Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Work In Progress.

That's me. I am a WIP.

I started meditating earlier this year, and I think it's helped. I haven't written much about it because I don't have patience for people who wear their beliefs on their sleeves, especially if they're a novice like myself.

The way you get through this life is no one's business but your own.

In Monday's post I lamented, with my usual snark, that a few supposed Christians chose this season to be publicly unChristian, not realizing the irony in their behavior. It was, I hope, entertaining.

In the post I linked to a site called Applied Buddhism by the teacher J Sumitta Hudson. Mr. Hudson kindly responded with the following:

"There is always a bit of pleasure in indulging in negative emotion. It allows us to feel superior to others and exalt ourselves towards what we perceive as ignorance.

We cannot hope to uncondition these emotions by ignoring them. But we cannot indulge these emotions by validating them. See them and understand them, and navigate the waters mindfully.

Who is hurt by craving and clinging to negative emotions other than ourselves. How can we diminish the negative energy of others if we give credence and power to them, by responding in kind?"

In typical Buddhist fashion, the purpose of Mr. Hudson's comment is enigmatic. Was he agreeing with me, encouraging me, or admonishing me?
Or was it all three?

It all depends on how I choose to read it.

I'm not a big believer in New Year's resolutions. But this time of year we naturally look inward and find room for improvement. So, as we begin this, our 5th year (!?) here at The Planet, I don't know where this blog will go or what it is we'll talk about. I only hope it's worth your time and attention.

I am a Work in Progress. I know you are, too. Let us work together to make this a kinder, better place.

Happy New Year.

I asked my friend, painter and fellow blogster, GC Myers to choose one of his paintings that best illustrated this post. This is what he sent. I think it's perfect. Thanks for the loan, Gary.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How well do you remember 2009?

Take this New Yorker quiz and find out.

I scored a 21 out of 29, a barely passing grade of around 72%. Surely you can do better than that.

A Reason to Sympathize with the Workers of the TSA.

If you fly you've been annoyed, at least once, by a TSA worker at the airport.

I had a woman in Boston take my goddam toothpaste and roll her eyes while she did it. A TSA guy in Raleigh pulled my 80-year-old mother, in her wheelchair, out of line for a more intensive search.

No, Grandma couldn't get through our vigilant Homeland Security, but a Nigerian on the watch list named Umar Farouk Fucking Abdulmutallab could sail through with a bomb strapped to his junk.

Which leads me to the reason we should now feel some sympathy for the poor bastards who screen passengers. I just saw a report on CNN that said the full body imaging machines will be fine tuned in order to pick up "more detail in the groin area."

Jesus, I don't care how much your job sucks. Try spending all day, every day, looking at finely detailed images of Umar Farouk's pecker.

My hat (and my shoes) are off to you, TSA workers. I'll never try to smuggle a large tube of toothpaste past you again.

Christmas in the Corps.

I think Full Metal Jacket is the only movie that got basic training right. At least the basic of my day, circa 1969. Here's a holiday favorite.

For civilians: Magic show = church service

Monday, December 28, 2009

I'm trying to be the shepherd.

I spent all last week taking it easy. It was nice. The family had a good Christmas and there were only a few rough spots and I take the blame for those.

As I've spent the last few months...years...decades...hell, since the Nixon administration being angry, I'm trying to follow teacher J Sumitta Hudson's advice to practice happiness as a daily routine. I'm trying.

Then I see this.

Every Monday morning over at First Draft, Tommy wades into the Free Republic pool (it's quite shallow, so no diving) to see what sludge lies beneath the oily surface. Last week he found the Freepers celebrating the season in a truly Christian mood.

"If I see some Arab/Muslim-looking folks I go out of my way to wish them “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!” A very small minority return the greeting (Catholics, I presume) but most just look at me with hostility. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"

"I tell everyone Merry Christmas. It makes the right people happy and pisses off the libtards and other assorted scum."

"I have been going out of my way to say Merry Christmas. Let the atheists, mooselimbs, and demoncraps burn in hell."

It's the spirit of the season among the victimized American class. Hostility, assorted scum, burn in in hell, (mooselimbs?).

Yep, it's Christmas in America, complete with rancor, unprovoked rudeness and manufactured strawmen to decorate the nativity.

If the Arab/Muslim-looking Wise Men showed up today these people would shoot them at the border.

On a healthier note, if I missed you last week, I hope you had a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, a Joyous Solstice or whatever it is you celebrate. What you believe is no one's business but yours.

Now, let us practice happiness.

There, I feel better already.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fat Bastard Blues Band

A few pictures of the Fat Bastard Blues Band's show last Saturday.

The picture above is Tim Collins on lead guitar and Jason Simon on bass. Who you can't see is our amazing drummer, Gary Mitchell.

This is Carl Wetter, the front man of FBBB. Carl leads the bastards with enough energy to get people off their ass and onto the dance floor.

The man behind Carl is easily the least talented person in the band. Easily.

What I like about any picture of me playing harp is that half of my face is covered which is a blessing for all concerned.

Photos by Sarah Stockton Howell. Thanks, Sarah.

You can see more here.

A Christmas Cartoon

This was to be our Christmas card this year but Kinko's really fucked up the printing. So this is what you would have received in the mail if we'd have mailed a card this year.

Next year I'll print them myself.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why you and I don't stand a chance.

The health care reform fiasco was everything we feared it would be.

A period of behavior foul enough to make a dung beetle turn away in disgust. From the uninformed teabaggers of the summer, to the dishonest posturing of Republicans. From the spinelessness of the Democrats to the noodle-armed lack of muscle from the White House. It was a morality play whose last act was the venal slouch towards Bethlehem that was Joe Lieberman making his way to the microphone with words as shamelessly untrue as his claim to decency and principle.

Health care reform is dead, keeping us the only industrialized nation that cares for the sick and injured based on what they can pay.

We will continue to pay twice as much for half the service. We will continue to create insurance millionaires by driving families into the street, bankrupting 2 million Americans every year, including 700,000 children.

Will this crippled, barely-breathing infant of compromise that's been pushed onto the stage fix any of this? No. It will only make the insurance companies richer and the rest of us poorer.

So I say kill the bill. Obama should take this feeble mutt out back and put a bullet in its head.

I know others disagree. Even my old friend, Dusty Rhoades says:

"Do I want any health care reform AT ALL killed because I don't get everything I want in this bill? No. I realize that politics is the art of the possible. If you can't get everything you want, you get everything you can get, and regroup to fight another day."

I say, move on to things we can change. We've wasted enough time on this rigged game. The corporations, with all the rights of people and none of the responsibilities, own the dice. We were suckers to believe otherwise.

But I do agree with Dusty about one thing. I'm sick of following these ugly actors in this ill-scripted bit of rancid dinner theater.

Aside from a few Christmas cartoons and other hopefully funny posts, I'm taking the rest of the year off. Maybe if I ignore people like Glenn Beck and Joe Lieberman they will cease to exist, at least for a little while.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm ashamed I voted for this asshole, part 2.

Well, Joe Lieberman's most important constituent, Joe Lieberman, is happy as a little girl today. He made sure you and I will never get any option for health care other than the insurance weasels who make it a company policy to skull fuck as many innocent people as they can.

Oh, and they also give Joe a buttwad of cash, which I'm sure has nothing to do with his opposition to reform.

With no public option and no Medicare buy-in for younger people, something Holy Joe was all for a few months ago, all the new health reform bill would do is deliver, by mandate, 30 million new suckers into the same insurance maw that chews up millions in order to fatten up the few.

Thanks, Joe. You are one heck of a guy. And if you were here now, I'd happily raise that Droopy Dawg voice of yours a few fucking octaves.

You can thank Joe, too, for ignoring the wishes of the majority of people in Connecticut and in America, by calling him at 202-224-4041. But good luck getting through. Joe's number seems to be very busy today.

Probably all those people calling to express their gratitude.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Photoshop Funnies

I love Photoshop.
And I freely admit that I suck at Photoshop.
But I can do this.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's that time of year.

When right wing warriors go off in search of a war.

And surprisingly, they've discovered the War on Christmas.


So, what do the brave men and women of the GOP do? They write this resolution. This'll show those secular bastards who want to ban Santa, kick elves in the crotch and piss in everyone's eggnog.

I wish I was making this up, but here's their resolution:

Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in prohibiting the establishment of religion, would not prohibit any mention of
religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;
(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and
(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.
Goddamn, that takes courage. It's enough to make a strong man weep.

This is John Boehner, House Minority Leader, getting all weepy over the defense of misteltoe and holly. And just 6 weekes ago, Weeping John said this about "symbolic" reolutions:

"These are your hard-earned tax dollars at work: with millions of Americans looking for jobs and the nation's unemployment rate nearing 10 percent, the U.S. House of Representatives today will take up a grand total of four non-controversial ... bills. Four. It's unacceptable for Congress to take it easy at a time when out-of-work families struggling to make ends meet are asking 'where are the jobs?"

But it's a war out there. So passing a resolution saying you're all for Christmas is breathtakingly brave. That is, if you don't count the fact that all those heathen soldiers on the other side are just stick figures stuffed with straw.

Go get 'em, GOP.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The day a stranger shot my youth in the ass.

Twenty nine years ago, Jenny was pregnant and had gone to bed early. I stayed up, watching TV.

Then a man came on and said John Lennon had been shot and killed.

A month later I would be a father. My life would change forever, catapulted into responsible adulthood, ready or not.

But that night it felt like my youth, or what was left of it at age 30, was gunned down on that New York City sidewalk with John Lennon.

It's a sad anniversary.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Selective Service System.

The draft. I've been thinking a lot about the draft ever since we went into Iraq. If more sons and daughters had been called up, that war would have never happened. I guarantee it. Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver weren't about to let Beaver march off to war in Iraq, not without a good reason.

Ah, who am I kidding? The same people drafted in my day would be the same people drafted today: the poor, the unconnected, the ones who think this nation is a communal experiment that calls on all of us to give something to our country.

I was in that last group and Jesus, were we morons. If only we'd waited until the Ayn Rand school of take-all-you-can-get-and-fuck-everyone-else zeitgeist had become the popular currency, then we wouldn't have been duped by the call to be our brother's keeper.

Today, it's easy for Americans to support a foreign war. So few of them know anyone in it. Hell, Americans don't even want to skip a day at Walmart to to fund the war.

A war tax? That's so Great Generation-y. Today we're hip, we're modern. We agree with Milton Friedman who taught us that the Kennedy "what you can do for your country" stuff was wrong-headed piffle, hardly befitting a free nation.

Why pay taxes for things we don't use, like clinics? Why fund a war we can easily ignore? And serve? Please. Call us when it's time for the victory party.

Yesterday, Bob Herbert of the NYT wrote a great column on this. In it he says:

"The idea that fewer than 1 percent of Americans are being called on to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq and that we’re sending them into combat again and again and again — for three tours, four tours, five tours, six tours — is obscene. All decent people should object."

Oh, Bob, that's so quaint. Why should any American get off his larger-than-ever ass to protest sending volunteers he doesn't know off to fight a war in a place he can't find on a map?

A draft. That would suggest we're all in this together. When everyone knows that it's every man for himself.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

May I suggest something in a 9mm.

According to this article, the rich white guys of Goldman Sachs, the guys who took our money, paid themselves bonuses that would make an oil sheik blush, then shoved ahead of pregnant women to get the swine flu vaccine are wondering if "Eat the Rich" may be less of a slogan and more of a dining recommendation.

For the first time, they've raised their snouts from the trough long enough to recognize that they've got a little PR problem.

As the article reports, "...senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank."

The self-titled Masters of the Universe are getting shaky. And that's bound to throw off their aim.

Even Lloyd Blankfein, the one who claimed Goldman Sachs was doing God's work, has walked back his claims of partnership with the Almighty. He confessed, while trying on a new pair of Asian baby slippers, that he had participated in some things that were "clearly wrong."

He then unhinged his jaw and swallowed a kitten.

I'm kind of relieved to see that the people of Goldman Sachs are scared. It shows they have some sense, after all.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving report.

Welcome back. We'll try not to let the Planet drift off course again, but given your editor's unstable nature, no promises.

Things I'm thankful for. Yes, I know a lot of bloggers made their list last week, but I don't believe in rushing into things until I get all the facts. This holiday went off without anyone getting seriously injured. Except Molly, who twisted her ankle and needed x-rays. She's on pain killers and crutches, a potentially lethal combination if you ask me. But I'm not the doctor, am I.

Most of the family rolled in Thursday. These are Jenny's nieces and nephews and now the grand-nieces and nephews. Her sister's kids are an amazing bunch, all in service of one sort or another. A mother and son recently completed Basic Training. I can't imagine many families can say that. One of the family works for the State Dept. Another is in nursing school. Their brother, Jon, a man who has earned every salute he gets, couldn't make it this year and we hope he can join us next year. We miss him.

One of the high points of a great weekend was what happened Thursday night just shy of 9:30. My brother-in-law, a pilot and avid fan of the night sky, knew precisely what time this spectacular show would start so, at the appointed time, the family stood out on his front lawn and watched as the space shuttle and the the space station crossed the sky, 220 miles above our upturned, awestruck faces.

Two bright stars, one chasing the other at 17,000 MPH, crossed high over the horizon like a celestial car chase. Then, nearly two-thirds across the sky, they winked out, first the shuttle Atlantis and then close on its heels, the space station. They just disappeared, ducking the sun's spotlight by hiding in the earth's shadow.


That photo up there is by Hal Yeager of the Birmingham News. It's the closest picture I could find of the event. No slam on Mr. Yeager, but it doesn't do it justice.

A great moment of a very good weekend. I hope your holiday was as good.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving.

I'll be back next week. I needed the break. Thanks for your patience and your encouraging e-mails.

Particularly Jill's.

You guys are the best.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's a good thing we don't have Canada's health care system.

Because then we might have a shortage of H1N1 vaccine.

Oh, wait.

OK, sure, we have people who can't get the vaccine here too, but at least we're not evil like Canada.

Know who jumps to the front of the line in the Great White North? Pregnant women? Children? Geezers?

Nope. Hockey players. That's right. Hockey players got their shots before any of those other, non-hockey people who clutter up Canada's socialist clinics.

And that would never happen here. Here, the vaccine goes to the people who need it most. Like Wall Street bankers.

Meanwhile, someone was fired for giving the hockey players preference, proving that our health care system is nothing like Canada's. Because nothing like that would ever happen here. That's called accountability and it's right up there with socialism as a nonstarter.

On a side note, Happy Veteran's Day to everyone who stood up, raised your right hand and served your nation. I'm honored to be in such distinguished company.

And to all the chickenhawks who let another mother's child take your place in line, go fuck yourself. I'm looking at you, Mr. Cheney. I'm looking at you.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

You forget how young they are.

This is from a terrific piece on the Denver Post blog. It's called, Ian Fisher, American Soldier. It follows Fisher from his enlistment, through his first deployment and home.

Click on the picture for a better view.

Goddamn, now look at those faces. If these kids had shown up on my doorstep last Saturday, I would have given them candy.

Kids. We send kids to war. It's obscene.

Credit to Kevin P. for sending me to this site.

Scout update.

This is Molly and Scout. Molly had a hard time, at first, seeing beyond Scout's uncivilized enthusiasm to her core doggie charm. But I think she's warming up.

I took this with my iPhone, a piece of technology that amazes me daily, from the Star Walk app that tells me what I'm looking at in the night sky, to Le Petit Dummy which is too strange to explain.

Which brings me to the Twitter feed, "Shit My Dad Says." The most recent:

"Son, no one gives a shit about all the things your cell phone does. You didn't invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that."

Check it out.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

This is brilliant.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bend It Like Beck
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorReligion

If you haven't seen Stephen Colbert compare himself to Glenn Beck, watch this.

I've admired Colbert for a long time, but this really is in a category of its own.

Sarah Palin's editor sends her notes.

Carl Hiaasen in his latest column unveils "Confidential response of Sarah Palin's book editor to the first draft of her upcoming memoir, Going Rogue."

A few of the notes:

Tony Blair was the prime minister of Great Britain. Tony Orlando is an American pop singer. (See manuscript page 341).

"Mexican'' is not a language. (See manuscript page 188).

The details of your high-school basketball career are inspirational, but would it be possible to condense that section from three chapters to one? Just a thought.

Ironically, as I walked into the offfice this morning, someone had Fox News (The News Channel That Isn't) on in the break room and the upcoming story was "Why today could be a big victory for Palin."

So Carl is not only funny, but timely.

But Palin is hard to parody. That's why Tina Fey just had to quote her to be funny. Here's my favorite response from last year's Couric interview. This was her answer when Couric asked if she could name any other Supreme Court rulings, aside from Roe V. Wade, that Palin thought were wrong:

"Well, let's see. There's ― of course in the great history of America there have been rulings that there's never going to be absolute consensus by every American, and there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So, you know, going through
the history of America, there would be others but..."

You know, a dim 12th grader could come up with Dred Scott or Plessy v. Ferguson, but what I find amazing is that Sarah couldn't even think of the Supreme Court decision that sided with Exxon against Alaska in 2007.

But why should Palin remember that verdict? She was only the fucking governor.

Jesus. How can you parody a parody?

Thanks to Adrostos over at First Draft for the heads up.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Believe it or not, right wingers are apoplectic

over this photo.

Aw, what the hell, right-wingers are apoplectic over Daylight Savings Time.

Someone, years ago, described the Conservative movement as unable to take yes for an answer. You could lift up the country, transport it whole back to that mystical golden era when everything was right with America (pay no attention to that 91% tax rate) and they would still find reasons to bitch.

As it is here. Just last week I heard some cable news ass complain that Obama was still denying news photography of the coffins returning to Dover. Which, of course, wasn't true.

Then, when he saluted, it was like he'd pissed on the incoming caskets. Limbaugh, who only salutes himself, dismissed it as a "photo-op."

Ho-hum. No big news there. But then I saw this piece by Carey Winfrey in the Times, and it summed up just how I felt about presidential salutes, including Obama's.

"...whenever I saw a president stepping off a helicopter and bringing hand to brow, my drill instructor’s unambiguous words came back to me with much of their original force."

I didn't know how this tradition started, and I was surprised to learn that it was as recent as Reagan. He looks damn good doing it, too.

Winfrey writes:

"Ronald Reagan was thought to be the first, in 1981. He had sought advice on the matter from Gen. Robert Barrow, commandant of the Marine Corps...General Barrow told the president that as commander in chief he could salute anybody he wished."

So, as much as I agree with the idea that our CINC can salute anyone, I'm still a little uncomfortable putting it into the hands of certain people. I won't name names.

We could go back to Nixon's salute, which turned out to be a big "fuck you" to America.

Or we could recognize that the salute, in the right hands, is a heart-felt show of respect.

I'll keep the latter. Thank you.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Acceptable costumes.

I like that costume. And it would be perfectly acceptable in public schools today. If our lovely Miss Wonderland were wielding a plastic axe, she would not be.


According to the Times, public schools across the land have cracked down on inappropriate costumes. And what's inappropriate? All the cool stuff. Homicidal maniacs, vampires, zombies and my favorite, costumes that make fun of a race or ethnicity. Killjoys.

What do they suggest instead? Historical figures and "delicious food items." I'm not kidding. You can't shamble through the halls as the undead, but you can come as Torquemada. Or maybe a Kiwi.

A memo from one principal said that costumes can't be scary and people, even those dressed up as fruit, must wear shoes. When was the last time you saw a grape wearing shoes?

No mention of whether Alice would have to have underwear beneath that frilly skirt. Kids have to have some fun.

Happy Halloween, kids! Dress appropriately. See you Monday.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stop! Stop! You're Killing Me!

I click over to Salon during lunch and see an article headlined "Obama is Average," followed by this description:

In an interview, a leading voice of America's conservative intellectuals discusses Barack Obama's failures.

And the guy Salon's editors are describing as "a leading voice of America's conservative intellectuals" is...


God damn, I nearly fell out of my chair. Charles Krauthammer. Really. The crazy psychiatrist turned crazier neocon. Salon considers him an intellectual.

Jesus, guys, have you read his column?

Charles Fucking Krauthammer. Intellectual.

Thanks. I needed a good laugh.

And to think I voted for this asshole.

Once. And that was 9 years ago.

Still, to think that I voted for him to be VP of the freakin' United States makes me want to stick a hot fork in my eye.

Holy Joe is siding with the Republicans, again. He's going to filibuster the public option in health care reform. The fucker.

I'm certain the $3.5 million he's been paid by the health and insurance industries hasn't influenced his decision.

You can read more here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What, again?

I usually had to wait two or three days, even during the Bush administration, before Republicans showed their ass. Wow, not any more. It's almost like the right wing of the GOP is streaming stupidity around the clock.

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh reported on Obama's senior thesis, leaked to Time's Joe Klein, saying that the Constitution was flawed and didn't provide for economic freedom or the redistribution of wealth.

Except, it was a hoax, written by a self-proclaimed satirist. But that didn't stop El Rushbo from showing his ample ass. Watch this from Olbermann's show:

Yes, Rush Limbaugh has proven, once again, that Al Franken was right all along. Rush is a big fat idiot.

So, while Obama's fake senior thesis gets coverage on Rush's show, almost no one has mentioned this from Pat Buchanan.

Some of you may remember Pat's speech at the '92 Republican Convention. Michael Kinsley said at the time that he preferred the speech in its original German.

Pat has been caricatured for years like this, as an apologist for Hitler, or so I thought. Turns out, what Pat thinks about Hitler is far worse than I had imagined. Pat thinks Hitler was a dove and it was the allies who bullied us into WWII. This is from Pat's blog:

"... Because Hitler wanted to end the war in 1940, almost two years before the trains began to roll to the camps. "

That's right. Pat makes the assertion that if it hadn't been for Britain and the U.S. (for the record: Hitler declared war on us on December 12th, five days after Pearl Harbor) then those Jews would have never been sent to the camps.

The Holocaust is all our fault, see? That's Pat's position. There's more lunacy on his blog. Go read it yourself if you have the constitution for it.

And this guy is a regular on MSNBC, the liberal cable channel.

Holy fuck.

It's Tuesday. This is all I got.

I walked into the barber shop just in time to hear a customer tell the barber, "...and you know how the government loves their anacronyms."

Anacronyms, I thought. What a great, if unintentional, mash-up. Acronyms whose original meanings have become outdated.

Like the GOP. The Republican Party may be Old, but it hasn't been Grand in years.

The IRS. You may feel like you've just been serviced, but I doubt if that was the original intent.

EPA. Under the last administration, it was more like the Environmental Politicization Agency.

DOD. Department of Defense. I preferred it when the DOD was the Department of War. Apparently, so did Dick Cheney.

ROI. Return on Investment. Last year we watched our Investment lose its way, and we doubt if it will ever Return.

MBA. Masters of Business Administration? Masters? After you fucking kidding me? Dude, you fucked up the entire world economy. Are you Masters of anything more complex than finding your ass with both hands? Really?

Feel free to add your own. I gotta go.

Monday, October 26, 2009

GOPer takes aim at governor, shoots self in foot.

Jesus, what a wanker.

NC Senate minority leader Phil Berger thought he'd take advantage of the scheduled legislative news conference and do a little show biz buck and wing for the press.

The press assembles. Phil pushes out a wheelbarrow stocked to the gunwales with "Conservative Voters Surveys" that Phil sent out. Then he threatens to push the barrow all the way to the governor's office so she can see what conservatives are thinking.

Phil's pretty pleased with himself.

Then people in the governor's office do something Phil hadn't. They read the surveys.

I used to be on every right-wing mailing list who'd have me. I figured that if Pat Robertson or Jesse Helms spent a dime sending shit to me, that's a dime they couldn't spend encouraging the rabble. So, I've seen these surveys. They're full of questions like:

"Do you support the Democrat Party's gay agenda and legislation that would make sodomy with puppies mandatory in public schools?"

Then they hit you up for money.

Phil Berger's survey was the same critter. Below are a few questions from the survey that I'm not making up:

"Do you oppose Bev Perdue and the Democrats' plan to pass a job-killing $1.6 billion dollar tax increase in the middle of a recession?"

"Do you think death panels made up of government bureaucrats should decide if your loved ones live or die?"

"Do you support sending the North Carolina National Guard to help secure our southern border?"

And, of course, the correct answer is, anything to keep those South Carolina Republicans off our Appalachian trail.

Berger got some cash, including a $50 check he missed among the surveys. Idiot.

But what I loved, and what Phil also didn't see, were responses from conservative voters like these:

"I am embarrassed to be associated with this organization. Your tactics are disgusting and you're going to lose a generation of voters."

"Stop wording questions so geared up to get the answers you want and start wording them to actually find out the people's opinion, not just confirm your own. There are probably only three questions on here that are legitimate."

"Not sending you any more money."

That last one's going to leave a mark.

When the News and Observer wrote about this story last week, the director of the N.C. Republican Senate Committee grumbled something about how both parties need to pay attention to surveys. He didn't point out that only one party actually reads them.

Today's North Carolina GOP leadership - Stupid, mean and apparently, illiterate.

More books take flight.

This is Melanie. She works at our local post office. She is stamping customs forms.

Stamp, Melanie, Stamp.

The forms go on boxes of children's books. The books go to soldiers in Iraq.

Those soldiers will read the stories to their boys and girls back home. The boys and girls will hear their moms and dads reading the books. They will see their moms and dads reading the books. The boys and girls will get the books so they can read the stories, too.

Yes, this Saturday I sent out another 200 or so books to the 47th Combat Support Hospital in Al Asad, Iraq. I still have about 8 more boxes to go and will send those out this Saturday.

Thanks to Rene Martin and the customers of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh for their kind donations and thanks to the people here at MicroMass who have helped pay to ship these books to Iraq.

If you would like to help, drop me a line at I'll send you the address. Send one book or one hundred, whatever you can do.

Help a kid connect with mom or dad. It'll make you feel good all day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Remembering Calley.

This past August William Calley said, for the first time, that he was sorry for what he did 40 years ago in Vietnam.

Gee, Bill, that's swell.

Ever since he made his public mea culpa, I haven't been able to get him out of my head. For those of you too young to remember the crimes of William Calley, he was convicted of murdering 22 civilians in the village of My Lai, but surely guilty of many more than that.

A whitewash involving Colin Powell, then a 31-year-old Major, followed. In late 1969, the great Seymour Hersh broke the story of the massacre.

Calley was court-martialed in 1970 and sentenced to life in prison. Nixon reduced his sentence to 3 years house arrest. I remember how I felt at the time. I was sleeping in the mud. Calley was sleeping in a nice warm bed, in a nice apartment with regular visits from his girlfriend.

That pissed me off, just a little bit.

America was divided about the war, with Republicans like young Dick Cheney, who opted not to serve, cheering it on. That support and Nixon's action was the start of my lifelong disgust with the hypocrisy and sham patriotism of the GOP.

Nixon's move was popular, as he knew it would be. In a Gallup poll taken in 1971, 79% of Americans said that Calley's sentence of life was too harsh. I'll let you make up your own mind. This is from Dennis Conti's testimony at Calley's trial:

"...Calley and Meadlo got on line and fired directly into the people...Lots of heads was shot off, pieces of heads and pieces of flesh flew off the sides and arms. They were all messed up. Meadlo fired a little bit and broke down. He was crying. He said he couldn't do any more. He couldn't kill any more people...At that time there was only a few kids still alive. Lieutenant Calley killed them one-by-one. "

And this, from prosecutor Aubrey Daniel's summation:

"We told you that they then moved to an irrigation ditch on the eastern side of the village of My Lai, and there, the accused, along with members of his platoon did as the accused directed, gathered up more people, this time unarmed men, women, children, and babies, and put them in that irrigation ditch and shot them, and that he (indicating defendant) participated; and he caused their death and that they died."


"Shortly thereafter, the accused heard someone yell, 'A child is getting away!' He ran back to that area, picked the child up, approximately two years old, threw the child in the ditch, shot, and killed him."

Yeah, 3 years confined to an apartment. That's justice. So, as sorry as William Calley is today, and the demons he must have lived with for the past 40 years, I'm having a hard time ginning up any sympathy. Fuck him and his apology. He cast dishonor on all of us in uniform.

I don't want to end the week on such a down note, so I'll give a salute to three men who were in My Lai that day, three men who did not get an Esquire cover or Nixon's love. They were a helicopter crew who acted with more honor than the president, and in those dark days of 1968, we could have used a few more men in white hats.

It wasn't until 30 years later that the Army recognized their valor. This is from the NPR story about Hugh Thompson's death in 2006:

Early in the morning of March 16, 1968, helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, door-gunner Lawrence Colburn and crew chief Glenn Andreotta came upon U.S. ground troops killing Vietnamese civilians in and around the village of My Lai.

They landed the helicopter in the line of fire between American troops and fleeing Vietnamese civilians and pointed their own guns at the U.S. soldiers to prevent more killings.

In 1998, the Army honored the three men with the prestigious Soldier's Medal, the highest award for bravery not involving conflict with an enemy. It was a posthumous award for Andreotta, who had been killed in battle three weeks after My Lai.

"It was the ability to do the right thing even at the risk of their personal safety that guided these soldiers to do what they did," Army Maj. Gen. Michael Ackerman said at the 1998 ceremony. The three "set the standard for all soldiers to follow."

Thirty years seems a little late, especially for Andreotta, but better late than not at all. Here's Thompson and Colburn in My Lai in 1998. Happier times. God bless them.

On a side note, the Esquire cover was the work of the legendary ad man/art director, George Lois. I usually admire his dark sensibility, but that cover's a bit much, even for me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why I'm a Nazi.

That's right. I've taken the big goose step. I've become a Nazi.

A fish-Nazi.

My new diet relies on my eating more fish. So I want to do the right thing by our delicious little sea critters and eat only those fish who are happily procreating enough to be sustainable.

So, I went to Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch to learn which fish I should eat and which I shouldn't.

Apparently, Chilean Sea Bass and Swordfish are too delicious for their own good.

Armed with this knowledge, I now know to ask my local fish vendor questions like where the fish is from, how it was caught and did it leave behind any children in salty, tearful mourning?

And what do I do with this new information? Like any reformed sinner, I become a scold. This morning I looked for fish recipes and found a site that not only encourages people to eat swordfish, but actually insults the fish by calling it "snappy."

I left a comment. I asked if they would soon be posting recipes for baby seal. I told them to hang their nets in shame. I told their readers not to buy swordfish.

So I can't deny it. I've become a Nazi. A fish Nazi.

I encourage you to do the same.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vic Mizzy joins the choir invisible.

Vic Mizzy, whose lyrics swirled around my adolescent, TV-soaked cranium, has died. He was 93.

Good theme songs, like good jingles, stick with you. Right now I can sing most of the Green Acres theme and I haven't heard those lyrics in decades.

As for The Addams Family, I've always been amused by the word "ooky" he slid into the lyrics. Ooky? Yeah, ooky. It was the Sixties. And those fingersnaps are irresistable.

Vic was quoted as saying those two snaps bought his house in Bel Air.

Not a bad life.

Adios, Vic.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mr. Banks shows up in my local book store.

I was checking out the new titles at The Regulator, an independent here in Durham, and I see Sucker Punch by loyal Planetary reader, Ray Banks.

I've been a fan of Ray's work for years, from the first short story I'd read, Philly's Last Dance (if I recall the title correctly.)

As is my custom with writers I know and admire, I turned his book face out on the shelf so others could more easily discover his amazing talent.

On a related note, another friend, Jim Born, won the Barry Award for best short story at Bouchercon this past weekend. Congratulations, Jim.

When I discover Jim's books in a book store, I hide them to protect the reading public.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Glenn Beck is right about one thing:

I don't want to watch his show.

This is from the Huffington Post. It's a clip of Mr. Beck going all weepy, this time for an American past as sentimental as an old Kodak comercial, as sweet as a shared Coca-Cola and as fraudulent as Mr. Beck's concern.

Mr. Beck wants to return us to a simpler, whiter America. Back in a misty time when women didn't question their men, blacks knew their place, and everybody went to church and prayed to the same white, Christian God.

A time when America liked Ike and a man could enjoy a good kike joke at the restricted club bar.

A time when the upper income tax rate was 91%.

OK, maybe not that America. But an America that can be reached in Mr. Beck's faulty Wayback Machine.

Beck admits America was never perfect, but there was a time, he says, when "we used to be united on some basic things."

Really? What basic things? Like belief in the dignity of all people? Like loving your neighbor as you love yourself? Those basic things?

My question is, when the fuck was that?

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

This week's Medal of Dishonor.


So begins an e-mail forwarded to me last night by a friend wondering if it was true. Here's what the e-mail said:

"Did you know that the ACLU has filed a suit to have all military cross-shaped headstones removed and another suit to end prayer from the military completely. They're making great progress. The Navy Chaplains can no longer mention Jesus' name in prayer thanks to the wretched ACLU and our new administration.

I'm not breaking this one. If I get it a 1000 times, I'll forward it a 1000 times!

Let us pray... "

Factcheck gives the original author some advice:

"...if the author of this message is really a committed Christian, he or she might profit from a review of the biblical Commandment against bearing false witness. This message violates it repeatedly."

Amen brother.

You can read the thorough debunking Factcheck gives this electronic turd in the mail here.

But it's another reason to question why so many white, poorly-educated Christians are willing, even eager, to paint themselves as victims.
Years ago, someone said that conservatives are people who can't take yes for an answer. They are in a perpetual snit, angry over one imagined injustice after another.

I can see people passing this e-mail around as gospel. But someone had to start this bullshit. Someone had to write this evil piece of ordure. Someone had to know he was spreading lies. Or, as Factcheck points out, "bearing false witness."

This e-mail was signed.

Cleo Adams
15 Devendorf Street, Apt. 1
Mohawk, NY 13407

So I'm assuming Cleo started this e-mail. And I'm also assuming Cleo is a sad piece of work, sitting in a steaming doughpile of misplaced anger. That's why I sent him/her an e-mail last night with the link to Factcheck.

Funny, Cleo hasn't thanked me for my help.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It all started with a woman rubbing a lubed wand over my balls.

Happy, happy, joy, joy

The Prince of all Mexicans|MySpace Videos

It lasted almost an hour and it was the least dignified thing I've done since I wrote that direct-to-DVD screenplay.

As with that experience, this picture didn't turn out so good either. So my doctor looked at the sonograms, gave the picture a thumbs down and set up an appointment with a specialist.

For the past two weeks, Jenny and I have lived with the future of my balls hanging over us.

(Oh, that doesn't sound right.)

I said, "I'll become a fat eunuch in a muu muu, sitting around the house bitching in soprano," which made Jenny laugh, always good medicine.

Today, I met with the urologist. Without going into any more disturbing detail than I already have, his diagnosis was that I'm not sick, I'm just old. Apparently, it happens to a lot of us chair-bound geezers.

His cure? Move to Bora Bora. It's this society that has caused my balls to lose their photogenicity. Who knew?

So today, gentle readers, I am as happy as an old man can be, which is damn happy indeed.

I feel like someone shot at me and missed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Let's peek under this rock and see what we find.

That guy up there is Ross Douthat, an editor at The Atlantic and a columnist at The New York Times. He took over for the Wrongest Man in America, Bill Kristol, a few months back.

Like Kristol, Douthat is a cultural conservative and also like Kristol, Sarah Palin makes him as giggly as a school girl.

But is he as much of an asshat as Kristol or his Times bedmate, David Brooks? I'll be honest, I've read his columns and he's failed to leave much of an impression except that he's a douche and not nearly as interesting, in a train-wreck kind of way, as Kristol was. He's much closer to the sophist dissembling of Brooks which is as boring as watching golf on TV.

So, I was intrigued when I saw this excerpt from Douthat's new book about his life at Harvard, Privilege:

"One successful foray ended on the guest bed of a high school friend's parents, with a girl who resembled a chunkier Reese Witherspoon drunkenly masticating my neck and cheeks. It had taken some time to reach this point--"Do most Harvard guys take so long to get what they want?" she had asked, pushing her tongue into my mouth. I wasn't sure what to say, but then I wasn't sure this was what I wanted. My throat was dry from too much vodka, and her breasts, spilling out of pink pajamas, threatened my ability to. I was supposed to be excited, but I was bored and somewhat disgusted with myself, with her, with the whole business... and then whatever residual enthusiasm I felt for the venture dissipated, with shocking speed, as she nibbled at my ear and whispered--'You know, I'm on the pill...'"

Bad, almost impenetrable writing aside, there's a whole lot of ick in that paragraph. Just the line, ...her breasts, spilling out of pink pajamas, threatened my ability to.

To what? Speak? Get it up? Come? Come out? What?

And the fact that she's being responsible and using birth control made him limp? What? Really? Would she have to be wearing a priest's frock before Ross could get the little bishop's attention?

Now, take another look at Ross' picture. My guess is that women who looked like Reese Witherspoon, even the chunky variety, did not often come onto our young Mr. Douthat. So what are we to make of this confessional paragraph? That Ross is a toad for describing this generous young woman in such a caddish fashion? That Ross was a virgin in college? That Ross suffered from a hair trigger and busted an egg in his jeans? That Ross doesn't swing that way but is too repressed by Catholic guilt to come out?


Not long ago on another blog, a commenter trotted out the old canard about CNN standing for the Clinton News Network. I thought, Really? You still think that? Because not only was that never true, but that bit of moldy old wit is beginning to stink like Rush Limbaugh's cyst.

You know, every time I hear some jackass like this talk about the Liberal Media, I want to rub his nose in some Douthat or Kristol or Brooks. It's not because they're conservatives that I find them objectionable.

It's because they're dicks. And in Douthat's case, a limp dick at that.