08. July 2016 · Comments Off on OPSEC · Categories: Ain't That America?, Home Front, Military, My Head Hurts, Politics, Rant

That is one of those military acronyms which everyone who has ever been in the military for longer than – oh, I don’t know – a couple of years? A single hitch in one of the armed services? Whatever; what it means in plain English is “operations security” – and what that entails in the larger sense – drilled in by basic training, refresher training, briefings, a constant dribble of AFRTS spots cautioning the same in 30 second bites, and occasionally by the direct intervention of a supervisor administering a stern reminder – is that you keep your mouth shut about stuff and treat classified material with every care. Even stuff that seems minor, inconsequential, trivial, and is not in point of fact, actually classified. Because a whole lot of little pieces put together by an expert analyst could reveal a pretty big picture; a big and possibly life-threatening picture to someone, or hundreds, even thousands of someones.

I performed this analysis myself in a small way myself, during the build-up to the First Gulf War, through the medium of casually listening to a whole lot of reader spots emanating from our lead station, and some chatter from friends, to the effect that they couldn’t get a reserved room in the casual barracks at that base, all of a sudden. And sure enough – a radio reader spot to the effect that there was limited availability of rooms in a particular transient facility. Another reader, to the effect of restricting automobile traffic on a certain road at that base; checking a map of that base revealed that road was the one in front of that very transient facility. And finally – a notice to the effect that mowing the grass in that particular area was delayed until further notice. Put that together with knowing that transport aircraft were stopping over in large numbers on their way downrange … why, yes; the aircrews were being billeted there, to catch up on sleep before the last long haul to Saudi Arabia. Unclassified? Heck yes – it was on the radio, for gosh sake. Significant information for someone who might want to disrupt the transportation conveyor belt into the theater of conflict? Very possibly.

In the larger sense, OPSEC means paying attention, and especially paying attention to that which is classified information. My own clearance and that of other broadcasters never went any higher than Secret, possibly because we were broadcasters and the powers-that-be feared and probably with good reason (see above) that we would inadvertently blab all kinds of indiscreet stuff into a live microphone. Even at that lowly level, I dealt later on with classified information as the security NCO. The production facility at Hill AFB occasionally worked with materiel which was restricted from general use; yes, we had a secure safe, and now and again I had to serve as courier, collecting classified scripts, video footage and other stuff which I did not actually know what it was – as it was all secured in a sealed envelope – meeting the arriving carrier at the gate at SLC airport, and taking it to the unit and securing it in the safe. I didn’t deal with this materiel often enough to become blasé through familiarity, and I was never in the least bit of doubt that loosing, or compromising classified materiel would have severe adverse effects on my so-called career.

History is chock-full of instances where a break in security – the intercepted message, the boastful bragging to the wrong person, or an outright traitor – spelled disaster and death. History is likewise full of instances where a strategic or tactical secret was kept through heroic efforts on the part of individuals or organizations, an effort rewarded with success. Knowing that people may die, and in job-lots, if you are not careful does tend to concentrate ones’ attention to OPSEC. And this is why that practically every retired military person that I have talked to personally, or commented through social media in the last couple of days, is incandescently furious that Hilary Clinton – for reasons of her own carelessness or convenience – flung down and danced upon every procedure on the books for keeping classified information secure. There are people who have had careers wrecked, been charged, served time for just a hundredth part of the lack of care that she demonstrated in her time as Secretary of State.

But they were none of them Hilary Rodham Clinton. To compromise national security on a grand scale is obviously one of those privileges which rank hath.

28. June 2016 · Comments Off on A Memo: On the Selective Application of the Right to Free Speech · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, My Head Hurts, sarcasm

To: Ms Yvette Felarca

Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School

North Berkeley, California

From: Sgt. Mom

Re: Selective Application of the Right to Free Speech


  1. It saddens me that I must inform a member of the teaching profession that the right to free speech – with certain exceptions for slander/libel, incitement to break the law, and falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater – is inalienable. It is certainly not within the rights of you or your so-called organization to make decisions regarding the exercise thereof by organizations of which you do not approve. I know, this may come as somewhat of a surprise to you.
  2. It is also a misguided notion for you and your so-called organization to enforce your judgement by exercising physical, organized violence upon those expressing opinions which you have ordained as unfit. This establishes an extremely bad and dangerous precedent in the civic life of this nation. I would suggest that you review the political and social history of Weimar-era Germany, with special attention to the party-based brawling which led to breakdown of a sort-of-stable social situation and the rise of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, or acquaint yourself with this history, if such study has not been included in your previous education.
  3. By the way, do not assume from the tenor of this memo that I therefore approve or disapprove of Nazis, self-appointed social justice warriors, censors of any political stripe, the KKK, Donald Trump, freaks like the Westboro Baptist Church, or Twitter and Facebook mobs descending upon your employer threatening you, your employer and your students. I merely wish to emphasize to you and other community organizers what a horrifically bad idea you are endorsing.
  4. But having established the precedent that organized violence is an appropriate response to those whose political and social opinions you disapprove of, you have opened a particular dangerous can of worms; that persons who disapprove of your own political sympathies may respond in kind with perfect justification. As you deal, so will you be dealt with – and you will have no basis for complaint, having chosen to overturn a painfully-struggled for convention in American political life that violence against a political opposition is off the table. It is a slippery slope, this business of physically attacking other people, merely for exercising their rights.
  5. Hoping that you will consider these words carefully and take them to heart – although I am not holding my breath on that.

I remain, as always,

Sgt. Mom

20. May 2016 · Comments Off on A Fine Miscellany · Categories: Domestic, Fun and Games, My Head Hurts

Ah, the stupidities come so thick and fast of late. It’s like the rain here in Texas, which has been pouring down with such intensity over the last few days that all the usual low-water flood-danger locations have been – as any fool could easily predict – flooded and closed to vehicle traffic. It rained so hard on Thursday morning that for the first time in ages, we skipped walking the dogs. Looked out at the flooded street, the flooded front walkway, rain coming down sideways, and the sky so dark that it looked like twilight already; nope – not even the dogs were keen, especially Nemo the Terrier-God-Knows-What, who loathes and despises water with a wholly undoglike passion.

But social and political stupidities – what a rich buffet was laid before us this week, even apart from the gross stupidity of deciding that the ostensible civil rights and good-will of what may be .03% of the general population – that miniscule transgender portion of it – supersedes the rights of women and girls in a public restroom/locker/changing room to be certain they are not being letched on by a perv who has twigged to the fact that if he only declares that he feels female on that particular day that no one will want to firmly escort his perverted ass out of said safe space. Yes, the Kennedy Administration vowed to put a man on the moon, the Obama Administration has put a man in the Ladies’ Room and damned if the pervy wretch isn’t insisting that he has a perfect right to be there. Progress, y’all. While the perv element may have witless friends in the form of various celebrities ostentatiously declaring that they won’t be performing in *insert the location here* because hate/failure-to-socially-advance/toleration-eleventy!! I am brought to wonder if their concerts were significantly less than sold-out, and this is a handy means of cancelling an event and putting a convenient cover over the economic failure of it all. And I am also reminded of the way that mobs came out to eat at Chick-fil-A, in response to an announced boycott because the gaystapo getting all (you should pardon the expression) butt-hurt over the Chick-Fil-A CEO mildly expressing personal support for traditional marriage.

Moving on – to the massive idiocy reflected in this series of stories; that black people don’t want to go to national parks because of the trees! Treez! Eleventy! Because black people were hanged from TREEZ! And something should be done about Black Peeplez! not wanting to go out to visit national parks … which are full of those Nasty Hanging Treez! So it would seem that bringing out mega-busloads of urban Black Peeplez! to national parks to appreciate the lovely and bountiful scenery, the meadows, mountains and infinitely-varied landscapes isn’t really the solution to this urgent and lately-discovered social conundrum. It’s just another national-sized racial shakedown by the usual suspects. Yay. Another yawning and insatiable maw of racial resentment, on a national scale to be fed by … seriously, I hope that the American populace – which still tracks as about %75 white (or something that at a squint would rate at %75 white) would be exhausted with indulging these freaks at this point. I know that I am. Wait until they find out that in many of these parks, it snows in the winter, and the snow is white!

And meanwhile, Venezuela is in the throes of collapsing in about every way that a nation-state can collapse, after having been lauded by the social justice warrior luvvie set for years. The pictures of what various families have by way of food in their house is absolutely heartbreaking, even more so than the pictures of empty grocery store shelves. There is a lot of ruin in a nation. And yet somehow, after reducing a wealthy South American country to absolute penury, the heirs of the man most responsible for that ruin – are among the richest individuals in that country.

And finally – on to the mismanagement of a private liberal arts university called Burlington College, which apparently began as a small, fiscally-responsible place offering some specialty degree programs and a small student-to-faculty ratio to the more mature student, yet finished up by biting off more than it could chew economically, chiefly under the leadership of Jane Sanders, aka Mrs. Bernie Sanders. Intending to expand the physical campus, the endowment, enrollment, and degree programs. Unfortunately, acquiring a nice parcel of lakefront land with existing buildings from the local Roman Catholic diocese strained Burlington’s fiscal resources beyond the breaking point – and now the place is closing down entirely. Jane Saunders parted ways with Burlington College under the power of a hefty golden parachute sometime previous to this final debacle. While she and her husband are two entirely separate and distinct people, the fact remains that she as an administrator managed to make a bad but perhaps survivable situation infinitely worse and ultimately un-survivable. This tends to reinforce a feeling that the pair of them together do not have a very firm grasp on sound economic policies, since Bernie Sanders himself never actually managed to make a good living at all, until he got into politics.

I’m almost afraid to look at what will be in the news next week. Discuss.

08. November 2015 · Comments Off on Once There Was a Time … · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Memoir, My Head Hurts, Rant · Tags:

… when I used to be a feminist, and proud to think of myself as such. This was back at the time that I was a teenager, and being a feminist meant you earnestly believed that women ought to have the same opportunities for education, professional advancement, credit for personal and business purposes, and perhaps to be seen by a female ob-gyn, and generally have a wider range of choices when it came to what you wanted to do with your life. Even then the bra-burning drama and other minor theatrics seemed kind of pointless. Back in the day, as now, bras were expensive … and unless one had prepubescent-sized breasts, it was uncomfortable to go without!

Seriously – when I was a teenager and looking at my prospective life, – the feminism of that day appeared to be about having interesting and fulfilling alternatives in life. Believe me, Granny Dodie was shoving me energetically in the traditional direction of inevitable marriage to some nice guy I met in college or *shudder* high school, since she and her contemporaries had bragging rights over the quantity and accomplishments of their respective great-grandchildren and she and Grandpa Alf weren’t getting any younger, and the little girl across the street whom I used to play with when I came to visit them, why she got married at 18 and had a baby already! It was the lockstep nature of it all, that put me off, more than anything. Because I wanted some adventure, first.

There were only a couple of respectably acceptable professional options, unless one was totally driven, unusually talented, and single-minded, to boot. There was being a nurse: Guh! I hated scrubbing the bathroom, the sight and smell of vomit made me heave … seriously, I think I learned what I did then about nursing was all from reading Cherry Ames, Student Nurse, and I most definitely didn’t want any part of that. Then there was being an elementary school teacher; nope, I knew that I definitely did not have the patience – or the toleration for idiocy that was required even then, in those college programs dedicated to turning out education majors. Secretary … no, no, a thousand times no. (Although I did eventually put in a few years as an ‘admin assistant, which is what they now call what used to be an executive secretary.) I could type fairly well, but learning Gregg shorthand? Might as well learn Morse code and be done with it. There was also the glamorous occupation of being a stewardess … but I had as much affinity for glamor as I did for vomit.

So – the feminism of the 1960s and 1970s opened up a whole new and gloriously adventurous choice of professional occupations to us, and ones in which a woman would not just be the only one, or the only one of two or three in any particular profession, or class, or office. When I first went to military journalism/broadcaster school, there were three women in my class of about forty. By the time I departed the military, I had been told that the journalism/broadcaster courses were running about fifty-fifty. Quite a good few of the women I knew in my first hitch were the first, or maybe the second women in their various military specialties, since all but a handful of the most direct combat related fields had been opened up to anyone – male or female – who could meet the physical requirements and score high enough on the ASVAB to qualify. It was a great time to be a feminist; the big battles for acceptance, for educational and economic quality had been fought and won, and women of my age could enjoy the fruits of victory.

And then feminism … or those females wholly identifying themselves as professional feminist activists developed a serious case of boredom, or maybe shriveled, bitter little man-hating and resentful souls, perhaps upon discovering that all the big fights had been won already – and in some cases, won quite a while ago. The so-called feminist intellectuals discovered that busy women, reveling in those new opportunities, those new-to-them professions, or perhaps even just reveling in being able to choose freely to be wives and mothers … didn’t always toe the line of acceptable feminist thought. I began to note – yes, I did subscribe to MS Magazine – that the editorial voice, and that of the contributing writers was increasingly snotty, exclusive and doctrinaire … it was as if you weren’t really a feminist in good standing unless you were a vegetarian, single-mother, a liberal, employed in the academic world, and for extra points, a lesbian of some color or other. For me, this reached an absolute nadir with the rubbishing of Sarah Palin by the establishment feminists; a woman who combined a successful marriage, active in her husband’s business, and launched a political career starting locally and moving up to the level of state governor without being the spouse or spawn of an establishment politician was just not a good feminist for the professional activists – whose snobbery was nearly as vicious as their calculated scorn? That was about the final straw for me.

And now, we have the current crop of pathetic professional feminists; whining about guys looking at them, clumsily trying to flirt with them, making mildly risqué jokes between themselves, or wearing shirts with pictures of classic science fiction babes with blasters on it, complaining about near-to-invisible micro-aggressions, re-defining bad and later-regretted sex as rape, and about how a Catholic University not funding birth control is just the most unjust thing evah! Put a fork into current feminism, it’s done already.
Seriously, sometimes reading the latest blatherings of what the special feminist snowflakes complain about is to wonder if they don’t really want to go straight back to some neo-Victorian sheltered bubble, where their sensibilities are as delicate as blown-glass Christmas ornaments, and there is never a harsh word spoken. Those 19th and early 20th century women who campaigned for women’s rights are probably revolving in their graves so rapidly that you could generate electricity from them at the antics of these whining, passive-aggressive and vindictive spoiled children.

15. July 2015 · Comments Off on Year Zero · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Fun and Games, My Head Hurts, Rant

“Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people.” – Heinrich Heine

In the Middle East, where Islamic fundamentalists are tumbling down statues and ancient monuments, and destroying or disposing of every visible shred of pre-Islamic history, they are already burning people. Also drowning them, shooting them by the tens, dozens and fifties, decapitating them, and blowing them up with careful application of det-cord. Here in these United States the attention of enthusiasts for so-called “social justice” is also bent upon eradicating the past – to include those monuments dedicated to Confederate soldiers and heroes, streets named for them, and the very sight of the Confederate Battle Flag, even when used in a cheerfully rebellious television show mocking the sourpuss pretentions of a corrupt local authority.

This has to date already gone beyond actual Confederate monuments, including demands to deface that which is carved into the side of Stone Mountain; a statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston has been defaced, leading one to wonder what next? Mount Rushmore, perhaps, on the grounds that two of the four visages depicted were slave owners? Paintings and murals adoring historic post offices and government buildings everywhere? Other flags – to include state flags, or the Gadsden banner? All is grist to the slow grinding down of the modern-day social justice goblins wishing to obliterate history, much as the radical French revolutionists wished to eradicate all traces of history, even down to the days of the week and names of the months. The Khmer Rouge obliterated the history, art, and city populations – also in an attempt to take Cambodia back to Year Zero.

The uncomfortable question asked by someone aware of past efforts to erase history is that after monuments and murals – what next? There already is a battle raging over depictions of that flag on social media. Amazon, and other big national retailers were quick enough off the mark to drop sales of flags and items depicting the Confederate Battle Flag, in speedy deference to the social justice front – speed which hits at behind the scenes collusion. That aspect of the whole imbroglio is even more disquieting than the removal or defacing of monuments – what next will be declared beyond the pale, and removed from the market place … just because? Movies and books which counter the current politically correct trend will certainly fall under the baleful regard of the social justice front … and then perhaps evaporate from the marketplace. This is all very tidy and neat, no need to burn them in a public bonfire and put more pollution into the air.

Interesting times, as they say. Interesting times. Discuss.

(Crossposted at www.chicagoboyz.net)

19. August 2014 · Comments Off on Top of the Slide · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Fun and Games, My Head Hurts, Rant, World

Forty years after the fact is a fine time to wonder if maybe that murderous freak Charles Manson had a point, after all. This is a savage disappointment to me, having been carefully schooled in racial tolerance since about the time that my mother nearly kicked off an epic family fracture when she requested that my paternal grandfather please tone down his expressions of racial denigration in front of us kiddies. She might also have asked the same of Dad, back in the day – he was, after all, raised by Grandpa Al, who – by his talk – couldn’t abide Negro-Black-African-Americans, or whatever the current socially correct term is – and Grandma Dodie, who couldn’t stand Jews. That their favorite entertainer of all time was Sammy Davis, Jr., was just one of those amusing ironies – that and the fact that they were always perfectly cordial to those of my parent’s friends and mine who were Jewish, and/or not by any stretch of imagination white Anglo-Saxon protestants was another one.

I optimistically assumed that more than half a century of civil rights being the law of the land had put an end to Charlie Manson’s sweaty fantasies of racial war. I honestly did … in spite of knowing that there were neighborhoods in most large American cities where a person of Anglo pallor like myself did not want to be caught, alive or dead, in broad daylight or the dark of night. I also knew at a remove of the existence of a university sub-culture of grievance studies and residual pools of racial resentment lovingly maintained like rare orchids by professional race-mongers (yes, I am looking at YOU, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson). My generally optimistic assumptions regarding race relations were based on personal experience and first-hand observation in academia and the armed forces, despite the occasional lapse – say, after the OJ verdict and the riots after the Rodney King beating. I served with commanders and first sergeants who were black – and finer, more decent and patriotic people could hardly be found. I served alongside others, some who were close enough and good enough friends that we could speak honestly about black/white relations and the general history of race relations in America. I also had friends who were partners in interracial couples – in all possible combinations and variants. Indeed, some of my own daughter’s regular dates would have had Grandpa Al revolving in his grave like a Black and Decker drill. This is supposed to be the ne plus ultra when it comes to judging racial tolerance – in that “Would you want your daughter to marry one?” Content of character came way ahead of race for me, every time.

And then there came election of The First Black President Evah! Such was my happy state of innocence in 2008 that I assumed that a page had been turned; the one positive development leading from the election of a completely inexperienced local community organizer was that we might confidently expect to have heard the very last of the USA being the most raaaaacist nation ever! Alas, even that small hope has been cruelly squashed over the six years since – chiefly because this administration’s public affairs branch, or the traditional print and broadcast news outlets as we used to call them – mostly insist on attributing any objection or doubt regarding Obama’s legislative or administrative goals as being motivated by racism. This is as tiresome as it is untrue, but the absolute and unvarying insistence has taken a toll. What is even more dispiriting is the knowledge that black racism is more overt, more in-your-face and more threatening – witness the ongoing riots in St. Louis; it’s as if the election of Obama unleashed something malign, rather than putting it away like an outworn security object. Discuss.

(Cross-posted at chicagoboyz.net)

I honestly do not know if all of last weeks’ horrific headlines and those of the week before are a cunning plot to serially distract the body politic and public by dropping everything on us all at once, without a chance to analyze or begin fighting back, or if it indicates that the wheels are coming off the Obama administration once and for all. Either way … there is a lot to write about, just at the time that I don’t have the time or inclination to muse upon it all at leisure in a way which would give my venom full justice; all in good time, my one or two regular remaining readers. Among other things, I am fighting a god-awful summer cold and cough, a return of the chronic cough I had last year, which took about eight months to throw and on several occasions had me coughing so hard that I threw up. And another thing of a personal nature; Alice, whom I bought the Tiny Publishing Bidness from early this spring, passed away early in June. She was tended by her family and Blondie, and a series of very professional and compassionate home-hospice-care nurses for the last three weeks before that. She had been given six months last October when she was proscribed aggressive chemotherapy … but she detested chemo and refused it after two rounds, and lasted for three months longer than forecast at the time. She actually did pretty well, with Blondie doing her housekeeping and errands … until the last three weeks.

Just as all this was happening, of course I had two books projects to juggle, and Alice’s last book for an old friend of hers, a local poet who brings out a small chapbook of his writings every year or so. She kept his most recent book back from the sale, intending to work on it herself, but her memory and her health was failing catastropically, and so I inherited it as well. So – three books to juggle at a time; isn’t commerce grand? And I still have two books of my own to work on (The Golden Road and Lone Star Sons), plus reviews, four websites (three of them being my own) and little chores like the garden, housekeeping, walking the dogs and cooking regular meals.

By the way – we found another dog this week; a small boxer-colored female, who may be part lab, possibly boxer with a bit of small pit and Wiemeraner, as she has rather lovely golden-green eyes. She looks, if anything, like a quarter-sized version of Calla-puppy, my daughter’s Boxer mix. We are resisting the allure of keeping her, but caved on turning her into the county shelter. She is very people-oriented and very, very affectionate. Onward with the chore of finding her a permanent home and not with us; anyone in the South Texas area want a new dog; 25 pounds, about half-grown that we can tell, just having cut her permanent teeth, still catching on to that house-breaking and obedience thing, but tolerant and affectionate, and OK with other dogs and cats. Let me know in comments – we can provide pictures and delivery within reason.

I did a book event in Sisterdale, the first weekend in June – and it was born upon us that we need a shed in the backyard, first for the garden tools and supplies, and second for the various items that we have acquired for doing events … like the pop-up pavilion. You may say, as Mom did, ‘But you have a garage!?’ Alas, it is full of Blondie’s furniture and various other gleanings from yard sales, against the day when she has an establishment of her own, or I have my Hill Country retreat/country cottage. We can not fit another blessed thing into the garage, or find it if we did … so. Shed; for the storage of items of professional gear in – the pavilion, the tables, the weights, the display racks, et cetera; likely we will go with a local small enterprise which does bespoke tin sheds for a price competitive with the big box places. The backyard being so small, the shed must and will be attractive, since we will be seeing it from the back porch and two of the three windows at the back of the house.

And that’s what I’ve been working on, these last two weeks, but I promise that regular vicious commentary will resume as soon as the bile reservoir has replenished itself.

21. October 2013 · Comments Off on How To Tell If It’s A Really Bad, Bad Monday · Categories: Critters, Local, My Head Hurts, Veteran's Affairs

1. Unhappy cat who gets bullied by other cats and looses bladder control when frightened by other cats is frightened by another cat while I am out running … and pisses on bedding. While out walking the dog – having put unhappy cat in locked bathroom, another cat pisses on bedding in another place.

2. Car does not start. Have to borrow Blondie’s Montero to pick up prescription at Fort Sam Primary Care Clinic.

3. Get speeding ticket from SAPD for doing 54 in 45 MPH stretch of road in the Montero. Didn’t notice that I was going faster than anyone else. Suspect this stretch of road is now a speed trap.

Any questions?

I guess that I must still be an astonishingly naïve person – for although I fully expected riots in inner cities across the US in the wake of the jury in the Zimmerman trial coming to the decision that they did – I did not expect the veritable tsunami of calculated hatred and willful ignorance washing over the mainstream media, four days later. I was astonished that the six jurors stuck to their guns, so to speak, and delivered what I consider a just verdict, although that might just be my own inner white bigotry speaking. Given what was gone over in painstaking detail in the courtroom, I can’t see that they could have come to anything else, but I guess that logic and obedience to the letter of the law are all constructs of racial superiority, and it’s all the fault of those jurors that they couldn’t bring themselves to do the will of the mob.

That mob, of course – and I include a number of black celebutards and so-called intellectual lights among them – believe with the faith of holy writ everything which was first put about in the national media regarding the case. And everything which was first put about with regard to George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin and their fatal encounter on a rainy Florida evening – turned out to be wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong – so wrong that it can’t possibly be anything but a deliberate attempt to mislead on a grand scale. The professional black activists pushing the matter as they have are promoting what a propagandist like Josef Goebbels called ‘the big lie’ – no matter how outrageous the falsehood is – just repeat it often enough and from the mouths of as many as possible – figures of authority especially – and eventually the lie is accepted as the truth.

It has been educational to see ‘the big lie’ in action this last year. It is also interesting and educational to see a high-tech lynch mob gearing up, and to realize that the color of the faces involved don’t seem to make it any more or less ugly and bigoted.

23. June 2013 · Comments Off on The Elephant in the Room Manifesto · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, My Head Hurts · Tags: ,

Or, An Open Message to one Karen Lewis, the president of the Chicago Teacher’s Union, a body (hah!) most particularly noted for inability to actually educate those inner-city students to the point where they might be mistaken by the charitable and understanding observer for being literate, responsible and well-spoken citizens of a republic …

Where to start? Oh, better get the sophomoric taunts out of the way, first. Dear lady, asking when someone is going to address the elephant in the room is – considering the evidence of your person – extremely risible. Obviously, you have not missed too many meals in the last couple of decades. I myself am not the glass of fashion or in perfect Pippa Middleton shape of late, but I daresay that if I arrayed myself in tasteful garments of black and white in hue, I would not be mistaken for Orky the Killer Whale by the casual observer. And I can still hike three or four miles easily at a steady walking pace, whereas I doubt the same can be said of your considerable person. Or as a crueler comment posted at the inestimable Rantburg had it – “Did she rescind the bounty on Han Solo, yet?”

As for blaming the crisis in Chicago schools on rich white people thinking they have anything to do with the education of black and Latino children … I’m just not seeing the connection there, unless it’s something to do with the fact that it’s rich white people, or at least middle-class white people paying for that education through their tax dollars. Karen, sweetie, you never heard the axiom, “They who pays the piper calls the tune?” Apparently not. OK, some home truths, here; the state of public education in those large cities historically controlled by a certain kind of big-city political machine is indeed disgraceful, but certainly not for lack of money poured into them. Parents who do not value the advantage of a good education, or are too strapped trying to keep above-water economically to ride herd on their kids, appallingly low academic standards, unqualified and incompetent teachers, a lack of actual physical security for students, coupled with the exodus of practically everyone who wants a good education for their kids and is tired of beating their head against the system all contribute to the rancid compote that is public education in too many machine-controlled big cities. And as a matter of fact, Ms. Lewis, teacher unions themselves contribute a fair amount of dysfunction to the public school junction, so at the very least, I suggest looking into the mirror.

Finally, blaming rich white people, poor white people, or white people of any socioeconomic strata for those woes of the black community which are largely self-inflicted is getting to be pretty tired. Whipping the race card through the dispenser for another round of sweet creamy white guilt to slather over your shortcomings … well, I never felt much racial guilt anyway, as hard as the diversity drones tried to make me. I suspect a lot of other persons of similar pallor are feeling the same exhaustion. Which may be why you are trying so hard to squeeze out just a little bit more, before Chicago starts sinking like the Titanic. Which major American city will hit bottom first, I wonder? Gary, Indiana, Detroit, Michigan … or Chicago, Illinois.

13. September 2012 · Comments Off on On the Defense of Free Speech · Categories: Fun With Islam, Media Matters Not, My Head Hurts, Politics, Rant

OK, so call me retrograde, old fashioned, a bigot or the ever-popular ‘raaaaacist’ but I actually believe in free speech and free thought; for everybody, not just the ones that I agree with.
There is the caveat to this, of course. If you depend upon the larger public finding your persona, your manufactured or intellectual output appealing enough to purchase it … well, there might be potential customers disenchanted and disinclined to do so, should they find your exercise of free speech insulting or offensive. They are perfectly free to refrain from partaking in your product or purchasing it … it is still, so I have been assured, still mostly a free country. Buy Chick-fil-A, or not. Listen to the Dixie Chicks … or not. Read the New York Times … or not. Watch Game of Thrones… on not, depending on how much you feel strongly about personal opinions. The right to speak is, has been, and ought to still be paramount.

Concurrent with that is the understanding that others disagree, or even be offended … but they do not have any right to silence the offending speech. Not with threats of violence, or the law, or even a faux-appeal to manners or to the perversion known as political correctness. The deity knoweth that Christians, Jews, Mormons, Baptists and all have taken their various lumps from comedians, artists and movie-makers in the last decades, or more. Why should the ever-offended elements of the Religion of Peace get a pass? Oh, yeah – because they go rabid, and blow up stuff and cut people’s heads off, and burn embassies every time someone looks at them cross-eyed. Look, this just won’t do, and it’s a serious problem, but it doesn’t look like going softly-softly is getting us anyway. If free speech can be abrogated by threats … well, then, it isn’t free speech any longer.

I find it bloody appalling that certain pundits, politicians and high military officers have had the bare-faced gall to suggest that in order to placate Middle Eastern mobs that criticism and mockery of Islam by free citizens of an independent and democratic republic should be off the table entirely … and in fact should be prosecuted legally. Again, are we, or are we not a free people? Do we surrender one of our founding principles that easily? Some years ago, in considering the Affair of the Danish Mo-toons O’Doom, and the alacrity which which our advocates of a free press declined to publish a set of relatively inoffensive cartoons, I wrote this:

There is an old saying, to the effect that the most binding chains are the ones we put on ourselves. And the most insidious and effective censorship is that kind that we also put on ourselves, the censorship that strangles the question before it can even be asked … thoughtful people, earnestly wishing to be polite, tolerant and sensitive of others, began moving down that path that eventually ends— if we are not aware— with our wrists humbly held up for the manacles of imposed censorship to be firmly snapped on. A drift that began with good manners ends with limits imposed by maladroit legislation or a baying mob, maybe even both, and all the important issues of the day, which ought to be discussed— vociferously, noisily and with all the thrown crockery at our disposal— are removed from the arena where they ought to be, to fester and simmer away in odd corners. What has been more insupportable in recent years, is that our courtesy in this respect is not even reciprocated: the vilest sort of caricatures and insult imaginable regarding Westerners, Christians, Jews, Americans and others too varied to mention have free and frequent circulation in Muslim and Arab-oriented and funded media.

That most of our print media outlets punted on the question of publishing the Mohammed cartoons told me all I really needed to know about how deeply they really felt about their much-vaunted principle of ‘freedom of the press’. Now, our government and media are telling us how really, really deeply they are attached to ‘freedom of speech.’

Look well, oh wolves!

(Cross-posted at Chicagoboyz.net)

So – the blog kerfuffle du jour is John Derbyshire and the internet essay that he wrote for another obscure blog-magazine, the topic of which has raised such a general ruckus among the right-thinking side of the blogosphere, that it got him dumped over Easter weekend from the National Review and has the Breitbart conglomerate all in a twitter, and many of the rest of us on the libertarian/conservative/free-thinking side of the spectrum appear to be thinking thoughts pretty much split three ways between cringing and thinking ‘oh, s**t’ or ‘about damn time’ and ‘ ‘OK then – if representatives of the capital ‘B’ Black community can witter all over the print media and the intertubules about their worries about their children running afoul of the 21st century version of the KKK – can those of us from the race of pallor worry frankly and openly about getting lost in certain neighborhoods, the odds on survival on taking the wrong exit off particular interstates in big urban areas, of the wisdom of going to certain sports venues without being armed to the teeth?’

To judge from news dispatches by the legacy media, our worries on that score are inconsequential. However, bald experience (not that you’d ever see it reported in the national media and in the local only with an effort akin to pulling out wisdom teeth with a pair of pliers) suggests that such ventures are indeed a pretty dicey proposition, when ventured by a person of pallor. More »

22. October 2011 · Comments Off on So, Whither Occupy What Street? · Categories: Domestic, Fun and Games, General Nonsense, My Head Hurts, Stupidity, Tea Time

As a terribly scarred and battle-hardened first gen Tea Partier, I am following the fortunes of the OWS with mixed emotions; those motions mostly being a combination of disbelief and horror. Your leaderless insurgency just sort of decided to get together, camp out in a public place and make enough of a spectacle for the media and general public to take notice. Well, that’s a goal of sorts, but didn’t anyone do any serious advanced event planning? Organizing skilled volunteers with specific skill-sets to see to billeting, portapotties and their maintenance, security, law-enforcement coordination, clean-up, outreach and education? Nobody gave consideration about yourselves and your main message (whatever that message may actually be) from pervs, rapists, assorted unappetizing/potentially embarrassing freelance whackos and a collection of thievish and destructive blights on the activist community. Was there no guidance considered to urge protest participants to make nice with business owners and members of the general public who have varying degrees of concern about the space you have chosen to take over for your purposes? Was there any prior planning (which prevents piss-poor performance, as the old military saying goes) in advance of these momentous decisions to take to the streets? No confabulations, through social media, no focused meetings of intensely interested volunteers, no hours-long conference calls, thrashing out the basics?

Sigh – it appears that the answer to these questions is not.

(As an aside – you will never get 100% consensus among rational adults about anything. Settle for 2/3rd majority, respect the dissenting 1/3rd, and move on. Give way to the minority on something else: it’s called negotiation, my dears – or in vulgar parlance: horse-trading. Prioritize what is important and which you will not compromise upon, and work out what lesser principals you will trade off to achieve that. It’s what adults in a functioning democracy do. People who have real lives and real jobs, those who do not live the Great and Shining Cause 24/7, 365 days a year, will not have the patience or endurance for epic meetings deciding upon minutia . . . however, I have noticed that a certain kind of career activitist/community organizer does have stamina sufficient for meetings of the endless and ultimately pointless sort. I’d advise you to avoid that kind of person, but it probably is a bit too late. )

I do have to hand it to the Occupy Whatever Street – the major national news media are already giving the various protest events the warm sloppy tongue-bath, even to the point of serving your public relations functions. It took the SATP a good six months of outreach and conferences with various local TV news directors and newspaper editors to get any respect at all. But, as a sort-of PR professional, I have to say that this good-will towards the OWS probably will not last, and may already be shriveling. A long-established protest site in the heart of a big city can only be made to seem cool, subversive, and glamorous for so long, in the face of ongoing noise and vandalism, reported harassment of local residents and law-enforcement personnel, and just the general rat’s nest appearance of the average OWS protest camp. This will not go over well in the long run with ordinary, hard-working, peace-loving citizens, even those in general sympathy with some of the stated goals. There are a fair number of new reports indicating that your immediate neighbors in your various venues are growing sick and tired of your presence. This is something that you should pay attention to; bad optics, from a public affairs point of view. Which brings me to my next point –

A street protest is just a starting point for a truly broad-based and ground-up political movement. Getting together in a public space all those who are moved enough to be unhappy about things as they are . . . my dear people, that is only the first step. The next one is to go home, to fully understand the issues and the various options that would perhaps alleviate those of most concern, and to continue the outreach, the consultations, the epic convention calls, the even-more-epic meetings among the most dedicated and skilled – the formulation of email lists, the cultivation of donors . . . all of that. It’s much more of a job and not as attention-catching as a simple temporary event. It’s work, and it’s hard and dedicated work. It is not fun – hardly a romp in the park, if I may be so kind as to draw that analogy. It’s work. Hard work and it will almost always take a lot more temporal and psychic energy than you might think at first. Been there – done that, ever since working to resettle Vietnamese refugees in 1975-75.

Unless you are all willing to do that work, then you are merely dilettantes in protest, having a public temper-tantrum.

I remain most sincerely yours and this entry is posted as my best professional advice

Sgt. Mom

12. August 2011 · Comments Off on So…Didja Watch the Debate Last Night? · Categories: Media Matters Not, My Head Hurts, Politics, Rant, That's Entertainment!

Me:  Looking at calendar.  “Why?”

Them:  “You watched the finale of “So You Think You Can Dance?” instead didn’t you?”

Me:  Holding up my fist.  “Melanie RULES!  Michele Bachmann’s got nothing on her.”

06. June 2011 · Comments Off on Seriously? · Categories: Military, My Head Hurts, Veteran's Affairs

Mullen Says Pay, Benefit Cuts ‘On the Table’

Yeah, because there’s nowhere else where the military can save money.  If I were more cynical, I would say it’s someone’s “sneaky” idea to kill the volunteer service and go back to the draft.  If I were more cynical.

31. January 2011 · Comments Off on Forty Centuries Look Down · Categories: Fun With Islam, General, My Head Hurts, Politics, World

So – been following what happened/happening in Tunisia, and now in Egypt . . . that’ll be one for the history books, I’m sure. Egypt much more than Tunisia, I’m afraid, what with the Suez Canal and all. Tunisia’s a nice country and all, lovely Roman relics, coastal aspect on the Mediterranean, ancient culture, spectacular if arid scenery and I am sure the people there want and deserve the best they may get for themselves, but Egypt – oh, my, talking about balancing on a knife edge, when it comes to throwing out an entrenched and despotic dictatorship. Egypt’s got all of our attention, whereas Tunisia seems to have had only that of those aficionados of drastic unrest in exotic foreign countries. But access to the Suez Canal does tend to draw a higher level of interest, not to say concern. With umpty-ump percentage of world-wide ship traffic going through the Canal – the Suez Canal, not the Panama – that will tend to make political administrations sit up and pay attention. It may even teach Chris Matthews a little geography. The Suez is still a strategic choke-point, and that has everyone’s attention. With Mubarak Junior and his kithn’kin and various prominent members of Egyptian high society all departing at speed, extraneous Americans also being urged to depart at similar speed, the Egyptian military going over to the protestors, cutting off internet access, and citizens of every rank and stripe turning out into the streets . . . well, at least as near as we can make out from this distance and through the filter of time, distance and the various credentialed and un-credentialed news media . . . something momentous is happening, will happen, or might even have happened already. (Oh, wow- I see that our old camera-hound Dr. Zahi Hawass has gotten in front of them once again . . . Jees on a cracker, is the most dangerous place in Egypt that between Dr. Hawass and the nearest news camera? Up until this week it probably was . . .)

So far in this crisis, the absolutely funniest thing that I read on Open Salon was this comment “Been picking up hints on NPR of this broiling Mideast situation. Thank goodness Obama is president. Can’t begin to imagine the scenario we’d be facing with McCain.” on a post by this OS writer who otherwise is relatively sane – although the Stellaaaaaaa that she refers everyone to for further education is . . . well, why bother with her if you have Rantburg at your fingertips. Nice people at OS, many of them. High percentage of bat-shit crazy libs, though. Have to take them one by one, and refrain from pushing their particular buttons and they’re OK. There are also more libertarians and veiled conservatives among them than is apparent at first glance from the front page. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes – Egypt.

Sorry, the pooch is probably screwed now matter what we – that is the Obama Administration does or doesn’t do. Whatever happens, we will be blamed, solo and chorus. Support Mubarak, or support the right of the Egyptian people to protest, or support whatever leaders eventually emerge, knowing that whatever shakes out, the best-organized faction will probably come out on top. Odds seem to be on the Muslim Brotherhood organization, much as the Ayatollah Khomeini came out on top in that little ruckus in Iran thirty years ago. In that case, the good side to that outcome is that the Egyptians are guaranteed to get good and tired of a strict theocratic rule, just as the Iranians have. Downside – it will take thirty years. In the mean time, the Egyptian tourism industry will be totally napalmed, ship traffic through the Suez Canal ditto, and the odds of a mob of protesters attempting to take over the American Embassy and holding all the staff hostage seem to be pretty good. Second verse, same as the first, just a little bit louder and a little bit worse. On the up side? Can’t think of one, actually . . . except that Jimmy Carter can heave a sigh of relief; there exists now an administration with the potential for karking up an international crisis even more disastrously than the Tehran embassy-hostage affair.

Depressed enough already? You’re welcome – I live to serve.

27. March 2010 · Comments Off on Saturday Morning Grumbles (100327) · Categories: My Head Hurts, Politics, Rant, Tea Time

Sorry it’s taken so long, life’s been busy and about to get busier. Sometimes I have things to say that are longer than what Facebook allows.  Most days that’s a good thing.

What I do know is that I’m getting more worried for our country as I watch President Obama and his merry band take away more freedoms and take over more private industry.  The banks and car companies were bad enough.  The current Health Care Bill, while not as bad as we first saw it, is still bad enough and now we’re talking very personal information in the hands of the people who bring you the post office.  It’s a cliché I know, but have you had to deal with a front line Federal Customer Service Rep lately?  In any department?  OMFG!  I swear sometimes I think that all those mental health patients that were released years ago, all went to work for the Feds.

What truly creeps me out, what sends an icy chill down my back, is that all my wanna-be hippie friends from high school in the 1970s who were all about “freedom from the man” and “man, read “Animal Farm” and “1984” before the Republicans take over” are now telling me to calm down and just listen to Obama.  Things are fine.  Relax.  Don’t panic.  Everything is fine.  It’s for the greater good.  I’d like to gather them all into a room and Leroy-Jethro-slap each and every one of them.

I work in Agriculture for the state where we retired.  In just the past year and a half, I’ve learned that we’re basically getting more and more of California’s “Happy Cows” because their regulation on dairies has become so restrictive, the farmers have picked up and moved over here.  We’re expecting an influx of their egg farmers here soon as well.  California’s animal rights people don’t like how egg farmers coop their chickens so…the egg farmers will move out and come over here and our state will get all that tax base goodness.  Ya see, if you make things too hard for a business, if you add too much regulation, they’ll just move away and not come back.  Especially if the people doing the regulating have NO clue about what they’re talking about.  You want to make a farmer’s eyes go blank?  Start talking about the individual rights of an egg layin’ chicken.  Hell, I’ve just met chickens casually and I’ll look at you like you’re a fool if you speak about their rights.

Now people…I’m sorry, but people have rights.  Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.  They’re not just words to me.  I’m very fond of those rights.  Liberty is “a big fucking deal” to me.  It’s not just some “concept” or “catch phrase left over from the 1700s.”  When I was in the Air Force I signed over some liberty.  Can’t have a military that’s “too” free.  Nothing would get done.  I’m not in the Air Force any longer and there are things I can say about the Commander in Chief that I wouldn’t have said in uniform.  First and foremost, I believe that he believes that he’s doing the right thing.  I’m absolutely serious.  And at first glance, I’m right there with him.  Dammit, we’re a wealthy nation, everyone damn well SHOULD have health care.  The problems are, and this is where my high school chums get lost, that the government should NOT be able to dictate what that health care is going to look like.  They should NOT be able to dictate who my doctor will be.  They should NOT be able to dictate what a doctor can charge for his services.  They also should damn well NOT be able to dictate how much I need to spend on a plan that’s going to take my money away without any input from ME.  And yes, I use the word “dictate” to redundancy because it’s important that we understand what’s happening.  The Federal Government, in the past year, in the guise of “the common good,” has begun to dictate.  They’re taking over the banks, they’re taking over industry, they’re taking over health care.  And again, I’m absolutely positive that the President believes he’s doing the right thing.  I’m absolutely positive that he’s wrong.

31. March 2009 · Comments Off on Burning Question for Today · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Media Matters Not, My Head Hurts, The Funny

Ummm… ok, so I just saw this picture on another site, and went to find the link…

And, although I myself am now a lady of certain age and think it very bad taste to make fun of people’s looks, especially the somewhat aged and never-terribly-dishy… (glass houses, stones, and all that.)

Can anyone tell me when the heck Helen Thomas began to look like the Emperor Palpatine in drag?

…and repenting at leisure, or so it would appear with a new consumer product safety law, which will go into effect in about twenty days. Yes, indeedy, Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, or HR 4040 which is supposed to take effect February 10th, was supposed to strike a mighty blow against the forces of evilness and icky lead contamination in children’s toys, but instead looks fair to bankrupting all sorts of micro-and home businesses in the US, instead – and to plunge a dagger into the hearts of all kinds of well-meaning handicrafters, thrift-stores and various enterprising individuals scrounging a living by selling stuff on e-Bay. Not to mention any parent on a budget, hoping to save some of their diminishing funds by purchasing second-hand clothing, books, toys and accessories for their children.

And I am not about to be frivolous about the problem of lead contaminates in children’s toys, although the temptation is there.

(Hey, did you hear the one about the shipment of lead from China that was turned back at the port of entry because it was contaminated with children’s toys?)

Yes, lead is not healthy for children or other growing things, and frankly, those manufacturers knowingly or unknowingly contaminating their export crap with lead, arsenic or any other dangerous substance ought to be taken out and have their pee-pees whacked with iron bars. Repeatedly – so yes, there ought to be a law. But oh, what a lesson in unintended consequences there is in the hurried and apparently careless formulation of this one! No lobbyists around who speak for the thrift shop industry, I guess, or the little workshops making this or that specialized product, or all the little church ladies across the US, piecing quilts or knitting baby-clothes. The law as written flatly mandates a level and degree of safety-testing which – it may might be argued and probably already has – is appropriate to a large manufacturing industry. Say, something that churns out product by the box-car load daily, weekly, or even hourly.

What got overlooked until the last few months, what with all the good intentions about ‘protecting the cheeeeldren’ was that all those mandated testing of all the elements of every product meant for the use of those under the age of 12 also applied to just about every body who makes stuff for kids, either for sale or charity. Everyone from the guy with a small woodshop making high-end traditional wooden toys, to the lady with the small business making ornamented hair scrunchies, those little businesses making doll-clothes or children’s clothes will fall under this law. Even the POD publisher who designed and printed my own books – they do children’s books; Or they will, up until February 10th. Heck – this law might even apply to me; I made clothes for my daughter, and now for my niece. Once upon a time, I also made bespoke doll-clothes and stuffed toys for sale at church bazaars and craft shows; I still have several boxes of finished outfits in the den closet, which is where they will remain, now. I’m not out all that much, for this was a hobby for me a good few years ago, but serious crafters who depend on small retail sales of their output are stuck with an inventory that they can’t sell legally, or even give away, after having invested in their raw materials and done the work. According to the scattering of news stories (linked here, here and here) second-hand and consignment stores are already feeling a pinch; how can they possibly test every garment or toy, according to the letter of the law? They are either refusing donations or consignments of those items, and very likely making plans to dump those stocks already on hand into landfills or into the market in the next couple of weeks. The fines are insupportable for an individual or a small business; practically no one wants to risk being charged with a violation of the act. Assurances that ‘oh, no – boutique handicrafters and second-hand stores will not be prosecuted under this act, everyone knows it’s really meant for the big mass-producers’ are falling flat among those most concerned. And rightfully so – for what is a law that is on the books, but enforced by bureaucratic or prosecutorial whim? It is a suspended weapon, to be used selectively against people who have drawn the unfavorable attention of the state upon themselves.

And it is purely ironic, that just as the economy is in dire straits, with businesses large and small going through tough times, and individual entrepreneurs doing their best to stay above water, and people who are desperately trying to economize – a consumer safety law is about to wallop those very same small businesses and entrepreneurs whose hold on economic security is least secure. It’s almost as if the captain of the Titanic called for another iceberg to crash into the other side of the ship – just to make sure the whole thing sinks on the level.

10. October 2008 · Comments Off on Today’s Weather Forecast · Categories: My Head Hurts

Currently 34 F.  High today 49 F.  Good chance of rain/snow showers throughout the day.

And it’s the 10th of October.

It’s going to be a lonnnnnnggggg winter.

On the plus side, I haven’ t had any nicotine for the past 60 hours, and I’m no longer a walking nerve.

08. October 2008 · Comments Off on That May Have Been the Most Boring Debate I’ve Ever Seen · Categories: My Head Hurts

Actually gave up watching after the first hour.  Nothing new from either of them.  Spouting their stump talking points.  They pre-empted “House” for that.

I’d say McCain probably won it but it didn’t matter.  There’s no excitement left in this race.  Everyone’s still in shell-shock from watching the economy crash.  Lots of folks are going to vote for Obama just to get the Republicans out.  And I don’t think I’m telling anyone anything they don’t already know.

A pro-Obama person at work told me yesterday, “Don’t worry Tim, back in Chicago, Obama was primarily a social workder.”  Yeah, thanks, I feel much better now.

23. September 2008 · Comments Off on The Bandar-Log · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, My Head Hurts, Politics, Rant, sarcasm, World

Here we sit in a branchy row, thinking of beautiful things we know;
Dreaming of deeds that we mean to do, all complete, in a minute or two—
Something noble and wise and good, done by merely wishing we could…

In following the current twists and turns of the current election season, with particular attention to the hackerish little creeps who think it is an excellent thing to break into email accounts… tell me, why is it a Good Thing and entirely justifiable for people in sympathy with the Obama campaign to break into Governor Palin’s yahoo account, looking for incriminating evidence of dark plots and deeds… but it was a Bad Thing for Richard Nixon’s cabal of plumbers to break into the Watergate looking for incriminating evidence of dark deeds and plots? Oh yes, that was before you were born, probably. But they made a movie about it, so you must have heard about Simply Teh Greatest Political Crime EVER!!!! Just sit down, and think about this real hard. And look up the definition of hypocrisy, while you are at it.

Bottom line, for those of you whose moral sense is situational – if it is a crime for free-lance or paid operatives to break into another party’s HQ, operating office, personal email account… whatever, on a fishing expedition – than it is a crime all the way around, no matter how justified you think you are in your motivation. Those of your friends, teachers, college professors and fellow Kossacks who may have been insisting otherwise? They are wrong. I would advise you to stop listening to people like that.

I would also stop paying much attention to our Major Media Creatures and those who keep popping out of their ol’ golden rolodex to screech about Sarah Palin. Just a quick look down some of those crazier rants (especially the ones by foreigners) about the suddenly front-and-center Governor of Alaska — her relative inexperience, all around tackiness, blue-collar-ness, lack of capital-F feminist credentials, religious beliefs, et cetera gives cause for serious head shaking. Jeeze, people, get a grip! Take a valium. (In the case of Heather Mallick, take a lot of valium. In the case of Sandra Bernhard, a lot of valium, a lot of scotch and please review a basic human anatomy text.) Pouring all this vitriol on someone you probably didn’t even know about three weeks ago seems kind of… I don’t know, unbalanced? She’s only been front and center on the major American political scene for three weeks, and she is already attracting a degree of odium usually reserved for someone who has been around for a bit, and done some bad things. Like a reckless, grandstanding, philanderer with a taste for shady friends. But enough about Bill Clinton.

And then there the not-terribly-surprising discovery by Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report that certain alleged and dubious factoids about Governor Palin which suddenly began sprouting like toadstools after a rain were actually planted by the minions and employees of a well-known and well-connected publicity firm, in the sure and certain knowledge that the howler monkeys of the KOSsacks left would fall on them as if on a tasty treat and repeat them incessantly.

All the talk we ever have heard, uttered by bat or beast or bird—
Hide or fin or scale or feather— Jabber it quickly and all together!
Excellent! Wonderful! Once again! Now we are talking just like men!

Of course, once this precious little piece of Astroturf was tracked to it’s originating point, everything got yanked, with the speed of a cartoon character at the end of a long piece of elastic band. Note to self – every time I start to notice the same poisonous little factoid appearing spontaneously and simultaneously in – blog entries and blog comments, from out of the mouths of the dumber Hollywood celebs and the sort of TV commenter who goes from rational to spittle-fleck rant in thirty seconds flat, I will assume that some busy little astoturfers have been at work, behind the scenes. And that someone like Rusty or another enthusiast will be able to track it back to the originating source. It’s not like you can launch damaging rumors without leaving any marks, people. The internet never forgets. The tracks are always there, especially when someone does a screen-capture or downloads a file.

Finally, the recent request from the Big O for his minions to really get out there and go all righteous in confronting those of us who are less than fully enamored – great idea! Yeah, people just love getting hectored and bulled, and called names like ‘racist’ and ‘hater’. My suggestion – put on a leather teddy, spike heels and fishnet stockings. Brandish a leather crop, too. You might not get anywhere politically with that scenario, but at least that part of the audience who is into playing kinky submissive games will get some cheap thrills, while the rest of us look on in amusement.

Damn, did this election season get interesting all of a sudden. Who’d a thunk it possible, back in January, 2008.

17. September 2008 · Comments Off on The Persistence of Plastic Turkey Memory · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Media Matters Not, My Head Hurts, Politics, Rant, sarcasm

A running gag at Tim Blair’s blog over the last five years or so has been reports of the appearance of the eternal bird in the dribblings of various writers, entertainers and columnists. That is, a sneering reference to the pictures of President Bush holding a supposedly plastic turkey, in a series of pictures taken at his surprise Thanksgiving visit to troops in Iraq five years ago. Explained and debunked over and over again by eyewitnesses that it was a real turkey, for display at the steam tables where the main entrée was being dished out, put together by the mess-hall staff and that such displays are actually commonplace at military mess halls… the plasticized version of this meme appears yet again, unscathed, rather like a turkey-shaped Freddy Kruger. The bird is not only the word, it is eternal. (Spotted yet again this very morning, as I contemplated this essay while being dragged around the block by the dogs.)

Obviously, this is a convenient short-hand for the people who enjoy sneering at George W. Bush and are too damned lazy to rustle up something a little more current than the old plastic turkey story. Tim Blair and his commenters get a lot of mileage – and a lot of hearty chortling – but the fact that the meme is still current after five years and a ton of energetic debunking is kind of depressing. It proves that Joseph Goebbels was on to something when he observed the effectiveness of telling a big lie and sticking to it… even at the cost of looking ridiculous. If a story is repeated often enough, it will be believed by a depressingly large number of people: 9/11 was an inside plot by the Bush Administration, Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans was completely blameless in the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the 2000 election was stolen, the Swiftboat veterans’ claims about John Kerry were all debunked, that US government were Saddam Hussein’s biggest supplier of military equipment… oh, add your own favorite here, the list is practically endless.

Such memes persist because they are repeated incessantly by all sorts of people, against all available evidence to the contrary. The most depressing aspect is that in a lot of cases they are repeated by media figures that once I would have expected better from – and applauded by audiences that I also expected better of. (Garrison Keillor being a particular offender. I can barely stand to listen to Prairie Home Companion these days, and I used to love that show.) Now I only hope for better. Sad to say, that hope is growing fainter and fainter by the hour… especially over the last two weeks. As if it wasn’t bad enough to suspect our very own dear media folks of being lazy and careless in vetting stories in the last election cycle, as if it wasn’t bad enough that 60 Minutes could air a blatant hit piece just before election day, based on shaky fact-checking and dubious memos in an attempt to throw the election to John Kerry… as if the hurricane of vitriol this time around didn’t reach a new and unexplored depths with the Palin-faked-pregnancy story, now it looks as if mainstream media has moved solidly into place as a propaganda arm of the Obama Democrats.

Not just the dirt-digging on Governor Palin – it’s the asymmetrical dirt-digging. Plus the final edit of her interview with Charles Gibson, with her answers judiciously edited to put the worst complexion on them… (sample of it here) plus the staging of it in the studio, plus his hectoring manner, so very different from his interview with Senator Obama. Really, it does give one pause. Then consider the cover shoot of Senator McCain, for the Atlantic Magazine, with such very artistic and well-considered outtakes doctored by the photographer….

Just some examples from the last couple of weeks… but still, very revealing ones, about the various aspects of the current political scene. I wouldn’t go so far as to make a blanket insistence that the whole lot are in the tank for the Obama campaign… but I sure as hell wouldn’t assume anything about their impartiality, either. Were I a media advisor to a Republican nominee to high office, I’d certainly be advising a quick pre-interview google-search of the interviewer’s name… and for the nominee to bring along his or her own own camera crew.

(Thanks Sigivald – corrected!)

31. July 2008 · Comments Off on Burning Questions of the Moment · Categories: Domestic, Fun and Games, General, Media Matters Not, My Head Hurts, Rant, sarcasm, That's Entertainment!, Veteran's Affairs

How come Oprah Winfrey is on the cover of every issue of her own darned magazine? I mean, even Martha Stewart gives it a rest.

Why does it have to be so bloody hot in Texas in the summer? And how long will summer last this year? How many more months of running the AC night and day will we have?

How come we were supposed to be moving beyond race with the nomination of the Fresh Prince from Chicago… and yet here we are again, having the same old discussion! But with the added frisson of being called a racist it we don’t vote for him. (Oh, yeah, and can we have a break from his entitlement-addled BAP of a spouse moaning about how hard it is to get along on a yearly salary of more than I will ever make in the next decade? Or two or three? Thanks.)

How deep are major media in the tank for Obama, actually? Deep enough to need a snorkel? A deep-sea divers’ suit and something to pump down oxygen to them?

How come anyone cares what celebrities think? About anything other than their next professional appearance, that is.

Who the hell cares about Paris Hilton? And why?

Which one of the dogs or cats threw up a strangely reddish patch of vomit, and please god, let the red color be from the reddish chunks of stuff in the dog food.

What’s Madonna’s new remaking of herself going to look like? Anything age-appropriate? She’s pushing 50, you know.

Will the price of gas go down? Would it be a little cheaper to run the car on milk? It’s at about the same price per gallon this week. How soon will the owners of all those big honkin’ SUV and pick-up trucks replace them with something smaller and fuel efficient. I remember the 70s, people – I remember this happing once before, and yes, I’d like to be able to see past the vehicle waiting next to me at a stoplight. Instead of looking at the step that allows them to climb into the cab of their big honkin’ SUV, which is at my eye level, thank you very much.

When those SUV’s and pick-ups get to expensive to run… will they wind up in the hands of people, who… I don’t know… live out in the country and really need a big, sturdy, 4WD vehicle with space to stuff a couple of Angus cows in the back?

How badly am I going to hate the part-time and regular job that I start next week at “Enormous National Call-Center Which Shall Remain Unnamed” by the next of six months? One year? Can I stick it out long enough for some of my books and on-spec writing jobs to pay off… so that I can turn in my employee badge of servitude and shake the corporate dust off my feet… again.

Stay tuned – we’ll know the answers to most of these in a couple of months. Or a year, tops. All but the one about Paris Hilton. That’s a mystery for the ages.

23. July 2008 · Comments Off on The gift that keeps on giving…….. · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Good God, My Head Hurts, Stupidity

Pocket Taser Stun Gun, a great gift for the wife.

A guy who purchased
his lovely wife a pocket Taser for their anniversary submitted this:

Last weekend I saw something at Larry’s Pistol & Pawn Shop that
sparked my interest. The occasion was our 15th anniversary and I was
looking for a little something extra for my wife, Julie. What I came
across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse-sized taser.The effects of the
taser were supposed to be short lived, with no long-term adverse
affect on your assailant, allowing her adequate time to retreat to

WAY TOO COOL! To make a long story short, I bought the device and
brought it home. I loaded two AAA batteries in the darn thing and
pushed the button. Nothing!

I was disappointed. I learned, however, that if I pushed the button
AND pressed it against a metal surface at the same time; I’ d get the
blue arc of electricity darting back and forth between the prongs.
AWESOME!!! Incidentally, I have yet to explain to Julie what that burn
spot is on the face of her microwave.

Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that
it couldn’t be all that bad with only two triple-A batteries, right?

There I sat in my recliner, my cat Gracie looking on intently
(trusting little soul) while I was reading the directions and thinking
that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh and blood moving

I must admit I thought about zapping Gracie (for a fraction of a
second) and thought better of it. She is such a sweet cat. But, if I
was going to give this thing to my wife to protect herself against a
mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised. Is
that wrong?

So,there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top with my reading
glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one
hand, and taser in another.

The directions said that a one-second burst would shock and disorient
your assailant; a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms
and a major loss of bodily control; a three-second burst would
purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out of
water. Any burst longer than three seconds would be wasting the
batteries. All the while I’m looking at this little device measuring
about 5′ long, less than 3/4′ in circumference; pretty cute, really,
and (loaded with two itsy bitsy triple-A batteries)thinking to
myself, ‘no possible way!’

What happened next is almost beyond description, but I’ll do my best!
I’m sitting there alone, Gracie looking on with her head cocked to one
side as to say, ‘don’t do it, dip shit,’reasoning that a one second
burst from such a tiny little ole thing couldn’t hurt all that bad. I
decided to give myself a one second burst just for heck of it. I
touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and… HOLY

I’m pretty sure Jessie Ventura ran in through the side door, picked me
up in the recliner, then body slammed us both on the carpet, over and
over and over again. I vaguely recall waking up on my side in the
fetal position, with tears in my eyes, body soaking wet, both nipples
on fire, testicles nowhere to be found, with my left arm tucked under
my body in the oddest position, and tingling in my legs!

The cat was making meowing sounds I had never heard before, clinging
to a picture frame hanging above the fireplace, obviously in an attempt
to avoid getting slammed by my body flopping all over the living room.

Note: If you ever feel compelled to ‘mug’ yourself with a taser, one
note of caution: there is no such thing as a one second burst when you
zap yourself!

You will not let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand
by a violent thrashing about on the floor. A three second burst would
be considered conservative!


A minute or so later (I can’t be sure,as time was a relative thing at
that point), I collected my wits (what little I had left), sat up and
surveyed the landscape. My bent reading glasses were on the mantel of
the fireplace. The recliner was upside down and about 8 feet or so
from where it originally was.

My triceps, right thigh and both nipples were still twitching. My face
felt like it had been shot up with Novocain, and my bottom lip
weighed 88 lbs. I had no control over the drooling. Apparently, I shit
myself, but was too numb to know for sure,and my sense of smell was
gone. I saw a faint smoke cloud above my head which I believe came
from my hair. I’m still looking for my nuts, and I’m offering a
significant reward for their safe return!!

P.S. My wife loved the gift, and now regularly threatens me with it!

‘If you think education is difficult, try being stupid.’

01. January 2008 · Comments Off on The Empire Continues to Rise · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, My Head Hurts, Rant

This post over at Kate’s place actually has me wondering if John Kerry would have been so bad.

At an employer’s request, the FBI will retain employee fingerprints and notify the employer if a worker has an encounter with law enforcement. As Wired points out, that’s the kind of service you’d expect from a private company, not from a tax-funded agency. Not even the courts or police bother to notify employers if their workers are charged with criminal activity, and yet the FBI is offering to perform this service regardless of whether someone’s been charged, much less convicted.

I have my fingerprints and my DNA stored in some government computer somewhere and I know that if I were ever to commit a crime, the chances of law enforcement finding me would be pretty darn good. However, I’m no longer employed by the government, I’m employed by a private company. Does this mean that if I get a speeding ticket, I may be called into my boss’ office and talked to? If I buy a firearm will that background check also flag in my employers’ files? Is my “good conduct as a citizen” now going to be part of my personnel record?

I was used to this type of scrutiny as a member of the military. As a private citizen, I’m not very happy that the government is willing to provide this kind of “service” to employers. It’s one thing to outsource and privatize certain functions of the military, it’s another for a Federal office to act like a private contractor.

Am I going to get a tax break for this? I’m assuming the FBI is charging for this service.  That wouldn’t make me feel any better about this, but if the Government is going to provide services like this, I sure as hell don’t want to pay for it too.

For the rest of you mil retirees out there:  Is it normal to resent the government sticking it’s nose into your life more and more as your time out of the military increases?  I find that I simply want to government to do its job and leave me alone.

28. November 2007 · Comments Off on Dear Fox News, · Categories: Media Matters Not, My Head Hurts, Politics

Is it really that slow of a news day that your lead story at the top of every hour involves dissecting a speech by Bill Clinton? Is it really news that Bill Clinton did one thing in the 90s and then has changed his story today? This surprises…hands…anyone? It’s like slapping your forehead realizing the Donald Rumsfeld may not have been a strategic genius after all.  It’s like thinking, “Hmmm, I think that Fox may not be “fair and balanced.”