Thursday, April 20, 2006

Three Important Links

By now, many of you have probably already read the Carl Bernstein piece in the current Vanity Fair, the one in which he calls the Bush maladministration "...perhaps the most disastrous five years of decision-making of any modern American presidency," but just in case you haven't, here's a link. Check it out. It's obvious that Bernstein, half of the investigative team that helped bring down Nixon, has not turned into a pampered, elitist tool like his one-time partner Bob Woodward.

Then there's this essay from The American Prospect by Robert Dreyfuss detailing the secrecy and scary power wielded by the Office of the Vice President -- the real power behind the throne, as if anyone is surprised by that -- which claims that "(m)ore often than not, from policy toward China and North Korea to the invasion of Iraq to pressure for regime change in Iran and Syria, and on issues from detentions to torture to spying by the National Security Agency, the muscle of the vice president’s office has prevailed." And can you imagine anyone worse being in charge? Well, with the possible exception of the man who allegedly is in charge, I mean.

Finally, there is this post put up by Bernard Weiner on The Crisis Papers that pulls no punches at all in calling for an accountability moment from the Most Dangerous Chief Executive Ever. It starts out like this:

"The essence of Bush&Co. strategy, from January 2001 to today, can be boiled down to this: We'll continue doing whatever we want to do until someone stops us.

"So, if you're wondering whether the U.S. will back off from attacking Iran, or whether corporations will no longer be given the ability to dictate Administration environmental policy, or whether domestic spying on U.S. citizens will cease, or whether Scalia might recuse himself on cases he's already pre-judged -- if you still harbor any or all of those illusions, forget about it.

"Since Bush&Co. openly carry out the most reprehensible crimes, with nobody being able to prevent them from moving on to even worse atrocities, it's almost as if their unconscious is screaming out for a political intervention, reminiscent of that old plea from a tormented serial-killer: 'Stop Me Before I Kill Again!'"

And then it gets nasty and confrontational.

All of theses pieces I've linked to are rather lengthy, but well worth the time it takes to read them. Thanks to my many email correspondents (hello, Irene and DrLaniac!) for bringing them to my attention. I hope they command your attention as well.


Joining the ranks of Kvatch's Kommandos and Hilton's Heroes (themselves fashioned after an idea by New Jersey's Jay Lassiter) today are Generik's Guerrilas, seen above in training mode. They are being placed judiciously in various spots throughout San Francisco and South San Francisco and other undisclosed locations across the nation. Watch for them, and remember, support the troops!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Wednesday Vacation Blogging: Amsterdam

Hey, long time no Vacation Blogging here at The Generik Brand. In fact, it's been almost a year since we took these pictures in Europe last summer... which will help explain why I don't remember the names of some of the sites I'm including in this post. Like this big arena-thing here at the left. I'd be happy to have any of you readers enlighten me in the comments if you recognize something that I've forgotten. Amsterdam was near the end of the Grand European Tour, a city on the water, much like Venice. Unlike Venice, though, the weather was much cooler (for which we were grateful), and rather than open air cafes and ristorantes serving pasta and gelati, there were coffeeshops serving up juices, alcohol and all manner of cannibis-related products. The smell of hashish wafts through the air in selected spots all over the city. Uh, if you're into that sort of thing.

So now, without further ado, here's the Generik (and Mrs. Generik) view of Amsterdam.

This is a very old and very famous clock tower along one of the main canals. Do I remember what it's called, or why it's famous (other than for just being so old)? No, I don't. Still pretty cool-looking, though, isn't it?
Along one of the main boulevards.
Hi, Mom.
Just a typical corner scene along the canals.
This is one of the many sightseeing barges that ply the canals. They're relatively cheap, comfortable, and very informative... if you can remember what they tell you about the city, that is.
Houses along the canal. Many of the buildings in Amsterdam date back to the 1600s.
Inside the barge.
Tulip bulbs for sale.
Have I ever mentioned that I like to take pictures of buildings when I go on vacation?
The arch outside the Rijksmuseum.
The Rijksmuseum entrance.
This Vermeer is just one of many, many reasons to go inside the museum and spend a few hours.
Back out along the canals.
I don't know, I'm thinking maybe I could live there... especially if I could live right here.
Amsterdam is truly a city with balls.
And hey, they've got something for everybody there.
Hmmm... maybe this is why I remember so little about the city. ...Naaaah.
Rembrandt Square, with a passel of the ubiquitous Dutch bicycles parked wherever there's room.
Many of the bridges along the canals are lit up at night, making these reflected rings in the calm water.
The Hotel de L'Europe.
Another hotel along the water.
Yeah, I think I could stand spending some more time there.

Comic Relief

David Horsey from today's Seattle P-I:

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Get Published!

As long as I'm plugging for friends, here's another PSA for your perusal and enjoyment. My pal Fred in New York is getting set to publish a print zine, and he is looking for submissions. Here's what he has to say about it:

It's called Kaleidotrope and will be twice-yearly. I hope to have the first issue out for October 2006, with a submission deadline of June 30. Detailed submission guidelines are available here, but generally I'm looking for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and black and white art. I like work that tends toward the speculative and/or fantastic, but I'm open to all genres and styles. Cross-genre or slipstream work would be especially welcome. (I'm not interested in publishing gore, sword and sorcery, or pornography.) Submissions can be sent by e-mail to my attention at

Strike Force

The word on the street -- specifically Market Street in San Francisco, between Powell and the Ferry Building -- is that the street is about to become a battle front. Kvatch's Kommandos are set to make an appearance in the area sometime in the next 24 hours or so. If you're anywhere near downtown SF in the next day or two, watch out for these little guys. They don't last long in the field, so keep a sharp eye out. Support the troops!

***Update*** The Kommandos have been spotted. Check 'em out!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Solidarize, You Rabble!

With a big Generik hat tip to my pal Paperwight for pointing this out, I'd like to direct your attention to a post by Barbara O'Brien at Mahablog regarding protest marches and demonstrations. She compares and contrasts the civil rights marches and demonstrations against the Vietnam war of the '60s with the current activities protesting (mainly) the war in Iraq, and finds the contemporary events lacking a certain gravitas. She proposes some rules, with which I mostly agree. For instance:

Rule #1. Be serious.

The great civil rights marches of the 1950s and 1960s should be studied and emulated as closely as possible. People in those marches looked as if they were assembled for a serious purpose. They wore serious clothes. They marched both joyously and solemnly. They were a picture of dignity itself. If they chanted or carried signs, the chants or signs didn’t contain language you couldn’t repeat to your grandmother...

Rule #2. Be unified of purpose.

One of my ongoing gripes about antiwar marches is the way some groups try to tack their own agenda, which many others in the demonstration may not share, onto marches. International A.N.S.W.E.R. is a repeat offender in this category. Most of the marchers last September were in Washington for the sole purpose of protesting the war. But ANSWER hijacked CSPAN’s attention and put on a display so moonbatty it made The Daily Show; see also Steve Gilliard.

Having attended virtually all of the San Francisco protests against the Iraq war since 2002, I have to also admit to being turned off by the co-opting of the message by groups like Internatonal ANSWER (one of the worst offenders). Instead of hearing a unified voice decrying the lies and subterfuge used to take us to war in the first place and to continue the carnage out of some misguided sense of honor (or something -- I'm still not sure why we're there), those of us in attendance are subjected to a rant on every agenda dear to the most fringe elements of the organizing members' hearts. As Maha points out, we hear about Mumia, and we hear about Peltier; we hear about the plight of the Palestinians; we hear about all the evils of imperialism and how we need to completely smash the state, get rid of all Republicans and Democrats and yadda yadda yadda. The stridency of some of the more extreme members of the left wing at these demonstrations gets extremely tiresome; it diffuses the message and draws attention away from the cause around which we are ostensibly rallying.

At these protests, I am often reminded of an incident from my college days. I was in my early twenties, attending UC Berkeley, and I found myself at a protest in Sproul Plaza. The event was supposed to be a demonstration against the UC investing funds with South Africa, an attempt to get the university to divest itself of any support for the apartheid regime. (Sanctions eventually were applied, by the UC and other organizations, and the apartheid era finally ended not long after that.) But, as so often happens at events like that one, speaker after speaker came to the microphone and exhorted the crowd to back his or her particular agenda, whether it had anything to do with divesting South Africa funds or not. The speakers seemed to get more and more strident as the day wore on, and the final straw -- for me -- was a woman who got her turn at the microphone and began to berate the crowd.

"This is really great," she started out, "it's great to see everyone here, but now we need to do more. We need to do so much more, people! We need to solidarize with the Eritrean workers!"

She went on after that, with a whole laundry list of things we needed to do to achieve her particular vision of left-wing utopia, but I have to admit that I don't remember one single thing she said after her "solidarize with the Eritrean workers" comment. It's been nearly thirty years since that day, but I still recall that one line and how incongruous it was in the context of the demonstration. (In fact, I still repeat it on a fairly regular basis when I think someone is getting a bit too strident or lost on a tangent that has little or nothing to do with the main subject being discussed.)

It's not that I think "solidarizing" with workers in Eritrea or anywhere else is completely worthless, it's just that at that moment, in that particular venue, it was not the right message to send. It distracted from the issue at hand, and gave ammunition to critics of the left and of the protest that day. And that's what I see happening too often at today's marches and demonstrations -- too many people using those occasions to exhort the crowd to solidarize with the Eritrean workers. One of the reasons that Republicans have been successful at gaining power and attracting supporters over the past twenty years is that they have, for the most part, stayed focused and stayed on message -- even if the message is completely wrong-headed, mean-spirited and/or false. It's time those of us on the left learned to speak with a unified voice (hello -- I mean, goodbye, Joe Lieberman!) and stop engaging in circular firing squads. If we don't, we end up ceding power and position to those who oppose us.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Armageddon Down To It

Here comes the Apocalypse. Are you ready for it?

About this time a year ago, I predicted that the U.S. would be bombing Iran by June. Thankfully, I was wrong then. However, it doesn't appear that we're out of the woods yet... between the recent article in the New Yorker by Seymour Hersh outlining the Bush plans for nuking Iran and Condi Rice's statements today that "we can't let this (uranium enrichment in Iran) continue" and "it is time for action," it would seem that we are already well on our way to yet another Middle Eastern disaster. This one could be of staggering proportions, enough to make the horrific debacle in Iraq look like the cakewalk that Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney envisioned all along. Even with our military stretched thin, between Iraq and Afghanistan; even with Army recruiting at an all-time low, and redeploying soldiers at an all-time high; even with a majority of Americans against such a proposition, this administration is just chafing at the bit to start yet another war -- and this one with the possibility of nuclear arms being used. What kind of Pandora's box would we be opening if the world soon sees mushroom clouds over Tehran and Natanz -- coming from American weapons? Are we looking at the beginning of World War III? Or has that already started, and we just don't realize it yet?

Of course, Preznit Above The Law denies that any such planning is taking place, calling it "wild speculation." But then again, he also insisted that he was pursuing diplomatic options with Iraq *coughbullshitcough* before shocking and aweing the citizens of that country with his military muscle. And given the recent revelations about his role in the Valerie Plame leak, just how much credibility does he (or anyone in his administration) have? Let's see... what's a number less than zero?

It may soon be time for all of us to assume the classic nuclear defense posture: Curl up in a fetal position, place your hands behind your head, your head between your legs, then lean way over and kiss your ass goodbye. So long, nice knowing you.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Busted for Stupidity

What can you say about a guy so depraved, so perverted and so downright stupid, that in this day and age gets caught making sexual overtures to a (supposed) 14-year-old girl over the Internet? Especially when he's a Department of Homeland Security official? Wouldn't you think that a guy in a position like that would, at the very least, try to be discreet about who he was and where he worked? Well, if you did, you wouldn't be thinking of Brian Doyle.

What a guy! Apparently he hasn't read about one of the favorite ways law enforcement has these days for trapping potential child molesters who troll for underage trim in chat rooms and such: having a detective pose as a youngster online and then baiting some short-eyed idiot into incriminating himself (it's always a guy, be sure of that) by attempting to meet or get the "kid" to send dirty pictures or pose for a webcam or some damn thing. Sheesh. Just when did Mr. Doyle fall off the turnip truck, anyway?

Perhaps this is the consequence of being a part of the Lie, Cheat and Steal administration. Guys like Doyle (and Claude Allen, and David Safavian) see the big boys -- Bush, Cheney, Rummy, etc. -- get away with high crimes and misdemeanors on a regular basis, and figure they must be bulletproof as well. Is there tequila in the water they serve in the White House and the Capitol? What else could make these fellows believe that they won't get caught in their dirty little endeavors?

Just like watching Tom DeLay go down a couple days ago, I have to admit to a bit of schadenfreude at Doyle's predicament -- which he unquestionably brought on himself, and for which I have absolutely no sympathy -- but imagine how much happier I'd be if some of the real criminals in this administration were made to pay for their crimes!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Be Careful What You Listen To

Here's life today in Preznit Torquemada's America: A music website is reporting that a 24-year-old man was arrested at the Durham, NC, airport and pulled off a plane bound for London because the taxi driver who took him to the airport didn't care for his choice of music. Apparently, the songs London Calling by the Clash and Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin were enough to make the driver suspicious, so he alerted the local constabulary that a swarthy (I'm assuming -- the guy's name is Harraj Mann) individual was boarding a plane, and that they should make sure he wasn't going to take it over and fly it into some government building.

Can't find corroboration of this story (yet), but it sure smacks of the reality of our post-9/11 world, in which the Pinocchio administration desperately plays on the fears of Americans to keep itself in power and to keep from having to reveal any of its dirty little secrets to the great unwashed masses.

Use an MP3 player, go to jail!

***UPDATE*** Okay, I'm an idiot -- sort of -- this story is apparently real, but it happened at Durham airport in the UK, not North Carolina. So, uh, this is life in Tony Blair's England... Sheesh.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

DeLay No More

One of our long national nightmares is now officially over: Tom the Bug Killer DeLay has announced that he will give up his seat in the House of Representatives, spurred on by the fact that he's facing criminal prosecution for money-laundering, that he's intimately tied to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, that his former deputy chief of staff, Tony C. Rudy, recently pled guilty to charges of conspiracy and corruption and that his chances of being reelected in November were either fat or slim, take your pick. Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy. DeLay has been the bete noir of those of us on the left ever since he took office, and seeing him finally being brought down by his obvious and complete corruption brings more than a little bit of schadenfreude to this old heart.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, Tom. Heh heh.
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