Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fear and loathing in Sam's Club, Oaxaca, Mexico

I visited Sam's Club, Oaxaca, today, just as I do nearly every Sunday. The wife had the car, the boys were heavy into a Discovery Channel vicious deadly Australian snake expose, so I walked alone over to the store. It's only about 4 blocks from my home, so no big deal there. I bought enough stuff to make walking back an impracticality, so I flagged down a taxi. Again, no big deal; they line up in front of the store's exit. The driver stopped, got out and opened his trunk and we began loading it with my goodies. I squatted down to pick up a case of yoghurt and, POOMP!, a car hit me right in the, er, but-tocks.

I jumped up, spun around, and some jerk in his personal car who had driven up to within 2 inches of me in the taxi lane, reserved for taxis, that's why they call it a taxi lane, had hit me as he then tried to steer his car around the taxi. To boot, he was yelling at me through the window of his car like it was my fault. I responded appropriately, I kicked the shit out of his right front fender. With that, he got out of the car and walked around it holding a fearsome looking weapon and shaking it at me. I don't know what it was, exactly. It had a large diameter wooden handle like a very big hammer and a strange looking head on it and I can only describe it as a mace - you know, like the Black Knight used against El Cid. It was ugly looking.

I said to myself, "Uh-oh," and began to circle to my right and chant under my breath, "Step inside the swing and take it away from him. Take it away from him but DON'T hit him with it. Step inside the swing and take it away from him. Take it away from him but DON'T hit him with it." I know myself well enough to know that if he in fact tried to hit me and I was able to successfully remove the mace from his grasp, I was going to bash him with it, for sure. By this time a crowd of about 30 people had gathered to watch the fun. I had been speaking Spanish but under the duress of impending battle I switched to English. "Don't even think about it, you m***** f***** or I'll shove that thing up your a**," says I. At this time I was referring to the weapon as "that thing", the mace ID came along later.

He had second thoughts and returned to his car, still cursing me in Spanish. He got back in the car and continued to try to force his car around the taxi, screaming at me all the while through the passenger side window. I was just hot enough and had just heard enough by that time to decide not to let bygones be bygones and aimed a powerful mule kick at the left rear fender of his car. I did some damage this time. I kicked an 18" diameter dent about 2-2.5" deep in the fender with my footprint smack in the middle of it. He stopped the car again, got out with his mace, and I thought, "This time we're on." No more chanting.

He walked around the car, looked at the fender and demanded of the taxi driver, who was frozen in time and space, The Matrix, to know if I had done that. I answered, "No, ya no," with as innocent a look as could be possible under the circumstances. I was wearing a University of Michigan ball cap, deep blue with all the gold (maize) trim, and a pair of Ray-Ban Aviators (real ones, not the 40 peso fakes you can buy here), so I imagine that the look I gave him was not too convincingly innocent. I thought, "Now we're on, for sure." But, no, he went back to his car, managed to maneuver it around the taxi and angled it back in front of the taxi, blocking my escape. He got out and began to pace around menacingly, waving his mace and yelling for a policeman.

Now I've got some potential problems here. The taxi driver knows I got hit by the car and I know I got hit by the car. I don't know how many other witnesses saw it happen, if any, but for sure the guy's got a humongous big dent in his car with my running shoe's shoeprint right in the middle of it, no witnesses required there. Damn!

The Sam's Club security director arrives. The first thing he did was chew ass with his own people for placing the taxi lane pylons too far out in the driveway in front of the store, which is probably why the mace-armed jerk drove into the taxi lane in the first place. Then the security director listened to the jerk's story and surveyed the damage to his otherwise pristine VW Passat. He then turned to me and I told him, "Ese señor me golpió con su coche," ("That asshole hit me with that piece of Nazi junk," very loosely translated). The jerk hotly denied it (the hitting me part).

At this time, my Guardian Angel straight from heaven arrived in the form of the previously frozen in time and space taxi driver. The driver, having just been reloaded from The Matrix, told the security chief that the jerk had indeed attempted to squash me like a cockroach, right there in the Sam's Club parking lot at about high noon and on a Sunday, yet. My Guardian Angel, the taxi driver if you've forgotten, further turned and pointed at another security officer standing there and said, "Y ese señor lo vió todo," ("And that guy saw it all and has said nothing, the weasely coward," again loosely translated).

The security chief turned to the jerk and told him that we could all wait for the police or we could go home and leave him in peace. Now, hitting a pedestrian, especially one who is possibly a rich American tourist, is a serious crime in Mexico. Much more serious than a little unauthorized custom bodywork. With 3 witnesses now arrayed against him, a crowd of onlookers now numbering about 300 and me beginning to limp around like I'd been hit at full speed by an M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank, the jerk turned on his heel, got back in his car, and drove away.

Guardian Angel and I finished loading the taxi, got in and headed home. After we had unloaded everything with Mari Cruz, cook and nanny (my kid's, not mine, nanny, that is), I waited for her to go back into the house as this was an incident I preferred to keep between myself, my Guardian Angel, about 300 onlookers and a dozen or so Sam's Club security personnel. I asked my Guardian Angel, "Cuanto te debo?" ("How much do I owe you?") and he responded, "25 pesos." That's about $2.30 US at today's exchange rates. I handed him a twenty and a fifty. He looked at the money and started to give the fifty back to me. I said, "No, no, mi amigo. Gracias a ti por todo," ("No, no, my friend, in spite of the fact that I am obviously a cheap-assed Gringo who should have tipped you at least a hundred dollars US instead of 45 lousy Mexican pesos, thanks for everything," again, loosely translated.) He laughed, thanked me, and went on his way.

Whew! Note to self: Reduce daily caffeine intake and arm thyself with a Damascus steel broadsword before next visit to Sam's Club, Oaxaca, Mexico.


Race to read this

I have just read what seems to be, to me, one of the best written, most thoughtful and closest to the mark writings on race in America that I have ever read or am likely to ever read. Michael Wilbon, a sportswriter for the Washington Post (he can be forgiven for that), has written a piece on the race issue vis a vis the Houston Astros lacking a single black player on their World Series roster as well as the comments that got Air Force Academy head football coach Fisher DeBerry in such hot water last week.

Mr. Wilbon says, hey, Coach DeBerry was right. Black kids are faster than white kids, so he is right to want more of them on his team. And he says that Aaron is wrong to expect the Astros to "move heaven and earth" to recruit more black baseball players because they aren't there. Mr. Wilbon says,
DeBerry has nothing whatsoever to apologize for. I understand that any kind of categorization, especially along racial lines, can be risky. One of DeBerry's former black players (who loves his coach) e-mailed me this week to point out that any such comments put the speaker on a very slippery slope, and that's certainly true.

But our fear of any discussion involving race should not eliminate common-sense observations. Since Jason Sehorn retired from the NFL a season or so ago, how many white starting cornerbacks are there in the NFL? The answer, as far as I can find, is zero. And even if I missed one or two, fact is that a position based largely on speed is 99 percent black in the NFL. That's not the same as making a presumption about the intelligence or character of cornerbacks, black or white. It's fact, jack. DeBerry didn't offer any cultural or empirical evidence about cornerbacks; he just said he would like faster ones, and as the NFL demonstrates, the fastest ones are black. That isn't even debatable.
Regarding Hammerin' Hank's comments, Mr. Wilbon says,
Even more misplaced than the fury directed toward DeBerry is Aaron's anger at the Astros for not having any black American players. For the record, the White Sox only had one -- Jermaine Dye -- in their starting lineup Wednesday night when they won the World Series. That's because we, black American men, have turned away from baseball. Overwhelmingly, we've cast our lot with basketball and football, and that's it. Only 9 percent of the players on Major League rosters on Opening Day were black and American. Black and Hispanic? Oh, there are plenty. Approximately 31 percent of major leaguers are identified as being of Latin descent. As for black Americans? The Washington Nationals had two on the Opening Day roster. The Baltimore Orioles had none, zero.
But Mr. Wilbon understands where each man is coming from.
Aaron and DeBerry are interested in inclusion, even if they don't articulate it eloquently. Because of people such as them, sports is the closest thing America has to a true meritocracy. Almost always now, the best players prove themselves to be the best players, whether they're black quarterbacks, white cornerbacks or Argentine basketball players.
That almost sounds like too much common sense to me.

Now for something in Mr. Wilbon's column that caused me to blanche. He mentions a part of Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder's infamous statement about,
... a drunken anthropology lesson of how the big black buck (to use his words) was mated with the big black slave woman to produce the best athlete.
The words "big black buck" just leaped out of the monitor at me. Did he really say that? I easily remember the bruhaha over The Greek's comment and I vociferously defended him at the time. I said that he was right and that it was unfortunate that no one else seemed willing to admit it. But I don't remember the "big black buck" part of it. So I checked. Mr. Wilbon is, I think, in error here. I checked some 20 different sources, including CNN, CNN/SI, CBS News, NYT and Mr. Wilbon's own WaPo and this is what I found, unanimously,
This goes all the way back to the Civil War when the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid. See?
That's really what he said. And he was actually not correct. No doubt some selective breeding was forced upon the slaves, most likely in the deep South. But I really can't come up with a lot of examples or documentation of slave owners forcing big black men to mate with big black women to produce superior fullbacks and defensive ends. Please remember that there was no internet nor any www's when The Greek committed career suicide.

I wish that Mr. Wilbon had checked just a bit more before saying that "big black buck" and "big black slave woman" were The Greek's "own words". They weren't, at least not that I can find.

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

British scientists have cure for chicken choking

Good news for all those in Europe and Asia who have been choking their chickens for the past two weeks in an effort to stop the spread of Avian flu. Scientists believe they can beat the flu with genetically modified chickens.

British scientists are genetically engineering chickens to protect them against the H5N1 virus that has devastated poultry farms in the Far East, with a view to replacing stocks with birds that are not susceptible to influenza.

The technique should also offer protection against many other strains of flu with the potential to start a human pandemic, such as the H7 subgroup that was responsible for an outbreak in Dutch poultry in 2003.

Posted by PicasaBritish Genetically Modified Chickens

Friday, October 28, 2005

Exxon Mobil daily profit report

Exxon Mobil Corporation made about $100,000,000 in profit today on revenues of about $1 billion. In case you were wondering.

UPDATE: Edited to remove a really stupid mistake pointed out by a very critical and nosy commenter. Computer error. The numbers now shown are correct, I swear. Trust me.


Libby indicted, Rove not.

I. Lewis "Scooter' Libby Jr., Assistant to the President of the United States, Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States and Assistant to the Vice President of the United States for National Security Affairs, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for 1 count of obstruction of justice, 2 counts of making false statements to FBI Special Agents and 2 counts of perjury to a federal grand jury. The indictment is here.

Reading through the indictment seems to indicate that prosecutor Fitzgerald believes that he can establish that Libby was informed on several occasions and by several different people that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. Libby, however, told FBI agents and later the grand jury that he was informed by Walter Pincus about Plame's employment. Fitzgerald also accuses Libby of lying about conversations he had with Pincus, Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller. I have to wonder why Fitzgerald would believe the reporters and not Libby. This looks like a little he said-she said, but Fitzgerald probably thinks he can show a pattern of misstatements and attempts to mislead by Libby that would cast more doubt on the he said than the she said. Interestingly, there were no charges of unmasking secret agents nor of mishandling classified information.

The old, "there was no crime until the coverup" scenario. Libby, his family and friends and his colleagues have just got to be sick about this.

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Jeralyn Merritt thinks she smells a rat

I was just browsing the headlines in Google news for all the latest stories about the Fitzgerald grand jury affair and stumbled upon this amazing report from Jeralyn Merritt which was originally posted in Huffington's Post. It is titled "Jeralyn Merritt: How Karl Rove Could Walk". She gives us a bunch of paragraphs about possible scenarios whereby Karl Rove would skate away from this mess either with no charges filed or with charges but a recommendation from special prosecutor Fitzgerald for no jail time. We get a lot of yada yada yada and etc. etc. etc. and sis boom bah and then we get this;
And that's how Karl Rove could walk.

Will it happen? Right now, only Fitzgerald knows for sure. As a devout critic of the Bush Administration, I bring it up because I don't like rats. If Karl Rove isn't indicted, or gets a sweetheart deal, I can't conceive of any reason why other than he sang his heart out.
Hmm. Let me see if I understand her position here. I witness an alleged crime being committed by, let's say, my friend and colleague Pete Peehos. I may not even be aware at the time that it was, in fact, an alleged federal crime. In any case, I am first interviewed by the FBI about my dealings with my friend and colleague, Mr. Peehos, later by a special prosecutor hired to investigate the alleged crime, then that same prosecutor hauls me before a federal grand jury and questions me as to my involvement in that alleged crime. I tell him about what I saw and heard my friend, Pete Peehos, do and say relative to the alleged crime.

If I don't, my attorney tells me, I may be charged with committing that alleged crime. I have a family which depends upon my career for, oh, things like food, shelter, medical care etc. I am young enough that I will have to seek other work from time to time before I finally retire and a felony conviction will make jobs hard to come by. In any event, I am innocent of committing any felony, or even misdemeanor, for that matter. So, I testify as truthfully as I can, including 4 trips before the grand jury.

Why 4 different sessions before the grand jury? In the course of my day job, I engage in some 100 conversations with at least 25 different people, every day, 7 days a week. These conversations include one-on-one, face-to-face conversations, one-on-one telephone conversations, conference calls with more than 2 people participating, meeting discussions with more than 2 people present and emails as well as various meetings where I am merely an observer, not a direct participant. That would be some 36,500 different incidents of personal interface with colleagues, my boss (the President of The United States), reporters, friends, family members, employees, gas station attendants etc., every year.

I don't think any reasonable person would expect my instant recall of any particular one of these conversations as to its date, time and exact subject matter as well as an accurate recall of exactly who said what. The prosecutor has a lot of manpower at his disposal and, as he interviews more witnesses, he comes up with more questions which also require my additional appearance before his grand jury. In any event, I manage to dredge up all the pertinent emails and clarify my earlier testimony as my memory is jogged by the prosecutor. My friend, Pete Peehos, seems to be in a little hot water.

I am, therefore, according to Ms. Merritt, a rat. The fact that I did not, in fact, commit any crime is of no importance to her. I am a rat. The fact that the law states that I must answer the prosecutor's questions truthfully, regardless of what may happen to my friend and colleague, Pete Peehos, is of no importance to her. I am a rat. The fact that my wife and son depend upon me for sustenance is of no importance to her. I am a rat. The fact that, if I do not testify truthfully, I may be prosecuted for a crime that I did not commit as well as for the crime of perjury, which I would be committing if I give untrue testimony, is of no importance to her. I am a rat.

What specific type of rat am I, allegedly? A Rat. A big rat. A rat out. A rat fink. Rat face. Ratso Rizzo. Rat's nest. Rat's tail. King Rat. The year of the rat. Rat race. Desert Rat. River rat. Swamp rat. Kangaroo rat. Pack rat. The Rat Pack. Rat terrier. Willard rat. Rat trap. Rat Tales. Red Rat. Rat Patrol. Le Rat. Ratsnake. Rat-bite fever. Rat poison. Rat infested French jails. Rat's Blog. Trapped like a rat. Rats deserting a sinking ship. Rat-tail file. Rat-tailed maggots. Rat hole. Rat-a-tat-tat.

And why, rat? Why not, aardvark? Why not, gnu? Why not, platypus? Why not, Temminck's ground pangolin? Why not, eastern rock elephant shrew?

And why, heart? Why not, pancreas? Why not, spleen? Why not, duodenum?
And that's how Karl Rove could walk.

Will it happen? Right now, only Fitzgerald knows for sure. As a devout critic of the Bush Administration, I bring it up because I don't like eastern rock elephant shrews. If Karl Rove isn't indicted, or gets a sweetheart deal, I can't conceive of any reason why other than he sang his duodenum out.
I think I smell a rat here, too, but it ain't Karl Rove.

Linked to Basil's Blog at his new location. Temporarily (I think) identified as "". Basil has been pressed to make a change. UPDATE: STOP! Hold the phone! That's not the new name of his blog, it's a link for an advertiser. Silly me. In the far righty right tippy top corner of the page you will see "Basil's Blog", so he has not changed the name. I need a drink.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Conservative advantage

If the Democrats and their far left-wing liberal allies ever want to retake the reins of power here in America, they need to address their significant disadvantage in news photography. The left-wingers have to rely on clumsy and insulting Photoshop and photo adulterations to make their point. Like this:

I's Simple Sambo and I's running for the Big House

And this:

While us Simple Simons from the conservative side merely republish the actual photos as originally published by various news photography organizations. We lack the necessary imagination and dedication to spend the time and technology to doctor photos before republishing them. Like this:

And this one:

And this one:

And this one:

And this one:

Steven Pearcy 7

And this one:
And this one:

And this one:

And this one:

And this one:

The point being that the lefties have to really scrape the bottom of the barrel to come up with images to support their positions. Whilst the conservatives just rely on the old tried and true "a picture is worth a thousand words".


Am I moot, yet?

Howard Kurtz writes a Zen column for the WaPo today. Kurtz says,
The problem for a blogger who's even going to mention the name Scooter or Karl is that whatever you write could be moot within minutes.
OK, I'm game. Scooter Libby and Karl Rove.

Am I moot, yet?. Have I already been mooted? Am I about to be mooted out? Are Karl and Scooter moot, yet? Wasn't that a Cajun song that was popular some time back? "Don't mess With My Moot Moot". I think the words went something like this (apologies to Buckwheat Zydeco):
Don't mess with my Moot Moot.
Don't mess with my Moot Moot.
Now you can have the other woman.
But don't mess with my Moot Moot.

Now she was born in her birth suit.
The doctor slap her behind.
He sayed you're gonna be special,
You sweet little Moot Moot.

Now you can look as much
But if you so much as touch
You're gonna have a case.
I'm gonna break your face.
Anyway, Kurtz continues with a link to his own report on the turnover at CBS News, and it doesn't sound promising. Andrew Heyward, the guy who let Dan Rather and Mary Mapes run amok and make CBS News the laughing stock of TV news, has been replaced by Sean McManus, the president of CBS Sports. McManus says, ominously,
"I pride myself on really good storytelling."
Er, that was the Rather/Mapes/Heyward problem. Too many really well told stories with too much fabricated evidence to back up those stories. I hope, for the sake of CBS News, that McManus can do a better job of conjuring up, documenting and disseminating falsehoods than did his predecessors.

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Harriet Miers withdraws

The AP is reporting that Harriet Miers has withdrawn her name for consideration as a Supreme Court justice. President Bush is quoted as saying, "It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House -- disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel. Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the constitutional separation of powers -- and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her."

According to the report, Miers herself also blames the Senate's thirst for confidential records. "I have been informed repeatedly that in lieu of records, I would be expected to testify about my service in the White House to demonstrate my experience and judicial philosophy," she wrote.

"While I believe that my lengthy career provides sufficient evidence for consideration of my nomination, I am convinced the efforts to obtain Executive Branch materials and information will continue."

This is all a smokescreen, of course. The administration would be all too willing to go to war over executive privilege if it thought it could win. I think that calmer heads prevailed and, after consulting their Ouija boards and crystal balls, determined that they were ultimately destined to go down in flames, executive privilege or not.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Israel erased from my map

There you go, Mahmoud, it's been erased from the map. Happy now?


UPDATE: Mahmoud was really really serious, so this time Israel has really really been erased. The Gaza Strip has been renamed the Gaza Peninsula, the Jordon River has ceased to exist and King Abdullah now has only a short walk to the beach. Investors are flocking to the new seashore and clamboring to be the first to build Club Med Mohammed, the Jihad Hilton, the Ottoman Omni, the Fedayeen Four Seasons, The Sands (heh heh), the Saladin Sheraton, the Real Oasis, the Marriot of Martyrs, the Bin Laden Budget, the Great Satan Sofitel, Allah's Astoria, the Caliphate Concord, the Suicide Bomber's Ballys, the Mullah's Motel 6 and the Arabian Ascot.

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Palestinians release collaborators

The self-proclaimed fearsome Palestinian group "Knights of the Storm" released two fellow Palestinians accused of collaboration with the Israelis - after shooting them both in the legs. The two men were released into the custody of their families with orders to remain under "house arrest" for 9 months - just about the recovery period necessary after being shot in the legs, I should think. Well, their families won't have to worry about them running around the house for awhile. Of course, they won't be able to run to the grocery either, or run any errands, or run late for an appointment, or hop to it, or jump to conclusions, or make a leap of faith, or feel free to jump in, or run a fever, or walk like a man, or shake a leg, or stand tall, or lean on me, or run around Sue, or run away from home, or climb the walls, or walk in my shoes, or tread on me, or walk on eggshells, or tiptoe through the tulips, or tread lightly, or do the Bristol Stomp, or dance on the ceiling, or rock around the clock, or step lively, or . . . oh, hell, you get the idea.


Rachel, Rachel

I suspect that we all know who Rachel Corrie was. A far left wing American peace protester who was accidentally killed when she walked in front of an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza. Her parents traveled to Ramallah to accept a plaque from Yasser Arafat, circulated her emails and diary entries to the MSM for publication and have written op-ed pieces, including a recent one in the Guardian. Alan Rickman and Guardian journalist Katharine Viner co-created My Name is Rachel Corrie, a play which leaves out some details of Rachel Corrie's short, unhappy life.

Rachel Corrie 2Rachel Corrie 1

She participated in American flag burnings in Gaza, incited crowds against Israel and the United States and represented the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), described by the MSM as a "peace group". The ISM's mission statement holds that "'armed struggle' is a Palestinian 'right'". The ISM's media coordinator, one Flo Rosovski, says, "Israel" is an illegal entity that should not exist." Other ISM representatives met with British suicide bombers Omar Khan Sharif and Asif Muhammad Hanif a few days before they blew up Mike's Place, a Tel Aviv pub, killing three and injuring dozens, including British citizens. The ISM sheltered in its office one Shadi Sukiya, a shadi character and leading member of Islamic Jihad. Peaceful, all right.

Here are some other Rachels who bear mentioning.

Rachel ThalerRachel Thaler, aged 16 - blown up at a pizzeria in an Israeli shopping mall. She died after an 11-day struggle for life with a nail embedded in her head following a suicide bomb attack on a crowd of teenagers on 16 February 2002. Even though Thaler was a British citizen, born in London, where her grandparents still live, her death has never been mentioned in a British newspaper.

Rachel LevyRachel Levy - aged 17, blown up in a grocery store.

Rachel LeviRachel Levi - 19, shot while waiting for the bus

Rachel GavishRachel Gavish - killed with her husband, son and father while at home celebrating a Passover meal.

Rachel CharhiRachel Charhi - blown up while sitting in a Tel Aviv cafe, leaving three young children.

Rachel ShaboRachel Shabo - murdered with her three sons aged 5, 12 and 15 while at home. She is at the back, far right. One of the sons murdered with her is the 5 rear-old on her right.

Rachel KolRachel Kol - 53, who worked at a Jerusalem hospital and was killed with her husband in a Palestinian terrorist attack in July a few days after the London bombs.

Rachel ben AbuRachel ben Abu - 16, killed with 4 others in a bomb blast in the crowded Netanya mall.

No one has written a play about any of these Rachels. They haven't had their stories told in the MSM (at least, not outside Israel) as has Rachel Corrie (some 57 articles in the Guardian, alone). They haven't had their photos published around the world, as has Rachel Corrie. They didn't participate in peace groups or war groups or any other political groups. They weren't trespassing in a foreign land. They weren't protesting against nor cursing their native country or anyone else's native country, for that matter. They weren't burning their country's flag nor my country's flag nor your country's flag nor anybody's country's flag. They weren't sheltering nor encouraging murderers and about-to-be murderers.

They were sitting in restaurants, cafes, shopping for food or sitting at home with their families when they were murdered along with their husbands, babies and friends.

Rachel Corrie wasn't murdered. She walked in front of a D9 Cat expecting the operator to stop. He didn't see her and squashed her like the bug she was. So she is elevated to heroine status while the other Rachels are ignored.

Dead Jews aren't news.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why I like Christopher Hitchens

In an "I told you so" piece in Slate, Christopher Hitchens describes George Galloway's speaking of his old friend Tariq Aziz in "moist terms". I like that, moist terms. I've heard of moist eyes, moist lips, moist nether regions and even moist towelettes, but never moist terms. What could I do with "moist terms"? Lessee here; John Kerry, referring to Jane Fonda in moist terms, said, "I truly miss her backside . . . er . . . backup . . . you know, her support." Or how about this; Referring to his old nemesis in moist terms, Captain Ahab said, "Smart move by Moby, scuttling my ship. He knows I'll never make it to shore doing a one-legged duck paddle." Maybe this; Referring in moist terms to his visit to the great alien spacecraft, Rev. Farrakhan said, "The meal they prepared for me of possum stew, grits and turnip greens was OK, I guess, but I could have done without the anal probing."

Anyway, it looks like Hitchens has been right all along and Galloway has been lying through his teeth. It remains to be seen what will become of Galloway. He should be facing contempt of Congress and perjury charges here as well as perjury charges in Britain for his testimony in his lawsuit against the Telegraph, which he won based on that perjured testimony.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Bone-eating snot-flowers

That would be the Osedax mucofloris, literally; bone-eating snot-flower, a new species of whalebone eating deep sea worm discovered by British scientists. But I am intrugued by the possibilities offered by the name.

Politics: "Contribute now and we'll move those bone-eating snot-flowers out of the Congress and into prison where they belong."

Labor / management: "We find the contract offer by those bone-eating snot-flowers insulting." - or - "The bone-eating snot-flowers either accept this final offer or we'll be forced to lock them out."

The movies: "Well, are you bone-eating snot flowers gonna pull them pistols or just whistle Dixie?" - and -
"It means Luca Brazzi sleeps with the bone-eating snot-flowers." - and -
"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a bone-eating snot-flower." - and -
"You've just got to ask yourself one question, 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do yuh, bone-eating snot-flower?"

Liberal politicians: "Those bone-eating snot-flowers have never done an honest day's work in their lives."

Conservative politicians: "There you go again, you bone-eating snot-flower."

Supreme Court nominee confirmation hearings:
Sen. Specter: "Do you believe that the Constitution provides a 'right to privacy' for all Americans?"
Harriet Miers: "Bone-eating snot-flowers."
Sen. Spècter: "Huh? Ok, then, how do you explain the apparent contradicions in the court's rulings in Massey vs. Furgusen and Harley vs. Davidson?"
Harriet Miers: "Bone-eating snot-flowers, as well."
Sen. Specter: "I have no further questions. I yield to my colleague, the distinguished bone-eating snot-flower from Massachusetts."

Really now, follow the link for a brief education into sea fauna. Do you know what "whale fall" is?

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Friday, October 21, 2005

All hail the Hick from French Lick

Boston Celtics' legend Larry Bird, French Lick, Indiana, has a loyal fan base, both in Massachusetts and in Indiana; also, apparently, in Oklahoma.

Attorneys for Eric James Torpy and Oklahoma City prosecutors had reached a plea agreement on charges of shooting with an intent to kill and robbery. Torpy's lawyers agreed to a 30 year sentence. Torpy was not happy. He insisted on 33 years to match Bird's now-retired Celtic jersey number. According to Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott,
He said if he was going to go down, he was going to go down in Larry Bird's jersey. We accommodated his request and he was just as happy as he could be.

I've never seen anything like this in 26 years in the courthouse. But, I know the DA is happy about it.
I'm sure, before long, Torpy will wish that Bird's jersey number had been
"2 to 5".

Now, you may be wondering how a town in Indiana, or anywhere for that matter, gets a name like French Lick. Buckle up because here comes your history lesson for the day. Contrary to recent rumors, it has nothing to do with Frenchmen licking anybody else or anybody else licking Frenchmen -- or Frenchwomen. Throughout the eastern woodlands, which at one time stretched from the Atlantic coast to just west of Chicago and from Maine to the Florida Keys, the Indians, the woodland animals such as deer and the now extinct woodland bison and later the European explorers and colonial pioneers highly valued natural salt deposits. These salt deposits filled two requirements. First, and most obvious, as a source of salt. Secondly, these natural deposits attracted wildlife making it easier for the hunters to get them. These salt deposits were called "salt licks" because animals, naturally, gathered there to lick the salt.

The natural salt deposits were so critical to the survival of the various people and groups that found them that the locations of the salt licks were carefully described and handed down through the generations of Indians and later mapped by the Europeans. The Europeans and colonial pioneers, like Boone et al, frequently named the salt licks after their "discoverers". It was French explorers, such as Jacques Cartier and Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, who explored and mapped much of the upper Midwest and "discovered" the salt lick in Larry Bird's neck of the woods in southern Indiana; hence, French Lick. Brigham Young discovered the biggest and most famous salt deposit in North America, hence, the Great Salt Lick and Salt Lick City (heh, heh).

Mark in Mexico's tribute to Larry Bird - which involves considerably less effort than 33 years in an Oklahoma state penitentiary.

Larry Bird Jersey

Larry Bird Montage

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Liar, liar, pants on fire

In Cumberland County, NC, a policeman pulled over a car with a broken tail light. After running the license plate and driver's license, the officer discovered that the driver was wanted for kidnapping and robbery. When the officer tried to arrest the driver, Richard McKinnon sped away from the scene, hit some mailboxes and then crashed into a tree. For some reason, the guy had a container of gasoline in the front seat with him and gas splashed all over him during the incident. The pursuing officer hit the guy with his Taser and, WHOOOOMP! McKinnon burst into flame. The officer managed to put out the fire by rolling McKinnon on the ground, but the wanted man is in the hospital in critical condition with burns over 70% of his body.

The officer is on paid administrative leave. What do you want to bet that the officer is going to have a lot of trouble over this and the county will end up paying through the nose?

When you're hot, you're hot.

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Who pays the tab

This may or may not be pretty common knowledge by now, but I don't think it hurts to be reminded of it again, from time to time.

Percent of federal income tax revenues paid by the top 1% of wage earners (AGI $295,495 +) = 34.27%

Percent of federal income tax revenues paid by the top 10% of wage earners (AGI $94,891 +) = 65.84%

Percent of federal income tax revenues paid by the top 50% of wage earners (AGI $29,019 +) = 96.54%

Percent of federal income tax revenues paid by the bottom 50% of wage earners (AGI <$29,019) = 3.46%

Just sayin'.


Peas in a pod

What do Mother Teresa, President George W. Bush, Saddam Hussein, Mahatma Ghandi, Adolph Hitler and Osama bin Laden all have in common? They are faces on billboards being put up around Mexico City (that's in Mexico) to admonish citizens to adopt more civil behavior. I might also say, more civilized behavior. On one billboard Saddam warns, "Don't you dare double park." On another, Mother Teresa says, "Don't give bribes to the devil!" Now, exactly why the civic group "Muevete por Tu Ciudad" (loosely translated as "Do Something for Your City", or in plainer English, "Move Your Ass!") would use the faces of notorious mass murderers along with saints or near saints has yet to be determined. Those responsible for this somewhat confusing campaign were mysteriously unavailable for comment.

One has to wonder what the George Bush billboard will say, "Stay home!"?

And Osama bin Laden's? His billboard will probably appear in a park somewhere admonishing city planners, "Save Our Open Spaces - Don't build an office tower here!"

Adolph Hitler's? "Support Mexican Auto Workers - Buy Volkswagen!"

Mahatma Ghandi's? "Exercise of nonviolence requires far greater bravery than that of swordsmanship, regardless of what Antonio Banderas may claim."


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Reader response

I appreciate comments and feedback from visitors to this blog. Sometimes I'll add a response of my own in the comments and sometimes, like now, I'll write a post specifically addressing a commenter's, er, comments. Commenter Marc, who paid a visit to the previous post says,
"It's so easy to kill innocent people and journalists when your (sic) are in a 4 milion (sic) $ (sic) tank..."
I think my post made Marc sic. Anyway, I want to take a moment to illuminate Señor/Monsieur/Herr Marc as to the fact that it is most assuredly not easy to kill innocent journalists from a $4 million tank. However, from an $11 million tank, it is indeed a piece of cake. Since the M1A2 SEP MBT upgrade to an existing obsolete M1 Battle Tank costs $6.7 million and the original cost of the M1 was about $4 million a copy in 1990 (2004 dollars), that makes the total package blasting away at innocent journalists more like $11 million, assuming that ERA (explosive reactive armor) is not required to kill those innocent journalists. I wouldn't think that ERA would be necessary since the journalists would be defending themselves by throwing glasses of Merlot (well . . . probably more like White Zinfandel) and cans of 35mm film at the oncoming Goliath. $4 million, Marc? We spend $4 million just to train the crew. Our heavy armor crews wouldn't be caught dead in a $4 million tank nor a $4 million hotel. Our enemies, however, frequently are.

Señor/Monsieur/Herr Marc adds,
"It wasn't a mistake, they shot directly on the hotel where the US army had previously placed the international journalists. Keep on defending criminals...that will make your country the most horrible place in the world."
Well, I certainly hope so. That would effectively end the almost overpowering and unstoppable surge of immigrants, both legal and otherwise, from Mexico, Central America, South America, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, China, Africa, Southeast Asia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well as the Spanish, Italian, British, French, German and Eastern European brain drainers who are so desperately scrambling to enter the territory of this "most horrible place in the world." It might also mean that, should any of the three innocent veterans actually be arrested, there might be someone left in Spain who speaks something other than Arabic to supervise their trials.

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Becoming weary of the Spanish, too.

Move over France and Germany, the Spanish are competing for most ridiculous and irrelevant European country. This apparently coveted status, currently held by France, with Germany a close runner-up, has been hotly contested for about 60 years by both France and Germany. Prior to 1945, France had held the dubious honor since 1917 when Britain and The United States rescued France after Germany kicked its butt in WW I. Since 1945, France has improved not a whit while Germany managed to drag itself down by its own bootstraps to francophilian levels of incompetence. Now the Spaniards want to play in this game, too.

An obviously machoed-out Spanish judge who has been attending too many bullfights and watching too many Zorro movies has issued "international" arrest warrants for three American soldiers, Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip de Camp, U.S. 3rd Infantry, whose tank fired on a Baghdad hotel, killing a Spanish journalist and another person. The testosterone laden judge says that American judicial lack of cooperation forced his hand. Oh, really? Judge Santiago Pedraz fails to see the big picture here. It is not a lack of cooperation from U.S. judicial authorities. It's a "Who the hell are you?" reaction to a, well, "Who the hell is he and why do we care what the Spanish want?" scenario. The very term, "lack of cooperation" intimates that the U.S. should, in fact, be cooperating. Why, pray tell, should that be?

One of these days some nitwit in Spain or Belgium or France or Germany is going to arrest an American war veteran or politician in one of their countries while on holiday with his or her family and all hell is going to break loose. These cowardly people seem to think that they can act with impunity against America and her citizens who, after all, have protected Europe and its incompetent and irrelevant countries for almost a century, first from one another and then from the Soviet slimeballs. They can't compete with us economically, politically or militarily, so they run around issuing various threats, arrest warrants for innocent American citizens, WTO complaints, sponsoring anti-American street demonstrations, speechifying against us at the UN, voting against us at that same incompetent, irrelevant and corrupt UN, propping up dictators like Robert Mugabe and all the while extolling the virtues of 10% unemployment and gasoline prices two to three time higher than what we pay. I deal with this daily from my 6 year-old so I should be used to it.

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Dog bites man

In one of the stranger reports of the year, Bob Schwartz, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's crime adviser and the man who wrote a new state law that allows felony charges against owners of dangerous dogs, was hospitalized over the weekend after his own dog attacked him. Mr. Schwartz owns a boxer and two English bulldogs. I blame the boxer. Boxing is a dirty business and one has to wonder if Don King played any part in this.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Unknown persons suggest Cheney to resign

This report quotes the following people as saying that vice President Dick Cheney may resign in favor of Condoleezza Rice:
government officials and advisers
a Bush insider
another Bush associate
a key Senate Republican aide
Many White House insiders
Folks on the inside and near inside
a Bush adviser
The non-specific specificity is astounding.

UPDATE: Corected stoopid mispelings. Thankz to Scoup Storys.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Insurging rebel militants of non-specific ideology - allegedly

Mark Steyn gives us two columns for the price of one. He's driving down I-91, listening to an NPR interview of some Russian expert concerning the Muslim terrorist attacks in Nalchik, when he vows to increase his speed by 5 mph for every minute that goes by without the mention of the religious affiliation behind the allegedly insurging rebel militants. He fails, however, due to an inability to get the car over 130 mph and the vibrations cause one of his wing mirrors to fall off.

He quotes several leading dailys' reports of the incidents and how they describe the Muslim terrorists. NYT - "insurgents"; AFP - "militants"; Scotsman - "rebel forces"; Toronto Globe and Mail - "rebels". Finally, he finds in the Toronto Star - "Islamic militants".
Ah, "Islamic militants." So that's what the rebels were insurging over. In the geopolitical Hogwart's, Islamic "militants" are the new Voldemort, the enemy whose name it's best never to utter. In fairness to the New York Times, they did use the I-word in paragraph seven. And Agence France Presse got around to mentioning Islam in paragraph 22. And NPR's "All Things Considered" had one of those bland interviews between one of its unperturbable anchorettes and some Russian geopolitical academic type in which they chitchatted through every conceivable aspect of the situation and finally got around to kinda sorta revealing the identity of the perpetrators in the very last word of the geopolitical expert's very last sentence.
Then Steyn goes on to explain why the allegedly insurging rebel militants might be rebelling. The Russians are dying out. They've got one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, 1.2 births per woman with high infant mortality rates, and 70% of pregnancies end up terminated through abortion - everywhere except in Islamic territories where it's business as usual in the maternity wards.
The Russians couldn't hold on to Eastern Europe. They couldn't hold on to Central Asia. Why would they fare any better with the present so-called Russian "Federation"?

Russian men now have a lower life expectancy than Bangladeshis -- not because Bangladesh is brimming with actuarial advantages but because, if he had four legs and hung from a tree in a rain forest, the Russian male would be on the endangered species list.

If you're an energy-rich Muslim republic, what's the point of going down the express garbage chute of history with the Russian Federation? The Islamification of significant parts of present-day Russia is going to be a critical factor in its death spiral.
I don't know why Steyn continues to belabor this refusal by the MSM to call a spade a spade. They are not concerned with truth, only with their various reporters' access as well as newspaper sales. They dare not endanger their access to the allegedly insurging rebel militants of non-specific ideology by identifying the cause behind it all and - horrors! - Muslims might stop buying the papers.

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Saturday, October 15, 2005


Well, the New York Times has finally published the inside story of Judith Miller and her jailhouse odyssey, kind of, sort of, possibly. The story of the Plamegate/Rovegate/Millergate/treasongate/Wilsongate affair and Miller's part in it leaves me as mystified as before. In a report which seems to treat Miller as an outsider rather than as an employee of the NYT - the two interviews with her were conducted by telephone and she refused to allow a review of her notes - the newspaper tells us that Miller's notebook contains the notation "Judith Flame", although Miller says that the notation was in a different section of the notebook than that which contained the notes of her conversation with Lewis Libby. Miller says that she told the grand jury and prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that she could not recall who gave her or when she was given the name nor why she misspelled it nor even when she wrote it. In yet another section of her notebook appears the notation "Victoria Wilson." Miller said she told the grand jury that by the time this notation appeared she had talked to several other administration officials about Joseph Wilson's wife but she could not recall who or when. Either Miller has poor hearing, poor spelling, or Libby et al mumble a lot.

Editor and Publisher calls the NYT report "devastating" but fails to point out anything in it that seems very devastating to me. Possibly one devastating part of the report is the claim that neither the NYT's publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, nor the NYT's executive editor, Bill Keller, ever reviewed Miller's notes in spite of spending millions of dollars in legal fees and placing the reputation of the NYT solidly behind her. Keller did not know of the "Flame" notation until early this month and Sulzberger did not know until informed by his reporters on Thursday. And this is only devastating in that it shows that the Times upper management seems, or seemed, willing to gamble a hell of a lot on very little information.

The Times' article tells us that the newsroom was upset at the way the Times was handling the affair. Thank you, but we already knew that. The report also tells us that Miller was not the most well liked reporter in the newsroom, but we already knew that. The article tells us that she was difficult for her editors to control, but we already knew that. The article tells us that critics of the Times accused the newspaper of protecting an "administration campaign intended to squelch dissent," not a whistleblower. We already knew that.

What Judith Miller and the Times have been protecting is access, nothing more and nothing less. I think that if a reporter is willing to go to jail to protect access, then more power to him/her. Robert Novak wasn't, Walter Pincus wasn't, Matthew Cooper wasn't - and Time magazine wasn't prepared to back him up if he was - and Tim Russert wasn't.

If there is anything new in the article besides the Flame-throwing, it's that Miller's stay in jail seems to have all been a big misunderstanding between herself, Lewis Libby and half a dozen lawyers or so as well as the prosecutor, Fitzgerald. Or so everyone says. Libby and his lawyer, Joseph Tate, say they are "mystified" as to why Miller, her lawyer, Robert Bennett, the NYT and its lawyers, Floyd Abrams as well as George Freeman would not accept Libby's waiver of confidentiality nor Tate's assurances that Libby was really, really serious. In fact, the message that Abrams as well as Bennett say they got from conversations with Tate was that Libby did not want Miller to testify. Tate calls these assertions, "outrageous." Even prosecutor Fitzgerald wrote a letter to Miller lawyer Bennett wondering if there had been a misunderstanding between Miller and Libby - I wonder what gave Fitzgerald that idea.

The Lawyers - maybe the most amusing thing about this entire mess has been the interplay amongst the lawyers. When it first blew up, by means of a Fitzgerald subpoena of Miller, the Times hired Floyd Abrams to represent both the newspaper and Miller. Later, Miller, and very wisely so, contracted Robert Bennett to represent her personally. Joseph Tate represents Lewis Libby. George Freeman represents the NYT. We'll call them NYT lawyer Abrams, NYT lawyer Freeman, Miller lawyer Bennett and Libby lawyer Tate.

NYT lawyer Abrams said he spoke to Libby lawyer Tate last year about Libby's waiver of confidentiality. NYT lawyer Abrams says that Libby lawyer Tate relayed some of Libby's grand jury testimony to him, to the effect that Libby had testified that he had not given Plame's name to Miller and said, "Don't go there, or, we don't want you there," which, according to Miller, made her and NYT lawyer Abrams believe that Libby didn't want her to testify. Now Libby lawyer Tate is outraged, denying he ever said those things and that the Miller/Abrams/NYT interpretation of their conversation is "outrageous." Furthermore, Libby lawyer Tate wrote to NYT lawyer Abrams recently saying, "You never told me that your client did not accept my representation of voluntariness or that she wanted to speak personally to my client." NYT lawyer Abrams does not dispute that, according to the NYT.

When Miller was advised by Miller lawyer Bennett that prosecutor Fitzgerald could empanel another grand jury and she might have to stay in jail another 18 months, it began to seem prudent to both Miller and Miller lawyer Bennett that further conversations with Libby and Libby lawyer Tate might be in order. These conversations resulted in a two page letter from Libby to Miller as well as a 10 minute phone conversation between the two, monitored by a whole slew of lawyers on both ends of the line. After this conversation, Miller left jail and testified - twice, because of the discovery by prosecutor Fitzgerald of a second set of notes of which he was previously unaware.

When Miller lawyer Bennett first began to broach the subject of further contact with Libby and Libby lawyer Tate, NYT lawyer Abrams and NYT lawyer Freeman objected, saying that people would claim that the newspaper and Miller had "caved." Well, that's easy for them to say. They had not been in confinement staring out of a narrow slit in the wall at a lone maple tree and sleeping on two thin pads on a concrete platform for 85 days, going on 500 more, give or take.

Then, in the runup last week to the interviews by Miller for this NYT article, NYT lawyer Freeman wrote out a 4 page "script" of what Miller was to say, enraging both Miller and Miller lawyer Bennett. NYT lawyer Freeman denies that it was a script, innocently claiming it was a "narrative."


So what do we know about all this they said that she said and he said. Not much more than we did before. Judith Miller is one smart cookie ( she couldn't recall who told her what or when or why and her notes are, well, confusing), Lewis Libby is possibly in deep hockey pucky (it is pretty obvious that he said it, but is it provable?), the lawyers cannot agree on who said what to whom and nobody knows what prosecutor Fitzgerald is going to do because he ain't saying nothing to nobody.

The Flame-thrower Speaks
Now comes Judith Miller herself to tell us about her 4 hours before the grand jury. Her recollection of her testimony to the grand jury might put Libby even more squarely in the crosshairs. Not so much about what she testified - again, lots of not remembering who, when and why - but because of Fitzgerald's questions. It sounds like Fitzgerald is trying to tighten a noose around Libby's neck but that Miller gave him very little help.

Fitzgerald asked her several times about classified information passed to her from Libby. He also showed her some documents and asked if she could identify them. Miller had received security clearance from the Pentagon when she had been embedded with the WMD search teams in Iraq. She told the grand jury that Libby might have believed she still had that clearance and she herself did not know for sure. She could not identify any of the documents and she told Fitzgerald that Libby had never shown her any classified documents. She testified that Libby's main thrust in two face-to-face interviews and another by telephone was trying to convince her that VP Chaney knew nothing about Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger and that the CIA was orchestrating Wilson to cover their butts due to the faulty WMD intelligence.

If the WMD's were found, then the CIA could brag about their skill and derring-do. If the WMD's were not found, on the other hand, the CIA intended to pin the blame on the White House. That sounds about par for the course for the CIA. But then, we already knew that, too.

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Art for health

I saw this yesterday but am just now getting around to commenting on it. A Swedish researcher, Britt-Maj Wikstroem of the Ersta Skoendal University College in Stockholm, had 20 women of around 80 years of age gather once a week for four months to discuss different works of art.

"The result was positive. Their attitudes became more positive, more creative, their blood pressure went in the right direction ... and they used fewer laxatives," she told AFP.

Well, I don't know about 80 year-old ladies, but here are some examples of works of art which induce constipation and high blood pressure in Mark in Mexico as well as their antidotes.

Warhol Mao Constipating

Tiananmen Square Antidote

Che Guevara Constipating

Che Guevara Body 1 Antidote

Thong 1 Blood pressure elevated

Overalls Antidote

The Thinker Blood pressure elevated

Heisman Trophy Antidote

Arc de Triomphe Constipatiing

Iwo Jima Memorial Antidote

Bidet Constipating

Jesusland Outdoor Toilet Antidote

Kerry Kiss Constipating

George Laura Kiss Antidote

Remington Foreign Cavalryman Constipating

Remington Cavalryman Antidote

Twin Towers 1 Blood pressure elevated

Uday & Qusay Antidote


Why the South lost the Civil War

"They never whipped us, Sir, unless they were four to one. If we had anything like a fair chance, or less disparity of numbers, we should have won our Cause and established our independence."

A Virginia soldier on his way home after the war. has launched a multi-part series titled, "Why the South lost the Civil War." The first installment lists the six reasons most commonly agreed upon by scholars and historians:
1. The fundamental economic superiority of the North.

2. A basic lack of strategy in the way the South fought the war.

3. The inept Southern performance in foreign affairs.

4. The South did not have a dominating civilian leader.

5. The Confederate Constitution put too much emphasis on individual and states rights and did not stress the responsibilities of the individual or the state to the federal government.

6. Abraham Lincoln.
Author Ned Harrison begins the series by stating the somewhat obvious; that by examining why the South lost we'll also learn why the North won. He draws corollaries between the Civil War and the Revolutionary war as well as with Viet Nam. The South possessed enormous advantages over the North in terms of territory (750,000 sq. miles), thousands of miles of seacoast for food supply, harbors, inlets, coves and rivers for blockade evasion and a dedicated populace convinced that their cause was a righteous one. They also had a wealth of knowledge (both Lee and President Jefferson Davis were West Point graduates) as well as the not so distant experience of the defeat of the British in the Revolution. So why did the South lose?

Harrison first examines the strategies and tactics utilized by General George Washington during the Revolution.
Gen. Washington's Rules

No. 1: Husband your resources and avoid losing the war.

No. 2: Avoid head-to-head battles that use up your manpower, your most precious asset.

No. 3. Prolong the war.

No. 4. Hope that the enemy would grow heartily sick of the casualties in a war that never seems to end.

No. 5. The Revolution would continue as long as he had the Continental Army, which was the only real power he had.

No. 6. Thus, do not risk the army except in the most dire emergency or when the odds are heavily in your favor.

No. 7. Do not risk the army to defend territory because it is the army that the British have to subdue, not geography.

No. 8. Remember that most of the fighting will be in your territory in geography you know best. Frustrate the British by raids, continual skirmishing, and capturing their supplies, always staying just beyond their ability to defeat you.
Harrison then wonders why, if Washington's example had proven so successful, did Davis and Lee not follow it? He goes on to show how General Giap and Ho Chi Minh used Washington's strategies and tactics over the course of 21 years (1954 - 1975) to defeat both the French and the Americans in Viet Nam and how Stalin traded geography for time to the Germans until his army was strong enough to counterattack.

Two incidents during the Civil War have always stood out in my mind, and both illustrate the failure of Southern thinking, one by Lee and one by Davis. There are, of course, many other examples but these two have always seemed to me to be most illustrative of the Confederacy's failures.

At Gettysburg, General Picket has been blamed for his disastrous charge across open fields at entrenched Union positions. It was Lee who ordered the attack in spite of Longstreet's and other senior officers' objections. It has been reported that Lee was so intent on breaking the Union lines that he wholly ignored Washington's rules No. 2 and 6; he risked his army, or a good portion of it, in a head to head confrontation and he did not and knew he did not have a decided advantage. Pickett never forgave Lee for the blunder that cost so many lives. After the massacre, Lee told Pickett to gather up the remains of his division to prepare for a Union counterattack and Pickett replied bitterly, "What division, General? I have no division now." Pickett had lost 3000 men, over half of his division and all 15 regimental commanders including 2 brigadier generals and 6 colonels.

The other incident involved Davis, General Joseph E. Johnston and General John Bell Hood. Sherman had been continually harassed by General Johnston's Army of Tennessee as he marched inexorably towards Atlanta. Johnston, who had been in trouble many times before with the Southern politicians trying to run the war, was relieved of his command by President Davis due to his refusal to risk his army in a head-to-head confrontation with Sherman's vastly superior force. Davis gave command of Johnston's army to Texan John Bell Hood. Sherman was delighted with the change because he correctly anticipated what Hood would do. Hood rashly attempted to stop Sherman. Hood's army was virtually destroyed, as Johnston had foreseen, and Hood was forced to evacuate Atlanta in the predawn hours having failed to stop Sherman and save the city but also decimating Johnston's former command.

Harrison concludes this first installment with;
The Confederacy never even tried to follow Washington's precepts. Part of the reason is the nature of Southern men. It went counter to the Southern psyche, which was the "attack" strategy for winning any battle. The Confederacy's high command followed their West Point training of "charge" to defeat their enemy. They were convinced that "aggressive attack" was the best and really the only way to win a war.

Could the Washington precepts have worked in the Civil War? We will never know how it would have worked out, but it could not have turned out any worse for the Southern Cause.
Next installment: The economic superiority of the Union.

Civil War South Map

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Python Pete: first responder

More problems with python snakes in Florida. Various non-native species have been released over the years by exotic pet owners who apparently didn't realize just how big the damned snakes would grow. First, the story making the rounds late last week about the 13 foot python that ate the 6 foot alligator and then exploded. Then this story from Monday about the year-old Siamese cat that ran fatally afoul of a python. And now this report from Florida about a 10 foot African rock python that sneaked into a nursery and devoured a turkey. The bulging belly of the python wouldn't pass back through the fence of the nursery, trapping the snake inside where police were able to capture it.

Now the giant pythons are breeding in the Everglades, threatening to overrun the national park. They are preying on native mangrove fox squirrels and wood storks, and they could be competing with the threatened eastern indigo snake (an endangered species) for both prey and space. Stunned parkgoers have even watched the pythons in battles with native alligators, including an epic 24 hour fight between an evenly matched Burmese python and a big alligator. The alligator held the python for 24 hours in its jaws before the giant snake managed to free itself and swim away. From the mid-1990s through 2003, park officials removed 52 Burmese pythons from the park. In 2004 alone, 61 animals were taken out. Fifteen snakes were captured last month.

So what are Florida's wildlife officials doing about this? They've called on Python Pete, their "first responder unit." Python Pete is a year-old beagle puppy who is in training to attack and kill 20 foot snakes. Just kidding about that last part. Python Pete would be no match for a big python in teeth-to-coil combat. Python Pete is being trained to hunt down the giant snakes and then bark like hell until the cavalry arrives to capture and remove the snake. Actually, Python Pete will be on some type of special leash to prevent him from going into the water after a snake and becoming a "snake snack".

He's being trained by Lori Oberhofer, an Everglades wildlife technician, who got the idea from Guam where Jack Russell terriers are being used to detect brown tree snakes in freight being exported from the island. The brown tree snake, for you ecological current events challenged readers, got onto the island in incoming shipments of fruit from Asia and has wiped out several species of Guam birdlife. The brown tree snake is a voracious predator and poisonous to boot. US authorities are desperately trying to prevent the snake from leaving the island and contaminating other locales.

Python Pete's training will be completed soon and he will be sicced on the invading Burmese pythons shortly. The only remaining task is to assure that Python Pete can successfully differentiate between the Burmese python and native Everglades snakes. The park rangers don't want to waste time dealing with harmless and cute native species like the cottonmouth viper, coral snakes, timber rattlers and the like.

Hey, I've got an idea. After Python Pete gets a little experience under his belt, er, collar, they should take him into the halls of our Congress. He'd go nuts, probably keel over from a heart attack at being surrounded by so many snakes in such a confined area.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Texas lawyers can issue subpoenas?

This AP report says that Tom DeLay's lawyers have issued a subpoena to prosecutor Ronnie, Duke of Earle. I thought that a judge had to issue a subpoena. Lawyers can request a subpoena from a judge but the judge has to actually issue it or it has no force of law. Calling Beldar. What say you?

UPDATE: Beldar answers in Comments. Thanks. So, DeLay's lawyers get a subpoena, serve in on Ronnie Earle and then he moves to quash the subpoena. A judge then gets involved in the motion to quash. We'll see what happens. Thanks again to Bill Dyer for the enlightenment. There was also a followup from AP which I can't find now, ergo, no link. This report said that Earle had refused to accept the subpoena from a server, as had his assistant. However, the number 3 in his office did accept the subpoena. The reason given was that the subpoena did not have a clerks seal on it. It therefore was not a subpoena at all, but rather an "invitation". DeLay's lawyers said they would get the subpoena stamped by a court clerk and then Earle would have to receive service.

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Anybody else who don't wanna git shot better git on out the back.

I haven't written anything for a long while about Plamegate / Rovegate / Millergate, whatever. Everything that I have read for the last 2 months or so seems to be so speculative that I don't think anyone has a good idea of what is going on now or what is likely to occur in the short term. For every opinion there is an equal and opposite counter-opinion. Add into the mix the various agendas and political partisanship and the truth becomes more and more difficult to discern. But today I find this scathing indictment of both Judith Miller and the New York Times which seems to be written in a non-partisan and agenda-free manner by a relatively neutral observer.

Writing in The Ethics Corner of Editor and Publisher Online, Allan Wolper says:
New York Times reporter Judith Miller lost the ethical high ground, and my support, when she changed her mind and decided that Scooter Libby, somehow free of any coercion, truly wanted her to testify. Then she committed a journalistic mortal sin--turning over notes to a prosecutor.
Wolper claims to have had the utmost respect for Judith Miller's and the Time's stances on turning over a confidential source. In fact, Wolper goes so far as to call Miller, " . . . she is also a terrific reporter." Now, Wolper says, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., publisher of the newspaper, was celebrating the surrender of one of its reporters to a prosecutor.
It's embarrassing.
Wolper maintains that Scooter Libby's waiver of his confidentiality agreement with Miller is just as coerced today as it was when he gave it initially in 2003. One of those, "Sign this if you want to keep your job," type of deals. It reminded me of William Munney's words of advice to a barroom full of townsfolk after they had witnessed Munney gun down Skinny, the bar owner, Little Bill Daggett, the sheriff, as well as 5 armed deputies. Munney wasn't asking for anyone's opinion or the voluntary evacuation of the saloon. Either leave or I'll kill all y'all, too. That would be considered coercion, I should think.

Wolper says,
"There was no question the White House waivers were coerced," George Freeman, an assistant general counsel for The Times, told me at the time, referring to all the waivers at the White House, including the one signed by Libby. Floyd Abrams, an attorney for Miller, says that Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, admitted as much to him as recently as this past summer.

Now Freeman tells me Miller feels Libby is no longer being coerced. How does he know? Miller told him so, referring to a telephone conversation she had with Libby from her Virginia cell while his lawyers listened in, according to Newsweek.

It requires total brain lock to think that Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Cheney -- and a promoter of the fiction that Iraq was filled with Weapons of Mass Destruction (I said relatively neutral) -- is in any way free from the influence of the White House.
Hey, Scooter, you better git on out the back.

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Friday, October 07, 2005

Child molester compares Bush, Blair to nazis

Scott Ritter, child molester, compares President Bush and Prime Minister Blair to nazis. What a guy this Scott Ritter is. When he's not chatting up 14 year-old girls on the internet, arranging meetings with them at the local Burger King, he is being flown all over the world to give anti- Bush/Blair/America speeches.

The original Saddam toady, Ritter apparently has to range far and wide to find appreciative audiences since no one here will touch him with a 10 foot pole. He is reportedly undergoing court-ordered sex offender counseling in New York state.


The Saudis are real bastards

I tried several different titles for this post and finally decided to just let my real feelings show. I will be happier than I can accurately describe when we have developed our oil shale technology or our Fischer-Tropsch process (coal into gasoline) or our hydrogen power capability or solar power or wind power or whatever power to finally say goodbye to those vicious, cowardly, corrupt and deceitful Arabs. All of them, but especially the Saudis. They are truly pigs.

Do you remember Rania al-Baz? She is the 29 year-old Saudi Arabian TV newscaster and personality who was severely beaten by her husband several times. The last time, she was so severely injured that he bundled her into his car, took her to a local hospital and dumped her, telling hospital employees that she had been in a car accident and he had to hurry back to save others. She had had enough.

Rania directed that photos of her smashed face be released publicly and then, after her release from the hospital, went on Saudi TV, shattered face and all, to tell the Saudis and the world what had happened to her. The uproar in Saudi Arabia, but most especially around the world, was severe enough to force the Saudi government to prosecute her husband. She had refused to complain about earlier beatings because, under Sharia law, her husband would have taken their three children in any divorce proceeding. With the Saudis forced to prosecute him, she seems safe enough, for now, with her kids (the 5 year-old watched the last beating). Her husband was sentenced to 300 lashes and 6 months in jail. She agreed to his early release when he signed over to her custody of the children.

Rania was scheduled to fly to Paris to address a conference on domestic abuse in the Gulf states but didn't show up for three days after her scheduled arrival. That was because Saudi authorities decided to revoke her travel privileges. They didn't say why, they just said, "You can't fly." She ultimately escaped the country by hiding in a truck and crossing the Saudi border into Bahrain. She proceeded on to Dubai and flew to Paris from there. She is now more or less stuck in Paris while the rest of her family, including her three children, is stuck in Saudi Arabia.

I realize that we have little choice but to kiss the Saudis' collective asses. If we don't, our economy and that of most of the rest of the developed world would be squeezed more severely than we can imagine. It would probably force a president into war with the Saudis, and possibly the rest of the Gulf states, to try to take the oil fields by force to liberate the world's economy. What is happening in Iraq is child's play compared to that scenario.

But one day it is going to happen. We'll either make ourselves independent of those bastards in the Arabian peninsula as well as that fat pig in Venezuela or we'll be forced to send in the Marines . . . again.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

A toothy grin

The next time you're walking through an airport and spot someone leaving a rest room wearing a toothy grin, here's why. This is a classic life-imitates-art story, or perhaps, man-bites-dog.
He checks his Rolex irritably as he bustles along through London's Gatwick airport. Clad in an Armani suit, his attache case swinging with every step as he busily sends an SMS message from his mobile phone, bystanders don't give him a second glance: just another yuppie businessman arranging a meeting. Except that Richard's meeting won't take place in a boardroom with executives, but in a public lavatory with a woman he's never met before and will never meet again after their "business" is concluded. For Richard is into toothing, a new sexual trend enabled by mobile phone technology.
"Toothing", short for bluetoothing, was a hoax created by two Brits, Ste Curran and Simon Byron. They created the silly name, published an article describing the non-existent practice, created a blog forum dedicated to toothing, filled it with fake discussions and tales of commode conquests, did interviews with newspapers, including the London Telegraph and even had a British MP declare his interest in toothing as a way to meet women.
"Our point at the time was to highlight how journalists are happy to believe something is true without necessarily checking the facts."
After all was said and done, or so they thought, Curran and Byron reassured the world that toothing was nothing more than a practical joke gone way too far. Curran's last words on the matter were:
"Despite all the made-up ramblings on Web sites across the globe, despite the forums and the fan-fiction, the tabloids and the broadsheets, the perverts and the simply curious, no one has ever ever, ever toothed."
Guess what? It has become real. It is happening. It is not only happening, it is wildly popular. You surf around on your Bluetooth - keyword: "Toothing?" - till you find someone interested in the same, er, activities, arrange to meet somewhere (public restrooms in airports and bus stations seem to be the favorites) and, if first impressions are not totally off-putting, you, er, partake.

Now, the risks involved are great. First of all, what happens when you arrive at the appointed bathroom or broom closet only to find your office cleaning lady awaiting? That happened to one unfortunate bloke. What happens if you find your wife awaiting a supposed anonymous stranger? That would be disconcerting. For the both of you. More ominously, what happens if the one-time, never-see-you-again clinch (or whatever) leaves you with an STD? That would be more than disconcerting, I should think.
Albert Benschop, a sociologist with the University of Amsterdam, researched the trend. According to him, toothing is the next logical step in dating. "The old game is just adapting to new times. It seems that being single and messing around is 'in.' Pair that with our faster lives, our shortened attention span and our technology and you arrive at toothing.?
The next logical step in dating? You gotta be kidding me. I thought that the next logical step in dating was either marriage or spinsterism. And, "adapting to new times"? This is what dogs and cats do, without the expense of Bluetooth-capable cell phones, and have been doing for millennia. Sociologist Albert Benschop of the apparently incredibly boring University of Amsterdam continues with his abject silliness:
He explains that toothing is "just like picking up people in bars but without the silly time-consuming conventions of decorum that people are obliged to keep to these days. This is much more direct. You both know what you want." He also sees it serving an important purpose: "People can use it to satisfy their need for intimacy. As long as it helps people out of loneliness and gives them more to enjoy in life, I think it's a very good development."
Personally, I think that Curran and Byron are much closer to the mark in spite of not being highly educated sociologists.
"It's like going into a crowded nightclub, throwing a brick at the dance floor with a love letter attached, and hoping that the person it hits will agree to sleep with you."
And what is the proper etiquette to observe if the person you find awaiting is off-putting? What does the young British trollop bent on a quicky tryst in the bus station broom closet to say when she finds this awaiting her? "Oh, excuse me, I was looking for my sister and she resembles a mop?"

Prophet Muhammad ibnu AbdillahTOOTHING?

Or what does the testosterone pumping, young, upwardly-mobile yuppie businessman say when he discovers this breathless young hottie awaiting him in the exercise salon? "Don't turn around! I want to remember you just like this?" or, "Toning up for the beach?"

People call toothing a fad and say that its practitioners are nothing but immoral perverts. The toothers themselves don't care much. They watch benignly as more and more people of all ages, genders, races, creeds and nationalities - join their community.

"It's the fast food of sex," says Richard the yuppie. "Cheap and fast, without making too much effort." Then he checks his phone again and smiles. "Sorry, got to go."