Friday, September 29, 2006


This is "Jesus' General" today:

The general is right.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Do YOU Want to be Able to Save a Life?

I've mentioned a couple of times that I teach First Aid and CPR for the American Red Cross. The Red Cross and the American Heart Association are the two largest groups that teach the course. If you haven't taken a CPR course in the past, you should. You could save a life. It might be your spouse, your child, your parent, or even a complete stranger. If you haven't renewed your certification in the last few months, you definitely need to get the updated course; there have been lots of changes to the program (at least, to the ARC version; I haven't done an AHA course in 20-some years).

Until just recently, taking a classroom course was the only way to learn these critical skills. But now, according to an article a friend sent me, the AHA has a home-study course. You purchase an inflatable manikin, watch the program materials (I think on a DVD), and practice to your heart's content. You don't get certified in the skill, as you do with the ARC or AHA, but you have the skills to save a life.

The AHA anticipates 3 people learning the skill for each manikin purchased (the assumption that the buyer will pass the manikin around to family members is probably valid).

Learn CPR. You really could save a life.

Take a course at the Red Cross or the Heart Association, or even the home study program.

But please, please learn CPR (and first aid, of course).

Gettin' There...

Back on March 12, I mentioned that I would be "thrilled when I broke a thousand" visitors. Well, as of a few minutes ago, I'm at 959.

Of course, being more or less a masochistic sort, I then looked at the stats for TBogg, Kos, and Atrios (6,369,222; 319,684,223; 94,590,499, respectively). At that point, I was at 535.

Four hundred-twenty visitors and six months later, here's where we stand now:

To put this in some kind of perspective, here are the daily averages for "the other guys":

  • TBogg: 9,496
  • Kos: 537,723
  • Atrios: 110,960

My daily average? Four.

On the other hand, I alone am married to the lovely yet talented Mrs 618, and they're not.

Therefore, I win.

Monday, September 25, 2006

"WE Deserve A Break... Don't We?"

Remember the old McDonald's advertising campaign, "You deserve a break today"? The fine folks at Mickey D's are probably wishing they could get a break today: the company is in the news. Twice. In lawsuits. As a defendant. As if being sued for serving hot coffee wasn't bad enough, right?

The McStrip-search Case (or, "You wanna get nekkid with that?")

In the first case, we have yet another "strip search" scam - a person purporting to be either a law enforcement officer or a high-ranking corporate officer - calls a fast-food restaurant, and tells the manager that an employee -- invariably female -- is involved in some sort of criminal activity. The caller directs the manager to to search the "suspect", in a progressively intrusive manner.

In this case, the caller claimed to be a senior manager of the local McDonald's franchisee. The court record shows he called collect, and used the name of an actual manager in the company.

During the trial, a private investigator was to testify that between 50 and 70 similar strip-search hoaxes has been perpetrated against fast-food joints since 1999 (the investigator was not allowed to testify). The attorney for the McDonald's corporation acknowledged that 12 to 14 of the incidents specifically targeted McDonald's.

The crux of the plaintiff's case is that both McDonald's and the franchisee were (or should have been) aware of the previous scams, and failed to protect her properly. McDonald's says that the franchisee was made aware of the scam in 1999 and again in 2001; additionally, theMcDonald's training manual for franchisees bans strip searches of employees or customers. The franchisee, however, claims they were not made aware of the previous scams until after the lawsuit was filed. A U.S. District Court judge granted a summary judgment for McDonald's, but let the case against the franchisee go ahead. In an earlier case invol;ving a similar situation, another judge also gave McDonald's a pass.

Nightline or one of those shows did a program on a similar case last year. That case involved a caller claiming to be a police officer.

As a former cop, I can pass along this useful information:

  1. The cops will not call you collect. The police department is perfectly willing to run up its own phone bill.
  2. The cops will not ask someone else to do their job for them (especially if the job involves strip-searching an attractive young lady). The potential liability issues for the cops would scare any cop, plus whatever evidence was obtained in this manner would be inadmissible.

This scam has been around for at least seven years. You'd think that all the restaurant chains would have made these scams known to all their employees and franchisees, if for no other reason than to head off negative publicity like this.

Part of the reason the McDonald's corporation was removed from the case was that the plaintiff was not able to prove that McDonald's breached any legally-recognized contract to protect her; additionally, the corporate attorney who acknowledged the other scams targeting McDonald's claimed those incidents were too remote in time and place to give McDonald's effective notice of the problem.

If I were the chairman of McDonald's, I would make damned sure that every corporate employee, every franchisee, and every franchisee's employee was made aware of this scam. It produces bad publicity for the company (and the franchisee), plus McDonald's will eventually run into a judge who'll say something along the lines of, "this has happened x number of times, and you're still claiming you know nothing about it? I don't think so."

[The information for this part was drawn from reports of the arguments in U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 11th District. The arguments were heard on September 15.]

The McFlab Case (or, "you wanna supersize your gut with that?")

The second case involves an on-going lawsuit in New York, against McDonald's. This time, it's a case of parents blaming false and misleading advertising (implying that McDonald's was a healthy meal choice) for leaving kids fat and unhealthy. A U.S Circuit Court of Appeals judge in New York refused to throw out the case, saying the plaintiffs had provided enough specific examples of allegedly misleading advertising to allow the case to go to trial.

McDonald's and other fast-food chains (many of the chains are facing similar lawsuits) claim these cases are just further examples of Americans blaming others for their own bad habits (a claim I happen to think is justified... but false and misleading advertising is never justified).

The case was initially dismissed (twice) by the judge; the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit restored several parts of the second (amended) complaint, allegations that McDonald's:
  • created the false impression that "its food was nutritionally beneficial and part of a healthy lifestyle if consumed daily";
  • failed to disclose the use of additives that made the food less healthy than represented;
  • acted decptively when it said it would provide nutritional information to consumers.

I've pointed this out in the past - if you are so concerned about health food, get a clue: McDonald's ain't health food. Neither is Burger King, Wendy's, Arby's, Roy Rogers, Popeye's, Hardee's, Friendly's, Big Boy, Steak & Shake, Denny's... NONE of them. I don't care who you talk to, no one with any sense is going to claim that burgers, fries and soda will "help build strong bodies twelve ways" (and yes, Wonder Bread had to stop saying that after they got sued back in the 70's).

If you want your kids to eat healthy, cook for them yourself.

Similarly, a couple of years back, some Hindu sued McDonald's, claiming his religious beliefs were violated when McDonald's served him fries that had been cooked in grease that contained beef by-products. Again, if your religious beliefs prohibit you from eating beef, don't go to a burger joint, idiot.

In summary, it appears McDonald's got out of the first case through sheer luck (but they'd better get on the ball before the next pervert tries the same scam). The second case is a perfect example of why the trial-by-jury system actually works (since, all my bitching to the contrary notwithstanding, it really does work, at least most of the time) - did the parents rely on false and misleading advertising, or are they just blaming a "deep-pockets" corporation for their own failures? If the advertising is, in fact, found to be false, McDonald's should pay (and pay big); on the other hand, if the jury sides with McDonald's, the plaintiff should bear the entire cost of the corporation's defense.

Just as an aside: for more information on stupid/needless/retaliatory lawsuits, check out the "Stella Awards" newsletter (named after the gal who sued McDonald's for the hot coffee). It's produced by Randy Cassingham, who also is responsible for "This Is True", a compedium of incomprehensible actions gathered from around the world. He's got a couple of other good sites, too. None of the information in this post came from Cassingham's newsletters; it's just I think he deserves a plug for his efforts.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

In Memoriam: Ingeborg Joseph, 1941-2001

Note: Although this posting was written on September 9, it is dated Sept 21 to keep it on top for a while.

In an earlier post, I mentioned Zipcard2. She came across my site through a link from D. C. Roe, who is coordinating an effort to have an international group of bloggers pay homage to the 2996 victims of the 9-11 attacks. She reminded me, indirectly, that I had neglected to post my memorial.

Ingeborg Joseph was, perhaps, not a “mover and shaker” in the world at large. In fact, I was unable to locate much biographical information on her (thanks to that miserable Times Select firewall). For a smaller subset of the world, however, Ms. Joseph left an indelible mark. She was an import manager for the Rohde & Liesenfeld shipping agency, and perished in the World Trade Center on 9-11. She was 60 years old at the time of her death.

To view the remembrances of those who knew her, visit her page on

Zipcard lost two friends in the attack, both NY firefighters. I lost three friends, all police officers. The almost 3,000 victims left behind millions of friends and loved ones.

To Ingeborg Joseph, to Zipcard’s firefighters, to my police officers, to all the victims of those cowardly attacks, rest in peace.

To the survivors, to those who volunteered at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania, to those who donated blood, money, or supplies, to the brave service members rooting out the terrorists overseas, to the cops and firemen and emergency medical personnel who put it all on the line every day, thank you and God bless you.

To those who plotted and carried out these dastardly attacks, may you all rot in your own personal versions of Hell for all eternity.

As Charlie Daniels put it:

And you never did think that it ever would happen again. In America, did you? You never did think that we'd ever get together again. Well we damn sure fooled you. We're walking real proud and we're talking real loud again in America. You never did think that it ever would happen again.

From the sound up in Long Island out to SanFrancisco Bay, and ev'ry thing that's in between them is our home. And we may have done a little bit of fighting amongst ourselves, but you outside people best leave us alone. Cause we'll all stick together and you can take that to the bank. That's the cowboys and the hippies and the rebels and the yanks. You just go and lay your head on aPittsburgh Steeler fan and I think you're gonna finally understand.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tragedy, Great Loss or Accident?

Blatantly stolen from Peter of Lone Tree at BlondeSense:

Just mailed to me from a friend:

Maybe you've heard it before but it bears repeating:

President Bush was visiting a primary school and he dropped in on one of the classes, where they were in the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings. The teacher asked the President if he would like to lead the discussion of the word "tragedy". So, the illustrious leader asked the class for an example of a "tragedy."

One little boy stood up and offered: "If my best friend, who lives on a farm, is playing in the field and a tractor runs over him and kills him that would be a tragedy." "No," said Bush, "that would be an accident."

A little girl raised her hand: "If a school bus carrying 50 children drove over a cliff, killing everyone inside, that would be a tragedy." "I'm afraid not," explained the president. "That's what we would call a great loss."

The room went silent. No other children volunteered. Bush searched the room. "Isn't there someone here who can give me an example of a tragedy?" Finally at the back of the room a small boy raised his hand. In a quiet voice he said: "If Air Force One, carrying you and Mrs. Bush, was struck by a friendly fire missile and blown to smithereens that would be a tragedy." "Fantastic!" exclaimed Bush. "That's right. And can you tell me why that would be a tragedy?" "Well," said the boy, "it has to be a tragedy, because it certainly wouldn't be a great loss and it probably wouldn't be an accident either."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Offered Without Comment

[Other than my appreciation for Nena making this available, of course]


Written on 18 Sep 01
By Nena Wiley

Never before had I been paralyzed by terror and anguish;
so consumed, so compelled.
But I was on Tuesday.

Never before had I sat under my Nation's starry skies,
with only the sight of fighter jets and the only sound; of freedom.
But I did on Wednesday.

Never before has our family gathered together and
made a "Plan A" to save our lives in case of disaster.
But we did on Thursday.

Never before had I witnessed so many American Flags,
heard so many anthems nor seen so many remembrance candles.
But I did on Friday.

Never before had I seen so many many American heroes,
nor heard of such brave acts across our land and skies.
But I did on Saturday.

Never before had I felt our Nation to be united
in grief, prayer, anger and resolve.
But I did on Sunday.

Never before had I been glad to be interrupted
by commercial breaks on television.
But I was on Monday.

Never before had my soul wept beyond tears,
nor had my heart bled red, white and blue.
But they did that week.

Dear God, Please....never again.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ***

Please feel free to reprint and/or distribute with proper credit.

Today's Laugh

Swiped without apology (but with much gratitude) from Anntichrist S. Coulter:

Laura Bush bought her husband a parrot for his birthday, and told Dick Cheney, "The bird is so smart! George has already taugh him how to mispronounce over 200 words!"

"That's impressive, all right," Cheney said. "But you do realize that he just *says* the words, right? He doesn't understand what they mean."

"That's okay," she replied. "Neither does the parrot."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sullivan via BarkBark - A "Must Read"

As Mustang Bobby says, Andrew Sullivan "hits this one out of the park":

If you need proof that this administration's first priority is not a humane and effective counter-terror strategy, but a brutal, exploitative path to retaining power at any price, you just got it.

Read the Sullivan piece first, then read Bobby's take on it:

Mr. Sullivan is correct (and may I be so bold as to say that a certain blogger has pointed this out before): this kind of campaign is not about the promotion of ideas for the country, it is most assuredly the means to maintain a grasp on power for no other reason than just to be in power. The sooner we all see that and the sooner the perpetrators of that dictatorial mindset are escorted off the field, the better and safer this world will be.

Amen, brother.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

THIS One's Gettin' Blogrolled NOW...

Found this through a link from FireDogLake:

Dear Leader's Daily Thought.

I thought I was going to pass coffee through my nose when I read the post entitled "America is Safer. But not yet Safe."

Update: added the (forgotten) link to FDL.


Look, I'm trying to be nice, I really am.

Vice President Cheney, quoted today in the Washington Post:

The vice president said U.S. allies in Afghanistan and Iraq "have doubts" America will finish the job there. "And those doubts are encouraged, obviously, when they see the kind of debate that we've had in the United States," Cheney said. "Suggestions, for example, that we should withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq simply feed into that whole notion, validates the strategy of the terrorists."

This is the VICE PRESIDENT of the United States? Saying, in effect, that an open debate on the wisdom of our involvement in a fer-real shootin' war is encouraging the bad guys?!?

And the really sad part is how many people still support this administration.

Earth to Hindrocket: HELLLLOOOOOO?

John Hindraker on PowerLine Blog:

[...] I think it's really important to work hard to get a Republican majority in the Senate[...]

Umm, Johnny, you guys already have a Republican majority, remember? And not just in the Senate, but in the House, as well. Plus, you guys have the White House and the Supreme Court.

I promised I would try to be a little more polite to those on the "other side", but Jesus...

What planet do some of these guys LIVE on?!?


UPDATE 09-11-06: Some of the other bloggers who picked up on this (and that number is pretty damned near universal) have received comments claiming that Hindrocket's comments were meant to be "ironic", "tongue-in-cheek", etc. I don't think so. Somewhere (maybe Digby), I read a response to one such comment; the respondent points out that the administration has made such a habit of blaming the "demo-islamo-franco-fascist liberals" for their own failures, that it's entirely likely that some of these folks might not realize the Rethuglicans really do have majorities in the House and Senate.

Personally, I think they're just dumb as a box of rocks, as the lovely yet talented Mrs 618 says.

Another Date That Shall Live In Infamy...

Almost 65 years ago, Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation after the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hong Kong, Guam, the Philippines, and Wake and Midway Islands. FDR said, “Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

In the Pearl Harbor attack alone, the Navy and Marine Corps suffered a total of 2,117 deaths; the Army lost 228. In addition, at least 57 civilians were killed. Admiral Bill Halsey, speaking on the day of the attack, said, “When this war is over, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell.”

As horrific as the Pearl Harbor attack was, it was carried out against military targets – the U.S. Naval Base and Hickam Field.

The attacks of September 11, on the other hand, specifically targeted civilians (including – perhaps not inadvertently – a large number of Muslims who worked in the WTC in a variety of capacities). This is, of course, a basic tenet of terrorist operations – target those least able to defend themselves, those whose death by “random” violence will generate terror in the hearts and minds of others (witness various attacks by the Red Army Faction, Sendaro Luminoso, Baader-Meinhof, Black September and the myriad other Islamic terror groups).

The (estimated) 2996 fatalities included 343 New York fire fighters, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority police officers, most of whom died while trying to rescue trapped victims (I am assuming that at least a few Port Authority officers were killed in the crash and initial explosions, although I am not 100% positive of that). Of the rest of the victims, hundreds died as the planes plowed into the towers. Others burned or suffocated in the choking toxic smoke, while dozens jumped to their deaths. Most, however, were killed during the dramatic collapse of the Twin Towers.

A gravely-injured New York City swept aside decades of racial, political, sexual, and religious rivalries (and, regrettably, some hatreds) and pulled together, working with one goal: to recover. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani already had his hands full running one of the most troubled, unruly cities on Earth; suddenly, he had to deal simultaneously with the worst terrorist attack in history. Giuliani, who was also dealing with personal problems that affected his official performance, led the city in the aftermath of the attack better than perhaps any other man could have. As a result, he was named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2001.

As news of the attacks spread, there were spontaneous outpourings of grief and sympathy around the world, both from traditional friends like Britain and France, as well as some more unexpected places like Russia, North Korea, Iran and Iraq. [I had links to several websites that gathered photos of these memorials, but I can’t locate them at present.] The attacks united the world in horror and revulsion against the terrorists.

Speaking to rescuers at “Ground Zero” on September 14, George W. Bush said, “I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people -- and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”

We soon learned that “the people who knocked these buildings down” were members of a radical/fundamentalist Islamic group known as Al-Qaeda, a group also tangentially implicated in the 1993 bombing at the WTC. Bin Laden and his followers (as do most of the terrorists these days) practice a perverted form of Islam, and visualize a world-wide “caliphate” of fundamentalist Islamic supremacy.

Bush subsequently announced his determination to hunt down Al-Qaeda, and capture or kill its leaders, operatives, and supporters. His announcement was greeted with almost universal acclamation. It was as if every government, every nation, every person on Earth, had said, “They attacked you without provocation. They attacked innocent civilians. Go ahead, hunt them down and kill them. F**k them.”

Had Bush maintained that focus, he would probably still be enjoying the same astronomical approval ratings he had in late September of 2001. Had he turned lose the full might and power of the United States to track down those Al-Qaeda monsters, they would be dead and rotting by now. Had he had the balls (and I’m not sure any president would have) to release some of the “specialized” units from the CIA (the semi-civilized contract killers, torturers, and assorted other mayhem-makers), the terrorists and their sympathizers would have gotten a taste – just a taste – of what exquisite forms of torment might await them if they tried to pull this shit again.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Path To 9-11? Or Path To Disaster?

Over at Daily Kos, DemFromCT has further analysis of the “Path to 9-11”/ABC/Disney brouhaha, in which he mentions (in passing) the fact that even a number of conservative commentators are starting to be troubled by Disney’s obsession with the” mockudrama.” Following the link to an AlterNet article, one sees that ThinkProgress has assembled a list of well-known conservatives expressing opposition to either the program or ABC’s inept handling of the situation: [I am assuming the emphasis was added by ThinkProgress]

  • John Podhoretz, conservative columnist and Fox News contributor:
The portrait of Albright is an unacceptable revision of recent history and an unfair mark on a public servant who, no matter her shortcomings, doesn’t deserve to be remembered by millions of Americans as the inadvertent (and truculent) savior of Osama bin Laden. Samuel Berger, Clinton’s national security adviser, also seems to have just cause for complaint. [NYPost, 9/8/06]
  • James Taranto, editor:
The Clintonites may have a point here. A few years ago, when the shoe was on the other foot, we were happy to see CBS scotch “The Reagans.” [OpinionJournal, /7/06]
  • Dean Barnett, conservative commentator posting on Hugh Hewitt’s blog:
One can (if one so chooses) give the filmmakers artistic license to [fabricate a scene]. But if that is what they have done, conservative analysts who back this movie as a historical document will mortgage their credibility doing so. [Hugh Hewitt blog, 9/6/06]
  • Chris Wallace, Fox News Sunday anchor:
When you put somebody on the screen and say that’s Madeleine Albright and she said this in a specific conversation and she never did say it, I think it’s slanderous, I think it’s defamatory and I think that ABC and Disney should be held to account. [Fox, 9/8/06]
  • Captain’s Quarters blog:
If the Democrats do not like what ABC wants to broadcast, they have every right to protest it — and in this case, they had a point.
[Captain Quarter’s blog, 9/7/06]
  • Bill Bennett, conservative author, radio host, and TV commentator:
Look, “The Path to 9/11″ is strewn with a lot of problems and I think there were problems in the Clinton administration. But that’s no reason to falsify the record, falsify conversations by either the president or his leading people and you know it just shouldn’t happen. [CNN, 9/8/06]
  • Seth Liebsohn, Claremont Institute fellow and produce of Bill Bennett’s radio show:
I oppose this miniseries as well if it is fiction dressed up as fact, creates caricatures of real persons and events that are inaccurate, and inserts quotes that were not uttered, especially to make a point that was not intended. [Glenn Greewald’s blog, 9/7/06]
  • Richard Miniter, conservative author of “Losing bin Laden: How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror”:
If people wanted to be critical of the Clinton years there’s things they could have said, but the idea that someone had bin Laden in his sights in 1998 or any other time and Sandy Berger refused to pull the trigger, there’s zero factual basis for that. [CNN, 9/7/06]
  • Brent Bozell, founder and president of the conservative Media Research Center:
I think that if you have a scene, or two scenes, or three scenes, important scenes, that do not have any bearing on reality and you can edit them, I think they should edit them. [MSNBC, 9/6/06]
  • Bill O’Reilly, Fox News pundit:
Ok, we’re talking about the run up to 9-11 and this movie that they’re re-cutting now — and they should because it puts words in the mouth of real people, actors playing real people that they didn’t say and its wrong. [O’Reilly radio show, 9/8/06]

It would seem to me that with a line-up like this expressing reservations about the program, ABC and Disney ought to think seriously about scrapping the whole project.

Of course, it’s not just the pundits – on both sides of the fence – that pose potential problems for Disney. There is also a movement afoot to boycott the various Disney enterprises… including Disney World, Disneyland, and Euro Disney. In a way, this is a delightful development: many on the far right are angry with Disney for the gay-pride parades and other gay-friendly activities at the Disney parks, and now the left is angry with them. Kinda sounds like a “no win” situation to me.

Oh, my… John Aravosis at AmericaBlog has a post up with yet another factual error from the movie:

[…] I have the entire "Path to 9/11" video. And one of the very first scenes makes it explicitly clear that American Airlines had Mohammad Atta in its grasp, warning lights flashing on the computer screen, yet the airline simply blew off the threat and helped Atta kill 3,000 Americans.

Unfortunately, it's a total lie.

Here's what the "Path to 9/11" claims American Airlines did on the morning of September 11. According to Disney/ABC, American Airlines had Mohammad Atta at its ticket counter and a warning came up on the screen when he tried to check in. The AA employee called a supervisor who kind of shrugged and said, blithely, just let him through. The first employee, shocked, turned to her supervisor and said, shouldn't we search him? The American Airlines supervisor responds, nah, just hold his luggage until he boards the plane. The scene is clearly intended to make American Airlines look negligent.

Only problem? It never happened.

First off, Disney/ABC got the airport wrong. The warning for Mohammad Atta's ticket popped up in Portland, Maine, not at Boston Logan as the tv show claims (this is on page 1 of the September 11 Commission report).

Second, the security rules at the time said nothing about searching a passenger who has a "warning" pop up, they only required that the bags be held until the passenger boarded. The Disney/ABC tv show, on the other hand, clearly tries to imply that American Airlines violated the security rules in letting Atta go. This simply isn't true. (This is also on page 1 of the report.)

But most importantly, Disney/ABC implicated the wrong airline. And I quote the Director of the FBI:

On September 11, at 6:00 AM, Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al Omari boarded a U.S. Airways flight leaving Portland, Maine en route to Boston's Logan Airport.

The 9/11 Report, on page 1 of all things, makes clear that it was in Portland that Atta's warning came up. And FBI director Mueller makes clear that Atta flew US Airways Express from Portland to Boston. So, Disney/ABC, in the first ten minutes of its error-riddled tv show - a show about to be broadcast to the entire English-speaking world this Sunday - paints American Airlines as one of the most irresponsible air carriers on the planet. An air carrier that is directly responsible for killing 3,000 Americans because its own employees are too lazy to follow safety rules.

And Disney/ABC got it totally wrong, defaming one of the largest airlines in the world.

An Opposing View

I received a comment on my post, "The Fundamentalist Redneck Fourth Reich, Part II", from a blogger calling herself Zipcard2. Her comment was as fierce in her defense of Bush as my original post was in criticism.

Out of curiosity, I paid a visit to her blog. While I don't necessarily agree with her viewpoint on certain things, I found that we do have some common ground. For instance, we both support the Patriot Guard Riders, a group that gathers at the funerals of our servicemen and women killed in action, to help protect these solemn moments from (admittedly) obnoxious protesters. Further, it appears we both believe it is incumbent upon the United States to find and exterminate those who were responsible for the 9-11 attacks. (We do disagree, however, on lots of other things)

She also has an interesting article by Jim Hoffman on the "Pentagon No-757-Crash Theory". It's well worth the read.

Now, this may sound bizarre, but I have asked her for permission to blogroll her here, as an opposing point of view. If she agrees, I hope we can start a dialog, where her vitriol (and I mean that in a nice way) counters mine (yeah, I can get a little hot under the collar). And maybe -- just maybe -- readers of both blogs might realize that "the other side" has valid points to make also.

As I said in my comment on her blog, quoting Voltaire, ""I might disagree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Dubya, via Atrios:
And so, here on Labor Day, I say to the union members who are here, happy Labor Day, and thanks for supporting leadership that is progressive, smart, capable, and has your best interests at heart.

Oh, my frickin' God. How much BS can the boy cram into one sentence?

Talk about escaping from the "reality-based community."

If there has ever been an administration less "progressive, smart, capable" or that has the middle class's "best interests at heart", I have yet to see it.

This administration has been plagued by one scandal after another, including the outing of a covert CIA operative, an illegal war, warrantless spying on American citizens, repeated violations of international laws and treaties, and so much more.

The activities of the current bunch are much, much worse than Teapot Dome or Watergate (both of which, of course, were brought to you by Republicans).

Monday, September 04, 2006

"Fundamentalist Redneck Fourth Reich": Part II

A couple of months back, I posited that the current administration is creating what I refer to as a Fundamentalist Redneck Fourth Reich, or FR2. Today, I'd like to carry this thought a bit further (or beat this dead horse some more, depending on your point of view).

Perhaps the best way to start is by explaining how I decided on the name "Fundamentalist Redneck Fourth Reich".


I don't think anyone can reasonably dispute the administration's attempts to suck up to the fundie wingnuts. Whether it's a gay-marriage ban, outlawing abortion, school vouchers, faith-based initiatives, whatever, the Republican Party is desperately wooing the fundies. Fortunately, thus far, preznit has stiffed them; aside from some half-hearted support for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage (for which he mouthed support, but refused to commit to politically), virtually all of the fundie wingnut advances have been on the state and local levels.

For the administration hierarchy, this is an exercise in hypocrisy. Bush, Cheney, and the rest are not Christians, no matter what they claim. They -- especially Bush -- profess great devotion to the tenets of Christianity, but they betray those very same tenets with their actions. How could the "culture of life" that demanded keeping a brain-dead Terri Schiavo alive and that demanded an outright ban on abortion also be responsible for hundreds of executions? How could the "culture of life" be so cavalier about the thousands of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan?

There is additional hypocrisy in the administration's approach to gays: the administration has repeatedly claimed to be in favor of a Constitutional Amendment proclaiming marriage to be "between one man and one woman" -- and hence legalizing (nay, encouraging) discrimination against gays -- despite the embarrassing facts that Dickless Cheney has an openly gay daughter (who must be ready to kill herself, with The Maximum Prick as a father), Lynne Cheney penned a highly-erotic lesbian encounter in one of her books, and several high-ranking Republicans (Ken Mehlman and company) "decline" to openly state their heterosexuality.

Christians -- true Christians, that is -- are generally accepting of other religious beliefs; Bush has repeatedly shown his disdain for all but his fundamentalist born-again brethren (not that he actually does anything for them, of course; his only true loyalty is to his corporate sponsors). True Christians are pacifists; Bush, as the International Herald Tribune pointed out several weeks ago, "wants to rule the world", preferably by force of arms. True Christians assist those less fortunate than themselves; Bush's "charity" is restricted to the wealthy, while he guts social services spending for America's neediest. True Christians accept people for who they are; Bush and his sycophants got their knickers in a twist because a cartoon sponge might be gay.

Instead of true Christians, however, Bush has pseudo-Christians like James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson in his corner.

Dobson is president of "Focus on the Family", a far-right religious group that pushes abstinence-only sex education, and believes (in effect) that women are nothing more than baby factories (and should be ecstatic with that status). Dobson is the one who said Bush "needs to be more aggressive" about pressing the religious right's pro-life, anti-gay rights agenda. He has compared the recent steps toward gay marriage to Pearl Harbor and likens the battle against it to D-Day. He is, of course, wholly in favor of completely outlawing abortion. He's also the one who started the "Spongebob is gay" brouhaha.

Falwell, a fundamentalist Baptist "hellfire and brimstone" preacher, was the founder of the "Moral Majority" (which was neither), and is best remembered for having blamed "abortionists", gays, feminists, and lesbians for the 2001 terror attacks. This quote is a perfect synopsis of his "thinking": "AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals." Falwell was also instrumental in the claims that "Tinky Winky" -- one of the "Teletubbies" -- was gay because the character was purple ("a color symbolic of homosexuality"), had an inverted triangle on his head and carried a handbag.

Robertson, who took over as host of "The 700 Club" after Jim Bakker (another hypocritical "Christian") had his little extra-marital fling, is the one who called for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. He agreed with Falwell that the 9-11 attacks were caused by "pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the ACLU and the People for the American Way." One of his most memorable quotes: "You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist".

Then there's the entire so-called "Intelligent Design" crowd: the loonies who claim man coexisted with dinosaurs (I guess they use the Flintstones and early* Warner Brothers cartoons for proof). These are the cretins who claim "Intelligent Design" has nothing to do with religion -- then scream "religious discrimination" when they don't get their way.

Additionally, we have the fundie wingnuts who decry the progress of the last 100 years or so -- the ones who feel the Voting Rights Acts went too far, the ones who claim Brown v. Board of Education, Griswold v. Connecticut, and Roe v. Wade were the result of "activist" judges or "judicial dictatorship." These are the people who felt burning witches was perfectly acceptable. They're also not fond of Miranda, Escobedo, Gideon, Mapp, and the rest of the Supreme Court decisions that pointed out that even accused criminals have rights.

To put their hypocrisy in perspective, let's look briefly at one of the major tenets of Christianity, the Ten Commandments:

(1) Then God spoke all these words: (2) I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; (3) you shall have no other gods before me. (4) You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (5) You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, (6) but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. (7) You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the LorSabbathnot acquit anyone who misuses his name. (8) Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. (9) Six days you shall labor and do all your work. (10) But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work: you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. (11) For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. (12) Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (13) You shall not murder. (14) You shall not commit adultery. (15) You shall not steal. (16) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (17) You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
[Exodus 20:1-17]

Now, let's compare what the Commandments say with what the Administration does:

  1. "I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me... .."
    The Administration appears to be trying to elevate George W. Bush to the stature of at least Jesus, if not of God Himself. This may be seen in the oft-quoted phrase, "I have a God-given talent. I got it from my father." Bush has also be quoted as saying the Lord speaks directly to him. There is also the unspoken implication -- though not terribly thinly-veiled -- that to disagree with Bush is to agree with the "terrists" (and hence, the Devil).
  2. "Do not make a sculpted image or any likeness of what is in the heavens above..."
    While it's not as widespread as pictures of the Pope in Catholic homes, a disturbing number of "the faithful" have portraits of Bush in places of honor. Some probably even have them in shrines. (Black velvet Bush, anyone?).
  3. "Thou shalt not swear falsely by the name of the LORD..."
    This one is almost too easy. One need merely look at all the various Rethuglicans who have been nabbed for perjury (i.e., Scooter Libby, et al.), and at all the various ways Bush and company have violated their oaths to "support and preserve the Constitution"... the oaths all end with "So help me God."
  4. "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy"
    Some of the most evil shenanigans of the Bushistas have been planned (or at least announced) on Sundays. Obviously, though, the administration did obey this one at least once: the Administration did absolutely nothing while the great city of New Orleans was drowning.
  5. "Thou shalt honor your father and your mother..."
    Okay, I have to admit Bush does honor his father (or, more correctly, both of his fathers) and his mother. The fact that Mommy Bush is an evil, nasty, hardhearted shrew really has nothing to do with it (but it certainly should). I suppose one could argue that Dubya has dishonored his (temporal) father by beginning and continuing an invasion that Poppy realized was futile.
  6. "Thou shalt not murder"
    Again, too easy: Carla Fay Tucker, 2,000+ American servicemen and women, God only knows how many Iraqis and Afghanis, not to mention 3,000+ in New Orleans, plus all the folks starving, freezing, or otherwise needlessly dying because Bush and his cronies don't give a rat's ass about anyone but themselves.
  7. "Thou shalt not commit adultery."
    Since to the fundamentalist, there is no such thing as divorce, any self-proclaimed "Christian" who remarries is ipso facto an adulteror. I'm ignoring, of course, all the fundamentalist preachers who have been caught screwing women (usually children), to whom they are not married.
  8. "Thou shalt not steal."
    This is not understood as stealing in the conventional sense, since theft of property is forbidden elsewhere and is not a capital offense. In this context it is to be taken as "do not kidnap." Even in this interpretation, the Bushistas lose: Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, and various PATRIOT Act provisions for "preventive detention".
  9. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor"
    Yellowcake, Saddam's WMD's, Iraq's connection to (or direction of) the 9/11 attacks, etc..
  10. "Thou shalt not covet your neighbor's house..."
    Iraq, Afghanistan (although one could argue Afghanistan was justified), and soon, Iran.

It should be obvious that, despite the lip service, the current administration has no respect whatsoever for the Ten Commandments. How, then, can they claim to be "Christian"?

They CAN'T.

Another Christian tenet often cited by the right-wing neofascists is the "Golden Rule": "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". How many of you think Bush, the heartless prick Cheney and the rest would feel if a Democratic administration -- especially under President Hillary Clinton-- were to use the "powers" "granted" to the President by the PATRIOT Act? No, to the Rethuglican crooks, it's "Do unto others before they do unto you". This, of course, could just be "institutional memory" handed down from their real Lord and liege, Tricky Dicky.


Bush tries to push his "aw, shucks" cowboy image, especially to the mouth-breathin', Bible-thumpin', hooker-humpin', sister-marryin', rifle-rack-in-the-pickmup crowd that he allegedly considers his "base".

Bush was born in Connecticut. In New Haven, if fact, which is home to Yale University. As I recall (from news stories, not personal knowledge), his family was living in the Greenwich area at the time. He was educated at Andover, Yale, and Harvard. He summered with his folks in Kennebunkport, Maine. He still vacations there, in fact. Not exactly your typical redneck/cowboy upbringing. He is, as the Pace commercial says, the guy "who gets his salsa from New York City".

Bush also likes to be shown "clearing brush" from his "ranch." Not unlike all those pictures of the displaced from New Orleans, and the various rescuers pressed into duty to accompany him, the brush-clearing pictures are nothing but carefully-staged photo opportunities for an all-too-gullible media. Bush's ranch is about as realistic as a "Cracker Barrel Country Store".

He feels that by mangling his words, and by trying -- unsuccessfully, by the way -- to adopt the "mush-mouthed Southern accent", he will be accepted as a "regular guy", the "guy you'd like to have a beer with." Given the records of Bush's outbursts when he was drunk (such as challenging his own father to go "mano a mano"), most people wouldn't want to run that risk.

Further, his pathetic attempts at typical Southern "glad-handing" are abject failures (just like all his other actions). He tries to express sympathy and solicitude; he demonstrates, however, only supercilious, smirking arrogance. A true Southerner would open his/her home to those displaced by Katrina (as many of them did, of course).

But for some reason, many of these attempts to simulate a "good ole boy" seem to be remarkably successful, at least among the trailer-trash crowd. That the slack-jawed, drooling "Deliverance" clones continue supporting him -- even though he has done NOTHING for them -- is truly remarkable, and just a little bit frightening.

Bush and his cadre also tend to support many of the causes near and dear to the redneck heart. First among these, of course, is the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution:

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

First of all, most rednecks manage to miss the first clause completely. Those that do spot it seem to function under the (mistaken) belief that "militia" refers to groups like the Michigan Militia, and the other right-wing extremist, racist, paramilitary groups that tend to spring up whenever three or more rednecks are in one place. These morons do not understand that the "militia" referenced in the Amendment is, in effect, the Colonial Army and its successors.

Second, the "arms" referred to were those used by military personnel for military purposes. The Bush "base" tends to claim that any type of armament may be kept by the average citizen, including assault and other automatic weapons.

Third, they (again) disregard the clear intent of the Framers when they claim a "Constitutional" right to use any weapon for any purpose whatsoever.

It is these people to whom Bush tries to suck up, by supporting the gutting of the Brady Law and other gun-control laws. They even want to remove the requirements for background checks (I guess because too many of the "base" wouldn't qualify for carrying a squirt gun after a real check).

Bush also tries to cuddle up to the Nascar crowd, even though the closest he ever came was trying to evade the Kennebunkport cops when he got bagged for drunk driving (and imagine how the neocons would howl if Hillary had concelaed a DWI...).

The reality is no matter how much Bush may want to be a "good ole boy" and no matter how hard he may try, he is nothing but a spoiled son of Yankee privilege.


George Bush, Dickless Cheney and the rest of the Administration obviously have hopes of extending their iron-fisted control over America for the next thousand years, just as Hitler viewed his regime as the start of the original "Thousand Year Reich". Their established proclivity in stealing elections, purging the electoral rolls of "suspect" classes (blacks, Hispanics, and others who tend to vote Democratic), pushing for electronic voting machines that do not have "paper trail" capabilities, discovering precincts in which the number of votes cast (for Bush) is greater than the number of eligible voters (never mind the votes cast for Democrats in those same precincts), and so on, is well-know (see here, for instance).

The Chimpster and his gang are also using other well-known tactics of previous fascist regimes: silencing the media, harassing protesters, imprisoning members of opposition groups in violation of Constitutional requirements (and international law, in the case of "enemy combantants"), warrantless searches and seizures, secret courts, etc. Just recently, a brave (and probably soon to be out-of-office) Federal judge in Detroit ruled that the warrantless spying conducted by the NSA under Bush's self-proclaimed "plenipotentiary war powers" was unconstitutional.

The Administration's spurious claims of "national security" are too numerous to go into here (but see Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, AmericaBlog, Atrios, Digby, and countless others for the gruesome details).

In addition, much like Adolph Hitler did, George W. Bush is holding himself out as the only person capable of "saving the world". While we have not yet seen "Bush Youth", we have seen the loyalty oaths required for admission to taxpayer-funded Presidential appearances, we've seen Secret Service agents (and the initials "SS" are just as scary now as they were in the 30's and 40's) dragging "unauthorized" people out of these same taxpayer-funded appearances, we've seen Little Ricky "Man-on-Dog" Santorum using uniformed Delaware State Police officers to forcibly remove two teenagers from a book-signing at a Barnes and Noble store.

We've seen "free-speech zones", where protesters are kept far from the president, in clear violation of the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law [...] abridging the freedom of speech [...] or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."), these "free-speech zones" enforced by those who swore to uphold the Constitution.

In fact, the Administration's entire concept of the Constitution of the United States may be seen in this one quote from Dubya himself:

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush screamed back. "It's just a Goddamned piece of paper!"

[Source: Capitol Hill Blue, 12-09-05]

These are the people running (and ruining) our great country.



* And I do mean "early". I'm thinking of that one -- pre-Loony Tunes -- of the caveman with the pet dinosaur; you know the one I mean: the caveman throws the stick and so on.

BP Censoring American Press

From AdAge, via This Century Sucks:

Days after financial services giant Morgan Stanley informed print publications that its ads must be automatically pulled from any edition containing "objectionable editorial coverage," global energy giant BP has adopted a similar press strategy.

Zero tolerance

According to a copy of a memo on the letterhead of BP's media-buying agency, WPP Group's MindShare, the global marketer has adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward negative editorial coverage. The memo cites a new BP policy document entitled "2005 BP Corporate-RFP" that demands that ad-accepting publications inform BP in advance of any news text or visuals they plan to publish that directly mention the company, a competitor or the oil-and-energy industry.

Gotta jes' love that freedom of the press...

So once again, we have the oil industry thinking that they have the God-given right to determine what is best for the rest of us. It was bad enough when Dickless Cheney allowed the energy industry to set the Chimpistration's energy policy (there's an oxymoron!). It was worse when Halliburton overcharged the taxpayers for services allegedly delivered to our brave (but badly misled) servicemen and servicewomen overseas.

Now they're saying, "If your magazine says anything nasty about us or our friends, we're gonna pull the advertising you need to survive."

They are demanding the right to censor the American press.

Sad thing is, the Bushistas will probably let them get away with it.

The Rude One and Bush's "Thought" Processes

The Rude Pundit, in his own inimitable way, takes on Dumbya's latest comments on terrists:

Here's the President yesterday at a campaign dinner for Tennessee Republicans: "We face an enemy that has an ideology; they believe things." You got that? We're not facing a bunch of blank slates lashing out at all tabulas not rasa. They actually believe "things." What sorts of things, you may ask? George W. Bush has the answer: "The best way to describe their ideology is to relate to you the fact that they think the opposite of the way we think."

Now, a cynical person might respond, "Oh, really? So they don't think that it's okay to hold people without charge or access to genuine legal processes, to torture them to get any information no matter how outdated or worthless, to lie to their people about the progress of a war, to use force to impose an ideology on the population?" You get the idea.

Go read the whole thing here. And read the post directly below, on the Rude One's visit to New Orleans.

And then wonder why Chimpster's approval rating is as high as it is. It should be in negative numbers. But the mouth-breathin', Bible-thumpin', hooker-humpin', sister-marryin', rifle-rack-in-the-pickmup neocon wingnut crowd still believe in him.

Whatta buncha fargin' MO-rons.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Catblogging Update

A couple of days ago, I introduced you to our certified pre-owned kitty, Tia.

Turns out "she" is a "he." The lovely yet talented Mrs 618 (who is experiencing the joys of recovering from surgery for a ganglion cyst and has her left hand in a cast) was watching "her" do some grooming when all of a sudden, she noticed... umm... a little "red rocket" action.

His name is now Joey. Not, I hope, after the idiot on "Friends".

And yes, we have both signed up for "Remedial Biology".

Our Lab is still female.

CERTs and Other Fun Things

I mentioned a while back that I recently became a trainer for Community Emergency Response Teams (or CERTs). I mention this for a reason.

The other day at work, an associate and I ran a training class on fire extinguisher usage for about 50 people at work. My associate -- also a CERT instructor -- used the PowerPoint presentation from the CERT curriculum.

After we all went outside and "played" (as he put it) for a couple of hours, I handed out course evaluations to the group.

We've already gotten back a couple that ask for the full CERT course to be given at work.

CERT, as you may know, was developed in Los Angeles, about 25 years ago. After one particularly devastating earthquake, the LAFD realized that the first "rescuers" on the scene were those who lived in the neighborhood. LAFD decided to develop and offer a program that would provide these initial responders the training they needed to (a) save lives, (b) protect property, (c) assist their neighborhoods, and (d) stabilize the situation until the professionals arrived, while still protecting the rescuers themselves. The training consists of basic firefighting skills (fire extinguishers), light search and rescue, basic disaster medical (first aid and CPR), triage, psychological response to disasters and sort of introductory terrorism.

The CERT concept has since been expanded into a specialized program for schools (a pilot here in Michigan was quite successful, even beyond the goals established when they set it up); the Federal Department of Homeland Security is also working on modifying the program for the workplace environment. (Pay attention, this may be the only nice thing I ever say about DHS). A CERT program in the workplace makes sense, in that during a major disaster, local emergency services will be overwhelmed (this is also the logic behind the 72-hour kits DHS recommends for the home). Suitably trained volunteer responders in the workplace will help keep their fellow workers safe, care for those who are injured, and also demonstrate the employer's commitment to staff safety. Of course, I suppose having a CERT team in the workplace might also reduce insurance rates somewhat.

Anyway, after I completed the instructor course, my immediate supervisors were a little doubtful about the interest in, or need for, a CERT team at work. Maybe the responses to the extinguisher training program will show the bosses that there is both a need and the interest.

Update, 09-04-06: Added link to CERT website, just in case anyone wants more information on the program.

Friday, September 01, 2006

'Nother New One for the Blogroll...

Anntichrist S. Coulter of BlondeSense now has her own blog. If you have read any of her writings, you will know that she is a very quiet, soft-spoken Southern belle.

Unfortunately, the poor lady has to stop keeping her feelings bottled up inside:

Maybe that's the solution to Houston. Maybe that's how we make everybody happy. Leave the Katrina evacuees the fuck alone and let them integrate into the city where they AREN'T the minority, and we take all of the fucking nouveau-riche-suburbanite-white-trash republicunt yuppie-scum cocksuckers and put 'em on a fucking ISLAND, where they can't poison the water table anymore.

Read the whole thing here.

Update (or should that be "Oopsdate"?), 09-02-06: I changed "uburbanite" back to "suburbanite", as per Annti's request. Guess I need new glasses.