Saturday, June 30, 2007

The stories we missed.

Or tried to miss. Last week we wanted to turn the world's noise down and this is what got through, despite all our efforts.

Two blonde skanks dominate several news cycles.

Larry King kicked Michael Moore and discussion of American healthcare to the curb and landed a full hour with the woman known for ... what exactly? Flashing her cooter like she was one of the Bush twins? What?

And just when we thought we'd seen the last (for now) of bulimic blondes who have contributed exactly zero to humanity, we get Ann Coulter. Why? Because her book has just come out in paper and Regnery Press can't possibly buy up enough copies in bulk to justify her appearance on every news show on every cable channel in every known fucking universe.

Then Elizabeth Edwards gave Ann a smackdown and even more air time making it almost impossible to watch TV without having your eyeballs seared by this vile critter. But she did verify what many have suspected when she told Bill O'Reilly that she was a man. It's true. Look it up.

More Skank News.

Why are the Spice Girls reuniting and why do I know this? I don't want to know this.

Mitt Romney Takes A Family Vacation.

Taking his cue from the Griswolds, Mitt Romney took his family on a 12-hour trip to Ontario with the family dog riding on top of the car. The dog was so freaked that he lost all continence and decorated the back of the family station wagon with poo.

And who wouldn't?

This should win the votes of all the people who support Dick Cheney and his Thanksgiving tradition of eating a puppy.

Dick Cheney declares himself a fourth branch of government.

Speaking of Dick "Dick" Cheney, our Vice President said he wasn't in the Executive Branch because of his duties in the Senate and he wasn't in the Legislative Branch because he was the vice president. So he's an entirely new, extra-Constitutional part of the government, the Execulative Branch, unaccountable to anyone except the Lord of Darkness.

Rich People Bogart Free Speech.

In two rulings in a week full of frightening SCOTUS decisions, the new Roberts Court has decided that if you have enough money to buy TV time, then the First Amendment applies to you. However, if you're a student who unfurls a handmade banner on a public street, you can, in the words of Dick Cheney, go fuck yourself.

And why are the student's First Amendment rights moot? Because, according to the twinkly-eyed Roberts, the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner advocated illegal drug use. So, it was the content of the speech that made this banner verboten. If the student had said, "Handguns 4 Jesus," that would have been OK because handguns are legal and protected by the Second Amendment, but the words bong hits are not protected by anything. Even, apparently, the First Amendment.

If you're a student, you might want to check with Chief Justice Roberts before you write anything. Because your First Amendment rights now only cover what Roberts finds to be acceptable. Good luck.

Immigration Reform Esta Muy Muerta.

The American people, stirred by the eloquence and leadership of President Bush, told him to place immigration reform firmly up his culo.

People Who Watch Fox News Are Misinformed.

I know, this hardly qualifies as news, but it's even worse than we thought. A nonpartisan group found that 80 percent of the people who got their news from Fox believed one or more of these stunningly wrong statements:

1. Iraq was working with Al Qaeda before 9/11

2. WMDs had been found in Iraq

3. World public opinion favored the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

But why are Fox viewers so bone-headed?

It's not that Fox reports stories that aren't true. Well, except when they report that Dick Cheney is a carbon-based life form, but most of the time they do things like this - during the early months of the war, Fox shouted every possible discovery of WMDs but whispered the subsequent story that the WMDs were duds. So it's no wonder that those not paying close attention would miss the follow-up.

Or, if the news isn't exactly the news they want to report, they report something else. When Fox had trouble finding another new-school-in-Iraq story without getting blown up, they quit reporting on the war.

In the first quarter of this year Fox News devoted only 6 percent of their time to the war. And what did they cover instead? What was their top story while everyone else was covering Iraq?

Anna Nicole Smith.

That's right. While most Fox viewers couldn't tell Al Qaeda from Al Kooper, they most likely know the name of Anna's baby's daddy.

Sheds some light on how we got here, doesn't it?

There you are, Planeteers, these are the stories that made it through my week-long screen of ennui.

And people wonder why I drink.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Time to take a break.

I need a little time away from the Planet.

I'll be back in a few days.

Play nice.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Does this level 20 Paladin work in the Pentagon?

Somewhere in the E-Ring of the Pentagon someone comes up with macho names for military operations. Like Operation Anaconda, Mountain Resolve and Slipper.

Wait a minute. Operation Slipper? That's about as manly as My Little Pony. How did that get past our linguistic warriors? Oh, I see, that was an Australian op. So that explains why it wasn't all George Bush strutty and muy macho.

But the one we've got now is the macho-ist op ever. So tanked on testosterone that it sounds like it was written by a 13-year-old who wet dreams over vorpal swords and +4 full plate mail.*

It's called Operation: Arrowhead Ripper.

Look out! Shock and Awe! Are the Hajjis scared yet?

Oh, and as a little aside, General David Petraeus told Fox News this morning that we'll probably have to be in Iraq for another nine or ten years.

Just thought you'd like to know in case you've got a little one hanging around the house. You might want to start teaching him Arabic now.

File this one under: Gee, thanks, President Bush! You're the Swellest President Ever!

*thanks to Spencer for his help with the geek speak.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Why We Fight.

We should all be resigned to a long, hard occupation in Iraq. Because if you're not with the program, as my old drill instructor used to say, you'd best get your mind right.

The president has talked vaguely about fighting the terrorists because they hate us for our freedoms, but you should know what kind of freedom we're helping spread in Iraq. Here's a story from the Times of London that gives us a good look at what we're really fighting for.

Just northeast of Baghdad is the Diyala province. Diyala is run by some nice guy Islamists who, much like our own Reverends James Dobson and Pat Robertson, are just trying to bring some clean living to the culture.

Smoke a cigarette? They'll break your fingers.

If you like fruit, you may want to think twice before peeling that banana. You could get stoned, and not in a good way.

Grocers can't even display the nasty fruit because the local religious leaders think a ripe banana looks too much like a schwantz and, I'm guessing, they don't want Iraqi women to be disappointed when they see the real thing.

Grocers are also required to put up a screen between the cucumbers and tomatoes because we can't have those luscious, ripe, round, firm tomatoes getting a glimpse of those rock hard cucumbers, can we.*

Not if we want to keep all our digits, we can't.

The Imams also make farmers cover their goats' nether regions with shorts because, we assume, they can't look at goat hindquarters without thinking of their boyhood days alone in the mountains with nothing but the herd to keep them warm.

Yes, our terrific little crusade is spreading much more than democracy.

We're spreading freedom! Freedom from smoking, freedom from obscene fruit and freedom from salacious goats flaunting their naughty bits in public.

Gee, thanks, President Bush! What a Swell War! What a Great Occupation!

I just hope we get a chance to do it all over again in Iran.

*People in Kansas take note.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I knew something didn't smell right.

No one knows if it was a particularly odorific example of political speech or what, but according to Roll Call, last week someone took the term "document dump" a little too literally. On Wednesday, Capitol police stretched crime scene tape around at least three piles of poo that someone dropped in the Senate.

A reporter for Roll Call, Emily Heil said, "Usually, if a turd gets into the Senate, it’s because he or she was elected." Which makes me want to have Ms. Heil's children.

This is in addition to the usual legislative turds we've come to expect from Congress.

When the smell first became evident, staffers just assumed it was Karl Rove lobbying the Senate again.

How I spent Father's Day.

I browsed a local book store and turned my friends' books face out.

Laura, Dusty, Karen, Cornelia and Jim should all see a spike in sales in one particular North Carolina Borders.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Flag Day

I used to fly the flag on all the major patriotic holidays like today and National Beer Day. But then the flag sort of got co-opted by uberpatriots who thought wearing a lapel pin was equivalent to storming Mount Suribachi.

So I stopped.

A few years ago a friend from Europe said he found all the flags flying all over the States a little creepy, and that you never see that sort of flag-flaunting in other countries. Having not been anywhere but Canada in the past 30 years, I wouldn't know.

I'm thinking of buying another flag, though, and flying it on the Fourth and Veteran's Day and all those other patriotic holidays just so the jerks can't steal the flag the way they stole God and Hank Williams.

I'm thinking it might be too late for God.

Before we leave you with a song, I'd like to hear from readers, especially those of you outside the US. When you visit are you surprised by the number of flags flying? And for those of you who do live here, will you fly a flag today? Do you own a flag? What does the flag mean to you?

Talk to me about the Stars & Stripes.

Now, a tune from John Prine. I heard this song the other day and the lyrics are, sadly, as relevant today as they were in 1969.

While digesting Reader's Digest
In the back of a dirty book store,
A plastic flag, with gum on the back,
Fell out on the floor.
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
Slapped it on my window shield,
And if I could see old Betsy Ross
I'd tell her how good I feel.

But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
They're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.

Well, I went to the bank this morning
And the cashier he said to me,
"If you join the Christmas club
We'll give you ten of them flags for free."
Well, I didn't mess around a bit
I took him up on what he said.
And I stuck them stickers all over my car
And one on my wife's forehead.

Repeat Chorus:

Well, I got my window shield so filled
With flags I couldn't see.
So, I ran the car upside a curb
And right into a tree.
By the time they got a doctor down
I was already dead.
And I'll never understand why the man
Standing in the Pearly Gates said...

But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more
They're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.

Happy Flag Day, America.

And here's John Prine.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Can we just start the revolution now?

File this under Despair:

In case you haven't been following the news, Paris Hilton went back to jail last Friday. That's her with a book. The Art of War. Which makes the following even more cruelly ironic.

On the same day General Peter Pace, the man who oversees our war in Iraq, resigned as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Speculation as to why he resigned was that Pace had trouble with the White House's plan to attack Iran.

Because attacking Iran is fucking crazy.

So, how did our cable news media, our beloved Fourth Estate, the Watchdog of Democracy cover these two stories?

In the 24 hours after Friday's news broke, the Big 3* mentioned Paris Hilton nearly 800 times.

General Pace was mentioned fewer than 100 times.**

Seriously, how many people would we have to kill before we started getting some decent news coverage around here?

I'm just asking.

*The Big 3 are Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. The Big 4 would include Nickelodeon, not included in this study.

**According to

We report. You decide.

Yesterday a few Planeteers wondered if George Bush is really more entertaining than a monkey washing a cat.

So, here you are. Make up your own mind.

First: A monkey washing a cat.

Now, the President of the United States.

There you go. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Of course the Albanians love Bush. He gives them jewelry.

Here's Bush doing in Albania what he can't do in the US - he gets up close to the people.

But apparently, the people in Albania are a lot like some kids I knew in Panama. Watch the video and around the 3:06 mark it looks like someone swipes the presidential watch right off the presidential arm.

That's right, the leader of the free world has his Timex lifted like he's some clueless rube lost in Times Square.

This guy's as entertaining as a monkey washing a cat.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Friday, June 08, 2007

Police kick man in groin and other news... might have missed while watching Paris Hilton's Three Days of Hell.

Police in Annapolis, acting on a tip, busted down the door to a couple's apartment, tossed flash-bang grenades inside and kicked the man in the balls before realizing they had the wrong address. A police spokesman said, "We don't know how the mistake was made." When officers did locate the right apartment, it was empty.

People in a Chicago suburb see their dead mayor's face in the bark of a tree he once worked to save. One woman thinks it looks like Jesus. Of course she does.

In Vermont a woman was arrested for making faces at a police dog. She was drunk. The dog was not available for comment.

A California man attacked a pizza parlor manager with a machete because his pie was late.

A minister in Utah says that traffic laws are God's laws and must be enforced. Police gave the holy guy a ticket last week for jumping in front of speeding cars. The minister said people who complain about him are sinners. Harrumph.

In another automobile-related story, a man in Maine was arrested at gunpoint for threatening motorists with a chain saw. The arresting officer said, "You know how in the 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' the guy raised his chain saw up and revved it? That's what he was doing." The officer added, "Alcohol was involved."

Of course it was.

Have a good weekend. We'll see you on Monday.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Less talk. More music.

OK, maybe not. At least not yet. But if this new endeavor from Rob Gregory Browne and Brett Battles takes off, they may branch out to include singing and (shudder) dancing.

Always one to tempt the darkness, here's a plug.

These two, not content with writing about writing, are now talking about writing over at

Their inaugural piece is about character. Check it out.

Why didn't I think of this?

Dusty Rhoades nailed it when he said Bob Morris has the greatest gig in crime writing. He visits tropical islands, sets a mystery there and then takes a tax write-off for the cost of the vacation, er, I mean research. Sweet.

This series is as breezy as you'd expect from Bahamarama, Jamaica Me Dead and this,
Bermuda Schwartz one of the greatest titles ever.

If Donkey Punch is a straight shot to the solar plexus, Bermuda Schwartz pats you on the ass and takes your wallet.

Bob is part of the Florida tradition of newspaper guys writing mysteries, only with this terrific tax wrinkle. Really, why didn't I think of this?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

And the band played on.

That woman is Bonnie Raitt. The guy with all the hair is Freebo. The other guy is Will McFarlane. He played guitar with Bonnie's band for six years.

I get to play with Will on a fairly regular basis and he's not only good, he's generous, always giving other soloists room to move. Considering he's the big dog in the room, that's pretty cool.

Last night I was on stage with Will and Donna, our singer.

At one point Donna turned to Will, the man who backed up Bonnie Raitt for six years, and asked, 'Do you know the song "Mighty Tight Woman?'"

For those who may not remember, Bonnie Raitt wrote that song and recorded it on her first album. My guess is that Will played that song almost every single night for six years. So how did he answer?

"Yeah, I think so."

He then turned to me with a big smile that said, yeah, I know that song.

Damn, I love playing with these guys.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

"The American public needs no explanation of such plans." - the White House

If the news hasn't been keeping you awake lately, here's a little something that seems to have slipped past our ever vigilant press.

George Bush has signed executive orders giving him sole authority to impose martial law, suspend habeas corpus and deploy private security forces like Blackwater into American streets.

This would make him King George I, with no checks and balances, a lot like the government we have right now with our Democratic congress. So the coup shouldn't distract you from the new season of America's Got Talent.

There is some cold comfort. These national security initiatives put FEMA in charge of administering the executive order and we know they'll be just as competent at suspending the Constitution and establishing internment camps as they were in rescuing New Orleans.

Update: Here are a few paragraphs from The Boston Globe about this story:

James Carafano, a homeland security specialist at Heritage [Foundation], criticized the administration for failing to inform the public that the new policy was coming, and why it was changing...

But White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said that because of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the American public needs no explanation of such plans.

That's right. The president signs an executive order that gives him what one conservative commentator called dictatorial powers but we don't need an explanation of such plans. Nope. Move along.

That makes me feel so much better.

Sure, this isn't as big a story as Paris Hilton's three weeks in jail (which qualifies her to write a hard luck memoir ala A Million Little Pieces*) but we thought you'd like to know.

*Paris, you're going to need a ghost writer for this, someone with a track record, someone who can spell, so call me.

Monday, June 04, 2007

OK, now I know who to vote for.

Aside from being the only candidate willing to boot the insurance bastards in the crotch and run their lying, thieving weasel asses out of American health care, Dennis Kucinich also has a smokin' hot wife. That's her, Mrs. Elizabeth Harper Kucinich.

But before you get the idea that Dennis picked her up in a Cleveland Hooters, here's a partial bio:

The year she graduated from high school, she flew to India to volunteer at one of Mother Teresa's homes for India's poorest children.

She returned to England and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Kent then spent 16 months in a rural Tanzanian village, where she lived in a concrete-block, tin-roofed house, and worked as an advocate for regional development.

"It was there, and in India, that I learned that people who our society thinks have nothing, and who live in the poorest conditions, still find so much joy in life," she says.

After she left Tanzania, she volunteered with a British Red Cross refugee unit; earned a certificate in peace studies from Coventry University; and got a job as a fund-raiser for a seafarer's charity in London. Often, her volunteer work took her to the House of Lords. That was where she heard financial analyst Stephen Zarlenga speak about monetary reform.

She was impressed and soon was hired to become Zarlenga's assistant at the Chicago-based American Monetary Institute. It was that work that took her and Zarlenga to Dennis' office.

After eight years of watching a lumpy Texas librarian make apologies for her feckless husband's monumental screw-ups, it would be a joy to watch this First Lady bring the power of the office to bear on monetary policy and poverty.

Hell, it would be a joy to watch this First Lady do anything.

It couldn't happen to a nicer person.

I've never met anyone who had anything bad to say about Laura Lippman. As several have noted, and I've experienced first hand, this community of crime writers is very generous and Laura is one of the best.

So it gives me hope that good things do happen to good people in that Laura's latest, What The Dead Know, was picked as a great summer read by Salon.

She already cracked the NYT Bestseller list with this one, and we expect this summer's Lippmania is just beginning.

That makes me happy.

Donkey Punch.

I've read two books in the past few days, quite astonishing considering the considerable time I've spent asleep or drunk.

The first was Donkey Punch by Ray Banks, that smiling devil with the heart of pitch. This was the second book of Ray's I've read, plus a handful of shorts. As always, Ray doesn't use the language the way other writers do. No, he gets it in a headlock, gives it a few quick shots, kicks it when its down and then props it up against the wall, a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

Donkey Punch features Ray's recurring character, Cal Innes, an ad hoc PI, but here he's more of a baby sitter for amateur boxer Liam, a surly lunk who could be Cal's subconscious, always hectoring, always teetering on the edge of rage.

Because the bad guy in this book is Cal himself. Sure, there's a villain in the piece, but the man Cal wrestles with most is Cal. His addictions, his impatience, and his distractions nearly do him and his young charge in.

There's some beautiful writing here, as always, but what sticks with me is the first amateur fight. Liam is up against a young Latino named Puentes and the action is fast, hard, and clean, with an eye to the rhythm of the fight, pin-pointing the moment when the bout turns Liam's way. As a fight fan, I was knocked out. As near to perfect as a human can get.

It's a cliche, I know, but this level of writing is so close to music that I'm as happy reading Ray as I am listening to Charlie Musselwhite play harp. Like all the greats, Ray's tone is all his own. I look forward to a lot more. You can buy Donkey Punch from Amazon UK, but if you haven't read Saturday's Child, I suggest you start there.

He works very hard to make all this look easy.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Random things I'd rather look at than Hillary Clinton.

Each time I open the Planet I see a certain candidate and I thought we needed a little air. This isn't a political post, just an aesthetic one.







Friday, June 01, 2007

Copy editors should apply in writing to

Demonstrating that she's not beholden to the powerful spell-check lobby, Hillary reaches out to the semi-literate voter.

Bush accuses her of going after his base.

(Thanks to Confederate Yankee for the catch.)

Happy Birthday, Marilyn.

Another year has gone by sans Marilyn. But we have her pictures, and we have her words. Somehow that will have to do.

A career is wonderful, but you can't curl up with it on a cold night.

Dogs never bite me. Just humans.

Dreaming about being an actress is more exciting then being one.

Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.

Husbands are chiefly good as lovers when they are betraying their wives.

I am not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful.

I've been on a calendar, but never on Time.

If I'd observed all the rules, I'd never have got anywhere.

It's all make believe, isn't it?

It's not true that I had nothing on. I had the radio on.

No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they're pretty, even if they aren't.

What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course.

Happy Birthday, Marilyn.