Sunday, August 31, 2008

holy down syndrome baby mccain, she's a liar!

Update no.2. OK. This story just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Here's the latest tidbit.

ST. PAUL, Sept 1 (Reuters) - The 17-year-old daughter of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is pregnant, Palin said on Monday in an announcement intended to knock down rumors by liberal bloggers that Palin faked her own pregnancy to cover up for her child.

Bristol Palin, one of Alaska Gov. Palin's five children with her husband, Todd, is about five months pregnant and is going to keep the child and marry the father, the Palins said in a statement released by the campaign of Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Labor Day Editor's note: We're having a hard time believing this story has any merit. It's been on the street for a couple of days and sure, it's a holiday weekend and there's the hurricane to cover, but it's also the start of the RNC in the Twin Cities. It's not that far to Alaska, and if this story had any veracity, then all the big media hogs would be all over it by now. They are not. It's would seem to be a pretty easy story to check out. We wonder why it hasn't and are left to believe that it's likely the work of some prankster from the left or right, a bit hard to say.

Dailykos is reporting that the 5th child of Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin (you know, the one with Down syndrome) may not be her own! Instead, it's her 16-year old unwed, still-in-catholic school daughter's baby. The argument is pretty compelling and there's plenty of photo evidence to boot. Or is it hoot?

Perhaps there's more to the Republicans cancelling of Monday's RNC events than we know. If the allegations are true, I don't see how she can survive as the VP nominee through Wednesday, when she would be slated to accept the nomination.

Can anyone say Mitt "National Lampoon Vacation" Romney? Or worse yet, Joe "Smuck" Lieberman?

Images: Top, Bristol Palin (far right), March, 2007, purported to be in her first trimester. (others are reporting this photo was taken in 2006)
Bottom: Alsaka Governor Sarah Palin (right) in a photo taken during what would have been her 3rd trimester.

daily kos: babygate aug.30

daily kos: babygate aug.31

republicans set to eliminate hurricanes

The timing of Hurrican Gustav couldn't be better for the much maligned Republicans. The Party of War Profiteers was all set to unveil their All New Hurricane Prevention Plan during the Minnesota convention, one that would that replace the few remaining acres of coastal wetlands with oil derricks and thus protect us once and for all from Mother Nature's mischievous cousin, Global Climate Disruption. Now it's likely this platform issue won't be debated on live television but can instead be worked over in the back room over bourbon and cigars.

But reports that Gustav will wreak havoc with the convention are a little premature. Seems as though, as Mayor Nagen likes to call it, the mother-of-all storms will just allow the Republicans to stay on message and continue to underscore one of their core platforms, "Want help? Then pray real hard."

Saturday, August 30, 2008

favorite dem pick-up line

We thought President Clinton has the best dem pick-up line from the convention: “People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.”

He always did have a way with words.

Some lines that we felt were a bit over-worked in the Mile High City were:

*I'm here for the cops and the firefighters, the teachers and the union workers.

*Our cause is just.

*the lure of this great nation.

*We face enormous challenges and if you watched the Olympics, you know that China is going for the gold.

*We are on the right side of history
The NY Times sent one of it's reporters, David Carr, who covers business and culture to the convention to examine issues and happenings at the edges. Carr, who vlogs and blogs under the moniker The Carpetbagger is adept at this, inherited the middle-American fascination with celebrity and power - two things at the heart of politics and conventions.

While in Denver, Carr, a music aficinado, covered the Rage Against the Machine show and the following 5000 strong anti-war protest sponsored by the Iraq War Veterans Against the War. While reporting, the CarpetBagger found himself locked in with the power elite and locked out from the people. We found this to be a hoot. You can find his convention vlog/blog entries under the NYTimes Caucus blog. Here's moi's riposte to Carr's Rage Against the Machine blog entry.

Getting fenced out (and into the power structure) while trying to cover an anti-war demonstration is a perfect metaphor for the current state of the media and politics.

As much as I enjoy the baggers trenchant observations on cultural happenings, it's a sad day in the 4th estate when only 2 journalists (David Carr and Amy Goodman) attempt to cover a demonstration of thousands of Iraq war veterans and non-violent civilians marching through the heart of major American city. And this the day before the anniversary of an historic march. Did the rest of the press corps have a hang-over from drinking free bourbon that kept them from the thin air of rarefied ideas?

Worse yet, and truly shameful for the Democrats, is they stand on the wrong side of the fence here. I'm not even sure they know there's even a fence. And this happens during what is purported to be a meeting of ideas about what matters most to Americans. The war in Iraq matters to America and it will matter to voters.

Any dissent, even that by peaceful assembly (remember that part of the Bill of Rights?) by our nation's soldiers and foot-soldiers for justice is now met with a near police state of caution. It's hard to notice simple things like inalienable rights when the only thing you focus on is the teleprompter.

Friday, August 29, 2008

she makes me feel so young

McGruff the Crime Dog attempted to cement the geezer white men vote by selecting a former beauty queen and Miss Congeniality, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, to be his Vice-Presidential running mate. We knew he a thing for Bullocks, but this is carrying it a bit far.

Gov. Palin doesn't believe the global warming models are "reliable" but does think Jesus can save bin Laden from the deep grip of Al Qeada. Two things are required of any Republican who seeks the nation's highest office. Stay on message and lie. Or perhaps they're just dull. Palin's observations on global warming are especially vain in light of recent evidence that the least amount of Arctic sea ice ever measured in the past 30 years was measured this summer (by next week may it may well turn out to be the least). Considering that she's governor of a state that relies, in part, on an Arctic ecosystem for sustenance and frozen tundra to support the Alaskan pipeline, this strikes us as, well, most Republican.

Poor McCain. If he could pull his arms out of the Bush adminstration's ass and lift them to his shoulder, perhaps Palin would take him moose hunting. Or they could hunt polar bears swimming for their life in the open water. The sooner we kill all the bears, the sooner we don't have to protect them. I guess Cheney, one man who's never tired of killing things, will have to go in McCain's stead.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

pray hard and move your feet

Michael McDonald, who somehow turned into an aging r&b singer, channeled Dr. John during a rendition of America the Beautiful in the warm-up to Barack's acceptance speech at Invesco Field. I guess John Rebennack Jr. is a little too esoteric for the centrists, especially considering the good Doctor's sharp criticism of all things government as it relates to Katrina and the good Doctor's love of voodoo. By November, the Democrats may be hoping for more gris-gris and less pop standards.

Democrats need to be careful about channeling too deeply in the past and playing too safe in the center. Certainly they've shown they know how to embrace some new technologies; perhaps something as simple as a text message, albeit millions of them, can win this election.

But it's unlikely they'll win the election with powerful rhetoric. It's not that we aren't a fan of powerful rhetoric - because we are. The problem is that too many Americans aren't. Middle America doesn't read enough, sports and celebrity are more interesting to Walmarters than powerful rhetoric that calls people to service.

Think about this for just a moment. Dr. Rev. M.L. King Jr., this nation's greatest orator, held captive millions with his sermons and powerful message of non-violent change. He did effect change and he did empower many, many people to act. But most did not. Many Americans found his message threatening. Not because his message wouldn't benefit them, but because King's message of change was too different from their narrow view of what meaningful change would mean to them. The sixties were full of fear and today, 40 years later, the nation is still full of fear. The current administration has been driving this fear down our throats and too many folks, instead of hurling it back in the streets, just open wide and smile.

As cautious as the Democrats can be, the even more cautious conservative Christians who've been praying for rain may have gotten their wish this week. Prayer can be a powerful force although sometimes it seems that God either has a poor sense of hearing or a weird sense of humor. Instead of raining in Denver during Obama's acceptance speech as the closed-minded wanted, it's going to rain in New Orleans on the anniversary of Katrina. If those silly conservatives believed in science, they'd understand why Denver's the sunniest city in America (even more so than Southern California) and climatologically-speaking a desert. And they might understand how hurricanes gain strength over waters warmed by global climate disruption.

Regardless. Now's the time to start moving. Pick the direction you want to go.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

god bless america and god bless you

We noticed that the United States was noticeably absent from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's list of countries that had invaded other countries over the last 100 years for oil. Although it was laudable that Mr. Reid suggested that we have the wherewithal to extract ourselves from the oil grip, most everyone in America knows why the US invaded Iraq twice within 20 years. Withholding the truth doesn't make it go away. At least Mr. Reid didn't suggest that we're in Iraq because we need the sand for construction; something one just might hear next week in the Twin Cities.

Mr. Bill. Got to love him. One thing about him, he knows how to rouse a crowd and he knows how to get America to love and believe in itself. Democrats, who have lived for 7.5 years with Dumb and Dumber, sometimes forget why they loved Clinton so especially after our most recent primary season. It was because President Clinton had the rhetoric and the chops to make you believe. Sure Mr. Bill had his sins, and some were hard to forgive, and some were so absurd, it was hard not to yell, "no! he didn't!" Yes, he did.

Clinton does tend to forget that the economic growth over which he presided was largely built on credit-card debt and home refinancing. Some of the problems with today's credit and housing market collapses are attributable to Clinton era policies that allowed people to run amok with borrowing and allowed lenders to extend credit beyond reason. Everyone made out like bandits so no one was complaining; but all pyramid schemes eventually collapse and now the Bill has come due.

The most fervent speech of the night was given by Senator Kerry. He could have used some of the passion 4 years ago when he was taking on Bush2 and the Lying-Rove Juggernaut. Like Al Gore before him, he lacked the fire to call Bush the idiot that he is. Apparently Kerry can now see this since he isn't running for the highest-office-in-the-land and it remains to be seen if the Democrats are willing to toe-to-toe with people who will stop at very things to stay in power. This isn't an idle threat. Think about what this administration has done while in power. They aren't going to let go easily.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

centrists listen, unify, and roar!

A media frenzy has been brewing over the mental state of Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters. Will they rally behind Barack? Will they vote for McGruff the Crime Dog? Will they sit this one out? Will they work for the Democrats this time or plot strategy for 4 more years until Hillary can rise again from the ashes of Hope. Will they give Barack their cell phone number?

I think one of the big problems that's emerged in the last 20 years, especially in national politics, is this fear of confrontation within a given party. Once the primaries are over, the centrists take charge and with them a growing fear that unless everyone is on the same page, then the party isn't unified and can't win.

The Republicans, who know how to goose-step when they need to, have shown the Democrats that being simple-minded can be useful, and much to my dismay, the Democrats have gone soft-in-the-head and followed headlong into this strategy. If Al Gore would have spoken during his 2000 run like he spoke in An Inconvenient Truth, George Bush would be a ballpark beer salesman instead of running this country. Democrats fear that a roll-call vote this week could weaken Obama, as though the Democratic process somehow weakens those who partake in it.

It's a common problem, one only has to re-read "All the King's Men" to see how this works. A candidate gains attention because they aren't afraid to stand up to the powers-that-be and then the closer they get to the center of power, the more difficult it becomes for them to do so. Party unity. It's all about party unity. At least the center of the party.

We, as a culture, no longer truly embrace the different views that are represented in this country - we see the lack of unification as a chink in our armor. And this approach isn't good for the country. Two-party politics has led us to a national mall bookended by 2 major chains both selling largely the same wares and staffed by lobbyists who care more about the product than the customers.

So in the spirit of party unity we offer this tidbit from The Midnight Special. We know you haven't heard this one in a while. And you'll notice that the styles are the same today and they were back in 1972 when this was a number 1 hit.

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Text of the Equal Rights Amendment sent to the states in 1972 for ratification. Although 35 states ratified the amendment, it never achieved the 2/3's majority to become part of our constitution.

Monday, August 25, 2008

take the cola challenge

The longest-continuous paid-political advertisement began today in Denver. Next week, the Republicans will try to break the record set this week by the Democrats. It's a made-for-TV event. Once the gavel drops on the day's proceedings, there's no dead time allowed, not in TV-land. And TV-land in this case mostly means MSNBC, which means that very few Americans are watching, or listening. Only the keynote speakers will be covered during the prime-time coverage. To keep up the spirits of the convention-goers who aren't out shopping or who aren't being feted at one of several hundred parties put on by corporate sponsors the Dems trot out a bunch of politicos to throw in a few glowing words about Barack. No more than 5 minutes for any given speaker.

After listening to these plaudits, I realize that some really great qualifications for being President (or any elected official) would be: 1) Parents and/or grandparents must have been dirt poor; 2) youngest of 12-14 children; 3) as a child, although a gifted student, was taken from the class during harvest season to pick cotton. Instead of finding this experience embittering, it was one of life's great lessons; and 4) despite these modest upbringings, went on the graduate from Harvard/Yale/Oxford all-the-while retaining a folksy sense of humor.

Sandwiched between the brief, yet inspiring, speakers are a series of entertainers who play re-creations of classic funk oldies from the sixties and seventies to the convention goers, most of whom are old enough to have lived through them. Yeah! Re-create 68, right there on stage. It's part church social, part reunion, part country-club mixer. Everyone seems a little too amped given it's the first day of the convention. We'll see how they hold up as the night goes on and through the week.

Now they've set 4 policy wonks, some from the former Clinton Administration on stage, and they are responding to video questions shown on the big screen. The questions are those "middle-Americans want answered."

Yes, Americans want to know the answers to questions about the high cost of education, how to fix the flagging economy, universal health care, and ending the war on Iraq (a video problem cut short the last question so we are left to wonder if that was it). But "America's town Hall" as this brief event is called, just comes across as hooky. I'm only a little surprised the MC wasn't wearing a cowboy hat, but again, we've got 2 more nights of this, if he's get loopy enough during the after-party, he may let it all hang-out before the week's out.

Now Nancy Peloski is speaking. She has slighty more chrisma than Joe Lieberman. Like most Americans are probably feeling at this moment, it's all I can do to keep from checking the baseball scores. Now she's quoting America the Beautiful, which was penned by a Coloradian or someone who went to the mountaintop.

OK, so I didn't check the baseball scores afterall. Well I did, except the BoSox, the Yankees, and the Cardinals all have the night off and the Cubs apparently never lose anymore so it didn't take long. So we went in search of a really good re-mix of America the Beautiful. Guess what? There isn't one. No ones done it better than Ray Charles and the only video of Ray we could find was a Boston Pops performance. He toned it down a bit. So we went for the next best thing. Elvis, the America trilogy. 1973. He used this to close down his Vegas shows.

That nostaglic trip was the perfect introduction to Sen. Edward Kennedy, who looks and sounds remarkedly well. After a moving tribute by Ken Burns, he hobbles on-stage and calls the crowd to a better country and world. It takes his entire family to get him off stage as the crowd cheers endlessly and he obviously loves ever minute of it.

Oh look! There's Joe Biden and his family grooving to Kool and the Gang. Come on! Celebrate Good Times. Come on!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

warrior ant press: favorite bejing olympic moments

Ten of Warrior Ant Press's favorite moments from the Beijing Olympics.

Vitoria Mitchell was the only person given a protest permit by Chinese officials. Shortly after competing in the 1500-meter race, Australian officials bowed to strong pressure and returned Mitchell to the former penal colony for re-education.

Chinese brought honor to their country and set a new Olympic record by successfully analyzing 25,000 urine samples during the 14 days of competition. Surprisingly, the only athletes to test positive where 4 horses in Hong Kong, who showed elevated levels of capsicum. Their trainers said the positive results were likely the result of using fried jalapeno poppers from Chili (Official Olympic sponsor!) as training rewards.

Chinese climbers were able, with the help of Tibetan Sherpas, to light the Olympic torch on the summit of Mt. Everest. Immediately after summiting, one of the Sherpas unfurled a FREE TIBET flag and began snapping photos that were quickly disseminated via the internet and just as promptly removed by Chinese officials. The Sherpas were forced to descend to Base case 4 without the aid of bottled oxygen.

Pop star Bjork unabashedly celebrated an Icelandic team handball victory. It was the first Olympic Summer Game medal in the country's history.

George Bush, frustrated by his decision not to slap a little volleyball ass and the temporary ban on eating dog, chilled out by snacking on a kitten.

The British were criticized for portraying the Olympic monkey with slanted eyes in this promotional video. The IOC is looking into the matter and may punish the Brits by forcing them to host the next Olympics.

Lin Dan of China was briefly knocked unconscious by a powerful serve from his badminton opponent, the Malaysian Lee Chong Wei. Dan was quickly revived with a cup of bird's nest tea and went on the take the gold medal.

Wang Xiuying (77) and Wu Dianyuan (79) stirred some controversy and dodged repeated doping allegations when they became the oldest competitors to placed gold and silver in the little known Olympic sport of Collective Chutzpah.

Bela Koroli, as a color commentator for NBC, spoke elegantly and passionately about the Olympic spirit and repeatedly praised the Chinese for their transparency, fairness, and competitive spirit.

Cuban Ángel Matos, stoked after his bronze medal tae kwon do match, released a little energy by offering to take on all-comers. He began by kicking the referee's ass who had, Ángel insisted, repeatedly called him, "Catro's pawn" during the match.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

the $100 email/text message

And you thought your internet provider was expensive.
Minister of Information --

I have some important news that I want to make official.

I've chosen Joe Biden to be my running mate.

Joe and I will appear for the first time as running mates this afternoon in Springfield, Illinois -- the same place this campaign began more than 19 months ago.

I'm excited about hitting the campaign trail with Joe, but the two of us can't do this alone. We need your help to keep building this movement for change.

Please let Joe know that you're glad he's part of our team. Share your personal welcome note and we'll make sure he gets it:

Thanks for your support,


P.S. -- Make sure to turn on your TV at 2:00 p.m. Central Time to join us or watch online at

Friday, August 22, 2008


One of the great things about the Olympics is you get to see some sports that you never get to see any other time of the year. Some of my favorites are the Madison, a bicycle race more than 100 years old that involves a complicated scoring system and the sling-shotting of riders around the track. It's fun to watch because it's like a game you might make up as a child, except this one was made up by crazy, 24-hour velodrome racing cyclists at the turn of the century who were racing around Madison Square Garden. One suspects they might have been bored or heavy into betting when they invented it, but it does make for interesting viewing. To see the Madison races you'll likely have to skip the tv coverage and move to the internet.

BMX, aka bicycle moto-cross, on the internet has all the races from all the heats instead of just the highlights featuring American riders. (I also love my country, but the logo has more than one ring.) BMX is another fun sport that moved from the streets to the track and the nick-names followed: Butter(Kyle Bennett), Stumpdog (Randall Stumpfhauser), Salad Bar (Segio Salazar), AfroBob (Rob de Wilde), and Doctor Smooth (Luke Madill). There's even an Aussie who's real name is Kamakazi. The races are fast and furious with wipeouts so you never know what'll happen at the end.

Another favorite sport, one I get to see only every 4 years during the Olympics, is water polo. Again, it looks like a game you might have invented as a child around the pool. On top of the water, folks swim around the pool trying to throw a ball in a net while opponents try to stop them. Beneath the water, it's a constant battle to create an equipment malfunction for your opponent.

US women's water polo teams are under some sort of curse, no doubt related to festering the world with all those Disney movies about mermaids. They've lost the gold medal in the last seconds for 3 straight Olympics. In 2000 at Sydney the Australians scored the winning goal with 2 seconds left in the game, in 2004 at Athens, it was the Italians scoring with 1.2 seconds left, and this year in Beijing, it was the Netherlands who scored the winning goal with 26 seconds left in the game. Talk about a thumb in your eye, but stayed tuned, the Americans will defend their silver medal in 4 years at the London games.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

the salmon please, pesticides on the side

If you tried to find wild Pacific salmon this summer, you know it's been difficult to find and expensive when you do. One reason is that due to shrinking runs in the Pacific Northwest, the season for Pacific salmon was shortened to try and help the populations recover. There's been much speculation as to the cause of the declines and now a recent report from the National Marine Fisheries Service suggests that the issue might be trace levels of pesticides. The draft Biological Opinion states that that chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion are present in west coast waters at levels "likely to jeopardize the continued existence" of Pacific Salmon.

These pesticides belong to a class of chemicals known as organophosphates which have the potential to accumulate within the body. Over 90% of human urine samples in the US were found to contain chlorpyrifos.

Once widely used by homeowners to control ants, fleas, cockroaches, and silverfish, both chlorpyrifos and diazinon were banned by the EPA for home use after studies indicated the strong human-health risk of these chemicals, especially among children, asmathics, and the immune-compromised. All three are still used in agricultural settings although several groups have called for outright bans.

The problem with these particular pesticides seems to be the mode of action. They work by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme needed for proper nervous system function. There have been many documented cases of poisoning associated with the application of these pesticides which is why the National Resources Defense Council, the Pesticide Action Network,and a coalition of farm worker and advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the EPA seeking to end all uses.

Next time you sit down to a grizzly-bear dinner, think about what it's been eating. Both of you might have gotten more than you bargained for.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

decoding the truth

We're not fond of conspiracies theories (excepting those offered during episodes of the X-files) but we are fond of the truth (it's out there, SOMEWHERE. That tends to make us a bit of a skeptic.

The government continues to try the recently deceased Dr. Bruce Ivins in the court of public opinion, which anymore mostly means the red carpet or the lead-in on E!. However, since this case involves our national security interests, The FBI and the Justice Dept. are hoping that the seriousness by which they vet the evidence will produce a similar, staid reaction in the general public. Sad newsto them; our ability see anything beyond inherent satire with this administration went out the window shortly after then Attorney General, John Ashcroft, decided to cloak Lady Justice's bare breast. That was way back in 2002 about the time the FBI had their man, who now has a multi-million dollar settlement in exchange for his ruined reputation.

So yesterday, the G-men trotted out more dog, more pony, more show. It looked something like this according to Eric Lichtblau and Nicholas Wade of the NY times.

At the briefing, F.B.I. officials disclosed that they first obtained a sample of a unique strain of anthrax from Dr. Ivins in 2002, one that could have led them back to the strain used in the 2001 attacks. But the bureau destroyed the sample because Dr. Ivins did not follow protocol in the way it was submitted, making it more difficult to use in court.

It was not until 2006, after a backup copy of Dr. Ivins’s sample was found by another scientist working with the F.B.I., that the bureau’s scientists realized it was the same strain used in the anthrax mailings. That crucial finding helped confirm other evidence pointing to Dr. Ivins.

“Looking at it in hindsight,” Dr. Majidi said of the misstep in 2002, “we would do things differently today.”

There are several problems here. Not the least of which is proper chain-o-custody (COC in the biz; pronounced like it has a k). They don't have a proper COC, and using DNA evidence to label somethingto the exclusion of all others requires good COC. If the government could show that the DNA of the anthrax in Ivins' (and only Ivins') possession has the exact DNA of the letter anthrax, then they have a good case. They must show this is the same anthrax - to the exclusion of all other anthrax and that Ivins' had in his possession to the exclusion of all of other person(s). All the weird, flaky shit you've heard about Ivins (true, or not true) doesn't matter if a hundred other people could have made the stuff and mailed it.

And sad to say, it never would have been possible to prove with the evidence they have, unless they have a lot more they aren't telling us about, and why would they withold it? Especially now. The flasks you've been hearing so much about, the ones that supposedly tie Ivins to the mailings, were used to make dozens of other strains of anthrax. We have no idea how the government isolated the ones they supposedly traced back to Ivins and the mailings. Hundreds of researchers had access to this one strain. I don't really know for sure, but I'm guessing that if you're a researcher in a government lab, and you make anthrax in flasks, you don't really have a whole bunch of flasks laying around with deadly toxins in them. The more flasks you dirty, the more clean-up is involved, and with each clean-up is the risk for contamination of other areas. Thus is seems likely that the same flasks would get used repeatedly over and over. And thus any signature in any given flask would like become more and more muddled with time. I'd like to know the answers to these kinds of questions, but unfortunately, I guess I'll just have to take the government's word on this one.

Perhaps Ivins was really the kooky, depressed, ego-centric mass murderer depicted by the government. We'll never know for sure. But we do know that it's hard to trust this government after 7.75 years of Dick "the Dick" Cheney and W, his puppet boy. Somewhere, in this adminstration, there is always someone smoking a cigarette in the shadows.

The problem really is this. This administration has so worn down the trust of the people, that even the most probable scenarios don't seem plausible anymore. It'll take years for our own people to recover from the war-is-peace approach to geopolitical truth set in motion by the Bush Administration. And who knows how long for the USA to again gain the trust of the rest of the world. And if that knucklehead McGruff the Crime Dog gets elected, half the population will end up chained to beds before his first term ends. Hey, it they did it him, and he was willing to make the sacrifice for his country, then shouldn't you be?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

cheap fares to Islamabad

While you're contemplating who will be Barack Obama's running mate (Jon Stewart if he's being risky, Joe Biden if not) you might want to consider using some of those frequent flier miles for an August vacation. Perhaps there may be some seats available on flights going to and from Islamabad, now that the President Pervez Musharraf has resigned and the country has moved deeper into instablity. There's lot of history in Pakistan, and as long as your not a member of the ruling (or opposition party) or a Bush administration hack, it's still probably safe to shop the bazaars and take in the sights.

Image: 1979 print campaign for Pakastani International Airlines. Is this where the got the idea?

Monday, August 18, 2008

warrior ant cfo caught in sting operation

Warrior Ant Press Chief Financial Officer embroiled in sting operation.

Now that you're finally out of the house and away from the Michael Phelps Olympics® you can try something else. Pulling weeds is one thing I've been doing. And we've found ourselves smack dab in the middle of an ongoing sting operation. Twice within the past week, we were stung by wasps while pulling weeds.

Paper wasps like to build in protected areas which is one reason you often see their nests hanging from eaves, inside sheds, or hanging from the corners of a doorway. This nest was tucked deep in a flowerbed. There's a trumpet vine that overhangs part of this bed so it's shady and quiet, a perfect spot to build your wasp home - until the human ogre comes lumbering along - and then you must protect it AT ALL COSTS.

Last week, as I approached a tall weed, suddenly I was repeatedly stung on the thigh until I sounded...RETREAT! It's rare to be stung in the garden so this one left me a bit perplexed. The sting left a 1 mm sting mark and a pretty good welt and all I was able to see of the wasp was blue flash which I took to be from a cricket-killer. But cricket-killers don't possess a very toxic venom, crickets being small creatures, and this sting had the earmarks of a yellow jacket or ground hornet. I saw no yellow on the body so I was pretty sure it wasn't one of those.

Once I accidentally ran a lawn mower over a ground hornet nest and let me tell you, the Briggs and Straton 3.5 HP engine first got their attention, and then a dozen or so ground hornets attached by stingers to my leg quickly got my attention. I was drawn from lawn moving reverie to shrieking panic, terror, and pain in seconds.

Yesterday I went back to the garden, still being very wary of the previous week's outcome and still not knowing there was a nest located in the middle of the garden bed. After pulling weeds around the edges for 10 minutes or so and constantly looking for wasps, I stick my hang out, and suddenly ZZZZZ, OUCH! Again? Why'd you do that? I shouted to no one.

Paper wasps are some of the more aggressive defenders of their homes and can detect movement as far away as 20 feet. Once they determine that you're a threat, they dispatch the stinger missiles.

So, after my mid-morning weed-pulling venture was disrupted again, the problem was finally located - paper wasps in the coneflowers! A warrior ant quick-strike unit was quickly dispatched to deal with the small, but quickly growing threat. It turned out to be a bit like the Russian Army confronting the break-away Georgian republic. No contest.

We pulled a trick from our bag, which Granny once taught us. It's known as the flaming-comet-from-outer-space (my term, not Granny's). It works like this. Open a small paper lunch bag and place it over the end of a hoe. Then crumple a sheet of newspaper inside the paper bag so that the bag stays on the hoe and you can hold it at a safe distance from your body. Next add a few drops of kerosene (or gasoline) to the newspaper (these are for the special flaming comet effects).

Then light the bag (stand back for the POOOOF!) and make sure it's burning pretty well before sending the flaming ball into orbit just underneath the wasps nest. Make sure you do this quickly or you will start a fire in your garden and be unable to put it out because a nest of angry paper wasps will be vigorously stinging you into anaphylactic shock.

Some people use pesticides, I use a flame-thrower. As did Granny.

Later, however, when I learned that these were native paper wasp,Polistes fuscatus aurifer, rather the introduced European paper wasp, Polistes dominulus I felt bad about doing this. Apparently the European wasps, like so many other invasive species, have largely over-taken the natives. European paper wasps become more active earlier in the spring and thus tend to overtake the range of the natives and are forcing them out.

One way to tell the native from the European is that the natives build nests that hang down. They are very umbrella-like in shape. The European nests may hang down, or the side, and occur in a variety of shapes. The European wasps also have yellow bands across their abdomen, which gets them mistaken frequently for yellow-jackets, which they are not. The native paper wasps do not yellow markings.

Next time, if I can figure out a way to relocate the nest without ending up in the emergency room, I'll try to move it to the woods across the street, but there's something about trying to move wasps that inherently vigorously defend their territory that just seems to be a project-with-an-bad-ending waiting to happen.

Bees stings, for me, itch. Not as bad, or as long a chigger bites, but they itch for about a week or so. So now I have the summer trifecta. Chigger bites. A few bees stings. And a little poison ivy for good measure. Last night I went for the nest of ants. The ants bite, but at least they don't itch for a week. Ahhh summer.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

olympic proportions

Now that the Michael Phelps Olympics® has ended you can get on with being productive in your life. As much fun as it's been to watch someone invincible, here's a sad fact of life. The average American gains 4.5 lbs during the Olympics.

The reason for the weight gain are believed to be several. One, sitting on your ass and watching 6-8 hours of television a day isn't very healthy. Second, apparently watching world-class atheletes perform at levels well beyond the reach of the average Gallup poll respondent tends to increase one's metabolic rate, although not to the exent of the atheletes who are competing for 1 million dollars bonuses and the rights to wear an $800 swim suit.

Professional atheletes, like Phelps and Tour de France cyclists, consume 10,000-12,000 calories a day to provide the fuel they need to power their way through multiple competitions or over the Alpe D'Huez. If you're swimming 1500 meters just to warm up, or riding 150 kilometers a day to stay fit, you can pretty much eat anything you want. If you've skipped a few workouts this week to keep up with the Olympic coverage, you'd be better off dialing the nachos down a knotch since Americans who watch the Olympics tend to consume about 3,000 calories per day when 2,500 would do.

pandering to pastor rick

Let the pandering begin. Last night the official pandering for votes began in earnest at Pastor Rick's Megachurch just down the road in the one of the wealthiest sections of American - a suburban enclave just outside of Mission Viejo known as Lake Forrest. They wanted to have a minority in the audience, but then Obama was there, so they figured they'd met the racial diversity of their congregation.

You probably weren't there, being one of the heathens who watched the Michael Phelps Olympics® on NBC. I'm sure this church does good work. With 20,000 members, they are a force, but do we really need our Presidential candidates trying to convince the world why Jesus will be in the White House? Aren't these the same folks who decry the religious clerics who rule other nations?

Audubon Society has a membership in the millions. As does the Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club. Can we expect the candidates to sit down with the leader of one of these environmental groups and be interviewed for 45 minutes about how they stand on global climate disruption? Not going to happen.

The candidates went to California and bowed down in deference to a tv preacher because California is the electoral college prize and because, as John McCain, said, the failure of his first marriage, was his greatest moral failure. His second greatest failure apparently being a puppet to the war-mongering, religious fanatics who are currently in charge of the nation. Obama went because he's afraid to continue to be portrayed as not-Christian-enough. And I thought he was a Muslim.

Photo: Monica Almeida, The NY Times

Friday, August 15, 2008

warrior ant press: summer reading list

We've slowed down with the posting and have been reading. Here's a few of what's been flying off the shelves the last few months at the worldwide anthill headquarters of warrior ant press.

Arkansas by John Brandon, McSweeney's Rectangulars (2008).
It's becoming increasingly difficult to go wrong with anything McSweeney's publishes these days; they continue to set the bar with strong fiction drawn upon unusual characters with compelling, believable stories. Reading Arkansas was like going home. And it made me a bit sad I didn't chose a life of petty crime instead of the dull day work of a worker ant. When your chance came early in life to be a drug-king pin, did you look the other way? or take the risk? Read this book and see what you missed.

Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen, Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux (2008). Who's less stable, the psychiatrist or the patient? the loved, or the lover? If you have trouble figuring out if it's going to rain, sleet, or snow then this book will tell you the secret for success in all matters pertaining to the 500 mb pressure line of your love life.

Brief Encounters with Che Guevara by Ben Fountain, Harper Perennial, 2007. Books that combine a deep love of ornithology and cultural revolution will always have a spot deep in my heart. Find one in yours for this book and you'll be taken to strange places and speak-in-tongues to the natives.

Exit Wounds by Ruta Modan, Drawn and Quarterly, 2007. Upon hearing that your father has been blown up by a suicide bomber, you begin a search for your real identity that leads to love. Or it's beginnings. This can only happen in real life or a comix novel set in Israel.

Here they Come by Yannick Murphy, McSwenney's Rectangulars, 2006. This book proves that if the hot dog vendor on the corner of 3rd and Broadway could write fiction it'd be a helluva story and one you wouldn't want to miss. I'll have a pretzel with that order, heavy on the salt and mustard, and don't forget the grilled onions and peppers on the 'brat.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Brabury, Europa Editions (2008). A precocious 12-year old with a death wish meets a dowdy concierge with a secret, scholary life. Then a wealthy Japanese businessman comes knocking and everyone discusses the meaning of life over afternoon tea. This book is a madeleine.

The Life of Edgar Sawtelle by Harper Collins (2008)
This book lived up to all the hype, not that I saw much beyond the jacket blurb on my advance reader copy. Stephen King sure liked it! The writing is so on target that one scene in the book had me crying, and I can't remember the last time that has happened (with a book). This book could have been subtitled, The Breed is out There. I suggest you start looking for it.

Chourmo: Book 2 and Solea: Book 3 in the Marseilles Jean-Claude Izzo, Europa Editions (2007 and 2008)
Summer isn't summer without some unapologetic, hard-boiled noir the likes of which few can serve like Claude Izzo. James Lee Burke's work comes to mind, but Izzo out maneuvers him when it comes to setting a place, in this case, the dirty backwater neighborhoods of Marseilles and the calanques of the Cote D'Azur. As soon as I closed vol.3 I was scrambling around trying to locate vol.1 so I could relive the mystery.

The Rabbi's Cat 2 by Jonaan Saar, Pantheon Books (2008). And you thought your pet was smart. Can it quote the Quá'ran? make sense of the Torah? then read about a cat who purrs with insights about what it means to be holy, pure, and full of faith; it's certainly no dog that never caught a rabbit.

Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape by Sarah Manguso; How the Water Feels to the Fishes by Dave Eggers; and Minor Robberies by Deb Olin Unferth. Published simultaneously as 100 stories all-in-a-box. McSweeney's Rectangulars (2007). Short fiction redefined. Perfect for the beach, subway, or bath. Or when your attention for the novel novel wanes.

warrior ant press: winter reading list

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

cloud seeding with chiggers

I don't know why were wasting all this time and money on developing new weapons to destroy our brethren, or to sell to our brethren so they can they can destroy the enemy of our enemies. All we need to do is seed clouds with chiggers. The chiggers fall from the sky, then they invade the unsuspecting population, who then begin to scratch like crazy. And if you don't think scratching makes people lose their concentration and turn on themselves, then you've never seen an episode of Itchy and Scratchy

A mess of chiggers could really make a population uncomfortable; they certainly make me uncomfortable. Harvesting chiggers on your skin almost makes it worthwhile to wear long pants in the dreaded heat and humidity of August but for me, it's usually too late. The chiggers have found me, and I've moved on.

Like they say with poison ivy. Scratch it for a week and then you'll feel better.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

whose fool now?

El Presidento Bush, who's pretty much set the bar on being foolish, is looking even more so these days. One wonders, when he gazed deeply into Vladamir's eyes and liked what he saw, did he see the soul of meglomaniac? One like himself? did he see the idea of world domination? of controlling a large portion of access to oil via the Caspian?

If the President had any political capital that wasn't mired in a Iraqi sand storm, he might have been able to come to the support of the Georgians. But he doesn't. And Russia, bolstered by the increased price of oil, the world's 3rd largest army, and the frenzied minds of people-who-act-like-dictators, is free to act like the Soviets of old while El Presidento Bush stands idly by and waves an Olympic flag.

Monday, August 11, 2008


gotta take your time and heat it up Issac Hayes

Image: Hayes at PUSH festival 1973. John H. White, National Archives and Records Administration 556307,

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Leadville 100: wiens buries armstrong on last climb

Don't come to David Wiens with tales of Tour de France victories and expect any sympathy. Wiens, 2-time world mountain bike champion and Lance Armstrong, 7-time Le Tour winner, separated themselves from the field on the climb up Mt. Columbine to make the Leadville 100 mountain bike race a 2-person breakaway. And then much like last year, Wiens went by the former maillot jaune holder on the final climb. Wiens, despite riding the last few miles on a flat tire, then cruised to victory to earn his 6th consecutive victory in the Leadville 100. Last year Wiens dropped another Tour legend, Floyd "Flance" Landis, in the Colorado Rockies.

Wiens also did this in record time (6:45:45), breaking his mark from last year. For the mathematicians, that's an average of almost 15 miles an hour. On a mountain bike. Above 10,000 feet. Don't try that at home unless you're being paced by a legend. Wiens or Armstrong. You choose.

warrior ant press: the 2-mile high club

Photos: Joseph Kreiss, Velonews


Let the games begin. Maestro, a little razzle-dazzle.

The Chinese seem to be able to pretty much do anything they set their collective minds to, like create incredible new architecture and mount a spectacle to make the world go "awe".

Fireworks over the Bird's Nest, Doug Kanter, NY Times.
China Central Television, Greg Baker, AP

Thursday, August 7, 2008

olympic cyclists herald a new beginning

There is real opportunity to be had in the next couple of weeks. One that could have profound effects on the future of the planet. Olympians wearing masks. If a large percentage of Olympian were to wear masks, not due to political posturing, but instead out of necessary because air pollution in Beijing is so bad, then the world would quickly begin to understand just how dire the planetary predicament has become.

Dangerous air pollution in most major cities is real. The threats of over-population are real. Massive ecosystem threats and potential collapse of major ecosystems (such as the oceans) are real. Global climate disruption is real. And no matter of apology, or cloud-seeding, or jingoist 7-ringed fervor, or advertisements for sports gear will cause it to dissipate.

But athletes wearing masks to protect themselves can quickly spread a different message to every nation that something needs to be done. Quickly. And something can still be done. While Obama has been moving to the center as quickly as McGruff seems to be embracing senility, he did offer something this week in his energy address that could signify a real and lasting change. Energy independence in 10 years.

Think of that! The geopolitical implications alone are staggering. The ability to address socio-economic problems, not only at home, but also abroad, would again be possible. Grab a mask and tune in to the opening ceremony. We still have a chance to shake our political leaders into sensibility.

Image: Yves Herman, Reuters.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

mcgruff to bush: you suck! big time!

Hey things are getting nutty again. Know what they say, It ain't the heat, it's the stupidity.

We got our phone line fixed. Again. Another short in the wire. And we didn't have to be here. They called and said we're coming. They called and said it's fixed. And it was. This time the short was in the drop line from the pole to the house line. Kinda makes you wonder how many other shorts there are in the phone lines. No wonder everyone uses a cell these days.

McGruff the Crime Dog has admitted that perhaps the country isn't better off after 8 years of Dick "the Dick" Cheney and his lap dog, George Bush. Damn that must really piss off El Presidento to know that no one likes him and wishes him to go away. He should consider himself lucky because although McGruff may growl at him, the rest of us would prefer that he be impeached. Come on. Still time. 6 more months of this jackass. Let's do him out right.

But at least they solved the 7-year-old anthrax-in-the-mail case! Hate to break it to the FBI but folks are going to just laugh out loud when they hear that part of the government's case is based on the notion that the 62-year old Ivins was obsessed with sorority girls. Come on! I bet half those FBI wankers have the whole set of Kappa Kappa Gamma Girls Gone Wild videos. Oh, and then there's that book that came out today suggesting that in 2001, CIA chief George Tenet was instructed by either Bush or Cheney to fabricate a letter linking Sadam Hussein weaponized anthrax so we could start our bogus war. Damn. Where are the Ghostbusters at a time like this?

We voted this evening during our state primary. They had one of the new-fangled touch screen machines so we decided to give it a whirl. The rest of the machines are the fill-in-the-circles scanning machines. The touch screen machines were DEBOLD brand. The first thing that happened was once I started to vote I realized that the election judge had loaded the wrong party ballot so I had to ask her to change it. Turned out it wasn't possible to cancel the ballot, she had to go through the process and cast a blank ballot. She had to do this in order to get the card back which the election judge has to place inside the machine every time a new person votes. When I asked, well wait a minute, won't you be casting a vote under my name/number that will be blank and then if I try to vote again using the proper ballot, won't it reject me as having already voted?

No she said, there's nothing to tie your vote to the machine. Really? Sounds like a problem to me.

But once I got the new ballot loaded, it was quite easy to use and at the end of the process it gives you a summary and highlights any blank spots you have left. So you get a visual summary of how you voted before you hit PRINT and can make any needed changes.

PRINT is not the same as VOTE. PRINT makes a little printout of your ballot and you can see it scroll past you in a tiny little window, but you don't get a copy of it. You can read it and see if it matches with what you selected. After PRINT, you have to press CAST to actually have your vote recorded. I can see this being a problem during the general election for many, many voters.

All I can say about the general election is get your hands on one of those little programming cards and then go to the polls and VOTE EARLY and VOTE OFTEN. We haven't had the opportunity to do that in a long time.

Just don't vote for any knuckleheads.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

cingular floods

A weird thing. For the second time in a few short months our land line has gone kaput. Nothing. No dial tone. No phone, except the wireless, but more importantly No DSL. NADA. Same symptoms as before. A growing amount of static on the line, jumpy, disconnected/disconnecting Internet service and then -- line dead. This means more dreaded calls to the black hole of Cingular customer service, but we think we may have learned our lesson about taking the day off from work. Probably not needed since the issue is somewhere besides the line to my house. We were thinking that the previous problem may have had something to do with water levels, but when the repairman showed me the two splices in the line, and after he replaced the line and the phone worked like a dream, well now we're not so sure.

What does that mean for you, dear reader? Well, visual aides are a problem since we're forceed to type things out on our one laptop per child notebook which means that we type like a second-grader. Typing is slow. Research is slow. Posts are going to take a backseat for awhile until we get things restored or until the government says, "don't worry, everythings back to normal!"

Monday, August 4, 2008

star trek boogers

Before you convict the recently deceased Bruce Ivins of the anthrax mailings you might want to consider a few things. Homeland, the Dept. of Justice, and the news media (yes, even the illustrious NY times) really mucked up this investigation from the beginning. So much so that DOJ had to pay the first "he's-our-man" 5.6 million dollars in defamation reparations. A similar suit against the NY Times was dismissed at the request of the plaintiff. I guess 5.6 M and a front-page retraction from the Times was enough.

Now that Ivins is dead, he'll never be charged and we may never know who sent the letters that killed 5 people. Although Ivins is certainly one person who could have done it because he had access to the material and he may have had a motive - to foment fear about anthrax in order to get research money for his lab. He may have had a history of depression and mental illness, but remember, we've only heard from one therapist. His friends and co-workers stress that he's not the guy but some family members aren't sad that's he's dead. Who knows, but compelling evidence from this administration should always be taken with a grain of salt. Don't however lick the envelope unless you're certain it didn't come from the Ft. Detrick Bioweapons Reasearch Facility.

Count on a nice tidy summary of the case to be filtered to the media in the next week. Remember, they solved this case once before. Mistakes can be made.

Such is the case for Scotty's ashes (James Doohan) which were to be sent into space last night, except the rocket, a Falcon 1, blew up in low orbit, beaming Scotty down, rather than up. Think about the next generation this week when you're blowing your nose.

Aye Captain!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

month of summer

It's finally gotten hot. As in heat warning hot. Essentially, by around 2 o'clock in the afternoon, it's so freakin' hot outside you feel like you're walking into an oven. People routinely say to one another when it gets like this, "hot enough for you?" as if it's possible not to notice the combination of humidity and heat. A good reply, if you're not feeling especially conversational, (the heat tends to make me introspective is), "naw, not really, I'm planning on going to hell,so this is fine preparation. I'm headed to the kitchen right now to dry peppers, can tomatoes, and bake an eggplant casserole. Then there's the wood that needs choppin'. the fencepost holes that need to be dug, and the poison ivy pulled. My afternoon's spoken for. How about you?"

So give it up. It's like complaining about the rain. Without the rain and the heat you wouldn't have watermelons. Or cantaloupes. And these, along with ice cream, make August just another month of summer.

Friday, August 1, 2008

let's play the race card

No more old geezer white guys in the white house who are afraid of being progressive. No more white males who have to warmonger to prove their manhood. No more honkys who think being American revolves around drinking water-downed beer, listening to bad country music that lacks heart, soul, and honesty, or who think it's more presidential to watch sports on tv than read history, literature, or a graphic novel. No more white dudes who's idea of a graphic novel is 4500 body bags hidden from the eyes of America. No more pasty idiots who try to convince you that being a patriot revolves around wearing a lapel pin and praying to their god but can't see the injustice that lurks on most American street corners, in many classrooms across this country, and in the boardrooms full of corporate malfeasance.

That pretty much leaves out the Republicans in this year's elections. You are now free to vote for the candidate of your choosing.