Saturday, February 25, 2006

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni.

Into the circle we go by night, and are consumed by the flame......

Ah, Barney...we hardly knew ye.

Crime-fighter, ladies' man, astronaut, West Virginian. Beloved comic actor Don Knotts took the final curtain Friday night, succumbing to pulmonary and respiratory complications at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills, California. Knotts was best known for his portayal of the befuddled Deputy Barney Fife in the iconic "Andy Griffith Show" of the 1960's.

His character of Barney Fife was, perhaps, the most fully realized character in situation comedy. A bumbling, bungling incompetent with delusions of grandeur, we had not seen his like until the selection of George W. Bush as Resident of the United States in 2000. Unlike Bush, however, Fife was surrounded by a competent, caring, compassionate cadre who prevented his incapacity from resulting in dire consequences, such as arresting an FBI agent, insulting Aunt Bea, embarassing the local choir, or embarking on an elective invasion and occupation in the Middle East and becoming bogged down in the quagmire of religious civil war.

Knotts was 81.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Mother of God! Is this the end of Chimpy?

"Mother of God! Is this the end of Rico?"

In this final line from the 1930 film noir classic "Little Caesar", gangster Rico Bandello saw his criminal empire, and his very life, crumble to dust. It's a cautionary tale, as foreshadowed by the opening title card: "..for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Matthew: 26-52"

Rico had riches, power, fame, armed gangs to do his bidding, a coterie of loyal lackeys eager to curry the boss' favor.....does this sound like a certain beady-eyed dry-drunk fucktard of a 21st Century American president?

Of course it does. And like Rico Bandello, our own Sunny Jim stands like a Colossus astride his empire, his feet firmly anchored on the twin pediments of Hubris and Arrogance.

I've known some arrogant, cynical dudes in my day. There was a certain record company VP who could put out his cigar on your eyeball, and then tell you that you look really great with an eyepatch. "Gawdamn, you're sexy like a pirate, son." And your remaining eye would well up with tears of gratitude, so important was the great man's approval.

This sort of sick relationship, frequently and aptly compared to the bond between an abuser and his victim, has typified the relationship between George W. Bush and the Republican Party. Gross incompetence, massive corruption, high crimes and misdemeanors thick on the ground, none of these can take the sparkle from King Chimpy's crown. In the eyes of his admirers, he is a brilliant man who can do no wrong. In short, he's gotten away with so much, for so long, he now thinks he can get away with anything, forever. But as my grandpap used to say, "There is some shit that just won't flush."

In Chimpy's case, the giant floating turd in the punchbowl is his scheme to contract management of major US ports to a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates. Under Chimpy's plan, Dubai Ports World would operate seaports in New York and New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Miami, Florida; and New Orleans, Louisiana.

The overwhelming stench rising from this hideous decision has caused retching and gagging even among those whose noses are most firmly planted in the Presidential rectum. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) are among numerous Republicans who have pulled their heads from the Royal Bunghole with a wet, audible *POP*.

No matter to Tipsy McStagger. He's threatened to veto (his first) any legislative effort to cancel the deal. The UAE were a shipping point for illicit nuclear materials to the Middle East. No problem. The UAE was one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. So what?

Here we see the Resident in his true colors; those of a petulant, spoiled child. And here we see an opportunity to break through the cocoon that has enveloped his supporters for lo, these many years.

Every Democratic legislator and candidate must say these words: "The President is making a terrible mistake." Further, they must publicly and vocally challenge their Republican opponents to say the exact same words, on camera and for the record. One of two things will happen. The Thug may agree that, yes, the President is making a terrible mistake. That's fine. The sheeple need to hear that from their trusted Republican representatives. On the other hand, the Gooper may refuse to criticize the Preznit. That's fine, too. Go ahead, let them align themselves with the biggest public relations and homeland security blunder since.....well, since 9/11 itself.

A little bit of party discipline, that's all it takes. If the Dems can avoid pissing their pants with fear of alienating a weak and stupid Republican president, this issue can mean taking the House in November. Now I'm waiting for someone to convince me that our national Democratic leadership won't go all Lieberman on us.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The President of the United States can kiss my ass.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm getting me a little mancrush on Russ Feingold

Until recently, my presidential troth had been plighted to General Wesley Clark. As far as electability is concerned, he's everything a Democrat could hope for. Bright, affable, All-American, Southerner, no voting record to be used against him, unassailable on issues of defense and security, and best of all, his name doesnt rhyme with Gillary Blinton.

But the recent NSA hearings and the questioning of Attorney General Abu Gonzalez have caused my eye to wander. Feingold summed up the only defensible position for a progressive Democrat American to take, pointing out that Tipsy McStagger is "a president, not a King," and that his program of gathering covert intelligence on American citizens without warrants is illegal. Feingold was the only Senator with enough nads to vote against the Patriot Act, has called for a schedule for withdrawal from Iraq, and has been in the forefront of efforts to protect all Americans by being a vocal defender of the Fourth Amendment (one of my own top five amendments).

Russ has some downside, both within the party and without. He was the only Democratic Senator to vote against a motion to dismiss impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton, although he subsequently voted against conviction on all charges. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, he voted for Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee (and former Harvard law classmate) John Roberts, as well as Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft. These positions, while not popular with Democratic activists, give him some cover against the inevitable GOP efforts to position him as a wild-eyed, bomb-throwing liberal. He is in the process of getting his second divorce, which is bound to give the defense of marriage crowd a big ol' woody.

I'm still all about Wes Clark. I want to win in '08, and I think Clark is the goods. But I think Russ Feingold would make a spectacular addition to the ticket. He's got the intellect, the personality and the tools to step into the top job if necessary.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Time Begins on Super Bowl Sunday (with apologies to Thomas Boswell)

There was a time when baseball was The National Pastime. So firmly ensconced was baseball that it inspired romantic poetry and popular song. The vocabulary of baseball insinuated itself into business ("ballpark estimate"), law ("Three Strikes and You're Out" legislation), and even the sweet and tender act of conjugal love ("I got to third base").

Baseball had its moment in the spotlight, its day in the sun. Franklin Roosevelt took pains to make sure that baseball continued through WWII, such was its importance to morale on the home front.

Sure, there were dark spots. The Black Sox scandal. Segregation. George Will. But for the most part, baseball was part of the triumvirate of American Values, right alongside Motherhood and Apple Pie.

'Twas beauty killed the beast, and just as surely, 'twas television killed baseball. Left its bloated corpse to fester on AM radio, it's timeless rhythms syncopated by the off-beat of distant static.

Football was made for television, even before television was invented. The shape of the field, the exaggerated size of the padded and helmeted participants, the antediluvian themes of conquest and territoriality. (George Carlin has covered this ground far more elequently than I can pretend to do.)

But baseball has never spawned a holiday, and an industry devoted to servicing that holiday. If you were to rank our holidays in order of importance, you'd probably have to put Xmas at the top of the list. (Take that, O'Reilly!) Thanksgiving next, I suppose. And then you have to start thinking about Super Bowl Sunday. It's right there in Fourth of July territory. Maybe tied for third place. Certainly ahead of Memorial Day and Labor Day, despite their enviable positions at the beginning and the end of salubrious summertime. Halloween might be a contender, but nobody ever re-named their town after a trick-or-treat costume.

Nope, it's all about Super Bowl Sunday. Why, I know of a guy whose dog produced black and gold puppies just for the occasion:

And positioned as it is in the depths of Winter, the Super Bowl serves as a harbringer of Spring. You can almost see it from here. Just a couple of weeks until the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and the Daytona 500. Then, just a week or so until March....magical March, when sunny, 70 degree weather is a real possibility on any given day. March Madness! That carries you through to April and the venerable Masters. Even if the weather isn't cooperating in your neck of the woods, the emerald green of Augusta, splattered with azaleas in bloom is like money in the bank. You can write a check on the Masters, confident that Spring will arrive in time to cover it.

And it all is set into motion by the Super Bowl. Which the Steelers will win by a score of 24-17.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Pathetic Pack of Pusbags

Sgt. Matthew Hunter, 31, of Valley Grove, WV, was killed by an IED last month in Iraq. Unfortunately, the inbred Christopathic clusterfuck known as the Westboro Baptist Church decided to put in an appearance.

Here's their press release:

This part of the country, for whatever its faults, can boast some folks whose sense of right and wrong is mighty keen. About a hundred such folks gathered at the West Alexander, PA, Presbyterian Church under threatening skies to confront evil with grace and dignity.

Evil? Isn't that a little much? You tell me:

The half-dozen anti-troops protesters were met by 15 times as many counter-protesters, brought together in large part in response to the efforts of a group including daily Kossack mph2005, whose diaries here and here document the lead-up and the event.

The hundred or so counter-demonstrators formed a barrier between the Westboro wackos and the church in which Sgt. Hunter's funeral was to be held. With dozens of American flags waving in the chill morning wind, they confronted the crazies in the most effective manner imaginable; they turned their backs and ignored them:

A line of Pennsylvania State Troopers and Donegal Township police separated the two groups. The counter protesters included liberals, conservatives, bikers, veterans groups and uniformed, off-duty police officers from outside the jurisdiction. Occasionally, the group would spontaneously break into song, singing "God Bless America" and "Amazing Grace." At one point, the vastly outnumbered Westboro contingent appeared ready to perform one of their favorite bits of street theatre; they put away their lurid signs ("Your pastor is a whore!" "God hates America!") and took out several large American flags. They seem to enjoy wiping their feet on the flag as they mock the mourners. As they distributed the flags among themselves, the apparent leader of the group took a look around at the bikers and the vets and the cops, gathered the up the flags, packed up their shit, and split. They left in a two car convoy of hate, bracketed front and rear by a Pennsylvania State Police escort. The funeral and burial went forward in dignity, without further outrage

Kudos to mph2005 and all who participated.

There's a lot to be said about how religion is twisted and distorted toward evil ends, and there's a lot to be said about how we, as a culture, deal with death. Some other time.....

Thursday, February 02, 2006

And away we go.........

My "black sky" theory evolved from the run-up to the Iraq War and the 2004 presidential elections. From the lies about Saddam's WMDs, to the waste and mismanagement of the so-called Iraq reconstruction, to the hundreds of tons of missing explosives taken from the al-QaQaa explosives depot, to the wholesale disenfranchisement of African-American voters which I witnessed first-hand as an Election Protection volunteer in Columbus, Ohio, to the Jeff Gannon debacle, to freakin' Katrina, to Abramoff, to Alito to Tinker to Evans to Chance......

So many targets they blacken the sky. The media, complicit in its intentional ignorance. The political system, awash in K Street cash, pandering to the Christopithecus element.

Basta! Enough!

There's more to life than politics. It's all about the balance. Time spent agonizing over a pre-primary poll in UT-2 or ID-3 is time pissed away, time that could have been spent in any one of a million better ways.

So I'm taking that time, and I'm finding treasure. Pure fucking gold.

At Christmas, I built my wife a mantle for our hearth. I spent that time measuring, and calculating the angle of the bevel cuts, and sanding and staining. My mind was fully engaged in my task. That beady-eyed little pimp of a President never intruded upon my consciousness. It was bliss.

Trout season is coming up. I got the new Cabela's catalog today. There's a nice fire in the woodstove. Our Wren has a month-old litter of eight Labrador Retriever puppies chattering away in the whelping box. There's a Cary Grant movie on the tube. (Father Goose, if you must know.) The Steelers are in the Super Bowl this Sunday.

Not bad. Not too fucking bad at all......