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Friday, October 07, 2005

Opposites Attract 


It seems George W. Bush and al Qaeda are both concerned about the "Muslim masses." The hearts, the minds. Etcetera.
In [a] letter [to Big Boss Man Osama bin Laden], [second in command] al-Zawahiri warns that some of the tactics currently employed by the insurgency, including the slaughtering of hostages and the suicide bombings of Muslim civilians, may risk alienating the "Muslim masses," Whitman said Thursday.

Great minds. And all that.


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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Threat 


They're taking it with no small amount of irate flippancy over at DU, but I, for one, have to ride the subways in New York, oh, say, every single day. So my eyebrows go up a bit when I hear of specific bombing threats to that vast, subterranean marvel. Perhaps most telling, though, is this quote from the AP article.
Paul Radtke, 45, of Hoboken, N.J., said he has heard similar warnings before and found it hard to take them all seriously.

"Unless it's something dramatic that's happening, I've got to go to work," Radtke said after getting off a subway train at Penn Station. He said the only travel habit he is changing is trying not to make eye contact with police officers so they won't search his bag.

That's the spirit! Now does it indicate a certain naivete on the part of New Yorkers or the everpresent Law Enforcement Officials? Either way, it's got to happen sometime. But at least Mayor Mike says he'll keep riding the rails, baby.


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Update 


Apparently Rover is gonna give some more hot-ass testimony to Fitzgerald et al. No indictment imminent..
Federal prosecutors have accepted an offer from presidential adviser Karl Rove to give 11th-hour testimony in the case of a
CIA officer's leaked identity but have warned they cannot guarantee he won't be indicted, according to people directly familiar with the investigation.

The persons, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy, said Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has not made any decision yet on whether to file criminal charges against the longtime confidant of President Bush or others.

So maybe it hasn't hit the fan just yet, but the bowels are definitely in a bit of a tiff.

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Snakes! (Not On A Plane) 


Well here's a little fun fact about pythons: they eat fucking crocodiles now.
A 13-foot Burmese python recently burst after it apparently tried to swallow a live, six-foot alligator whole, authorities said.

"It means nothing in the Everglades is safe from pythons, a top-down predator," said Frank Mazzotti, a University of Florida wildlife professor.

Over the years, many pythons have been abandoned in the Everglades by pet owners.


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Awwww. Cute!


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From Spain to Indonesia 


If Muslim radicals have there way, we'll have nowhere to vacation anymore, y'all...
In a speech before the National Endowment for Democracy, Bush said Islamic militants have made Iraq their main front in a war against civilized society.

''The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia,'' Bush said.

Muslim masses? Not to sound like a broken record, but what was that stuff I've heard about some Muslims -- extreme and not so extreme -- being upset that Bush seems to look at this as a Holy War? As a Crusade? Not to say nothin or nothin. I'm just sayin...

The difference seems to be that the Muslims who see this as their own holy war are far fewer than those that don't. But the American version casts a wide and much more powerfully destructive net.

And then, Bush really keeps the hits comin,' really packs 'em in with this next little diddy.
Bush likened the ideology of Islamic militants to communism. And he said they are being ''aided by elements of the Arab news media that incites hatred and anti-Semitism.''

''We are facing a radical ideology with immeasurable objectives to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world,'' Bush said.

Awesome.

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If Patrick Fitzgerald Gets Avian Flu 


...and dies, then things will start to make sense again. In America. In the world. We'll know that the neocons are not, in fact, showing the immmutable signs of stress fracture. We will know, with the surety and confidence of a Mekong Madame, that everything in TVLand is OK, that big problems are still easily solved (and with pzazz), that no step is too low, no deed too dastardly; that there is no fire that cannot be extinguished with a cathode ray fireman's hose. And, as a most reassuring reminder, we will know that Karl Rove is most definitely still in charge.

Because the shit --- sniff, sniff -- is on a pretty straight trajectory toward that there fan.
The federal prosecutor investigating who leaked the identity of a CIA operative is expected to signal within days whether he intends to bring indictments in the case, legal sources close to the investigation said on Wednesday.

As a first step, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was expected to notify officials by letter if they have become targets, said the lawyers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, declined to say whether his client had been contacted by Fitzgerald. In the past, Luskin has said that Rove was assured that he was not a target.

But then we read this little morsel:
President Bush's most trusted adviser, Karl Rove, has been absent from recent White House events, leading those close to a CIA outing case to speculate that he has been told he is the target of an investigation, RAW STORY can confirm.

The buzz on Capitol Hill is that Rove has received what sources called a "target letter," or a letter from the prosecutor investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson telling him that he is now a target in the investigation. To date, no reporters have been able to confirm this account. One lawyer says that at this point in the investigation it would be more likely any letters would normally be notifications of an indictment.

You know what is embarrassing to admit, but strangely liberating? Sitting here, looking out across my workplace, smiling about that last little quote, I realized what the phrase "shit is gonna hit the fan," actually means. (This happens to me once or twice a year, when the fundamental meaning of some numbingly common expression becomes crystal clear to me: "a stitch in time saves nine;" or "Leggo my Eggo," et cetera.) For I visualized it happening, and saw all the little poop particles spraying about -- as it's clearly an oscillating fan -- getting all over anyone within range. Everyone in range. Covered in little fecal bits.

The shit is going to hit the fan.

I'm ready for my next lesson.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Holy Shite 


I found this scathing appraisal of the Meier nomination through Daily Kos. Enjoy, like Coca Cola or dumplings. From George Will, no less, a somewhat level-headed conservative.

Senators beginning what ought to be a protracted and exacting scrutiny of Harriet Miers should be guided by three rules. First, it is not important that she be confirmed. Second, it might be very important that she not be. Third, the presumption -- perhaps rebuttable but certainly in need of rebutting -- should be that her nomination is not a defensible exercise of presidential discretion to which senatorial deference is due.

It is not important that she be confirmed because there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court's tasks. The president's "argument" for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.

...the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution.

It is important that Miers not be confirmed unless, in her 61st year, she suddenly and unexpectedly is found to have hitherto undisclosed interests and talents pertinent to the court's role. Otherwise the sound principle of substantial deference to a president's choice of judicial nominees will dissolve into a rationalization for senatorial abdication of the duty to hold presidents to some standards of seriousness that will prevent them from reducing the Supreme Court to a private plaything useful for fulfilling whims on behalf of friends.

Aw, yeah.


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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Common Evening 


" 'Monday Night Raw' looks to be quite a spectacle next week," Stuart said, removing his pipe from his lips. "Hulk Hogan, of all people, shall take to the ring. Eh?"

"Mmm," sighed Evelyn, barely moving her eyes from the window and its soft curtains. "Yes."

Stuart turned, clanged his pipe against an ivory ash tray and cleared his throat. "Inspiring, at his age, to still have that vim and vigor. I should only hope," he said, knocking his knuckle on top of his head.

The clock murmured and a floorboard creaked. From within the kitchen a kettle whistled. Stuart removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. Stuart's was one of those elegant noses found in Sherlock Holmes mysteries and in the society pages of Paris Match. His jacket, a red silk affair embroidered with the SMB of all his official papers, was a bit threadbare in places but nonetheless handsome. He took a moment to watch the wrinkles straighten themselves out as he rose, then walked through the parlor and out of the room, humming the theme to "Monday Night Raw."

Evelyn watched his tall and slender frame disappear into the shadow that always seemed to swallow the western wing of their home. Candlelight and one or two gas lamps was all Stuart would allow and, though Evelyn adored the dusky glows of small country homes like theirs, a more persistent desire gave her fuel to needle her husband about the lack of light.

"Blast!" Stuart yelled in pain. Evelyn's mouth drew to a slit as she listened to him rub his silk bottoms against his knee. "Goddam African artifacts," Stuart yelled, "and their Godforsaken pointy noses and genitals!"

"Right at knee's level, dear?" Evelyn called out, a brightness in her voice.

"Yes, dear. Your Samburu fertility idols seem content only when they're assaulting my shins and knees."

The whistling stopped and Evelyn listened closely to the clangs and patters of tea being prepared in another room. Despite herself she found Stuart's humming a pleasant companion to these quiet sounds, and she sighed and smiled, returning her gaze to the swooning trees without. Her eyes, severe and watery, scanned the countryside hoping for a carriage, a horse, a farm boy in need of immediate aid. Anything. Something. The clouds looked conspiratorial and the wind rapped persistently against the window, reminding her of everything, and Stuart's humming soon became unbearable again.

"Dear, the Mastersons are having a party, dear, to celebrate the grace of their union these twenty-odd years. The invitation was, if not beautiful, at least inoffensive," Evelyn called out, biting her lip in anticipation of Stuart's reply.

None came. Stuart, humming and appreciating the soft shuffle of slippers on wood, set her tea on the coffe table with a grunt and brought his own over and settled into his chair.

"Twenty-odd years, dear, and nary an infidelity," she prodded. "Worthy of celebration."

"If you're asking me to choose between 'the Apprentice' and 'Survivor'," Stuart called out, flipping through the listings on the television," then my answer to you, Network Executives, is TiVo. Why should I choose according to your greedy whims? No. And now that I don't have to, you can take your Nielsen ratings and your ad shares, and you can drown them in a river. For once, choice in the marketplace wins out." Stuart smiled quietly at his small polemic, ticking his head at the cascading tiles on the screen across the room. He hummed.

Evelyn cleared her throat. "Of course, the only thing one can count on at a Masterson affair is egregious cooking and long, awkward silences, shattered now and again by scotch and Mr. Masterson's wild opinions on breasts and politics. We'd do as well to stay home and eat peas and cabbage and quail, yes, husband? Quail and Hulk Hogan and a quiet, painful evening in our chairs. At least the food is edible." She leaned back and tilted her head, finding patterns in the pressed tin ceiling above. "Edible."

"Chopin! Is what I need. A little Chopin." Stuart got up and shuffled with the tone and chord of his younger self, out the room the opposite way. "To ease us into the night!" and he vanished down the long hall.

"I'm sleeping with Gwamine, Stuart. Every night, or thereabouts, while you dream sweet dreams with your music and your poetry. He enters me," Evelyn said to herself, looking to the grandfather clock standing guard in the corner of the room, its golden dial moving in and out of sight as the shadows allowed. "Oh, poor, modern Stuart."

At that Stuart's silhouette froze in the threshold and, for a moment, Evelyn thought he had heard it all and she sat up, electric, braced, alive.

"These godforsaken lithium batteries and their cursed, short lives. You pay no small purse of change for them, and after a month or so they peter out. I want my Chopin!" He stepped fully into light, considering the sleak, white box in his hand, shaking and prodding it, as he crossed the room to his chair. "Yes, yes, God bless the Apple Corporation for the elegant design and massive memory power of this device, but, Heavens! Give us poor consumers a decent energy source for our iPods!"

Evelyn sunk back in her chair. "No Chopin, then, dear? Back to reading or wrestling for you is it?"

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"Hmm," Stuart asked, not looking up from his lap.

Evelyn paused. "I asked you about the Masterson's party and whether you'd care to commemorate their twenty such-and-such years of sublime and sterile such-and-such over a dull ham and a cheap wine? Dear? Fork tines on plates and all that?"

"I've been considering a bold move. You may smart at it, I'll warn you, but I can assure you I've thought it out to the smallest detail."

"Mr. Masterson chewing and chewing and chewing..."

"Well, Cingular wireless is offering a calling plan I cannot afford to ignore any longer. I've calculated our weekend calls --"

"I don't make any calls, dear, remember. Whom would I call, at that? What social entanglements must I navigate, dear; what social lunches must I nod and smile at? To what invisible opera houses do I carry my glasses in their pearl and velvet case, dear?"

"--and I've found that I miss a lot of opportunities to do business because I'm always waiting till Saturday to ring associates. Further, none take calls after 9 pm, and, besides, all the best programming is on the telly after that hour, with or without TiVo. So I'm thinking--"

"Thinking, thinking, thinking of Madeleine Masterson and your sweatty triste in Mindanau, no doubt, and of old thunderbone's fat, stupid face and his red, naive cheeks, puffed on Scotch and happily ignorant of the dirty things his wife has done to your glands."

"-- it would make sense, in the long run, what with the business taking off as it is, to set up two lines -- in the business's name of course -- and use one for weekday calls and the other for personal affairs."

"Personal affairs. Indeed. Indeed. Personal and private affairs. Till your hot and sinful passions shout above the dull hum of guity silence." She turned toward the window and the muscles of her neck twisted and strained to hold back a cracking smile.

"There's a contract, posted to us a week ago, no doubt collecting dust in my study. I wonder if the offer is still," at this Stuart rose, bony hands on bony knees, and grunted the last word, "valid." Humming, he strode through the room, patting Evelyn on the head as he walked out.

She smiled, breathing in the moist and warm bergamot and almost let out a laugh. A loop of hair fell across her eyes, tickling, and Evelyn thought back to the time when loops of hair fell into eyes, sometimes unattended for hours on end, on spring nights and summer mornings, boys, butterflies. The wind rattled the window again, knock-knocking the memory loose. She rose, pursed her lips, turned in a full circle, and sat back down. She wished just briefly that she had had a cat to rise and fall on her lap. She bit at the teaspoon's handle, eyes back up at the ceiling.

"...Ah ha! The offer stands," Stuart proclaimed from the doorway. "The only trick now will be untangling myself from that damned contract with cursed old Sprint, those Visgoths. Say... They are rather like Visgoths, aren't they? What a humorous comparison. Though I supose there are already those adverts depicting barbarians and the like knocking down the doors of consumers with debt. Alas." Stuart moved slowly into the room as he spoke, right hand holding the telephone contract out, left hand dragging something behind him. He stopped in the middle of the room and stood a full half minute before Evelyn looked up. "Yes, they're rather devious with their terms. I'm sure I can dissuade them from binding me to it, don't you think, dear Evelyn?"

"Talked me into holy matrimony, dear Stuart, I dare say you're capable of--" Evelyn froze, cast her eyebrows down and leaned forward to better see the odd shape on the floor. "What have you... there, Stuart?"

"The generous contract from Cingular Wireless, dear."

"No, no, husband, that bulk of mass behind you?"

"Oh, that." Stuart turned to look at the burlap sack writhing slightly on the floor. "Let's take a look." He opened and lifted it, spilling a gray tangle onto the floor. The mass moved, taking on a humanoid aspect, and sat up on what must have been knees, revealing a slight body and large head, mouth gagged, thin arms bound behind its back, with the largest black, oval eyes.

"Oh, my," gasped Evelyn, rising quickly from her chair and bracing herself against it.

"Well, whatever could this be? All bound up like that. Oh! Oh, me! It's Gwamine, our extraterrestrial friend, and my accountant."

The form struggled a bit, attempted some vocal outburst, and fell on its back.

"Stuart. Stuart. Why is Gwamine bound?"

"Evelyn. What would you do? Hmm? If you became aware that this odd space creature, whom you'd taken into your trust -- whose mathematical prowess, in fact, had helped propel your small personal business into a raging titan -- had broken your trust and done something even you, in your endless compassion, could hardly countenance? Evelyn?"

"Stuart, untie him right now..."

"And free him up to levitate the two of you out of here and off to some Roman cliff or Argentine resort? To laugh at me? Ha, ha, no. I think we will all sit down for a nice evening of sport and telly."

"Stuart. You don't understand. Gwamine is... he's..."

"An alien? I know, dear Evelyn, I know! Believe me I've spent the last three weeks' worth of evenings meditating on that very fact. And I can only imagine how soft and strange those things," Stuart pointed to two antenna-shapped nubs protruding from the alien's midsection,"must have felt in-- inside you. My dear, scathing, righteous Evelyn."

"He loves me, Stuart! And I love him!"

"Oh, stop being so dramatic. This isn't Sense and Sensibility, dear. It's not even 'Fawlty Towers,' for crying out loud."

"I do love him."

"You do not."

Evelyn paused, looked to the alien, its eyes wide with terror, then back to Stuart. "So what? So bloody what!? I'm tired of gazing out this window all day and all night, Stuart! Tired and dead. Broken. A typical hosebound wife to a typical successful husband."

"Oh, ho, little Evelyn and the Endless Sorrow."

"Go to hell."

"You're a living stereotype, Evelyn. That's why you're tired. There's no life in you, no original breath. Nothing." Stuart walked over to a small end table, opened a drawer and withdrew a silver gun. He brought it back to Gwamine and held it against its head, dragging the alien with him to his chair, where he sat down, placing the alien at his feet.

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"Now," he said, slowly, "we're going to watch 'the Apprentice' and 'Survivor,' in our own time. And when it's over, you will go buy me a new battery so that I may enjoy a little music from my favorite composer. And while you're gone, Gwamine and I will talk this over." He tapped the alien's head with the barrel of the gun. "Understood?"

Evelyn folded her arms and turned to look out the window again, shaking her head.

"Good," Stuart said. He reached over and selected a program from the menu, smiled as the title sequence flickered on.

Evelyn sat back down, glanced at Gwamine in shadow and shuddered. She pulled a blanket tight over her shoulders and looked to Stuart, his face covered in milky blue light. Sometimes his smile seemed pure. She turned to the television and sipped the still-hot tea, thinking to herself how much she did enjoy Donald Trump and his easygoing arrogance.


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