Saturday, April 28, 2007

more Vonnegut

here's a wonderful interview with him, with a surprise ending. Worth reading slowly, savoring the humor and humanity.

another crony bites the dust

So, the guy Bush placed as head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) resigns for 'personal reasons', and the media is licking its lips, looking forward to tweezing out all the salacious details of the DC Call-girl ring.

Wouldn't it be better to ask why the Bushies felt that it was beneficial to install as head of that agency, a guy whose former position was as....ready?....chairman, president and chief executive of the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company.

I like to watch the corporate ABC evening news, to see just how selective and skewed their coverage of the day's events are, but, to me, the most amazing aspect of Corporate News is the parade of phamaceutical ads. The profits must be mighty indeed for this industry to have so successfully bought into both Big Media and Big Government.

THAT's the story worth pursuing, not the 'massages'.

Back to the ABC Evening News - their 'coverage' of the Democratic candidates forum (I was going to write 'debate' - how silly) consisted of a very brief wide-shot of the group, followed by very short close-ups of Hillary and Obama. The copy behind the pictures was 'not much happened.'

I am amazed they passed up the opportunity to play Gravel's clip dissing the front-runners, but impressed how, once again, they managed to suppress any reference to He-Whose-Existence-Must-NEVER-Be-Acknowledged (Kucinich). Instead, they hurried on to a shocking, revealing, controversial segment about how Baby Boomers have lots of money to spend on luxuries.

Hoping to head downtown this afternoon to participate in the A28 Impeachment rally. East end of the Hawthorne bridge - noon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mark Crispin Miller video, and a story

"Did George Bush Commit Election Fraud?"

Mark was in Portland last year, and Karen and I went to hear him speak. This is a great summary of where we are, and outlines the big picture beautifully.

And now, a story.

Last weekend, there was an Earth Day event at our local Home Depot, where a group was collecting used/broken/obsolete electronics, for recycling. I took a bunch of things, both working and not, that had been cluttering up my office.

I have always been a radio guy - there are at least 6 that I use pretty regularly - and I own several others. My current favorite is a wind-up model, that puts out a lot of sound, and never uses batteries. But I digress.

One of the radios that I dropped off last weekend was about 6" x 3" x .5", required three AA batteries, and had no built-in speaker - totally obsolete by today's standards. I purchased it around 1980, in my home town in upstate New York, for my father.

At that time, he was still at home, wheel-chair bound but well into the decline that ended with his death in the summer of '82. His mind was still active, and I knew he was horribly frustrated by his growing physical incapacities. I visited from Oregon, and bought him two things:

First was a horn which I attached to his wheel-chair - the old fashioned type with a squeeze-bulb that produced a silly honk. It looked ridiculous, and he loved honking it for visitors (and, to call my Mom without having to yell, which was the main point). Somewhere, I have a photo of him sitting in that wheelchair, with that stupid horn visible.

The other was that radio, of course, which he used, for hours, with the accompanying headphones. He always tuned in to the 'easy listening' FM stations that were popular at the time (maybe still are), and I know that that music brought him a lot of comfort.

When I handed over the radio to the recycling person, I flashed on all that and it felt good to be reminded of the pleasure that music brought him (both from the radio and when I played the piano for him), but I also took note of one other thing. On a smooth area on the face of the radio, there was still the residue of a label that had once been applied, and then removed.

That label was applied in the hospital where he spent his final, agonizing four months (I was there much of the time). It had his name and room number on it. He had obviously wanted it with him, when he was admitted.

A year or so after he died, my mother decided to sell the house we all grew up in, and move out to the Bay Area, where my brother and his family lived. I went back to that house for the last time, to help prepare for the big garage sale.

Of all the items I could have selected to send/take back to Oregon (including some great old furniture, that Karen still sadly recalls, and was probably sold for next to nothing), I don't remember anything I brought back with me, except that radio. I don't think I ever used it.

After all, it required three AA batteries, and had no built-in speaker. Why would anybody be interested in something like that?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

this is big

hmmmmm - the key paragraph:

"What's clear, however, is the highest ranks of the Republican Party's political wing, including White House counselor Karl Rove, a handful of the party's most tech-savvy computer gurus and the former Republican Ohio Secretary of State, created, owned and operated the vote-counting system that reported George W. Bush's re-election to the presidency. Moreover, it appears the votes that gave Bush his 118,775-vote margin of victory -- the boost from Ohio's countryside -- have yet to be confirmed as accurate. Instead, the reporting to date suggests that what happened on the ground and across Ohio's rural precincts is at odds with the vote tally released on Election Night."

Monday, April 23, 2007

great news!

this - let's keep the story from disappearing down the Memory Hole of the other Bush Crime Family crimes.

To add to this delicious stew, it appears that, tomorrow, Kucinich will be introducing a House resolution to impeach Cheney. How nice.

this is surreal

It's Rich Little's official web site, where he has Quicktime snips of all the impressions he does.

I'll bet the audiences of today are just thrilled to hear Ronald Coleman, Edgar Buchanan, Frank Fontaine, Joseph Cotten, Walter Pidgeon and Charles Bickford come to life once again.

And the winner of the 'who the fuck was that?' award goes to this clip. Rich, you gotta be kidding. Is it really necessary to brag 'I do a great Roger Livesey'? Why not just stick to the classics, like this *uncanny* (not) Robert Goulet?

Seems appropriate that the Bushies would select him to do the Correspondents Dinner this time around. After all, Rich was named 'Comedy Star of the Year' (in 1974, back when many former and current Bushies were needing a few laughs to nurse their hurt pride, following Nixon's downfall).

Gives new meaning to the phrase 'frozen in time'.

By the way, did you know that WikiPedia has an entire web page devoted to 'Canadian impressionists'?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

John Dean article

Once again, a clear assessment of the week's big story, from someone who knows. Here is the best excerpt, if you aren't going to read the whole piece:

"In a premise to a question for Gonzales, Senator Whitehouse said he had found correspondence in the files of the Senate Judiciary Committee from the days when Orrin Hatch was chairman relating to an investigation of the relationship between the Clinton White House and the Justice Department (under Attorney General Janet Reno).

Hatch was concerned about the independence of the Department of Justice, so he wanted to know who in the White House could speak with whom in the Justice Department. The correspondence showed that four people in the White House (the President, Vice President, chief of staff, and White House counsel) could speak with three people in the Justice Department (the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney and the Associate Attorney General) - period.

Senator Whitehouse discovered - and created a chart to make the point - that in the Bush White House, a shocking 417 people could speak with 30 different people in the Justice Department. It was a jaw-dropper.


Gonzales really had no response when asked about this subject. But this information shows that, in this Administration, the Department of Justice has become a mere political appendage of the White House."

That's what it's all about.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Harry Reid

At some point, even the most die-hard Confederate had to acknowledge that the Civil War was lost. Ditto for the German citizen (take your pick: 1918 or 1945) or the Russian citizen looking at their debacle in Afghanistan (which, by the way, in case you don't know, was brought about thru Jimmy Carter's plan to use CIA assets to lure the Russians into a disasterous, unwinnable occupation, where we armed the native Afghan resistance and brought in and trained radical Islamic troops in insurgency tactics, under our former buddy, UBL).

But I digress. Harry Reid says in public that Bush's war is lost. Any observer of world history and imperial over-reach knows that this is true. But the media blames Harry, and Bush mutters about 'pulling the rug' out from under the soldiers.

Let's face facts, folks. US foreign policy since the end of WWII has led to death, corrupt and repressive governments, shameless profiteering, and environment disaster. We are complicit in War Crimes, and, still, so many of us are unwilling to trouble our beautiful minds with the reality of what our love of the Good Life has meant to the rest of the world. If you have doubts, read this book, which I finished last night.

Instead, we fervently pray that Sanjaya will have a nice career, in whatever he chooses to do next.

We need massive buckets of cold water poured over our heads, and Harry contributed one yesterday. Too little. Too late.

The Gonzales hearings reveal an obvious long-range plan, to fix the system to insure Republican electoral victories forever - a systematic corruption of what used to be called 'Justice', in order to continually suck power and money into an already-bloated Monster.

Unfortunately, history seems to imply that, when things get corrupted to this point, heads eventually roll - the only question remaining is whose heads. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

MadMarine, are you still out there?

What do you make of this? Yeah, I know, more propaganda from Al Gore's insidious plan to profit from fear-mongering (now including those wiley Norwegians).

Why do I even bother posting this stuff? I am sinking into despair about this beautiful planet, that we ruined thru our God-given (well, Evolution-given, actually) insatiable greed and quest for comfort and convenience.

To me, it's no wonder that we haven't made contact with any other 'intelligent life-form' elsewhere in our galaxy - perhaps it's the Nature of Life that any civilization sophisticated enough to be able to produce machines to transmit and receive electromagnetic communications is also going to inevitably suffocate in the by-products of its industrialization. Perhaps I am over-anthropomorphizing.

I saw a video clip of Vonnegut last week, where he was asked what message he would deliver to the people of The Future. He looked into the camera and said, "We're sorry. Forgive us. We were drunk on petroleum."

Monday, April 16, 2007

well, he's got MY vote

Never have I felt so honored by an elected official.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ho Ho Ho

First is was the nappy-headed Hos, and now it's just plain old Ho in the news.

As important as 'Tiny Bubbles' was to American cultural history, I'm sorry that the public mourning over the loss of Kurt Vonnegut is already fading. Flag should be a half-mast for a month, to honor the Sage of Indianapolis.

Hell, make that two months, and, while we're add it, let's dump 'In God We Trust' from our money, and replace it with 'So it goes.'

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So it goes.

I distinctly remember being a very little kid, somewhere back in the late 50's, experiencing an electric shock of genuine astonishment, as I finished reading a short story that was innocently nestled among others, in a schoolbook anthology.

I think it was the very first time I realized that a 'mere story' could produce a feeling that the entire world had just shifted, and would never be the same.

The story ('I remember it as if it was yesterday'' is the cliched phrase here) was 'Report on the Barnhouse Effect'.

Years later, when Kurt Vonnegut's amazing novels became popular, I consumed them with the eagerness that was reserved for only two authors - Vonnegut and Gore Vidal (imagine reading 'Messiah' as a 12 year old). At some point, I realized that Vonnegut was also the author of 'Barnhouse Effect', and that made the memory of that story's impact on me even more intense.

I loved all of those early books: Cat's Cradle, Rosewater, Mother Night, and those two towering works of genius: Sirens of Titan and Slaughterhouse Five. As his output continued over the years, I continued keeping up with each release, not always with the same fervor as the early novels, but Vonnegut's voice always delivered a perspective to which attention must be paid.

In the last few years, I have loved reading his short pieces in 'In These Times', especially reprints of his college commencement addresses. His final gem of a book, 'A Man Without a Country', should be read by everyone.

Vonnegut always made a big deal out of his smoking Pall Malls, and his outrage that they had 'not killed him yet'. This morning, I hear he is dead, from complications from a fall. How appropriately ironic.

Somewhere, back in the 70's, I was visiting my friend Dr. Ken in New York City. I can't remember how much we had been smoking and drinking, but it may have been considerable. At some point in the evening, we decided to go to Vonnegut's apartment and tell him that we appreciated his work and that we hoped he'd be happier in the future. He was listed in the Manhattan phone book, and we went to his door.

There, in the mail slot, was a piece of paper with his name (clearly ripped from a personal check). We knocked. Nobody home. We were relieved.

So it goes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

so, you say I only talk about bad news?

take this!

Just imagine all the money flushed/lost in the GWOT having been diverted to energy research in 2001.

So many lost opportunities, all due to the results of the Coup of 2000.

here's hoping...

What opened the final crack in the Nixon regime? The disclosure of the secret taping system, that revealed a treasure-trove of corruption. We may be on the verge of a deja vu - read this.

It's hard to view the multiple email accounts in any light other than a deliberate plan to circumvent the public records law. Susan Ralston's email to Abramoff admitted exactly that.

So many laws broken, so much silence about this.

Why? Occam's Razor says that the people with the capacity to make an issue of the Bushies criminality are better off with them still in power, than with them tossed out and held accountable for their crimes.

Someone on Thom Hartmann's radio show this morning posed an explanation that is reasonable for me. Bush can't commit the US to an Iraq withdrawal until the Iraq Congress finishes work on the pending law, that hands the greatest share of the oil revenus to Exxon/Mobile and BP.

Once that step is finalized, Bush will truly have his 'Mission Accomplished' moment, and can gracefully leave center stage, confident that he has done his duty.

Meanwhile, Karl Rove is to appear in Portland on Friday. I don't know the details yet, but Thom Hartmann said he will be attending, not to confront. Seems like an opportunity to make a statement.

Finally (says Mr. Language Curmudgeon), an eHarmony ad on the radio this morning had the sexy-voiced woman describing her interests, among which was her 'Internet web site'. Isn't that sort of like a 'Food grocery store', a 'Car gas station', or a 'Animal Veterinary Hospital'? Again, Occam's Razor says that, yes, the sound of the message is now more important than the meaning of the words.

As further proof of that, we have this.

I gotta go.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

now playing...

last night, we went to see The Lives of Others.

Very disturbing - highly recommended. Good thing it can't happen Here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

nice day

I got up early this morning, before the sun was really over the horizon, and walked outside to smell the clean, cool, fragrant Spring air.

Turned into a sunny, warm and dry day. Trees and shrubs flowering all over the yard.

I worked on a programming project for a while, but I had to stop, go out, dig some weeds, transplant some peas and basil, check the lettuce, and pretty up my little vegetable patch with some fresh mulch.

Then cook dinner for four hungry 19 and 20 year olds. Then (now evening, with Venus bright in the west), I took the dog for a walk. Time for a piece of apple/raspberry pie - both from last summer's harvest.

More GIs dead in Iraq. More Bush lies about Iran. More evidence of total corruption of our democratic institutions.

At least my dog is happy. Cats, too.

Good Friday coming up, then Easter. Spring. It's all connected.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

scam or just weird?

We bought a used dining-room table last night, from a craigslist ad, and posted our old table on craigslist this morning. Here it is:

I soon got an email from an interested party, and replied with our address. Here is what I got back:


Thank you for the prompt response to my mail enquiry am quite satisfied with the condition of the item and price. Am very much interested in buying the item from you and i would like to make an outright purchase immediately, so i will advice that you withdraw the advert from the web.

I will be paying with a certified check. Furthermore my mover will be coming over for the pick up as i might not be available for the pick up myself. I would have loved to come and look it up but presently am not chanced to do that but am OK with the information from the ad. I will need the following information to make payment arrangement

1,Your full name to be on the check.
2,Your postal address.
3,Your phone number both land and mobile.
4,Your postal code.

Please do send me the following information as soon as possible. Regards.

My Scam-O-Meter is flashing red lights, but I can't figure out how the fraud will occur. Maybe they really do operate a fleet of trucks, that pick up stuff, drop off a bogus certified check, and then resell it, but that seems like a lot of trouble.

Maybe this is only step 1 , and step 2 asks for more confidential personal data, so they can do an identity theft. Seems much more plausible.

I wrote back that those terms are not acceptible, and we would be happy to accept cash from someone who comes to the house and haul the stuff away. Will I ever hear back? I doubt it.

Oh yeah, here's the sender's email address:

I think the 'dr.' is a nice touch. On the Internet, nobody knows if you're an idiot or not.


So he's pulling in tons of contributions - this is good. I feel he's a good guy, despite some history of standard political whoring (they all do it, except Peter DeFazio).

I'm certainly glad he's in the race - livens things up. I am just afraid that we are setting ourselves up to repeat the Bobby Kennedy story. There are wackos who will never stand for a tall man to be President (look what they did to Kerry).

We want our emperors to look like Napoleon (or, up until November '06, W).

I'm just guessing, but...

...when I see this AP story this morning:

"President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran would free the 15 detained British sailors and marines Wednesday as an Easter holiday "gift" to the British people."

All I can think is that a country with 2500 years of collective memory of international relations (and actually learning from its mistakes) is no match for the American neo-cons.

With all the rumors floating around that the Bushies were planning to strike Iran this weekend, the perfect tactic to defuse those plans is to take an action guaranteed to dominate the 24/7 international News Machine for the next three days, reinforcing the global image of Iran as being generous and reasonable.

Maybe I give them too much credit for subtle strategic thinking, but just remember how much great publicity Cyrus got in 538 BC, when he encouraged the exiled Jews in Babylon to return to their homeland. It's in your Bible - look it up (2 Chronicles 36:22-23).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

is this weird?

or what? Amazingly, the comments are all about the creepy content of Bush's words, but I am creeped out by the veep-creep, creeping in the foliage. It's alarming, sad, and...well...creepy.

happy Passover

Matza Brei:

Not as good as Mom used to make, but still...

Monday, April 02, 2007

as we have long suspected...

this great post by Digby ties it all together. The Karl Rove operatives have been working tirelessly to corrupt the highest levels of our republic, since their preparations for the Coup of 2000. The new Monica makes the sins of the old Monica laughably (almost) trivial.


Meanwhile, I was struck, while listening to the radio news this morning, how odd it is that Americans just can't be bothered to devote their precious energies to the many human tragedies around the world, but it's Headline News that, now, up to 16 pets have died from tainted goodies.

Millions of (non-white, non-Christian) humans dead vs. 16 pets. Apparently, now, folks are preparing lawsuits, claiming emotional distress over Muffy's untimely end.

Americans: so sheltered; so isolated. So plugged into The Matrix.

UPDATE: did I say 'since...the Coup of 2000'? How could I have been so naive? Check this out (watch the whole thing, but the payoff begins at 3:53).

Sunday, April 01, 2007

intentional irony, or unconscious denial?

You decide. Contrast the content of this article with the accompanying ad: