Sunday, December 04, 2005

Winter

Winter showed up at my door this morning.





Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Retirement Home

The Mrs. and I finally found the perfect place to retire to. It's on Boulevard de La Tour-Mauberg. Now all I have to do is scrape up 750K and beg the owner to sell it.



Did I mention it has 20ft. cielings?

Paris - Part 3

Before we went out stomping all over the city, breakfast was at Le Recrutement.



The obligatory pic in the middle of the Champs. This one was taken at the intersection of Avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt.



Gorgeous.



One of our favorite spots in Eiffel Park.



Can you tell we love it here?

Paris - Part 2

The F-man at the Arc de Triomphe.



Every time we walk though here, Tschaicovskiy's 1812 Overture starts playing in my head.



Sacre Coeur, 3 ways.





Paris - Part 1

The Mrs. is passed out already, heh, so I figured I'd post a couple pics from vacation. Related to Skippy's post-vacation post (We actually stayed a couple blocks from him but we never hooked up), the outside of Musee d'Orsay.



And yes, it snowed like a motherfucker on Friday. The Mrs. at Tour Eiffel.



My lovely wife near Ille de St. Louis. She loves window shopping over there, especially a Russian store whose name eludes me.



She did serious shopping here, Galleries Lafayette, a must-stop when we're in Paris, already decked out in Christmas finery.



Yours truly braving the snow. Heh. It was fantastic and we were out for about 4 hours in it, walking down to the Louvre and then to the Champs.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Where were your balls when we needed 'em?

From Rich Miles:

Those of us who opposed the near-election, then Supreme Court installation, then God forbid the RE-election of George W. Bush, have known at least the basic outlines of what is being said against Bush these days for at least 5 years, so the only part of the recent revelations that come as a surprise is the sheer brazen balls of these people, and the clarity of the perfidy they've perpetrated on America. Many in the blogosphere, and even a few in the MSM, have been saying things like this, with different details, for the entire time W has been on the national political radar, and some have suffered grievously for their efforts - witness Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame (who did not herself ever do anything to harm the Bush administration), Gen. Eric Shinseki, Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill, and a host of others recently documented by Nick Turse of TomDispatch.com.
So my question to these Bush-bashers-come-lately is: where the hell were you people when we needed you?

In the year 2004, those of us working our butts off to get Bush canned stood by and watched as pure lies, gross innuendo, delegated attack politics, guilt by alleged but never proven association, and religious-cum-patriotic posturing scuttled our man Kerry (with a little help from the man himself, it must be said), and caused the weak-minded, the magical thinkers, and the venal to re-elect the most corrupt president in American history because the filth came too fast and furious for anyone to counter, and most of our national news voices didn't really even try.
We knew. We tried to tell you. Almost everything we feared would happen in a second Bush term has come to pass, just as many of us predicted it would. And you weren't listening, and so your sudden epiphanies mean nothing to us.

I agree with the writer's sentiment, but I disagree with his last sentence somewhat. I'm glad the pundits have recovered somewhat from the effects of the Kool-aid and finally overcome their fear enough to speak out. Better late than never, I guess.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here. Please give this some consideration before you send me hate mail and start beating me about the head and shoulders with inflated pig bladders and such.

I'm glad Bush finally got elected.

Look, (he says, crawling somewhat fearfully out of his bunker in an undisclosed location), the big original sin was the rigged election in 2000, which the Chimp almost lost anyway. His backup was in place and his SC(R*)OTUS did their job and installed him. They probably wish they hadn't had to, but that was their job and they did it. *Republican.

By then it was too late. The neocons and christo-fascists had seized the prize.

Then they set about undoing this country. They got a gift on 9/11. Whether they bought it for themselves or not is a whole 'nuther matter, but it let 'em speed-shift their plans for U.S. hegemony into high gear and stuff their foot into the fuel pump.

We all know the results: steal from the poor, give to the rich, trap our military in Iraq with no plans to get them out. Probably with plans to keep them there forever. Rule the world, etc.

The saving grace for us is that these bastards, besides being blinded by their evil ideologies, are so incompetent they couldn't throw a beer party in a brewery. The arrogance of them thinking they own the joint once and for all and can do whatever they want doesn't hurt us in the long run either.

If John Kerry had been elected, and he may actually have been, he would have inherited the whole mess. The Democrats were so disjointed that, given the Republican-controlled Congress, he would not have been able to fix all of Bush's fuckups in his allotted four year term and the country would have elected another fucking Republican in '08. The Dems would never have recovered and America would have truly gone down the shitter under a permanent Republican regime.

With Bush's election, the Repubs have been handed enough rope to hang themselves. They could only keep up the snow job for so long. Stuff we all knew, and stuff that has been leaking out a little at a time for years, have bubbled up through the stinking mess and are making this criminal administration smell bad enough that people are actually beginning to notice. Witness the latest presidential popularity polls. I wonder how many voters regret their choice. I wonder how many would admit it.

It doesn't hurt even a little bit that the cabal is steppin' on each other's weenies and throwin' each other overboard. Whee! It's sure fun to watch!

There have been many voices crying in the wilderness about the Bush cabal, but by and large, nobody but us political junkies took any notice. I think one of the unsung journalistic heroes, probably unwitting, in the unraveling of the Repubs, is (G holds revolver to own head to force finger to do this) Bob Novak. The 'Douchebag for Liberty' gave voice to Joe Wilson, an actual hero, and the outcry gave rise to another hero, Patrick Fitzgerald. Right now, Tina Turner's "We Don't Need Another Hero" is running through my head. Sorry, Honey, but fuckin' A we do!

'Hero' may be too strong a term, but now that the Repub freak show is on the run a little, more and more of the heretofore meek people in the MSM and Congress are emerging, cautiously and tentatively, to throw rocks at their former masters' backs. The political heroes, Boxer, Pelosi, Reid, and others, who have been throwing rocks at their front for some time with little effect are finally getting some support. Let's hope it's a trend.

If the trend keeps up, particularly indictments, public trials, and -please, God- convictions, perhaps an impeachment, the public-at-large may finally take its head out of its collective ass and see this cabal for what it is. Once they do, they'll be so pissed off at being duped, lied to, and played for the suckers they are, though they'll never admit it out loud, that there won't be another Big Business And War At The Expense Of Everybody But The Elite Republican administration for a generation, maybe two, until memory does its stuff and everybody forgets. Then it can start over for all I care. I'll be long gone.

Personally, I'm still hoping for a huge White House play-for-pay homosexual scandal to come out, so to speak. That'd really blow the lid off!

The U.S.A. can get over this. We must or America ends. It will be hard, but we can do it starting with the next election. If we fail to correct it then, shame on us: we're stupid and deserve whatever we get. As Robert Redford said to Michael J. Pollard in "Little Fauss and Big Halsey", "Once is cool. Twice is queer."

Dogs . . . again

Just watching GMA and another Pit Bull kills kid story is on. No link yet, but they did the story in July too. It's time for me to dig up this old standby and post it again too.

26 September 2004:

I know this isn't political, but it is a cause of mine. I posted this a couple months ago on The Fixer. I'm reposting it here today because I just got finished with the Town of Islip Animal Control officer. Seems that during the night, some motherfucking, no good, low-life, piece-of-shit, asshole decided he didn't want his dog anymore and chained him to my mailbox. Have I mentioned that my street has a 40 mph speed? This beautiful little spaniel boy was terrified when I found him this morning. He'd also showed signs of abuse, like someone thought it'd be fun to mutilate his tail. You'd better hope I don't find out who you are, asshole, or you'll know how it feels. At least now he's on his way to a better place, either to a loving home after a vet visit, or to meet the fate of millions of other dogs and cats in our nation's shelters. Either way, it's better than what he's used to.

You know I'm a dog lover and so's the Mrs. So, naturally I got a problem with a lot of folks who own dogs. Listen to me, please.

Don't get a fucking dog for stupid reasons. No, you're not going to breed the fucking thing. Just because you see how much puppies are going for, doesn't mean it's a 'get rich quick' scheme, you stupid motherfuckers. Being a breeder is hard work and you sure as hell don't know what the fuck you're doing. It's like never having popped the hood on a car, yet you suddenly feel you're qualified to open an auto repair shop. All you're gonna do is end up with a bunch of unwanted puppies. Here, I'll do you a favor. Google 'dog breeders' and send an email to five of them asking what the business entails. Then tell me you want to be a breeder. Did you know 3 million dogs and cats are put down every year because they're not wanted? Don't add to the fucking problem, dickhead.

Next, don't get a fucking Rottweiler, Doberman, Pit Bull, etc, as a penis extension, you idiot. Just like the sports car, you're only gonna be a little wiener with a bad dog. I see too many folks like this who want the dog as a status symbol and don't want to make the commitment to training and medical care. Moron, a dog is a twelve to fifteen year commitment on your part. It's just like having a kid. But hey, people have kids for the same stupid reasons. Think long and hard about it, please. (Kid or a dog, it doesn't matter. Be sure you want to make the commitment before you jump in with both feet. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should, ass.)

Next, if you're a compulsive person, and you see a cute little dog and you gotta have one, buy jewlery instead. At least you can hock it if you need the bread at a later date. Ain't nobody gonna buy a used dog, moron.

If you do decide to get a dog, do breed research. Every breed has their own traits (I wrote about my dog's foibles here.), so you have to see what will go best with you're lifestyle. If you're laid back and not into doing much training, a dog that requires a firm hand (Dobies, Rotties) ain't for you. Think Lab or Golden. Same thing if you got rugrats running around your house. All my friends' kids know not to run through my house because my Cattle Dog will try to herd them all back into one room:

Another thing is the dog, Mrs. F's little princess. She's short, but not little, muscular and strong as hell. If you know anything about Australian Cattle Dogs, they are smart, independent, and stubborn, sorta like me. Well, thanks to their breeding, Cattle Dogs herd cattle by nipping at their ankles to get them to go where the dog wants. Well, since our little Shayna has no cattle to work, she finds herself little jobs. One is getting us to the phone when it rings. If you've ever gotten a nip in the ass from one of these dogs well . . . let's just say it leaves a mark.

My point is that the dog looks at little kids as cattle. She tries to keep them together and won't let them run around. So today, not only do I have to keep an eye on the Mrs.' breakable shit, but I have to watch her little varmint like a hawk so she doesn't nip one of the kids. Can't break the dog of that habit, it's instinct.

If your kid gets nipped in the ankle by an Australian Cattle Dog, you're gonna have a lot of crying on your hands, trust me. If you're gonna get a mutt, use this rule of thumb. A mutt will generally act like the breed it most closely resembles.

My point is that if you're gonna get a dog, do it for the right reasons. Don't have big plans until you see what kind of dog you have, it's personality and it's traits. Get a dog because you want a pet and a companion. Anything else that flows from there is gravy.

Heed my words, Lugnut.


It's not the dog (yes, some dogs do have genetic mental problems but it's a small percentage of the whole) it's the owners. Dogs are either pets or tools. If your dog is a pet, you have to treat it like one and make it a part of your family. Chaining it to a dog house in the backyard or locking them in the basement and forgetting about them is only a recipie for disaster. They crave companionship and love as much as we do and a dog who's neglected develops the same problems as neglected children. Be responsible please.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Hoo boy

To wit:

Stuttgart, Germany


The Hawker 144 business jet taxied to the private aviation area and shut down. A lone figure came down the stairs and went directly to the waiting Jaguar limousine. The car left quickly, the driver knowing his passenger's destination in advance.

Schloss Adlersee am Neckar was constructed in 1671 by Graf Ludwig von Adlersee as a retreat from the business of ruling this little section of Germany that had now become a major industrial area. Overlooking the River Neckar, the castle's battlements commanded the waterway, an excellent field of fire ensured against a landing by his enemies' troops. It was a medieval Gothic fort that had been updated into a luxurious home by the current owner.

Grafin Inge von Adlersee was the epitome of Aryan royalty. Though her title was purely ceremonial, von Adlersee lived the part of German Duchess. She had the money, the sole heiress of Herbert and Frieda von Adlersee, sole owners of von Adlersee Export of Stuttgart GmbH., a rail, truck, and shipping concern with operations in Stuttgart, Bremerhaven, Paris, London, and New York. Twenty-two year old Inge was an incredibly wealthy woman.

Beautiful as well, tall, a shade over six feet, golden hair, and sapphire blue eyes that could freeze boiling water. No one would think of her as anything but German, even with the deep bronze tan. Flatley noticed the tan and her beautifully proportioned figure as soon as she entered the parlor.

"Good evening, my Lord," she said in King's English.

"Guten abend, Grafin von Adlersee," he replied in flawless Hochdeutsch. She put her arms around his neck and drew him toward her, kissing his lips passionately. He slipped his tongue inside her mouth and she bit down on it, causing him to pull away.

"Not yet, liebling," she purred.

He tasted blood and she could see it aroused him. He came to her again and pulled her close, his smile was lustful. "I wish you hadn't gone to Nice, I missed you," he said before kissing her once more.

She let his tongue in her mouth then, letting him explore with it. "You could have come," her breath was ragged in his ear.

His bites on her neck went from playful to painful, and it stimulated her. "I have this nasty business to look over, my darling," he whispered. His manhood began to swell against her thigh. "And I don't do well in the sun." From afar, they heard one of the servants clear his throat. They released each other and turned to him.

"Dinner is served, my Lady," the butler said.

Inge kissed him again, and looked down at the erection that was tenting Flatley's pants. She took it in her hand and squeezed. "Keep that thought, my Lord."

. . .

His breath came quickly, ragged as she stood over him, and his erection felt as if it were about to burst. His hands were cuffed behind his back as he knelt there naked, on the floor of a room that could only have been built for one purpose.

"You English," she spat at him. "British men are weaklings."

"Yes, Mistress," he said, keeping his eyes focused on the floor as she circled him, her spike heels echoing through the room as they met the floor. She'd changed, from the formal gown into a leather outfit, reminiscent of the SS uniforms of Nazi Germany. She slapped the back of his head.

"The Americans fucked all your women during the war, at least that's what my grandfather told me," she said. She whipped him once across the shoulders with her riding crop and tears welled up in his eyes. "Your women liked the strong Americans much better than their pale little men."

"Yes, Mistress," he said demurely. Flatley's eyes found his manhood, his raging stiffness that screamed for release. Dampness appeared at the tip, which she noticed.

"Oh no you don't, weakling!" She slapped him again. "You will pleasure me first, before you may be allowed to feel pleasure. If your efforts are less than satisfactory, you will get no pleasure." She unbuckled, and then unzipped, her leather pants, the two gold zippers running from the waist to her ankle. Inge stepped out and kicked them away. Pulling a stool from the corner, she placed it before him and sat. With a gloved hand, she grabbed a shock of his wavy brown hair and spread her legs, pulling his face into her. "Pleasure me now." She forced the back of his head as he lapped at her like a thirsty animal.

. . .

"Don't you dare," Inge growled. She could tell Flatley was losing control and cracked her riding crop across his chest, raising another welt. When she deemed he'd earned this, she released him, only to bind his wrists and ankles to the bed. Inge straddled him, riding his manhood as if she were atop a horse, using her fingers to help her achieve release again. "I'm not finished," she moaned.

"I can't . . . hold it . . ."

"You will," and she slapped his face. She felt it then, the sensation that told her orgasm was imminent, and she slammed herself down on him, harder, burying him inside her wetness. "Oh, yes," she screamed as waves of pleasure wracked her body.

"Please, Mistress, I can't . . ." Flatley pleaded. She rose from him and untied one of his arms before straddling his face.

"You may," she conceded, and he took his free hand to bring himself the rest of the way while his tongue explored her, bringing her to release once more.

From Technocracy - © 2005 RH Wood and Blue Dog Ltd.


Or:

Sedona, Arizona


Kim, Winters, and Clayton sat in the back of the S-76, the four surviving policemen were handcuffed facing them, their eyes directed to the floor for they knew that they had died last night when NoahCorp security took them into custody. What would happen in a few minutes was just a formality. Their destination was just over the next ridge.

. . .

Many years ago, a researcher named Pavlov put forth the hypothesis of conditioned response. He would ring a bell just before he fed his research dogs. He done this for a period, and then one day, he rang the bell, but was not forthcoming with the dogs' dinner. Pavlov found that the dogs would salivate upon hearing the bell in anticipation of food. Dogs, most of the theories in training them involved the conditioned response. This didn't only apply for domesticated dogs.

They began to salivate when they heard the rotor blades of the S-76 for they were dogs, and this was a conditioned response. This secluded valley was where these dogs lived, not domesticated dogs and not wolves. These were the feral dogs of the Australian Outback, the dingoes. Numbering close to a hundred, the dingoes were fed every day by helicopter, and they were fed live meals, mainly feral pigs, also a product of the Australian wilderness and a danger to the ecosystem there. NoahCorp subsidized efforts to capture the pigs and transport them to Sedona as food for the dingoes. Twice daily, a helicopter would fly low and drop several live feral pigs to the dogs.

As the chopper approached, the dogs began to circle, their drooling jaws pointing skyward in anticipation of their breakfast.

. . .

The helicopter pulled into a hover and Winters opened the side door. The dingoes below, seeing the door open, began to get agitated. Clayton removed the cuffs from one of the policemen. Kim nodded to Winters.

"This is for Carrie," she snarled as she grabbed him by his garments and threw him from the aircraft.

"Watch," Winters growled at the remaining three. They raised their eyes to see their comrade trying to stand, the dingoes circling him. A milky white bone stuck from his arm at a crazy angle, the compound fracture earned by his fall from the chopper. Blood poured from it onto the ground; some of the dogs began lapping at the dark stain, then at the blood dripping from his fingers into their drooling mouths.

His head spun from side to side, looking for a place of safety to which he could run. The dogs began shriek then, as only dingoes do, agitation was turning into frenzy among the pack. The Alpha dog, the dominant male, circled the prey, biting and shrieking at others who would try to eat before him. Alpha surged toward the man, and the pack followed in their insane bloodlust, to nip at his ankles, then his calves. He started to run.

One of the three turned his head to the floor, unable to watch what was coming, for the dingoes tasted the blood now, and they were hungry. Winters smashed the butt of her pistol into his face.

"Watch," she demanded and the man raised his eyes to see the dingoes take his comrade down; first tearing at his clothes then the flesh beneath. In their frenzy, they tore at him, and he screamed, inaudible to those in the helicopter, but he screamed at them for his life or to end it quickly, and he screamed for another excruciatingly long minute as the wild dogs tore him apart.

Kim nodded at Winters and the next man met the same fate, and the next, until the last, and this was done on purpose, for the last living member of Masterson's private army was a woman.

Kim looked to her now, the front of her clothes covered with her own vomit, her eyes glazed over after watching the horror that would surely visit her in a minute. "Do you want to live?" Kim asked quietly, a hatred glowing in the jade orbs.

"Yes," the shattered woman replied from that far off place.

"Will you cooperate with us, truthfully?"

"Yes, I will, I will do anything not to die like that," she said as vomit rose in her throat again.

Kim nodded to Clayton who spoke to the pilot. "Take us back."

From Lightning Crashes - © 2002 RH Wood and Blue Dog Ltd.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

From the mouth of Babes Babs

For all our Kal-ee-for-nya voters, here's an e-mail from Senator Babs to my wife laying it all out. She never sends me anything! Oh well, I guess the gals stick together.

Dear Mrs. G,

Next Tuesday, Californians will head to the polls to vote in a special election organized by Governor Schwarzenegger and his right-wing allies. It's critical that we stand up and be counted on these important issues.

So I wanted to take just a moment to write to you since many of you have asked me how I plan to vote.

Please join me in voting NO on 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, and 78, and YES on 79. Here's why:

VOTE NO on Proposition 73

Proposition 73 is just the latest attempt by right-wing conservatives to take away a woman's right to choose. This dangerous measure would jeopardize the health of our teenagers, when we should instead be focusing our efforts on preventing teen pregnancy. Prop. 73 unwisely tries to legislate family communication and unrealistically expects teenagers to navigate through a cumbersome and confusing judicial process.

As the San Francisco Chronicle said in their editorial opposing Prop. 73, "The way to reduce abortion is not a law that requires frightened young women to either face a judge or the wrath of their parents. It's about increasing communication -- about sex, about choices, about consequences -- that prevents an accidental pregnancy in the first place." Vote NO on 73.

VOTE NO on Proposition 74

Proposition 74 is an effort to divert attention from the real problems facing California's public schools by turning teachers into scapegoats. The initiative does nothing to improve California's public schools -- and could actually harm them by making it harder to recruit good teachers.

Schools in California can already dismiss teachers found to be deficient during their first two years of service without a hearing. In fact, every local school has a system in place to deal with struggling teachers. At a time when we should be encouraging people to choose a career in teaching, Prop. 74 will hurt those recruitment efforts by not affording due process to those in the teaching profession who do so much for California's children. Vote NO on 74.

VOTE NO on Proposition 75

Prop. 75 targets teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers with new political restrictions designed to weaken their ability to advocate for better schools, patient care, and public safety. That's why campaign watchdogs like the League of Women Voters of California oppose Prop. 75. Corporations already outspend unions on politics 24-1, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Yet the governor's corporate campaign contributors put Prop. 75 on the ballot to increase their grip on our government, and make it easier for the governor to pass his harmful agenda. Vote NO on 75.

VOTE NO on Proposition 76

Proposition 76 is an attempted power grab by Governor Schwarzenegger that gives him the power to bypass the legislature and make cuts to the budget without any oversight or public approval. Prop. 76 does not protect education funding -- and it would in fact reduce the long-term Prop. 98 school spending guarantee by $4 billion per year. Under Prop. 76, local governments could also lose hundreds of millions of dollars for police, firefighters, health care and social service programs. Vote NO on 76.

VOTE NO on Proposition 77

Proposition 77 is a flawed redistricting initiative that cuts out the public, has no accountability provision, and is unfair to those most underrepresented.

This is another clear power grab by the Governor and his allies who reach all the way to the most conservative Republicans in Washington, DC. Vote NO on 77.

VOTE NO on Proposition 78 and VOTE YES on Proposition 79

Everybody knows we need to do more to make prescription drugs more affordable. So let's do it right.

Proposition 79 will provide real prescription drug discounts to seniors and lower income Californians who need them the most. Prop. 79 will also establish a pharmacy assistance program to help businesses, small employer purchasing pools, and labor organization health and welfare funds -- among others -- receive the same pharmacy discounts and rebates from drug makers. Finally, drug companies would be held accountable by a state advisory board that would review the pricing and access of prescription drugs under the program.

Prop. 79 will make a difference. Proposition 78, on the other hand, calls for a voluntary system and at the end of the day will mean little or nothing for the people of California. So vote NO on 78 and YES on 79.

In Friendship,

Barbara Boxer

Thanks, Babs, but we're way ahead of you. The real reason to vote no on Ah-nold's proposals is that he proposed them. He spent about $80mil on this idiotic special election hoping nobody but his supporters would show up to vote. Fuck him. Prop 78 is sponsored by Big Pharma, so that's no, and we're not doing anything to diminish a woman's right to choose or place her in jeopardy, so 73 is out.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday chores



Of course, I couldn't just build shelves. They had to tie in with the theme of the room. Yes, I made the gate too. (Pardon the mess, I still got a little more detail work to do.)



As you can see, the anal German in me surfaces when I build shit. This was unfinished basement once. Well, until I got a hold of it. Now it's my office/bedroom.



My office.



The bedroom is past the arch.



Yes, I built the desk too.



My adult supervision.

Update:

Mrs. F added her touch to turn it into a garden.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

10 Pledges to Demand from Democrats

I'm more than a little leery about anything that even sounds like it resembles a "Contract with America" after the last time, given that politicians will sign anything that sounds good even though they know nobody will hold them accountable so they don't have to live up to it. This one from AlterNet sounds good anyway.

You hear it every day in Washington: "Democrats have no ideas, no programs, no deeply held beliefs, no lines in the sand they will not cross." The only discernible passion Democrats display is a passion to be in power again. But in power to do what? You tell me. I have no friggin idea, and I deeply suspect neither do they.

That's why we need to force them to sign a contract with us this time. To put it bluntly, we don't trust them any longer. They've double-crossed at every major moment -- on war, on taxes, on the environment, on health care. They took or votes and our hopes and bargained them away to the enemy for the political equivalent of nylons, smokes and chocolate bars.

So I took the points Bob listed in his article, "embellished" them and put them into the form of 10 contractual pledges Democrat candidates can and should embrace.
A Progressive Contract With America

If elected to office I promise to fully, enthusiastically and aggressively work to pass legislation that achieves the following goals:

We Will Bring the Troops Home. Our military has been stretched to the breaking point through a series of unwise deployments, particularly the war in Iraq. We will begin rebuilding America's all-volunteer military by first setting a date-certain for withdrawal from Iraq, beginning with National Guard and reservists. We will pass legislation requiring US troops begin leaving Iraq at the rate of 15,000 a month. We will work as closely as possible with Iraqi government officials to make this withdraw orderly while continuing to provide them the resources needed to train and equip their own soldiers and police forces.

We Will Crack Down on Corruption. The revolving door between corporate lobbies and high public office must be closed. We will pass legislation prohibiting legislators, their senior aides and executive branch political appointees from lobbying for two years after leaving office. We will let the sun shine into the deepest corners by requiring detailed public reporting of all contacts between lobbyists and legislators and the timely posting of such contacts on the Web. We pledge to apply these rules to all, regardless of party, as one way to take big money out of politics.

We Will Make Public Officials Accountable. When public officials fail to do their job, as in the pre-9/11 and WMD intellegence faliures, we will require an independent investigation be launched so that no official's actions, regardless of rank or position, escapes review. We will detail action on the urgent needs that this Administration has ignored: Improve port security, bolster first responders and public health capacity, and require adequate defense planning by high-risk chemical plants. And we will attack fraud, waste and abuse, beginning with the pork-barrel squandering of national security funds.

We Will Unleash New Energy for America. We understand that the "age of oil," is nearing an end. Therefore we pledge to launch and fund a concerted drive towards real energy independence for America. We must approach this task with the same sense of urgency, funding and attention that the nation gave to the Manhattan Project. We will focus these efforts solely on mainstreaming renewable, non-polluting sources of energy such as hydrogen, wind and solar, with the goal of achieving total energy independence no later than 2020.

We Will Rebuild America First. We will pass legislation rescinding Bush's tax cuts for the already wealthy and corporations in order to create more jobs here than overseas. We will accomplish that, in part, by using the additional tax revenue to create good-paying jobs rebuilding America's decaying infrastructure.

We Will Make Work Pay Once Again. There are only three nations on earth with such a vast disparity between rich and poor, Russia, Mexico and the United States. It is a disgraceful effect of GOP economic policies that favor corporations and the wealthy while ignoring hard working Americans. While CEO pay has moved steadily upward, the pay of working Americans has fallen, in many cases below the official poverty level. We promise to reverse that trend, beginning by passing legislation raising the minimum wage to a level that reflects current economic reality. We will encourage workers, including white collar workers, to take a hand in their own destinies by joining unions, as well as becoming shareholders in the companies that employ them and fully participating in both union and shareholder activities. We will insist that any companies that receive government contracts pay the prevailing wage.

We Will Make Healthcare Affordable. We pledge to fix America's broken healthcare system, a to do so quickly. We will study and then propose a single-payer, universal, healthcare system to be in place no later than 2015. We will also immediately reverse the Republican shameful sellout to the pharmaceutical industry by empowering Medicare to bargain down drug prices andallowing people to purchase drugs from safe outlets abroad.

We Will Protect Retirement Security. We pledge to strengthen Social Security. We will not risk Social Security by privatizing it. Instead we will modernize Social Security by, in part, recognizing that people live and work longer than they did 75 years ago.We will also modernize the ways the Social Security Trust Fund is invested to assure it always grows at least as fast as core inflation. We will also require companies to treat the shop floor like the top floor when it comes to managing their pensions and healthcare benefits.

We Will Keep the American Dream Alive. We will immediately stop and reverse current GOP efforts to cut eligibility for college grants and to limit loans. Instead we will offer a contract to American students: If they graduate from high school, they will be able to afford college or the higher technical training needed to be successful in today's economy. We will pay for this by preserving the estate tax on the wealthiest multimillion-dollar estates in America.

We Will Provide Real Security for America. We will foster and lead an aggressive international alliance to track down stateless terrorists, capture or kill them and confiscate their assets. Captured terrorists will be always be treated in accordance with international law. We will increase efforts and funding to track down and secure "loose nukes." We will detail action on the urgent needs that this Administration has ignored: Improve port security, bolster first responders and public health capacity, and require adequate defense planning by high-risk chemical plants. We will also affirm the reality that no nation can ever be secure as long as its borders are not. We will bring order and security to our borders by increasing border patrols and controls and by instituting a fair, manageable and humane guest worker program. We will also aggressively prosecute employers who employ or exploit illegal immigrant workers.

Date:______________________

Candidate:______________________________________

So, maybe you should email or mail this to your elected representative and let him/her know that, if they intend to run for re-election the price of your vote is their signature on this document.

In other words, "We'll do what we should have been doing all along." Your thoughts?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Yesterday's excuses

Mrs. F and yours truly were at the wedding of our oldest and closest friends' oldest daughter. (Say it a couple times, it works) Needless to say, we had far too much fun. It was wonderful, though I feel a bit old, because I've known these kids all their lives. An excellent coincidence, the wedding was held at the country club that's 2 blocks from my house. The car found its way home by itself.



1 - My beautiful wife and me after too much Jack Daniels and Absolut.



2 - The bride's two younger sisters. The one on the left gets married next year. Gotta go to Boston for that one.



3 - Yours truly, the bride's little brother, and the proud daddy.



4 - With the beautiful bride. I remember when she was an annoying little rugrat.



5 - Mrs. F with the mother of the bride (Mrs F's best friend) and the next victim. Heh.





6 & 7 - Me with mom and dad.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Me and my big mouth

As regular readers of the Brain know, I speak my mind. Everybody knows where they stand with me. There's no guessing if I like you or not. If I don't you'll know it.

Anyway, it's with this attitude I pay my property taxes twice a year . . . in person. It's the one time I can get in my local politicians' faces . . . well, two times a year. They have to deal with me too because I give 'em $4000 at a clip. I also went to school with the Town Supervisor's (mayor's) useless piece-of-shit son.

So, for the last 5 years (10 visits to Town Hall), I've been bitching about illegal multiple family dwellings. We've got big problems there because our tax base is small enough. The schools suck, we don't have sewers or sidewalks, and most of the single-family houses have been turned into illegal, multi-family apartments with absentee landlords. They're still paying taxes for single-family dwellings.

So, I've been on this code enforcement kick. Now, I'm not one to turn in neighbors, that's up to the town when they do the checks they're supposed to do, so I bitch at them to do their jobs. Generally, I get a pat on the head and "We're working on it".

Okay.

So last week, I'm in the yard walking the dog. I got an old Taurus (my daily driver until I blew the transmission) in my yard, not on the road. I got it hid behind a bushy evergreen so it's not an eyesore and you can't see it from the street. So what do I see on it as I'm walking the dog? 3 tickets. They had to walk halfway through my yard to get to it and put tickets on it. I'm pissed now. Even cops don't enter my yard without my knowlege and these code enforcement rent-a-cops have the balls? We'll see.

The next day, I head off to Town Hall, tickets in hand. I get there early, because the Town Supervisior doesn't park in his assigned spot, doesn't even use the town vehicle. He drives this beat up old Nissan and parks it in with the regular folks because too many people want to kill him. This is the same guy who named a wing of our local airport after himself, the one with the useless piece-of-shit son.

So, I'm there early, parked in the back of the lot, wating for him to show. As soon as he pulls in, I hop out the truck and make a beeline for him, tickets in hand. "You son of a bitch," I say. "Is this payback for my bitching?"

Needless to say, he has no idea what I'm talking about. "They came into my yard to put these on my car," I shove the tickets in his face. I go into the usual, "if I catch one of your assholes in my yard, I'll be calling you to bring bodybags."

"Shut up," he says, snatching the tickets from me and looking them over. "I'll take care of this," he sticks them in his jacket pocket and then looks me over.

"Tell me if I'm wrong," he says to me. "These tickets are all deserved?"

"Well . . . yeah," I agree. I did break about a half-dozen local ordnances by having an unlicensed, unregistered, uninsured car on my property.

"Rich, my boy," I hate it when guys I don't like get fatherly with me. He throws his arm over my shoulder. "You got 30 days to get that piece of crap out your yard or under a cover, or I'll send code enforcement back out."

"Fair enough," I say. "But why break my balls? I keep my yard nice, I don't bother anybody, and I only piss you off twice a year."

He stops, looks me straight in the eye, and says, "aren't you the one who bitches the loudest about enforcing local codes? You should be happy we're finally doing our jobs. We're breaking everybody's balls." He smiles, slaps me on the shoulder, and leaves me standing there. Guess I shouldn't have bitched so loudly.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Still working . . .



Now, I can't just build bookshelves. That would be too easy. I gotta make 'em fit in somewhere. Since I already built a set under the stairs (it's a nice little alcove), I figured I'd build the new ones across from the old.



And of course, I can't just throw a back on 'em. That would be boring.



I cut up all them little strips of 1/2" ply. I like plywood for shit I'm gonna paint. I make the carcass out of good shit, just so it doesn't warp under the weight, but I can get creative with the fascias using the ply. (Painting doesn't require as much finish work either.)



Shayna, the Supervisor.

These are the ones I built a couple years back.



Monday, September 05, 2005

You want a plan?

The Dems have a plan.

Katrina Relief Plan for Senate Action This Week


Although the Congress last week appropriated $10.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Defense Department, it is clear much more will be needed given the enormity of this disaster. While government authorities and others assess the scope of the problem and decide how much additional funding will be needed to address specific problems, there are a number of legislative items the Senate can and should promptly approve that can help Katrina’s victims. After the Senate has completed action on this emergency legislation, we hope the Senate will quickly provide significant new funding, and consider other substantive proposals that could help address short- and medium-term needs. These proposals must be followed by a much broader, long-term effort to rebuild and rehabilitate the Gulf Coast region and substantially improve efforts to prevent, mitigate and respond to future disasters.

The following are just some examples of proposals that Senate Democrats believe deserve immediate Senate action this week:


Ensuring health care for all displaced victims

* Immediate access to Medicaid for displaced victims.
* No need to prove residency or assets
* No copayments
* No penalties for failing to sign up for Medicare Part B in time.

To ensure access to medical care, we should ensure immediate access to Medicaid for displaced victims. Paperwork requirements should be streamlined and asset requirements waived to ensure that victims, many of whom have no legal documents in their possession, can enroll in the program with little red tape. Residency requirements for participation should not apply to these victims to allow them to obtain health care services around the country. In addition, copayments should be waived for these people as they struggle to meet other needs as well. The Federal government should bear the full cost of these changes, and ensure that no affected state suffers a reduction in Federal Medicaid funding (their “match rate”) for other populations. This proposal is based on a similar successful initiative after the September 11 disaster.

We also should provide compensation to health care providers who provide a disproportionate share of the care for these victims.

Displaced victims should not be penalized for late enrollment in Medicare Part B because they have become newly-eligible or have lost coverage from another plan during this time. Similarly, everyone from the affected states should have an additional year to enroll in the new Medicare drug benefit and its low income subsidies. The automatic transition of dual eligible beneficiaries from Medicaid to Medicare drug coverage should be delayed in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, with the Federal government bearing the full cost of those people continuing Medicaid drug coverage.

Getting victims housing

* Emergency housing vouchers for displaced victims
* Expedited application procedures with no red tape.
* No tenant contributions until they find work.
* Tax incentives for private families to take in victims.
* Identify federal facilities that can house victims.
* Relief for homeowners facing threat of foreclosure

FEMA has said that up to 1 million people may need housing assistance. The Senate therefore should immediately authorize the Department of Housing and Urban Development to create and distribute temporary emergency housing vouchers to victims, without many of the restrictions that apply under the existing Section 8 low-income voucher program. For example, victims should not have to document their income levels, and tenant contributions should be waived until they find work. HUD also should be authorized to increase existing limits on allowable rents given the likelihood that rents in Gulf Coast areas will increase substantially for the foreseeable future. HUD needs to take over primary responsibility for distributing vouchers since many of the region’s local housing authorities are not functioning at full capacity, if at all.

Given the scarcity of rental housing, we will need to rely on private individuals and families to provide free room and board to victims. To encourage this, we should immediately approve a tax subsidy for those who provide such assistance to Katrina’s victims.

To help identify locations to house victims, the Administration should be required, within 10 days, to release an inventory of federal civilian and defense facilities that can be used to provide emergency housing, or as locations for the construction or deployment of temporary housing units.

We should increase aid to owners of damaged homes by waiving current law caps on home repair assistance (now $5200) and home replacement assistance (now $10,200). In addition, we should waive a requirement that individuals leave their home to qualify for home repair assistance, a rule that threatens to exacerbate an already massive demand for shelter in the region.

We should reestablish the Temporary Mortgage and Rental Program, which has been used in the past, including after the September 11 disaster, to provide assistance to homeowners and renters facing financial hardship. This could be important for many victims who otherwise could lose their homes through foreclosure.



Getting victims to family members and friends

Many of Katrina’s victims have little or no access to transportation. Although FEMA has legal authority to address this, the agency seems overwhelmed and has proven unable on its own to meet the compelling needs of countless numbers of stranded victims. We therefore need to make this a White House priority and direct the President to lead a broad effort to quickly ensure that displaced victims can get to family, friends and others who can provide them with room and board.


Getting students into school

Many of Katrina’s victims are children who need to enroll in a new school. To encourage schools to accept these victims, and alleviate some of the resulting burdens, we should provide funding to school districts that accept displaced children. This funding could be used to hire additional teachers, teachers’ aides, or counselors, or to provide temporary expansions of classrooms. A similar program should be provided for institutions of higher education that admit displaced students.


Bringing victims’ families together and placing them with other families

The government should establish a toll free “800” number and web site through which victims could access a national victim database and information about available assistance. Displaced individuals could register and provide contact information, so that separated family members and friends could find each other. The database also would allow volunteers to sign up if they are willing to provide free shelter to victims.


Getting victims cash to meet other basic needs

To ensure that victims can get cash for their basic needs, we should strengthen and expand the Disaster Unemployment Insurance Program and automatically extend any expiring UI benefits that victims are receiving. We also should give the President authority to increase the $26,200 statutory cap on cash assistance through the Individuals and Households Program, and should waive the 25 percent matching requirement for States in the Gulf region. In addition, victims should be allowed to withdraw funds from individual retirement accounts (IRA’s) penalty-free, with extra contributions permitted later.


Providing financial relief to victims and National Guard

Katrina’s victims, and National Guard involved in disaster operations, should not be obligated to make payments to the Federal government in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. There should be a short term moratorium on obligations such as:

Student loans
Individual and corporate income taxes
Small business loans

In addition, disaster victims filing for bankruptcy should be treated differently under the bankruptcy code in recognition of their particular hardship.


Ensuring victims have access to food

We should ensure that the many victims of Katrina who are struggling to obtain food have access to food stamps through a streamlined application process. States should be provided relief from the additional costs associated with administering the food stamp program for victims.


Restoring order

We should provide law enforcement funding where needed to help protect innocent citizens from crime and to ensure that there are places in which to imprison dangerous criminals. In addition, we should authorize federal courts to convene outside of their ordinary location in the event of an emergency, such as the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina.


Helping victims get jobs

Private employers should be given an incentive to hire displaced victims by temporarily qualifying them for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which can reduce an employer’s tax liability by up to $2400 per qualified new worker. In addition, the Federal government should establish a temporary preference for hiring displaced victims who are qualified for jobs.

Moreover, many displaced workers now lack the documents they need to secure employment under Federal law, such as passports and birth certificates. This law should be relaxed temporarily so that victims can legally obtain work without such documents, so long as they can provide a valid Social Security number.


Supporting the National Guard

We should ensure that Guard units serving in the Gulf Coast effort be considered to have been mobilized under Title 32 (they are currently mobilized through the states). This would qualify them for federal benefits and ensure that their service counts as active duty for the purposes of retirement, health care, and other benefits. It also would make them eligible for the Family Separation Allowance if separated from their families for more than 30 days, and could provide relief from creditors and foreclosures.

Requiring accountability

We should require the President to submit regular reports to the Congress on the status of recovery efforts, the number of victims who remain without decent housing, jobs, etc., and any additional resources or action needed to address the crisis.



Don't let it be said that the Dems can't come up with anything. From Atrios.

Insulting Potemkin

Billmon admits he does it:

[. . .]

Of course, calling Bush the Potemkin president is actually a gross insult to the genuine article -- Prince Grigory Potemkin, the man who allegedly had fake villages constructed on the shores of the Dnieper River in order to impress the Czarina Catherine during an official inspection tour.

[. . .]

But history also tells us the real Prince Potemkin was a hard-working, conscientious public servant who carried out his duties with considerable skill. At this point, it's looking less and less likely that history will ever say the same about Shrub.

[. . .]


He goes on to draw parallels between Bush and the last days of the Nazi regime:

[. . .]

For many Germans -- fanatical Nazis as well as the naive and the weak-minded -- believing Hitler's absurd promises of ultimate victory was the only alterrnative to accepting a world in which evil (Bolshevism, world Jewry) had triumphed and good (National Socialism, the Aryan superman) had failed. Such a world was either unimaginable, or unendurable.

Likewise, for the conservative ultras to accept Bush's failures now would be to admit the patriotic demi-God constructed after 9/11 by the White House propaganda machine (and, ironically, by the mainstream media ) doesn't exist. All that would be left would be the real Bush: the incompetent, arrogant rich kid who's failed at every significant job he's ever held -- from CEO of Arbusto Energy to commander in chief of the planet's most powerful military machine. For many Bushistas, this is equally unbearable.


[. . .]


An excellent post, though I don't completely agree with his final conclusions (I still have faith in my fellow Americans they will correct their political mistakes), I do believe we have some serious work to do on our system of government. Don't groan, but yes, it's time for another excerpt:

[. . .]

Sedona, Arizona


Dinner had been spectacular, both Mariana and Soledad combining their talents to produce a Mexican feast. Most of NoahCorp's senior staff was on hand, as well as the President's people. They'd all retired to the library, breaking into small knots of those from both groups who shared common interests. Clarke spotted Kim near the door and sidled up to her.

"I like the shirt," Clarke said, modeling the polo shirt that had been placed in his quarters. It was blue, with the ubiquitous Ark and Animals embroidered on the left breast and the words 'The Man' on the right.

She smiled at him. "I figured you would, Mr. President. Are you enjoying yourself?"

"Indeed," he agreed. "Jen and I got a chance to go riding before dinner. We haven't done that since the boys were young."

"The view of the valley is awesome from Dead Man's Rock; isn't it?"

"Yes, it is. You've done so much here, yet preserved the natural beauty."

"You can thank Kate Beu for that. In five years, all of our facilities worldwide will be environmentally friendly."

"I can thank Kate Beu for that dull ache at the base of my skull," Clarke said. "How do you put up with her on a daily basis?"

"Kate and I have known each other half our lives," she said. "She's been that way since she was young. I guess I'm used to her."

"The flautas were wonderful,"Amy Stokes said as she made her way over to them.

"Yes, I'm debating declaring eminent domain over Mariana and Soledad and bring them to cook at the White House," Clarke announced with a smile.

"They're not going anywhere," Kim countered. "Neither Kate nor I can cook worth a damn." She took three snifters from the sideboard and poured them each cognac. "Why don't we take a walk?" They followed her down the front hall, out the front door, and across the drive onto the sand. It was a warm eighty degrees for this time of year and this time of night and Stokes stepped out of her shoes, walking barefoot by the shore.

"We have things to discuss, Mr. Clarke," Kim said, taking a deep sniff at the top of the glass.

"Yes, we do," he agreed. "I believe we must work out our differences in order for both of us to fulfill our responsibilities." He was being magnanimous, giving her an opening, but she wasn't ready to take it just yet.

"I am able to fulfill my responsibilities with or without your help. You are the one having the problem separating business from personal."

"Then why did you have us here? Why didn't you just tell me to go to Hell when I asked to meet with you?"

"Because I want to work with you," she said, turning to face him. "I believe we both know the choices that will have to be made over the next few years, and I believe that you and I share the same vision."

"So Steve and Amy keep telling me," he said, taking a sip of cognac. Clarke looked to Stokes, who'd moved farther down the shore, aimlessly strolling through the shallows. "Yet I have no idea of what you envision for this country. I can't help thinking you got me into the White House so I can be your rubber stamp."

"Have I asked you for anything since you've been elected?"

"Aside from Kate Beu ranting at me weekly, no," Clarke admitted.

"But you're still sitting there, ineffective for a year, waiting for the other shoe to drop; am I right?" She stopped, sipping her drink.

He looked at her for a moment, wondering about the depth of this young woman. "Partly; but I'd also like to know what you envision for the future, where you see the country going over the next five years. You have the resources to do so much and I believe we can cooperate in certain areas," he tried the offer again.

"That is a given," she nodded, "look at what we're doing in space. Within the year, the work on MarsPort will begin. It would have taken the government fifty years to get this far if NASA was still in sole control of space."

"Exactly," Clarke agreed. "And the power plant replacement is another area where we agree." Another example of the revolutionary nature of the Force Engine was the ability to produce them to fit many applications, from powering lawnmowers to providing electricity for whole cities. NoahCorp and the federal government had begun a program to replace all of the oil, coal and natural gas fired power-generating plants with the pollution-free Force units.

"I'm glad you brought that up, Mr. President," Kim said as they resumed the walk, the house now only small glowing points of light. "We've been planning, for some time now, to begin the same type of program in more depressed parts of the world."

"Such as?"

"We have an initiative package prepared for the African continent and we'd like your support with it."

"What kind of incentives?"

"A socio-economic package, sir; consisting of a plan to improve the infrastructure and the standard of living. We plan to start with an electrification project in Kenya."

"Africa is a quagmire, Kim," Clarke warned. "The political situation is unstable, even in countries we consider democratic. Until they become organized, I doubt you'll have much company over there. I'm sure you know that you stand to lose a lot if the political situation goes to Hell."

"We intend to help them with that, as well as set an example to American business that it is safe to invest in Africa."

"What kind of help?" Clarke could just imagine, and Kim didn't answer. "I will not be part of a coup," he said.

"Who said anything about a coup?" Kim shook her head. "General Okwu is the best thing for Kenya. He just needs to get his priorities straight. We intend to show him the path to salvation," she let a giggle sneak out.

"So what do you want of me?"

"We'd like you to support him, and his position."

"The United States already does, as we do with all the African democracies."

"But you'll drop him like a bad habit if things become unstable over there. I'd like you to solidify your support for him, maybe work out an agreement for the U.S. to train their army the right way. It would do much for world opinion if you helped change them from uniformed thugs into real soldiers."

"Okwu's grip on the military is tenuous. The military power is in the hands of local governors, not the man in Nairobi," Clarke suggested.

"That will change," she told him. "We would like you to support him when those changes take place. He will need a strong ally."

"He's a crook, Kim. Why do you think we only send humanitarian aid to them? We have to step lightly with regard to getting involved with him militarily."

"We'd like you to get involved environmentally as well," Kim said, ignoring his response. "We'd like the U.S. military to help them with the poaching problem, as well as the administration of Kenya's national parks."

"I can't just call up and say we're sending the Army in to round up their criminals for them."

"No, that would be pretty obnoxious;" Kim agreed, nodding her head. "I'd wait until they asked you for help."

"What makes you think Okwu will ask?"

"We're sending a delegation to Nairobi on Monday to point out the error of Okwu's ways. Kate Beu and Billie Jean Westover will be overseeing things."

"Kate isn't really the diplomat, my dear," Clarke said with a laugh.

"Billie Jean will make sure she doesn't start a war. Would the First Lady be willing to join the delegation?" Kim asked before taking another sip of the cognac.

Clarke stopped again. "That would imply the tacit support of the U.S. government, at least from the administration. I don't know if I want to put us in that position, and it also links the administration too closely with your interests. The Republicans are still grumbling about your involvement with the Democratic Party."

"Let them grumble. There will be delegates from Ford, GM, Bright Star Internet, and DataLink International, to name a few, it wouldn't be just NoahCorp."

"NoahCorp owns ten percent of Ford and fifteen percent of General Motors and Bright Star and DataLink are NoahCorp spin-offs. It's thin cover, Kim." Clarke had to smile.

"But I can get away with it and so can Jen. Public opinion is on my side and the country loves her. They will not care about the relationship between NoahCorp and the others."

"George Felder won't like this. We only have a consulate in Nairobi since the bombings there in the nineties, and the lack of an ambassador would require him to make the overtures to General Okwu. He'd have to leave for Africa tomorrow morning."

"From what I hear, there isn't much past routine and mundane going on over at Foggy Bottom," Kim replied. "I'm sure George would welcome the opportunity."

"What will this get me?" Clarke asked finally.

"A greater influence in Africa. If we are successful in Kenya, others will want to partake in that success. If we're successful, Nairobi and Mombassa will be compared to Johannesburg and Pretoria in a few years. For us to move into the future, the standard of living in Africa has to be brought up to that of the rest of the world. This is the first step."

"So you envision a prosperous, democratic Africa?"

"Yes, eventually. They have to be brought from the Dark Ages into the Twenty First Century and it has to happen relatively quickly. The wider the educational, economic and technological gaps become, the more difficult, read costly, it will be to help them. And we will have to help them, whether it is now, or years down the road. I'd rather it be now."

"What kind of political structure do you envision for them?"

"Well, eventually leaders like Okwu will have to go, but we need influence with the major tribes. Okwu, regardless of his shortcomings, has managed to unite the different tribes that comprise the population of Kenya. If we consolidate his power and strengthen him, he will bring others into line. By the time the next Presidential election in Kenya rolls around, we will have organized a large part of the government and the chances of a moderate being elected are good. If the government remains stable during the transfer of power, it will be an incentive for more business to invest there."

"What are your plans to keep them stable?" It was another question Kim chose to ignore. "You can't keep me in the dark, not if you want my help."

"Our plans are fluid, Mr. President, but suffice it to say that we intend to take an active part in their political process."

"I'd like assurances that you will not do anything to embarrass this administration. I will not stand for what your mother did to President DeVore during the congressional hearings," he wagged a finger at her.

"You have my word. We would not want our part in that publicized either."

"What is your ultimate goal for Africa, Kim," Clarke asked. "Why are you risking all this?"

"I'd like to see Africa take after the model of Europe, with one economy, ruled by one government and a legislature. It would be easier for them to modernize that way. We'd also like to see their economy change from an agrarian one to an industrialized one. Environmentally, it would be better if their population were concentrated in urban areas."

"And what about Europe, and Japan for that matter? They will not appreciate the U.S. building a trading relationship with the Africans. They have been undergoing a recession since the Osan Accords were signed," Clarke observed.

"They need to realize their place in the food chain, Mr. President," Kim declared. "They are still under the illusion they are imperial powers and they will suffer as long as they cling to that. We, meaning NoahCorp and other concerns, will not let the European economy founder, but they will have to come down off their pedestal to share in the prosperity. That goes for the Japanese too."

"What do you want from them?" Clarke pressed her.

"I want them to accept a deal resembling the one the Chinese and Russians did, Mr. President. I want them to lower trade barriers and abandon the Euro, accepting the dollar as a standard currency. When they are prepared to do that, I will make my best effort to expand operations and encourage others to do the same."

"Some of the individual countries are sending representatives next month," Clarke advised her. "They have expressed the desire to work out agreements independent of the EC. How do you feel about that?"

"I'd only ask you take my opinions into consideration when you negotiate."

"In your perfect world, then, the U.S. dollar would be a global currency," he asked.

"It would simplify things; don't you think?"

"It follows that someday, you envision a global government." Kim smiled at him, not answering again. "That is your goal, isn't it?"

"Let's just say, Mr. Clarke, that I envision you being the last President of the United States."

[. . .]

"That hints of treason and conspiracy," Clarke said when he caught his breath. Even Amy Stokes turned her attention to the two people fifteen feet away.

"Not at all, sir," Kim said. "It goes back to our choices and our ultimate goals. We both know the world is too small to be governed by close to two hundred different political entities. There will come a time when the redundancy of government will be too cumbersome. Hell, it already has."

"Are you suggesting the United States begin a campaign of imperialism?"

"Of course not," Kim looked at him as if he were oblivious. "Forcing others to one's will only breeds resentment."

"Voluntary unification under one government won't work, it can't work. Too many are only concerned with personal power."

"It will work, Mr. Clarke; it has to. The planet Earth does not have the resources to support the population and allow for all to share in the prosperity we enjoy here. The 'have-nots' will eventually be desperate enough to try to take what they need from the 'haves'. All must be allowed to share the wealth and that means we have to begin to exploit the worlds that are close to us. The Moon and the Asteroid Belt are the first steps, and a city on Mars will be a reality in my lifetime. We have to slow the growth of population on Earth and begin to sow the seeds of colonization soon. A world government is the only way to achieve real change on a reasonably fast timeline."

"While I am still President?" Clarke chuckled.

"You are the best hope. Chances are a conservative administration will follow yours and the climate for world government will chill. We must act now, before the end of your second term, in order for the movement to have enough inertia to continue through a slowing of the economy, and a conservative move toward isolationism. Your opponent preached that during the last election and it would have been close if not for his troubles. I'd rather not have to wait for two decades in order to make this a reality."

"And you expect this to be accomplished in under seven years?"

"Yes, you can do it," Kim said confidently. "With our help, of course."

"How?"

"You and I will work on that together, but we have to begin to bring Africa up to speed."

"I do not think you are dealing with reality, Kim."

"Forget about what I said about globalization if that helps you," she said, a bit irritated, but she had to let him do this his way. "Help me with this initiative in Africa and see what happens. That's all I ask of you."

"And if I say no?"

"Then you say no and I do it by myself. Contrary to what you believe, Bob, I do not want to manipulate you. I want you to act out of your own free will. If I wanted a yes man in office, I wouldn't have supported you. You're too much trouble." She gave him a warm smile.

"What about the next election? Will you support me then if I don't go along with this now?"

"Yes, I pledge my support to you for as long as you want it, Mr. President. You are the best thing for this country whether you work with me or not. I want you to be successful and I am prepared to give you as much, or as little, help as you want."

"As long as I leave you free to do what you want to," Clarke said smugly.

"NoahCorp obeys all the laws of the land, sir. We pay more than our fair share of taxes and we are extremely philanthropic."

"Except when someone gets in your way," the President countered.

"We protect ourselves, Mr. President. We do not conduct offensive operations without provocation."

"As you did in Germany?"

"I should let them kill me?"

"You could have canceled your appearance; taken yourself out of the equation and no one would have gotten killed."

"And they would have been free to make the attempt on my life again. I don't think so, sir. I took them out of the equation and those four will not be able to reenter it."

"Who were they?"

"I don't know."

"Who sent them?"

"I'm not sure."

"You're lying to me, Kim."

"If I am it's for your own good. As President, there are some things you don't need to know."

"You sound like the CIA Director."

"You know the reasons you have to be kept out of the loop on certain things. There are things about NoahCorp that I don't know, and that is for my, and the company's, own good."

"Is that why you warned me to stay out of Europe?"

"I didn't make that call, Mr. President," Kim insisted. "And I don't know who did. That is the truth."

"Who else could? Technologically, it should be impossible. That is what the Signal Corps tells me anyway."

"I have some ideas, nothing certain. I don't play games like that," Kim shook her head. "If I wanted you to leave Europe alone, I would have told you personally. It would be foolish of me because I know you wouldn't listen. Make your best deal with the ministers and let the chips fall where they may. The Europeans will come into the fold soon enough."

"Does Mike Markham know?"

"My Intel Chief and the CIA Director are in contact daily. I'm certain Mr. Markham is aware of NoahCorp's position in Europe."

"Can you answer one question for me?"

"I'll try."

"Will I regret giving you my support?"

"Indirectly; that is, if the First Lady is going along with Kate," Kim joked. "I'm sure she will get under Jen's skin right off."

"If that's the worst that can happen, I can live with it," Clarke said with a smile.

Kim raised her glass. "To Africa," she said.

"To Africa," he agreed and touched his glass to hers.

[. . .]

-From Technocracy © 2005 RH Wood and Blue Dog Ltd.


Maybe it's time for progressives to start thinking this way. Long term. There's been precious little of that in the last few years. Yes, everybody knows I'm a globalist, as evident in my writing, but, as Billmon says:

[. . .]

The ultimate Potemkin Village, in other words, may be the archaic structure[s] of the American republic. And while it will certainly take a much stronger hurricane than Katrina to blow it down, history suggest that such storms do come along, eventually.

[. . .]


I'd rather we started planning for the future than have it thrust upon us.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Song meme

Via PSoTD:

A good music post. Pick your high school graduation year, grab the top 100 songs of that year, bold the songs you still like, strikethrough the songs you hate, and underscore your favorite from the list.


My graduation year would have been 1980:

1. Call Me, Blondie
2. Another Brick In The Wall, Pink Floyd
3. Magic, Olivia Newton-John
4. Rock With You, Michael Jackson
5. Do That To Me One More Time, Captain and Tennille (double hate)
6. Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Queen
7. Coming Up, Paul McCartney
8. Funkytown, Lipps, Inc. (double hate)
9. It's Still Rock And Roll To Me, Billy Joel
10. The Rose, Bette Midler
11. Escape (The Pina Colada Song), Rupert Holmes (quadruple hate)
12. Cars, Gary Numan
13. Cruisin', Smokey Robinson
14. Working My Way Back To You/Forgive Me Girl, Spinners
15. Lost In Love, Air Supply (triple hate)
16. Little Jeannie, Elton John
17. Ride Like The Wind, Cristopher Cross
18. Upside Down, Diana Ross
19. Please Don't Go, K.C. and The Sunshine Band
20. Babe, Styx (triple hate)
21. With You I'm Born Again, Billy Preston and Syreeta
22. Shining Star, Manhattans
23. Still, Commodores
24. Yes, I'm Ready, Teri De Sario With K.C.
25. Sexy Eyes, Dr. Hook
26. Steal Away, Robbie Dupree
27. Biggest Part Of Me, Ambrosia
28. This Is It, Kenny Loggins (double hate)
29. Cupid-I've Loved You For A Long Time, Spinners
30. Let's Get Serious, Jermaine Jackson
31. Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer, Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes (double hate)
32. Sailing, Christopher Cross
33. Longer, Dan Fogelberg
34. Coward Of The County, Kenny Rogers
35. Ladies Night, Kool and The Gang
36. Take Your Time, S.O.S. Band
37. No More Tears (Enough Is Enough), Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer
38. Too Hot, Kool and The Gang
39. More Love, Kim Carnes
40. Pop Muzik, M (double hate)
41. Brass In Pocket, Pretenders
42. Special Lady, Ray, Goodman and Brown
43. Send One Your Love, Stevie Wonder
44. The Second Time Around, Shalamar
45. We Don't Talk Anymore, Cliff Richard (double hate)
47. Heartache Tonight , Eagles
48. Stomp, Brothers Johnson
49. Tired Of Toein' The Line, Rocky Burnette
50. Better Love Next Time, Dr. Hook
51. Him, Rupert Holmes
52. Against The Wind, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
53. On The Radio, Donna Summer
54. Emotional Rescue, Rolling Stones
55. Rise, Herb Alpert
56. All Out Of Love, Air Supply (double hate)
57. Cool Change, Little River Band
58. You're Only Lonely, J.D. Souther
59. Desire, Andy Gibb
60. Let My Love Open The Door, Pete Townshend
61. Daydream Believer, Anne Murray (double hate)
62. I Can't Tell You Why, Eagles
63. Don't Let Go, Isaac Hayes
64. Don't Do Me Like That, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
65. She's Out Of My Life, Michael Jackson
66. Fame, Irene Cara
67. Fire Lake, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
68. How Do I Make You, Linda Ronstadt
69. Into The Night, Benny Mardones
70. Let Me Love You Tonight, Pure Prairie League
71. Misunderstanding, Genesis
72. An American Dream, Dirt Band
73. One Fine Day, Carole King
74. Dim All The Lights, Donna Summer
75. You May Be Right, Billy Joel
76. Hurt So Bad, Linda Ronstadt
77. Should've Never Let You Go, Neil Sedaka and Dara Sedaka
78. Pilot Of The Airwaves, Charlie Dore
79. Off The Wall, Michael Jackson
80. I Pledge My Love, Peaches and Herb
81. The Long Run, Eagles
82. Stand By Me, Mickey Gilley
83. Heartbreaker, Pat Benatar
84. Deja Vu, Dionne Warwick
85. Drivin' My Life Away, Eddie Rabbitt
86. Take The Long Way Home, Supertramp (double hate)
87. Sara, Fleetwood Mac
88. Wait For Me, Daryl Hall and John Oates
89. Jo Jo, Boz Scaggs
90. September Morn, Neil Diamond (double hate)
91. Give Me The Night, George Benson
92. Broken Hearted Me, Anne Murray
93. You Decorated My Life, Kenny Rogers (triple hate)
94. Tusk, Fleetwood Mac
95. I Wanna Be Your Lover, Prince
96. In America, Charlie Daniels Band
97. Breakdown Dead Ahead, Boz Scaggs
98. Ships, Barry Manilow
99. All Night Long, Joe Walsh
100. Refugee, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Shows you where my head was, partly still is, back then.

Monday, August 22, 2005

For this

We've sacrificed nearly 2000 lives and all our credibility. WaPo via Atrios:

[. . .]

Washington has been pushing hard to stick to a timeline on government-building that would allow for a significant troop withdrawal as soon as early next spring.

Key provisions of the draft would formalize an already autonomous Kurdish state in the north, under a federal system. The rest of the country also would be allowed to form federal systems -- opening the way for the demand by the dominant Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq [sounds awful Iranian, don't it? - F-man] to create a southern Shiite sub-state out of up to half of Iraq's 18 regions.

Sunnis and others say such a state would be under heavy influence from neighboring, Shiite-ruled Iran. [my emphases}

[. . .]


Yes, Cindy Sheehan and all you other Gold Star Mothers, your children died to create an Iranian puppet state out of a nation who threatened us not one iota. Your President is a murderer.

Update:

Billmon:

[. . .]

But the whole point of the constitutional exercise, from the U.S. point of view, was to give enough Sunnis enough of a stake in the New Iraq® to undermine popular support for the insurgency, or at least split the resistance into pro-political participation and anti-participation camps. A deal perceived by Sunni elites has leading to the destruction of the Iraq state, rammed through an assembly in which Sunnis are almost entirely absent, will have the opposite effect. It could be read, in fact, as a declaration of civil war -- and probably will be so read by Sunni moderates and rejectionists alike.

[. . .]

At best, it means the Sunni insurgency will last for years, maybe decades, spawning the creation of more fundamentalist "mini-caliphates" in the wilds of Anbar province [can you say 'Soviet' Afghanistan, kiddies? I thought you could. - F-man] and driving a weak, Shi'a-dominated central government deeper into the arms of its Iranian ally. At worst, the country could collapse into complete chaos, or a full-scale, Lebanon-style civil war. Either way, an awful lot of people may have to die so that the president and his supporters can spend the next few days talking about the political "progress" being made in Iraq. [my emphasis]

[. . .]


More Update:

The Rude One:

[. . .]

It's not that the whole Iraq War isn't an epic disaster the likes of which makes Custer's "Last Stand" seem like a well-planned, well-ordered, by the book military operation. It's not that anyone not suckling at the teat of Bush administration "leaks" and "anonymous sources" didn't know that there was going to be a prolonged conflict, with lots of casualties, and, you know, no fuckin' WMDs. No, no, we know all that shit, along with the inevitable civil war and/or Islamist state as the end result. It's just that it's about to get really, truly, oh-fuck-how-can-he-even-show-his-face-in-public embarrassing for George W. Bush.

[. . .]


Now I'm done.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Liberal Intolerance

Sometimes I get lucky and find somebody who says what I think better than I ever could. This one is 99.9+%. Nothing's perfect. By Mark Morford in the EssEffChron, in its entirety, without blockquotes:

I get this a lot: Hey Mark, you nefarious and perverted liberal commie tofu-hugging sex-drunk San Francisco medical experiment gone wrong from the land of fruits and nuts (or some iteration thereof -- so cute, my hate mail can be), hey, I notice you love to ridicule those creepy Christian megachurches and you enjoy spanking wide-eyed Mormons and tweaking the litigious nipples of the cult of Scientology and you recoil at toxic Bush policy like a vegetarian recoils at undercooked veal.

And I can tell you think Dick Cheney is pretty much the devil in a defibrillator and that America is so desperately on the wrong track it might as well be North Korea, and you clearly tend to wince in savage karmic pain when looking down the rusty barrel of a welfare-happy red state and I just have one slightly nasty and pointed and cliched question for you -- Here it is: Where is your supposed progressive openness? Your liberal generosity of spirit? I thought you Lefties were all mushy and passive and live-and-let-live?

In other words, where is that famous so-called tolerance I thought all you wimpy libs were supposed to possess like some sort of gentle polyamorous smiling hug for the world?

To which I reply: You cannot be serious. Does the answer really need to be articulated? Is it not painfully obvious? Can I have a shot of Patr—Én and a long nap before I answer? Here goes ...

You, hate-mailers from the sanctimonious Right and even some of you morally paralyzed middle-grounders from the Left, are correct. I am, in fact, deeply intolerant. It is true. I can hide my deep biases and predispositions no longer.

I cannot, for example, tolerate the dark and violent road down which this nation seems intent on careering like an Escalade on meth. I cannot tolerate brutal, never-ending unnecessary wars and I cannot allow gay rights to be bashed and I truly loathe watching women's rights be slammed back to 1952. Or 1852.

I really have little patience for the gutting of our school system and the decimation of science and mysticism and the human mind for the sake of a handful of militant Christian zealots who truly believe the Second Coming will be arriving really soon but hopefully not before the next episode of HBO's "Cathouse: The Series," which they watch in secret with the lights off while clutching a Bible in one hand and a big tub of Country Crock margarine in the other.

I cannot tolerate an American president, ostensibly meant to be one of the most articulate and intellectually sophisticated leaders on the planet, mumbling his semicoherent support of the embarrassing non-theory of "Intelligent Design," to the detriment of about 300 years of confirmed science and 10 million years of common sense to the point where America's armies of dumbed-down Ritalin-drunk children look at him and sigh and secretly wish they could have a future devoid of such imbecilic thought but who realize, deep down, they are merely another doomed and fraught generation who will face an increasingly steep uphill battle, who will actually have to fight for fact and intellectual growth and spiritual progress against a rising tide of ignorance and religious hegemony and sanitized revisionist textbooks that insult their understanding and sucker punch their sexuality and bleed their minds dry.

I have surpassed my allowable limit for how much environmental devastation I can willingly swallow or how many billion-dollar tax subsidies our cowardly CEO president gives his cronies in Big Energy while doing nothing to ease our gluttony for foreign oil, all the while trying to tell us how many undereducated misguided American teenage soldiers we have to sacrifice at the bloody altar of oil and empire before we can call ourselves king of the bone pile again.

But I am perhaps most intolerant, not of Christians per se, not of faith, certainly not of radiant self-defined spirituality, not even of organized religion -- though I do fully believe more independent spirits and raw human souls and moist sexual licks have been lost to its often narrow-minded and cosmically rigid brainwashing techniques than have ever been saved. But hey, that's just me.

I am most intolerant of, well, of those who allow such intolerance. Of those who would, based on their narrow views of sex, God, love, hope, war, the mind, the Earth, soil and animals and air and water and fire and love and spirit and drugs and guns and dildos, work to legislate those neoconservative beliefs, codify them, make them the law of the land, force their regressive beliefs on everyone else under punishment of violence and beatings and prison. I am, in short, intolerant of intolerance.

Oh, let us be clear. I love diversity, religious pluralism, peace and love and pacifism and good drugs and open-mouthed sensuality. I'm happy to let you believe in any god you like and marry any gender you like and let you love how you will and be in full control of your sex and your body and your mind.

This, to me, is the America worth fighting for. These are the laws I support. Don't believe in abortion? Don't understand gay people? Sexuality makes you rashy? Think Harry Potter teaches kids evil and witchcraft? Don't marry a sexy gay witch abortionist. But don't you dare, based on your limited understanding of God and life, make laws declaring that I can't.

But maybe this is the problem, especially here in San Francisco, the World Headquarters of Tolerance, where liberals tend to be so PC and open- minded they merely sigh and shrug when our government and half the nation move to outlaw everything they stand for, when those people openly loathe human rights and try to codify homophobia in the U.S. Constitution and slowly annihilate Roe vs. Wade and treat any display of resistance or questioning of the norm the way a dog treats a fire hydrant.

Enough. Basta. Let's refashion the old, stagnant definition of tolerance and make it less about merely enduring, merely putting up with the existence of other narrow-minded beliefs no matter how devastating and embarrassing they obviously are to the nation's health.

Rather, let's flip that sucker over and baste it with raw goat butter and sear it on the open flames of divine justice and bliss and intellectual fire and white-hot orgasm and burn it new.

Let us take the rather flaccid word tolerance and pump it full of Ecstasy and medical marijuana and sake and real divine love and fancy book learnin', turn it on its head and spin it like a bottle and reclaim it from the neocon Right and turn it into, say, giddy outrage. Or radical reconsideration. Or ecstatic rebellion. Or wet conscious electric pointed awareness. Is this not a better way?

Let us explode those dead meanings, correct the mistaken neocon dictionary. Let us hurl that dying and mealy and abused term back at their powerful and often bigoted scowl. Here is your weak, ineffectual tolerance. We cannot swallow it anymore. In fact, we are choking on it.

Mark Morford's column appears on SFGate.com and in Datebook on Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail him at mmorford@sfgate.com