h o m e 't o o n s w o r d s c a m s t u f f 'c r o s s

daily dog archives 2003 2002

By Patrick O'Grady
Mad Dog Media

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The Crazy Years

  I remember when it was called "science fiction." Robert Heinlein, like myself a resident of Colorado Springs, coined the phrase "The Crazy Years" to refer to an unspecified period between world wars. In his novel, "Methuselah's Children," he even jotted down a few imaginary headlines from that period:

Parson Eats Clay Sandwich in Pulpit
'Back to Simple Things,' He Advises Flock

Baby Bill Breaks Bank
2-year Toddler Youngest Winner 1 Million TV Jackpot
White House Phones Congrats

Carolina Congresswoman Cops Beauty Crown
'Available for Draft for President,' She Announces
While Starting Tour to Show Her Qualifications

       * * *

  OK, so if that's science fiction, then what the hell do you call this?

Ten Commandments Judge May Run for Governor

  Ousted Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore said Friday he is considering running for governor in 2006.

  "I'll be praying about it and considering it," he told reporters in Montgomery.

  Moore was ousted in November 2003 for defying a federal judge's order to remove his 5,280-pound Ten Commandments monument from public display in the state judicial building. He appealed his ouster to the U.S. Supreme Court, but lost.

Baby Cut From Mother's Womb Is Found Alive

  Authorities Friday arrested a woman they allege came to the home of an eight-months-pregnant woman in Maryville, Missouri   purportedly to buy a dog   then strangled her and cut the baby from her womb. Authorities found the abducted infant in good health, ending a day of frantic searching.

  According to a criminal complaint, Lisa M. Montgomery admitted she strangled Bobbie Jo Stinnett and took her baby. The complaint also said Montgomery lied to her husband about giving birth, although U.S. Attorney Todd Graves declined to give a motive for the crime.

Pam Anderson Heads Anti-fur Drive

  Former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson will spearhead an anti-fur campaign in China, appearing naked on billboards in Beijing and Shanghai, animal rights group PETA said on Wednesday.

  Anderson, a longtime fur foe, appears nude from the waist up covered only by her strategically placed arms next to the tagline 'Give Fur the Cold Shoulder'.

  I'm perfectly happy to bare my skin if it will help save animals' skins," said Anderson.

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You go, Mo'

  Maureen Dowd has bigger balls than Rummy, the Cowboy-in-Chief, and just about anyone I can think of, outside of Army Spc. Thomas Wilson.

  On an unrelated matter, let's talk mandate for a second (and no, I'm not talking gay socializing here). The turnout among the voting-age population in the recently concluded presidential election was just under 60 percent, right? And Dubya got a little bit better than half of that? But 40 percent of the eligible electorate either didn't register or didn't vote. That's a solid plurality — it beats the hell out of Dubya's pitiful little tally, and I think it is a clear indication of the American people's vision for our collective future: Nobody for president!

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An Army of one

  When Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld popped by Camp Buehring in Kuwait for a quick photo op', Army Spc. Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team, composed mainly of citizen-soldiers from the Tennessee Army National Guard, failed to follow the script, which calls for standing ovations, roars of "Hooah!" and other traditional activities. During a question-and-answer session, Wilson asked Rummy why vehicle armor is still in short supply, nearly two years after the Cowboy-in-Chief started his interminable war of choice against Saddam Hussein. The Washington Post described their interaction thusly:

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked. A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense.
Rummy's response? "You go to war with the Army you have," he huffed. C'mon, Don, how the hell would you know? You've never been in the shit. I say we give the testy old sumbitch a '16, stuff him into a stock Humvee and set him to patrolling the 10-mile stretch of road between the U.S. Embassy and the airport that nobody seems able to travel anymore, not even Conan the Republican, though things are going so swimmingly in Iraq under Rummy's bold leadership.

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So sorry we missed you at Pearl Harbor ... but we're getting you now

  The phone call came, naturally, on Pearl Harbor Day — the Vomit Comet, my 1983 2WD Toyota longbed, needs a carburetor rebuild. The old bucket of bolts had been limping toward the 300,000-mile mark until this summer, when it abruptly developed an idling issue (to be specific, it wouldn't). Being overtrucked, underbucked and righteously fucked, I let the VC sit out in front of the house, collecting leaves and birdshit and annoying the neighbors while I drove the '98 Tacoma. But when I had to take the Tacoma in for some body work (a massive hailstorm had left it looking something like Charles Bukowski's face), I suddenly needed something to drive, so I fired the VC up and rolled it around the corner and down a couple blocks to Butch's Garage, hoping for a quick fix. Nope, says Butch. Sheeeeyit. You get the distinct feeling that this is but the first step toward rebuilding the engine, a job that would cost about twice as much as both of my Rising Sun beaters are worth (the White Tornado, an '83 4WD longbed, is still chugging along with only 107K on the odometer and an ominous whine in the tranny that sounds like bearings yearning to be replaced). I'm starting to feel like one of those crazy old ladies with the eight dozen cats, yowling and hissing and pissing all over the place.

  Meanwhile, speaking of deranged assholes, this Bush guy just doesn't get it, does he? Turns up at Camp Pendleton — home to nearly a sixth of the grunts snuffed in Iraq — "wearing a specially tailored Marine tanker jacket, the all-purpose, all-weather jacket for officers and enlisted men (with) custom touches like his name and designation as commander in chief embroidered across the front," according to The New York Times. I used to dress up as a soldier, too, back when I was about 10. Some of the bullshit Numbnuts was spouting when I listened to the sound bite on NPR was truly astounding, making me think Laura had forgotten to slip his meds into the presidential shaving kit again. Read it and weep here.

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Sayonara, baby

  I'm not a big fan of books by stand-up comedians. I've seen Dennis Miller and George Carlin on stage and laughed until I had to change my underwear, but their books didn't do much for me. It's the delivery, I decided, especially with Carlin, who has enough personalities to outfit a Noo Yawk borough with a few left over for Joisey. But George's latest, "When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?", definitely has its moments. Language-manglers have always been high on Carlin's shit list, and he goes after them again in "Pork Chops," especially in "Politician Talk #2: Trouble on the Hill." But I saw a different crowd of lying sacks of shit in his dissection of the dissembling by the hogs feeding at the public trough — I saw the seemingly endless parade of dopers wiping their asses with our sport. To make a long story short, you'll be pleased to know that Carlin recommends hara-kiri for transgressors: "Never mind the lawyers and the public relations and the press conferences, get that big knife out of the kitchen drawer and do the right thing." Harsh? Maybe. But at least you wouldn't have to see the sonofabitch two years down the road, smiling and waving from the podium. Unless you were in Hell, too.

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Frosty the Dogman

  It's gonna be a long winter, seeing as it's still fall and I'm already sick of freezing my nuts off. No snow to speak of, just enough cold and wind to make a guy say, "Aw, screw it," and leave the bike in the garage. I've been on two wheels exactly once this week, for an hour of cyclo-cross, and I think running is starting to give me a touch of plantar fasciitis in the right foot. I'm doomed to be a fat bastard.

  Herself and I had planned a trip to Weirdcliffe to visit friends and collect our other functional 4WD truck, but the roads were glazed like a Krispy Kreme donut, so we abandoned that notion in favor of wrapping ourselves in the contents of our respective closets and toddling out for a 45-minute run. This definitely felt more like exercise than entertainment, especially when I nearly fell on my ass on a slick spot at Del Norte and Nevada. Too much to broom and not enough to shovel, but just enough to send you to the ER with a fractured pelvis.

  A couple weeks ago, with an eye toward dodging some of this evil weather, I decided to join the local YMCA, since gyms come with roofs and central heating. As usual, my timing was impeccable — I signed up just in time to enjoy a massive renovation of their Garden Ranch branch, which is reasonably close to Dog Central and blessedly free of yuppie swine in the early afternoon. Two weeks into my first exploration of resistance training in many, many years, they varnished the living piss out of the squash courts, then shut down the men's locker room for three days to replace some skanky carpet and tile, and finally set about tearing up the Fitness and Conditioning Center for reasons that are unclear (the lone Schwinn Spinning bike disappeared shortly beforehand, and all the other gizmos looked like something Sigourney Weaver might have ridden in "Alien V: NASCAR on Neptune"). So I shifted to the Briargate location on Friday to find a shitload of even less familiar equipment and hordes of strutting North Side iron-pumpers, and thus come Monday I will sample the Downtown branch, as the only crowd less welcoming than a bunch of roadies on a weekend training ride is a platoon of pumped-up plateheads in Christ Country. I felt like a new fish stumbling onto the Yard during my first day in prison.

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The rich get richer, and the poor ... well, you know

  Harold Meyerson at The Washington Posthas an interesting piece on our philosopher-king and his ongoing efforts to save his wealthy pals from that nasty ol' taxman:

"The theory here is that investment, not labor, is the real creator of wealth — so the taxes on investment income will be scrapped, while those on wages will keep rolling along. And in the name of this theory, Bush seems willing to sacrifice much of the social compact that made America, in the second half of the 20th century, the first majority middle-class nation in human history. "

  I found the aside on employer-provided health insurance particularly interesting, as we have been doing without for five months, ever since Shannon's job with EBSCO went south. She talked to a broker about a bare-bones policy — $250 or thereabouts per month for catastrophic coverage that paid for exactly jack-shit until the medicos had already sawed a few parts off you — but we finally said screw it. I implemented my own policy, which included skipping the entire racing season and refusing to discuss politics when strangers were around, which lowered my risk of hospitalization by several orders of magnitude. To date, our medical expenditures have been under $150, for a 10-minute chat with a sawbones and some drugs to croak a bug I picked up during a trip to Southern California.

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Eschew obfuscation

  Here's something that ought to make you howl like a dog. It's The Washington Post on the tax-returns flap:

Unable to agree on how much to spend on basic governmental services, [both Republicans and Democrats] say, House and Senate GOP leaders increasingly are resorting to a secretive process that leaves the public and most members of Congress ignorant of the content of huge spending bills until hours before a final vote.

  This is just one of many reasons why a one-party system — remember the old Soviet Union? — is not a good idea. Checks and balances, checks and balances. . . .

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Ballots vs. bullets

  El Busho's Iraqi puppet government has scheduled elections for January 30 despite a continuing insurgency that is likely to make standing outside a polling place feel a lot like being a fish in a barrel. And you crazy kids in Ohio thought you had it tough, standing in line for eight or nine hours only to have your vote shit-canned by a BC04 operative in deep cover as an "election official." Hey, at least no one was shooting at you.

  And meanwhile ... Attention, All Red State Knuckleheads for Small, Non-Intrusive Government: Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla. says "nobody's privacy was ever jeopardized" by his sneaking of the following into a 3,000-page, $388 billion bit of legislation that provides financing for most of the feddle gummint, if only because it got caught before reaching the Cosmic Cowboy's desk for his signature:

"Hereinafter, notwithstanding any other provision of law governing the disclosure of income tax returns or return information, upon written request of the Chairman of the House or Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service shall allow agents designated by such Chairman access to Internal Revenue Service facilities and any tax returns or return information contained therein."

  According to The New York Times, Istook — who happens to be the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee with authority over the IRS budget — issued a statement on Sunday saying that the language "had actually been drafted by the Internal Revenue Service," which should reassure anyone who's ever puzzled over a 1040-EZ form. Meanwhile, House Appropriations Committee mouthpiece John D. Scofield told The Times that there was never any desire to look at anyone's tax returns, then dismissed the entire matter as "a tempest in a teapot" while saying, "We don't really care" if outraged legislators from both sides of the aisle jerk the offending provision out of the spending bill like a curious Democrat from a Bush-Cheney '04 rally.

  Uh, so, tell me, John-boy, why'd a good ol' boy like Ernie slip this bit of fiscal window-peeking into the friggin' legislation in the first place if you-all don't care whether it makes it into law? What do a guy have to do to get fired in this chickenshit outfit? Get caught jerking off to a "Hillary Clinton 2008" poster in his cubicle? For more on this and other outrages, see Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo.

  And finally, in unrelated news, we got a couple-three inches of the white stuff here in Bibleburg overnight, and it was oddly cheering to be outside in the cold with the neighbors — lefties and Jews, right-wingers and Christians, old folks and younguns — working together for the commonweal with snow shovels and brooms. None of us wanted to read anyone else's tax returns, not even Rep. Istook's.

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Oh, Jesus H. Christ . . .

  If it weren't for the ongoing carnival in the nation's capital, a strong candidate for Dipshit Fool of the Week would be Air Force Academy football coach Fisher DeBerry. The day after the AFA superintendent said publicly that the academy "was coping with a religious intolerance problem" that includes harassment of Jewish cadets as "Christ-killers," Coach hung a banner in the locker room that said, "I am a member of Team Jesus Christ." God must be getting desperate if He has pulled this clown off the bench and put him in the game.

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The rule of law

  I'll let my gal Molly Ivins do the heavy lifting on the whole Tom DeLay travesty. The nation is in the hands of a gang of Banana Republicans. God help us all. Whoops, my bad; I keep forgetting that He's on the other side, the one with all the heavy artillery.

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Altered State

  Good rundown on the grim picture of an emasculated State Department "led" by political tool Condi Rice from John Nichols at The Nation. Nichols says, in part:

"With [Colin] Powell, its feeble defender, on the way out of the State Department, the last small voices of dissent within the foreign policy bureaucracy will begin to fall silent. If Rice is confirmed, as seems certain considering the partisan divide in the Senate, the Department of State where Thomas Jefferson, William Jennings Bryan and George Marshall once presided will be little more than an arm of the White House political operation. And the Secretary of State, who has already proven herself to be more interested in campaigning than in defending the best interests of the nation or its security, will not be a diplomat. She will be a politician, nothing more and, certainly, nothing less."

  Meanwhile, KRCC-FM's Vicky (your friend and neighbor) kicked off this morning's freeform show with John Prine's Vietnam-war classic, "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore." This one goes out to all the Red State Knuckleheads:

While digesting Reader's Digest
In the back of a dirty book store,
A plastic flag, with gum on the back,
Fell out on the floor.
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
Slapped it on my window shield,
And if I could see old Betsy Ross
I'd tell her how good I feel.

But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
They're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.

Well, I went to the bank this morning
And the cashier he said to me,
"If you join the Christmas club
We'll give you ten of them flags for free."
Well, I didn't mess around a bit
I took him up on what he said.
And I stuck them stickers all over my car
And one on my wife's forehead.

(Repeat chorus)

Well, I got my window shield so filled
With flags I couldn't see.
So, I ran the car upside a curb
And right into a tree.
By the time they got a doctor down
I was already dead.
And I'll never understand why the man
Standing in the Pearly Gates said...

"But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
We're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more."

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Fired upward

  What does it take to get fired in this chickenshit outfit? Condi Rice, who bungled her job as national security adviser and has problems either recognizing or telling the truth has been nominated as secretary of state. As The Washington Post noted in an editorial today, "(I)t is a measure of the stunning absence of accountability under Mr. Bush that it is Mr. Powell who leaves, while the architects of the failed and even disastrous policies he opposed, from postwar Iraq to Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, remain in office." Meanwhile, another victim of this administration's hubris — Margaret Hassan, who devoted three decades to helping Iraqis rather than bombing them — has reportedly been murdered by one of the gangs of psychotics roaming this broken country while Condi and Numbnuts joke about how her dream job would really be commissioner of the National Football League. I say let her have at it. Americans pay more attention to football than to foreign policy, so she wouldn't last long. Plus hardly anyone gets killed when the NFL commissioner fucks up.

  Even a red-state knucklehead like me can figure out what's going on here. The Cosmic Cowboy is tightening his inner circle, restricting it to the suicide-bunker loyalists who'd rather suck a liberal's dick on "The O'Reilly Factor" than dare to oppose one of The Boss's harebrained "gut instincts." Toward that end, Knight Ridder's Washington bureau reports, Porter Goss is conducting a purge of all doubters at CIA, and Condi is expected to follow suit at State. Seems Bush's pledge to "reach out" in his second term means handing out pink slips to any slaves who dare to whisper, "Caesar, thou art mortal." See my gal Molly Ivins for more on this topic.

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Powell follows his credibility into retirement

  Colin Powell has resigned as the Cosmic Cowboy's secretary of state, and there is no truth to the rumor that he will now don jockey garb and spend the next four years holding an iron ring at the gate to Dubya's Crawford ranch. Like Al Gore, he will grow a beard, finding himself unable to look into a mirror long enough to shave. What a disappointment this man has been. But he still has a crack at becoming the first black president of the United States ... if he emigrates to Bizarro World. Word has it that Condoleeza Rice is in line to succeed Powell, and I think she deserves it. Spending the next four years listening to the rest of the world tell her exactly what it thinks of her and her boss seems fair. Unless someone can figure out a way to air-drop the bitch into Fallujah wearing nothing but a G-string that says "Allah Sucks" in Arabic, that is.

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Beelzebub has a devil put aside for thee, for thee, for thee

  OK, it's official, Armageddon is upon us. KRCC-FM just played a version of the Queen classic "Bohemian Rhapsody" by De Danann, called "Hibernian Rhapsody," and every fookin' eejit connected with this travesty should be sent to H-Block at once, wearing "Bobby Sands Sucks" T-shirts, elaborate makeup and Gap jeans that zip up the back. Freddie fookin' Mercury must be spinnin' in his grave, f'jaysis' sake.

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Veterans Day

  This being Veterans Day, I'll take a break from politics to remember my father, Col. Harold Joseph O'Grady, who flew nearly 300 combat missions during World War II with the New Guinea-based 65th Squadron, 433rd Troop Carrier Group. In a 1943 letter to my grandmother, Clara Grady, noting his receipt of the Distinguished Flying Cross, Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, the Allied air chief in the southwest Pacific, said: "I would like to tell you how genuinely proud I am to have men such as your son in my command, and how gratified I am to know that young Americans with such courage and resourcefulness are fighting our country's battle against the aggressor nations." We disagreed on the Vietnam war while he was alive, and I haven't the slightest idea what he would think of the war in Iraq, but I suspect that we would agree on this: Whatever your position on the war, spare a kind thought for the men and women who are fighting it.

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How quaint

  The Cosmic Cowboy has nominated Alberto Gonzales to replace the Rev. John "Cotton Mather" Ashcroft as attorney general. Jesus Christ, with the unemployment stats being what they are, can't Dubya find a qualified candidate out there ... preferably someone who isn't a fellow member of the Lone Star Shit-for-Brains Club? This is the coconut who described as "quaint" and "obsolete" various aspects of the Geneva Conventions as they apply to the interrogation of prisoners (anyone out there remember Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib? Oh, pardon me, that's so five minutes ago). I suspect an American soldier captured by a group of Iraqi insurgents would find Gonzales's ivory-tower musings on what is and isn't acceptable behavior toward prisoners of war somewhat less than cheering. Still, I suppose we should be relieved that Gonzales isn't up for the Supreme Court. Yet.

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Come to Jesus

  Some get it, some don't. In today's Washington Post, James Carville, chief strategist of Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign, says the Donks need to be "born again," perhaps as "an aggressively reform, anti-Washington, anti-business-as-usual party" — in effect, co-opting the GOP strategy of running as virtuous outsiders against them rascals in Wash'tun Deecee. Meanwhile, the party's most recent presidential embarrassment, John Kerry, is said to be considering a second run at the job in 2008. "Sometimes God tests you," Kerry said. "I'm a fighter, and I've come back before." God was not testing you, John, He was fucking with you, especially when He made you dress up like Elmer Fudd. Your candidacy was never even remotely exciting, and your campaign was reminiscent of an NBA playoff game, where nobody gets serious until the final nine minutes.

Elsewhere in the news, John Ashcroft has resigned, and not a minute too soon, judging by his hand-written resignation letter, which says, and I quote, to wit: "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved." Sounds like he's been into the communion wine again. By the way, there is no truth to the rumor that Dubya has asked God to reincarnate Oliver Cromwell to replace Ashcroft.

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Do you, Adam, take Steve ... not in Bush country, you don't

  I see The Leader plans to reward his Bible-thumping shock troops with a push for a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in his second term. The gibbering and pissing over that never-happen proposal should distract the nation nicely from the rising death toll in Iraq, Afghanistan's continuing descent into anarchy, the pending invasions of Iran, Saudi Arabia and California, and the disquieting revelation that the only jobs to be found are in the Marines.

  Meanwhile we have this from former Colorado senator Gary Hart in The New York Times. Hart, in warning against "the disturbing tendency to insert theocratic principles into the vision of America's role in the world," notes: "There is evil in the world. Nowhere in our Constitution or founding documents is there support for the proposition that the United States was given a special dispensation to eliminate it."

  And Bob Herbert counsels the Democratic Party against dumbing itself down to reach the feeble-minded holy rollers whose ignorance helped put the Cosmic Cowboy back in the saddle. "A more practical approach might be for Democrats to add teach-ins to their outreach efforts. Anything that shrinks the ranks of the clueless would be helpful," notes Herbert.

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He got stoned — but he didn't miss it

  Nice rabble-rousing screed from William Rivers Pitt at TruthOut.org. There is no compromising with this administration, whose claims of a mandate ignores the 56 million people who voted for the other guy. When Bush says he'll "reach out" to you, it means he plans to wag a finger in your face while giving you your marching orders. "Bipartisanship" means "bend over." Fuck these people. The only thing they respect is strength, and it's about time the opposition showed some.

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Off with their ... nuts?

  Lest you have any doubts about what the next four years are all about, hear ye the words of Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and a man badly in need of a professional beating to remind him of his proper place in the universe:

"Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don't go around peeing on the furniture and such."

  Norquist assured Richard Leiby of The Washington Post that he meant neutered psychologically and that his metaphor was facetious. "Of course: Let the healing begin," deadpanned Leiby.

  Meanwhile, The New York Times continued its proud tradition of pissing all over its wingtips today with a story that marginalized Dubya's Left Coast opposition as whackos, hippies and nitwits. If I were giving the brain-dead Bill Safire an outlet for his flat-earth theories, I might be a little more charitable about the political convictions of others. But what do I know? I'm stuck here in East Jesus with the dummies.

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One for me, one for you . . .

  Well, here we go again, eh? They say the Lord works in mysterious ways, and occasionally He can be downright inscrutable. There are a couple of faint, flickering glimmers of feeble light in the inky darkness — Michael Merrifield appears to have kept his seat in the Colorado Statehouse, Ken Salazar flogged green-beer magnate Pete Coors, and Coloradans have agreed to tax smokers until they are dead, and then tax them some more. But unless Heaven intervenes, it would appear that slightly better than half the electorate has no compunctions about leaving the leadership of the Free World in the thumb-fingered hands of one of the lesser primates, backstopped by a cadre of arrogant imperialists, religious zealots and right-wing revolutionaries. Mysterious ways indeed.

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Throw the bums out

  Here's your chance, boys and girls. If you don't like what you're seeing in America these days, from the White House to the statehouse to that unfilled pothole down the street, today's the day to do something about it. Grab your ID, pull on a warm coat, stuff something to read in a pocket (it looks like a busy day), and head for the polls. I'm headed there myself as soon as I have that second cup of Joe, because I can't wait to cancel out George W. Bush's vote for himself.


  • Update, 10:20 a.m.: Just came back from casting my vote against the Empire, and the turnout looked good — much better than two years ago. I have no way to judge how today's crowd compares to four years ago, because we were living and voting in Custer County, which makes El Paso County look like Boulder. You want to have any voice up there, you register Republican and subvert from within.

      I was surprised and pleased to see two of the 25,000 volunteers from Election Protection standing watch outside my polling place, ready to help anyone having problems, self-induced or otherwise. I didn't have any, but EP is reporting issues in Ohio, New York, Delaware, Illinois and — surprise, surprise — Florida. Don't take no shit, folks: If you find yourself up against some Nazi who wants to keep you from participating in our lower-case republican dream, call 1-866-MYVOTE1 or 1-866-OURVOTE. Don't bug 'em unless you need to speak to a lawyer immediately, though.

      Meanwhile, just in case you're not already paranoid, eyeball this piece from Steven Rosenfeld at AlterNet. It made me check to see that all the household firearms were loaded, just in case.


  • Update, 11:20 p.m.: Well, some friends, the wife and I have been drinking, eating and channel-surfing for the better part of quite some time, and I have no no clue as to whom the bottle will be pointing at when (or if) it finally stops spinning. The latest news is that Ohio will be this year's Florida, the much-ballyhooed youth vote is said to have failed to materialize, and I am out of whisky. Thank God I am not a copy editor at the Cincinnati Enquirer, where it is liable to be a very long night indeed. See you in the morning after a couple cups of aspirin and a little coffee.

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    I don't care if it rains or freezes, long as I've got my plastic Jesus ...

      One day to go before Dubya gets his performance evaluation, and finally someone raises the question that's been bothering me for four years now:

    "Every incumbent running for re-election uses the trappings of the presidency on the campaign trail, but BC04 has really taken this to a whole new level. I instinctively reject the partisan tendency to attribute un-American and anti-democratic tactics to the opposition, but it's impossible to avoid smelling the whiff of authoritarianism in the incumbent's campaign events. The personal pledge of loyalty to Bush that's become a staple of his home-stretch rallies is one example. The exclusion of Democrats, the routine taunting of news media, and the tight security is another. And the heavy-handed overtone of patriotic and religious appeals is still another.

    "I must say that the fervent response to these tactics surprises me. I can understand how some voters can rationally make a decision that Bush has done as well as he can on domestic and international issues, or that Kerry's record doesn't make him a desirable alternative. I can understand that some Americans really do believe that abortion is homicide, or that Republicans empathize with traditionalist cultural impulses more than Democrats, or even that Bush as a self-professed evangelical Christian has earned their support by rhetoric alone. There may even be a small percantage of voters who are convinced that erasing progressive tax rates and 'starving the beast' of Washington by deliberately engineering budget deficits are valid and important goals. But that George W. Bush, of all people, has become the object of a cult of personality and of intense personal devotion for millions of Americans is harder to understand. Most of the serious conservative ideologues I talk to privately concede the president is a man of limited gifts who has united Republicans behind him as a matter of historical accident more than his intrinsic political or policy skills."

      Read more at NewDonkey.com.

      Meanwhile, as Karl Rove's shadowy army of storm troopers tries to disenfranchise minorities, poor people and anyone else who declines to click their heels, raise a stiff right arm and recite The Bush Pledge, I'm doing my own subtle bit to queer the election in the other direction. Rambling around downtown Colorado Springs this afternoon in search of omens, I found used copies of Hunter S. Thompson's "Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness" and the "Tom Waits Anthology" right next to each other in a used bookstore, and bought them both. Then I saw a Nepalese Buddha statue with hands in meditation mudra in a nearby Tibetan shop and bought that too, figuring I'd do a little zazen this evening to get a leash on all the rabid hounds howling in my head. And finally, as an afterthought I decided to put a little extra backspin on this Zen Gonzo Voodoo action by snagging bottles of French wine and brandy to accompany tonight's dinner, a buffalo-sausage-and-two-bean chile con carne in honor of our neighbors to the south.

      Maybe the thing to do is to eat three or four bowls of this evil chile while getting good and drunk on the Frog brain eraser, then get up early, brush my teeth with brandy, and turn up at the polls in a Bush-Cheney 2004 T-shirt and a camo' jockstrap, spend the day standing just outside the 100-foot limit, farting and belching and just generally looking depraved, something like Marilyn Manson's redneck cousin. That should tip a few of the undecideds over the line.

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    Osama endorses Dubya

      OK, I confess ... I was so wrapped up in my own miserable life that I forgot Halloween was coming up, and who should rear his ugly head — booga booga booga — but Osama bin Laden. Security alerts are said to give an edge to Dubya, though the Master Debater let this dick slip out of his greasy fist ... still, I'd like to think that a candidate who's actually discharged a firearm in the direction of an enemy instead of dressing up like Tom Cruise for Halloween might have some appeal to a nation tired of body count, bad noise and costume parties.

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    Fear and loathing ... well, mostly loathing

      My boy Hunter S. Thompson is back on the campaign trail, after a fashion, calling Dubya "a weak-minded frat boy," saying that four more years of him would be "like four more years of syphilis," and adding that he would happily vote for Richard Nixon "if he were running for president this year against the evil Bush-Cheney gang."

      "The question this year is not whether President Bush is acting more and more like the head of a fascist government but if the American people want it that way," continues the Good Doktor. "That is what this election is all about. We are down to nut-cutting time, and millions of people are angry. They want a Regime Change.

      "Some people say that George Bush should be run down and sacrificed to the Rat gods. But not me. No. I say it would be a lot easier to just vote the bastard out of office on November 2nd." You can read the whole screed at RollingStone.com. Selah.

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    Denver Post endorses Bush

      Read it and weep. Not only is it a bad idea, but it's poorly written. Sue O'Brien must be spinning in her grave.

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    Anybody heard of Sun Tzu in this chickenshit outfit?

      Got kids, a spouse, friends or neighbors in Iraq? Pay taxes? Still thinking about voting for Bush? Check out this piece from Michael Gordon, military scribe for The New York Times. Then report back to me. Dismiss.

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    John Kerry for president

      If you are a longtime opponent of George W. Bush and would like all your worst fears about the man confirmed, or are a confused supporter with growing doubts, take a look at this piece by Ron Suskind in today's New York Times Sunday Magazine. Suskind, who was senior national-affairs reporter for The Wall Street Journal from 1993 to 2000, describes at some length a religious maniac, devoid of both intellectual curiosity and a leader's willingness to entertain opposing points of view, who believes God has special plans for him, perhaps because he has been spared the consequences of every failure he has ever suffered — and there have been plenty of them — largely due to the intercession of family and friends rather than to any act of the Lord (although He has been said to work in mysterious ways). After reading this damning bit of journalism, particularly its outline of what we can expect from a second term should the nation be daffy enough to grant one to a lifelong loser who is clearly a taco short of a combo plate and unfit to lead a Cub Scout troop to a Happy Meal at Mickey D's, it should be no surprise that The Times has endorsed John Kerry for president.

      And while we're on the topic of arrogance, incompetence and delusions of grandeur, check out this Knight-Ridder report on the appalling failure of this administration to consider what to do with Iraq once we had it. Notes one veteran State Department officer who was directly involved in Iraq policy: "We didn't go in with a plan. We went in with a theory." For a glimpse of the upshot, from The Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who has spent most of the past two years watching the Busheviks botch it in Baghdad, click here.

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    Noise? What noise?

      Richard Cohen got a good one off in The Washington Post today: "Iraq is the crazy aunt in the attic that Bush will not acknowledge. When she throws the furniture, Bush says you're just hearing things. Yeah, sure." Damn, I wish I'd said that.

      Meanwhile, I scribbled my own little screed for the boys over at VeloNews today. Not nearly as erudite, it nevertheless added up to 1,117 words of sheer gibberish, 18 of which bashed Bush, and naturally all the negative mail focused on those 18 filthy little words. One guy whose sis is in Iraq — more power to her arm and may she be safely home for the holidays — trotted out a few of the usual non sequiturs, including the classic, "remember those folks over there like my little sister who lay it on the line for your right to run your mouth."

      I've met and chatted with a few of those folks my own bad self, and I feel for her family — even her understandably testy brother — but she is not in Iraq to defend my freedom of speech. Better for all of us if she were here at home, where the First Amendment is really under attack by the secrecy-obsessed imperial fantasists running the executive branch these days and needs all the foot soldiers it can get.

      And while I appreciate the sacrifices of America's men and women in uniform — my father, uncle and grandfather all served in last century's world wars — plenty of journalists have gone to the mat for my right to act the fool, too, going to court, and to jail, and occasionally to the grave. Freedom of speech is a group effort, Bubba, just like the rest of the Republic. Lend a hand or stand back.

      This just in: Speaking of free speech, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart apparently has appeared on CNN's Crossfire show and called Tucker Carlson "a dick." Really. You can read all about it here. Damn, I wish I'd said that, too.

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    Lez be friends

      The public prints are getting great mileage out of Kerry's aside about Big Dick's gay daughter and the Cheneys' reaction to same. Ho, ho. As though mentioning that the veep's daughter is gay in the context of discussing whether homosexuals are made or born is somehow more heinous than killing a shitload of people for no good reason. Oh, no, wait, that's right, they had plenty of reasons for invading Iraq, and they trot out a fresh one damn' near every day. Anything to avoid running on the old record, eh, Dick? Can't say as I blame you. That's a record any honest, halfway sane man would be running from, not on.

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    Third time's a charm

      I'm watching the closing statements in the final presidential debate, and I gotta tell you, I call this one a draw with an ever-so-slight edge toward the prez. Somebody drilled him hard for this one — little to no smirking (replaced by water-sipping); no scowling (replaced by note-taking); and a little more polish to the usual sour bullshit about freedom being on the march and the skies certain to be full of pies damn' near any day now. It was his "compassionate conservative" persona, 90 minutes of grinning like a shit-eating dog, and he managed to show a few genuine moments, particularly during his explanation of his faith (though he mostly failed to answer the question about how faith affects his decision-making). Bottom line: Numbnuts made himself more likeable by eschewing straight answers in favor of expounding sunny fictions, and Kerry probably made himself a little less so by insisting on acting like a prosecuting attorney, and with these so-called debates being mostly a beauty contest, that's why I give the tip to Dubya on this one, God help us all.

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    Talk still cheap: Film at 11

      The first of the 2004 presidential debates is in the history books, and if it changed a single mind, well, that particular brain belongs in a glass jar at a medical school. If you think George W. Bush is a lying sack of shit, a plastic doll that spouts talking points when you squeeze it by the nuts, you found John Kerry's performance spellbinding. If you think Kerry is an East Coast sissy, a waffler who changes positions more often than a fat man in a tight chair, well, you found the president decisive and forthright.

      I feel a little bit better about Kerry than I did before tonight's beauty contest; I thought he came off as tolerably smart and reasonably tough while avoiding the Brainiac missteps that helped cost Gore the election. But if anything I feel even less sanguine about Dubya, who struck me as having mixed up his meds before taking the stage and badly in need of an anger-management course, especially after Kerry jabbed him a couple of times.

      Of course, Kerry had more to lose in this initial pissing contest than Bush, because after three years of watching Numbnuts act like the dumbest, meanest monkey in the zoo, few of us — even his supporters — expect much in the way of snappy repartee from the Chimp-in-Chief. And the challenger fell well short of knocking his man out. But he stuck him a few times, and so I give the first round to Kerry on points.

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    Cats 'n' cups

      I can't tell you how delighted I am that the government has taken firm, decisive action to protect us from Cat Stevens and Janet Jackson's titty. Forget about that Osama bin Missing guy, hon' ... we've got big problems right here at home.

    * * *

    Trolling for technology

    Photos by Patrick O'Grady

    At top, the living-room Pismo; below, the basement Wall Street

      I've been shopping for a new computer and can't find exactly what I want, in large part because nobody makes it. I'm a Mac guy, have been since my first SE back in 1989, and am presently addicted to PowerBooks. I do most of my writing and editing on a 4-year-old G3 "Pismo," but scan and color the 'toons with an even older G3 "Wall Street" chained to a scanner, printer and 17-inch monitor in the basement. A real weirdo, my PowerBook 2300c Duo sits mostly unused on a desk in Weirdcliffe, demoted to occasional word processor/dialup e-mail collector.

      Both G3 PowerBooks are solid, practically bulletproof, but they're slow and bulky when compared to modern 'Books — not exactly what you want to toss in a backpack for a flight to the coast or a walk to the local coffeehouse-slash-hotspot. I had a brief flirtation with one of the early redesigned iBooks, the 12-inch-screen, 600 MHz model, but soon gave it to Shannon; I liked its size and weight, but couldn't get used to a shiny white laptop. Plus I hated the keyboard, which felt click-clacky and cheap. And when its descendents started going through logic boards like John Kerry goes through campaign advisers, and it became apparent that, like Henry Ford's Model T, you could have Steve Jobs' iBook in only one color, I lost interest in the entire category.

      Apple finally brought the smaller iBook form factor to its PowerBook line — featherweight aluminum, sharp 12-inch screen, Combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, full complement of USB, Ethernet and FireWire ports — but only in a G4 configuration, which meant accepting OSX, which I think sucks. It smells like Windoze to me. Sue me, but I like the so-called "Classic" OS, from about 8.6 to 9.2.2, especially on a small screen. Plus one of the outfits I work with has technical issues with either OSX or Safari, I'm not sure which, and I'd have to upgrade my hoary copies of Word and Photoshop, so there's that to consider, too.

      Rather than stride boldly forward, I've thought about going even further backward, to the old PowerBook 1400c. I owned one some years back, and loved the size and keyboard. Plus these days you can buy a used one for $300, drop a Sonnet G3 466MHz processor into it for another three yards and presto! A black G3 laptop for six hunnerd bucks. You can even take the little guy wireless if you don't mind a bit of fiddling, and I got nothing but time in the off-season. But the ports are strictly from last century — SCSI, ADB, and even a modem and Ethernet were add-ons — and while the 1400's footprint is small, it nevertheless treads heavily; it weighs damn' near as much as this fat black Pismo poaching my thighs.

      Windoze geekboy Charles Pelkey at VeloNews has suggested I try a Linux laptop, but the former tech editor has a Frankenstein complex and just loves tinkering with weird parts, trying to bring them to life. I don't mind a certain amount of dicking around with machinery, but I'm mostly interested in getting my work done. That's why I got into Macs in the first place. They were the computer for people who weren't interested in computers.

      Which brings me around to what I think is a semireasonable question: Why can't Apple continue to offer a G3 for the Luddite working stiffs among us who could give a fat rat's ass about G4/G5/OSX, maybe in a variety of hues like the iPod? Car companies make sedans and sports cars, after all. Hell, I'd be all over a 12-inch, 4.5-pound G3 900 iBook in slate gray, jet black or some other subtle fuck-you-I'm-working-here color, running OS 9.2.2, with the usual rack of FireWire, Ethernet, USB and modem ports, plus AirPort Extreme, a PC-card slot, a stout keyboard, Combo drive and a logic board bereft of psychological problems. Say, for a grand or thereabouts. Whaddaya say, Steve? Can a MacBrother get a MacBreak here?

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    Iraq is goin' good, yeah . . . that's the ticket

      I was up in Weirdcliffe this weekend, working the velonews.com website via satellite Internet, enjoying the changing aspens and trying without success to kick a nasty upper-respiratory bug that had me by the tonsils with a downhill pull. While sprawled, snuffling, on the couch downing a succession of mugs filled with hot tea and honey and screening some old VHS tapes, I was struck once again by how often the past repeats itself for those who refuse to learn from history.

    Photo by Patrick O'Grady

     Changing aspen on Bear Basin Ranch east of Westcliffe.

      The tape that got my attention was the 25th-anniversary "Saturday Night Live," the one with the spoof of the 1988 Bush-Dukakis debates. Bush (Dana Carvey) had just delivered some rambling non sequitur of an answer to the moderator's question, and Dukakis (Jon Lovitz) looked straight into the camera and said, "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy."

      That pretty much sums up the 1988, 2000 and 2004 Democratic campaigns, doesn't it? Dukakis and Gore both underestimated the competition and as a consequence found themselves watching the inaugural on TV, munching fistfuls of Advil to take the ache out of a vicious beating and muttering, "I can't believe I lost to this guy." Kerry appears to be headed down the same lonely road, clutching his one-way ticket to Palookaville and wondering how the hell he can be behind on points and needing a knockout to win.

      Clinton was the anomaly in this crowd, a rare breed of Mutant Democrat, a Donk-Pachyderm hybrid with a great line of shit and the conscience of a stiff dick. The GOP threw every dirty punch in the book at Bubba, high, low and right in the breadbasket, and he just kept bobbing and weaving, grinning like a jackass eating prickly pear, crooning, "I feel your pain," while he diddled everything with a pulse in the 202 area code and a largely content nation enjoyed eight years of comparative peace and prosperity, to say nothing of some excellent Clinton impersonations on SNL by Darrell Hammond.

      Then Bubba handed this barrel of titties to Gore, who managed to come away sucking his thumb after what should've been the most one-sided contest since Reagan vs. Grenada, giving us four years of a leadership that makes a South American junta look like the Council of the Wise in "The Lord of the Rings." And today, as we approach another critical election, despite what should have been a sharp lesson to the entire nation, never mind the Democratic Party, of the costs associated with not paying attention, Kerry has been AWOL from his own campaign, apparently content to have the agenda set by the skulking minions of an incumbent who is either incapable of telling the truth or of recognizing it as such, even when it bites him in the ass.

      Bush reminds me of banker Edgar Quisenberry in Pat Frank's apocalyptic novel, "Alas, Babylon," a stylish suit devoid of imagination, yet full of hubris, who "saw no reason why a war should interfere with banking hours." Mistaking stubbornness for decisiveness in crisis, the banker committed blunder after blunder, each misstep compounding the last like interest, until he decided he could no longer live in a world that had no further use for him and his incompetence.

      The parallels are not exact. Frank's banker was a big frog in a small pond, a man of little consequence outside his small sphere of influence. And unlike Quisenberry, Bush will not arrange his own exit. Like any other slacker who has somehow stumbled into a good job that he doesn't deserve, he'll have to be pushed, and hard.

      Whether Kerry is man enough to do the pushing remains to be seen. But he'd best roll up his sleeves and start trying. The last four years have not been funny, and not even "Saturday Night Live" will be able to mine many giggles from the next four, when this gang in the White House is freed from all restraint and can indulge all its sinister whims.

    * * *

      Meanwhile, E.J. Dionne at The Washington Post suggests that since Dan Rather has 'fessed up about screwing the pooch on the Bush-dodged-'Nam story, Bush should do the same as regards his actual whereabouts and activities when he was supposed to be defending Corpus Christi against the Cong. Don't spend too much time in the office waiting for that phone to ring, E.J. Not without a cot, a case of strong drink and a couple of take-out menus.

    * * *

      And finally, cool! Let's go to war with these guys, too. Last one to Tehran is a Shiite-head.

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    The adults are in charge?

      The first step toward having a Plexiglas belly-button installed is admitting that you have your head up your ass. After Afghan President Hamid Karzai aborted a rare campaign appearance because someone (apparently supporting another candidate) fired an RPG at his helicopter as it swooped in for a landing, some fuckwit described as "an American security official" spake thusly: "Such a shame, just one guy can ruin the day for everyone." Bad insurgents; bad, bad, bad insurgents. Now go sit in your bunker and think about what you've done.

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    Cooking the books

      My boy Paul Krugman delivers another haymaker to Dubya over to The New York Times, accusing the Conman-in-Chief of lying like a rug about budgetary matters. Why not? He lies about everything else . . . the deficit should get special treatment? The kicker is the closing line: "Nobody knows what Mr. Bush would really do about taxes and spending in a second term. What we do know is that on this, as on many matters, he won't tell the truth." Lucky for the prez he doesn't read the papers. That sort of thing could play hell with a mountain biker's resting heart rate.

    Meanwhile, Dickless Cheney explains in The Washington Post that he didn't say what he said. Backseat said his despicable Des Moines remarks were halved by a terrorist editor at The Associated Press . . . alas, they was also carried on a TV station, and went thusly: "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States." That doesn't seem to require much in the way of clarification. It basically boils down to, "Vote Bush-Cheney 2004 or Die." Helluva campaign slogan, there, fatboy.

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    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      The Adventures of Junior Birdman Bush are getting wide play in the public prints, though it's anyone's guess whether any minds are being changed by proof of his cowardice, disregard for lawful orders and failure to meet his military obligation during Vietnam. Still, a few more stories like the ones in the NYT, WaPo and Boston Globe today and Tom Ridge may have to crank up The Ministry of Fear to create a diversion. "They're coming! Aaiiiiee! Remain calm . . . ."

      What I find most reprehensible about this business is not that a rich guy dodged the draft — shit, his whole administration did, along with plenty of other folks — but Dubya's posturing and preening in military garb, and his endless chest-thumping references to himself as "a wartime president" and all-round tough guy. A tough guy who couldn't handle Stateside service when other, less well-connected guys were getting their asses shot off in Southeast Asia. A tough guy who's happy to send other people into the meat grinder while he rides his mountain bike around Crawford.

      I was in Southern California for a job of work last week, and when it came time to jet back to Colorado I found myself sharing a cab to the Long Beach airport with a Marine fresh back from Iraq. He was from Camp Pendleton — yeah, the same base that just lost seven men in a car bombing — and had really been in the shit in Fallujah. Firefights, suicide bombings, dead and wounded comrades, "friendly" Iraqis who smiled and waved in the daylight and shot at him come nightfall, the works. He had been back for just a week, hadn't even seen his family yet, was having nightmares that he was still in Iraq . . . and he wanted to go back. He felt he had left a job unfinished and wanted to get back to it.

      A man like that deserves a better president. We all do.

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    And while we're on the topic of lying, lazy sacks of shit . . .

     The Boston Globe, which broke the original Dubya-dodged-the-draft piece back before the last election, does it again today, showing that the Cowboy-in-Chief failed to meet his military obligation to the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. This should make the friends and relatives of the 1,000 grunts who died in Dubya's war feel real good about the sacrifices their loved ones made on behalf of the nation. Eight hundred of the thousand went west, as the Irish say, after Numbnuts did The Superior Dance in his flight suit, declaring, "Mission accomplished." No wonder the GOP held its convention in New York. They might have faced some embarrassing questions in Beantown.

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    An offer we must refuse

      OK, I've been doing way too much editing lately, which always saps me of the will to write, but even an editor has to look up from the laptop from time to time and mutter, "What the fuck?"

      The item that got my attention tonight was the latest color-coded threat level from Backseat, better known as Uncle Dick Cheney, who is quoted on The New York Times website as saying the following to a crowd of 350 in Des Moines, Iowa, most of them RNC staffers and FBI agents, no doubt:

      "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States."

    Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards, said Mr. Cheney had "crossed the line," which is DonkSpeak® for "What the fuck?"

    "What he said to the American people was that if you go to the polls in November and elect anyone other than us, then another terrorist attack occurs, it's your fault," said Edwards. "This is un-American.''

      Alas, it's all too American. I have done a few weekend-warrior tours of duty in some narrow Donk trenches over the years, and I remember one of my college buddies, a diehard Donk pro, cracking wise about a certain Third Congressional District stalwart's campaign, which he derided as: "Vote for So-and-So: You never know when you could get killed in a bomb accident."

      The scary part about all this is that Backseat felt perfectly comfortable dropping that verbal shitbomb into an Iowa pep rally covered by the would-be National Paper of Record. If you catch a rank whiff of the 2000 Gore campaign in the air, well, you're not alone. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when the Donks shat an unsuspecting nation directly into the septic tank of Bushevism, four years of treading some very stinky water that has made the Nixon administration look like an unsullied mountain stream. Am I insane, or is Kerry stumbling along in Gore's spastic footprints, with an occasional detour into Muskie country? How is it that a guy who actually served in Vietnam — and killed at least one enemy combatant himself, instead of outsourcing it to poor people's children — is put on the defensive by a chickenshit who found a cushy billet with the Champagne Unit of the Texas Air National Guard too onerous to complete, and whose records have mysteriously disappeared?

      This rope-a-dope bullshit worked for Muhammad Ali — until Larry Holmes rang his bell like Quasimodo as played by Gene Krupa — and it appears to have worked for Kerry in the past, as the senator is renowned as a slow starter and a fast finisher. But I have my doubts as to whether it will work against a sitting president in what his campaign staff and the media (which seem interchangeable) continually remind us is "a time of war" (never mind that the sitting president is the guy who got us into this war, and is fucking it up).

    Spike and Hal share a private moment in their first world-championship triumph. Well, maybe not so private.

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    And the winner is . . .

      Hal Walter, who today won his fourth World Championship Pack-Burro Race in Fairplay, Colorado. Running alongside his burro Spike (yes, you run with these 600-pound teammates, you don't ride them) the Weirdcliffe, Colorado, resident finished the 29-mile race from Fairplay to the top of Mosquito Pass — that's 10,000 feet to 13,000 and then some, and back again — in 5:39:08 to claim his fourth world title. Eight-year Triple Crown winner Barb Dolan and Chugs, the 2003 Burro of the Year, was second, with Jaime Boese and Zapata rounding out the podium in third.

      It was quite a day at the races for the new dad, who found himself wrestling with the trailer wiring on a new-used truck until late Friday evening and then spent 12 hours without electricity at his Weirdcliffe ranch going into Sunday's world championship. "I was thinking to myself, if I can just get there, I can win this," he said via cell phone from Bongo Billy's in Salida after, well, showing his ass to all and sundry. Congrats to Hal and Spike, to Hal's wife, Mary, and to their freshly minted son, Harrison.

      Oh, yeah. And some Texan won a bike race today.

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    Vive la France!

      Allons enfants de la Patrie Le jour de gloire est arrivé ! French cycling fans get to celebrate Bastille Day in style, with Richard Virenque winning stage 10 and Thomas Voeckler hanging onto the maillot jaune. We Yankees will have to wait for a while to jump up and down, shouting, "USA! USA! USA!," as Lance Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton, Bobby Julich and Levi Leipheimer appeared to have decided to save their energies for another day. There's plenty of up on the menu, and sooner or later one of the big dogs has to start barking.

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    Black is white

      Richard Cohen at The Washington Post weighs in with a dope-slap for the Single-speeder-in-Chief, who continues to drone that he has made America safer by using a flimsy tissue of lies to take the nation to war against a tinpot dictator with no weapons of mass destruction and an army in shambles, a low-rent loony tunes who was "insanely writing romantic potboilers," while ignoring the real threat, the man behind 9/11. "We've got Saddam Hussein; we don't have Osama bin Laden," Cohen notes. We've got Bush, too. Here's hoping we can get rid of him in November.

    * * *

      Meanwhile, that little race around Frogland heads for the hills on Wednesday. This should be amusing. Lance Armstrong claims he hasn't seen the course before, my man Stuey O'Grady wants to get in a break and maybe clap his Aussie paws on the yellow jersey again, and it's the longest stage of the Tour after a pretty frisky stage 9, where everyone was riding the rivet and wishing they'd gone into food service, politics or cycling journalism. Tyler Hamilton says he plans to be racing at the front (bummer about Tugboat, Tyler, my condolences), nobody knows what Jan Ullrich is capable of this time out (including Der Kaiser), and I don't have cable or satellite. Sheeeyit.

      It's not as if I'd have much time to watch it, in any case. I'm spending the Tour helping the Boulder Mafia work the VeloNews.com website, and it ain't been no day at the beach, believe you me. There's a ton of copy to read, from Rupert Guinness, Lennard Zinn, Thomas Prehn, Chris Carmichael, Agence France Presse, Reuters, The Associated Press and a couple of the racers, including Magnus Backstaedt of Alessio-Bianchi and Tyler from Phonak. Throw photos from AFP, Casey Gibson and Graham Watson into the mix, add the other stuff going on that isn't the Tour — drug busts, marathon mountain-bike world's, Cascade Classic, the chase for spots on vaarious Olympic teams, and an endless torrent of letters to the editor, plus adding stuff to the InsideTriathlon website (yeah, we do that, too). — and it makes for a long day at the office. In point of fact, it's a good deal like work.

      And you know how I feel about that bullshit. If I wanted to work, I'd get a job.

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      Meet the Silver Bullet.
    Don't pay the ransom; I've escaped

      Been a while, hasn't it? We've been extra busy here in Dog Country, what with that little race around France kicking off just as Shannon's most recent employer decided the company could get along just fine without her services (and, coincidentally, that we can get along just fine without their company car, Windoze laptop, cellphone and money). They were right about the Windoze laptop.

      As a professional paranoid, I thought the gig too good to be true when she got it, but I can't say I'm delighted at having been proved right two years down the road, when two management types finally got around to giving Shannon her first "performance review," then strolled out for a bracing round of golf. As near as I can tell, these wankers must eat all their meals at Chinese restaurants, 'cause they're apparently basing their corporate strategy on the advice they get from the fortune cookies. It also goes a long way toward confirming my suspicions regarding golf and its effect on IQ.

      Whatever. With Shannon hunting work, the Tacoma undergoing a lengthy bout of transmission surgery, the White Tornado parked up in Weirdcliffe (and off the insurance policy), and the Vomit Comet doddering along, drooling oil, toward the 300,000-mile mark, we decided we needed a cheap rig for backup just in case both of us needed to be farther away from home at the same time than I can get on a cyclo-cross bike. And as if life weren't already difficult enough, lo and behold, a 4WD 1986 Toyota Tercel SR5 wagon appeared in the local alternative weekly for less than the price of a Steelman frameset. So we bought it. Here it is. It has the all the power of a squirrel with West Nile, climbs as well as Ivan Quaranta, and you have to prop the hatchback open with a stick. But it gets more miles to the gallon than a moped, it's more fun than working for a bunch of golf-addled goons with Szechuan breath, and you don't have to feed any coins into the meter when you park it downtown. You just slip it into your hip pocket and saunter off.

    0 6 | 2 1 | 2 0 0 4

    The Twilight Zone

      I always loved Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone," in no small measure because I feel now and then as though I've wandered off into some other place, "a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man...." I feel like that today. A ruthless clique of liars, fascists and thugs controls the White House and both houses of Congress; the Supreme Court says the cops can jack you up whenever their donut buzz fades to a dull hum and they feel like fucking with someone; the front pages are full of a privately funded space flight that is reminiscent of, yet a good deal less significant than, Alan Sheppard's 15-minute suborbital flight in 1961; and after six or seven years of drought, the skies have finally cracked and are pissing down rain in quantities I haven't seen since I lived in Oregon. I always understood that it was going to be the fire next time, but if I see Noah go sailing by, I'm gonna ask if he needs an elderly cabin boy.

    0 6 | 1 1 | 2 0 0 4

    Some particularly odious comparisons

      I'm sure this has been brought up elsewhere, but do you suppose that this sudden nostalgia for the good ol' Reagan years has something to do with America's growing unease with the wanna-be farting through silk in the Gipper's old chair at the White House? Dubya is making Herbert Hoover, Warren Harding and Captain Queeg look like the Three Wise Men, and his inability to speak his native tongue makes the Gipper look like Sir John Gielgud.

    0 6 | 1 0 | 2 0 0 4

    Our national Alzheimer's

      Since the GOP and the media refuse to shut the fuck up, here's another reminder that the Reagan Revolution wasn't all it's being cracked up to be. Happily, a few of us retain our memories of that period of American history. Here's another fascinating peek in the rear-view mirror from Sid Blumenthal. You'll have to watch a brief ad for this one. And there a whole Reagan retrospective over at The Nation, if you've got nothing but time at the cube farm and the boss is busy elsewhere.

      Meanwhile, The New York Times announces another passing worthy of commemoration: Ray Charles, who turned "America the Beautiful" into soul music, along with every other piece of music he touched. The world is full of bad actors, but there was only one Ray Charles.

    0 6 | 0 8 | 2 0 0 4

    The call of doody

      Still doubt that our "wartime president" is full of shit? Check out what Molly Ivins has to say regarding the Cowboy-in-Chief's words versus his deeds, especially if you're in the military. There's only one way to salute this bozo, and it does not involve all five fingers on your right hand.

    0 6 | 0 7 | 2 0 0 4

    Forget the lawyer, bring me a doctor

      Well, I don't know about you, but this sure makes me proud to be an American. Jesus H. Christ. I thought we were supposed to be the good guys. This makes Clinton's absurd lip-smacking over the word "is" look like a masterpiece of deductive logic. Perhaps we should put a few of these chickenshit lawyers through a few of the procedures they find so acceptable, see what they think of them afterward. If they're still alive, that is.

    0 6 | 0 6 | 2 0 0 4

    This ain't no "Good War"

      One across the gums for the Cowboy-in-Chief from Ed Quillen, publisher of Colorado Central magazine and columnist for The Denver Post, who reminds us that despite Dubya's hamfisted attempts to link his crusade in Iraq to World War II, "if our president needs to find historical parallels for the current operations in Iraq, there are plenty that fit better than World War II - say, the invasion of Mexico in 1846, or the "liberation" of the Philippines in 1898."

      Meanwhile, speaking of fascists, clap your peepers on this from The Boston Phoenix. A more laughable set of trumped-up charges would be tough to find outside of a B film noir. Laughable, that is, unless you're the poor sod the Boston flatfeet arrested. Jesus wept, aren't there any crimes that need solving in Beantown? Besides those being committed by the clergy and the cops, that is?

      And finally (OK, how long did you think the cease-fire would last?), one for the Gipper from The New York Times editorial page. Many of us, barring the Hitler Youth I worked with at The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson back in 1980, would have been content to see him end his career in the public spotlight as the pitchman for 20 Mule Team Borax on "Death Valley Days."

    0 6 | 0 5 | 2 0 0 4

    Reagan rides into the sunset

      The Gipper got released from prison today, and you won't hear me cracking any jokes at his expense. My mom died of Alzheimer's, and it's a disease I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, not even the dipshit fool in the White House today, though a bad case of shingles certainly would meet with my approval. Maybe the clap. There is a certain irony that Reagan died on the same day, 36 years later, that Bobby Kennedy did. I wonder if they'll have anything to talk about?

    0 5 | 2 6| 2 0 0 4

    Boogeyman gonna getchoo

      John Ashcroft crawled out from under his rock today to let us know that the world remains a dangerous placebooga booga booga — and I don't suppose his announcement has a thing to do with the fact that his boss is suddenly as popular as a 75-year-old hooker with running sores both fore and aft. No, I'm certain that his concerns are based on the same sort of solid intelligence that got us into the war on Iraq. Better go check under your bed — if Osama isn't under there, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is certain to be, or maybe Emmanuel Goldstein, playing rhythm guitar for Catfish Hodge.

    0 5 | 1 5 | 2 0 0 4

    News vs. propaganda

      Here's a good read from The Los Angeles Times: a lecture on ethics headlined "The Wolf in Reporter's Clothing: The Rise of Pseudo-Journalism in America," by LAT editor John S. Carroll. I overheard some misguided fool jabbering in a store the other day about Saddam's role in 9/11, Clinton's weakness and Dubya's strength, would you rather fight "them" over there or over here, all the usual Faux News blather, and I wish I could tattoo every friggin' word of this lecture on his low, sloping forehead.

    0 5 | 0 9 | 2 0 0 4

    Shalom, Alan King

      One of the great funnymen, Alan King, has gone to the great stage in the sky. God has taste. King He wants up there with Him; schmucks like Ariel Sharon, he leaves on Earth as a warning to the rest of us.

    0 5 | 0 5 | 2 0 0 4

    Stupid White Men revisited

      What do you do when you don't like the message? Why, shoot the messenger, of course. This latest ham-handed bit of censorship from Disney, this time directed against anti-Bush propagandist Michael Moore, is just one of many reasons why we shun all Mouse-related enterprises here in Dogpatch, the first being the company's shameless war on Dan O'Neill and Air Pirates Studio.

      Facing a flood of bad news about their boy Bush and his misadventures at home and abroad, stupid white men like Disney's Michael Eisner and David Smith of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which famously refused to air a "Nightline" episode listing the names and faces of America's war dead, are striving mightily to twist a kink in the informational hose. CBS's cowardice in the face of pressure from the right has become legendary, a dribble of pee on the grave of Edward R. Murrow, while antiwar, anti-Bush groups routinely have their advertising campaigns rejected by print and broadcast media for their "political" content, while the news side mostly parrots the party line as promulgated by Karl Rove, Scott McClelland and other arms of the kraken-like Republican National Committee.

      Happily, the informational hose is notoriously leaky. Patch a hole here and another pops up there. The word gets out. And payback is a bitch. Take a moment to drop a note to Eisner, Smith and their comrades in censorship that you will be taking their business elsewhere. Money talks, as the saying goes, and it's the only voice that swine like this can hear.

    0 4 | 2 7 | 2 0 0 4

    1984, knocking on your door ...

      Just 'cause you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you, as a kid in Washington state learned when the Secret Service popped by to chat with him about his artwork. What an intelligent use of the nation's resources. This crowd makes the Nixon administration look like the Mickey Mouse Club.

      Later that same day: After I posted this, a teacher dropped me a note to say that this kid's teach' had to kick the pictures upstairs to the office out of simple self-preservation, and I can't argue with that; if some Columbine-style shit were to roll downhill as a result of the kid's artwork, the teacher is going to be the guy who's living in the valley, for sure. Nevertheless, if the Constitution means a damn' thing, it means you can draw pictures of the president with his head on a stick if you think it's important to do so, and all a cop can do about it is tell you he doesn't like it. And then you can draw one with the president's head up the cop's ass. Some people will not like it, and many of them will say so. It's a wonderful country, or was once, and it can be again.

      And speaking of education, find yourself a copy of the short Steinbeck novel "The Moon is Down," and read it with an eye toward Dubya's ongoing adventure in Iraq. A couple of times now I've told Americans outraged by the goings-on there to think about how we would behave if the shoe were on the other foot and Iraqi tanks were surrounding Branson, Missouri. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Plenty of people criticized Steinbeck for this book, calling him a propagandist or a Nazi apologist, but to me it seems he simply and clearly drew a picture of what can happen when the flies conquer the flypaper.

    0 4 | 2 6 | 2 0 0 4

    You tawkin' ta ME?

      Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has an interesting suggestion for John Kerry: Basically, it amounts to, "Call Dubya a chickenshit." The Cowboy-in-Chief, who famously declared an end to major combat in Iraq about 600 dead Americans ago, has made a habit of sending his bitches out to talk smack about his opponents' military service — and mind you, these opponents would be Kerry, Al Gore and John McCain, guys who actually did their bit in Vietnam while Dubya was protecting Padre Island from the Cong. Indeed, pretty much nobody outside of Colin Powell in this administration has spent any time at all in uniform, unless it was as a Boy Scout or Campfire Girl. And as near as I can tell, the last guy Dubya actually wanted to fight in person was his daddy. 'Course, that was before he found Jesus.

      In the spirit of full disclosure, as John Ashcroft might say if he were getting set to do me the way he did the 9/11 commission's Jamie Gorelick, I was opposed to the Vietnam war, but registered with the Selective Service and drew a high number in what proved to be the last round of the lottery. My father wouldn't have pulled any strings on my behalf — he was wrapping up a 30-year Air Force career that included a stint in the South Pacific during World War II, and drove me to the Selective Service office himself. And unlike Dubya and his daddy, the old man and I actually did go mano a mano one night when I was somewhat the worse for wear. I thought it was awfully nice of him not to kill me. Still, our little dustup pretty much fucked any chances I had of claiming conscientous-objector status.

    0 4 | 2 2 | 2 0 0 4

    Unlikely occurrences

      Lance Armstrong won a field sprint in today's stage of the Tour de Georgia. Shortly thereafter, Jesus returned and was seen pointedly not hanging out with Mel Gibson; Osama bin Laden surrendered to the Marine guards at the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia; and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry abruptly dropped out of the race, saying he thought George W. Bush was doing one helluva job.

    0 4 | 2 1 | 2 0 0 4

    And now, the good news

      The news of the world has been so vile the past few days that I couldn't bring myself to add my silly little dribble of venom to the flood. It would have been like pissing into a sewage lagoon at a water-treatment plant in Calcutta. So I'm delighted to report that yesterday brought a little good news for a change.

      Our friends Hal and Mary Walter have a brand-new tax deduction — a son, name of Harrison Jake Walter — who tipped the scales at 8 pounds, 3.6 ounces, when he made his debut on April 20. According to the usually reliable sources, Harrison sports the standard complement of eyes, ears, fingers and toes, has a finely tuned pair of lungs, and so far has shown absolutely no inclination toward neoconservatism. That's him over there to the right, as photographed by Dad shortly after his arrival. Mom is in fine fettle as well and getting a little first-hand experience to flesh out her resume as a lactation specialist. Since we don't do porn here, we spared you the cleavage shots.

      Harrison is only the newest life form to grace the Walter ranch in scenic Crusty County, a spread that to the best of my recollection includes four burros, one horse, one mule, two dogs, a fish and a cat. We wish all of them the very best.

    0 4 | 1 8 | 2 0 0 4

    Going to the dogs

      If you don't believe, like The Leader, that we are living in The End Days, clap your cynical peepers on for this. As for me, all I have to say is, "Jesus H. Christ."

    * * *
    Blast from the Past Department

      A buddy of mine in New Mexico (the same one who sent me the links to various New York Times commentaries listed below) has reminded me of a screed I'd written during the 2001 Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, and since the magazine I had written it for recently asked that my column in their May 2004 issue deal with the joys of technology, I thought I'd trot this earlier bit out for your reading pleasure. It still seems to have a little of what the talking heads call "resonance," given the state of the economy.

    Jesus loves you. Everyone else thinks you're an asshole
    a bumper sticker seen in Las Vegas

    Stuff you wouldn't ride: An Interbiker among the Outerbikers

    By Patrick O'Grady

    THERE ARE FEW crosswalks in Las Vegas. Where they are present, no one pays them any mind, especially motorists. Anyone who has to cross a major arterial on foot dodges among the speeding cabs, delivery trucks and SUVs like a crack-addled jackrabbit.

      Nor are there many roofed enclosures surrounding bus benches. Vegas commuters making do without air-conditioned motor vehicles broil under the desert sun like chickens on a suburban grill, shaded only by the clouds of dust stirred up by the city's perpetual and omnipresent construction project.

      There are, however, plenty of bicycles in Sin City. Murrays and Huffys and Magnas. Big-box trash, the sort of garbage wagons you'd never ride. You'd walk first. But they ride them, the quiet throngs of brown people who work in the shadows outside the bright lights of the Strip.

      Peddling Pedaling. At Interbike a bunch of us were joking over an expense-account dinner that some industry wiseguy could make his fortune by targeting the crucial shoe-leather market. Three-time DUI losers in 12-step programs. English-as-a-second-language migraciones who can't decipher the driver's-license exam. Minimum-wagers living in shelters or on the street because they can't afford rent, much less four wheels and an engine.

      But someone already has: Wal-Mart, Target and Sears, where a $69 bike is just the thing for making that daily jaunt from cinder-block apartment to chump-change job and back again. No driver's license or parking permit required; just a stout chain with padlock to keep your wheels out of the hands of the guys who can't or won't cough up his own hard-earned pictures of dead presidents.

      The big-box bikes were everywhere in Vegas, except on the floor of the Sands Expo and Convention Center, and you just knew their riders weren't cycling for the fun of it, 'cause none of them was wearing the right stuff. No Giro helmets, Pearl Izumi jerseys and Assos bibs; just backwards gimme caps, T-shirts and busboy pants.

      One guy's significant other was riding side-saddle on the top tube, in a hotel maid's uniform, while he pedaled along Paradise, a cigarette drooping from his lips. You won't see them in a Trek ad anytime soon, but they probably spend more time on two wheels than most of Bicycling's readers.

      Broke, But Not Broken. Nearly all of these low-end cyclists do their commuting on Vegas's sidewalks rather than in the road. Hey, they're impoverished, not insane. I'll ride just about anywhere, anytime, but when I'm in Vegas, I walk, and I always feel more than a little bit foolish and superfluous as the working poor slalom around me like a traffic cone while I plod toward the Sands Expo and Convention Center with a few thousand dollars' worth of office in a day pack.

      I save my cycling for friendlier places like Truckee, South Lake Tahoe, Santa Fe, and Westcliffe, laid-back spots with bike lanes, bike paths and plenty of single-track so you don't have to ride on the sidewalks; places where you don't have to ride at all, if you have enough jing.

      Vegas is another such place, come to think of it. You can jet first-class into McCarran International or wheel down the Strip in your 4WD urban battlewagon, check into some plush hotel with a wave of your MasterCard, and do whatever strikes your fancy until it doesn't any more. Then off you go, leaving other, less fortunate people to clean up the mess before they pedal home, in the dark, on their Huffys.

  • First published in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.
  • * * *
    Meanwhile, earlier that day in New York City ...

      Interesting commentary in today's New York Times, forwarded by a buddy in New Mexico. The first is a look back at the British imperial adventure in Iraq. The second tackles some of the same notions from a cinematic perspective ("Lawrence of Arabia"). And the third, a critique not of the White House's use of foreign intelligence, but of its cerebral intelligence, also has a cinematic flair to it (think Otto in "A Fish Called Wanda," an ex-CIA dimwit who couldn't bear being called stupid).

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    We are in deep shit

      Tonight's presidential press conference was, hands down, the most frightening thing I have seen since I watched the terrorists fly that second plane into Tower Two. Anybody who thinks this gibbering fool has the chops to be the leader of the free world after tonight's performance is in dire need of a brain scan. Dubya doesn't pack the gear to be den mother of a Cub Scout pack.

      Here in Bibleburg, CBS, NPR and PBS quickly abandoned the field of commentary, retreating to regular programming; PBS actually stuck with the "NewsHour" instead of cutting straight to the nightmare, and KTSC-TV will be getting money from me for this sort of thing just about the time Dick Cheney turns up at Burning Man wearing a Rainbow Family Gathering T-shirt. CBS went to "Jeopardy," which we found moderately ironic. Only ABC and Peter Jennings hung around to provide post-press-conference analysis, and they apparently did not see the same press conference I did. Either that, or my youthful indiscretions involving hallucinogens have finally come home to roost.

      They saw a president staking his claim to bold leadership. I saw a deer caught in the headlights, a desperate man who wanted to be somewhere, anywhere else, and so withdrew into sound bites and rambling non sequiturs, yet for some inexplicable reason kept taking questions. The few cuts to Condi Rice showed a woman who looked like she'd just seen her puppy run over by an Abrams tank.

      In the spirit of full disclosure, for those few of you who may have been entertaining those nagging doubts as to my opinion of this president, I dislike the man. I think that despite the support of a wealthy family he is a lifelong failure in everything he has tried, a spoiled, self-centered frat rat who is inadequate even in his role as the hood ornament on a Hummer driven by stronger and smarter men with ambitions that bode ill for this country and its ideals, as has been borne out in this useless, unprovoked war in Iraq. And if I had a child, a brother or a spouse in uniform, I would consider organizing a march on either Washington or Ottawa.

      And having said all that, I felt sorry for the simple sonofabitch, watching him lose it on TV in front of the country tonight. Finally — ABC to the contrary — the man was exposed to the world for what he is: an intellectual flyweight bumped up to the heavyweight class, a C-average CEO, a self-professed straight talker who failed to answer a single one of the simple questions posed to him.

      A Christian nation would see to it that he is assigned to some task he can handle, some simple chore that does not involve life-and-death decisions made on a national stage.

      Is there a village out there, somewhere, that has lost its idiot? If so, write to me at maddogmedia@qwest.net, provide me with the job description — no public speaking, please — and, God willing, come November, we can supply you with the right man for the job.

    President Bush

    0 4 | 1 3 | 2 0 0 4 (earlier that evening)

    Uh ... uh ... next question?

      The Baboon-in-Chief will grace us with a news conference this evening, his first in 2004, after delivering a 12-minute speech reported to contain the usual grunts, shrill hooting and aggressive posturing intended to cow the lesser baboons. No word on whether Karl Rove has supplied the rhesus monkeys in the White House press corps with a list of acceptable questions and a kindly orangutan to give a reassuring squeeze to Mr. Mission Accomplished's scuffed knuckles in the absence of Dick Cheney.

    0 4 | 1 2 | 2 0 0 4

    Justice, my ass

      I've seen this story before, but not with quotes from the reporters involved. If anyone has any doubts that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a fascist who should be borne from the nation's highest bench at high speed, on a splintery rail, wearing a stylish coat of tar and feathers, this revelation should erase them as quickly as a federal marshal illegally erased the reporters' recordings of a speech that the fascist -- pardon me, the justice -- was making in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; ironically, regarding the importance of the U.S. Constitution. Lest we forget, this is the same Scalia, a duck-hunting buddy of the vice president, two chickenshits who think "hunting" means scatter-shooting tame birds, who declined to recuse himself in the veep's energy-task-force case. And if the son of a bitch ever wants to come hunting my tape recorder, he's going to need more than one marshal. Some of us sitting ducks shoot back. Quack, quack, motherfucker.

    0 4 | 1 1 | 2 0 0 4

    But this is not Vietnam

      Here's some happy news for those of you who are eagerly waiting for the Iraqi people to assume responsibility for themselves come June. I wonder how this story will strike the Vietnam vets who were less than impressed with the military readiness of their South Vietnamese counterparts.

      And here is a grim assessment of the Cowboy-in-Chief's response to the fabled Aug. 6 memo entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," from Jim Pinkerton, a Republican and former staffer for the current prez's daddy. Seems it's not just us lefty-loonies who are looking askance at the "leadership" in the White House these days. For another recap of President Alfred E. "What, Me Worry?" Neuman and his concern over terrorism in the days preceding Sept. 11, read this piece in The Washington Post.

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    Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...

      This just in, from The New York Times, in a story clearly intended to show that Dubya isn't really screwing the pooch in Crawford while the grunts are dodging RPGs in Iraq:

    On Saturday, Bush and his father were to go fishing at the ranch's bass pond with a crew from the Outdoor Life Network's "Fishing with Roland Martin." The White House approached the network about coming to film Bush, who is eager to cultivate an image as a sportsman with the millions of voters who hunt and fish. The crew was to bring its own boat for the shoot on the small pond.

      Earlier, from The Washington Post, we learn the following:

    This is Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office at one of his three retreats, or more than 40 percent of his presidency.

      Man, this being-the-president thing is good work if you can get it. And the pension is killer. We should see to it that this numbnuts starts collecting it as soon as possible.

    Queens, knights and pawns

     Does this little exchange make anyone besides me want to move to Canada, or maybe Mars? Jesus H. Christ. I watched way too much of this preening and posturing this morning, and it struck me as the most profane sort of exhibition, like jacking off at a funeral. And this crowd has the gall to call Howard Stern obscene.

    * * *
    Meanwhile, back at the cemetery ...

      OK, this guy — call him "Junior" — and his frat buddies are in this neighborhood bar where a loudmouth is talking the same old line of tired shit, some punk that his dad had some trouble with back in the day, and some creepy familial whatever tickles Junior somewhere around the short-and-curlies. "C'mon, guys, let's us kick that guy's ass," Junior says. "We'll get nothing but pats on the back, free drinks and the run of the 'hood if we gag him with his own teeth. I can whup ' im with one hand tied behind my back and both feet in a bucket, of course, but he's been known to pack heat, so I could use a little backup."

      But the loose-lipped punk looks kind of old and scrawny despite all the bad noise he's making, and while his clothing may be ragged and rumpled, it seems free of pistol-shaped bulges, so Junior's buddies are mostly not interested in helping him stomp the guy unless he starts waving a shooter around and suggesting pointedly that a few of them are in need of air conditioning.

      Ah, but, Junior, he just can't wait for probable cause. He's got this daddy thing going on, and it's making him crazy. So he gallops on over with a couple of skinny pledges for backup and they stuff the shit-talker head-first down the toilet. And while everybody figures this is both appropriate and ironic, we're not exactly talking the Lyle-Foreman fight here, so the applause sounds a little sparse, right? Especially after Junior goes through the guy's pockets and finds jack-shit in the way of deadly weaponry, not so much as a soggy spitwad and a Mickey D's straw.

      But instead of acting like he might've fucked up here, Junior hollers, "Mission accomplished!" and starts strutting around the joint giving all the patrons the stink-eye, including his frat brothers, grabbing his crotch like Michael Jackson and shouting, "Where I step, a weed dies, do you want any of my game? I was raised on red pepper and blood ... you better dodge me when I'm feeling mean and I don't feel any other way. I was nursed on a Tabasco bottle — if I was to slap your wrist in kindness you would boil over like Job. And heaven help you if I get angry — give me room, I feel a wicked spell coming on."

      After a while, this starts to annoy the clientele, especially since there's a bunch of broken glass, spilled drinks and splintered furniture littering the place, the service has deteriorated more than somewhat because the wait staff has faded into the background, and the bad-noise level, if anything, is even worse now than it was when the other guy was airing out his tonsils. At least you could use the toilet back then. The good old days.

      So one by one, guys start standing up in the gloomier corners of the bar, and you can hear switchblades clicking open, .45 slides snick-snacking, and long-neck beer bottles being broken off against the bar, and some of these guys used to be the wait staff, which, by the way, is a good argument for tipping early and often. But Junior isn't the least bit worried. His frat brothers have faded like the wait staff (the ones without the knives, guns and broken bottles), the pledges are getting a little nervous, and a few of the dudes who followed the frat boys into the bar, thinking that it was the place to be, are looking around for the exits and wondering what they could have been thinking, dropping into a dive like this. But Junior's not even breaking a sweat. He's been in tough spots before, but somehow things have always worked out.

      Too bad his daddy wasn't a little stricter with him when he was a young snotnose, pushing the littler kids around. Too bad his daddy didn't tell him that you can't always get what you want. "Some beatings," his daddy should have said, "Poppy won't be able to get you out of."

    • —The good parts were lifted from "freddy the rat perishes" in "archy and mehitabel," by Don Marquis.

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    FUBAR in Fallujah and elsewhere

      Good look at the deteriorating situation in Iraq today from Juan Cole's Informed Comment. He even employs one of my favorite acronyms, FUBAR (Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition), which is sadly absent from the arsenals of most serious commentators. The short version is that the United States "will of course win this struggle on the surface and in the short term, because of their massive firepower. But the Sadrists will simply go underground and mount a longterm guerrilla insurgency similar to that in the Sunni areas." Bottom line, concludes Cole: "The United States has managed to create a failed state, similar to Somalia and Haiti, in Iraq."

      Meanwhile, as the Marines draw fire and pursue, Mr. Mission Accomplished is back at the ranch in Crawford, hoping not to get too badly splashed when the Sept. 11 commission starts slinging shit at Condi Rice, whose minions have been busily leaking hints as to what she may or may not say, how she may or may not act, while her CEO and occasional workout buddy hangs out in Texas, checking baskets of Easter eggs for weapons of mass destruction.

      As a veteran of 15 years in newspapering, I've seen appalling mismanagement, smug incompetence and belligerent idiocy before, to say nothing of "leaders" whose idea of putting a daily paper out involved skipping out for a few drinks of lunch and leaving the grunts to do the heavy lifting. But this guy is more hands-off than a two-time Arab thief. A leader might actually clear his throat and say something in such a time, maybe actually do something. But not this guy. And that, says editor-at-large Harold Meyerson of the American Prospect, is why he has to go.

    0 4 | 0 6 | 2 0 0 4

    911, please ... but first, a cab

     This is one of those cartoons that makes me wish (a) that I was still working in black and white, and (b) that I could draw. What is it with the Busheviks and their obsession with deadlines? "Nope, sorry, can't wait for more inspections, gotta get in there before Saddam sends a brigade of terr'ists with nuclear suppositories into every pay toilet in America . . . nope, sorry, can't stick around to clean up this hideous mess we've made, got to give the lunatics the keys to the asylum by June 30 at the latest." Meanwhile, the grunts are getting it in the neck so the chickenhawks who sent them in light — and who since appear to have reconsidered that decision — can pump up Dubya's poll numbers, which are showing more sag than Dennis Hastert's tits. Just imagine the racket from the right if it were a Democratic administration on point in this clusterfuck. Think an 18-wheeler with a full load of live pigs locking up the brakes at 80 mph, then multiply by a factor of 10.

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    Kettle black, pot declares

      Irony is lost on some folks. Speaking of Muqtada al-Sadr, whose supporters have rioted in Baghdad and four other cities, and who faces arrest in the killing of another Shiite leader, Dubya said:

     "This is a person and followers who are trying to say we don't want democracy, as a matter of fact, we'll decide the course of democracy by the use of force, and that is the opposite of democracy."

      Riiiiiight. Takes one to know one, as the saying goes.

      Meanwhile, al-Sadr sounds like a real piece of work: the son of a revered Shiite leader assassinated in 1999; an opportunist who saw a gap and filled it; a nutcase with an apocalyptic vision who history prof Juan Cole, interviewed briefly this afternoon on the BBC's "The World," thinks could lure the U.S. into another Waco . . . this one in Iraq, where the locals have more guns and longer memories. Can someone remind me of just what the hell we're doing here and who's supposed to be in charge?

    * * *

      On a completely unrelated and much sillier matter, Bob Dylan appears in a new series of Victoria's Secret ads, and I couldn't be angrier . . . that he didn't invite me to participate. I'd have worn a MiracleBra, the angel wings, a Bush-Cheney 2004 thong — anything to get within optimal leering distance of Adriana Lima. Thank God we didn't have Vicky's Secret catalogs around the house when I was a kid. You couldn't have gotten me out of the bathroom without sending a squad of SEALs up the toilet.

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    One columnist to another

      David Brooks is full of shit. And The New York Times gave him an enema so he could share it with the rest of us. People call John Kerry long-winded, but The Great Stone Face comes off like an Easter Island statue next to this logorrheic numbnuts, who needs to rub a little Ammodium AD into his scalp the next time he feels a bout of IBS (irritable brain syndrome) coming on.

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    More blood for oil, please

      Anybody who thinks that, based on the events of the past couple weeks, Americans have attained some sort of satori regarding the relative value of fossil fuels and blood should take a minute to read this disturbing bit from The New York Times. The grotesque Cadillac Escalade land yacht has been fairly sailing out of dealerships, with sales of the gigantic Escalade ESV up 7.2 percent in March and 25 percent for the quarter despite its miserable fuel economy (said to be 13/17 miles per gallon). I've noticed an increase in the Cadoo Navy both here in Bibleburg and up the hill in Crusty County, which goes to show you that neither city nor country folk have a lock on what passes for wisdom these days.

      One Midwestern Toyota dealer, drawing a comparison guaranteed to give Westerners the fear after six years of drought, noted: "I think at $3 (per gallon of gas), they'll be moaning and groaning. But they pay $4 or $5 a gallon for water, and most of it's tap water, from what I'm told." These are the same people who think you dig potatoes out of gravy. This way to the Egress. . . .

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    Run away

      What fun the past week has been for political junkies. The war of words between former counterterror wonk Richard Clarke and the White House has gone nuclear, and I think Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo may have it nailed when he posits that Condi Rice is going to wind up testifying under oath before the Sept. 11 commission, "whether she realizes it yet or not." The whole tactic is SOP for these clowns: When confronted, deny everything, then try to destroy the character of the person making the charges, then start giving ground an inch at a time. Strategic retreats over a long period of time make for less dramatic press than outright surrender. Before long everyone goes back to watching televised sports, hoping Janet's gonna show 'em the other tit, and trying to pay their bills without money.

      Meanwhile, the Busheviks were defending their fledging democracy in Iraq by shutting down a newspaper critical of the U.S. occupation. Speaking to The New York Times, one of my brother free-lancers said he thought that democracy meant many viewpoints and many newspapers. "I guess this is the Bush edition of democracy," added Omar Jassem. The order that the paper be closed, signed by L. Paul Bremer III, said it had been providing false reports. Does this mean we will soon see chains and padlocks across the front door of the White House and the occupants thereof on the street, jobless? Don't hold your breath. My man Omar was right.

      And finally on the free-speech front, John Kerry lays a little Scripture on the congregation at a St. Louis church, and a Bush campaign spokesman barks that he should hide his filthy little light under a bushel. The NYT quotes Bushevik Steve Schmidt as calling Kerry's comment "beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse and a sad exploitation of Scripture for a political attack." God could not be reached for comment.

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    In the rear with the gear where there is no fear

      Despite her eagerness to send other people off to war, Condi Rice shows little taste for combat herself. No, Dubya's national security adviser stays snug in the bunker, sniping at former counterterror honch' Richard Clarke, without ever getting down to the hand-to-hand in the trenches by agreeing to testify publicly before the Sept. 11 commission her own bad self. Her reasons for this dubious noncombatant status, as sketched by Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo, are as specious as the various ones given for dodging military service by the rest of the White House chickenhawks. Say what you will about Clarke's motivation for coming forward with his critique of the administration's rush to war — at least he's out in front where it counts, and shouldering a share of the blame.

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    Anchor tossed overboard at NPR

      Bob Edwards will not be part of the morning ritual around here (or anywhere else) beginning in May, when he will leave his job as anchor of NPR's "Morning Edition" for a job as a senior correspondent with the radio network. It was not his decision, and he doesn't sound happy about it. Bob was there from the get-go and hung in there for nearly 25 years, and I for one will miss listening to him while I sip my coffee, eat my oatmeal and get caught up on who's doing what to whom, and why.

    * * *
    Meanwhile, Richard Clarke provides chapter and verse on the Busheviks' contempt for any analysis that contradicts their preconceived notions during today's edition of Fresh Air. He's talking even more loudly today before the Sept. 11 commission. Sounds like it's not simply business, but personal, too; Rumsfeld in particular seems to have gotten deeply under Clarke's skin (surprise, surprise). What comes through more strongly than anything else, though, is Clarke's sense of outrage at the realization that these people will play politics with anything. Here's hoping his revelations inspire a similar sense of outrage in the electorate.

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    Oh, for God's sake

      Does anyone else find it ironic that "one nation, indivisible," is split like a cheap pair of pants over the addition of the phrase "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance? Other stupid shit drawing the national eye away from the sleight-of-hand being practiced by the con men in the White House: The drives for a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage and stiffer fines for broadcast "indecency," whatever that may be. Some of us might find the endless recycling of the sitcom obscene, or the shit-sandwich sound bites served up to us every evening by various Bush-administration minions, but it doesn't matter what we think or say, because all the cameras and microphones are pointed elsewhere.

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    From the When I Was Your Age Department

      The much-publicized escapades of Jayson Blair, Rick Bragg and Jack Kelley may astound newspaper readers, but shouldn't surprise anyone who's actually worked for a newspaper in the last quarter century. The productivity gains that other industries and investors therein seem so delighted with today are old news indeed to your average copy editor, who over the years has found himself required to wear more hats than a convention of hydras (hydrae?).

      When I got my first newspaper job back in 1973, copy (stories, to you civilians) was written by reporters and turned in to the city desk. An assistant city editor generally got first look at any straight news story, invariably asked a few pointed questions of the reporter during a hard edit for content, and passed it on to the city editor, who usually had a few questions of his own.

      From there the story would go to the news editor (or an assistant news editor at a larger paper), where still more questions might arise before the story was assigned to a copy editor (called a "rim rat" for his seat on the rim of the horseshoe-shaped copy desk). This editor would do a nuts-and-bolts edit for style, grammar, spelling, and usage, sometimes raising a factual question or two overlooked in the previous steps, then write a headline and pass the story over to the "slot man" (a top editor named for the slot he occupied in the center of that horseshoe), who would give both story and headline a thorough going-over before sending the package to the composing room for typesetting.

      The compositors would return proofs (facsimiles of the story as set in a column of type) to the copy desk for corrections before a plate was made of the page upon which the story would appear. A proof of that page would get the hairy eyeball, too. And the late man would snag a copy of the paper as the first few copies rolled off the press and give one final peek to the high points before your copy was trundled off to the delivery guy for deposit on your doorstep.

      But long before I quit newspapering in 1991, this system of multiple redundancies, of check after check after check in the name of clarity, accuracy and fairness, was being dismantled by publishers intent on enhancing the bottom line through computerization and task consolidation. The last job I had where I got to be an actual copy editor — where all I did was edit stories and write headlines — was in 1980, at The Arizona Daily Star, which had just won a Pulitzer and put its stories through more regular checkups than a skinny hooker at a Nevada brothel.

      By the time I hung up my jock, a "copy editor" not only edited copy and wrote headlines, he often designed and assembled pages, sized and cropped photos, and shepherded his pages through the production process, occasionally even proofing ads for typographical errors. Today, ads from newspapers seeking copy editors often insist on fluency in Photoshop and Quark XPress but make little mention of a strong reporting background and a deep familiarity with current events, the AP Stylebook and Strunk and White.

      Here's a fairly typical contemporary ad for you:

    Copyeditor: 40,000 daily seeks full-time copy editor. This position will work some shifts on the sports desk and some on the news copy desk. Successful applicant will have at least one year's experience at a daily newspaper, strong editing skills and will have the ability to write accurate, inviting headlines. In addition, applicants must be able to lay out news pages in Quark.

      Now, answer me this: How does the successful applicant develop "strong editing skills" after "at least one year's experience at a daily newspaper," doing Christ only knows what? Covering field hockey? Rewriting press releases from the Chamber of Commerce? Making coffee for the managing editor?

      And how can this underpaid, unheralded drone — who is working a night shift on both the news and sports desks, editing city-council stories and prep-hoops features in between Quarking pages, arguing with shooters over photo cropping and reporters about the use of that vs. which, and rebooting his 10-year-old computer — catch somebody who's serious about lying to him for fun and profit?

      He can't. Even the seasoned pros can't. Just ask the top-shelf wordsmiths who edited Blair, Bragg and Kelley. And these guys consider your daily paper a bad joke, barely a half-step up from the Thrifty Nickel.

      Plus it's not just prevaricating reporters an editor has to keep an eye on. Sources can make Janet Cooke look like paragons of virtue. Case in point: Many years ago, I was a rim rat at a smallish daily, giving the next-to-last read to a routine school-board story in which a board member had tipped our reporter to a likely candidate for the superintendent's job. A series of names in the piece caused a 20-watt bulb to flicker on in what remained of my mind. Q.A. Wagstaff. Huxley College.

      "Holy shit," I mumbled. "This asshole is trying to sell us the Marx Brothers' movie 'Horse Feathers' here." I told the city desk of my concerns, they told me what they thought of my concerns, and after a lot of bad noise a short phone call to the local library confirmed that the only Quincy Adams Wagstaff this world had ever seen — the president of Huxley College, named in our story as a candidate for school-district superintendent — had been portrayed in "Horse Feathers" by Groucho Marx. It may have been the only useful information I took away from five years in college, and certainly was the high point of my editing career; it scored me a $50 bonus. The reporter later confronted the school-board member, who just laughed and said the reporter should have been paying closer attention. We all made plenty of mistakes afterward that nobody caught, including me. There were only so many Marx Brothers movies.

      Professional liars and practical jokers are not the biggest problems daily newspapering faces. The real danger is a system that relies on overworked, undertrained word processors who can't help but let honest errors, unsupported opinions and outright fabrications slip into print.

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    A pause for the cause

      Colorado Springs hit the mid-80s today, and I ain't talking the decade here, though it does occasionally seem as though we are trapped in some class of time warp. A warm, sunny day, just in time for spring to sprout, sure takes your mind off all the frantic photo ops, recycled lies and content-free jabberwocky flying about like the smelly shrapnel from a thousand-pound shitbomb as the administration tries reselling us on its year-old war in Iraq. Seems things are not going quite as expected, so rather than admit it and change the plan, the administration is doing what it has done from day one: lie out its collective ass So lots of folks shut off their various electronic bad-news receptors and pulled out their bikes, inline skates and jogging shoes, hoping to lay a soothing endorphin bath on their overheated brains.

      There's another peace rally downtown tomorrow, but I think I'll probably give it a miss, and not just 'cause the local coppers are overly fond of their riot gear. More than a few Fort Carson grunts didn't come home from Bush's war, and I'd just as soon not add to their families' heartaches by engaging in the sort of bumper-sticker sloganeering I've come to dislike lately. Bush and his self-styled Vulcans need to have their sorry asses handed to them for any number of reasons beyond their bloody wet dreams of global domination. It's hard to get them all in a chant that starts, "Hey hey, ho ho ..." I sure hope all the folks who turn out for the various rallies across the country turn out again when it makes a difference, at the ballot box in November.

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    This just in: Pot calls kettle black

      I see Colin Powell has reared up on his hind legs and called John Kerry on his assertion that some world leaders would prefer dealing with a White House that has Kerry in it. "I don't know what foreign leaders Senator Kerry is talking about," Powell said on Faux News Sunday. "It's an easy charge, an easy assertion to make. But if he feels it is that important an assertion to make, he ought to list some names. If he can't list names, then perhaps he should find something else to talk about." Uh huh. If I were the dude who stood up in the UN last year and laid down all that apocalyptic science fiction about about Saddam being a double Sauron on steroids, with a DeathStar full of Aliens, zombies and Stephen King Superflu all set to roll out any second, I'd be a little less eager to chide someone for talking shit. And as long as we're talking naming names here, let's have the names of the guys who either screwed the pooch on the prewar intelligence or cooked it to order for the current occupant of the White House. Whaddaya say, Colin? Put up or shut up. Actually, try both.

    * * *

      Speaking of Bush's war, it seems I'm not the only American having trouble collecting a paycheck lately. Some of the National Guard troops Dubya has sent abroad (you will recall, of course, that The Leader was in a Guard unit and defended Texas against the Viet Cong during the Vietnam war, give or take a year or so) have had more than a little trouble getting regular checks from Uncle Sammy.

      At least one of them, Sgt. Daniel Romero of the Colorado Army National Guard, who was sent to fight in Afghanistan, was killed in action in April 2002, before he could get an answer to the following question, which he posed to a fellow sergeant in a letter dated March 23 of that year: "Are they really fixing pay issues [or] are they putting them off until we return? If they are waiting, then what happens to those who (God forbid) don't make it back?"

      Rep. Tom Davis, R-Virginia, said during a January 2004 hearing on this topic: "I would really like to hear today that his family isn't wasting their time and energy fixing errors in his pay." Me too, Tom; me too.

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    The terror of the turnpike

      Nicholas Kristof at The New York Times comments on America's obsession with terrorism, which despite 9/11 remains a fairly rare occurrence on these shores, and our relative indifference toward the daily body count stemming from our fascination with the automobile.

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    To protect and serve

      Does this suck or what? Those fake Iraqi coppers that killed a couple of American civilians on Tuesday? Turns out they were the real deal, members of the brand-spankin'-new, American-trained, Iraqi police force. Seems that something on the order of 90 percent of the 70,000 "rookies" that America has armed and turned loose actually were coppers under the previous administration, whose chief bore little resemblance to the kindly desk sergeant in "Hill Street Blues." The New York Times says their training consists of "a three-week course in Western styles of policing, respect for the law and concern for individual and community rights." Somewhere, Frank Serpico is laughing his ass off. Or not.

    * * *

      On an entirely different topic, I'm pleased to announce that Einstein was right: Time is indeed relative. I spent two hours this morning editing and uploading copy to the VeloNews.com website, and it seemed to take a good deal longer than two hours, in no small measure because I was reading AFP copy, which has all the pizzazz of the nutritional-content label on a bottle of water. The two-hour bike ride I chased this bitter pill with, on the other hand, seemed to end before it began. Some will say this is my own fault for riding at a pathetic fraction of the speed of light, but the real problem is that I read so damn' fast. I should either quit charging by the hour for editing or spend more time on the bike.

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    One boob, many tits

      Thank you so much, Justin and Janet, for giving the simps in Congress something fresh to get their boxers in a bunch over. The House has voted to jack up the penalties for broadcast "indecency," whatever that is (Sipowicz's bare booty on "NYPD Blue?" The president lying to the nation during the State of the Union? Beats me). It's no parking ticket, that's for sure. The maximum fine for performer and broadcaster is a cool half-mil' each. A First Amendment warrior like George Carlin could really have some fun with this if he were willing to pay the freight. Write a check to ABC for 500 large (CBS would cash the check and cancel the show), set an equivalent amount aside to cover himself (plus a little extra for the lawyers), and then, at prime time on some Sunday night, drop trou' on camera and shout, "Kiss my Irish ass, you DC dickheads!"

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    This way to the Empire

      Here's a fun read from the folks at MoveOn.org, Salon.com and Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired USAF lieutenant colonel whose last tour of duty was in the belly of the beast. Much of this information has appeared elsewhere, but it remains a fascinating first-person account of the rush to war in Iraq nonetheless.

      Once you've read it, consider this: If what Kwiatkowski and other insiders are saying is true, and these self-styled empire-builders feel comfortable running this sort of cloak-and-dagger scheme despite losing the popular vote to Al Gore and having to resort to the Supreme Court for the dubious authority to lead a deeply divided nation, just think what they'll feel empowered to do if they actually win legitimately this time around. If you're not registered, register. If you're registered, vote. And not for Nader, either, please. Let's consider the viability of a legitimate third party — that's a party, not simply a candidate — after we run these guys out of D.C. on a splintery rail, wearing stylish coats of tar and feathers.

    * * *

      Lots of jabber in the public prints lately regarding the fatso factories throttling back on both portions and poisons. Whoopie. Hate to break it to you, Wimpy, but if your diet regularly includes things like Doritos, Tostitos and Chee-tos, Triscuits, Oreos and Cheese Nips, or trips to KFC, Taco Bell or Burger King for gutbombs like the Chicken Caesar Club with bacon, Caesar dressing and Parmesan cheese, smaller portions and/or a lack of trans-fatty acids in them will not turn you into Paris Hilton or Johnny Depp any time soon, especially if you wash these goodies down with a 32-ounce diet soda. All these things resemble food in the same way that a turd does a Tootsie Roll, and you should eat none of them, especially that turd. Unless you're Dick Cheney, in which case I urge you, "Chow down, Backseat."

      Since Congress seems poised to stop the gravity-enhanced from suing the swill distributors that helped supersize them, which is the only reason I can think of for eating this crap — get fat, sue, get rich, get thin — it seems advisable to bite the bullet (no, don't swallow it, you fat bastard) and learn how to cook a little. Buy yourself a couple of simple cookbooks — "Dad's Own Cookbook" by Bob Sloan is a nice starter for the novice, with plenty of tips on technology and technique, and I suspect his The Working Stiff Cookbook is equally user-friendly — then lay in a few basic tools and invest a little time in experimentation.

      You don't have to develop the skill of a Mario Batali. If you're into burgers, tacos and fried chicken, you can make all these things at home in less time than it takes to join the mooing herd idling past the drive-up window at the Grease-n-Go, and they taste better and are far healthier if you're sensible about ingredients, preparation and portion sizes.

      That is, unless you like being what poet and novelist Jim Harrison (who it must be said is no lightweight himself) once called "a nitwit bent over a trough." And a portly nitwit at that.

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    Travails and trails

      If there's a bright side to people taking their sweet time about paying you for services rendered, it's that you feel absolutely no obligation to bust your hump doing fresh work for them. So with the temperatures in the mid-60s and the gut-rumble apparently under control, I declared yesterday an optional Monday and tottered out for a short jog in Palmer Park. Today became an optional Tuesday when the checks failed to appear again yesterday. So it goes.

      When you don't feel solid enough to do your regular training, it's kind of fun to dick around a bit, maybe explore a little, basically just keep moving and hope the nickel drops eventually and your internal music starts playing. So I futzed around on a bunch of obscure trails I hadn't been on in several years, trying to remember where they all went and what they used to look like before a few jillion new residents started laying down their own memories on them.

      One thing that hasn't changed is the insistence of the local fat-tire crowd and horse weenies on riding these vulnerable trails when they're wet, which sucks, frankly. I'm no geologist, but even a casual observer can tell that a track laid down in these clay-rich trails is going to last for the better part of quite some time once they dry out; a winter of the thoughtless autographing them with their knobbies and hooves leaves them rutted and pockmarked, more vulnerable to erosion and a damn' sight less fun to ride or run.

      "Ah hah!" you retort. "But you were in there, too, running!" And so I was. But when you're on foot, you're moving a lot more slowly, especially if you've been sick for a few days, and it's possible (also fun) to hopscotch from dry patch to rock to dry patch. So eat me.

    * * *

      Also ranting, to better effect, is Molly Ivins, who urges the media to do its homework regarding the Bush administration and its apparently endless capacity for flip-flopping under pressure. If these guys told me that the sun rose in the east every morning, and pointed to a golden orb ascending from that direction, I would suspect Karl Rove in a cherry-picker, holding a floodlight, and wonder just what they were trying to draw my attention away from.

    * * *

      And while we're back in political mode, if you'd like to read something that will make you completely insane, take a squint at Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo. Judas Priest. How is it that no one has gone postal in one of these press conferences, leaping upon Scott McClellan, and serially perforating his prevaricating ass with a fistful of ballpoint pens until he looks like a ceiling tile? Just wondering out loud, Ridge, keep your storm troopers the fuck away from me. Besides, Ass-croft's doped to his tastefully draped tits and missing a few parts, so there's no one to announce my arrest, you tool.

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    Question authority (and I mean really grill the bastards)

      Jesus, did Juan Williams at NPR ever screw the pooch on this morning's interview with Commerce Secretary Don Evans. He let Evans spout the usual party-line nonsense about tax cuts, staying the course and pie in the sky by and by (asked about the 2 million jobs lost during the Bush administration and the wildly inaccurate predictions about job growth, for example, Evans chirped that the good news is, layoffs are down).

      This is what passes for incisive journalism these days? Whatever happened to a polite, "Excuse me, but you didn't answer the question ... what about them goddamn jobs, Bub? If 2 million Americans have lost their gigs in the last three years so that your pals can keep buying Cadoo Escalades for their teen-age daughters and hiding the rest of their money offshore to dodge taxes, shouldn't your boss — yeah, and you, too, asshole — lose your jobs too, huh? HUH?"

    * * *

      Speaking of jobs at risk, the head honcho at UCLA's cadaver research program has been charged in what appears to be an ongoing back-door sale of stiffs, apparently using as a business model the stereotypical crackhead selling hot DVD players out of his car. (It's probably just a coincidence that UCLA is looking for a new PR flack.)

      Some unimaginative sorts will no doubt be critical of this behavior, but in these tough economic times I find this an excellent example of (you should pardon the expression) thinking outside the box. I'd like to sell the carcasses of the people who keep sending me lame-o excuses instead of checks, especially if I got to kill them myself. A man's gotta earn. Also eat.

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    To sleep, perchance to dream

      Forget about the Atkins diet. You want to lose weight, this gastrointestinal bug is the real deal. My stomach thinks my throat's been cut, and it's snuggling up to my backbone out of loneliness.

      This half-assed fast, enhanced by an uncommon abstinence (no coffee or alcohol for the past couple of days) may explain the series of hallucinogenic dreams I had all last night. I'm not about to give you the specifics, because I'd like to stay out of the nuthatch, but the high points included beer, food, casual sex, air travel, at least one classic Sixties car, a bicycle, old friends long absent, people I've never met but know of, dead relatives, at least one former residence and several instances of getting hopelessly lost. It was like watching an art-house film with interlocking segments directed by David Cronenberg, William Burroughs, David Lynch and Tom Waits. Who knows? Finding itself on exceptionally scant commons and lacking other substances to abuse, my body may have decided to start burning the dregs of orange sunshine, chocolate mescaline and other Seventies leftovers that it kept tucked away in the corners somewhere, waiting on a rainy day.

      This sort of nocturnal brain-dump makes me wish I had a FireWire port on the back of my skull so I could download the whole thing and review it at my leisure, while I'm awake and more or less in possession of my critical faculties. Or maybe not. If I ever figured out what half of this stuff means, I'd probably jump out of the window, and this would serve no useful purpose as we live in a single-story bungalow.

    * * *

      This also makes me want to jump out a window, but for entirely different reasons and from a considerably greater height. What were you driving when you were 16? Me, I was driving a pair of tennis shoes and/or a Schwinn Varsity. This kid (or her daddy, more likely) will pay more for gas in the next six months than I'll earn all year.

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    This way to the Egress

      Caught myself some class of stomach bug the other day, one of those deals that wakes you up at two in the morning with a gut ache and won't let you go back to sleep, eat much of anything or stray too far from a toilet. I hate being sick, especially when there's no real work that needs doing for a few days. I could be out dicking around, drinking a few glasses of nitro IPA at Bristol Brewing, trolling the aisles of our newly opened Whole Foods supermarket, or checking out "Fog of War" at Kimball's Twin Peak Theater. But my toilet is my new best friend these days, and I just can't bear for the two of us to be separated for any length of time.

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    It's just this little chromium switch here

      Looking forward to electronic voting? I'm not, not after reading this story. Nor is it encouraging to recall that the CEO of the company that makes these heavily compromised little black boxes is a dyed-in-the-wool Dubya supporter. Still more bad news can be found at Mother Jones. Get 'em, Maw.

    * * *

      Meanwhile, the evidence that the Bush administration is completely full of shit continues to pile up and stink. Knight-Ridder is really kicking some ass here, making The Washington Post and The New York Times look like press releases from the White House.

    * * *

      And while we're wrestling with the weighty issues of the day, let's not forget same-sex marriage. This is a bigger threat to Heaven, the Republic and the world at large than the administration of George W. Bush? Puh-leeze. Why do you think these calculating swine have seized upon this non-issue like a drowning man gripping a lifeline? Anything to draw the nation's eyeballs away from Iraq, the economy, Afghanistan, Social Security, Haiti and everything else these yahoos have either hopelessly bungled or deliberately FUBAR'd. The notion of enshrining senseless discrimination in our Constitution, which already has its own historic flaws, is merely the latest outrage from this quarter.

      My wife and I are both married, last time I looked, and the two of us feel massively unthreatened by the notion of guys marrying guys and girls marrying girls, as long as the consummation of said nuptials is not a must-see on the Internet, as the vigorous marital shenanigans of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee were. Talk about your holy matrimony, eh, Bubba? Yeeeeehawww. And leave us not bring up the likes of Michael Jackson, Liz Taylor, Britney Spears, et. al. If the indiscriminate-but-legal serial liaisons of alleged heterosexuals are to be considered sacred, well, then, let's just appoint Ron Jeremy pope and be done with it.

      Hey, love is hard enough to find in this world. If someone happens to find it in a person wearing similar genitalia, and is serious enough to commit to the old "for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health" rigamarole, why throw invective, Scripture and a Constitutional amendment at them? Try a little rice, for Christ's sake.

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    Yo tengo mucho hambre, y no por el Taco Bell

      I shoulda stayed in Arizona. The weather is as gray as a prison wall and colder than the other side of Michael Jackson's bed. The only known antidote, short of another road trip south and west, is a deep faceplant into Mexican food and tequila, but here in Bibleburg only the tequila can be found with any reliability. An overabundance of itinerant honkies accustomed to the cuisine available at interstate fuel stops makes this gastronomic backwater a haven for every chain hash house known to capitalism, and while there are exceptions, Sencha and La Petite Maison among them, they're pricey and reserved for special occasions, like a check actually arriving on time.

      After a few maddening experiments with what passes for Mexican food in these parts, I went back to cooking my own, and though I am far from an expert Mexican chief, it has become standard fare in Dog Country during the past month or so. If you find yourself suffering from similar deprivation, snag a copy of "The Santa Fe School of Cooking Cookbook" by Susan Curtis and take a whack at some of her recipes, many of which are easier than paying the check after a rotten meal of Rosarita refries wrapped in toilet paper and smothered in Old El Paso green slime topped with Velveeta. Check out this one:

    1/4 cup vegetable oil

    1 cup chopped onion

    2-3 teaspoons minced garlic, to taste

    1 tablespoon flour

    2/3 cup mild roasted, peeled, chopped New Mexican green chile

    2/3 cup hot roasted, peeled, chopped New Mexican green chile

    2 teaspoons freshly ground coriander seed

    1 1/2 cups chicken stock

    Salt to taste
    Green Chile Sauce

    Use this basic sauce for chicken or cheese enchiladas, or as an accompaniment to meat or fish.

    1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the onion until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more. Stir in the flour.

    2. Slowly stir in the chicken stock and add the green chile and ground coriander seed. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Yield: 2 1/2 cups.

  • My notes: This is so easy even the Irish can cook it, and you know what Irish cuisine is like. I generally use a blend of poblanos, Anaheims and jalapeños (you can use canned chile if you like, but you'll go to Hell when you die). I prefer Badia a Colibuono olive oil, but have been using Colavita lately because (a) it's a whole hell of a lot cheaper and (b) they sponsor a cycling team. Using dried coriander seed and the free-range chicken stock you can buy at Wild Oats or Whole Foods is a time-saver, if you believe that time can be "saved." Try pouring this sauce over a few black-bean burritos (using organic whole-wheat tortillas) and grating a little Black Diamond cheddar over the top, with julienned red-leaf lettuce, coarsely chopped tomatoes and a little brown rice with butter and chives on the side. Chase with Herradura Añejo. Repeat as necessary. The book's recipe for Green Chile Stew is nearly as easy and tastes even better over burritos, because it features a pound and a half of diced, deceased pig.
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    Stairway to Hell

      Somehow or another I managed to FUBAR our cheapie home-theater system so that over-the-air TV sound will not play through its five speakers and subwoofer. Rather than drive myself insane trying to remedy the problem, I have decreed that it is simply one more solid reason for shunning network TV. Its shrill consumerism is bad enough through the tinny little speakers on the TV, if the Academy Awards were any indication. Imagine experiencing a series of those grotesque Cadillac commercials in surround sound, blasting the shameless whoresons from Led Zeppelin into your vibrating skull until it explodes as in "Scanners." It would be like eating a fistful of acid and watching your Presbyterian granny try to rap. Cadillacs will become hip about the same time we baby boomers start shitting regularly in our Dockers only to realize that what's left of Medicare and Social Security will not cover Depends.

    * * *

      Speaking of which, if like me you have been paying into the Social Security system for the better part of quite some time (I first started kicking in as a teen-age lifeguard; or was I delivering newspapers?), the latest from Paul Krugman will have your acid reflux erupting like Mount Vesuvius. Looks like most of us will be looking forward to interment rather than retirement.

    * * *

      Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told The New York Times that an international force could install a "responsive, functioning, noncorrupt" government in Haiti (after we did not — that's did not, get it? — send a gaggle of black-ops types there to give Jean-Bertrand Aristide the bum's rush). Man, I wish someone would try installing a responsive, functioning noncorrupt government here. I'd like to see Dubya muscled onto a C-47, bound for asylum in someplace like, say, Venezuela. Naw. Never happen. They don't like him there any better than we do. I guess we'll just have to do it the hard way, by ourselves, come November. Dubya seems to have a real knack for clearing brush in Crawford, and we'd be doing ourselves and the rest of the world a favor by giving him a chance to do what he's good at for a change.

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    And the winner is ... not me

      Leap Day. Oboy. In celebration thereof, I have been informed by She Who Must Be Obeyed, we will be watching network TV this evening — specifically, the Academy Awards telecast on ABC. By way of preparation, I have plucked out my eyeballs and pissed on them. Heavy drinking is indicated. Happily, I laid in a few bottles of cheap red wine yesterday, and there's still some IPA and tequila for later in the night when the going gets seriously ugly ("I'd like to thank my ego masseuse, my knob polisher and the undocumented worker who scrubs out my bidet...."). This is what happens when greed, egomania and multiple-personality disorder are elevated to the level of an art form.

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    Why I am not Belgian

      Het Volk was canceled today, for the third time in its 59-year history. Imagine weather so evil that Belgians will not race in it. I have long believed that dead Belgians race kermesses around (and occasionally through) the Lake of Fire in Hell.

      I myself am not so hardy. I squeaked out for an hour and a half today, in dampish gray weather with temps in the 40s, after judging the relative chill based on a single foray onto the front stoop, where the sun was, briefly. I rode in a long-sleeved jersey over a wife-beater T, knickers, and shoes without toe covers, helmet without hat, and gloves without fingers. To put it simply, I froze my nuts off. I had to snag a real-estate flyer out of a "For Sale" sign's box and stuff it up under my jersey to handle the descents on the darkening north end of town, where it seemed that either rain or snow was imminent.

      At least I'd had a moment of clarity before setting out, breakfasting massively on a plateful of scrambled-egg-and-spud burritos, blanketed in green chile. This builds a fire in the furnace that keeps your core from seizing up like the pipes in a Michigan single-wide when the oil burner goes on the fritz. Even so, I couldn't feel a few of my toes when I got home, and I had one of those ice-cream headaches that feels like God's own termite boring into your skull. I wonder if I'll ever get smart, take up bowling, something you can do indoors, where the booze is. Think of all the money I'd save on leg razors.

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    Fathers and sons

      This just in from The New York Times:

    Mr. Bush said: "In the future, as before, we will consult with our coalition partners. We've already done a good deal of thinking and planning for the postwar period."

    He said: "There can be and will be no solely American answer to all these challenges, but we can assist and support the countries of the region and be a catalyst for peace."

      That, of course, was Daddy Bush, not Baby Bush, announcing an end to offensive action in the first Gulf War, on Feb. 27, 1991. What a difference a few years make, eh? The lucky number 13, if my math doesn't fail me. But the really creepy part of reading that front page was the very last graf, which quoted then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, who spake thusly:

    "Even after we've achieved our military objectives, even after we've destroyed his offensive military capability and expelled his forces from Kuwait, liberated Kuwait, the world will still be vitally interested in the future course of events with respect to the kinds of activities and policies pursued by the Government in Baghdad."
    * * *

      Meanwhile, this just in from Molly Ivins, via AlterNet: The Busheviks want to reclassify fast-food restaurants, moving them from the service sector to "manufacturing." Ms. Ivins continues:

    This is a concept. In case you're puzzled over why your burger-flippers should now be classified with autoworkers, it's so when the administration has to report the statistics on how many manufacturing jobs we've lost, they won't look so bad. While in college, I had a job at an Aunt Jemima's Pancake House sticking toothpicks with curlicue-cellophane through butterballs — that's my background in manufacturing.

      If this surprises you, you haven't been paying attention. As I've said before, these brazen hucksters wouldn't hesitate to sell a rat's asshole to a blind man, telling him it was a diamond ring. Now if only I could get excited about John Kerry, whom my gal Molly, God love her, describes as "a boring stiff." If he's the nominee, I'll vote for him, maybe even work for him, but I won't be happy about it.

      And as for Ralph Nader, well, all I've got to say is, piss off. You have the same problem Ross Perot did. If through some incredible mischance you actually got yourself elected, the Demublicans and Republicrats would simply spend the next four years sitting on their pudgy, manicured hands, waiting you out. Go build a friggin' grass-roots party, collect a few statehouse seats, gubernatorial gigs and Congressional spots — in short, get yourself some backup — then get back to me. Until you've done that, you're not serious and don't deserve to be considered as such. This is no time for a principled attempt to "send a message," unless that message is, "Georgie, you lying sack of privileged shit, get the fuck out of our White House."

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    On the road again

    Above, the Mad Dog Media Spring Training Camp HQ in McDowell Mountain Regional Park. Below, a sunset enhanced by various hydrocarbons from the Phoenix metromegalomaniacal clusterplex just over the hill to the west.

      Been a while since the last update, eh? Sorry 'bout that. I was in Arizona, where ice is restricted to drinks. Something about February always crawls right up my ass, and the only way to squeeze it back out is to head straight for the desert and jump-start the old tan lines.

      This year, the Mad Dog Media Spring Training Camp was at McDowell Mountain Regional Park outside Fountain Hills, last known permanent address for the late, lamented Cactus Cup, and it was by all accounts (mine) a tremendous success. Each day, I got up early, inhaled a quart or so of hot java and a Clif Bar, then ran up and down Scenic Trail for 45 minutes. Once that was over with, I had a tad more java, some water, a sandwich and an orange, and hopped on the trusty Steelman Eurocross for a couple of hours worth of rollers on the Pemberton Trail. Then I spent the rest of the day screwing the pooch — reading, eating, drinking beer and annoying various diesel-powered tourists with my lack of expensive camping technology.

      I recommend this low-rent escapism to anyone who can afford the time off and the ever-increasing price of gasoline. Ride the Pemberton clockwise if you bring a cyclo-cross bike. There's a longish rock-garden section that's a whole lot more fun to ride as a climb than a descent. And camp in the overflow area, where there is the occasional horse but a damn' sight fewer horses' asses than you'll find in the main campground, which is a giant parking lot for the $150,000 buses once operated only by Greyhound, presidential campaigns and touring bands. Say howdy to Jimmy, the metal artist from Oklahoma who's living out of his truck while showing some work at a Scottsdale gallery. And be nice to the overworked and underfunded park staff. I managed to throttle my natural inclination toward anarchy down to three Class 2 misdemeanors in five days, which for me has to be some kind of record.

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    Icepicks for Trotsky

      A new study examines "a Stalinist, paranoid leadership circle . . . a government disconnected from reality in peace and in war. . . ." No, it's not the Bush White House, you terrorist bastards. It's another group of disconnected Stalinist paranoids altogether.

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    To the reeeeear, harch!

      Seems the feds have had second thoughts about their Nixonian attempt to subpoena a crowd of Iowa peace activists. They should have tried first thoughts, the silly shits. Instead, some minor functionary in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Des Moines who was a Typist First Class in the Iowa National Guard during Vietnam must've had a few too many martinis at a local VFW bar and slurred, "Fuggit, less nail these com'niss cogsugg'rs. . . ."

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    Whistling past the graveyard

      Here's a little Tuesday-morning eye-opener for you, courtesy of the gang at Knight-Ridder. Imagine my surprise to see this bannered above the fold in today's Gazette, a lame-o, libertarian rag bested suited to lining cages or starting fires.

      In unrelated news, as I noted a couple of days back, we've been into a typical Colorado February here in Bibleburg, which these days doesn't mean the absolutely rotten, filthy, nasty, Jack London-style hands-in-the-warm-guts-of-a-dead-beaver sort of weather, which is something you can actually score some manly points from, but a sloppy, undistinguished type of half-assed winter that's just unpleasant enough to make you think, "Hell with it, it's not worth it. Where'd I leave that bottle of Bushmills?" It's like being teased by someone with no sense of humor.

      So I ran again yesterday, stomping around in Palmer Park for an hour or so, then went out for an hour of road riding on the elderly Eurocross this afternoon, chewing on a stiff, chilly wind out of the south, bumbling through various construction projects and listening with no small amount of paranoia to the whispery sounds of SUVs spinning their wheels in the sand that's cheaper than actual snowplows. My legs felt like plastic sacks full of hammered shit, which is to say it was not an ecstatic experience. In fact, it was a good deal like exercise.

      But you can't just sit on your ass, waiting for June to show up. It might not. As Jim Harrison once noted, "Every time I pass the cemetery on the way to work I get the feeling we don't live forever."

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    Dharma Bum

      We're deep into the typically lame-o weather that characterizes February in Colorado — cold, windy and just enough snow to turn the trails into baby-shit mud and the roads into skating rinks. What fun.

      I hadn't been on the bike all week until today, shortly after I saw John Crandall from Old Town Bike Shop wrapping up his usual Sunday 30-miler. I'd been running a few times in Palmer Park, but velo-guilt hit me like a runaway Yukon piloted by a drunken bluehair. So I broke out a Steelman and chugged east into a bitter headwind, riding the paved bike path alongside Constitution, figuring I'd see how far it went these days. Not far — just short of Powers before degenerating into baby-shit — but far enough for my lazy, half-frozen ass; I turned around and rocketed back to Dogpatch, JATO'd by a massive tailwind.

      Back at the ranch, I hung the bike up in the garage, changed into running kit and went for a 40-minute trot down the Shook's Run trail and into downtown, coming back through Colorado College, using buildings full of rich kids as windbreaks. Just shy of home, I stumbled across a weird little cottage with a collection of haiku, purportedly from Jack Kerouac, posted on a hand-lettered sign out front. The porch had a chair labeled "chair." Nice alternative to the made-in-China American flags, fish decals and other trivia cluttering property here in Bibleburg.

    * * *

      For those of you who can't stand the sight and sound of him, here's a link to the transcript from Dubya's appearance on Meet the Press. Jesus wept. At least the last liar who had the job was eloquent in his deception. To help clear your head, here's a counterpoint that addresses Dubya's chin music note by sour note.

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    Bad news, worse meal

      It has been a week filled with bad news, and not just from Washington, D.C. The Spousal Unit gets home last night after a longish business journey to the Western Slope, spends a short time tormenting the cat and chattering on the phone to a sis, and subsequently we skate on out to the Dale Street Cafe, which has been a solid, friendly neighborhood eatery over the past year, barring some distracting cackling in the kitchen (the place is right next to Colorado College, and we had been given occasion to wonder whether some of the help had been into the Mexican oregano).

      To cut to the chase, the place had been sold since we were last there, and as a consequence now sucks like a black hole driving a sump pump the size of the Chunnel. I have no one but myself to blame for a rotten meal, because as we walked up the sidewalk, I saw the sign reading "Under New Management" and immediately thought, "We should go elsewhere." We did not, and thus I spent the remainder of my evening farting and feeling unkind.

      There was just one overstressed, underage waitroid to work the entire second floor, and she was making plenty of mistakes due to a combination of fear and poor training, the same sort that Dubya apparently got for the presidency. Still, the menu was unchanged from the good ol' days, so I ordered the pork chops, which previously had been to die for, no matter how much Mexican oregano the chef had been into. Shannon had the special, which was some allegedly Cajun dish involving andouille sausage and pasta.

      And then we sat there, longer than you would sit in an ER if you needed a brace of fresh kidneys and were turning chromium yellow. No bread until we asked for it, same for the wine list, and lots of hairy eyeballs clicking back and forth as our fellow diners waited for buspersons, waitroids, menus, wine lists, wine, bread, dishes that they did not order, and ones that they did which tasted like ass.

      After the better part of quite some time, my pork chops arrived in a condition resembling drywall sprayed with sweet-and-sour sauce. I'm a real big eater, but did not finish my meal. I won't tell you about Shannon's, other than to say she barely started hers, and we chucked the leftovers in a garbage can at Blockbuster while looking for a DVD that no doubt had been checked out while we were waiting on the bread.

      We were the third table that I saw finally get up and tromp downstairs to pay the check, rather than wait for it to arrive by Pony Express, telepathy or Time Tunnel. As I paid, thinking that this was like giving someone money to shit in your good hat, the proprietor asked me plaintively, "Was everything OK?" I thought about it for a second ("We're looking at under $60 bucks here; let's just walk away from it.") and then replied, "It was . . . OK. You need at least one more waitperson up there, and don't yell at ours, because she was trying as hard as she could. The pork chops were overcooked, the sauce practically caramelized . . . ." and so on and so forth, trying not to start pounding on the bar and shouting about refunds, free whisky and stomach pumps.

      Well, at this point, another customer chimes in with the same complaint about the pork (she got to nibble on her dining partner's salmon, which was apparently edible). The proprietor starts bowing and scraping, reciting a litany of apologies and excuses, the waitroid looks like she's about to foul her boxers, and I ask on a whim — thinking, "They must've just bought the bugger this week, right?" — I ask, "How long have you had the place? We haven't been in for a while."

      Three months. Three friggin' months. It must take quite a while to burn down a once-solid eatery's clientele.

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    Space cadets

      Now here's a happy story for you. Sort of makes the odd titty on TV seem, well, like the silly-ass Weapon of Mass Distraction that it was, eh? Makes me wonder if there's going to be anybody left to turn the damn' country over to this summer so that Mr. Mission Accomplished, Flash Gordon and Captain James Tiberius Kirk can all enjoy a flyover by the Millennium Falcon at MoonBase Alpha in time to cinch the November elections. Unless Miss Moon Maid flashes a green-cheese hooter during the Sci-Fi Channel's live coverage and queers the whole deal, of course,

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    Tits and asses (heavy on the asses)

      Well, now we know what it takes to get America outraged. Not the needless deaths of their fellow citizens in an arrogant act of imperialism based on lies; not blatant war profiteering by a corporation linked to the vice president; not a cynical shifting of the nation's tax burden from rich white guys to working stiffs. Nope, what it takes is a middle-aged black woman flashing a titty during the Super Bowl.

      FCC chairman Michael Powell, who could give a fat rat's ass about Clear Channel radio "personalities" who have spent the past few years urging their listeners to commit vehicular assault upon bicyclists, called Jackson's display a "classless, crass and deplorable stunt," not unlike his dad's prewar performance at the United Nations. Oh, wait, that was me. The last part, anyway. But Janet will undergo a more extensive investigation than Colin, and if that surprises you, well, then, you're part of the problem.

      Jesus Christ, does anyone remember Dennis Franz flashing his booty in ABC's "NYPD Blue," back in 1994? Who wouldn't rather see one of Janet's hooters? Besides John Ashcroft, that is . . .

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    Building the perfect beast

      Well, hell. The USA got stomped like rats in a shoebox on the first day of cyclo-cross world's in Frogland. You can see a buttload of photos here. Doping will not make the nut in this hard man's game. What we need to do is crack the Belgian genetic code, build us an AmeriBelgian in some top-secret lab somewhere. Is it the black ale? The pommes frites and mayo? The hideous Belgian weather that makes every ride a cyclo-cross? Oh, the humanity.

      Meanwhile, I'm hoping that my neighbor Alison Dunlap puts the big soo-prise on superkraut Hanka Kupfernagel tomorrow. If nothing else, it might take her mind off what my moving into the neighborhood has done to property values hereabouts. In her honor, I went out and chased myself around Monument Valley Park for a freezing, muddy hour today. And since it was a one-man race, I managed to make the podium.

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    Spread a little oil on those troubled fiscal waters

      This just in, courtesy of a friend who's a professional salmon fisherman in Alaska and a plaintiff to the suit:

    NEW YORK, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that its ratings and outlook on Exxon Mobil Corp. (AAA/Stable/A-1+) would remain unchanged following a federal judge's decision in Alaska yesterday to increase a punitive damages award to plaintiffs against ExxonMobil to $4.5 billion (from $4.0 billion) plus interest of about $2.25 billion. The judgment relates to the Exxon Valdez case, which has been winding through the U.S. judicial system for more than a decade. Exxon Mobil is expected to appeal the case to higher courts, which have ruled that the punitive damages are exorbitant. Although yesterday's decision is an obvious setback to Exxon Mobil's efforts to reduce the size of the punitive damages, Standard & Poor's believes that the company has ample financial resources to accommodate the judgment at its current level.

      What this means, of course, is that you can shit on anyone or anything you please, as long as you have plenty of greenbacks to wipe your ass afterward. I suspect that if the Marinus van der Lubbe International Firebombing Society were to accidentally set off an incendiary device in the White House Rose Garden, its principals would do themselves little good in a court of law by arguing that the Society's financial viability would be adversely impacted by their spending a few thousand years in prison and paying a multijillion-dollar fine. Unless, of course, the leadership had donated heavily to the Republican Party, in which case a few hours of community service spent drinking champagne and pissing into the fire, plus a weepy confessional stint on "Good Morning America," would wipe the old slate clean.

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    Take the point, Lieutenant

      John Kerry flogged Howard Dean again tonight, this time in New Hampshire, and the Brainiacs in the various media outlets are skittering about like fleas on a dead dog, trying to figure out what it all means. What it means, of course, is that the thrice-wounded Vietnam vet has been promoted to "front-runner" and will now relive the joys of being on point in hostile territory — the Iron Triangle of TV, radio and print.

      Speaking of which, is anybody else fed up with the endless pandering, punditry and polling that has replaced actual nuts-and-bolts political journalism in the past couple of decades? How many of you out there have ever been interviewed by a pollster? Raise your hands — ah hah, just as I suspected; 0.0 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 100 percent. If one should call you up, vigorously espouse your wholehearted support for rum, sodomy and the lash. I'd like to see that demographic start turning up in some of this rubber-lipped jabberwocky: "Kerry, a former swift-boat captain and veteran of Vietnam, is slipping among Churchillian ironists . . . back to you, Peter."

    * * *

      Mr. Cheney, Meet Mr. Kay. That's the headline above an editorial on today's New York Times website decrying the veep's insistence, against all evidence to the contrary, that the Boogeyman of Baghdad was crouched under our national bed, poison fangs glistening, just waiting for us to get up to pee without first turning the light on. Well, Dick, the light's been on for the better part of quite some time now, and the scariest thing I've seen to date is you and the rest of your America über alles gang, as you slithered out from your undisclosed location under our old BeautyRest. Indeed, the harsh glare of that unshaded bulb reveals you in particular to be as full of shit as a sixpack of porta-johns at a fund-raising pig roast for the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Association. And people are worried about whether Howard Dean is too crazy to be electable? Seems to me that a precedent has already been set here, because anyone who thinks Dubya is running the show is badly in need of a brain scan.

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    Drunks Against Mad Mothers

      So I'm out running some errands with the Spousal Unit and we find ourselves in a left-turn lane, the left-turn-on-green-arrow-only sort, behind a woman whose rig has a Mothers Against Drunk Driving bumper sticker on it: "Drunk Driving Is No Accident." The green arrow lights up, and the cars in front of her proceed through the intersection, but she just sits there — and then, after a few seconds, she turns right, cuts across the two through lanes and slots into the right-turn lane, causing us to miss the green and endure a second full cycle. But at least I got to holler, "What are you, hammered?

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    It just makes you want to scream

      OK, I just heard Howard Dean's Iowa concession screech for the jillionth time on NPR, and I'm starting to wonder whether radio — even public radio — is an acceptable alternative to TV. So Dean got all wound up and hollered? So what? This is crucial to our national discourse how, exactly? I get all wound up and holler myself from time to time. Luckily, for both you and me, I'm not running for president.

      Is Dean's endlessly revisited instant of overexuberance any worse than the lack of discretion another candidate for the office showed during his own campaign event, heedless of an open microphone inches from his mouth, when he referred to a New York Timesreporter as a "major league asshole?"

      That's right, brothers and sisters: We're talking about the Compassionate Conservative-in-Chief, the Uniter (Not a Divider), that Onward Christian Soldier his own bad self, George W. Bush. Now turn off your TVs and radios and go read something.

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    The Captain has gone ashore

      Captain Kangaroo went to the great Treasure House in the sky yesterday. I remember watching him and Mr. Green Jeans, Bunny Rabbit and Grandfather Clock when I was a young snotnose in Ottawa, Canada. Despite a lifetime in TV, Bob Keeshan held no delusions about the medium. As his New York Times obit mentions, "Asked on one occasion how he found time to star in his own show and still engage in lecturing, volunteerism, the study of French, reading, and also spend time with his family and his hobbies of photography, fishing and sailing, Mr. Keeshan replied, 'one of the big secrets of finding time is not to watch television.' " Bon voyage, Captain.

    * * *

      Meanwhile, it seems like the Mars Rover has crashed and won't reboot. This is what you get when you send a PC to do a Mac's job.

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    State of the Union

      OK, so I broke down and watched the State of the Union, with NPR providing the sound and ABC doing the video. It was like watching a Japanese monster movie, with the sound and video out of synch and a slightly higher level of fear. We don't get NBC for some reason, and the local PBS affiliate didn't even carry the speech; they will get a pledge from me right after I make that fat contribution to the Republican National Committee.

      Highlights? Well, ABC showed me a couple shots of Ted Kennedy rolling his eyes and making a jerkoff motion next to his jowls, which was almost worth the psychic price of turning the TV on. The Democrats unexpectedly applauding at Bush's statement that the fascist USA PATRIOT Act would expire next year, shaking Numbnuts out of his prepared speech for a second, ran a close second.

      A few other observations:

    • Having failed to produce the terror weapons he said Saddam Hussein was poised to hurl at us, Mr. Mission Accomplished jabbered about weapons hunters identifying "dozens of weapons-of-mass-destruction-related program activities." That's a shitload of hyphens, and about as clear and present a danger as an 8-year-old kid with a squirt gun.

    • The troops in attendance were not amused by the Top Gun's pandering to them and their all-too-real sacrifices, if their glazed looks, stifled yawns and whispered asides were any indication. Getting shot at for chump change at must lead to some sort of sleeping-sickness-type allergy to bullshit. I expect a few of them were standing tall before the man shortly after the cameras shut off.

    • Mr. Clean said drug use has declined. Duh. That's 'cause people without jobs can't afford dope, unless they make it themselves, like the white-trash meth heads.

    • He also had the crust to lecture the Congress on spending while he's shoveling out the pork like it's Free Barbecue Day at the Fat Bastards' Picnic. This shameless hoor would try to sell a rat's asshole to a blind man, telling him it was a diamond ring.

    • The Preacher-in-Chief also spoke about the will of the people as regards the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, but didn't mention John Ashcroft's vicious persecution of sickly California dope smokers despite the state's voters having approved the medical use of marijuana.

    • Post-speech, the local NPR affiliate went back to jazz, so we let Peter Jennings have a few words. He talked a horrible ration of gibbering shit, so off he went. Next in the barrel was Dan Rather, who went straight to commercial. Jesus Christ, what makes people think they can get their news from TV?

    • The Democratic response: Nancy Pelosi looked like a Stepford wife, or an android from an early "Star Trek" episode. I don't believe I've ever seen a face quite that clenched. She looked like a woman badly in need of a trip to the little-girl's room. The wife and I agreed that she's had at least as much surgery as Michael Jackson, but she put the old spike heels to Dubya's doodads a couple of times, and more power to her Barbie-doll ass. As for Tom Daschle, he was the least annoying of the bunch, which is a frightening thought indeed, given his simple-minded collaboration with the Bush regime (until he noticed that his pants were around his ankles and Karl Rove was standing behind him. Zzzzzipppppp. . . .).

      Bottom line? I'd like to think that Dubya and his handlers overreached themselves this time in sucking up so shamelessly to their base, which is a Rove trademark. But there's not enough tequila left to give me that sort of mindless optimism. Yeah, I ran out of wine early on, I don't have enough money for Thai stick, cocaine or smack, and I don't know how to make meth. If only the No Child Left Behind Act — and the funding that seems to be mostly MIA, despite Dubya's lofty pronouncements — had been around when I was a teen-ager having trouble with chemistry . . . .

    * * *

      Earlier that same day: I'm torn. Do I watch the State of the Union speech, and spend the early part of what would ordinarily be a pleasant, snowy winter evening stomping around the house with a flagon of wine in one white-knuckled hand, shouting, "BULLSHIT!" and scaring the cat? Or do I give this grotesquerie a miss, enjoy a couple of steaming bowls from the vat of nuclear chile I'm brewing up, and read the press accounts afterward?

      I already know the substance of the speech, after all: Lies, more lies and damned lies. Dubya would choke on the truth, if he ever tried to speak it. And the early word that he intends to give a sizable portion of this annual chin-music concert over to the discussion of domestic issues, including the economy, is not encouraging. As Molly Ivins notes, the silly shit has already taken three oil companies into bankruptcy. Believing Bush when he talks business is akin to taking Hunter S. Thompson's advice on how to live drug-free.

      Jesus, I'm already pissed off and it's only a quarter to six. I'll never make it through the evening at this rate. I've already had two glasses of wine, and I can't decompress by discharging firearms from the deck the way I used to in Weirdcliffe. It startles the neighbors.

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    Donkeys in Iowa

      Well, well, well — so John Kerry apparently has flogged Howard Dean in the Iowa caucuses, and John Edwards took the second spot on the podium. I've been saying for a while now that I didn't think a purely antiwar stance was going to make the nut, and it appears that Iowa agrees with me, which doesn't exactly give me wood, as half of my stagnant gene pool comes from Sioux City. Most of the wiseguys say Iowans seemed more concerned with bread-and-butter issues than with lying swine in high places who get their children killed, and guess who's in charge of releasing the economic data? Right, the same folks who said Saddam was this close to laying a nuclear egg on Des Moines.

      Meanwhile, Joe Lieberman has apparently been possessed by the ghost of Hubert "The Happy Warrior" Humphrey. Dig this quote, delivered by a man who didn't even participate in the Iowa caucuses in order to concentrate on New Hampshire:

    "What I hear from Iowa tells me and confirms what I hear every day here in New Hampshire, yesterday in South Carolina: the race for the Democratic nomination is wide open," he (Lieberman) said.
    This is good news for you how, exactly? Bush Lite will not unhorse the real deal, José, no matter how overconfident Dean may get. As George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," and frankly, this whole primary season is commencing to remind me of the first presidential election I participated in, way back in 1972. If you want a preview of what we may be in for over the next 10 months, score a copy of Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72." But don't let it depress you. Support your candidate, however inept he may be, and vote in November. Unless you like Dubya, in which case the universe would appreciate it if you would stay home on Election Day.

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    Nighthorse at the diner

      Lots of smoke, but little fire: That's Ben "Scooter" Campbell, the GOP hack who is better known for his ponytail and motorcycle than for anything he's accomplished in the U.S. Senate.

     In an interview with The Denver Post, Campbell tried a little verbal judo on former Sen. Gary Hart, a Democrat who is expected to decide shortly whether to try to dethrone ol' Scooter. Hart, a two-termer, ran for president in 1984 and was gearing up for another shot at the title in 1988 when he got caught acting the fool with Donna Rice.

     Campbell says Hart wants to return to the Senate as a precursor to running for president again, according to the Post.

     "He left the Senate voluntarily," Campbell said. "And he got in trouble voluntarily, too, by the way. And it's a little much to ask the people of Colorado to put him back in the Senate when most everybody would know it's for one reason - that's to lay the groundwork for 2008."

     Maybe so, Scooter. But chances are he'd put in a full day's work in the Senate while waiting for 2008 to roll around. Hart's service to the nation includes a stint as co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, which predicted in early 2001 that there would be a terrorist attack such as the one that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. I'm damned if I can think of a single thing ol' Scooter has done, besides collect a federal paycheck.

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    There is no W in "Mars" (but there should be)

      Dubya wants to go to Mars. Goody. Let's send him there, along with the rest of his space cadets — Cheney, Rummy, et al. Let 'em try their bait-and-switch games on the Martians, see how they grok it. It's got to be cheaper than keeping them on Earth, in government, even if their Space Hummer burns hundred-dollar bills for fuel.

      Now, I've always been a fan of space exploration. As kids, we invariably watched the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches on TV. Dad occasionally brought home autographed photos of astronauts whenever their paths crossed. And I devoured science-fiction novels, TV shows and movies when I should have been reading Shakespeare. But for the Busheviks to jerk this space-suited bunny out of their oily top hat right now, when we're up to our national ass in debt, thanks to visions of empire, corporate payback and welfare for the rich, is patently absurd. The only space the Busheviks are concerned with is the space Numbnuts occupies between fund-raisers, photo ops and vacations in Crawford — the Oval Office. A freshly washed window is less transparent, f'chrissakes.

    0 1 | 1 2 | 2 0 0 4

    Army attacks White House

      Whaddaya know ... all of a sudden, it's not just us lefty loonies calling Dubya's democracy lab in Iraq a bad idea. A new report from the Army War College calls the war both "unnecessary (and) unrealistic," and "a war-of-choice distraction from the war of necessity against al Qaeda,"adding that it "threatens to dissipate U.S. military resources in an endless and hopeless search for absolute security." The Busheviks dismiss this report, naturally — Pentagon poge Larry DiRita sniffs, "If the conclusion is that we need to be scaling back in the global war on terrorism, it's not likely to be on my reading list anytime soon." What an inspirational example of the unfettered spirit of intellectual inquiry we like to see in the deskbound paper-pushers who send our fellow citizens off to war, wouldn't you agree?

      And meanwhile, Paul O'Neill has come forward to announce what the alternative press has been reporting since before the war on Iraq began — that Saddam and Iraq were in the neocons' crosshairs long before the New York attacks. And once again, the source — Bush's first Treasury secretary, who described the Prez as "a blind man in a room full of deaf people" — is dismissed as a disgruntled former employee. The White House "simply is not in the business of doing book reviews," sneered spokesman Ken Lisaius. That's because no one there reads them, barring perhaps Laura, who as a former librarian may have a nodding acquaintance with the medium.

      Now, I never voted for Clinton. I didn't like him. Too smart for his own good by half, and look where it got him, and us; embroiled in a national panty raid that would have done credit to the Spanish Inquisition (and I'm talking the Monty Python version here). But y'know, when stacked up against the current occupant of the White House, a genial horndog with a thing for fat chicks is starting to look pretty damn' good.

    0 1 | 1 1 | 2 0 0 4

    A dog at large

      Get 'em all jacked up on whisky, then we'll turn the mad dog looseTom Waits, "Hang On St. Christopher"

      The Irish are not bright, no matter what you may have read about them saving civilization. We invented whisky, then settled down to drinking it, fucking up and murdering each other.

      Take me ("Please," quips the wife, Henny Youngman style). If I were smart, I wouldn't spend the holidays eating like Jim Harrison and riding like ... uh ... not much. And then, when my comrades decided to light it up on a two-hour Sunday ride in January, well, I might be able to keep them in sight for a few seconds.

      You know you're in trouble when there's a tailwind and a gap is slowly opening between you and the front bunch, which is chattering away as if they're still sprawled in the downtown coffee shop that was our starting point. I was talking, too, but only to Jesus, and He was only laughing, because He knew what I'd been up to while Christendom was celebrating His birthday.

      OK, so that's a bit of hyperbole. You want journalism, go bother The New York Times. We're into art here, or lies, and it's your job as the audience to decide which. I can't do everything, f'chrissakes. Take a little responsibility for your own amusement.

      Anyway, I did manage to hang on until the B-52 at the north end of the Air Force Academy, which was once again open to the taxpayers, thanks to Tom Ridge's latest whimsical spin of the color-coded Wheel of Misfortune. But shortly thereafter, I was off the back and wondering if some wiseguy had cinched down my rear brake, shot me from ambush or stuffed a UCI rulebook in my jersey pocket when I wasn't looking.

      A half-dozen of us were headed out the North Gate toward Voyager, Highway 83 and home, and damme if I didn't get spit out on the first itty-bitty hill east of I-25. "Holy shit," I thought, "it's gonna be a pleasant grind home into this headwind all by my lonesome. Maybe I can sell this bike to some passing fool and buy a liter of Bushmills, find a nice culvert to nap in." No such luck. A fellow Dog missed a turn just as the guys up front lit it up in pursuit of another small group headed our way, and once they realized her error (yeah, her), they sat up, and I slotted fatally in between them. They flogged me all the way home.

      My one consolation, after trying and failing to be an integral part of the paceline chasing that lead bunch, was watching my man Big Bill McBeef finally misfire on a couple of cylinders as we hit one of the last hills. It was small consolation, since I was shamelessly sucking his wheel when he abruptly deflated like a hundred-dollar sewup in a goathead patch, but you've got to take 'em where you find 'em.

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    Civics 101

      I got shanghaied into jury duty yesterday. Hauled into El Paso Combined Court, juror number 1185, at a time I normally reserve for that third cup of Joe and a relaxing moment in the reading room, the one with the porcelain chair.

      It was not pretty. We're talking a serious arms-up-turn-around wanding by a copper before tackling four flights of stairs leading to an overheated room with three TVs showing Regis and Kelly, Martha Stewart (who at least belonged in court) and an endless parade of commercials to an audience of 150-some-odd TB patients, judging by the hacking, coughing, wheezing and snuffling. Two flavors of brown water in the urns at the back of the room, plastic sandwiches in the basement, and lots of faces wearing sour expressions, including mine. It was not a crowd to inspire confidence in the American system of jurisprudence: "Fuck it, I need a smoke. Guilty as charged. Got a light?"

      Seven judges' names were scrawled on the whiteboard by 8:30, each of them needing at least six jurors plus an alternate per trial, and one of them was a murder case scheduled for today. And me having trouble deciding whether I want beer or wine with din-din. Plus I'm self-employed, and the state pays less per day for jury service than a prospective juror does for a carton of smokes, a Diet Pepsi and a plastic sandwich. Even worse, the last O'Grady to get summoned to jury duty (my mom) forgot where she parked her car (I blame Regis) and was subsequently diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I had more brain damage at 16 than she did at 60. I'm hosed, is what I'm thinking. I'm going to draw the murder trial, and since Colorado rarely sequesters jurors, I'm going to have to try to lose a tail on the way home every night unless I want to wake up to a machete trimming my nose hair and a ski-masked stranger advising me on various legal technicalities.

      A judge who apparently has been sentenced to Explaining Things You Should Have Learned in School comes in to explain things we should have learned in school, then asks for questions. One particularly grumpy sort asks who he should see to explain that he's too busy for this sort of nonsense. And then, at 10:30, the Head Jury Dude comes out and wipes three judges off the board, swish. It's like watching the Broncos start fucking up in the fourth quarter. You feel a roll coming on. The Head Jury Dude goes away for a while, like the Broncos defense, then comes back and starts calling numbers and names, none of which are mine. "The rest of you can start breathing," he says, before turning to the board, erasing all but one judge, and turning us all loose.

      We are all relieved, fairly bounding down the stairs, and spoiled middle-class whiteboy that I am, I'm pondering the relative efficiency of dictatorship as I head for the truck and home. One Big Dude in One Big Chair droning, "Death ... death ... death ... dungeon for life ... death ... the rack ... death...." It'd save us all a lot of time and effort, for sure, leaving plenty of time for shopping for shit we don't need and can't afford, and many of us would be only too happy to give that One Big Dude the job.

      But that's exactly what John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney and George W, Bush would like to see. "Leave everything to us," they say. "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."

      Nah. Don't think so. Put my name back in the hopper. If idiots are going to be in charge of life-and-death issues, I want at least one of those idiots to be me.

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    The Irish are not smart

      Must be January. The postman keeps bringing me bills, but no checks with which to pay them. The upside of being jobless for a dozen or so years is that you can pretty much keep your own schedule. The downside is that the paydays tend to be a tad erratic.

     A smart man would set some money aside during the fat times, in summer, in order to weather these lean periods. But if I were smart, I'd still be the features editor at The New Mexican in Santa Fe, eating breakfast at Tia Sofia, drinking IPA at the Second Street Brewery and soaking my raggedy Irish ass at Ten Thousand Waves. Although it seems to have gotten awfully gay in the public tub since they opened a women's-only tub. Not that there's anything wrong with that....

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    Happy New Year

      Here we go again. It's the first day of the rest of my life, and the kickoff to an election year to boot. Remind me to cancel the newspaper and shoot the TV. The Internet I must have to do business — but please, lawd, keep my twitching fingers away from them IE5 bookmarks for The New York Times, the Washington Post, Mother Jones, The Nation, AlterNet, et. al. They will only make me crazy. "Anybody But Bush" is the motto in Dog Country this year, just as in 2000, and while I ordinarily would not piss on a Democrat if he (or she) were on fire, if the Donkeys should nominate a Pee Wee Herman/Paris Hilton ticket, managed by Don King with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog handling PR, I'm down with it, if only to see the commercials. Hell, I'd write in Fidel Castro before I pulled the lever for Bush. At least Fido has a sense of humor. Remember when he offered to send a team of Cuban observers to the Florida recount? Now that's funny.

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