Saturday, December 26, 2009

Something to Think About Next Christmas

On December 24th, the New York Times ran an article by Hilary Stout titled “No, No, No to the Ho-Ho-Ho”. It was about people who had decided to op out of the Christmas frenzy. Or, as Richard Laermer said, “WWBJD (What would Baby Jesus Do)? Sit it out.” This isn’t a new idea, but it hit a nerve this year with money so tight, credit card interest rates sky-high, and people in a cold sweat about how long they might have a job...if they had a job at all. Dan Nainan said getting a tree was the first problem, “You cut down a tree and you’re going to throw it out in three weeks. If you get a plastic tree, you’re wasting petroleum.” Then came the gifts. Nainan said, “I think it’s great that people are going out and buying things and helping the economy, but when a Wal-Mart employee can be trampled to death in a manic dash for holiday bargains, as happened last year, that kind of crystallized everything for me.” Some people said they had decided to skip all of the Christmas nuttiness and “take a holiday from the holiday”. They were driving to the mountains to go for a hike. It’s something to think about. Is the holiday whirl a lot fun? Is it costing more than we can afford? Does the birth of Jesus Christ have a lot to do with our Christmas festivities? Does Christ have anything to do with Christmas? Pepper Hill, a 50-year-old voice-over actress, said she wondered if she’d have the nerve to say no to the whole holiday. She had only been going through the motions for the past several years, she said. Could she have done with it? No tree, no carols, none of “the whole nine yards”? She did. It was very liberating, she said. Probably avoiding the whole holiday scene is easier than just cutting back. What do you cut back on? Who do you cut out? Where do you draw the line? For starters, making December 10th the beginning of the Christmas season instead of the day after Labor Day would be a good first step to saying no-n0-no to the ho-ho-ho.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Okay...I Don’t Get This

Category: What The Fuck! This morning, The New York Times reported “Fearing that millions of illegal immigrants may not be counted in the 2010 census, Latino leaders are mobilizing a nationwide drive to urge Hispanics to participate in the survey, including an intense push this week in evangelical Christian churches.” Oh yeah, I get that ALL ethnic groups need to be counted in the US Census. What I don’t get is the “Illegal immigrants” part. It’s the illegal immigrants who are mounting protests. “Many illegal immigrants are likely to be reluctant to fill out a government form that asks for their names, birthdates and telephone numbers,” the NYT said. No kidding! The NYT article goes on to say, “Latino groups contend that there was an undercount of nearly one million Latinos in the 2000 census, affecting the drawing of Congressional districts and the distribution of federal money. Hispanic organizations are far better organized for next year’s census, but they say that if illegal immigrants — an estimated eight million of whom are Latino — are not included, the undercount could be much greater.” So, people who are in the US illegally are pissed off that they are not able to affect the distribution of federal money. And they say that our Constitution says “all residents” are to be counted in the US census. Well, not exactly. In 1790 the Constitution said “an enumeration” was to be made every ten years. Later on, this enumeration was elaborated as “of the population”.’s a little vague. But I just don’t see how it makes sense that a group in our population who could be tossed in jail and/or tossed out of the US if they filled out a form and gave their names, birthdates and telephone numbers and actually participated in the taking of the census, I don’t understand how this group is righteously indignant and complaining that they aren’t being treated fairly because they aren’t part of the census taking. Plus, this group is saying they should be able to affect how our Congressional districts are formed and they should be able to have a say-so in how federal money is handed out. Except that, were they actually to do what is required of all persons who are legally in this country when the Census is taken, they could be jailed or tossed out. I missing something, or is this insane?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Frank Rich Nails It (Again)

Decrying the stupidity of Time Mag’s naming “shnook” Ben Bernanke “Person of the Year”, this morning the New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Rich says: “If there’s been a consistent narrative to this year and every other in this decade, it’s that most of us, Bernanke included, have been so easily bamboozled...that’s why the obvious person of the year is Tiger Woods. His sham beatific image, questioned by almost no one until it collapsed, is nothing if not the farcical reductio ad absurdum of the decade’s flimflams, from the cancerous (the subprime mortgage) to the inane (balloon boy).” Rich goes on to say, “As of Friday, the Tiger saga had appeared on 20 consecutive New York Post covers. For The Post, his calamity has become as big a story as 9/11. And the paper may well have it right. We’ve rarely questioned our assumption that 9/11, ‘the day that changed everything,’ was the decade’s defining event. But in retrospect it may not have been. A con like Tiger’s may be more typical of our time than a one-off domestic terrorist attack, however devastating.” Rich says we keep on being led down the garden path by leaders in all areas of all our lives. Like, former Senator John Edwards (D-NC), steroid user MLB outfielder Barry Bonds, Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), actor and former Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN), Karl Rove, former NY Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, former NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer, ponzi-scammer Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay and Enron. I would have to add George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, the Pope, Roman Catholic priests who molest children, and the biggest conman in the Senate, as well as biggest jerk-asshole in Connecticut, Joe Lieberman. We’ve all been too eager to go along for the ride, Rich says. “After a decade in which two true national catastrophes, a wasteful war and a near-ruinous financial collapse, were both in part byproducts of the ease with which our leaders bamboozled us, we can’t so easily move on”, Rich says. And then he lays it on us...and I find it hard to agree with him on this point. But who can say he’s downright wrong that maybe “Obama’s presidential campaign was as hollow as Tiger’s public image”. “After a decade of being spun silly,” Rich says, “Americans can’t be blamed for being cynical about any leader trying to sell anything. As we say goodbye to the year of Tiger Woods, it is the country, sad to say, that is left mired in a sand trap with no obvious way out.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oral Roberts Called Home For Real

Oral Roberts was the kind of evangelist who turned me off, so I don’t know that much about him. He was born in Bebee, California on January 24, 1918 and was named Granville Oral Roberts. He was healed, miraculously, so he said, of tuberculosis at the age of 17 and his ministry started then. He founded Oral Roberts University in 1963. No one has ever explained to me why he used his middle name Oral rather than Granville or why in the world anyone would name a kid Oral. I’ve always thought it was a misspelling of the name Orel that means golden. Like born-again former Dodger pitcher Orel Hersheiser. But I don’t know. The one thing I remember about Oral Roberts is, in 1987 he announced to the world that if he did not receive $8 million bucks from his donors by March 31, God would call him home. The weird logic of the threat must have made sense to a lot of his devotees because he got the money. Nevertheless, twenty-two years later on October 15, 2009 when Granville Oral Roberts was 91, God called him home.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thomson Illinois Prison to House Detainees

The New York Times reported this morning: “The Obama administration is expected to announce on Tuesday that it has selected a prison in northwestern Illinois to house terrorism suspects now being held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in a major step toward shutting down that military detention facility.” So where is Thomson, Illinois? You might well ask. Thomson is so far west in Illinois it’s almost in Iowa--right on the Mississippi River, about 30 miles north and east of the quad-city area of Rock Island-Moline-Davenport-Bettendorf. Thomson is home to the Thomson Correctional Center, has a population of maybe 600 and the folks are not happy to be targeted to receive the Gitmo detainees. Well, I guess not! The NYT says, “When talk of bringing Guantánamo detainees to Thomson first surfaced in late November, both Mr. Quinn (Democrat Gov. Patrick J. Quinn) and Mr. Durbin (Democrat senior senator Richard J. Durbin) held a series of news conferences to promote the idea of turning over the empty state prison, which was built in 2001 at a cost to Illinois taxpayers of about $120 million, to the federal penal system. “Top Illinois Republicans — including Representatives Donald Manzullo, whose district includes the prison, and Mark Steven Kirk, a candidate for the United States Senate seat once held by Mr. Obama — have denounced previous talk of such a move, saying it could make Illinois a target for terrorist attacks. “Under the proposal for Thomson, the Bureau of Prisons would buy the facility and improve its security. Most of the prison would house ordinary high-security inmates, but a part would be leased to the Defense Department to hold terror suspects.” Howsomever, if you want to hear a geshrei, wait until the folks in Brooklyn hear that Qaeda detainees are to be tried in that part of NYC. But both stories are small potatoes, by me, to the news that Hideki Matsui is leaving the Yankees and going to the Angels. OH NO! Say it's not so!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No One Remembers the Khyber Pass North Bar

And now, to a reporter checking me out, I’m sounding like I’ve made it all up. Ugh! Anyone out there remember the Khyber Pass North bar from 1984? It was between 17th and 18th on Callowhill Street and wasn’t too far from the Rose Tattoo bar, but was light-years less fashionable. Even certain well-known reporters from the Philadelphia Inquirer (who shall remain nameless) and who no longer live here are saying they don’t remember the bar. Shit! She used to come in all the time to see her girlfriend...oh all right! her alleged girlfriend, Serrill Headley. The “Little Judge” used to come in all the time. Anyone remember him? He’s probably dead. But the first day I was working, I was cleaning up for the night guy (Daood) and I hadn’t been paying attention to the newcomers at the bar. And when I looked up, there suddenly were a bunch of well-dressed men (obviously Family Court had just let out on Vine Street) sitting at the bar. One of them was an extremely handsome man, as in, VERY good-looking. And then, he disappeared. I mean...disappeared. It was the “Little Judge”, he’d hopped off his stool and I realized he was a dwarf. Ring a bell, anyone? Well, he was a regular, for as long as the Khyber Pass on Callowhill existed. And now I’m finding out Daood never went to Princeton or Rutgers and he had to be 24 back then, not 21. I wonder whatever happened to his 40-year-old girlfriend, Ginger. She’d be a senior-citizen now. Oh what a funny thought.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Here You Go...the Daood I Remember

I changed names for this story, so the key is: Kas: Daood Gallagher’s: Khyber Pass North Mary Gallagher: Serrill Headley December, 1997
The Day The Raiders Won
They can’t fix the Super Bowl, can they? They wouldn’t, would they? Every year about this time, I start to wonder again about Super Bowl XVIII. Kas had been so sure. “Put every cent you’ve got on the Raiders,” he’d said. “Bet your rent. Your paycheck. Rob a bank. Put it all on the Raiders.” That was Kassim, twenty-one and cock-sure. He had one blue eye and one brown eye and bragged about his arsenal of guns. He seemed like any other six-foot gorgeous Ivy-Leaguer at Princeton until he opened his mouth and the most mind-numbing fanatic nonsense came out dressed up in a vaguely British accent. He claimed to be a Shiite. It’s certain he had been raised in the Middle East by his father’s relatives until his mother decided enough was enough. But his reasons for no longer attending class were various and changed from day to day. Perhaps he suddenly realized caliphs didn’t have much cachet at Princeton. In any case, he’d taken on the night-shift at his mother’s bar, Gallagher’s, at 17th and Callowhill in Philadelphia. I worked the day-shift. “This is one fucking sure thing,” he said while I cashed out. “Believe it. You are a fool if you don’t do it.” The rowdy Saturday night crowd was already pushing and shoving at the bar. “You American women act so take-charge. But you lack courage. Particularly you older ones. You are afraid.” “Damn right I’m afraid. Who’s going to pay my rent when the Redskins win. You?” “They won’t win. I promise you. The Raiders are a sure thing. Trust me.” “Right. There’s a little missy who comes here every night who trusts you and God help her. And there’s that forty-something who drinks too much because of the little missy and she trusts you. And there’s your mother who’s always picking up the pieces. Trust you and get fucked is what I say.” “What the hell. I am a man. You’re just women. You’re ninnies, the pack of you. And here are your magnificent weekly wages.” He reached into his shirt pocket and handed me a little yellow envelope. “How did you do on tips this week?” “Rotten. Day-shift gets stiffed as you know.” “All the more reason. Give me back the envelope. I assure you, I will give you double on Monday.” “Tell you what I’m gonna do, slick. I’ll give you fifty bucks. Put it on the Raiders. But I’ll personally run your ass back to Baghdad if they lose.” I drew two twenties and a ten out of the envelope and handed them over. “Why not the whole thing?” “Because I think you are full of crap.” “Yes. I am. That is surely true.” He smiled his dazzling behold-I-am-God smile and patted my hand. “But about this, I promise you. It’s a sure thing.” By the time I had my end-of-shift drink and figured out--was I short, long or for once had the right amount in the till, Kas was collecting wads of cash from a clot of admirers at the end of the bar and ranting about spreads and his sure thing. I figured it would be worth fifty bucks to have an interest in the game. Raiders, Redskins, who cared? Now I cared. I planned to watch it with the choir from my church. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Center City, Philadelphia. So famous. So beautiful. Such a magnificent choir. Most of the members were closer to rich than poor. And a particularly salient feature was that St. Mark’s had always been tolerant of gays. Which meant three-quarters of the communicants were not saddled with screaming infants. As a matter of fact, the clergy, as far back as anyone could remember, had been carefully selected for being quietly but definitely in the closet. It was a well-dressed crowd, a literate crowd, a witty crowd. A crowd that was well-mannered even when utterly and totally shit-faced. And any Sunday afternoon, it was a crowd devoted to getting snockered from end of mass to dinner-time. The Super Bowl lent a slightly more festive air to this solemn Sunday tradition. A motley assortment of tenors and basses, a couple of unrequited altos and at least two borderline-alcoholic sopranos gathered in George Whitcomb’s living room to watch the game and get gloriously drunk. Connie was unrequited and I was one of the borderlines. I was nearly the last to arrive. Connie and Martin had come directly from church to set up the buffet, tableware and ice chests. Not that George cooked. He made telephone calls and mountains of food showed up at the door. When I walked in Martin was berating George for being parsimonious, mean and ungracious. “I don’t see why you don’t uncork the good stuff, George. You’re rich. We’re your friends.” George was rich, it was true. He lived on the tenth floor of a big apartment building at 12th and Chestnut where drunks and panhandlers sat on the front steps. But when you got inside (after frantically buzzing the concierge to open the door before the havenots got impatient and helped themselves), it was obvious the lobby was well-kept. And the elevator worked. George’s two-bedroom apartment had high ceilings and huge rooms. And he’d filled them with comfortable though wildly expensive antiques. Connie sat in a base-rocker covered in tapestry. Martin sat on the floor at her feet, seemingly enthralled by her wit and charm. Connie was in paradise. The tableau made me cringe. I don’t know what Connie saw when she looked in the mirror. But I thought she looked like a woman in a Renoir painting. Connie apparently didn’t think she deserved anything better than a self-absorbed narcissist like Martin. I found a bottle of generic booze on the sideboard. It said bourbon. I sloshed some in a glass and sat on the floor near the buffet of food. “Okay, you tightfisted SOB, you leave me no choice.” Martin said to George and stood up. No question, Martin was attractive. He had a little too much weight around the middle but he turned himself out like a fashion ad. Connie drained her wineglass and watched him thread his way through the drinkers, the munchers, the sleepy, the bored. He stood in front of George with his hand outstretched. “I’ll have the liquor-cabinet key, Ebenezer, and be quick about it.” It was their game. George the passive, Martin the masterbastard. Connie liked to play the game too since it was Martin’s favorite. “No. No key.” George shook his head like a stubborn little boy. George might have pulled off his naive-youth routine at one time, but his gray beard and baggy eyes made it ludicrous and sad now. Martin pulled him out of his easy chair by his jacket lapels and gripped his shoulder with one hand while reaching into his jacket pocket with the other. Then he let him drop back into his chair. “No more cheap shit, guys.” Martin jingled George’s keys. “We’ve got Chivas.” He unlocked the bottom double-doors on a corner cupboard, left it standing open and offered refills all around. “You’re a nasty brute, Martin.” George slumped in his chair. “Is anybody watching this?” Charlie yelled from across the room. He sat in front of a huge television set. The pregame show was over. “Yeah, me.” I butt-bumped across the carpet to Charlie and the TV. “I’ve got fifty bucks on the Raiders.” “You haven’t.” “Oh yeah. Got it down with Kassim.” Charlie was a sweet elegant man with a rich baritone voice. And he was one of a handful of my friends who had actually been to Gallagher’s. He worked nearby at the main library and occasionally brought his fellow librarians over for lunch. We served burgers and hotdogs and sausages with the shots and beer. The cook was an old friend of Kassim’s mom, an alcoholic retired sailor who religiously went into detox once a year courtesy of the Veteran’s Administration. But he was a great short-order cook. And he got Kassim out of more scrapes than even Mary Gallagher knew about. The lunch crowd was a mixed-bag. Construction workers from a nearby site, a gormless regular who sat at the end of the bar and played with himself, a few pissed-off guys who had lost a round at Family Court (which stood next to the Library and looked so like the Library that both wife-beaters and bookworms were confused), and sometimes Charlie and the librarians. We all watched General Hospital as though it were Moses reading from the tablets. “That Kassim is really beautiful,” Charlie said. The big game had finally started. Charlie loved football. “Yeah, well. He’s poison. Godforbid you ever make a move on him. He’d have your balls for souvenirs. You’re an infidel. I’m an infidel. We’re sewer sludge. I also think he runs dope.” “And you gave him fifty bucks?” “You betcha! He knows something. He says he’ll double it. Maybe the game is fixed! You think it could be fixed? Kas is so sure about the Raiders. Maybe it’s fixed.” “Pulleeze! Fix the Super Bowl? Nobody’s going to fix the Super Bowl. That’s ridiculous.” “Ohmigod! Lookit that!” The ball had taken a very weird bounce into the endzone and Jensen had fallen on it. The extra point kick was good and The Raiders were off and away. Not many of the people around the TV were Raiders fans. The Redskins were closer to home. Charlie’s hometown was Washington and when the score got really one-sided in the third quarter, he lost interest. But I was elated. No one else cared much. Conversation was loud and silly. Martin enjoyed abusing George more than watching football. And now Connie sat at Martin’s feet and kept his glass filled. She also had switched to Chivas. I rarely drank anything but Jack Daniels. But when someone put a Manhattan in my hand I realized I’d been missing heaven. It was wee-hours before I felt I’d properly celebrated my riches with my new favorite drink. I stood up to go to the bathroom and fell down. “Oh my!” Heaven had its downside. “George, can you make some coffee so’s I can go home?” I sat where I had landed for a moment. “Let’s switch to Champagne,” Martin stood at a window which looked down on Chestnut Street. He had just popped the cork on a bottle of Dom Perignon. “Coffee,” I said and slowly stood up and moved toward the bathroom. “Me too,” Connie said as she rolled over on the floor and pulled on George’s trouser leg. “George, we need coffee.” “Forget George, Con,” Martin said. “He’s down for the count. You make the coffee.” When I came out of the bathroom, I joined Martin at the window. He offered me the bottle. “No more. Where’s the coffee?” “ Connie’s doing it. Look! Isn’t that fabulous!” Snow was falling steadily and all the street lamps had halos. Martin put his arm around me. We watched the snow. I too had thought Martin was a great catch at one time. He encouraged that sort of thing. He was very attentive and complimentary. But I knew he never had and never would go to bed with a woman. He kissed the top of my head. “How are you getting home?” “Walking.” “Now?” “Now.” “It’s after two.” “So.” “It’s dangerous.” “I have a plan.” The coffee smelled wonderful. I went into the kitchen to see how Connie was doing. George was asleep in his chair with his mouth open. Everyone else had left. “Let’s hear your plan,” Martin said from the kitchen doorway. “The three of us walk me home to Fifteenth and Pine and we incidentally get sober in the bracing snowy air. Then Martin walks Connie up to Walnut and 19th and calls a cab for himself from her place.” “Or stays over, as the case may be,” Connie said. “Or stays over,” I echoed. “You kidding me? I’d never get out alive.” “You’d never come out the same.” “Whatever. Okay. It’s a plan. I see nothing wrong with its basic premise,” Martin drained the bottle of Champagne. “Come on Con, where’s the coffee?” George stirred in his chair. “I want you all to leave. You’re awful people and I hate you.” “Right. By the way, George,” Martin threw the keyring onto his lap. “What about you giving a Valentine’s party? We can talk about it at choir practice.” Connie handed around coffee cups. George declined. “I despise you all, Go to hell,” he mumbled and nodded off again. It was three o’clock when we struggled into our coats. Connie tried to put a scarf around Martin’s neck. “No, by God! No scarf. What am I? A sissy? What are you? My mother? Get away from me Con. You smell like an absolute brewery.” “Me? I smell? You really are a vicious hopeless old faggot! Why are you so mean?” “What I do, sweetheart, is treat people the way they want to be treated. You and George want to be humiliated. I do it for you. For you. You want me to.” “Come on. Let’s go.” I pushed Martin and Connie toward the door. They could trade insults for hours. The coffee had helped. Or, as they say, I was still drunk but very alert. Connie fussed with Martin about his hat, his scarf, the buttons on his coat. George remained in his chair. No wave. No goodbye. No acknowledgment we were leaving other than to give us the finger. When we got outside, it was as though the town had transformed itself. At least five inches of snow lay on the ground. It was an undisturbed virgin expanse of white. Martin scooped up handfuls of snow and tossed them in the air. “Whee!” We walked and threw snowballs and giggled and slipped and slid. Our street shoes turned the snow into glass. We hadn’t quite gotten to Broad Street, not even two blocks when Martin slipped and fell. He went down with a thud. I walked on ahead, leaving Connie to help him stand up. “Hey! Come back! He’s hurt! He’s hurt bad,” she yelled. By the time I had walked back, carefully picking my way, Connie was sitting in the snow with Martin’s head in her lap. He had fallen face first and his nose gushed blood. Blood was all over the snow and on Connie’s coat. His upper lip was raw and oozing blood. Martin was out cold. “Oh God! What’ll we do? I can’t lift him up,” Connie was in tears. A man across the street hurried toward us. “Can I help?” “Oh yes! Thank you. Our friend fell down.” Martin opened his eyes. “Jesus! What happened!” “You fell, my friend,” the man said. “Wait until your head clears. Here, let me help you.” The man easily hoisted Martin to his feet and handed him a handkerchief to hold to his nose. “Where are you going?” “Back to the Wharton Apartment building,” I said. Connie and I offered to help but the man had no trouble guiding Martin along the way. The concierge took one look at us standing at the door and ran to open it. “We had an accident. Call George Whitcomb and tell him we’re coming up,” I said. Our Good Sam stood outside until we were safely in. Then he smiled and waved and headed back uptown. George was standing at his door when we got out of the elevator. “What happened?” He was cold sober. “Martin fell and got knocked out,” I said. George helped Martin out of his coat. His nose had stopped bleeding but his lip was puffed up to twice its size. “Oh dear! Come in here. Oh poor Martin. I’ll get a towel. You just lie down right in there on the bed.” George led Martin to the guest room and helped him lie down on the four-poster. It had a featherbed on top. He went to the bathroom for a wet towel and gently bathed Martin’s face. Connie had climbed up on the bed and sat by Martin. I stood at the foot of the bed. “You’ll just stay here tonight, Martin,” George said. “No problem. I’ll get a cab for the girls.” “What in the world time is it?” Martin raised his left hand to look at his watch. “Oh shit! That fucker took my watch!” He frantically reached into his pants pocket. “He got my wallet. That son of a bitch! He ripped me off!” Martin started to cry and leaned against Connie. I crawled up on the bed and began crying too. Connie put her arms around Martin and tears fell down her face. George stood in the doorway, sobbing. Very shortly we all fell asleep. George curled up on the floor. The deep pile on the rug kept it from being the act of self-denial that sleeping on my floor would have been. About noon the next day I called the bar. Kas answered. “Where in bloody hell are you? I had to come in myself. It’s Monday. People were lined up at eight ayem.” “Had some trouble last night.” “You could have called.” “No. Actually I couldn’t. Sorry. I’ll be in later to pick up my winnings.” “Fine. You do that.” “Fine.” Kas did pay off, which I knew he would. And he also fired me. So I had a hundred bucks instead of fifty and no job. I survived. So did Gallagher’s. But I’m still wondering. The Super Bowl couldn’t be fixed, could it?

Well, I Am SHOCKED!!!!

Turns out, I knew David (Daood) C. Headley, the accused mastermind of the Mumbai 2008 attack. But then, so did everyone else who chanced to come into either of Miss Headley’s Khyber Pass bars in Philadelphia back in 1984. Daood was (is) Serrill Headley’s son and he bartended at both the up-scale bar on North Second Street and the considerably less tony shot-and-a-beer saloon on Callowhill. I tended bar in Miss Headley’s newly-opened saloon at 17th and Callowhill. It was called Khyber Pass North. It got really busy around four in the afternoon when the judges, attorneys, and assorted other low-lifes and parolees lurched out of the Family Court at 19th and Vine --which is the building that is the twin of the main Library next door. As a matter of fact, folks looking for books and folks looking for their courtroom used to go into the wrong building all the time. Maybe still do. Daood was a piece of work. Back then, he was in his early twenties, He was absolutely gorgeous. He was over six feet tall and looked liked a typical American college student (he was enrolled at Princeton, but rarely went to classes). He had one brown eye and one blue-green eye. At that time, the story circulating the two bars was that Daood’s mother had married a high-ranking Iranian official, had two children, a boy and girl by him and then started an affair with his brother...a huge no-no. So she grabbed her son and fled to America. These days, one reads in the papers that Daood’s father was Pakistani. I guess Serrill got a divorce because when I was tending bar at Khyber Pass North she was married to an editor at the Inquirer. I forget his name. Dick something. He was a really nice guy. Rumor also had it that she was having an affair with Inquirer writer Dorothy Storck. I had to deliver something to Daood one time. He lived in a second-floor apartment in Olde City. The place was chock-a-block with weapons of all kinds and there were posters on all the walls showing Shiite soldiers. Daood was very proud of being a Shiite. I thought he was just an arrogant, slogan-spouting pisser. Guess I was wrong. After I was no longer working at the bar, I heard that Serrill had to go to Iran and get Daood out of prison for smuggling drugs. How she did it, I don’t know...lots of money exchanged hands I have no doubt. But she did manage to get him back to the US. Daood was a babe-magnet at Khyber Pass. He had a very young and pretty girlfriend, and also had a stunning 40-year-old mistress who sat alone in a booth waiting for him to get off work and cried bitter tears because of the sweet young thing. Tomorrow, for your delectation, I will post the story I wrote back in the day about Daood called “The Day the Raiders Won”. And no, it never got published. But tomorrow is the day.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good News, Bad News and Off-the-Wall News

First, the good news. Lou Dobbs has decided to quit CNN. Yay! What an idiot he became after a bit of fame. Last night he made an announcement that he’s leaving CNN in order to vent on radio and talk shows. How is he going to do this? He didn’t say. The bad news. George W. Bush is coming out of self-imposed political hibernation—so called, by the New York Times. The NYT said, “In a speech at Southern Methodist University, home of his future library and museum, the former president will kick off the new George W. Bush Institute as a forum for study and advocacy in four main areas: education, global health, human freedom and economic growth. Advisers said he hoped his institute would be more focused on producing results than many research organizations are.” Obviously, if GWB is going to be more visible, so will Ratbang. I can’t resist him. And the Off-the-Wall news? Remember when the Army credited Pfc. Jessica Lynch with being a superhero Rambo in Iraq in 2003, when in fact, she was out of action and being cared for by the Iraqis all the while? It’s happened again. Sgt. Kimberly D. Munley was hailed as the hero in the shooting of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan when he committed mayhem at Fort Hood last week. But apparently, Munley had already been shot and was lying on the floor when Senior Sgt. Mark Todd came around the corner of the building. He saw that Hasan was fumbling around with his weapon and he’s the one who shot him. The PR folks at Fort Hood also said Hasan was dead when he was in a coma in the hospital. What’s with these military folks? The real story is always absolutely fine and always has absolutely plenty of blood, gore and heroism.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What Is It With Ben Connable?

This morning I received two more emails from the man. Email No. 1—(The Veiled Threat) "How sad. You will be contacted." Email No. 2—(The Put-Down) "Ms. Tomme - On second thought, knock yourself out. I did a bit of research on your website and I do not believe you have a big enough audience of rational readers to do my reputation any damage. I wish you the best of luck." Well, he’s right about that. Who am I? And who is this Ben Connable, the constantly commenting Bush-administration Iraq War apologist and propagandist from almost five years ago, the purported “GOP tool”? Who is this man, and why has he concerned himself with the Ratbang blog? I have no idea.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Elusive Ben Connable Surfaces, (Maybe)

Of course, one does not know if the email I received this morning is really from Ben Connable or if the email was a joke being perpetrated on Mr. Connable. Almost five years ago, a man named Ben Connable was having articles printed all over the mainstream media and the Internet. They were all Bush administration propagandistic in tone about the Iraq war. At that time, Connable was being called “elusive” because he could not be tracked down, and substantive, in-depth info on him could not be found. Following, if you choose to respond that way, is your morning hoo-hah! giggle and my response. “Request to Remove Post August 19, 2009 Ms. Tomme, I am Ben Connable, a retired Marine Corps officer and author of several articles on the Iraq war. In your December 14, 2005 column on the website, "Ratbang Diary" at you refer to me as a "GOP tool" and state that I have been writing propaganda pieces for the Pentagon since I was a Captain. While you are free to comment on the substance of my articles, I ask that you either produce proof that I am, or have been a member of the GOP since the Iraq war began in 2003, that I have been directed or coaxed to write articles for the GOP, or that my writings have in any way been directed by an official in the Pentagon. (In fact, none of these things are true.) If you cannot produce such proof, I formally request that you remove this libelous post from your website. It appears in the first page of a Google search of my name and therefore affects my reputation as an author. This in turn directly affects my livelihood. Thank you. - Ben Connable” “Re: Request to Remove Post Good morning Mr. Connable, No. I cannot remove my December 14, 2005 Ratbang post. It is not libelous, since it does not fall under the definition of libel, which is: "a false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person". The purpose of the article was to reprint the truth as it was being reported at the time. I do not now nor have I ever had the purpose of defaming anyone, and certainly not you. What I will do is reprint your email to me today in a Ratbang post today. And I will also reprint my answer to you. I will do this because I think your apparently sudden desire to reinvent yourself after four-and-a-half-years is hilariously funny. By the way, know that I do not engage in dialogues with commenters to Ratbang and I do delete comments that are long and/or offensive. Sincerely, Joy Tomme”

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles Disgrace Itself

The guys who run the Eagles pro-football team have just come out with the biggest load of baloney to defend their decision to sign ex-con, animal abuser Michael Vick as an Eagles quarterback. As a matter of fact, the NFL mavens should never have lifted Vick’s suspension, which allowed him to get back into pro-football. Eagles head coach Andy Reid says Vick deserves a second chance. That is a silly and spurious argument. When convicts have served their sentences they do deserve to come back into society and they do deserve to lead their lives as rehabilitated persons. But society also deserves to put limits on how it allows ex-cons to make a living and how it allows certain ex-cons back into its embrace. Convicted bank robbers do not deserve to be hired by banks when they come out of jail; parents who have been convicted of abusing their children do not deserve to once again live with their children; priests who have been convicted of molesting children do not deserve to work with children, and a convicted Enron executive does not deserve to make millions again as a corporate mogul. The above examples are only a few instances of wisdom overriding the second-chance adage. And trotting out second-chance piety about ex-con animal abuser Michael Vick is specious and hollow. Michael Vick lost his right (or, he should have lost his right) to play professional football when he dishonored the game by getting involved in a dogfighting ring. Dogfighting is so low and reprehensible that participants can be jailed for engaging in the offense, as Vick was. If the NFL chose to allow Vick to get back in the game, that is a bad decision by the NFL. But for the Eagles management to then compound that bad decision and have so little moral fiber as to allow Coach Andy Reid to hire Vick is beyond low and reprehensible. The Eagles hiring of Michael Vick is depraved, repugnant and vile.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

“Making of Legislative Sausage Is Never Pretty”

That was one of Frank Rich’s sentences in his Sunday morning New York Times Op-Ed column today (“Is Obama Punking Us?”) and it needs to be remembered. How come everyone (and the most flagrantly-forgetting offenders are the news media) come EVERYONE forgets that THE MAKING OF LEGISLATIVE SAUSAGE IS NEVER PRETTY? How come everyone conveniently forgets that all legislators trade horses...including Presidents of these United States and oh my! DO THEY EVER!!! Rich’s column was about how President Obama is facing REALITY. The reality being that the world is looking at the promises Barack Obama made as a Presidential candidate as opposed to the actuality of Barack Obama as President. What is striking me at this moment is the bullshit parading in so-called news stories as “What Americans Value”. I am reminded of my hometown, Paxton, Illinois. All those staunch male Republicans who ran that small town in the 1940’s and 1950’s valued the high price of corn, the belief that women needed to obey men, the belief that teen-age girls didn’t know (as in, the Biblical understanding of “know”) about sex and if they did, they were whores and that the boys who knew about sex were normal young men who should be applauded. The truth of the matter was that boys and girls were having sex and enjoying it; some were getting embroiled in the reality of sex leading to pregnancy, shotgun weddings were happening all over the lot, women were making the best of a bad situation, bad laws and a male-dominated understanding of religion, and the price of corn was very important. And, all during the ‘40’s and ‘50’s, as now, we kept hearing that Americans value honesty, purity, and God. Which, of course, always was, is now, and no doubt will be into the foreseeable future a HUGE CROCK OF CRAP! Yes, Barack Obama is trading horses. He has to. He has to, because this is the way our government and our society are set up. Were we a country that valued honesty in all things, it probably wouldn’t be necessary for a President to trade horses and engage in the making of stinky legislative sausage. But given that this country values an untrue and impossible-to-live-up-to image of itself, we are stuck with WHAT IS as opposed to WHAT-WE-WISH-WERE-TRUE. And, I am not ranting about what results from all this BULLSHIT. What results actually works out fairly well. And it usually is not a bad deal for the majority of people in this land. What I am ranting against is the pain that is inflicted on all of us by the hypocrites and assholes who demand that we live up to a cheesy, sham, deceptive, fake, deceitful ideal that the political charlatans selling all this phony purity, honesty and love of God can’t live up to themselves. So...what else did Frank Rich say today? His last paragraph is quotable: “The best political news for the president remains the Republicans. It’s a measure of how out of touch G.O.P. leaders like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are that they keep trying to scare voters by calling Obama a socialist. They have it backward. The larger fear is that Obama might be just another corporatist, punking voters much as the Republicans do when they claim to be all for the common guy. If anything, the most unexpected — and challenging — event that could rock the White House this August would be if the opposition actually woke up.”

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Face in the Alaska Crowd

The parallel between Sarah Palin’s antics and the Andy Griffith movie, “A Face in the Crowd”, is stunning. In the 1957 movie made from a Budd Schulberg story, Griffith was a guitar playing, boozing drifter who was plucked out of the throng by TV-exec Patricia Neal who saw in him an attractive crowd-pleasing quality. And she made him into a star. His trajectory was like a skyrocket. The problem was, he became so powerful and corrupt, he had to be brought down. And the comeuppance was made possible by his hubris and addiction to fame. This morning we hear that Sarah and Todd Palin are getting a divorce due to multiple affairs on both sides. We hear that she’s hotfooting it out of Alaska with the kids and moving to Montana. We hear that she’s shopping herself as a radio talk-show host and the radio execs are not saying NO. We hear she took off her wedding ring in a fit of pique after her July 31 official announcement she was quitting her Alaska Governor gig. We hear she stormed off with her kids leaving Todd standing in the wake of her dust. We hear her plan to publish a ghostwritten book and make millions is going full-steam ahead. And we hear that the Palin’s reluctant and no-longer-future son-in-law-baby-maker Levi Johnson has taped a tell-all interview (without his handlers) for “Vanity Fair” which will appear in October. this the meltdown that was bound to come, ala “A Face in The Crowd”? No. Palin has no self-awareness. She has no internal monitor to warn her she’s off-track and headed for disaster. The big meltdown is yet to come. And, as fun as it’s been to watch this classic allegory come to life warning us about the dangers of power and fame, the BIG Palin Showdown-Meltdown is yet to come. And it will be painful to see.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Here’s The Thing

First, Michael Steele, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, is an IDIOT. Last night on CNN’s Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer said to Michael Steele: “Let's talk a little bit about Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska. She stunned all of us a couple weeks ago by announcing she was resigning. Peggy Noonan, who was one of the chief speechwriters for Ronald Reagan, Republican, wrote in the Wall Street Journal, ‘Sarah Palin's resignation gives Republicans a new opportunity to see her plain --to review the bidding, see her strengths, acknowledge her limits and let go of her drama. It is an opportunity they should take.’ Pretty strong words from Peggy Noonan.” Steele weighed in, “Well, I think you know -- the story on Sarah Palin is simply this: she made a very difficult choice to give up the governorship to focus on her family, to focus on other things. I respect that choice. I admire that choice because it's very tough to do. And so, if you feel that in your leadership that other things are distracting from your ability to lead...” Blitzter responded, “You don't have a problem that it looks like she quit in the middle of her term?” Steele answered, “No, she didn't. That's a wonderful Democrat talking point that she's a quitter. What she was, she made a judgment about whether or not she could continue to be effective in her leadership there. Whether or not there were other things that were more important to deal with, with her family and her young son that she has to care for. She made a personal and political decision. The brain trust here in Washington and around the country that's second guessing her, that think they know Sarah Palin better than she does, you know, have no understanding or appreciation for what she's going through and why she made that decision. “You have to take her at face value, why she made that decision when she did, and then let's wait and see what Sarah does next. Because then that would begin to give you some idea of how that story will unfold. All the pontificating, stop it; wait and see what she does.” CRAP! Here’s what it is, Michael Steele. Sarah Palin is a self-absorbed narcissist who cannot, will not and is incapable of thinking in terms of another human being before thinking of herself. She did not quit being Governor of Alaska in order to hand off the job to someone who will do it better. She did not quit being Governor of Alaska in order to be with her family. Sarah Palin quit her job so that she could better position herself in the limelight. She quit In order that Sarah Palin could write a book with a ghostwriter about the Sarah Palin that Sarah Palin envisions herself to be, which has nothing to do with the reality of who Sarah Palin is. Palin is the classic ego-centered diva who says, “But enough about me, let’s talk about how you feel about me.” Michael Steele says I should take Palin at face value. I AM TAKING PALIN AT FACE VALUE. The value of the Palin face is that it is so totally obvious, unmitigated and undisguised. Palin’s virtual reality perception of herself is Palin at face value. There is nothing in this world that is important to Sarah Palin except Sarah Palin’s skewed idea that Sarah Palin and her childish desire of the moment is the thing that the world should be interested in. And as far as Palin is concerned, The Sarah Palin Show is the only thing the world is actually interested in. Sarah Palin looks in the mirror and says, “Screw Alaska and its problems, screw my children and their problems, screw my whole family, screw John McCain, screw the Republicans, screw any ideology unless it can further Sarah Palin...and tomorrow the world." Michael Steele, says we should “wait and see what Palin does next”. Which, of course, is proof Steele is an idiot. If Steele had half a brain, he would realize that whatever Palin does next is going to be an even bigger embarrassment to the Republican Party than what Palin has already done, and it should frighten him silly. But maybe that’s his problem. He already has been frightened silly by a glimpse of Palin’sWorld 24-7, and that’s why he acts and sounds like a fool.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

About Sarah Palin, Here’s What I Get

I get that watching her on TV is irresistible, because one can no more turn away from Palin on TV than one can turn away from a train wreck. I get that guys like her perky, ditsy persona. I get that people think she’s attractive. I get that at first she seemed to be a refreshing presence on the political scene. But here’s what I don’t get: I don’t get that a whole clot of people who have been presented with incontrovertible truths about her--both by what she has said herself and by the duly-reported observations of others—have not understood that she is a self-absorbed, lying narcissist who is dangerously deluded and probably insane. I don’t get that a whole clot of people choose to ignore the plain, bald, irrefutable, indisputable facts about Sarah Palin. Like, she is vindictive and malicious and when in a position of even the tiniest amount of power, she exacts revenge on anyone who crosses her or anyone she favors, and she cannot abide even the slightest criticism. Like, she blatently lies and then assumes that her personality will make people forget the truth. Like, she does what she wants to do no matter what her handlers advise, even when it has the worst possible consequences for the people she works for. Like, she cannot stay on-message for her constituents and her party to save her soul. She says and does whatever comes to her mind at any moment, not unlike a four-year-old child that wants what it wants when it wants it. Like, she sees herself as the point, the main point and the only point. She serves no cause, no ideology, no policy, no administration, no party except to promote herself. I don’t get that even though the above traits spell DISASTER for a politician, there is a whole clot of people who would like to see her run for president. I don’t get that even though Sarah Palin is a female George W. Bush, and George W. Bush should be convicted of treason for what he and his administration did to the United States of America, still, there is a faction here in the United States who would willingly vote for Sarah Palin to be our president. I don’t get that. It is simply beyond my ken.

Friday, June 05, 2009

PC Expectations For a Supreme Are Doomed

The Washington Post said today, “Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor once told a group of minority lawyers that she believed a delay in her confirmation as a federal appeals judge a decade ago was driven partly by Republican lawmakers' ethnic stereotypes of her, suggesting that the tensions surrounding her current nomination are hardly new to the New York jurist.” And the NYT said, “In speech after speech over the years, Judge Sonia Sotomayor has returned to the themes of diversity, struggle, heritage and alienation that have both powered and complicated her nomination to the Supreme Court. “She has lamented the dearth of Hispanics on the federal bench. She has exhorted young people to value immigration. She has mulled over the ‘deeply confused image’ America has of its own racial identity. And she has used on more than one occasion a version of the ‘wise Latina’ line that she has spent much of this week trying to explain.” Deeply imbedded in the minds of those who comment and write about such things in the mainstream media is an ideal image of the perfect Democrat nominee and/or perfect Republican nominee for the Supreme Court. Which, at first blush, sounds like a sensible approach to use for picking someone who will have lifetime tenure and will be making monumentally important decisions that affect everyone in the United States. And yet, of course, any ideal image is totally unreasonable. Like the absurdly incorporeal ideal the Roman Catholic Church holds up as the only acceptable Christian, perfection is a standard against which all human beings must fail. The Law itself uses a much better model than either The Church or the political talking heads that bloviate, strike poses and rant. And that model is “the reasonable man”. The Reasonable Person is not and never will be politically correct because the politically correct posture is false, pretentious and unreasonable. What we know is, a Democrat will back a Supreme Court judge he hopes will rule like a Democrat. A Republican will back a Supreme Court judge he hopes will rule like a Republican. And no matter how much the public and the press demand political correctness from Supreme Court nominees from the age of five, they will not be politically correct and they will not rule like a bloodless, impartial, incorporeal, spirit being invoked at a Judging Seminar Séance. Supreme Court nominees are human beings with all the flaws the rest of us have. The very best we can hope for is that a Supreme Court judge will rule like a reasonable person.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

God Forbid The Truth Be Stated

In a 2001 lecture, Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor said,” I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." I would hope so too. It’s a simple unvarnished statement. I would also hope that a black male who has been the target of racism would know more about being a black male target of racism than a white male who has not lived that life. That too is a simple unvarnished statement. But our black male President Obama said about Sotomayor’s statement from eight years ago, "I'm sure she would have restated it." Why? Tell me that! Why on earth would Sotomayor have restated her statement? It’s the God’s honest truth. Then and now, it is not racist, it’s not ill considered, it’s not mean-spirited, it’s not immoral, unfair, untrue or wrong. It is and it was a FACT. I, Joy Tomme would hope that a 78-year old female knows more about being an old lady than a 25-year-old male. Is this geriatric nonsense? Is this age baiting? Is this a wild and insane idea? Ah, but the Dems caved in to the Republican Right's white male hysteria and it wasn't long before demands were being made for Sotomayor to apologize for an honest, true and factual statement she had made in 2001. And then, as though the Republican Party needed a talking-out-its-ass icon, on May 27, the day after Sotomayor’s nomination, Mark Krikorian of the right-wing Center for Immigration Studies said, “Deferring to people’s own pronunciation of their names should obviously be our first inclination, but there ought to be limits. Putting the emphasis on the final syllable of Sotomayor is unnatural in English...and insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn’t be giving in to.” Cripes! But...come to did Jon Kyl (R-AZ) get into the Senate without Krikorian’s pronunciation imprimatur, or Joe Lavigne (R-LA), Gil Gutknecht (R MN) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) of the House of Representatives? Or GWB’s supreme court nominee Harriet Miers. Until we were given instructions, those names didn’t exactly roll off the tongue trippingly. Of course, if the Cheney (pronounced Chain-ey)-Limbaugh (pronounced LIM-baw) ticket gets any traction, they could solve the problem and change everyone’s name to Smith. is Krikorian pronounced? Crick-OR-ree-an? Or Cricker-REEK-an?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A TV Ad Honoring Our Soldiers Is a Travesty

And it’s enough to make one retch when you know what and who is behind it. First, it talks about how all the people in the armed forces and particularly those who have died ensuring our freedoms are always in the hearts and minds of the sponsor of the ad. Okay...that sounds very upright and righteous. But the sponsor of the ad is Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin is owned by the Carlyle Group. The Carlyle Group is the biggest war-profiteer the US has ever known. And if you don’t know about the Carlyle Group, read the Ratbang post of May 15th.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Good Job, NY AG Cuomo, But It’s Just a Start

This morning, the New York Times reports that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s inquiry into the Carlyle Group’s shenanigans in public pension funds will end because the Carlyle Group has agreed to pay a $20 million settlement and make broad changes to its practices in order to end the inquiry. Need we say that the Carlyle Group’s practices of bribery, extortion and war-profiteering have been farshtunken for years and all persons connected with The Carlyle Group are lucky they are not in jail. Chief Person-of-Interest, of course, being Dick Cheney. Let me reprint a Ratbang column from Sunday November 21, 2004. It was titled: “Is It Okay That the Carlyle Group Owns the GOP? Filmmaker Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11) and author Craig Unger (House of Bush House of Saud) have fully documented the number of government officials--present and former--who are involved in the management of the Carlyle Group and that the Carlyle Group runs the United States. But let me recap, in case you’ve forgotten. The Carlyle Group provides investment capital for companies, it is the brains behind management-led buyouts (MBO’s) and it pimps the sales of weapons between defense contractors and governments all over the world. Its directors and advisors have been former President George Herbert Walker Bush, former UK Prime Minister John Major, former US Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci (now Chairman Emeritus), former Jimmy Carter policy adviser, David Rubinstein (now Carlyle managing director), former White House chief of staff, James A. Baker, former head of the Office of Management and Budget Richard Darmen, recently resigned Secretary of State Colin Powell, former head of the SEC and the American Stock Exchange, Arthur Levitt and the ubiquitous Bin Laden brothers. This is disturbing because anyone connected with the Carlyle Group is in a position to profit from its weapons contracts between companies like Halliburton and the US government (and other governments). Not to mention the ugly thought that shareholders and directors profit from medical supplies of anti-chemical warfare inoculations which are pimped between manufacturer and the US government by the Carlyle Group. It was the Carlyle Group that acquired Caterair, a catering company for airlines. And it was David Rubinstein who talked to Caterair about a ne’er-do-well rich kid whose name would be an asset for Caterair’s management. The rich kid was George W. Bush. The kid never did anything for the company but tell bad jokes, goldbrick and collect a salary. Finally Rubinstein told him he should probably find another career. But the Bush name has never done the Carlyle Group any harm. And the rich kid did find something else to do. We can thank the Carlyle Group and Daddywarbucks Bush. Throw a dart at the map and you will find a Carlyle Group company in that region distributing arms, selling weapons, buying defense companies and in general, affecting the economy and safety (or ensuring the lack thereof) of that region. The Carlyle Group effectively runs the GOP and GOP policy. And it is not Okay. It is monstrous and it is corrupt. War is just another business to the Carlyle Group, but war is its biggest profit-making business. And the business of war is putting a lot of money in GOP pockets. The Big Three is not George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Condi Rice. The Big Three is Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and the Carlyle Group.” And from Ratbang’s January 29, 2005 post: GOP Bows to Carlyle Group, USA Screwed (Again). "Yesterday, the Lockheed Martin Corporation, whose web site calls itself “an advanced technology company” beat out Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aircraft for a $6.1 billion Navy contract for 23 security helicopters for the President's presidential fleet. So what...that’s business. The so what is that Lockheed's partners are based in Europe and the main transmission, the rotor blades and several other components for the helicopters will be built in Europe. The so what is that the Bush administration has out-sourced a six billion dollar contract to a company that has never built a helicopter in its long defense contract life. In January, 2004 Sikorsky proudly announced its bid for the helicopter contract. Sikorsky listed its “all-American team” and said, “Our company has a 45-year track record of safe and outstanding service to the President of the United States, and these are the American companies we have selected to help us extend that record for another generation." Sikorsky Aircraft has built the presidential fleet since 1957. Ah yes, but Sikorsky didn’t count on the clout of The Carlyle Group. Some of the most powerful figures in Washington have worked for The Carlyle Group, including former Secretary of State James Baker, former President George H.W. Bush, former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci and former FCC Chairman William Kennard. The Center for Public Integrity investigation into Department of Defense contracts found that the Carlyle Group, a Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm was the ninth largest Pentagon contractor between 1998 and 2003. The Carlyle Group doesn’t manufacture anything. It offers no services directly to the Pentagon, and has no defense contracts. It manages investments. According to its web site, it has more than $18.9 billion under management from 600 individuals and entities in 55 countries. The Carlyle Group was founded in 1987 when it began investing in defense and national security companies. By taking over companies with billions of dollars in defense contracts, it became a top US military vendor. After September 11, it cashed-out many investments when the price of stock of defense companies rose. The Carlyle Group also made huge profits from the defense buildups for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It other words, the Carlyle Group is a war profiteer. It was former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci (Carlyle Group managing director from 1989 to 1993 and chairman from 1993 to 2003) who made the small private equity firm a mega-force among defense contractors. It’s interesting that Carlucci and Donald Rumsfeld went to college together. And here’s some dandy info about the Carlyle Group’s Thomas A. (Tom) Corcoran, straight from the Carlyle web site. “Thomas A. Corcoran is a Senior Advisor to the aeropsace and defense group. Mr.Corcoran assists Carlyle in developing strategy and identifying investments in Washington, DC. In addition to his role as a Carlyle Senior Advisor, Mr. Corcoran is President of Corcoran Enterprises, LLC, a management-consulting firm. Prior to joining Carlyle, Mr. Corcoran served as President & Chief Executive Officer of Gemini Air Cargo where he led a successful business restructuring. Before Gemini, Mr. Corcoran was President and Chief Executive Officer of Allegheny Teledyne Incorporated. Prior to that, he was President and Chief Operating Officer of Lockheed Martin’s Electronics Sector from 1995 to October 1999. Prior to the 1995 merger of Lockheed Corporation and Martin Marietta Corporation, he was President of the Electronics Group of Martin Marietta, a position he assumed in 1993 following the sale of GE Aerospace to Martin Marietta. He began his career in 1967 at General Electric Company where held various senior management positions. He joined GE Aerospace in 1983 and, in 1990, he was elected as corporate officer and rose to the number two position as Vice President and General Manager of GE Aerospace Operations.” Thanks to investigative reporter Leuen Morel, a wonderful factoid appeared in the San Francisco Bay View on November 7, 2004. “Lockheed Martin Marietta is 70% owned by the Carlyle Group”. The stench coming out of the Bush administration is becoming overpowering. This latest collusion between the Carlyle Group and the Carlyle-bought-and-paid-for GOP would be beyond belief if the proof weren’t so blatant and damning.” UGH! And Double-UGH!! So...way to go, Andrew Cuomo, but the mother lode is still under the surface.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bush Administration Worse Than we Thought

The Bush White House years were worse than we have thought because its aims were trite, puny and pathetic, not even remotely fueled by grand and majestic plans to protect the world. Fed as we are by books, movies and TV shows that depict evil cabals plotting the overthrow and final dissolution of the United States of America, it’s hard to believe—and we don’t want to believe it—that the boo-scare tactics of the Bush administration had nothing to do with real terrorist plots. But rather, its strategy to predict an impending “mushroom cloud” in our future had to do only with a) selling an unnecessary war in Iraq and b) defending its decision to sell the unnecessary war in Iraq. This morning, Frank Rich’s column in the New York Times, “The Banality of Bush White House Evil”, is as clear a summary of the reasons why the Bush administration lied and lied and lied as we are likely to get until the Justice Department investigates this “betrayal of American values”. And at the center of the betrayal was the need for the architects of the Iraq war to elicit “information” from Qaeda prisoners to support the argument that another (or many) attacks on the US was being planned. The hope was not that the truth would be uncovered through using torture. The hope was that the prisoners would concoct tales to get the torture to stop and that the Bush team could then use the ill-gotten info to sell their war in Iraq. It has been revealed that the so-called top man of Al Qaeda (Abu Zubaydah) who had been imprisoned was little more than a mentally ill flunky who knew nothing about the inner workings of Al Qaeda. However, Zubaydah was waterboarded 86 times in the hopes that he would finally make something up that the White House could use. And now Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) wants to revive McCarthyism by claiming there are “17 Socialists in Congress”. The United States populace has greeted Bachus’s outrage with a yawn and disinterested, “If true, so what?” What was the aim of the Bush administration when they fabricated their yarns and stories? Following is the “Project for the New American Century Statement of Principles”, as devised by William Kristol on June 3, 1997 and signed by Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Eliot A. Cohen, Midge Decter, Paula Dobriansky, Steve Forbes, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney, Fred C. Ikle, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, I. Lewis Libby, Norman Podhoretz, Dan Quayle, Peter W. Rodman, Stephen P. Rosen, Henry S. Rowen, Donald Rumsfeld, Vin Weber, George Weigel, Paul Wolfowitz: “American foreign and defense policy is adrift. Conservatives have criticized the incoherent policies of the Clinton Administration. They have also resisted isolationist impulses from within their own ranks. But conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America's role in the world. They have not set forth guiding principles for American foreign policy. They have allowed differences over tactics to obscure potential agreement on strategic objectives. And they have not fought for a defense budget that would maintain American security and advance American interests in the new century. We aim to change this. We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership. As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world's preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests? We are in danger of squandering the opportunity and failing the challenge. We are living off the capital -- both the military investments and the foreign policy achievements -- built up by past administrations. Cuts in foreign affairs and defense spending, inattention to the tools of statecraft, and inconstant leadership are making it increasingly difficult to sustain American influence around the world. And the promise of short-term commercial benefits threatens to override strategic considerations. As a consequence, we are jeopardizing the nation's ability to meet present threats and to deal with potentially greater challenges that lie ahead. We seem to have forgotten the essential elements of the Reagan Administration's success: a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States' global responsibilities. Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership. Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences: • we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future; • we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values; • we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad; • we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles. Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.” This is what it was all about. It didn’t work. It led to the failed war in Iraq, and the eventual collapse of the United States as a super power and the collapse of the US financially.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

“It worked!” Former CIA Director Hayden Says

The tempest continues over the releasing of info that Qaeda prisoners were tortured during their interrogations. But the justification being used now by Bush administration officials who eagerly pushed for the use of harsh interrogation techniques is nearly unbelievable. They are claiming that it’s easy today to second-guess their decisions to use torture to get information, but if a bomb or bio-weapon had killed thousands of lives, “where would the moral compass point today?” Huh? Are they saying that the Bush administration’s fear of a terrorist attack made it okay to use tactics that the US had formerly prosecuted as war crimes after World War II? The Bush administration CIA Director Michael Hayden insisted about the CIA torture program, “It worked.” And he added, “I have said to all who will listen that the agency did none of this out of did it out of duty. It did it with the best legal advice it had.” Oh please! The Nazis feared the Jews. Their program to annihilate the people they feared also worked. Chaining children to a bed to keep them from being a nuisance works. Forcing women to have their tubes tied or to have hysterectomies to keep them from getting pregnant works. Castrating boys to keep their voices from changing works. Using children as a labor force works. Polygamy works. Blackmail works. Suicide works. But the statement that “It worked” cannot justify a criminal act. There is no justification for using torture under any circumstances. And officials in the SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) program that trains soldiers in survival techniques, say torture actually is ineffective. It doesn’t work. It makes prisoners lie. It makes them concoct stories. It makes them psychotic. It makes them crazed. But it doesn’t make them divulge information. There does seem to be some untoward enthusiasms though, Michael Hayden’s claim notwithstanding. There seems to be a passion, an excitement, a titillation if you will, by these Bush administration supporters of torture that’s just a wee bit troubling, a tad disquieting. You don’t think they all belong to some kind of, um, club do you? Now there’s an investigation whose time may have come.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Real Problem About the Torture Memos

The release of CIA memos about interrogation tactics used on two Qaeda operatives has occasioned a firestorm of protests from both Republicans and Democrats. But the real problem is the belief system of the Bush administration, as in: 1) The Bushmen believed and still believe that torture is good. 2) The Bushmen believed and still believe if they called torture by another name, it was not torture. 3) The Bushmen believed and still believe that lying is good. On any level of behavior that one can conceive of in a civilized society, the above items are not just bad. They are immoral and reprehensible. And defending the above immoral and wrong actions by saying they were necessary to the national security of the United States is absurd. If, as we are informed, the Qaeda operatives were subjected to the torture called “waterboarding” 266 times, it must have occurred to the perpetrators that it wasn’t working somewhere near the 10th time. And one can only assume the remaining 256 times were engaged in for fun. Now Dick Cheney says that releasing the CIA memos “endangers the country by disclosing national secrets”. Explain that to me, Dick of dicks. It was never a national secret that the US was engaging in waterboarding, among other detestable torture practices. It was never a national secret that the Bush administration had decided to inform the public that torture was not torture. It was never a national secret that saying torture wasn’t torture was a ridiculous form of “fallacious reasoning” (as the dictionary calls sophistry), and no one in the world believed it...including the far-right-religious-fanatic world that just barely inhabits the real world. Amazingly, stupid as most of the Bush administration lies were (thanks to Karl Rove’s fallacious reasoning), Karl Rove and Dick Cheney are still engaging in their sophistry to defend the torture used by the CIA, which they said wasn’t torture. Now they say admitting the untorture was torture makes us unsafe in our beds which were secure when they lied, but now because of truthtelling...not so much. Former president George Bush has not weighed-in on this issue as yet. One assumes he has not sobered up yet. And God only knows what may be revealed if he ever does get off the sauce and pills and if Laura is ever allowed to stop taking the meds that got her through those eight First Lady years. One assumes (yes, this one...ME) their combined doctors are waiting for the “forgetting” drug to be perfected before allowing the former first couple to detox.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CNN’s Michael Ware Takes a Look at Mexico

When the going was hairy in Iraq, CNN appointed foreign correspondent Michael Ware to cover the carnage and idiocy passing for foreign policy in the Bush administration. Michael Ware was not part of the officially okayed bunch of clowns the Bush administration “embedded” with the US troops and told what to say and how to say it. Ware never shied from letting it be known (which was often) when he thought the US generals were off base and doing our troops a disservice. Ware has an Australian accent, but he had lived in Baghdad since before the US invasion. He is now 40 years old and CNN has sent him to Mexico to have a look-see at the drug war. Last night, Michael Ware reported back to Wolf Blitzer in CNN’s Situation Room. Blitzer asked if the beefing up of the US border with Mexico would make a difference. Ware said, “Well, you certainly have to applaud any measure. But I have to say, from what I've seen so far in Mexico -- and I'm about to be spending a lot more time there -- this is a drop in the bucket, finger in the dike stuff. “I mean let's not forget what's driving this war. It's two things. One is the profit motive of the cartels. And beefing up the border even more hasn't stopped them so far. When they closed the routes through Florida and the Caribbean for the Colombian cartels, that's when the Mexican cartels took over and said we'll get it in. “I don't see that being stopped. We can disrupt it, make business more expensive, but it's not going to stop because they have the other coastline—the land border and they’ll never shut that tight. “Have you seen the drug subs? The guerrillas in Colombia actually built drug submarines that were able to skim just under the surface of the water, carrying as much as a ton of cocaine. And in the last couple of years, there's been increasing interceptions of those.” Ware estimates the drug cartels have 100,000 foot soldiers. These are well-armed troops with fully automatic weapons -- grenades and .50 caliber Barrett sniper rifles. “Now, these are a military weapon that I've only ever seen in the hands of the Marines and the U.S. Army,” Ware said. Blitzer asked for a comparison between the troops in Iraq and the drug cartel troops in Mexico. Ware said, “ Well, I'm very shy of making comparisons between a holy war or a political insurgency in Iraq and a profit-motivated drug war in Mexico. “However, I have to say, when I was in Juarez, the city that's right on the border with El Paso, the front line town, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was in the midst of an insurgency.” Blitzer asked about the Mexican military, if it doesn’t have the capability to deal with the drug cartels. Ware said, “Oh, Wolf -- Wolf, please. Please. Look, already the Mexican military has as many as 45,000 troops in the field, in their own country, fighting their own citizens. Now, this is a military trained like anyone else's military, to defend the sovereign territory of their country. And now they're being turned into super armed policemen, because you can't trust the local police. They're riddled with corruption. You can't...” Blitzer cut in saying, “But you're not really saying, are you, Michael, that you -- you think the United States should send in thousands of American troops onto sovereign Mexican soil to fight this war?” Ware answered, “Well, good -- heaven forbid that that should ever happen. But you either legalize these things and cut the demand or you're going to have to intervene. Now, what I'm looking to the White House and President Obama for is a third way. Now, that's what he's going to have to find -- some measure between those two things, because America is responsible for this war, Wolf. It's American demand for the illicit drugs that's fueling it. It's being fought on both sides with American weapons. And it's been neglected by the United States pretty much since 9/11.” Blitzer noted that secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in Mexico later this week; the president is planning a trip next month; and Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano is going to confab with the Calderon government soon. Blitzer said he assumes they’ll all come up with some sort of new strategy. Ware said Admiral Stavridis (head of Southern Command) went to Mexico a couple weeks ago after which he briefed President Obama. As Blitzer noted, the big sign that something big is brewing in Mexico is that CNN sent Michael Ware to cover it. And yes, of course, Ware is right on the money: The drug problem is totally due to American demand for illicit drugs.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Pope Gets it Wrong Again

On his monthly gaffe run, Pope Benedict XVI made new headlines yesterday. Last month, His Eminence recommunicated Bishop Richard Williamson--or whatever it’s called when the Pope reinstates an excommunicated member of the Roman Catholic Church. Along with three other bishops, Pope John Paul had excommunicated Bishop Williamson in 1988. Their ordination hadn’t had papal approval. The leader of an ultraconservative group, the Society of St. Pius X, ordained the four, which was against the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. This past January, in order to heal a schism in the church, Pope Benedict revoked the excommunication of the four Bishops. Not a month after being reinstated, Bishop Williamson said on Swedish television that the Nazi gas chambers had never existed and that no more than 300,000 people had died in the Holocaust. It didn’t sit well in the world that a German Pope had reinstated a Holocaust denier who was still in full vigor and proclaiming his anti-Semitic nonsense even into the 21st century. With the Vatican’s highly vaunted “moral authority” in question, the Vatican’s PR hype-machine revved up and scrambled to do damage control. The Pope repeatedly condemned Holocaust denial. To add to Pope Benedict’s humiliation, Williamson has never recanted his statement, he has simply said he’s sorry his remarks caused “harm and hurt”. He claims he’s a “nonhistorian” and that his perspective was formed “20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available.” Oh please! Twenty years ago was 1989. All available evidence supported the existence of the Holocaust in 1989. Time races forward. It is now a month after the Bishop Williamson debacle and the Pope has hit the news again. Yesterday Pope Benedict said from Yaounde, Cameroon, Africa: “You can’t resolve H.I.V./AIDS with the distribution of condoms, on the contrary, condoms increase the problem.” All known authorities on AIDS readily admit that condoms do not solve the AIDS issues. However, all known authorities on AIDS agree that the distribution of condoms is the one way that the spread of AIDS can be diminished to a large degree. The distribution of condoms does NOT increase the problem. The pope said, “a responsible and moral attitude toward sex would help fight the disease.” A responsible and moral Pope would help fight many of the problems in the world. Sadly, we do not have a responsible and moral Pope. And that is unfortunate for the world, the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church.

Monday, March 16, 2009

True, I Couldn’t Watch ALL of Cheney on CNN

I could stand only about half of John King’s interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday. But I have read the entire transcript of Cheney’s exercise in revising history (even in the face of John King’s pointed questions). And Cheney has his post-Bush-regime delivery down pat. He acts like he’s thought about his answers and he has a considered and reasonable air. He doesn’t go off on tangents or fuss, fume or rant. He doesn’t need to. The GOP has Rush Limbaugh. Cheney said, “Rush is a good friend. I love him. I think Rush is a good man.” Dick Cheney simply continued to tell lies about the past eight years. He appeared to assume that he, his sect and his devotees had been the only ones who witnessed history as it played out. The rest of us don’t matter. 1) King asked if the Bush administration left a mess for President Obama to clean up. Cheney said: “I don't think you can blame the Bush administration for the creation of those circumstances. It's a global financial problem.” And by the way, all through the interview, Cheney deferred to George W. Bush, saying that Bush had made the decisions, some of which Cheney did not agree with. Okay, if that’s the way the GOP wants to play it, that’s the way it will be played. However, it would be interesting to know who actually was making the decisions that Cheney disagreed with because of this we may be sure, the decider was not the overmedicated, underachieving, out-of-the-loop, mumbling, babbling, incoherent George W. Bush 2) King asked: “Is the Obama administration going to be successful in restoring confidence in the markets?” Cheney said he “hoped the Obama administration would be successful". He added, “I noted when the markets were going down, they didn't want to talk about it.” I have no idea what Cheney meant by that. The Dems have always been willing and eager to talk about the markets beginning to plummet—it was during the Bush years. 3) King asked: “If you were in Rahm Emanuel’s place (Chief of Staff) would you tell Obama he’s trying to do too much too fast? Cheney said Obama’s situation is like the first Bush term. People are giving Obama a lot of advice to change his program and the Bush administration rejected the idea to change. “We did not allow the critics to diminish what we were trying to accomplish,” Cheney said. Um so...I guess we are to infer Cheney would not tell Obama he's moving too fast. It was kind of John King not to say that the Bush administration had been perfectly capable of diminishing their accomplishments themselves. 4) King asked why people should listen to Cheney now in view of the fact that unemployment numbers, poverty numbers and the budget deficit were at record levels during the Bush administration. Cheney said, “Eight months after we arrived, we had 9/11. We had 3,000 Americans killed one morning by al Qaeda terrorists here in the United States. We immediately had to go into the wartime mode. We ended up with two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of that is still very active. We had major problems with respect to things like Katrina, for example. All of these things required us to spend money that we had not originally planned to spend, or weren't originally part of the budget. Stuff happens. And the administration has to be able to respond to that, and we did.” In addition, Cheney again equated the Iraq war to World War II, which it never has been on a par with. Cheney said, “We always said -- I always said that wartime scenario is cause for an exception in terms of spending. It was appropriate in World War II, certainly, and I think it's appropriate now.” Cheney probably didn’t mean that “now” to mean now. But that’s what he said. King asked Cheney, given that Cheney was an MBA, a Washington insider and a CEO, how come he and the people in the administration couldn’t see the financial meltdown coming? Were they all so caught up in the boom times that they couldn’t see the warning signs? Cheney said, “I think so. I don't recall, you know, sort of a general warning of concern until things started to turn -- turn south on us.” Oh my! He doesn’t recall. About the Iraq war, Cheney said, “we've accomplished nearly everything we set out to do.” John King asked if Cheney would go so far as to say, “Mission Accomplished”? Cheney said he wouldn’t use that term, but only because it would trigger reactions the GOP doesn’t need. So. Yeah, Cheney is still defending invading Iraq, still saying it was the right thing to do and still saying the Bush administration kept Americans safe. He even said that Obama’s decision not to use torture would endanger America. Cheney was very clear that he believed Obama would not keep the USA safe. Here’s an interesting and telling note. Cheney claimed that the Bush administration had kept the US safe in myriad ways. He said there had been many, many, many planned attacks on the United States that Bush and Crew had intercepted, and most of these planned attacks had been kept secret. But he said one serious plan to attack the US was made public. This was, Cheney said, “the potential attack coming out of Heathrow, when they were going to have several American planes with terrorists on board, with liquid explosives, and they were going to blow those planes up over the United States. That attack was intercepted and stopped, partly because of the programs we had put in place.” To recap that incident in the here and now and to take it out of Cheney's fantasy realm: On August 10th, 2006, the British police arrested 25 suspects in a plot supposedly using liquid explosives to blow a plane up over the United States. Eventually, only 8 men (Ahmed Abdullah Ali, Assad Sarwar, Tanvir Hussain, Oliver Savant, Arafat Khan, Waheed Zaman, Umar Islam, Mohammed Gulzar) were charged in connection with the plot. The trial began in England in April 2008. On September 8th 2008, after more than 50 hours of deliberations, the jury did not find any of the defendants guilty of conspiring to target aircraft. Why should we listen to Dick Cheney? There is absolutely no rational reason under the sun.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Two Incontrovertible Facts

1) Fact No. 1 No matter how much the Repubs bloviate and rant about the current Stimulus Package, they cannot erase the fact that the last eight years of Repub Rule has landed us in the worst downward spiral since the Great Depression. No matter how much the Repubs fume and fuss about spending, they cannot erase the fact that the spending of the Bush administration on an unnecessary war in Iraq set the stage for the mess the Obama administration has to clean up. Any over-the-top rhetoric from the Repubs about our children and grandchildren having to pay for measures taken by the Dems is exceedingly hard to stomach, since it’s the Repubs who have bankrupted the United States and ruined its reputation abroad. 2) Fact No. 2 The hideously corrupt rightwing organization called Blackwater, USA is composed of a bunch of mercenary thugs that was used by the Bush administration’s Defense Department to expand the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Blackwater, USA is headed by zealous religious fanatics who have illegally killed and marauded to the extent that they have been outlawed in Iraq. As of yesterday, Blackwater renamed its conglomerate of two dozen businesses “Xe” (pronounced Ex-Zee) in an attempt to shed its odious image. But it does not matter what the Blackwater groups call themselves. They will always be a zealous religious rightwing bunch of murderous, looting, pillaging fanatics.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mr. Ratfucker Has Two Peeves

Mr. Ratfucker cannot understand Ratbang Diary’s policy of not responding to readers’ comments. In fact, Mr. Ratfucker believes responding is a blogger’s duty. And in that regard, he feels he must respond to a reader’s recent self-absorbed, egocentric diatribe. The reader took exception to Ratbang’s claim that Dick Cheney was in a wheelchair at the inauguration not because he had wrenched his back but because he “is a sick, enfeebled, old man...a sick, mean, nasty, vitriolic, embittered old man." Ms Reader said, “I use wheels--is it because I am a sick, mean, nasty, vitriolic, embittered young woman? Is this really what you think of wheelchair users, that we're evil? If you take out prejudice, what's wrong with using a wheelchair? Cheney is these things anyway. Let's not harm people with disabilities by perpetuating highly negative stereotypes. What if someone did the same with race?” Mr. Ratfucker feels it would be a grave injustice to take Ms Reader’s silly, illogical, self-aggrandizing and narrow position and apply it to anything. He believes it would be particularly specious to say that if any person thinks Justice Clarence Thomas is an ignorant, bigoted and perverse black man, it would follow that the person believes all blacks are ignorant, bigoted and perverse. That is a perfect example of a false, unsound, and misleading argument, just as Ms Reader’s assumptions are false, unsound and misleading. Trust me, Ms Reader; if the Ratbang Diary had wanted to say all wheelchair users are evil, Ratbang Diary would have said exactly that. But that was not said and it was not implied. What was said is that one man, Dick Cheney, is in a wheelchair because he is old, sick, enfeebled and bitter, among other things. He was not characterized as “evil”. Ms Reader concluded that all wheelchair users are evil. Mr. Ratfucker believes the disabled should be given every consideration and assistance society can offer. But allowing the disabled to spew nonsense and twisted logic just because they are disabled cannot be supported. As to Mr. Ratfucker’s second peeve: He finds the use of kindergarteners and pre-adolescent children to hawk everything from pharmaceuticals to hospitals and life insurance, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera on television is nauseating and manipulative and he would like to see it outlawed. A recent stomach-turning ad had a little girl simpering, “When my daddy had his heart attack....” Mr. Ratfucker would like to know what these children offer to the viewer that a cogent adult giving real information could not do, and to better advantage? Before a benighted, nauseating and manipulative mother posts a comment Mr. Ratfucker would like to state he does not believe all children and mothers are benighted, nauseating and manipulative. Although he will admit there is a better case for this assumption than that all wheelchair users are evil.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Day We Waited Eight Years For

As Maureen Dowd noted this morning in her New York Times Op/ed piece, it was a Greek chorus moment yesterday when four million eyes watched a machine of the gods lift George W. Bush out of our lives and carry him off to oblivion. “Everyone, it seemed,” Dowd said, “was waving goodbye, with one or two hands, a wave that moved westward down the Mall toward the Lincoln Memorial, and keeping their eyes fixed unwaveringly on that green bird...they wanted to make absolutely, positively certain that W. was gone.” Gone! Oh happy happy day!! In recapping Obama’s oath of office and inauguration speech, however, Dowd gave the former president too much credit when she said, “With W. looking on, and probably gradually realizing with irritation who Mr. Obama’s target was ...the newly minted president let him have it.” I doubt that GWB ever realized he was Obama’s target when Obama said, "As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals...those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake...false promises...and childish things." As a matter of fact, I doubt GWB understood Obama’s speech at all, since it was eloquent and composed of words of three or more syllables. And can we get one thing straight? Dick Cheney was not in a wheelchair because he had strained his back lifting heavy boxes the day before. Cheney hires people to do his heavy lifting--both the metaphorical kind and the real kind. Dick Cheney was in a wheelchair because that is the way he has to get around. Cheney was in a wheelchair because he is a sick, enfeebled, old man...a sick, mean, nasty, vitriolic, embittered old man. And his wheelchair was pushed to the sidelines with the greatest speed so that he didn’t have a chance to thumb his nose or flip the bird to his successor Joe Biden and the new Commander-in-Chief. That great day—1-20-09, Bush’s Last Day—has come and gone and the parties are over. And a new day of hope for the future has come. Now, as Mahatma Gandhi once said, it is up to us to be the change we want to see in the world.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Of all the endless farewell tours by performers that we have witnessed over the years, President George W. Bush took the longest time, or at least it seemed the longest time, to get gone. GWB’s final 15 minutes in the spotlight last night was eloquent and well written by his speechwriters and well rehearsed and delivered by the President. But it was almost entirely self-congratulatory delusional bullshit. “Above all,” the Prez said, “I thank the American people for the trust you have given me.” The cowed press may have given GWB leeway and latitude but the one thing the majority of Americans never gave the president was trust. “Tonight, I am filled with gratitude to Vice President Cheney and members of the administration,” he said. Certainly, that gratitude was well placed. Without Dick Cheney as the shadow president and the Bush administration to fill in for the monumentally mentally out-to-lunch and physically absent president, the United States would have had no commander-in-chief. “Afghanistan has gone from a nation where the Taliban harbored Al Qaeda and stoned women in the streets to a young democracy that is fighting terror and encouraging girls to go to school,” Bush said. He added, “Iraq has gone from a brutal dictatorship and a sworn enemy of America to an Arab democracy at the heart of the Middle East and a friend of the United States.” Total wishful thinking. The US failed in Afghanistan and after George W. Bush followed the lead of his war-mongering minders and invaded Iraq for no good reason, our military, six years later, has failed in Iraq. “For eight years, we have also strived to expand opportunity and hope here at home,” Bush said. “Across our country, students are rising to meet higher standards in public schools. A new Medicare prescription drug benefit is bringing peace of mind to seniors and the disabled.” After eight years of George W. Bush in the White House, hope was nearly extinguished here at home. Public schools are faltering. Many schools have no books for students to buy rent or read. And senior citizens and the disabled are having to choose between buying necessary drugs and buying food. Amazingly, last night the president had the balls to say, “Funding for our veterans has nearly doubled.” Bush actually vetoed a bill to give veterans aid. He also had the balls to say, “America's air, water and lands are measurably cleaner.” The exact opposite is true because GWB and his born-again, troglodyte caveman philosophy doesn’t believe in global warming. “And,” Bush said, “the federal bench includes wise new members, like Justice Sam Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.” It is true, they are new members, but they are far from wise as far as delivering true justice to all Americans is concerned. They are handpicked, conservative, elitist Republican jurists who value religious zealots and those who have money over the poor and minorities. “These are very tough times for hardworking families, but the toll would be far worse if we had not acted,” the president said. Acted how? Acted when? Dear George, you caused the current financial crisis this country is going through. You never once acted to avoid any of the problems we are currently undergoing. “I have always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made, but I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions,” Bush said. No, George, whenever you acted, it was from your center of delusion and madness. Your actions were always to aid a narcissistic self-absorbed fantasy. But in the main, you did not make tough decisions. All decisions were made for you and you rubber-stamped them if it seemed they would in some way ennoble your self-aggrandizing image. Finally, last night the President said, “With the courage of our people and confidence in our ideals, this great nation will never tire, never falter, and never fail.” Actually, it is only because George W. Bush and the Bush administration are now leaving the political arena that this great nation has a prayer of not failing. Had they stayed in office longer, the United States of America would have crumpled under the weight of their dubious leadership and crimes and misdemeanors, and the USA would have become just a failed experiment called democracy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I don’t see how I can get back home in Texas and look in the mirror and be proud of what I see, if I allowed the loud voices, the loud critics to prevent me from doing what I thought was necessary to protect this country—George W. Bush Even the New York Times opted for the above as its quote of the day. It’s true, George, you couldn’t go home to Texas, look in the mirror and be proud of what you see if you had listened to anyone ever during the last eight years. In fact, it would be impossible for any sane person to be proud of anything the entire Bush administration has done during the last eight years. Which begs the question, is Condoleezza Rice as crazy as George Bush? Yesterday, Rice—who is the worst and most sycophantic Secretary of State ever to have had that cabinet post in the history of the United States—said during an exit interview with the Washington Post that she defended every decision she made as George Bush’s SOS and that if Iraq eventually emerges as a democratic, multiethnic state that has friendly ties with the United States, ‘that will be more important than what anybody thought in 2002 or 2003.’” IF Iraq emerges as a multiethnic state? And if this big IF occurs, we’re looking at what year, and after what measures have been taken by whom to mend the catastrophe the Bush administration visited on the world by invading Iraq? WaPo further reported that Rice slapped the table for emphasis and claimed, “What is more important than current controversies is how the decisions will look 25 or 30 years from now, if you get very focused on whether someone thinks your policies are popular, you won't do the right thing.” Bush and Rice didn’t give a damn about whether they and their policies were popular or not and they still did absolutely the wrong thing at every juncture. Rice added: "That's not to say that it didn't come at great cost. I myself will be haunted by the lives that were lost. I will always think about the people I visited at Walter Reed or at Bethesda and wonder what their lives are like. I also know that nothing of value is won without sacrifice." So Rice feels that all of the Bush administration’s wrongheaded, stupid, self-serving, grandiose, despotic and arrogant decisions were valuable and worth the “great cost” and “sacrifice” made by the entire world. But she will be haunted. Well I would certainly hope so. Of one thing GWB and Condi may be sure, their monumentally egomanical exit interviews will be quoted in history books for the foreseeable future and the world will marvel that they did not go to jail for war crimes and misdemeanors, along with VP Dick Cheney, evil genius Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and the rest of the George W. Bush administration.