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

daily dog archives 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

By Patrick O'Grady
Mad Dog Media

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A, O, way to go, Ohio

  Bibleburg, El Paso County and Colorado are frequently reviled for warehousing their feebs in the nation's capital at great public expense, and justifiably so (think Tom Tancredo and Marilyn Musgrave for starters), but Ohio is really trying to give us a run for our money. First Mean Jean Schmidt says the Walter Reed debacle was overblown by the media, those ubiquitous rascals. Now, in a New York Times story looking back at the last time Congress and a president found themselves at odds over a losing war founded on lies, GOPeabrain John Boehner (pronounced "bo-ner") trumpets that the United States lost in Vietnam thanks to Congress, which cut off funding for the war because it lacked "the will to win." And he should know, 'cause he served six weeks in the Navy in 1969 before being discharged with back problems (a lack of spine, perhaps?).

  Of course, the real dummy is at the top of the smelly heap, sitting on Darth Cheney's lap and channeling his bullshit. Now one of the guys who helped get George W. Snerd his comfy position finally concedes that making this wooden-headed sonofabitch the president of the United States was not such a hot idea. Notes 2004 campaign strategist Matthew Dowd: "Just being quiet is not an option when I was so publicly advocating an election. If the American public says they're done with something, our leaders have to understand what they want. They're saying 'Get out of Iraq.'"

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Pigasus gone bad

  When did The National Lampoon buy United Airlines? Every trip an O'Grady takes with these pootbutts winds up looking like one of the flicks in Lampoon's "Vacation" series, only without the funny bits.

  I dropped Herself off at the Bibleburg Intergalactic Airport this morning for a flight to Knoxville, Tennessee, but she might have been better served if I had slapped a stamp on her forehead and stuffed her in a mailbox. That way she'd have had a fighting chance of making Knoxville without incident (though the cancellation process would leave her looking something like David Clinger).

  Check it out. Herself's 11:13 a.m. flight was already delayed before we ever left the DogHaus for BIA. I get her there 90 minutes in advance of the revised departure time (noonish) and head for the barn. All is copacetic, yes? No. She calls me via cell phone about a quarter after 12 and tells me she's (a) sitting in the plane on the Bibleburg tarmac, and (b) been told that her connector from Chicago-O'Hare to Knoxville has been canceled. Fuck. Can I get her on the sole remaining flight from the City of Big Shoulders to the City of Sloping Foreheads, which departs at 6:40 Chicago time?

  Uh, no again. After spending the better part of quite some time either on hold or chatting with a robot, an efficient South Asian individual confessed in clipped tones that the 6:40 flight was packed to the gunwales, and, after some prodding, that yes, United would be springing for a hotel in Chi' and shipping Herself to Knoxville at dark-thirty sometime Thursday morning. Brilliant. Thank you so much. Just what a gal likes after spending all day in an aluminum tube full of pissed-off people — a shuttle ride to some shithole that rents rooms by the trick.

  But wait; there's more! Herself phones me again, this time from Rockford, Illinois, where her Bibleburg-Big Shoulders flight has apparently stopped because it was about to run out of gas. I guess you just can't slap one of United's flying greydogs into Irish overdrive (neutral to you Anglos) and coast. People would talk, and/or shit themselves.

  So, it's 5:18 p.m. here in Bibleburg and Herself has finally touched down in Chicago, which means that with wheels up at 12:38 p.m. she has been in transit for four-and-a-half hours for what should be a two-and-a-half-hour flight, if I recall correctly. Now she gets to decide whether she wants to stay in one of United's fleabags or try to soldier on with some other airline, all while fetching about 10 tons of chick-shit around. Last time we were in O'Hare I took note of the customer-service queue. Good fuckin' luck. It brought back memories of Richard Pryor talking about his dad dying in the saddle and which line would most men prefer to be in, given the choice of getting hit by a bus or dying flagrante delicto (FYI, Rich' was gonna be in that long motherfucker).

  Oh, yeah, before I forget: United CEO Glenn Tilton made $39.7 million running this FUBAR funhouse in 2006. The bankruptcy judge should have sentenced the sonofabitch to six years of flying around the country on his own airline.

  Late update: As we should have expected, United was lyin' about the free hotel room, so Herself is catching a shuttle to a shithole of her (well, my) choice. They'd better have a beaker of gin ready or there will be bloodshed.

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Happy birthday to me

  I see I have once again failed to make The New York Times "On This Day" squib, though it cheerfully chronicles the so-called accomplishments of various losers like Ponce de Leon, George Washington and Milton Berle. Thank God my parents didn't live to witness my public humiliation; it would've killed them.

  What else happened today in history? In 1775, Thomas Jefferson was elected to the Continental Congress; in 1923, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Louis Simpson was born in Jamaica, West Indies; in 1958, the shoe-banging Nikita Khrushchev became premier of the Soviet Union; and in 1998, Pfizer debuted its boner drug Viagra.

  I had planned to commemorate these and the many other accomplishments of humankind with a 53-mile bike ride, but it's foggy, windy and chilly out there, so maybe I'll just go for a 53-minute run instead. Or drink 53 bottles of beer and spray-paint "BUSH SUCKS" 53 times on 53 different overpasses.

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Another victim of the iPod People

  Oh, Lord, I'm so ashamed. I've fallen victim to the consumer culture once again. I let Herself buy me an iPod for my birthday. Just what we need around the DogHaus, another one of Mr. Jobs' nifty plastic boxes, which suck money from the wallet like Dracula tapping an artery. The Count of Cupertino has bought a shitload of black turtlenecks on my nickel over the years, from that first Macintosh SE to this 30GB jukebox-cum-movieola, half the size of a Hershey bar, that's smarter than most of the people I know. Ay, Chihuahua.

  So we buy the thing, swing by The Blue Star for a top-notch meal and a bottle of Heitz Cellars Cabernet, then head home to give me a crash course in iPoddage 101. First iTunes purchase: Dylan's "Bringing It All Back Home." Hey, it's a new toy, not a new me. Note to the kool kids at Apple HQ: When a guy buys a black iPod to match his black MacBook and his black aura, he don't want no sissified white earbud/USB cables, capische?

  Coming soon: Why it should be legal to assault people wearing iPods outdoors or while operating a vehicle.

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Paging Frank Serpico

  Gee, here's a fun story. The NYT says the NYPD was playing CIA in the run-up to the 2004 RNC, peeking in windows from Maine to Spokane, and Montréal to Miami, even venturing overseas if the weather was nice, the Euro was down against the dollar and there was a chance of seeing some French titties on the Riviera. While one can understand the NYPD's legitimate security concerns, and conceding that a few subjects of the surveillance were worthy of the occasional hairy eyeball, it seems that the big-city Barney Fifes — just like their hick-town cousins — overstepped the bounds of common sense in their desire to "Serve and Protect." From The New York Times:

At the other end of the threat spectrum was Joshua Kinberg, a graduate student at Parsons School of Design and the subject of four pages of intelligence reports. For his master's thesis project, Mr. Kinberg devised a "wireless bicycle" equipped with cellphone, laptop and spray tubes that could squirt messages received over the Internet onto the sidewalk or street.

The messages were printed in water-soluble chalk, a tactic meant to avoid a criminal mischief charge for using paint, an intelligence report noted. Mr. Kinberg's bicycle was "capable of transferring activist-based messages on streets and sidewalks," according to a report on July 22, 2004.

"This bicycle, having been built for the sole purpose of protesting during the R.N.C., is capable of spraying anti-R.N.C.-type messages on surrounding streets and sidewalks, also supplying the rider with a quick vehicle of escape," the report said. Mr. Kinberg, then 25, was arrested during a television interview with Ron Reagan for MSNBC's "Hardball" program during the convention. He was released a day later, but his equipment was held more than a year.

Mr. Kinberg said Friday that after his arrest detectives with the terrorism task force asked if he knew of any plans for violence. "I'm an artist," he said. "I know other artists, who make T-shirts and signs."

He added: "There's no reason I should have been placed on any kind of surveillance status. It affected me, my ability to exercise free speech, and the ability of thousands of people who were sending in messages for the bike to exercise their free speech."

  Other targets of the dragnet included street-theater companies like the satirical troupe Billionaires for Bush, "church groups and antiwar organizations . . . environmentalists and people opposed to the death penalty, globalization and other government policies." Three elected officials from the Big Apple made it into the files.

  Such extremism in the defense of liberty should not go unrewarded. Perhaps we can induct a few of these storm troopers into the armed forces of the United States, so they can rattle doorknobs outside the Green Zone in Baghdad.

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Splish splash, I was takin' a bath

  Our string of excellent sunny days snapped this morning. It's been pissing down rain all day, and snowing up in Weirdcliffe, so I canceled plans to drive up there for a mutual birthday celebration honoring Herself, your humble narrator and our pal Hal — March babies all, with me as the senior (March 27, 1954).

  We'd planned a Mexican feast, and I made a giant pot of pinto beans with chile last night, along with a platter of green chile chicken enchiladas for immediate consumption, but Weirdcliffe is no place to be when a wet snow has turned what once was terra firma into terra squishy. Trust me. I lived there for seven years, and I can confirm that mud-surfing is one thing in a 4WD pickup with a six-pack of tube sand in the bed and something else entirely in a Subaru Forester. Better part of valor, don't you know. Plus it's supposed to be 60-something and sunny tomorrow, and if I stay here my fat ass and I can enjoy a nice long bike ride.

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Paper chase

  Hee haw. Big fun approaches in the form of the House Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law approving subpoenas to compel Karl Rove and various other swine to leave the public trough and oink under oath. The Führerbunker is having none of this, of course, saying that The Leader's aides may be interviewed only via telepathy by a Pakistani medium who speaks no English, and thus we will be treated to a daily dump of legalese, bombast and full-throated constitutional jabberwocky reminscent of the Nixon-Ervin days, only with lesser men playing the two lead roles.

  Meanwhile, here in Bibleburg allergy season is upon us with a vengeance. My skull is awash in snot and I lose five pounds every time I sneeze. Yesterday's 'cross-bike ride through the piney woods of the Air Force Academy may not have been the smartest thing to do, as I awakened far too early this morning feeling as though a plasterer had spackled my sinuses. What we need here is drugs, and plenty of them, but without health insurance only over-the-counter remedies are available, which would be like sending a Cub Scout troop against a battalion of Navy SEALs.

  Late update: Here's a fun story about Dumpster-diving with Manhattan's "freegans." There's something admirable, grotesque and depressing about it, all at once. It reminds me of a night I spent with a hobo couple at Squirrel's Tavern in Corvallis, Oregon, back in the early 1980s. They approached me as I was gargling with Guinness and I'm thinking it's a touch, so I start to reach for the old wallet, and they say no, we'd like to buy you a beer, 'cause you look depressed (I was). We sat around for a while, drinking beers and shooting the shit, and they told me how they wintered in Tucson and summered in the Northwest, riding the rails from Point A to B, squatting in abandoned houses and eating out of Dumpsters. The beer money came from collecting and recycling discarded aluminum cans and bottles. They were proud that they were working for their money, and damn me if it didn't sound a whole lot more sensible than working for a newspaper, which I was doing at the time. But then pretty much anything does.

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News you can't use

  I mentioned a while back that our local cage-liner, the Gazette, had laid off a bunch of folks, including 10 in the newsroom. Well, they must've pink-slipped the wrong crowd, judging by today's front page. Lede story: speedskater Apolo Ono on "Dancing With the Stars." Second lede: a USA Today poll indicating that Iraqis think everything pretty much sucks, which was on NPR yesterday. Below the fold: Another USA Today story, this one on the so-called "forever stamp," and an Associated Press piece on the development of a malaria-resistant mosquito (malaria being such a common affliction here in Bibleburg, along with ebolla, dengue fever and the yaws). Curious about Alberto "Want Fries With That?" Gonzales, a story that might actually have some effect on how you live your life in the Benighted States of Amnesia? The McClatchy story I flagged yesterday is buried on A-4. Jesus wept. They might as well just run the funny pages out front and be done with it.

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  Ho, ho. The McClatchy Washington bureau reports that the White House is casting around for a sucker to replace Alberto "Who, Me?" Gonzales. This should be amusing. Try the leather bars and S&M clubs, boys. You're gonna want someone who's seriously into pain.

  Meanwhile, in honor of the fourth anniversary of Alfred E. Bush's splendid little war, I wore my "Worry" T-shirt from The Nation to the chiropractor and the grog shop today, and it drew rave reviews. This guy is as popular as a reporter in Darth Cheney's office.

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The wearin' o' the cuffs

  It wasn't all beer and blarney at the Bibleburg St. Paddy's Day parade yesterday. Organizers sicced the cops on a group of activists from the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission who tried to march wearing green T-shirts with peace symbols and carrying signs bearing messages like "Kids Not Bombs" and "Stop This War Now." One, a 65-year-old woman, got dragged across the street with cameras clicking. Lovely. That'll make a nice addition to the Chamber of Commerce website.

  So, taking my cue from the Bibleburg fuzz, when the neighborhood woodpecker started using my furnace vent as a snare drum again this morning, I stepped outside and shot the little sonofabitch right off it. Pow! Hasta la vista, bay-bee. Taste hot freedom, you feathered terrorist! Hey, would you rather fight them over there or over here? *

* OK, so I used a squirt bottle full of water instead of a .357 full of hollowpoints. Rat me out to the NRA, see if I care. I got a wife here who would watch "Animal Planet" 24/7 if (a) she didn't have a job, and (b) we had cable. Plus she knows where the real weaponry is stashed, and I have to sleep sometime.

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Up the rebels!

  OK, so I haven't been all that entertaining here this past week — reality has been kicking the mortal shit out of satire lately, and satire didn't see any point in getting up off the canvas until reality had its back turned — but there's no way an O'Grady lets St. Patrick's Day pass without mention, unless he overdid it a bit while tuning up on the 16th and slept all the way through the 17th, or is in jail, where "getting online" usually refers to a gang-bang in the showers. So here I am, enjoying a pint of Guinness Extra Stout and a dollop of Bushmills, rattling the neighbors' windows with Irish music, and enjoying the remnants of a distinctly springlike day.

  Big doin's in the nation's capital as protesters marked the fourth anniversary of Gen. George Armstrong Bush's charge into Little Bagdad Horn. The MSM's coverage was as per usual (dismissive and condescending). Still, an enterprising Times reporter managed to unearth a publisher from Indiana who carried a St. Paddy's-themed sign reading, "Help drive the snakes out of the White House." Slainte, boyo.

  One snake who may be getting the bum's rush here shortly is Alberto "Tio Taco" Gonzales, who has managed to step on his dick so often in the past week that it's starting to look more like a store-bought tortilla than a manly chorizo. You can learn more than you care to know about this whole sordid deal, which makes Nixon AG John Mitchell look like Oliver Wendell Holmes, over at Talking Points Memo, which has had this story by the nuts with a downhill pull from the get-go.

  Elsewhere, the Curse of the Rainbow Jersey has its claws fixed into Paolo Bettini, who has been falling over more often than the village drunkard in a Frank O'Connor short story. Today he T-boned a signpost in Tirreno-Adriatico.

  Here in Bibleburg, meanwhile, we are trying very hard not to hit any signposts, as we have no health insurance. Herself broke out her Soma Fabrications Double Cross for the first ride of the season and rode to the AFA and back without incident, as did I (though I rode a Steelman Eurocross and started a bit later in order to enjoy a brisk pursuit).

  Now, as soon as I get tired of drinking this delicious stout, I intend to cook up a mess of lamb and spuds for ballast and then get right back to the beer-drinking and the watching of "The Commitments, a fine flick about a bunch of Dublin soul brothers. It is, after all, St. Patrick's Day.

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Don't go to any trouble on my account, boys

  Generalissmo El Busho paid a six-hour visit to Bogota, Colombia, today. And all his imperial presence demanded was a red-carpet greeting by a military honor guard when his plane landed, various equestrian antics and a military band in the palace courtyard, and the mobilization of 20,000 police and heavily armed troops, including sharpshooters positioned on rooftops, gun-toting cops every few feet along his motorcade route, and a fleet of white pickups stuffed with security officers. Oh, yeah, and El Busho required a couple black armored limos, two black Chevy Suburbans and the Marine 1 chopper, too, all flown in from the States. Jesus H. Christ. It's expensive enough keeping this yahoo in the White House. Can't we avoid pointless, pricey junkets to places where he's even less popular than he is at home?

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Go do that voodoo that you do so well

  Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after a tour by President George W. Boogeyman, according to the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization who calls the visit "an offense for the Mayan people and their culture." Somebody get those priests' business cards. The White House is gonna need a good going-over once we get rid of this numbnuts.

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The Friday Follies

  The FBI has used the so-called USA Patriot Act as a giant crowbar to break into Americans' telephone, financial and business records without the hint of a whiff of a breath of judicial oversight, according to The New York Times. Gosh, who'da thunk it? The ghost of J. Edgar Hoover must be laughing its crotchless-pantied ass off. Elsewhere, the UCI is getting closer to the Baccala Plan as outlined in Jimmy Breslin's "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" (keep the riders in cages). Newt Gingrich's pot was calling Bill Clinton's kettle black, back in the good old days. And here in Bibleburg, the Gazette's new food critic spells "dessert" with only the one "s," which would make it the place where Fort Carson's grunts are getting shot at instead of something nifty to tamp down dinner at the Marigold Cafe. In short, just another day in the barrel.

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  Today's Colorado Springs Independent reports that the Gazette's recent layoffs pissed away "some of the paper's most recognizable and productive writers," including 20-year veteran Deb Acord, Jim Bainbridge, J. Adrian Stanley and Sarah Colwell. Lovely. The unpaid contributors to the G's YourHub wank-fest are really gonna have to kick it up a notch to fill in the gaps. Today's 12-page YourHub Central insert treats us to a preview of community journalism, G-style, leading with a piece on an animal masseuse, followed by a story on a woman said to be the nation's oldest living Girl Scout, a sampling of YourHub bloggers' thoughts (new softball league, how to repay helpful neighbors, ain't Palmer Park something?), a calendar and four pages of classifieds. Is there a Pulitzer Prize for banality? Small wonder that, as the Indy notes, the G's weekday circulation has plummeted 29 percent, from 102,531 in 1990 to 72,428 as of September 2006, while the number of households in El Paso County has increased 45 percent, to 213,661. A puppy being housebroken would refuse to shit on this rag, instinctively recognizing the act as redundant.

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That's just (im)peachy

  OK, so Bubba Clinton gets impeached for sticking it to an intern. Will Darth Cheney get impeached for trying to stick it to Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame? Nah. He's been sticking it to the world for years. What's one guy and a spy?

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Scooter Libby is full of shit

  You already know that, of course. But now a jury has confirmed it. The likelihood of his serving so much as a nanosecond in even a tennis prison is remote, however; if the appeals don't work, a presidential pardon sure as hell will.

  Meanwhile, Swobo bike goddess Sky Yaeger advises that the outfit's long-anticipated new bike line is available for purchase now and shipping in April. The Sanchez is a 700C fixed gear ($599); the Folsom is a 26-inch-wheel, coaster-brake-equipped one-speed ($499); and the Otis is a 26-inch-wheel three-speed with a rear coaster brake and front disc brake ($699). I've proposed a fourth model, the Libby Scooter, to be constructed entirely of organic materials (to wit, bullshit) and to be ridden only to jail, but I haven't gotten a contract faxed to me yet, so you may want to score one of the other models while they're all hot and poppin' fresh.

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March madness

  The temps crept all the way up into the high 40s today, and everybody and his grandma was out and about, trying to suck up a little vitamin D before the next round of evil weather hits. Mikey O'Stank, Dennis the Menace and I broke out the 'cross bikes and sampled the mud between Chez Dog and the bridge linking the AFA's south gate to Parade Loop. It was delightful, especially the icy bits. Much laundry thereafter and an abbreviated bike wash.

  The one person who was not out and about, to my knowledge, is Big Bill McBeef, who was AWOL from the K-9 Korps once again and is risking harsh disciplinary measures. Last weekend we banged on his door and remarked loudly and at length upon his many shortcomings, especially those related to sexual potency and preference. But he declined to rise to the bait, perhaps because he wasn't home.

  Some folks who are home — and looking for work — are the 23 staffers laid off Friday by the Gazette. The G shitcanned them and eliminated the equivalent of 10 more full-time positions in the name of trying to "balance an evolving media landscape with the company's financial goals," which is the sort of Orwellian doublespeak a publisher is prone to handing out after a couple of martinis. The guy could've said something straight up like, "The paper mostly sucks and nobody wants to read it or buy ads in it, so we're trying to fix the fucker so we can start making money again." But noooo.

  Here's a glimpse into the Bizarro World of daily newspapering from Mother Jones, which has done solid work on media consolidation in the past. Much of what is discussed here is of relevance when considering the Gazette's problems, although since it's part of a privately owned, neolibertarian chain we'll probably never know exactly who at the home office is squeezing the G or why. More on this later. I'm contemplating a "Winners & Sinners"-style review of next week's Gazette, just for the hell of it. And I'm looking forward to see what Ralph Routon makes of all this in this week's Colorado Springs Independent. See, we're both alumni of the G. And if you think it sucks today, you should've seen it back in the Seventies, when Ralph was the sports editor and I was an education reporter. Hijo, madre.

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In like a liar
"We'll get on top of this situation. We're going to help those that need help." — President George W. Bush, speaking on Sept. 2, 2005, regarding the Hurricane Katrina disaster

"The federal government stands by to help." — President George W. Bush speaking on March 1, 2007, regarding the tornadoes that hit Alabama, Georgia and Missouri

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In like a lion

  Herself got off work early last night, courtesy of February's final snowstorm. Alas, she was not so fortunate this morning — her educational institution was apparently the only one in the Pikes Peak region that wasn't on a two-hour delay, and thus off she went, on roads better suited to skating than driving.

  The feebs were playing bumper tag with a vengeance last night, according to the local journos. Herself was wondering why I-25 was empty as she drove gingerly home last night — seems a dozen vehicles stuffed it in Fountain after an 18-wheeler spilled its load of pipes all over Interstate 25, shutting it down like Darth Cheney's cranial arteries. Samey same up north at Larkspur, where a 40-vehicle pileup shut the I in both directions. They're smiling at the body shops today, Bubba. New bass boats, hot tubs and second homes are being ordered up like Happy Meals at Mickey D's.

  Here at Dog Central, meanwhile, cabin fever has me by the chamois with a downhill pull. So I bought a cheap camcorder to play with, which means you can expect more Videocy as soon as I puzzle out all its bells and whistles. A short QuickTime test drive starring Ike the Cat (a.k.a. Chairman Meow, Ho Chi Meow, Mary Tyler Meow, et al.) can be found here.

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February bids a frosty farewell

  It's snowing again, for fuck's sake. Judas Priest, will it never end? This is the Lord's judgment upon me for making shit out of Jan Ullrich to entertain feebs who who think unconditional love trumps critical reading skills. I did my penance, going out for a 40-minute run and coming home sheathed in ice. Later I have a fun wind-trainer ride scheduled in the cold, dark basement. Ain't nothin' but a party. Just ask Ho Chi Meow over there, who views with alarm as the white stuff stacks up outside the window.

  Elsewhere, the usual gang of eedjits have gotten themselves into a 20- or 30-car pileup near Larkspur, closing Interstate 25 in both directions. A word of advice to all you NASCAR wannabes with the "I'm Not Tailgating, I'm Drafting" bumper stickers on your Ford Probes: You are awarded extra stupidity points for gluing your grill to someone's bumper during a whiteout. These may not be exchanged for free brain surgery at the ER or a No. 3-shaped tombstone.

  In other news, Big Jonny of DrunkCyclist, apparently as bored shitless as I am, has posted a lengthy interview with me here. He recounts without rancor the time I accidentally crushed his hosting server via a cartoon I'd drawn for Bicycle Retailer & Industry News and generously makes no mention of the fact that the one time we went drinking together I cracked like a thousand-year-old rubber kept in a fat man's wallet. I blame Dick Cheney.

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Der Kaiser has had the schnitz

  Jan Ullrich has hung up his corset, saying he never cheated despite persistent rumors to the contrary, most of them coming from the Keystone Kops-style Operación Puerto inquiry, apparently headed by a Spanish graduate of the Inspector Clouseau Close Cover Before Striking School of Earning Big Pay Through Crime Detection at Home in Your Spare Time.

  Ullrich is something of a tragic figure. One Tour victory and he spent the next decade unraveling like a cheap sweater — partying like a college kid; getting busted for amphetamines and serving a six-month suspension; crashing his Porsche (into a bike rack, of all things) and then fleeing the scene; and famously struggling to stay at fighting weight. All this would've been hard enough to overcome, even for a dedicated, focused athlete, had he not been up against one of the most hard-headed cyclists ever to grace the international stage — Lance Armstrong, who played Ullrich like a cheap fiddle, annually slapping the "greatest threat" label on him and then stomping him like a fat roach in a tenement kitchen.

  When Ullrich crashed into a ditch during Stage 13 of the 2001 Tour, Big Tex sat up to wait for him. Some thought it a sporting gesture, but I thought it was more along the lines of a boxer waiting for his opponent to get up off the canvas so he could slug him a few more times. And when Ullrich extended his hand to Armstrong at the end of the next stage, conceding the Tour, it was clear to me that Armstrong's Jedi mind tricks had worked — the German would always think of himself as second best.

  After the Spanish inquisition tarred him, without anything even approximating legal success, Ullrich couldn't find a ride, probably because he continued to insist on his ponderous entourage despite the fact that he was no longer a two-wheeled rock star, but the velo-equivalent of a Holiday Inn crooner with a cheap Yamaha keyboard and a second-hand drum machine.

  Now Ullrich will be a "consultant and representative" for the second-tier Austrian Volksbank team. Maybe he's finally found his niche, serving as a good example of a bad example: "Don't do as I did, lads; do as I say."

  Late update: Hee haw. I pounded a few of the dents out of this and shipped it to VeloNews.com as a long-overdue rant and flushed out a ton of Ullrich fanboys screeching about my dastardly conduct in kicking the man while he's down. But I ask you: What's the point in getting someone down in the first place if you can't put the boots to him? Frankly, I always liked Ullrich, which may be why I picked on him so unmercifully for squandering his potential. I know an underachiever when I see one, having spent nearly 53 years hanging around with myself. Ullrich always comported himself in a sportsmanlike fashion, as a gentleman, and that in the end may have been his real Achilles heel. The adage about nice guys finishing last seems truer every day, in a world run exclusively by and for assholes. And what's the real difference between being the first loser and the last?

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  George Hincapie stuffed it in the early going of today's Amgen Tour, picked himself up, and just kept on keeping on — despite a broken left arm. Owie. In case you're wondering, if I break a bone typing some bullshit here, don't expect to hear from me until I'm back from the ER, where I will give the sawbones a fake name on account of I don't have any health insurance. Surprisingly, there are no "journalism doctors" who follow working scribes around in case one should get a paper cut or the hiccups.

  A reader noted today that the 'Toons link above displayed a scribble that was "long past its 'sell-by' date," and thusly shamed I updated it with a 2007 "Shop Talk" cartoon from Bicycle Retailer & Industry News. Everything else is still older than the 9/11 line Alfred E. Bush ("Worry!") trots out every time someone asks him what the fuck he thinks he's doing.

  Speaking of cycling and journalism, the usually unreliable sources whisper that former VeloNews editor Kip Mikler may have gotten inexplicably lost en route to his new job at SportsTravel magazine and somehow wound up at Bike, in which capacity we know not. Our scouts have their ears to the ground, but so far it's just hoofprints and horseshit. More as it develops. Meanwhile, Your Humble Narrator was recently interviewed by the fabulous Big Jonny of DrunkCyclist.com, and if he's half as crazy as I think he is it should be up on the site shortly. So keep one eye on DrunkCyclist and both hands on the keyboard. It ain't all bikes 'n' beers over there, is what I'm sayin'.

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Dog (not) at large

  Hm. Missed a few days, there, didn't we? Sorry 'bout that. I've been tugging on an oar over at the good ship VeloNews.com while the Amgen Tour of California gallops hither and yon, and it's taken up a sizable chunk of my free time, which is to say those hours not specifically designated for cycling and/or drinking. The goddamn tour has kept me up until midnight for three nights running, and the guys at Coaltrain Wine & Liquor are talking about adding a Patrick O'Grady Memorial Wing to the wine section.

  I've ridden the road the past couple days, on a 'cross bike with road rubber (the road bike is bolted to the Cateye trainer in the basement as insurance against any further incursions by winter). You ought to see the potholes we've got here in Bibleburg. Ted Haggard could have a dance party with a dozen gay hookers in some of these craters, had he not swiftly been "cured" of his unholy desire to be first-chair meat-whistle player in the Queen City of the Plains Meth Whorechestra.

  Elsewhere, you may have heard something about The Washington Post's investigation into how the Pentagon is supporting the troops by warehousing wounded grunts in a vermin-infested shitbag called Building 18 at Walter Reed, unless you were distracted by Britney's latest antics (shave head, get tattoos, enter/leave rehab, repeat). Here's Joe Galloway's take on it. To say that he's pissed is an epic understatement, on a par with calling Ms. Spears mildly confused.

  You think people might start paying some serious attention to the nation's real problems if George Armstrong Bush shaved his head, got a tattoo of Karl's lips on his ass and entered rehab? Nah. Me neither.

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Levi vs. the Trashman

  Big drama at the kickoff to the 2007 Amgen Tour of California. First we learn that last year's peloton was never tested for EPO; then former garbage-truck driver Jason Donald (Slipstream-Chipotle) slams the stinky lid on all the big boys save one — Discovery's Levi Leipheimer — during the prologue. Ain't nothin' but a party.

  The gang at VeloNews.com had some technical difficulties yesterday while trying to crank up live coverage of the prologue, but I'm told they have procured a new hamster, which has been properly medicated and is trotting along at speed in its wheel for Stage 1, from Sausalito to Santa Rosa, where my pals Chris Coursey and Loretta Esparza will be among the spectators. Maybe Tom Waits will turn up, too.

  Late update: Judas Priest. Levi goes down with 9 km to go after a T-Mobile stuffs it on a Santa Rosa traffic feature, taking out a third of the peloton, and finishes more than a minute down on the guys who stayed up front and kept the rubber side down. Nevertheless, the Powers That Be decide Levi can keep the leader's jersey, it being his hometown and all. This is the velo-equivalent of the Supremes deciding Al Gore deserved to be president after all because he couldn't have known that if he wasn't cautious about bending over in places like Florida, why, Jim Baker would bone him up the ass. Bullshit calls like this are why most Americans think calling cycling a sport is like equating a Rainbow Family gathering with a Boy Scout Jamboree.

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Blah, blah, blah

  The House has voted to pooh-pooh Gen. George Armstrong Bush's plans for Little Big Horn 2.0, but the Senate has once again declined to even discuss the topic. What a shameless gaggle of scabby-kneed whores we've chosen to conduct the nation's business. No, that's doing a grave disservice to whores, most of whom strive to give value for value received. The meanest two-bit flatbacker couldn't possibly be as mendacious, as calculating, as John McCain, who crunched the numbers and decided to skip the vote to campaign in Iowa, or Hillary Clinton, who refuses to confess that she fucked up when she voted to give Numbnuts the key to the gun safe. No, we're talking swine here, talking pigs straight out of Orwell who gobble endlessly at the public trough, grunting carefully scripted talking points and histrionically waving their manicured trotters at one another. Meanwhile, outside the sty, life continues to be nasty, brutish and short, especially if you're one of the suckers who ends his or her third tour of Iraq as a heap of bloody rags, meat and bone splinters. If we really cared about supporting the troops, we'd be running these feebs through the streets with pitchforks and cattle prods, or astride splintery rails in thick coats of tar and feathers.

  Speaking of Texas tinhorns and hogs at the trough, I had a taste for chile con carne the other day, bought the fixin's, and am cooking up a lazy man's organic weirdo variation on Mom's fabled San Antonio recipe as we speak. Here are the details for those of you who are staring down the barrel of another frosty day and in dire need of antifreeze:

1 lb. ground buffalo
1 lb. hot Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 28-oz. can tomatoes, undrained and chopped coarsely
2 6-oz. cans tomato paste
2 4-oz. cans chopped hot Hatch chiles
1 can black beans
1 can navy beans
2 cups beef broth
2 cups water
3-4 tbsp. medium Chimayo chile powder
1 tsp. ancho chile powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a 6-quart pot, then brown the meats over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes or until tender, then add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Stir in all remaining ingredients, barring the beans, and simmer uncovered 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding additional water as necessary. Add drained beans and simmer another 20 minutes. Serve in a wide bowl over the rice of your choice (I usually go for white) and sprinkle liberally with grated Black Diamond cheddar. If you like a little crunch with your chile add some Garden of Eatin' corn chips. Drink liberally (we're into the Laurel Glen Reds tonight).

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  Mark Morford cleanses his perverse soul a la Ted Haggard; Matt Taibbi takes a good, strong whiff of Barack Obama's bullshit; and Max Blumenthal takes a ride on John McCain's Forked Tongue Express.

  Late update: OK, I've been out of the loop for a spell, but has anyone else seen this? The inaugural Tour of California, sponsored by Amgen, didn't test riders for EPO? This is according to The New York Times, which says the sponsor is pissed:

A spokeswoman at Amgen, which had marketed its sponsorship as a way to educate people against improper use of its drug, expressed outrage at the failure to test for it, saying that the company had been repeatedly assured last year that EPO testing was done.

The spokeswoman, Mary Klem, said that when Amgen executives were informed of the oversight, they were angry and surprised. "Our understanding going into the race was that the test would be included," Klem said. "And we were told afterward that no rider tested positive for EPO or for any banned substances."

This year, the organizers of the race have agreed to test riders for EPO.


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St. Valentine's Day

  Nice day for machine-gunning someone in a garage. The storm that was stalking me yesterday snowed all over Santa Fe this morning, then chased me partway home — but not before I got a heapin' helping of breakfast burrito with egg and sausage smothered in green at Tia Sophia and a long soak at Ten Thousand Waves, where I collected snow on my sunburnt dome while slowly poaching everything south of my Adam's apple.

  Met Nick, the owner of Tia Sophia, over breakfast. It's a family op' that he's taken over, and so successfully that I couldn't detect the slightest hitch in their gitalong. It's still a place that cares about good food and friendly service, the kind of joint where you get sucked into a conversation or three regardless of whether you feel chatty (I learned a little something about the naturalist, writer and photographer E.P. Haddon over a second and third cup of coffee), and they remember you regardless of how infrequently you pop by. Like home, only better. My favorite editorial cartoonist, Pat Oliphant, is a regular, and he's apparently as gracious to the Tia Sophia gang as he was to me back in the Seventies when I met him at the Fine Arts Center in Bibleburg.

  Tia Sophia recently scored some airtime on The Food Network. We don't have TV here in Dogpatch, but if you do, keep an eye peeled for Giada's Weekend Getaways. The page I found only lists three airings, but you might get lucky. And if you don't, get yourself on down there and visit in person. That way you can eat.

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We return you now to this winter of our discontent

  This is what comes of taking the scenic route. After dicking around all yesterday in the motel and a java shop, laboring mightily to bring forth a mouse of a column for Bicycle Retailer, I wandered over toward Patagonia, where Jim Harrison winters, before finally driving to Las Cruces for a late night watching stupid shit on TV and rewriting that lame column with the assistance of a couple Mirror Pond Pale Ales. Today, after wasting a not-inconsiderable portion of the morning solving some e-mail issues, a storm entertained me nearly all the way to Santa Fe with heavy rain, snow and crosswinds. Glad I wasn't driving the VW Eurovan, the one I don't own yet. This Subaru flies low to the ground, but even it was taking a pretty good pummeling from the driver's side.

  Up north, Bibleburg is getting snow, too, and there could be a half-foot on the deck by the time I get home, assuming I get home. It's a five-hour drive on a good day, and I intend to decompress at Tia Sophia's and Ten Thousand Waves before I hit the road. So if you hear that I have died in some hideous auto accident and gone to Hell, you can blame hot green chile and even hotter water.

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On the road again

  Tent City has come down and I've left McDowell Mountain Park for a $100-a-night corporate box with a lid on it at the outskirts of Tucson. There is journalism to be done, and I require power, phone, TV, radio, wireless Internet connectivity, Mexican food at El Minuto, beer and a bed.

  Got out of Dodge just in time, almost. After running the past two days, I had considered repeating Thursday's workout, but the skies seemed ominous while my legs did not, so after one lap of the Granite-Bluffs-Pemberton-Granite loop (1:08, a personal best this trip) I tore off a quick lap around the Granite-Bluffs shorty and all of a sudden droplets were pinging off the glasses. I roared back to camp and started ripping it apart, but too late. I found myself breaking camp in a light rain, and I fear there are many dampish articles infesting the Silver Bullet ... many, many of them.

  Couple more chats with Charlie and Bob today. Charlie and I are on the same page politically, agreeing that public trials on charges of treason and war crimes would suit Daffy Bush and Elmer Cheney much more than cushy retirements on the public sugar tit. He says his bus was the only one at the dealer to sport a Kerry-Edwards sticker during his last refit, and he's shopping for something even more hair-raising to slap on the bumper. I recommended Evolvefish.com, home of the fabled WTF sticker at right.

  As for Bob, he was having trouble resetting his new Trek cyclo-computer, which mystified me, too. I suggested employing a hammer. Hey, it worked on Herself's sports watch when the fucker declined to stop beeping at odd hours.

  I'm trying to avoid peeking at The New York Times site until I've had a beer. God only knows what's waiting for me over there after a week in the desert.

  Late update: OK, I went to the NYT, but I studiously avoided reading any of the headlines and went straight to the Books section, where you can find a laudatory review of Jim Harrison's latest.

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Legends of the fallen

  Jim Harrison was interviewed on NPR's ""All Things Considered" last night. The man's agent must be blowing everyone of consequence on the East Coast. Harrison is hanging out at his casita in Patagonia, and I may just dash on down there for a peek once I'm tired of riding these trails, see what he likes so much about the place.

  Made two new best friends yesterday, Charlie and Bob, both of whom ride, albeit casually after enduring various and sundry medical complaints, which along with how much stuff costs seems to pass for conversation among the wealthy migraciones. Today's geezers don't wait for the tribe to push 'em out onto the ice floe — they buy a yacht and shove off all by themselves.

  Charlie, of Las Vegas, was a tri-geek before a multiple bypass; Bob, of Bend, Oregon, has a bum ticker and a bad back but took up cycling late in life anyway. Both are piloting mountain bikes around McDowell and found it odd that I'd tackle the trails on what amounts to a road bike with delusions of grandeur. I find it odd that a guy needs a personal Greydog to get around and about. Different strokes, as they say.

  Skipped riding today to give the nether quarters a chance to unclench (and the fore quarters a chance to meet a deadline). Instead, I did a short run up and down Scenic Trail, burning a piddly 597 calories in 55 minutes, or about what I ate for breakfast. I may take a hammer to this Polar before the week is over.

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Rolling blunder

  While I was burning a steak last evening some dipshit fool flying a Rube Goldbergian amalgamation that looked like an unholy alliance among a lawn chair, a hammock and a ceiling fan buzzed the campground. I thought about taking a photo, then thought again, as Captain Marvel was only about 25 feet off the deck. Why encourage some less-skilled would-be aviator to acquire a nutsack full of saguaro thorns? Might I be liable? Lord knows I have suffered heavily for other people's stupidity over the years, and expect to keep doing so whenever not busy wrestling my own idiocies, like riding a cyclo-cross bike on mountain-bike trails. In any case, the camera stayed in the bag.

  Old boy shows me his trailer after dinner. The one attached to his private Greydog. The one that holds his Jeep, fishing boat and woodworking shop. Ay, Chihuahua. Dude uses it as a studio for making cowboy art whenever he's not judging a horse show. This gig clearly pays better than bicycle journalism, as I'm livin' large in a two-person Eureka Timberlite that is not attached to a Subaru Forester or anything else, unless you count the Earth, and that tenuously.

  No run today, as I woke up wearing someone else's legs. Instead, I did 30 miles on the Granite-Bluff-Pemberton circuit. Big, big fun, lots better than staggering around on the ice back home. My know-it-all Polar tells me I burned 1805 calories, but the Descente bibs are as snug a fit as ever. Perhaps it's the beer, which for the aficionados among you is Dale's Pale Ale, which comes in cans like the miserable green rat piss everyone else drinks (no glass permitted in the campground).

  No pigs tonight, and the coyotes were silent for a change, too. Maybe they feared an aerial assault and like Charlie took to the tunnels as Rolling Thunder passed overhead.

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A visitation of swine

  Shot the pigs last night. Fearless little mothers, just like the coyotes. I named them George, Dick and Condi. They paid a courtesy call on every campsite on our side of the joint. This place is a petting zoo.

  Stayed up not too late, drinking beer and watching contrails from Sky Harbor-bound jets blend with the tangerine hydrocarbon glow of Phoenix and the lesser lights of Fountain Hills. The hairless ape has dragged his grubby fingers across God's blue ceiling. I listened to KJZZ on my little Sony radio, feeling stupidly superior to all the yahoos watching TV in their diesel shitboxes. They have generators and microwaves, I have a candle lantern and a two-burner propane stove. We all enjoyed the pigs. Go figure.

  Another dawn reveille followed by a 45-minute run up Granite, across Stoneman Wash and back. Finally figured out the new Polar HRM, kinda, sorta. I forgot to shut off the target-zone alarm before starting and the fucker drove me batshit with its incessant beep beep beep. Made in China now, like everything else, including many Chinese.   After a slightly massive breakfast I took another 90-minute recon', this time checking out the Granite-Bluff link to Pemberton and then riding Pemberton back to Granite, to Bluff, and then back to Granite for a downhill run to the barn. Haven't found anything I can't ride on a 'cross bike, never you mind how slowly. Tomorrow I plan to skip the run and go for a longer ride, a couple-three hours, now that I've rebooted my memory of the McDowell Mountain trail network.

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Pigs, coyotes and a dog

  Dreamed I saw Jennifer Aniston without her makeup on and woke up screaming. This is what comes of soaring with the pigs, as Hunter S. Thompson once noted. I was a few drams into a fine desert evening when I heard some snuffling and grunting just outside the small circle of light cast by my lantern. It wasn't one of my other, less savory personalities — it was a six-pack of mini-pigs, javelinas, just like the bunch (herd? gaggle? pod?) I saw here last year. But there wasn't enough beer for all of us, so they moved on.

  It always amazes me how casually the critters that belong here — pigs, coyotes, buzzworms — handle this seasonal invasion of pasty peckerwoods from frigid climes, ramrodding everything from Subaru Foresters to what appear to be wheeled aircraft carriers. The coyotes couldn't have cared less about the couple who drove 200 yards from their fifth wheel to the crapper twice a day, or the diesel dickhead who cranked up his PowerStroke around bedtime and brought it back home about 2 a.m. But I did, so come morning I ripped the tent out of the ground and moved south to a quieter area full of bicycle people and other riff-raff. But first I inhaled a quart of java and a snack and went on a 45-minute run along Granite Trail.

  After a second snack and some water, I broke out the Steelman and went on a recon' of Pemberton Trail that took about an hour and a half on account of I haven't ridden a bike that wasn't attached to a wind trainer in the better part of quite some time. McDowell Mountain Regional Park has had some precip' this winter, and the trail was better in some spots, worse in others. The wildlife included one road runner, a trio of mountain bikers ("Hey, a cyclo-cross bike!", one horseman, a hiker, a few more scattered mountain bikers and a couple of the coyotes that serenaded me last night between flights with the pigs. Clearly nobody is shooting at these critters; seems likely some fleawit is feeding them. Very cute until the sneaky little fuckers carry off Pookie the peke-a-poo to shrieks of outrage from the wifey. No more checks to the World Wildlife Fund from the bereaved parents.

  There is substantial evidence here of people with more money than me, which violates O'Grady's Law of Economic Justice ("Anyone who makes more than me makes too fucking much."). Maybe I should put wheels on the house and tow it out here next year. The black, pop-top Sportsmobile I saw last year is back again, along with a few jillion dollars worth of private buses. Perhaps Jennifer Aniston is in one of them, putting on her face.

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Lord, I'm southbound

  After enduring another sweaty ride to nowhere in the basement, with cadence dictated by "The Allman Brothers Band: A Decade of Hits, 1969-1979," I stuffed the Subaru full of electronica, sporting goods and strong drink and fled south, with an eye toward a few days of cyclo-crossing in the Arizona desert. Retarded? Yes, especially since the temps in Bibleburg hit the low 50s while I was loading up, the first time we've seen numbers that high in quite a while (ours have been well below even The Escalator's). But since warmer weather meant water and mud instead of ice and snow, I hopped in, twisted the key and hit the road, leaving Herself and Chairman Meow in charge and a slew of e-mails unanswered. There's a shot of a happy Dog to right, an homage to m'boy Masiguy, who does a Daily Drive shot on his blog. My commute's gonna be a little longer than his, though; about 13 hours' worth.

  Winter vanished at speed with my foot in the firewall, or so I thought until I got south of Pueblo. Between Colorado City and Walsenburg the wind had sent exploratory tendrils of ice and snow across the southbound lanes like slushy speed bumps, and my fellow motorists and I spent a few enjoyable miles slaloming from lane to lane at 75 per, trying to find the flat, dry spots. Saw a Lincoln sideways in the ditch, which failed to elevate my opinion of American vehicles and their operators. Good thing I had the bike inside the car instead of on the roof, even if things were a tad crowded. There was enough goo getting flung around for six snowball fights and a Johnny Wadd retrospective.

  By the far side of Raton Pass, the roads were dry again and I was catching "The Singing Wire" on KUNM out of Albuquerque. I always try to catch "the Wire" or "Native America Calling" when blazing through New Mexico; really makes you feel like you've crossed a border. By the way, in case you've screened "Dances with Wolves" a few times too often, most of the shout-out section involved hopes that the Bears would do well in the Stupor Bowl. A lot of disappointment in Indian country this morning. Jim Harrison, himself being big on bear medicine, must also be in mourning.

  The game was on at Second Street Brewery, which has undergone some renovation since I passed through last fall. The customers remain pretty much the same, though; nitwit hippies, white guys with dreadlocks and casual sports fans, all with a passion for the hops. When one chick got a little too enthusiastic about one of the Bears' rare displays of competence, a weirdo shouted, "Orgasm!" Hilarity ensued. More later.

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Sick of winter? Crave some heat? Visit scenic Baghdad

  Tom Lasseter of McClatchy offers another enlightening piece about what the troops think of Gen. George Armstrong Bush's Little Big Horn 2.0:

"What is victory supposed to look like? Every time we turn around and go in a new area there's somebody new waiting to kill us," said Sgt. 1st Class Herbert Gill, 29, of Pulaski, Tenn., as his Humvee rumbled down a dark Baghdad highway one evening last week. "Sunnis and Shiites have been fighting for thousands of years, and we're not going to change that overnight."

"Once more raids start happening, they'll (insurgents) melt away," said Gill, who serves with the 1st Infantry Division in east Baghdad. "And then two or three months later, when we leave and say it was a success, they'll come back."

  Some of the troops Lasseter talked to were from right here in Bibleburg, grunts from Fort Carson. I bet a bitter Colorado winter is looking pretty damn' good to those poor bastards right about now.

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Ice, ice, baby

  Two below zero. Another brisk half-hour of rearranging snow. Ain't nothin' but a party. A fellow sufferer at the chiropractor's office yesterday said he's lived here for 53 years and hasn't ever seen a winter like this one.

  It is a beaut'. Coloradans expect snow in Colorado come winter, but we're also accustomed to seeing it vanish like a federal budget surplus in the manicured hands of a Republican. It's just been too damn' cold to melt this year, and so every time I go out with broom and shovel, I'm adding to a pile that started accumulating back in December.

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Molly Ivins, 1944-2007

  Aw, shit. Just heard NPR announce that Molly Ivins has died. Son of a bitch. If more people had read in 2000 what she and Lou Dubose had written about the fucktard presently wiping his privileged, incompetent ass with this once-great country, we might have been spared this latest and greatest in an apparently endless series of long national nightmares. It is unkind indeed of God to snatch Molly up and leave us stuck with the faux cowpoke she dubbed "Shrub." A fierce opponent of Mr. All Hat No Cattle's splendid little war in Mesopotamia, Molly used her final column to urge her readers to "raise hell."

Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"

  That would be the best possible memorial we could raise to her. Nevertheless, The Texas Observer insists on sending her off in a more literary style here. Adios, Molly. You will be missed. Give H.L. Mencken, Hunter S. Thompson and Ed Abbey my regards.

  Update: I'm up late, drinking tots of Bushmills to ward off stomach bugs, the cold and whatever evil spirit came to carry off Molly Ivins, and stumbled across this fond remembrance from John Nichols of The Nation, which like The Texas Observer will be paying its respects over the next few days. KRCC is playing The Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl," which I'd like to call pertinent to this discussion, but something from Kinky Friedman might've been more appropriate. Or not.

  Meanwhile, down here among the living, Bibleburg has been blessed with still more snow to camouflage the black ice lurking on street and sidewalk. I'd planned to drive to the People's Republic today to buy outgoing VeloNews editor Kip Mikler a drink or six in celebration of his final day in the barrel, but Odin apparently had other ideas. A bleak day indeed. Plus Herself has some class of stomach bug and requires periodic deliveries of ginger ale, chicken soup, sympathy and extra blankies.

  I believe I'm just about over the whole winter thing. It's no longer useful (not enough snow to ski on), downright dangerous (damn' near killed myself on black ice the last two times I went running), and fuckin' cold (13 degrees right now at 10:30 p.m. local time). I've ridden the Cateye wind trainer twice in the past two days, and you know how I feel about that. Ask W how much he liked Molly kicking him in his undersized nutsack with those size-11 dogs of hers. Samey-same.

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Bicycling is an inherently dangerous sport

  Especially if a camera moto clips an unweighted plastic barricade and sends it spinning into your path at the cyclo-cross world championships. Jesus, no wonder Bart Wellens wants to sue everybody and his mama. He went down like a crack whore who smoked her last rock yesterday and took Sven Nys with him. The UCI, naturally, will blame Lance Armstrong.

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The Monday Morning Movie

  And now, for something completely different: My video response to the response to my video response to the State of the Union address:

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Silver for Compton, Page

  A tip of the Mad Dog Media tuque to local fave Katie Compton and Jonathan Page, who both won silver medals today at 'cross worlds in Belgium. Three silvers ain't too damn' shabby for the Yanks, who get little support from their national federation when they cross the pond to duke it out with the Belgians on their soggy turf. And it's a particularly powerful performance by Compton, who was racing only her second international event.

  Bart Wellens, meanwhile, comes off as something of a prick in the Cyclingnews.com recap. "Even though I had the best legs of the season I couldn't do much more than what I did. The jersey went to the wrong person, he shouldn't have won it even though he's a teammate. He deserves to be on the podium but the other guys don't," Wellens said. In his defense, it should be noted that he got taken down in what sounds like an epically stupid crash, but still, damn — save the venom for the nitwit driving the TV moto and spare the lucky guys who kept the rubber side down.


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Silver for Summerhill

  Chapeau to Danny Summerhill, who just missed winning the juniors race at the UCI cyclo-cross world championships in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium. Summerhill stuffed it in a muddy bit with two laps to go, but fought back to take silver.

  Here in Bibleburg, the issue is not mud, but snow. Yes, it's snowing again, and the novelty has worn off. I want sunshine and 60 degrees, thank you. I'll take it now.

  One of my favorite authors, Jim Harrison, is enjoying some time in the sun, literally as well as figuratively. He's encamped in his winter hidey-hole in Patagonia, Arizona, and simultaneously splashed all over The New York Times. Here's an essay on poetry; here's an interview; and here's a short video. The occasion is the release of Harrison's latest novel, Returning to Earth, which my fellow literary critic Hal Walter describes as not exactly a page-turner but a must-have nonetheless.

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Mud and blood

  Heavy duty coming up this weekend. We have the UCI cyclo-cross world championships in Belgium (see previews here and here) and a massive antiwar rally in DeeCee (see a preview here). Not much in the mainstream media about either, more's the pity. Wonder if The Escalator will order the Pentagon's new zap gun demo'd on the demo?

  Not much in the MSM about Molly Ivins' breast cancer, either. It's the third diagnosis for the author of "Shrub," according to Editor & Publisher, and she apparently has been hospitalized. Get well soon, Molly, we need you on the barricades.

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Radio face

  My latest, timid, one-toe-at-a-time excursion into the scalding waters of multimedia, a video response to The Bipartisan (formerly The Decider) and his Snake of the Union address, drew a response that I considered better suited to The Bipartisan (formerly The Decider) and his Snake of the Union address — which is to say almost none at all, barring the gentle reviews that parents of retards give to their children (Hi, Mom! Hi, Mrs. Bush!).

  In my own defense, I will say only that I was working with substandard talent (Hi, Mom! Hi, Mrs. Bush!) and inferior equipment (a Canon PowerShot SD600 Digital Elph that will shoot short .avi video segments which are absolutely uneditable in iMovie or in any other hoary bit of software that's been lying doggo in the two or three thousand computers infesting this house like ghosts of technology past). Plus like Barbara's nitwit crotch-dropping, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But at least I didn't kill anybody, unless they died of boredom, which seems unlikely. The clip was only 24 seconds long, f'chrissakes. Some of us have been buying Junior's act a lot longer than that, and the payments jus' keep on a-comin'.

  Meanwhile, we had some meltdown here in Bibleburg, so I went out and squished around in my Sauconys for a while, because unlike my bicycles they fit into the washing machine. And the real news is that a fine local eatery, Sencha, will devolve into an Arby's. There is a certain symmetry in this — the place used to be a Jack in the Box, patronized by impoverished journos and stoners who used to talk to the clown as if it were a real person. Plus a couple friends of ours did the drive-through naked once. I won't mention any names (Hi, Mom! Hi, Mrs. Bush!).

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More on the Snake of the Union

  AlterNet's Joshua Holland provides a quick, unsympathetic recap. McClatchy's Steven Thomma gives the hee-haw to the notion that The Decider has suddenly developed a bipartisan streak. The Nation's David Corn examines the opposing messages sent by Bush and Webb. Greg Palast notes that Big Oil and Big Brother stand to gain the most from the Cheerleader-in-Chief's plans to crack down on illegal immigration and double the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And finally, Randy Newman — yes, that Randy Newman — weighs in with a musical review.

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Special Report: A Dog's-Eye View of The State of the Union 2007

  Meanwhile, a tip of the Mad Dog stingy-brim to Jim Webb, who said pretty much the same thing, albeit much more eloquently. He disassembled Alfred E. Bush ("Worry!") like a defective M-16.

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The Brain Mutiny

  Capt. George W. Queeg will skulk onto the bridge at 9 p.m. tonight to deliver the latest in a series of mumbling monologues, fed by Teleprompter and periodically interrupted by metronomic applause from GOP robots, and the TV audience will consist almost entirely of the press, which gets paid to watch bad theater. Nearly everyone else with a brain unimpaired by tumor or trauma will find more valuable ways to waste his or her time. The Escalator's popular support has fallen to levels unseen since the glory days of Carter and Nixon, and hints dropped about the puny handful of proposals he plans to make have drawn howls of outrage from both sides of the aisle.

  Iraq will eat up about half of this 40-minute laundry list of non-accomplishments, and ain't that good news? Eighty-eight dead and 160 wounded in a market bombing yesterday. Can't wait to see how the Cheerleader-in-Chief spins that one. ("As of yesterday, we have 88 fewer Iraqis for our troops to keep track of.")

  Jim Webb will deliver the Donks' response this evening. And I'll have a little something to add, too. So don't touch that dial.

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Getting shirty in Oz

  Since when is Australia a colony of the United States? Qantas kept a passenger from boarding a flight from Melbourne to London because he was wearing a T-shirt bearing the image of The Escalator (Formerly Known as The Decider) and the legend, "World's No. 1 Terrorist." Qantas should lose that cuddly koala and hire themselves a toad as their corporate critter.

  Meanwhile, is anyone besides me getting weary of the giddy jabber about who might be the next president? Seems to me we're still afflicted with the old one, like a wicked case of herpes with beady eyes and a B-movie Texas accent, and he will be soiling the public airwaves tomorrow with a thing called "The State of the Union," a bit of content-free oratory reminiscent of Principal Poop's pep-rally address to the students of Morse Science High on The Firesign Theatre's "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers." Only not as witty. I can't wait.

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The mark of the Beast

  Dunno how I managed to overlook The Beast in all my years as a digital hobo, but I'm delighted to finally have made its acquaintance. These people are at least as vicious as I am, and maybe more so.

  And so, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to The Beast's 50 Most Loathsome People in America. Thanks and a tip of the Mad Dog propeller beanie to John Andrews.

  Chapeau, too, to Jonathan Page, Ryan Trebon and Katie Compton, all three of whom cracked the top 10 at today's World Cup race in the Netherlands. Page was sitting fifth until the wicked cold caused him to run down like a cheap battery, dropping him to ninth on the day, just ahead of Treefarm. Kudos as well to Sarah Hammer, who is killin' 'em at the LA track World Cup.

  Here's a little news guaranteed to send a few United customers from simmer to boil: The airline is screwing anyone who hasn't flown, redeemed frequent-flyer miles or used their Mileage Plus Visa credit cards during the past 18 months. Says travel analyst Henry Harteveldt: "There will be some people who are very angry. But those probably aren't core United fliers. . . . If the customer isn't into United, why should United be into the customer?" Um, because that was part of the bargain, asshole. Changing the rules in the middle of the game isn't cricket. Besides, United is into all its customers the way a giant serial killer is into his 135-pound cellmate. I'd rather get shot out of a fucking cannon than fly United again.

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France is Crumby

  Ever wonder what happened to counterculture cartoonist R. Crumb after the Terry Zwigoff documentary that bears his name? He and wife Aline are doing comics in France. Crumb's latest project? Illustrating the biblical kickoff, the Book of Genesis. God must be so pleased. Writer Allen Salkin seems mildly shocked that two Sixties weirdos would have an open marriage, and I don't expect Crumb will find his take on their expat existence worth the pixels it's printed on. Still, it's a postcard of sorts from the edge. The New York Times also brings word of a revised edition of the "Letters of E.B. White," one of my favorite essayists, reviewed by another writer whose wordplay I admire, Roy Blount Jr.

  Elsewhere, presidential candidates are popping up like pimples on a powerlifter's shoulders. Hillary is "the front-runner," if you're an elitist media turd who never leaves Noo Yawk or DeeCee and thus haven't heard that your average heartland 'Murkin would rather see Spongebob Squarepants in the Oval Office. It's gonna be a long couple of years.

  And here in snow-shrouded Bibleburg, I've managed to share my Tennessee bug with Herself, who has spent the day on the couch taking nose dope, honking out booger-biscuits and watching "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill." Another vat of chicken soup is indicated. Good thing I don't take drugs anymore. A 24-hour Claritin-D is enough to scramble my circuits these days. I feel like a flock of wild parrots has taken up residence in my skull. Skrawwwk awwwwk rawwwkkk.

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Idle hands

  There's nothing like being sick, cold and bored to set a guy to dicking around with a perfectly good website. I found a font I didn't know I had over on the iBook, so I used it to build a new flag (above) and then croaked a little of the homepage's wasted space by dropping it into the left-hand column of my little table of testiness here. And I popped up a lukewarm rant over at VeloNews.com. Woo hoo, ain't nothin' but a party.

  I'll say one thing for this Tennessee bug: The sumbitch is tougher 'n' whang leather. I've sent everything from pseudoephedrine sulfate to chicken soup to tequila against it, and it's still dug in like the Nips on Iwo Jima with a full magazine of snot-rockets. I'm going through Kleenex the way Alberto "The Coconut" Gonzales does U.S. attorneys. I should pop by the El Paso County Republican Party headquarters and spit on all the doorknobs.

  Meanwhile, here's some good news from the front. Seems the Kurds don't want to fight for a fictional Iraqi democracy in the streets of Baghdad and are deserting in droves. Says one: "The fanatic Sunnis in Baghdad kill the Shiites, and vice versa. Both of them are outraged against the Kurds. They will not hesitate to kill us and accuse us of being collaborators with the occupiers. How can we face them alone?"

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  Writer Art Buchwald has typed his last. Chapeau to the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, humorist and political satirist who went to hospice expecting to die, then confounded the doctors by surviving, refusing dialysis for diabetes, returning home to Martha's Vineyard, and penning a final book. His son called it "a victory lap," and indeed it was.

  Elsewhere, among the less beloved, Alfred E. Bush ("Worry!") has reached a new low: He is less popular than Darth Cheney, if a Fox News poll is to be believed. And it's all downhill from here:

Poll: Bush Less Popular Than the Clap

Bush Loses Ground to Child Molesters, Necrophiliacs

Survey Finds Bush Less Popular
Than Satan's Leathery Ballsack

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I know it's true 'cause I saw it on TV

  That old John Fogerty tune from "Centerfield" came to mind when I saw Kevin Drum's clip of Alfred E. Bush's NewsHour chat with Jim Lehrer:

Lehrer: Let me ask you a bottom-line question, Mr. President. If it is as important as you've just said — and you've said it many times — as all of this is, particularly the struggle in Iraq, if it's that important to all of us and to the future of our country, if not the world, why have you not, as president of the United States, asked more Americans and more American interests to sacrifice something?....

Numbnuts: Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night.

  Fogerty, of course, was singing about Nixon, Watergate and Vietnam when he wrote "I Saw it On TV," which includes the lines:

The old man rocks among his dreams, a prisoner of the porch;
The light, he says, at the end of the tunnel,
Was nothin' but a burglar's torch.
And them that was caught in the cover are all rich and free,
But they chained my mind to an endless tomb
When they took my only son from me.

  Sure am glad to see how things have changed since those good old days.

  Meanwhile, David Leonhardt of The New York Times gives us some idea of what we could be buying — improved national security, a doubling of cancer-research spending and universal preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old American kid — if we weren't pissing away the national treasury, past, present and future, in Mesopotamia.

  Elsewhere, from the Unfortunate Choice of Words Department comes this gem from White House mouthpiece Tony Snow: ''The president has obligations as a commander in chief,'' he said. ''And he will go ahead and execute them.''

  And finally, this tells you everything you need to know about how hip the White House press corps is. From Stephen Colbert to Rich Little? Puh-leeze. This is like asking Yanni to follow Metallica.

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Southern discomfort

  OK, I'm back in the saddle again after a whirlwind tour of Tennessee with Herself, visiting kinfolk. We drank corn likker, played banjo, and followed these river rafters down deep into the woods, where . . . well, the less said about that, the better, eh? Especially since some of these people can read, and some of them read this site. Just kiddin', y'all. Puttin' on a show for the city folk, is what. Tell Mammy Yokum to unload that musket.

  Our little jaunt to the Volunteer State required air travel, which I loathe, and this trip only served to confirm my deepest, darkest suspicion — United only hires people who were sacked from animal shelters for being a little too eager to use the old needle. ("Another puppy? Fuck 'im, we got a thousand more where he came from. Stuff the little bastard in this sack fulla kittens and dump 'em in the creek while I twist the heads off these baby bunnies. I got a hot lunch date with a prison guard.")

  On the way out, we spent five or six hours inspecting Concourses F and E at Chicago-O'Hare as our departure time got pushed back 10 minutes here, a half hour there. On the way back, we sat on our hands for three hours in Knoxville and for three or four hours more in O'Hare, with three gate switches thrown in for good measure. In between we enjoyed in-flight accommodations based on seating devised by Torquemada during the Spanish Inquisition. Not exactly the fun that surpasseth the proverbial barrel of monkeys, especially when you consider what they were charging for strong drink at Chili's.

  The flight from O'Hare to Knoxville was the best part. Think about taking a long ride in the back of the Clampetts' truck with Granny, who's charging five bucks a crack for a pull from the jug. A gaggle of sneezing, hacking peckerwoods who were separated by a few rows kept waddling back and forth to hee-haw with each other and spread the wealth, virus-wise, and as a consequence I've been launching an endless magazine of snot-rockets for the past couple of days. Ain't nothin' but a party.

  Still, it wasn't all bad. We got a couple nice runs in along Emory Valley Road to Melton Lake and back while staying in Oak Ridge with Herself's mom. Other people unwisely picked up the checks for dinner and drinks, and if the latter drove them into Chapter 11, well, they'll know better next time. And I only had to cook once. The downside is, it apparently is a Tennessee tradition to make a Yankee wear a kitten whenever he surfs Al Gore's Internet. The documentation can be seen above, at right.

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A new member of the family

  Well, extended family, anyway. The mom-in-law in Tennessee has a new cat — a kitten, really, name of Argent, who is much cuter than George W. Bush, as you clearly can see for yourself.

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Regime change

  Regarding the Chickenhawk-in-Chief's speech last night: More meat for the Mesopotamian grinder is not a "strategy for victory." Write your local paper, call your congresspeople, fax the White House, tell these dithering yahoos that we've flushed enough men and money down this bloody crapper, thanks all the same. And that memo we sent back in November? Time to read it, y'all. We didn't send the thing as a party gag, y'follow me? Quit running for president and buckle down to the task at hand. And if impeachment is what it takes to bring some real change to this administration, well, bring it on, as the saying goes.

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Here comes the sun

  JeezWhiz cranked up the thermostat today, perhaps to remind us all that it will get hotter yet for Bibleburg preachers who kiss pee-pees with a forked, meth-stained tongue. Three storms' worth of snow started vanishing faster than the Clinton budget surplus in the greasy mitts of the Busheviks, and as a consequence the neighborhood cross-country skiing we've enjoyed lately was right out. Herself and I took a last whack at it on Saturday afternoon and it was like running on felt with a pair of really long Velcro shoes. So today I ran in the usual way, wearing a much shorter pair of Sauconys, short sleeves and lightweight tights, because skiing was impossible and riding would've been like getting a power washer full of lapidary grit up the bum.

  This is not to say that our extended winter is over, mind you. Another storm is due in Thursday or Friday, which may or may not be some class of celestial punishment upon our very red county for Alfred W. Bush's anticipated announcement of an escalation of the war in Iraq, never mind the thinking behind the results of the recently concluded midterm elections.

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Canned pussy

  Well, will you look at that? Someone has gone and thrown away a perfectly good cat. Not really. Jeez, you're so serious lately.

  Truth is, Herself — a lifelong cat person — occasionally takes pleasure in visiting little indignities on Chairman Meow, and today she put her in my office trash can, just 'cause, y'know, she can.

  This is a gratuitous exercise of power not unlike Capt. George W. Queeg's plan for Iraq, albeit on a much smaller scale, and involving only a single, perpetually disgruntled feline as opposed to 20,000 or so of our fellow citizens who made the potentially fatal mistake of being caught in uniform after family and friends hijacked the White House for this halfwit because he was bored with fucking up Texas and wanted to stretch himself a bit, try fucking up the whole country, maybe the world.

  And don't forget space. There's quite a bit of it, to be sure, but by jingo, if anyone can fuck it up, he's your man.

  The difference, of course, is that Herself really does love Chairman Meow, and Chairman Meow actually seems to enjoy being trifled with. It's a concept I have trouble wrapping my mind around. But then, I'm a dog person.

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Third time's a charm

  Oh, yeah, the courts, body shops and funeral homes are gonna be doing some business after today. The third snowstorm in three weeks has just dumped another half-foot or so on the local roads, which have gone largely unplowed (Bibleburg only clears the major arterials, kinda, sorta), and some of my fellow residents seem to have decided that (a) after two previous storms they feel like they can handle just about anything, or (b) they no longer give a shit and wish to go to JeezWhiz at once, or perhaps to someplace a little warmer. No skiing the streets for me today, nosirree. I'm off to Bonforte Park to slide around in circles for an hour or so. It's unlikely the most indifferent of motorists can drill me in the middle of a park.

  Late update: The skiing was big fun. No cars to speak of, just one unleashed dog name of Joey. I know this because his owners kept hollering, "JOEY!" at him as he gleefully churned my track into mush. Who cares? Dogs love snow the way Darth Cheney loves the tasty brains of freshly killed brown people. I spent 20 minutes laying out a circuit and then skied it twice more for a total of one hour on the boards. Now I'm stiffer than W at a press conference.

  Speaking of which, Numbnuts has started the music again and everyone is running around in circles, looking for a new chair. Juan Cole is optimistic; Kevin Drum is not. I'm in Kevin's camp. The problem is at the top of the chain of command, and we had our last chance to correct that back in 2004, unless you believe in the Impeachment Fairy.

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Countdown to 2008

  The conventional wisdom, as articulated by Robert Parry, Dan Froomkin and others, seems to be that the Chickenhawk-in-Chief plans to somehow stuff another 20,000 or so servicepeople into the Mesopotamian meat grinder in hopes of (a) "getting the job done," whatever the hell that means today, or (b) avoiding a final ignominious defeat until he's safely out of office and back in Crawford, leafing through his comic-book collection with an eye toward fleshing out his presidential library. Nobody wants this, barring W's handlers, but that's where we're headed, if you believe what you read.

  So what do We the People do? Sit back and watch something else on TV while we wait on a marginally Democratic Congress to use its power of the purse to cut off funding for the neocons' splendid little war, with a presidential election already well under way? That sounds like staying up way past midnight on Christmas Eve, hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus as he clambers down the chimney. March on DeeCee with torches and pitchforks? Not much use against Abrams tanks, assuming any are still both Stateside and functional. Any ideas out there? Send 'em to Alfred E. Bush ("Worry!") at president@whitehouse.gov. Or just mail 'em to yourself, 'cause Numbnuts plans on opening your mail.

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Gerald Ford still dead; film at 11

  Good God, old Jer' gets around better dead than I do alive. From California to DeeCee to Michigan — damn, it's all I can do to get from the house to the grog shop and back, and I'm still alive, kinda, sorta. 'Course, I do have to handle my own travel arrangements and buy the gas.

  While we're on the topic, Ford is not only a better traveler than me, he's a better president dead than W is alive. Jer' hasn't fucked a single thing up since he croaked on Dec. 26, which is more than I can say for The Waffler (Formerly Known as the Decider). In fact, I'd go so far as to bet that if we could have a do-over of the 2004 elections, with a choice among Bush-Cheney, Kerry-Edwards and Ford-Dole, the electorate would go solidly for the latter, if only to send Numbnuts off into one of his stuttering rages punctuated with obsolete talking points about "victory," "cut-'n'-run" and how "the enemy hates our freedom."

  W's latest fall guy looks to be Gen. George Casey, if you believe The New York Times. The accelerating disintegration of Iraq is apparently all Casey's fault now, though both Alfred E. Bush and Darth Cheney have repeatedly praised the general for his commitment to — wait for it — "victory." Ay, Chihuahua.

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Happy New Year!
My head hurts, my feet stink, and I don't love JesusJimmy Buffett

  Here we go again. Another year in the barrel. I take solace from an observation by one of Mr. Buffett's erstwhile drinking buddies, Thomas McGuane: "I am on top of the earth and I don't work for the government."

  This is not to say that I am spared disappointment, however. I awakened this morning to learn that Bill Gates has not seen fit to supply me, free of charge, with a brand-new Acer Ferrari laptop running Windows Vista, though he apparently has laid same on any number of nameless dickweeds who blog about technology, photography and parenting. O, the shame. I could actually use one, too, because a website I help maintain has an allergy to the current Mac OS but likes the so-called "Classic" OS and Windoze just fine.

  That Stone Age technology should constrain my talent for le mot juste is an insult not to be borne. Does Jeff Gordon drive a Yugo? C'mon, Bill, be a buddy. I'm not above taking a bribe. Whip a laptop on me and I'll write something snarky about Steve Jobs and his faggy black turtlenecks during the MacWorld Expo.

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