Get Their Share, And Yours Too

I'm on dozens of Email lists, everybody from the New York Times to Victoria's Secret (great articles over there) sends me Email and I spend way too much time scanning and deleting most of it daily. I subscribe to Email lists from news organizations, campaign committees, government watchdog groups and all kinds of public service organizations. I also get stuff addressing me as Dear One, with great investment opportunities in Nigeria and missives that promise to make me larger, but I delete them all summarily as I have nothing to invest and..., never mind.

Most of what I receive is of a "progressive" or "liberal" nature but in the interest of knowing what the adversary is up to, I also subscribe to publications from conservative groups, the spectrum runs from the Coulter, Limbaugh breed of invertebrates to the American Enterprise Institute and other large lizards. I"ll tell you, a little of this stuff goes a long way.

I got a real dandy this morning from the Heritage Foundation, you know, the conservative think tank that has worked so tirelessly for the Bush administration, embroiling us in various wars of empire and providing invaluable aid and advice in support of administration efforts to relieve American citizens of such pesky irritants as habeas corpus, civil liberties and due process of law, while conducting additional studies aimed at relieving us of our money.

Heritage has long fought the good fight for corporate rights and limited government. These are the guys who burn the midnight oil to come up with ways to help corporations pocket employee pension funds without exposing themselves to criminal liability while working diligently to ensure that federal regulatory agencies are toothless, and in all ways impotent. The effectiveness of their efforts on behalf of corporate America can be measured in such events as the Crandall Canyon mine collapse.

The organization, which came into existence in 1973 was bankrolled by Joseph Coors, of the Coors Brewing Company and billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, Paul Weyrich was one of it's founders, there were no wild eyed leftists in that circle unless they were carrying a rake, polishing the crystal or cleaning the pool.

Heritage is now funded to the tune of 30 to 40 million annually by obscenely wealthy individuals and cash bloated corporations. They also receive large sums from foreign governments and such entities (it has been reported) as the Korean Intelligence agency. In return for their generosity Heritage spends about twenty percent of the take lobbying government on their behalf and publishing studies which tell them things that they want to hear and helping them market bullshit and lies to the rest of us.

In this morning's Email from Heritage was a featured article written by "Senior Fellow" (please pause to genuflect) Robert Rector (Photo at right) at the National Review Online and titled "Poor Politics" in which he offers the following nuggets of conservative think tank wisdom regarding persons in this country who are classified as poor. From Mr. oops, "Senior Fellow" Rector:

"The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from a variety of government reports:"

"46 percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio."

"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."

I don't know the actual numbers but I'm guessing that most of the 46% quoted own nothing more substantial than a 30 year mortgage which they struggle mightily to pay while staying ahead of such wolves as the costs of daily living and working in America. The idea that forty percent of those below the federal poverty level "own" their homes is nonsense and "Senior Fellow" Rector knows it.

In addition, what happened to the legions of people who live in houses with fewer than 3 bedrooms and the gazillions of apartment dwellers, not to mention the many people who call the porch or patio "home."

"80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning."

"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."

I suppose that "Senior Fellow" Rector would feel more comfortable with the poor if they were sweltering in their "three bedroom houses" and dying quietly and unobtrusively of heat prostration. It must also be noted that those who rent houses or apartments don't "own" their air conditioners any more than they own their homes. Either way they pay dearly in utility bills and taxes for the meager comfort of not sweating through their shorts.

"Only six percent of poor households are overcrowded; two thirds have more than two rooms per person."

"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."

I currently live in a five room house with my cat, which I suppose places us above "Senior Fellow Rector's" mandatory squalor requirement average. I will soon be forced to move (due to poverty) from this spacious splendor to share an apartment with my brother and his Grandson. We will then share 5 rooms, I am doing my part to "walk the walk" of the poor by cramming myself into smaller accomodations so that the ruling class may have more room to ride their horsies.

"The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)"

"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."

It should be noted that America as she was growing in the 19th century and the early part of the 20th, had so many more times the available land area than most European countries that there can be no comparison. Except for those unfortunate millions who were crammed into urban tenements and company "housing" "provided" by railroad, mining, factory or mill owners we have historically been able to spread our elbows regardless of economic status. It does look bad though, I admit it, all those so called poor people with so much wasted space between them. Inefficiency.

"Nearly three quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars."

"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."

I own a car, It's 12 years old and I bought it used back when I was not disabled and working six days a week to stay just above the poverty level. I still drive it to my physical therapy appointments at the VA hospital and the grocery store when I can afford to pay the fuel prices that Heritage helped to arrange.

"97 percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions."

"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."

I have two, one is 8 years old and works well, the other was given to me by a friend and sometimes works as well, there is nothing on them but lying news people reading scripts prepared at the Heritage foundation. If that violates my status as "poor" I'll be happy to turn one over to the "unnecessary entertainment police."

"78 percent have a VCR or DVD player."

"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."

My wife made me buy a DVD player a couple years before she died. She was an invalid those last several years but found joy and laughter in rented Disney movies. She's gone now, a year next month. I do feel a bit guilty for the extravagance and promise to atone.

"62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception."

"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."

Got me again, and, I have wireless internet as well. I must have these things, they allow me to stay abreast of those who wage this unrelenting war against the middle and lower economic classes in this and other countries. I also need it to get my Email from the Heritage Foundation and Victoria's Secret. (good articles over there)

"89 percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher."

"Senior Fellow" Rector still quoting from a "variety of government reports."

In all his quoting of vague "government sources," "Senior Fellow" Rector doesn't mention wage stagnation, the continually rising cost of living in all areas, outsourcing and offshoring of jobs in all sectors of the economy, community crippling layoffs, pension defaults, natural disasters, catastrophic illnesses, death, war and a host of other legitimate reasons why good, honest, working people have fallen into poverty yet still have that embarrassing  dishwasher in their kitchen and still reside in the three bedroom house with a patio that they lived in before their jobs were shipped off to Timbuktu.

There may be a difference between the face of poverty in Dorothea Lange's hauntingly beautiful "Migrant Mother" from 1940 at the top of this rant and the modern version in this new century but I doubt it, you have to look at the eyes, close up, and personal to see, to know the despair.

I don't know, Maybe "Senior Fellow" Rector hasn't heard about those things, yeah that's probably it.

Anyway, I'm off the hook on the last one, (is he still running on?) my ten year old nuke died and I can't afford another, that damn poverty thing again, and alas, no dishwasher. I've been waiting a long time for a veteran's disability pension to show up in my mailbox and I'm sure that it will, probably the day after they plant my butt at the VA cemetery. I'll celebrate, maybe buy a new microwave or a ... they still sell "stereos?"

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

Gonzales and the Democratic Fear of Flying Monkeys

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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When I was three years old, my parents let me watch the Wizard of Oz. A wholesome movie, right? Holy crap did it terrify me. I made my parents inspect the closet every night before bed because I knew, I JUST KNEW those damn flying monkeys were in there. I could hear them scratching around - digging for scraps of mortal flesh and since they hadn't gotten to me yet, I knew they were HUNGRY!

One full year later, I was able to go to bed with the lights off.

So here we are, ten months into the so-called Democratic Revolution and Pelosi and Reid have accomplished damn near nothing. The only thing they can chalk up is the pitifully small increase in the minimum wage. We are still in Iraq, a war criminal is still running the country and we haven't regained our civil rights. I have heard the hand-wringing apologists for the Dems - the excuses about a one vote majority in the Senate, the Blue Dog Democrats that are infesting the House of Representatives and the biggest whopper, "impeachment wouldn't be good for the nation."

Last Summer and Fall, I ran all around the district telling people the Dems were going to act on their agenda and by electing Dems we would get our country back. Sadly, what I didn't realize, we would also need to get rid of the Dems that are IN Congress to get our PARTY back.

Gonzales is off the table and gone. Now can we get back to the war crimes at hand? Can we get out of Iraq? Can we maybe get our rights back?

I have no inkling as to why the Dems are continuing to fund the war and most recently, agreed to let Bush continue to abuse the FISA courts. Who is even letting these bills come to the damn floor? If I knew this crap was going on, I would NOT have been knocking on doors for months and months last year in an effort to get these sorry individuals in power.

The Dems got voted into power about 10 months ago. When will they come out from under the bed? When will they overcome their fear? When will they begin to govern?

It took me a year to conquer my fear of the flying monkeys and I was three years old. I hope the Democrats get their act together soon, our soldiers are dying on the battlefield while Pelosi cries under her bed.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Gonzales gone, watch where you step.

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

From CNN:

Embattled U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has resigned, senior administration officials told CNN Monday.

President Bush will likely nominate Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to the position, senior administration officials said. Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, would replace Chertoff, the officials said.

Many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have long called for his ouster after the firing of several U.S. attorneys in 2006. Bush had long stood by Gonzales.

Gonzales will announce his resignation at a news conference at the Justice Department at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Now maybe, just maybe, we can go back to impeaching the President?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Government Lies About the Drug War: A Podcast Interview With Criminal Justice Professor Matthew Robinson

The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal as well as The Peace Tree and Worldwide Sawdust.

The “war on drugs” doesn’t consume as much oxygen in the public square as it used to. In September 1989, President George Herbert Walker Bush, spoke from the Oval Office, held up a plastic bag filled with white contents and announced,

“This is crack cocaine seized a few days ago in a park across the street from the White House . . . It could easily have been heroin or PCP.”
For Bush this speech was public relations homage to an issue that dominated the media and politics during the 1980s. It also impacted Bush’s 1988 presidential election campaign. The near hysteria about the “crack” epidemic in particular resulted in the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. This act established The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). According to their website,
“The principal purpose of ONDCP is to establish policies, priorities, and objectives for the Nation's drug control program. The goals of the program are to reduce illicit drug use, manufacturing, and trafficking, drug-related crime and violence, and drug-related health consequences. To achieve these goals, the Director of ONDCP is charged with producing the National Drug Control Strategy. The Strategy directs the Nation's anti-drug efforts and establishes a program, a budget, and guidelines for cooperation among Federal, State, and local entities.”
The General Accounting Office reported that as of 2000, ONDCP’s annual budget was almost $20 billion. Depending on whether one factors local incarcerations and law enforcement costs we continue to spend billions annually. So as tax payers, how are we to assess the ONDCP’s performance? Are they having any success at achieving their goals? Do they have the right goals? Is ONDCP accomplishing anything useful or simply justifying its own existence and sustaining the prison industrial complex?

Understandably, we have other things on our minds these days. The “war on terror” has dwarfed the “war on drugs” in recent years and unlike 1988, receiving little attention from presidential candidates this time around. However, given the health repercussions of drugs on society as well as the impact on our justice system, foreign policy, and economy, a thorough analysis of the ONDCP’s efforts are in order.

One interesting cost-benefit analysis of the drug war was posted online by Brian C. Bennett, who in 2005 concluded that,
“trying to stop people from using drugs is still costing us more than three times as much as the drug abuse itself.”
Two Appalachian State University professors provide another sobering analysis: Matthew B. Robinson, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Renee G. Scherlen, Associate Professor of Political Science. Their book, Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics: A Critical Analysis of Claims Made by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (State University of New York Press) primarily focuses on data published by the ONDCP from 2000-2006. They also provide an instructive historical overview about America’s war on drugs dating back to 1875 and illustrate the common themes of racism, media hyperbole and bureaucratic self-interest that have helped define this country’s drug policies.

Robinson, an author of six books, including most recently, Death Nation: The Experts Explain Capital Punishment, agreed to a podcast interview with me about his book and the war on drugs. Please refer to the media player below. This interview is just over thirty minutes and can also be accessed at no cost via the Itunes Store by searching for "Intrepid Liberal Journal."

Thank You

Daily Mail:

Bloodied and bruised Amy Winehouse stands by husband who 'saved her life'
Singer Amy Winehouse has defended her husband in a series of texts after the couple were involved in a violent row which left them both bloodied and bruised.

Amy denied Blake was the cause of the argument, 24 hours earlier after which the 23-year-old singer, who has spent most of the summer in and out of rehab for crack and heroin addiction, was seen with bandages covering her arm, blood-spattered shoes and a gashed knee.

And in a series of texts between the Rehab singer and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, she defended her husband who she claimed "saved my life".

Amy told Perez: "Blake is the best man in the world. We would never ever harm each other... I was cutting myself after he found me in our room about to do drugs with a call girl and rightly said I wasn't good enough for him. I lost it and he saved my life."

This will not end well.

When I first saw these photographs, I remembered the title of a book I read years ago: The Next Time She'll Be Dead. This bullshit is scary, and anyone who's making jokes about Amy Winehouse now is a sadistic bastard. I don't care if Winehouse ever makes another CD again, I just want her in a safe place before it's too late.