Friday, February 17, 2006

Image of the Day

This one speaks for itself. Or, as Dick Cheney might say, "no comment."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Ventriloquist Speaks

Well, isn't this just the perfect set-up -- Shotgun Dick Cheney is scheduled to go on FAUX News later today to answer questions about his poor aim and lack of a tag for the Texas lawyer he bagged on Saturday. (Meanwhile, "peppered" Harry Whittington has apparently recovered from his buckshot induced-heart incident enough to keep charges from being filed -- so far.)

Can't you just imagine the softball questions Vice Preznit Coronaries For Everyone will be tossed? It will be like swatting marshmallows with a sledgehammer for the honesty-challenged Veep. In fact, odds are that by the end of the press conference, most wingers out there in I (Heart) Bush-land will be convinced that the shooting was all either Ted Kennedy's or Bill Clinton's fault. I can hear the spin machines cranking up already...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Unsafe at Any Speed

This image has been shooting around the internets today; just thought I'd share it with those of you who might not have seen it already. The one way not pictured on this particular montage is his notorious Sneer of Death. Whatever you do, steer clear of this guy if you have any choice in the matter. He's one scary SOB.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

It's My Birthday And I'll Cry If I Want To

Here it is. A day that, back when I was young and wild, I never thought I'd see, has arrived. Of course, I thought that about ages 30 and 40, too. What is it about being young and wild that we never picture ourselves growing old -- we imagine that we will die young and wild, or somehow just magically stay that way forever? Well, much as I tried to resist it, I got old. I hit the half-a-hundred mark today. But you know what? I don't feel any different than I did yesterday, or the day before that. So I'm not traumatized or feeling like I need to buy a red sports car and get a young, blonde girlfriend; I'm just happy that it's a beautiful Saturday in San Francisco, the city I love and never want to leave.

One friend wrote to me recently saying that there is your chronological age, and then there is your "real age." (This idea is also expressed in the adage, "You're only young once, but you can stay immature forever.") So my chronological age is now 50; my real age is... well, I'm about old enough to drive, I guess. Another friend, someone who was one of my best friends in high school but that I hear from only about once every two or three years now (he apparently has an email system that receives, but only allows him to send on special occasions, and a telephone that doesn't dial out), wrote me a couple days ago saying, "Is it just me, or have you noticed that at 50 we're still the same as we were in school? (It's not just you, Bill.) Maybe [fewer] insecurities and more wisdom, but pretty much the same likes/dislikes (if less energy to carry them out) as then. I always thought that when I 'grew up' things would be so different. Is it kind of funny/scary to think our parents were just grown up big kids like we are now?"

Yes, I guess it is. Funny and scary. And I would absolutely agree that I still -- and probably always will -- feel like a "grown up big kid."

I suppose it really hit me on Thursday. I went through my normal lunch time routine -- get the Bay Area section of the Chronicle, walk up the hill to the cafeteria, make myself a salad, sit down and read the letters to the editor and the op-eds, get amused or outraged, as appropriate, then take the paper back to my office, exchange it for my iPod and go for a long, meandering walk along the bay to the Oyster Point marina and back. Listening to the iPod, I imagined what I would think of the device, and the songs being played, if I were to somehow have possession of it when I was 16 years old. (Of course, quite a few of the songs on it would have already been familiar to me back then.) That year was rather seminal in my life -- it was 1972, "the year the '60s ended." Current music at the time included David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, the Rolling Stones' Exile On Main Street, the Allman Brothers' Eat A Peach and Stevie Wonder's Talking Book. (My pal Jay Dresner gave me Exile for my 16th birthday, and that remains to this day one of the best birthday gifts I ever received. I played it so much I had to buy a replacement copy a few years later, and have since owned two CD copies of it as well.) The world seemed magical and full of promise then. That summer, I traveled around the country with my family, seeing New York City and Boston and Washington DC for the first time. I, uh, "experimented" with various substances (a lot, actually) and found out a few things about the opposite sex. For some reason, I always think of that year as being light blue in color, like a perfect afternoon sky; 1973, in contrast, is a deep red. I'm not sure why certain years have colors associated with them in my mind, but those years certainly do. I guess that's when I first felt like I was no longer a child, and that I might someday become a grown-up.

Of course, that didn't really happen, did it? But I got close.

So I walked along the winding path that skirts the bay, watching the people out jogging or eating lunch, observing all the various birds (one of my favorite things to do on my walk) -- the gulls and ducks and coots and geese; the cormorants and sandpipers and pelicans; the snowy egrets (egrets... I've had a few...) and the occasional great heron -- and reflected on what I've done in my 50 years. As that 16 year old looking ahead, would I have approved of the life choices I've made? I certainly never could have predicted the path my life has taken, but I suppose I'm pretty comfortable with it now. I've got a good job and a successful marriage. I've been able to travel quite a bit in the past few years. I have family that loves me and many close friends about whom I care very much. So while I may not be rich or famous (I never wanted to be famous anyway, and still wouldn't), I'm essentially happy.

As I neared the end of the walk, which is about 3.5 miles and typically takes me an hour to complete, I figured I'm more than halfway now on my walk through this life; maybe even two-thirds of the way there. Of course, I could be hit by a bus tomorrow, or I could live to be a centenarian and then some; who knows? But odds are, given the typical life expectancy in these United States, that I'm on the downhill slope at this point. And that's okay.

What got me, though, was when I got home and looked at the mail. In years past, by the time my birthday rolls around, I've usually already received a few cards in the mail, from my mother or my sister or friends. I hadn't seen a birthday card in the mail all week (not that I'm complaining, mind you, I just found it a bit curious), and when I opened the mail box that Thursday evening, again saw no cards. There was, however, a personalized offer from the AARP to purchase their life insurance at a discount.

The AARP has already found me! Fuck it, I'm officially old now.

As many of you already know, I'll be celebrating tonight by holding court at my favorite local watering hole, the HiDive. A number of my friends, including some of my fellow BARBARians will all be there with me; stop on by and have a cocktail and a piece of cake with me if you're in the area and so inclined. Or not. What the hell, I'll probably never remember one way or the other by tomorrow. You know how old folks' memory slips away.

"Put another candle on my birthday cake, I'm another year old today." -- Sheriff John's Birthday Polka

Friday, February 10, 2006

Scooter and Nuremberg Defense

My pal Pete asks why I haven't posted anything about Scooter Libby's revelation that his "higher-ups" directed him to give reporters classified information (e.g., Valerie Plame's name and covert status) about the war on Iraq and its critics. Well, the truth is I did post something, yesterday -- but over at Blognonymous, where I'm a guest for the time being. Not wanting to run duplicates of every post I write, I guess my legions of few fans will just have to check both places to see what I've had to say about anything for a while.

I would encourage you to read Blognonymous anyway, whether I'm posting there or not.

Get 'Em While They're Young

Just trying to help a brother out here -- a notice is up on Nor-Cal Politics about a Youth Event coming up Feb. 16 across the bay in Oaktown that some of you out there may or may not be interested in. It's a panel discussion presented by the Action Caucus and East Bay Young Democrats, focusing on organizing youth and fighting for their rights, and will feature star of the blogosphere (and East Bay resident) Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. Check out the Nor-Cal post for more information.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Wednesday Vacation Blogging: Munich

Like Berlin, Munich was a quick stopover on our way to somewhere else (in this case, Prague). Also like Berlin, we ended up wishing we'd had more time to explore the city. Bad planning on our part. Next time we get to Europe, we hope to spend more than just a couple days in Germany. Here is a brief sampling of what we did manage to see while we were there.

This was the view as we stepped out of our hotel. I don't know the name of this church, but I liked the juxtaposition of it and the modern building in front of it on the left.
Obviously a recent addition to the ornate artwork that graces City Hall, this dragon appears to be menacing many of the older figures that have been there for centuries.
A poster in a store window made us laugh. Who can resist kitties? Even destructive ones like this one.
Seriously, the advertising in Europe just killed us.
Outside the ancient city wall.
In Berlin, there are fiberglass bears all over the city. In Munich, it's lions everywhere.
The lions come in two poses: like these two, on all fours, and others seated on their haunches with one paw raised halfway up (not quite in the Sieg Heil mode of the bears in Berlin, however).
"I don't think that word means what you think it means."
Mrs. Generik and her famous hair, unaware that she's getting her picture taken.
Yet another star of the public art world. A lion in his field.
How do you say "Heavens to Murgatroyd" in German?
The main town square at City Hall. It's actually probably called "something-platz," but my memory is shot right now.
The entrance to City Hall.
The City Hall clock tower.
It's all about the stauary there. Everywhere you look, there's sculpture peeking out at you.
...Like St. George slaying the dragon, here.
The dragon makes a comeback at night, though, and even gets his own spotlight.
Street musicians playing some wonderful classic compositions for pfennigs. Actually, for Euros nowadays.
Could it be... ?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Misery -- and Incompetence -- Loves Company

It wasn't long after George W. Bush settled in to the Oval Office (illegally, as far as many people -- including me -- are concerned) that a lot of us began referring to him as the Worst President Ever. In the five years since that time, he has only lived down to that description every single day, cemented that appellation, written it in stone for all to refer to throughout history. He has lied to Congress, to the American people and to the world. He has bungled virtually every chance he's had to prove himself worthy of the job; has shown himself to be singularly unqualified and overmatched to the task with which he has been charged. Just as in his previous attempts at running a business (Arbusto, anyone?) or governing (more prisoners killed in Texas on his watch than ever before; pollution in Texas at an all-time high), he has been a miserable failure, a spectacularly egregious example of What Not To Do.

His failures are many, and enormous: Allowing the 9/11 attack to happen on his watch, and then bungling the response; destroying the good will of the world after 9/11 by engaging in shrill, partisan rhetoric and stonewalling the investigation into the cause of that event; letting Osama bin Laden run free to this day; Dick Cheney's energy policies; creating the largest deficit in the history of the nation; cutting taxes for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and the poor; starting a costly and unnecessary war of choice with Iraq; allowing and condoning extraordinary rendition and torture; Abu Ghraib; Medicare D; Plamegate; the criminally negligent response to Hurricane Katrina; warrantless spying on the American people; the list goes on and on.

But here's the thing -- he hasn't operated in a vacuum. He has been aided and abetted by his pals in the halls of the Capitol building, who, to my mind, may just qualify as the Worst Congress Ever. They've helped Bush lower his game to the abysmal level where it stands today. With many, if not most, of the same members who were so subpoena-happy during the Clinton years, this Congress has essentially abdicated its duties and allowed the Boy King to run roughshod over them and, by extension, all of us. Blinded by the cigar smoke and mirrors (and the occasional blowjob) of the Clinton administration, a right-wing-driven and -funded Congress issued hundreds of subpoenas at the time. Since Bush took office? Maybe, what, three? Five? Congress has collectively said, "Subpoenas? Oh, that's so '90s. Besides, I don't see any wrongdoing." Here's a tip, Congressman -- it's tough to see anything but your own colon when you've got your head that far up your ass.

Rabid partisanship has kept the Republicans in check, and they are loath to investigate -- or even question -- one of their own. Actions that, had they been undertaken by a Democratic president, would have had the House and Senate in impeachment hearings long ago, have been ignored or excused by this crowd. Nothing the president does, including breaking the law with impunity and saying that he plans on continuing his criminal behavior, is enough to draw the ire or the attention of his cronies at the Capitol. And so he skips merrily on his way, lying and stonewalling and answering to exactly no one. And neither do his spokespeople. How does this Congress react to the presidential thumbing of his nose? They argue about whether or not to put Torture Guy Little Abu Gonzales under oath about the NSA spying case (and, because the Republicans had the votes, ended up not). Not that it would have done much good, with his repeated "I'm not going to answer that" and "I can't talk about that" responses to their inquiries. (Senator Pat Leahy showed just the slightest bit of spine when he commented, sarcastically, "Of course. I'm sorry, Mr. Attorney General, I forgot: You can't answer any questions that might be relevant." But, echoing the dominant paradigm in this particular group of legislators, Senators Orrin Hatch, Jeff Sessions and John Cornyn all defended Little Abu and his boss in their outlaw activities.)

And so it goes. The lying, incompetent president and his excuse-makers in Congress, hand in hand, skipping down the garden path. It's sickening, what's happened to our once-vital government. On the one side you have corrupt, crony Republicans allowing the president to get away with blatant criminal behavior, and on the other side you have ineffectual, Republican-Lite, afraid-of-their-own-shadow Democrats triangulating and wringing their hands, wondering why they keep losing elections to such a transparent gang of thieves, liars and blithering idiots. All of them, of course, are members in good standing of the Corporate Elite Party, willing to do whatever it takes to keep the corporate lobbying money flowing and to keep themselves in power. A pox on all their houses. It's time to throw the rascals out and elect some representatives who will actually try to legislate in the best interests of the people.

What a match -- the Worst President Ever and the Worst Congress Ever. I suppose they deserve each other. But what did we do to deserve them?

I Won!!

Well, here's a surprise -- it seems that your humble host, Generik, is the winner of the weekend "I love my president because..." contest over at Blognonymous. I just found out! I was so busy yesterday, I never even got a chance to check in with the blogosphere, much less see if I had captured the prize.

And what a prize it is -- I get to be a guest blogger at Kvatch's site as a reward for the winning entry, and I'll try to be worthy of the honor. Thank you, one and all, but especially Kvatch for putting on the contest in the first place.

What was that winning entry, some of you may be asking...? Well, here it is, with typo intact (ot = to):

I love my president because he's the kind of guy you'd like to sit down and have a beer with. The kind of guy you'd like to sit down and have a beer and a couple shots of tequila with. The kind of guy you'd like to sit down and have a beer, a couple shots of tequila and a few big lines of cocaine with. The kind of guy you'd like to sit down and have a beer, a couple shots of tequila, a few big lines of cocaine and a whole box of rat poison under the table ot replace his coke with.

Uh... that's a joke, Ann Coulter.

Woohoo!! I won, I won!!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Show Your Patriotism

Fellow BARBARian Kvatch has a great, patriotic contest up for the weekend over at Blognonymous: "I love my president because..."

Head on over there and let the word know why you love our Preznit more than life itself.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Freedom From Information Act

Here's a surprise (not): The New York Times reports that the Court of His Most Holy Imperial Majesty Bush administration Justice Department is stonewalling on requests for documents related to the unlawful NSA spying operation.

The Justice Department is balking at the request so far, administration officials said, arguing that the legal opinions would add little to the public debate because the administration has already laid out its legal defense at length in several public settings.

But the legality of the program is known to have produced serious concerns within the Justice Department in 2004, at a time when one of the legal opinions was drafted. Democrats say they want to review the internal opinions to assess how legal thinking on the program evolved and whether lawyers in the department saw any concrete limits to the president's powers in fighting terrorism.

This has been the modus operandi of this maladministration from the get-go -- stonewalling and refusing to issue information that should, by all rights, be freely available to Congress and the public. It's been the same way since Dick Cheney's oil company CEO love-fest energy conference and the 9/11 investigation, and continues now with the hurricane Katrina and Jack Abramoff investigations. The big question now is whether Arlen Specter and a Republican-controlled Congress will have the balls to issue subpoenas, or if they'll just meekly roll over and get out the Vaseline as they have so many times in the past.

Wear a T-shirt, Go to Jail

Most everyone has heard about Cindy Sheehan getting arrested for daring to wear a T-shirt criticizing the war in Iraq to the SOTU speech the other night. Here's the story in her own words.

I had just sat down and I was warm from climbing 3 flights of stairs back up from the bathroom so I unzipped my jacket. I turned to the right to take my left arm out, when the same officer saw my shirt and yelled; "Protester." He then ran over to me, hauled me out of my seat and roughly (with my hands behind my back) shoved me up the stairs. I said something like "I'm going, do you have to be so rough?" By the way, his name is Mike Weight.

The officer ran with me to the elevators yelling at everyone to move out of the way. When we got to the elevators, he cuffed me and took me outside to await a squad car. On the way out, someone behind me said, "That's Cindy Sheehan." At which point the officer who arrested me said: "Take these steps slowly." I said, "You didn't care about being careful when you were dragging me up the other steps." He said, "That's because you were protesting." Wow, I get hauled out of the People's House because I was, "Protesting."

I was never told that I couldn't wear that shirt into the Congress. I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things...I would have, and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later. I was immediately, and roughly (I have the bruises and muscle spasms to prove it) hauled off and arrested for "unlawful conduct."

There's more if you follow the link. Read it and weep for America.

***Update*** Glenn Greenwald has a great round-up of the many, many right-wing blogs out there who accused Cindy of "breaking the law" when, in fact, she violated no law at all by simply wearing a T-shirt in the chamber where the speech was being given. Even the cops now admit that they "made a mistake" in arresting her, and all charges have been dropped.
Free Counter
Online Universities