Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Cary Tennis, Salon's advice columnist, has a typically lengthy response to a question from a guy asking how he should respond to the unsolicited bigoted political opinions of his right wing relatives and friends:

America is in political crisis. This is no time to sit quietly by. You simply have to register your dissent. We are living in one of those historic moments where you either respond authentically or you lose your soul. If your friends and relatives do not realize the depth of our peril, you owe it to them to try to make them aware of it.

So how do you register your disagreement in a way that is principled, respectful and historically conscious? Maybe you start by saying something simple and straightforward such as "I respectfully disagree."

What happens next? Maybe somebody says, "You respectfully disagree with what?"

Then maybe you say, "I respectfully disagree with what was just said."

"And what was that?" someone might ask, having noticed an interesting change in the noise level.

Try to avoid repeating what you disagree with. Instead, ask the person who said it to please repeat it, so you can make sure you heard it correctly. If he repeats it, just the repetition may make it obvious how stupid it was. But it might be a sentiment the whole room agrees with except you.

Very quickly, before things go any further, you need to lighten up a little; make it clear that you don't want to ruin the convivial atmosphere but you genuinely believe that America is facing a political crisis, that urgent matters of history are at stake, and that it is our duty as citizens to debate the issues and be well informed.

Don't try to win them over. Just stand your ground and say you're a liberal and you don't agree and that's how you see it. If you're challenged to rebut what was said, offer instead to do some research and present your case to the group at a later date, saying that even if you don't persuade anyone, that way you'll all end up a little better informed.

Then go home and study. Go over every detail. Learn the history of the subject. Listen to all the pundits you can stand and get to know what their arguments are. Find the factual holes in their arguments. Then, next time you meet, present your case, and ask for campaign contributions.

Or, you could just say "Go fuck yourself!" It's shorter, and you'll feel better afterwards.


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Bush chastises Euro-theocrats!

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has repeated a call for the European Union to admit Turkey, despite criticism by France's President Jacques Chirac that he was meddling in EU affairs.

Bush said Tuesday that Turkey belongs in the EU and that Europe is "not the exclusive club of a single religion" in what amounted to a rebuff to the French leader.

Those Bible-thumping Euro-bigots! It's like they think their god is bigger than everyone else's god!

Seriously, what a bizarre remark by Bush. Maybe, after being questioned by that uppity European journalist about the marching orders he gets from God this is his way of trying to turn the tables.

Update: Digby on Dumbya's presumptuousness

Update No. 2 Digbyon Dumbya's dumbya-ness


Monday, June 28, 2004

Let's drink to the salt of the earth

Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's drink to the lowly of birth
Raise your glass to the good and the evil
Let's drink to the salt of the earth

Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
Spare a thought for his back breaking work
Say a prayer for his wife and his children
Who burn the fires and who still till the earth

And when I search a faceless crowd
A swirling mass of gray and black and white
They don't look real to me
In fact, they look so strange

*Mick Jagger/Keith Richards

I changed my blog description

And boy, do I feel better.


Sunday, June 27, 2004

Michael Totten wishes that new-cons and liberal war hawks would form a new party. So do I. It could really give the Greens and Libertarians a run for their money.

L.A. Efficiency Chosen As Site Of 2000 Libertarian Convention
LOS ANGELES–Libertarian Party officials announced Monday that their 2000 National Convention will be held August 18–20 in an efficiency apartment just off La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles.*

*From The Onion, this story is now available only via the Onion's for-pay subscription service, alas.

If it feels good, do it

Tsk, tsk.


Friday, June 25, 2004

Even Superman can't save us now!

Who said it?

1. "We have prepared for you a potent poison and a sharp sword and have filled for you an intoxicating cup, full of the smell of death and the odor of mortality. Without knowing it, you have survived well-placed traps we set for you, but we promise that we shall follow our cause to the end. Unless we die first, we shall neither tire nor despair until we make you drink from the same cup as we made Izzedin Salim drink from."

a. The Bride in Kill Bill
b. Lex Luthor, Superman No. 61, December 1949
c. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
d. President Cheney

2. "When fortune smiles on something as violent and ugly as revenge, at the time it seems proof like no other, that not only does God exist, you're doing his will."

a. Osama Bin Laden
b. James Lileks
c. The Bride
d. Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

3. "We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer."

a. The President in Independence Day
b. The President in Superman No. 75, February, 1951
c. George W. Bush

4. "You're either with us or against us."

a. George W. Bush
b. John Wayne
c. Osama Bin Laden

5. "Tell them that these events have divided the world into two camps, the camp of the faithful and the camp of infidels. May God shield us and you from them"

a. Osama Bin Laden
b. Crown Prince Abdullah
c. Prince Kardal Khan in The Sheikh and the Runaway Princess

6. "This is an evil man that we're dealing with, and I wouldn't put it past him to develop evil weapons to try to harm civilization as we know it."

a. Superman, talking about Lex Luthor in Superman No. 61, Dec. 1949
b. Michael Moore on George W. Bush
c. George W. Bush on Saddam Hussein

7. "Fuck you!"

a. Paulie Walnuts
b. Tony Montana
c. Dick Cheney
d. All of the above

Answers: 1(c) (Didn't anyone ever tell him not to end a sentence with a preposition?); 2(c); 3(c); 4(a); 5(a); 6(c); 7(d)


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Freedom-hater roundup

We hate their freedom!

They hate their freedom!

Speaking of the fearsome Cheney

Gloria Borger of CNBC says she didn't challenge him on his brazenly false assertion that he "never said" something he actually said because "There was no point in getting in an argument with the Vice President of the United States.

Girl, I don't blame you one bit . . .

(link courtesy of Cursor)


President Cheney, unleashed from his underground bunker, runs amok on the floor of the Senate, cursing Senator Leahy.

Wonkette has the detail we all want to know here.

Perhaps NOW would be the time for some brave soul to suggest to Cheney that he would do the GOP a favor by stepping down?


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

That's mighty white of you

Acidman demonstrates that he, like "President" Bush, has compassion.


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Senate votes to uphold the Pentagon's ban on photographing coffins arriving at Dover. The ban is based upon alleged concerns about the privacy of the families, even though the families aren't present and the coffins aren't marked with any identifying information.

A while back, the Pentagon didn't seem all that concerned about the privacy of Jessica Lynch.

State your name, Citizen.


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Cheap shots

In his current USA Today column Walter Shapiro chides Roger Moore for his hamhanded style and "cheap shots" in Moore's new documentary, Fahrenheit 911:

A single sentence captures the filmmaker's cheap-shot style. Describing George W. Bush's trip to Florida on Sept. 10, 2001, Moore gleefully declares in his voice-over, "He went to bed that night in a bed made with fine French linens." The way Moore presents this tiny detail conveys the impression that stalwart Democratic presidents such as Bill Clinton slept only on the cheapest sheets available from Wal-Mart. Maybe Moore and his fans can call this hitherto unreported Bush scandal "Linen-closet-gate."

Well, Bejus, what did Mr. Shapiro expect from Michael MOORE? He HATES Bush. We all KNOW that. He's about as fair and balanced as Fox News.

But the bit about the fine French linens IS a cheap shot, even I admit. Who cares what kind of sheets Mr. Bush sleeps on? What does that have to do with his performance in office? How does this focus on trivialities advance the national discourse? It's a good thing we have respected journalistic treasures like the The New York Times to focus on the things that really count, such as John Kerry's "plummy" accent and his "patrician" manner and Mrs. Kerry's alleged Botox injections and her foreign accent and so on. The incomparable Daily Howler incomparably dissects the NYT's fatuous coverage here, here, and here (for starters).

I thought I was SO clever

unearthing the transcript of Mr. Bush's stirring anti-torture statement issued on the occasion of last year's U.N. International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, but via Altercation I learn this Aussie blogger beat me to it (so did probably 100's of other blogs that I don't even know about). Anyway, go read the Road to Surfdom's post juxtaposing Mr. Bush's inspiring, noble-sounding words denouncing torture and regimes that torture with the weaselly words of the "how can we justify torture" memos leaking out of the Bush administration now.


Monday, June 14, 2004

Awww, geez
Bush, June 26, 2003
Notorious human rights abusers, including, among others, Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Zimbabwe, have long sought to shield their abuses from the eyes of the world by staging elaborate deceptions and denying access to international human rights monitors.
U.S. News & World Report, June 14, 2004

The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, issued a classified order last November directing military guards to hide a prisoner, later dubbed "Triple X" by soldiers, from Red Cross inspectors and keep his name off official rosters. The disclosure, by military sources, is the first indication that Sanchez was directly involved in efforts to hide prisoners from the Red Cross, a practice that was sharply criticized by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba in a report describing abuses of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

Then and now

Bush, June 26, 2003:

Today, on the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the United States declares its strong solidarity with torture victims across the world. Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere. We are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.

Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, ratified by the United States and more than 130 other countries since 1984, forbids governments from deliberately inflicting severe physical or mental pain or suffering on those within their custody or control. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit. Beating, burning, rape, and electric shock are some of the grisly tools such regimes use to terrorize their own citizens. These despicable crimes cannot be tolerated by a world committed to justice.

Notorious human rights abusers, including, among others, Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Zimbabwe, have long sought to shield their abuses from the eyes of the world by staging elaborate deceptions and denying access to international human rights monitors. Until recently, Saddam Hussein used similar means to hide the crimes of his regime. With Iraq's liberation, the world is only now learning the enormity of the dictator's three decades of victimization of the Iraqi people. Across the country, evidence of Baathist atrocities is mounting, including scores of mass graves containing the remains of thousands of men, women, and children and torture chambers hidden inside palaces and ministries. The most compelling evidence of all lies in the stories told by torture survivors, who are recounting a vast array of sadistic acts perpetrated against the innocent. Their testimony reminds us of their great courage in outlasting one of history's most brutal regimes, and it reminds us that similar cruelties are taking place behind the closed doors of other prison states.

The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example.

June 10, 2004:

Q Mr. President, I wanted to return to the question of torture. What we've learned from these memos this week is that the Department of Justice lawyers and the Pentagon lawyers have essentially worked out a way that U.S. officials can torture detainees without running afoul of the law. So when you say that you want the U.S. to adhere to international and U.S. laws, that's not very comforting. This is a moral question: Is torture ever justified?

THE PRESIDENT: Look, I'm going to say it one more time. If I -- maybe -- maybe I can be more clear. The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you. We're a nation of law. We adhere to laws. We have laws on the books. You might look at those laws, and that might provide comfort for you. And those were the instructions out of -- from me to the government.

It was a DREAM, damn it, don't expect it to make sense!

A reader, who shall remain nameless, although the fact that s/he reads this blog means it can be one of only four people, comments thusly on my "Dreams" entry:

And, maybe it's just me, but "serial killer insurance" just doesn't seem like it would be something that a serial killer would have to PAY. It seems like a risk factor that an insurance company would use to hike the rates on people living in an area that HAD a serial killer.

Sorry I didn't make it clear, or perhaps used the wrong insurance terminology. This was serial killer LIABILITY insurance. To pay claims against me filed by the survivors of people I serially killed. You know, like automobile liability insurance that will pay a claim against you if you run a red light and hit someone . . . or, a homeowners' "umbrella" insurance policy; wherein your insurance company will provide you a defense for covered claims (your neighbor breaks his ankle on a loose board on your porch, or something).

You cannot purchase serial killer liability insurance. I'd ask my agent just to be 100% sure, but I really don't want to run up any red flags, if you know what I mean.

And, like I said, it was a DREAM! Dreams aren't supposed to be realistic.

Now don't anyone write and tell me that it would be impossible to strap Elizabeth Taylor to the roof of a race car on account of she wouldn't fit, 'cause I KNOW that already. ;)

You have to ask?

Salon poses the question: "Dyab Abou Jahjah's Arab European League calls for sharia law, celebrates 9/11 and warned Belgian Jews to break with Israel or else. Is he defending Muslims' civil rights -- or inciting hatred?"

Let's see:

Eloquent, charismatic and Hollywood handsome -- think George Clooney meets Robert de Niro -- the 32-year-old Jahjah founded the Arab European League in Belgium in 2000, before the 9/11 attacks. Born in Lebanon and now a citizen of Belgium, he is part Malcolm X and part rock star. His makes no attempt to conceal his goal: He wants to introduce sharia -- the religious laws and codes of Islam -- to form what he calls a "sharocracy" in Europe. The sale of alcohol in grocery stores would be banned, as would sexually suggestive advertising . . .

Jahjah has spoken of the Sept. 11 attacks as "sweet revenge,"

[the AEL] has warned of -- or threatened -- an "almost unpreventable" attack on Antwerp's Jewish community if it does not "cancel its support for Jewish policy as fast as possible and distance itself from the state of Israel."

Gee, I dunno. It's a tough call.

[sarcasm alert]


Sunday, June 13, 2004

Read Jack Balkin re what Mr. Bush didn't say.


Once I heard a comedian say that if other people were supposed to know what you dreamed, your dreams would be projected on a big movie screen so everyone could watch.

But some people like to tell you about their dreams. I don't talk about mine too often, because I rarely remember them well enough and because they, as so many other things, defy my ability to describe them in a way that would make them interesting to other people (you can stop reading anytime you want to). This is partly due to my own limitations and partly due to the dreams' unreal quality. "I was in my grandmother's house, in Hamlet, North Carolina, only it didn't look like her house, and you were there, only you didn't look like you," etc. A handful of themes crop up frequently in my dreams: the most common one is giant ocean waves, sometimes tidal waves. It's been a while since I've had the dream where I'm in public and I realize I'm not wearing anything but a bra and panties, or the one where it's the night before the final exam and I realize I haven't attended a single class all semester, or read one page of the textbook.

A friend told me that his recurring dream about flunking out of college was so powerful that he hung his diploma on the wall at the foot of his bed, so he could see it when he woke up and know that yes, he DID graduate.

The Sopranos recently featured one of Tony's dream sequences. I watched the show with some friends and after it was over we agreed that although the dream sequence captured that disjointed quality of dreams, it went on way too long. We didn't have dreams that lasted that long, or if we did we didn't remember them. I thought the sequence, like all cinematic depictions of dreams, was unrealistic because it was filmed like, well, a TV show or a movie, with different camera angles in each scene, and with the dreamer, Tony, appearing as an actor in the dream. Was Tony supposed to be observing himself from the camera's perspective in this dream? I mean, when I dream, it's always from my point of view, and the action takes place as if I'm watching it through my own eyes - I don't see myself in the third person, so to speak. But one of my friends said he had dreams in which he "saw" himself. Maybe my inability to see myself in dreams means that I don't realize how others perceive me. My the fact that my friend "sees" himself in his dreams means that he's a narcissist. Of course, he's not the one with the blog. But I digress . . .

Last week I had a particularly demented dream, one that I hope doesn't become a recurring one. This dream could be a product of my dark and tormented subconscious, or it could be a product of the fact that the night before I had it, I watched Psycho on the Turner Classic Movie channel. Also that day I had gotten my car insurance policy renewal papers in the mail. My dreams are hardly ever violent but in this dream I was a serial killer. My parents had a vacation beach house in Connecticut, and sometimes I went there with them. One summer while we were on vacation I killed a whole family. Then a couple of summers later, we were there again and I killed a man. I knew that by killing again, in this town where my family had a house and spent vacations, I was greatly increasing the odds that I would get caught, but I was a serial killer, I couldn't stop myself, the compulsion to kill was irresistible. Either I don't remember the details of the killings, or the dream didn't include them, but I apparently killed these people and then went back to the beach house and cleaned up and no one suspected a thing.

So, in the dream one day I'm back home, opening my mail, and there was a renewal notice from my insurance company. The notice said that the company was adding a serial-killer risk rider to my policy in the amount of $6257.00. That was the coverage amount, not the premium. I don't remember checking the premium because I was so freaked out that this serial killer rider had appeared on my policy. Obviously, my insurance company had somehow found out that brutal murders had happened in this Connecticut beach town two years apart, on dates when I was there! They had deemed me to be at risk for being a serial killer! If my insurance company knew about this, then it was only a matter of time before the police put two and two together and started questioning me! Why, WHY, had I killed a second time?! How could I get out of this? The police couldn't prove it, could they? My family was in Connecticut both times, my mother could just as easily have been the serial killer, or my father or sister! But what if I left a strand of hair or a broken fingernail at the scene? DNA evidence would point to me! Oh, God, if only you let me get out of this I swear I'll never kill again!

Then I woke up, panting, my heart racing. After I moment I realized it was only a dream, I was not a serial killer, the police were not looking for me, I wasn't going to go to jail. Thank Bejus!*

Dreams don't have to make sense, but I couldn't help thinking of the many ways in this particular dream was unrealistic: I would never kill anyone, insurance companies don't write serial killer insurance, even if they did $6000.00 wouldn't be enough coverage - it would have to be at least a million, don't you think? - no one from South Carolina would go to Connecticut to go to the beach, etc.

Although my own peculiar dreams fascinate me, I assume most other people would be as bored by them as I am by theirs. However, a friend's brother-in-law, J, had a terrific weird dream. I laugh just thinking about it What makes this dream so funny to me is that J is one of the nicest, most decent, likeable people I have ever met. He doesn't seem like the kind of person who would have twisted dreams. He could be a character on the old Andy Griffith show. He's from Darlington and is a complete Southern gentleman. J never cusses and this amazes some people. Sometimes J comes to the beach and plays golf with some mutual friends. They fill the air with expletives when they miss a putt or shank a drive (or whatever you call it), but when J does the same thing he just utters some mild exclamation the likes of which you usually hear only from your great-grandmother or Donald Rumsfeld. "Oh, my." "Great day."

Once the guys asked J if he ever even thought cuss words - you know, did he ever just silently say a cuss word to himself - and he said no. For all his goodness, J is not the least bit sanctimonious.

So that's J. Here's his dream: He's driving in the Indy 500. His car starts going slower and slower. It's as if something is dragging it down. He can't figure out what it could be. Some kind of mechanical problem? He pulls into the pit area and gets out of his car and looks at it. Elizabeth Taylor is strapped to the roof of the car.

And that's your reward for reading to the end of this post.

* I stole "Bejus" from Acidman.


Friday, June 11, 2004

Prove it

Mr. Bush, sounding a mite testy, says he gave instructions to follow the law

Q: Mr. President, the Justice Department issued and advisory opinion last year declaring that, as commander in chief, you have the authority to order any kind of interrogation techniques that are necessary to pursue the war on terror. Were you aware of this advisory opinion? Do you agree with it? And did you issue any such authorization at any time?

BUSH: The authorization I issued was that anything we did would conform to U.S. law and would be consistent with international treaty obligations. That's the message I gave our people.
Q: Have you seen the memos?

BUSH: I can't remember if I've seen the memo or not, but I gave those instructions.


Q Mr. President, I wanted to return to the question of torture. What we've learned from these memos this week is that the Department of Justice lawyers and the Pentagon lawyers have essentially worked out a way that U.S. officials can torture detainees without running afoul of the law. So when you say that you want the U.S. to adhere to international and U.S. laws, that's not very comforting. This is a moral question: Is torture ever justified?

THE PRESIDENT: Look, I'm going to say it one more time. If I -- maybe -- maybe I can be more clear. The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you. We're a nation of law. We adhere to laws. We have laws on the books. You might look at those laws, and that might provide comfort for you. And those were the instructions out of -- from me to the government.

As noted below, and as others have pointedly noted, this doesn't quite answer the question, because the memos that have recently become public opine that several laws prohibiting torture do not apply to the president. But I wonder, since Mr. Bush says he gave instructions to "conform to U.S. law," is there any written record of Bush having issued that authorization, given those instructions? A memo, maybe? A written directive?

From the I-can't-believe-this-guy-is-president department:

From Bush's press conference yesterday:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. You do have now the personal gun of Saddam Hussein. Are you willing to give it to President al-Yawar as a symbolic gift, or are you keeping it? (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: What she's referring to is a -- members of a Delta team came to see me in the Oval Office and brought with me -- these were the people that found Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, hiding in a hole. And, by the way, let me remind everybody about Saddam Hussein, just in case we all forget. There were mass graves under his leadership. There were torture chambers. Saddam Hussein -- if you -- we had seven people come to my office. Perhaps the foreign press didn't see this story. Seven people came to my -- they had their hands cut off because the Iraqi currency had devalued. And Saddam Hussein needed somebody to blame, so he blamed small merchants. And their hands were chopped off, their right hand.

Fortunately, a documentary film maker went to Baghdad and filmed the -- filmed these seven men. And their story was picked up around the nation, particularly in Houston, Texas, where a person named Marvin Zindler, who runs a foundation, took great sympathy and flew them over and had new hands put on. The latest prosthesis were put on their hand -- were put on their arms. And their hands worked. I remember the guy signing "God Bless America" with his new hand in the Oval Office.

So this is the person. So needless to say, our people were thrilled to have captured him. And in his lap was several weapons. One of them was a pistol. And they brought it to me. It's now the property of the U.S. government. And I am -- I am -- it -- I'm grateful for their bravery. I'm also grateful that that part of the mission was accomplished, for the good of the Iraqi people.

Sweet Bejus . . .

"Bush Sidesteps Question About Torture"

is the AP's headline (via Findlaw)

Here's Josh Marshall on the non-denial denial.


Thursday, June 10, 2004

God told me to register and vote for Reagan . . .

The Bush/Cheney campaign website has been transformed into a tribute to Reagan. Here's part of an actual post from the site:

I remember being told by God that I was to register to vote and vote for Ronald Regan. I know some will not understand this statement - but it was an audible instruction from on High. I was not a registered voter nor an informed citizen at that time and really had no clue. I remember going to the polls and pulling the curtain back to cast my vote - how very dumb I felt when I saw all the other things I was expected to make intelligent decisions about. I cast my vote for Regan . . - Barbara Martinez of Dallas, Texas

It was thoughtful of Him to instruct her to register first . . .

Mr. Bush seems to deny authorizing torture:

SEA ISLAND, Georgia (CNN) -- President Bush said Thursday he never authorized the use of any interrogation techniques in the war on terrorism that would violate U.S. or international laws.
"The authorization I issued was that anything we did would conform to U.S. law and would be consistent with international treaty obligations," Bush told reporters at the G8 Summit.

Of course, the administration torture memoranda that are now surfacing pretty much say those laws and obligations don't bind the president.

My fundraising drive

Atrios says he has raised nearly $200,000.00 for Kerry.

Here are the current results of the Rogue Planet Kerry fundraising drive:

Goal: $100,000.00

Funds raised to date: 0

Only $100,000.00 more to go!

All Reagan, all the time

I'm not saying that Reagan's death and funeral don't deserve any coverage, or even that they don't deserve a lot of coverage, but it's all I've seen since he died. In the morning, in the evening, late at night, Reagan, Reagan, Reagan. In vain I've flipped channels, looking for news of the Bush administration's torture memos (summary: "Torture is OK, because the president is above the law, and anyway we can define torture in such a way that it's not really torture") or of Ashcroft's testimony before Congress yesterday. While watching CNN's Reagan coverage this morning, I thought to myself, wouldn't it be great if there was, like, a 24 hour cable channel devoted solely to news? Or even, maybe just a network morning show that would cover actual news. Somebody should look into that.

"Gipperporn": Wonkette covers the Reagan coverage


Wednesday, June 09, 2004


I thought I had the best New York City rat story ever, until I read this story about the New York City rat whacker. It brought back fond memories of my first trip to the big city, just after my college graduation. I was wandering down the sidewalks of Manhattan, enraptured by the city, gaping around like and looking up at the tops of the building like the tourist I was, when the sound of people screaming penetrated my reverie. I became aware of a commotion at the street crossing in front of me; people jumping out of the way, shrieking, running, stumbling. Then a big fat gunmetal gray rat appeared, crossing the street along with everyone else. The rat was crossing on the "Walk" signal, obeying all the laws for pedestrians as far as I could see. The rat hopped or crawled, I don't remember which, from the street onto the sidewalk where I was standing. Staying well out of his path, I stepped back to watch, along with a small crowd. The rat browsed down the street, window shopping, sniffing along the sidewalk. He paused at the door of a Burger King, nosing about. A seedy rat-faced old man in a dirty fedora was standing on the sidewalk, back to the door. The old man looked down at the rat, then looked to his left, then to his right, as if checking to see if anyone was watching him . . . as if there wasn't a small crowd standing right in front of him, watching the whole show. You knew what the old man was thinking. Sure enough, the old man reached behind him and opened the restaurant door, just long enough to admit the rat, who rushed inside. Within seconds screams emanated from inside the Burger King and people started streaming outside.

Two stockbroker-looking guys in suits and ties were standing in front of me watching the show. One of them started to laugh.

"Aw, man, that was just fuckin' wrong," said the other one. The next thing I knew they were shoving one another.

"What a great city!" I thought.

The first rats I ever saw were dead ones. I was 10 or 12 or so, and my family lived on Lake Murray in Columbia, in an area that back then was still fairly rural. Towards the end of our road there was a handful of lakefront summer cottages, mostly one storey cinder block affairs that hadn't been used for years. Few people lived there year round. Now, of course, that land is occupied by showy stucco McMansions and their SUV-driving owners, but when I was a kid it was pretty quiet there, so that my sister and me and our friend from down the road were able to go "exploring" in the vacant cottages. We didn't steal anything, but we would crawl in through the windows, and poke around in the musty interiors and play. In one of the houses we saw what we thought were two small dessicated dead dogs lying on the concrete floor amid a pile of old newspapers and magazines. Upon closer inspection the dead dogs turned out to be dead giant rats. Their insides had seemingly crumbled away, but the rat skins and heads remained, spread out on the floor. They were like rat area rugs.

Years later, after my NYC rat encounter, I was eating lunch in a cafe in Kerkyra, Corfu, overlooking the bay. A rat crawled up the rocks from the water and underneath my chair. I stood on the chair and screamed.

I went to NYC a couple of years ago. The newspapers and the local television news carried stories about a housing project infested with giant rats, rats the size of house cats, the residents said.

I've never seen a rat where I live in Murrells Inlet or Myrtle Beach (knock on wood). But when I was in Columbia, South Carolina, on Memorial Day weekend visiting my mom and dad, Mom, while discussing her many snake sightings, mentioned that she and Dad had seen a rat in the the backyard. In fact Dad had shot it with a .22. My parents' house is on a couple of acres with some wooded areas. When I was growing up, before the stucco McMansions started marching inexorably down our road towards the lake, the property was surrounded by woods. I never saw any rats then, other than the two dead ones in the house down the road.

So I was hoping that the rat Dad shot was a fluke - a rat who'd lost his way, perhaps, and stumbled onto our property by mistake. But on Saturday we were all outside talking in the shade. Just a few feet away from the house. I heard rustling in the little flower bed behind me. There was mowed lawn all around. Really, not the kind of place you'd expect to see a rat hanging out. "What's that?" I said. "Did you hear that?" Nobody else heard anything. We resumed talking. There was that rustling noise again. We saw the flowers move. Dad got a stick and started poking in the flowers. Nothing. I was peering down in the flower bed, seeing nothing but flowers. It was a small bed. No rat could possibly be hiding down there. Then the rustling again. Louder and more assertive this time.

"Maybe it's a lizard," Mom said.

"Yeah, Godzilla," I said.

Dad got the rake.

Dad started thrusting the rake vigorously into the flowers. A plump gray rat shot out of the stalks and across the lawn. Naturally, I shrieked and jumped.

The rat got away. When I went out later, I went to Home Depot to pick up some rat traps for my parents. I had to ask a man working there where the rat traps were.

"Mouse traps?" he said. "No, rat traps," I said. "They're for my parents," I explained. That sounded kind of funny. "For my parents . . . to use," I added. "I don't have rats."

Rat traps are much bigger than mouse traps. Home Depot only had two left. Maybe the Columbia area had a bumper crop of rats this year.

Back home, I told Dad he and Mom should get a cat or two. He hates cats as much as John Ashcroft and Acidman, so I didn't really expect to sell him on this. No cat, he said.

"What happened to the hawks?" I said. "You've had hawks out here. Aren't hawks supposed to eat rats?"

"Yeah, and so are snakes," said Dad. "Nobody's doing their god-damn job."

I told Dad about the two dead giant rats my sister and I had seen when we were kids. "How old were you when you were doing that?" he asked, "that" meaning "breaking into houses."

"Old enough to know better," I said. "What, 21?" he said.

My parents' rat did not reappear until I was getting in my car Sunday afternoon to drive home. I spied the rat, or a rat, sitting out in the open, in the grass across from the garage. OK, he was on the septic tank drainfield, but it's not what you might think. It just looks like lawn, honest. Anyway, the rat was sitting between two clusters of daylilies. He appeared to be grazing. I ran into the house to tell Dad. "Paw, git the gun!" Maybe I didn't use those exact words.

The rat looked so peaceable sitting there in the grass that I almost felt bad for ratting him out, so to speak, but damn it, he's a damn nasty rat and he shouldn't have been trespassing so close to the house. I drove off before Dad came back out with the gun. Mom told me later that the rat got away.

MD! Thanks!


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Is there a contest?

According to this article, not only is legislation pending to put Reagan's likeness on various U.S. currency denominations, something called the "Ronald Reagan Legacy Project" is pushing to have Reagan memorialized in every county in the United States. Every county.

[Chris] Butler [of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project] said there are now some 54 highways, schools, post offices and other memorials to Reagan around the country, but that still pales in comparison with the more than 600 for Kennedy and more than 800 for Martin Luther King.


Friday, June 04, 2004


The incomparable Daily Howler incomparably takes on the nitwit pundit class for its shallow, stupid, lazy response to Gore's speech (read the whole series).

And Salon and Digby have withering critiques of Howell Raines's pathetic Guardian opinion piece, in which Mr. Raines seems to be trying to show he can still run with the little dogs. The little yip dogs.

And go to Altercation and scroll down to read Charles Pierce on Tim Russert.

How can I get one of these high-paying media gigs? I don't know much about economic policy or the Middle East or social security or tax policy but I can sure go on for hours about some politician's hair, suits, demeanor, etc.

The Howler quotes Hannity on Gore:

HANNITY (9/23/02): Hey, Dick.
MORRIS: Hey, Sean. Good evening.
HANNITY: How are you, Dick? One thing that really stood out–first of all, look at Gore. Look at his hair. It’s a mess.
HANNITY: He’s sweating profusely, right? He seems very angry at different points in the speech. He didn’t look presidential. I didn’t see any gravitas, any leadership.

If it's OK for Hannity to make fun of Gore's hair, can I make fun of Hannity's neanderthal brow, beefy neck, and beady eyes?

Acidman's at it again.

You have to marvel at the balls, or is it the total lack of self-awareness? - that permit a middle-aged (to be kind) white guy who's made a total clusterfuck of his marriages and is involved in a bitter, endless custody battle over his youngest child with one of his ex-wives whom he repeatedly publicly refers to as a "bloodless cunt" and whose employment status is un-, lecturing an entire race of people on how they ought to live.

Why does the Bush Administration hate our Constitution?


Wednesday, June 02, 2004

It's time to play Who Said It!

1) "The vice president had no operational involvement with letting of any contracts."

a. (Clinton White House press secretary) Mike McCurry
b. Scott McClellan
c. Mary Matalin

2) "There is no controlling legal authority that says this was in violation of law."

a. Mike McCurry
b. Al Gore
c. Mary Matalin
d. Scott McClellan

3) "What message does this send to the troops in Iraq when the ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives says that the commander in chief is not a leader, has no judgment, no experience and no knowledge? How does that make the troops feel?"

a. Rush Limbaugh
b. Ann Coulter
c. Sean Hannity
d. Tim Russert

4) "France is no longer the ally it once was."

a. George W. Bush
b. President Cheney
c. Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's Policy Advisory Board
d. Donald Rumsfeld

5) "France is a long-term ally."

a. John Kerry
b. Al Gore
c. Bill Clinton
d. George W. Bush

6) "God loves you, and I love you. And you can count on both of us as a powerful message that people who wonder about their future can hear."

a. George W. Bush
b. Jim Jones
c. David Koresh
d. Rev. Moon

7) "May God's peace, mercy, and blessings be upon you."

a. George W. Bush
b. Pope John Paul II
c. Osama Bin Laden

8) "We have all seen God's great faithfulness to our country."

a. George W. Bush
b. Saddam Hussein
c. the late Ayatollah Khomeini
d. Mullah Omar

9) "Thanks to God, he who God guides will never lose."

a. George W. Bush
b. Quarterback Tom Brady after the 2004 Super Bowl
c. Osama Bin Laden
d. Lt. Gen. William Boykin

10) "My God was bigger than his."

a. Baghdad Bob
b. Mike Tyson
c. Lt. Gen. William Boykin
d. Osama Bin Laden

11) "The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation"

a. Osama Bin Laden
b. Baghdad Bob
c. Tom DeLay
d. Rev. Pat Robertson

12) "America is in imminent peril... rotting from within."

a. Osama Bin Laden
b. Saddam Hussein
c. Jacques Chirac
d. Rev. Jerry Falwell

13) "All these crimes and sins committed by Americans are a clear declaration of war on God."

a. Osama Bin Laden
b. Saddam Hussein
c. Rev. Jerry Falwell
d. Rev. Pat Robertson


1(c); 2(b); 3(d); 4(c); 5(d); 6(a); 7(c); 8(a); 9(c); 10(c); 11(d); 12(d); 13(a)


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The Big Mo

I went to Columbia this weekend to see my family. Sunday afternoon, I was helping - OK, watching - my mother fry chicken when my sister called me and invited me to accompany her and her niece, and a friend of the niece and the friend's mom, to the drive-in movie theater in Monetta, South Carolina, the "Big Mo." The Big Mo was showing a double feature of Shrek 2 and 13 going on 30. That sounded cool, so I said sure.

When I got to my sister's house, it turned out that four additional friends of my niece were coming along, and we were all going in the same vehicle. So we had nine people in my sister's big-ass Ford Expedition. I learned that the Expedition, much maligned by me, holds nine people comfortably, along with nine folding chairs, a card table, pillows, two coolers and a picnic basket. A good thing, because it was a long ride: the Big Mo is way the heck out in the sticks. It's a 45 minute drive from where we were to Monetta. From Columbia, you go down I-20 to SC 39; then drive another 7 miles along a country road lined with peach orchards and not much else (a few trailers and farmhouses). The Big Mo itself is right in front of a cow pasture, and when we got there and climbed down from the Expedition, there was a definite odor of cow manure (which is really not that bad).

We arrived at 7:45 p.m. and I learned that the first movie didn't start until 8:45. I was surrounded by Christian women and girls so I couldn't say the first thing that popped into my head, which was "What the fuck are we going to do for the next hour?" But it's a good thing we got there when we did, because the place was already filled up, and was full to capacity by 8:45. And the wait wasn't boring after all, as there were plenty of people to observe, people who looked like they might be at home in a Flannery O'Connor story. In addition to other white-bread suburbanites like ourselves.

While standing in line for the ladies' room, in The Big Mo's little bitty cinder block concession stand, I stood behind a girl who looked to be about 9 years old. Kind of chubby, bobbed light brown hair in a half-ponytail sticking up, wearing shorts and a pink t-shirt with a faded legend on the back: "Dixie Belles," with a design of rows of what looked like Hershey's Kisses with a stars-and-bars design on the paper pulls. I wondered if "Dixie Belles" was a girls' softball team or a clogging troop. She was with another little girl half her size. The first girl saw me peering at a line outside the concession stand and helpfully said, in a twangy little voice, "They's another bathroom out there." "Thanks, I guess I'll stay here," I said. A few minutes later we were standing at the bathroom door. She was holding the door open and I absently looked at the sparkly pink fingernail polish at the end of her plump little fingers. Then I realized she was wearing what looked like a diamond solitaire engagement ring on the ring finger of her left hand, on top of what looked like a gold wedding band. It was the oddest thing. I told my sister about it later and she speculated that maybe the little girl was one of the . . . I think she meant the Irish Travelers. They marry them off young, I hear. But then, maybe she was just wearing some relative's rings. A dead grandmother's, maybe. But they sure looked like they fit her little girl finger . . .

Anyway. It was a beautiful balmy evening under the stars, with a bright (but not too bright) half moon and a perfect breeze. Lots of fun. Though of course when they came up with the concept of drive-in theaters, it was looong before anyone had come up with the concept of big-ass SUV's, which surrounded us. I couldn't complain, because ours was the biggest-assed SUV of them all. Fortunately, you could sit outside your car, or big-ass SUV, and find a spot that allowed a line of sight between the two big-ass SUV's in front of you, and listen to the sound from everyone's car radio (they don't use the speaker boxes at The Big Mo; you tune in to a radio station for the sound). The people who really had it made were the ones in pickup trucks, with folding chairs in the truck beds. But it was all good. I'd definitely go back to The Big Mo, even without a pickup truck.

Acidman's worst nightmare:

Black biker weekend in Myrtle Beach.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?