Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Our time is up


To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II:

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect: (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

1. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour', 'favour', 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise'. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').

3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as 'like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as US English. We will let M*crosoft know on your behalf. The M*crosoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize.

4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

7. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

8. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

9. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

10. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting Nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

11. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

12. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body Armour like a bunch of nancies). Don't try Rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.

13. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

14. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

15. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

16. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gardening report for May

We planted more herbs in the street garden this past weekend: pineapple sage, a curry plant, mother of thyme and Mexican coriander. The tarragon, lavender and rosemary are doing great. As is the basil.

For each herb we have in the street garden in the front yard, we are also growing the same herb up on the roof for our own private stash. This is in case any neighbors get greedy and take the whole plant downstairs. So far, so good.

Ah, the mother of thyme smells incredible. Still no good smell-o-vision programs out there.

We also laid down a lot of rocks in the street garden to serve as borders. Maybe this will convince the neighbors to keep their dogs out of there.

Some bad news: our Early Girl tomato plants are showing signs of Blossom-End Rot. It ain't pretty. The part of the tomato opposite the stem gets discolored and starts to disintegrate. It's not an organism that causes this, it's environmental: either not enough water, too much water, too much or not enough fertilizer. Our first two tomatoes got it. They turned a beautiful shade of red, but that black crap on the bottom ain't pretty.

Some say you can cut off the bad part and eat the rest, but elsewhere I see that blossom-end rot can affect the whole fruit and you should not eat it. Typical. You can often find one website to say one thing, and another to contradict it.

Better safe than sorry, so we cut the bad fruits off and discarded them. Now we see the same thing happening to another couple of green tomatoes. Damnit. So far, no sign of this problem on the Big Boy tomato plants. Crossing our fingers. This also affects eggplants, and we finally have our first couple of eggplants forming.

Cut off a pretty large cucumber for dinner this evening, and we have several more coming. These are "salad bush" cucumbers from Burpee.

The new green beans (Bush Lake 47 and Bush Derby) are sprouting! As are the Health Kick Hybrid (tomatoes) and the Sugar Bon snap peas. I'm having a weird thing going on with my focus control on my digital camera where a lot of the shots are out-of-focus. Need to fix that before I post any of those.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

McClellan finds a speck of courage, finally

Ex-spokesman McClellan gives harsh review of Bush

WASHINGTON — In a book due out Monday, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan offers a blistering review of the administration and concludes that his longtime boss misled the nation into an unnecessary war in Iraq.

"History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided — that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder," McClellan wrote in What Happened, due out Monday. "No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact."

"What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary," he wrote in the preface.

The book, which drew a no comment from the White House on Tuesday night, comes from an Austinite picked by the president and paid by the people to help sell the war to the world. The volume makes McClellan the first longtime Bush aide to put such harsh criticism between hard covers. It is an extraordinarily critical book that questions Bush's intellectual curiosity, his candor in leading the nation to war, his pattern of self-deception and the quality of his advisers.

"As a Texas loyalist who followed Bush to Washington with great hope and personal affection and as a proud member of his administration, I was all too ready to give him and his highly experienced foreign policy advisers (haha!) the benefit of the doubt on Iraq," McClellan wrote. "Unfortunately, subsequent events have showed that our willingness to trust the judgment of Bush and his team was misplaced."

McClellan worked for Bush from 1999, when he signed on as a deputy in the governor's press office, until 2006, when he was forced out as White House press secretary.

"President Bush has always been an instinctive leader more than an intellectual leader. He is not one to delve into all the possible policy options -- including sitting around engaging in extended debate about them -- before making a choice," McClellan wrote. "Rather, he chooses based on his gut and his most deeply held convictions. Such was the case with Iraq."

In an interview Tuesday, McClellan said he retains great admiration and respect for Bush.

"My job was to advocate and defend his policies and speak on his behalf," he said. "This is an opportunity for me now to share my own views and perspective on things. There were things we did right and things we did wrong. Unfortunately, much of what went wrong overshadowed the good things we did." (Good things? Like, uh, what, exactly? Besides bankrupting the Treasury and giving no-bid contracts to all his buddies?)

He said the Bush administration fell into the "permanent campaign" mode that can cripple a White House and has tainted much of Washington.

In the book — subtitled Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception — McClellan said that Bush's top advisers, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "played right into his thinking, doing little to question it or cause him to pause long enough to fully consider the consequences before moving forward," according to McClellan.

"Contradictory intelligence was largely ignored or simply disregarded," he wrote.

In Iraq, McClellan added, Bush saw "his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness," something McClellan said Bush has said he believes is only available to wartime presidents. (What a pinhead!)

The president's real motivation for the war, he said, was to transform the Middle East to ensure an enduring peace in the region. But the White House effort to sell the war as necessary due to the stated threat posed by Saddam Hussein was needed because "Bush and his advisers knew that the American people would almost certainly not support a war launched primarily for the ambitions purpose of transforming the Middle East," McClellan wrote.

"Rather than open this Pandora's Box, the administration chose a different path -- not employing out-and-out deception, but shading the truth," (BULLSHIT!) he wrote of the effort to convince the world that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, an effort he said used "innuendo and implication" and "intentional ignoring of intelligence to the contrary."

"President Bush managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option," McClellan concluded, noting, "The lack of candor underlying the campaign for war would severely undermine the president's entire second term in office."

Bush's national security advisers ("highly experienced," remember?) failed to "help him fully understand the tinderbox he was opening," McClellan recalled.

"I know the president pretty well. I believe that, if he had been given a crystal ball in which he could have foreseen the costs of war — more than 4,000 American troops killed, 30,000 injured and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis dead — he would never have made the decision to invade, despite what he might say or feel he has to say publicly today," McClellan wrote.

In a summation, McClellan said the decision to invade Iraq "goes to an important question that critics have raised about the president: Is Bush intellectually incurious or, as some assert, actually stupid?"

"Bush is plenty smart enough to be president," he concluded. (McClellan can't be right about everything) "But as I've noted his leadership style is based more on instinct than deep intellectual debate."

McClellan also expresses amazement that Bush seemed flummoxed by a query by NBC's Tim Russert in February 2004 as to whether the invasion of Iraq was "a war of choice or a war of necessity."

"It strikes me today as an indication of his lack of inquisitiveness and his detrimental resistance to reflection," McClellan wrote, "something his advisers needed to compensate for better than they did."

McClellan tracks Bush's penchant for self-deception back to an overheard incident on the campaign trail in 1999 when the then-governor was dogged by reports of possible cocaine use in his younger days.

The book recounts an evening in a hotel suite "somewhere in the Midwest." Bush was on the phone with a supporter and motioned for McClellan to have a seat.

"'The media won't let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,' I heard Bush say. 'You know, the truth is I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don't remember.'" (He was such a party animal and a drunk, this is no surprise.)

"I remember thinking to myself, How can that be?" McClellan wrote. "How can someone simply not remember whether or not they used an illegal substance like cocaine? It didn't make a lot of sense."

Bush, according to McClellan, "isn't the kind of person to flat-out lie." (Wrong again, Scottie.)

"So I think he meant what he said in that conversation about cocaine. It's the first time when I felt I was witnessing Bush convincing himself to believe something that probably was not true, and that, deep down, he knew was not true," McClellan wrote. "And his reason for doing so is fairly obvious — political convenience."

In the years that followed, McClellan "would come to believe that sometimes he convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment." McClellan likened it to a witness who resorts to "I do not recall."

"Bush, similarly, has a way of falling back on the hazy memory to protect himself from potential political embarrassment," McClellan wrote, adding, "In other words, being evasive is not the same as lying in Bush's mind." (Talk about PARSING!)

And McClellan linked the tactic to the decision to invade Iraq, a decision based on flawed intelligence.

"It would not be the last time Bush mishandled potential controversy," he said of the cocaine rumors. "But the cases to come would involve the public trust, and the failure to deal with them early, directly and head-on would lead to far greater suspicion and far more destructive partisan warfare," he wrote.

The book also recounts Bush's unwillingness or inability to come up with a mistake he had made when asked by a reporter to do so.

"It became symbolic of a leader unable to acknowledge that he got it wrong, and unwilling to grow in office by learning from his mistake — too stubborn to change and grow," McClellan concluded.

A page later, he recounts what he perceived as a moment of doubt by a president who never expresses any. It occurred in a dimly lit room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a room where an injured Texas veteran was being watched over by his wife and 7-year-old son as Bush arrived.

The vet's head was bandaged and "he was clearly not aware of his surroundings, the brain injury was severe," McClellan recalled. Bush hugged the wife, told the boy his dad was brave and kissed the injured vet's head while whispering 'God bless you' into his ear.

"Then he turned and walked toward the door," McClellan wrote. "Looking straight ahead, he moved his right hand to wipe away a tear. In that moment, I could see the doubt in his eyes and the vivid realization of the irrevocable consequences of his decision." (Still, he's too stubborn to ever admit a mistake. Prick!)

But, he added, such moments are more than counterbalanced by deceased warriors' families who urge him to make sure the deaths were not in vain. (Sorry, they're all in vain. But, if our brief foray into insanity with Bush results in Bush being jailed for war crimes or the whole Bush family being banished forever from politics, perhaps they will not have died in vain.)

McClellan's criticism of Rice — who he pegs as "hard to get to know" — is blistering.

"I was struck by how deft she is at protecting her reputation," he wrote. "No matter what went wrong, she was somehow able to keep her hands clean, even when the problems related to matters under her direct purview, including the WMD rationale for the war in Iraq, the decision to invade Iraq ././. and post-war planning and implementation of the strategy in Iraq."

McClellan predicts a harsh historical review of Rice.

"But whatever her policy management shortcomings, Rice knew public relations well. She knew how to adapt to potential trouble, dismiss brooding problems and come out looking like a star," he wrote. "Few performed better under the spotlight, glossing over mistakes with her effortless eloquence and understated flair."

McClellan brands Vice President Cheney as "the magic man" (aka "Satan") mysteriously directing outcomes in "every policy area he cared about, from the invasion of Iraq to expansion of presidential power to the treatment of detainees and the use of surveillance against terror suspects."

"Cheney always seemed to get his way," McClellan wrote.

The book is so critical that it becomes difficult to imagine a future scene that Bush predicted on the day that McClellan's forced resignation was announced.

"One of these days," Bush, with McClellan at his side, told reporters that day, "he and I are going to be rocking on chairs in Texas, talking about the good old days and his time as the press secretary. And I can assure you, I will feel the same way then that I feel now, that I can say to Scott, 'Job well done.'"

The whole sickening story is here. But you just read the whole, sad thing.

I hope you Republicans out there can someday admit to yourselves (and to the world) that YOU mis-trusted this disgraceful POS Bush. Bush is such a "good 'ol boy," and he has all these cutesy nicknames for everyone, how can you NOT like him? EASY! If you have just a SMIDGEN of an inquiring mind!

What is striking is that almost NONE of these Republicans who are defecting and now speaking out had ANY COURAGE whatsoever to speak the truth while they were IN THERE, when they MIGHT HAVE been able to make a difference.

COWARDS ONE AND ALL! No, they had to go along with the insanity, because they were in power. Fuck principles! They were in POWER! The ADULTS were in charge!

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Honor of Memorial Day

After defying odds, Marine loses final battle

He endured 100 surgeries after a 2005 roadside bomb in Iraq, stunning doctors with progress
Associated Press

The young Marine came back from the war, with his toughest fight ahead of him.

Sgt. Merlin German waged that battle in the quiet of a Texas hospital, far from the dusty road in Iraq where a bomb exploded, leaving him with burns over 97 percent of his body.

No one expected him to survive.

But for more than three years, he would not surrender. He endured more than 100 surgeries and procedures. He learned to live with pain, to stare at a stranger's face in the mirror. He learned to smile again, to joke, to make others laugh.

He became known as the "Miracle Man."

But just when it seemed he would defy impossible odds, German lost his last battle this spring — an unexpected final chapter in a story many imagined would have a happy ending.

"I think all of us had believed in some way, shape or form that he was invincible," says Lt. Col. Evan Renz, who was German's surgeon and his friend. "He had beaten so many other operations. ... It just reminded us, he, too, was human."

It was near Ramadi, Iraq, on Feb. 21, 2005, that the roadside bomb detonated near German's Humvee, hurling him out of the turret and engulfing him in flames.

When Renz and other doctors at the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio first got word from Baghdad, they told his family he really didn't have a chance. The goal: Get him back to America so his loved ones could say goodbye.

But when German arrived four days later, doctors, amazed by how well he was doing, switched gears. "We were going to do everything known to science," Renz says. "He was showing us he can survive."

Doctors removed his burn wounds and covered him with artificial and cadaver skin. They also harvested small pieces of German's healthy skin, shipping them off to a lab where they were grown and sent back.

Doctors took skin from the few places he wasn't burned: the soles of his feet, the top of his head and small spots on his abdomen and left shoulder.

Once those areas healed, doctors repeated the task. Again and again.

"Sometimes I do think I can't do it," German said last year in an Associated Press interview. "Then I think: Why not? I can do whatever I want." Renz witnessed his patient's good and bad days.

"Early on, he thought, 'This is ridiculous. Why am I doing this? Why am I working so hard?' " Renz recalls. "But every month or so, he'd say, 'I've licked it.' ... He was amazingly positive overall. ... He never complained. He'd just dig in and do it."

Slowly, his determination paid off. He made enormous progress. From a ventilator to breathing on his own. From communicating with his eyes or a nod to talking. From being confined to a hospital isolation bed with his arms and legs suspended — so his skin grafts would take — to moving into his own house and sleeping in his own bed.

Sometimes his repeated surgeries laid him up for days, and he'd lose ground in his rehabilitation. But he'd always rebound.

Even when he was hurting, he'd return to therapy — as long as he had his morning Red Bull energy drink.

"I can't remember a time where he said, 'I can't do it. I'm not going to try,' " says Sgt. Shane Elder, a rehabilitation therapy assistant.

That despite the constant reminders that he'd never be the same. The physical fitness buff who could run miles and do dozens of push-ups struggled, at first, just to sit up on the edge of his bed. The one-time saxophone player had lost his fingers. The Marine with the lady-killer smile now had a raw, ripple-scarred face.

Lt. Col. Grant Olbrich recalls a day in 2006 when he stopped by German's room and noticed he was crying softly. Olbrich, who heads a Marine patient affairs team at Brooke, says he sat with him awhile and asked: "What are you scared of?' He said, 'I'm afraid there will never be a woman who loves me.' "

Olbrich says that was the lowest he ever saw German, but even then "he didn't give up. ... He was unstoppable."

His mother, Lourdes, remembers her son another way: "He was never really scared of anything."

That toughness, says his brother, Ariel, showed up even when they were kids growing up in New York.

Playing football, German would announce: "Give me the ball. Nobody can knock me down." In nearly 17 months in the hospital, German's "family" grew. From the start, his parents, Lourdes and Hemery, were with him. They relocated to Texas. His mother helped feed and dress her son; they prayed together three, four times a day.

"She said she would never leave his side," Ariel says. "She was his eyes, his ears, his feet, his everything."

But many at the hospital also came to embrace German. Norma Guerra, a public affairs spokeswoman who has a son in Iraq, became known as German's "Texas mom."

She read him action-packed stories at his bedside and arranged to have a DVD player in his room so he could watch his favorite gangster movies.

She sewed him pillows embroidered with the Marine insignia. She helped him collect New York Yankees memorabilia and made sure he met every celebrity who stopped by — magician David Blaine became a friend, and President Bush visited.

"He was a huge part of me," says Guerra, who had German and his parents over for Thanksgiving. "I remember him standing there talking to my older sister like he knew her forever."

German liked to gently tease everyone about fashion — his sense of style, and their lack of it. Guerra says he once joked: "I've been given a second chance. I think I was left here to teach all you people how to dress." Even at Brooke, he color-coordinated his caps and sneakers.

German also was something of an entrepreneur. Back in high school, he attended his senior prom, not with a date but with a giant bag of disposable cameras to make some quick cash from those who didn't have the foresight to bring their own.

At Brooke, he designed a T-shirt that he sometimes sold, sometimes gave away. On the front it read: "Got 3 percent chance of survival, what ya gonna do?" The back read, "a) Fight Through, b) Stay Strong, c) Overcome Because I Am a Warrior, d) All Of The Above." D is circled. Every time he cleared a hurdle, the staff at Brooke cheered him on.

When he first began walking, Guerra says, word spread in the hospital corridors. "People would say, 'Did you know Merlin took his first step? Did you know he took 10 steps?' " she recalls. German, in turn, was asked by hospital staff to motivate other burn patients when they were down or just not interested in therapy.

"I'd say, 'Hey, can you talk to this patient?' ... Merlin would come in ... and it was: Problem solved," says Elder, the therapist. "The thing about him was there wasn't anything in the burn world that he hadn't been through. Nobody could say to him, 'You don't understand.' " German understood, too, that burn patients deal with issues outside the hospital because of the way they look.

"When he saw a group of children in public, he was more concerned about what they might think," says Renz, his surgeon. "He would work to make them comfortable with him."

And kids adored him, including Elder's two young sons. German had a habit of buying them toys with the loudest, most obnoxious sounds — and presenting them with a mischievous smile.

He especially loved his nieces and nephews; the feelings were mutual. One niece remembered him on a Web site as being "real cool and funny" and advising her to "forget about having little boyfriends and buying hot phones" and to concentrate on her education instead.

But he was closest to his mother. When the hospital's Holiday Ball approached in 2006, German told Guerra he wanted to surprise his mother by taking her for a twirl on the dance floor. Guerra thought he was kidding. She knew it could be agony for him just to take a short walk or raise a scarred arm.

But she agreed to help, and they rehearsed for months, without his mother knowing. He chose a love song to be played for the dance: Have I Told You Lately? by Rod Stewart.

That night he donned his Marine dress blues and shiny black shoes — even though it hurt to wear them. When the time came, he took his mother in his arms and they glided across the dance floor.

Everyone stood and applauded. And everyone cried. Clearly, it seemed, the courageous Marine was winning his long, hard battle.

Merlin German died after routine surgery to add skin to his lower lip.

He was already planning his next operations — on his wrists and elbows. But Renz also says with all the stress German's body had been subjected to in recent years, "it was probably an unfair expectation that you can keep doing this over and over again and not have any problems." The cause of his death has not yet been determined.

"I may no more understand why he left us when he did than why he survived when he did," Renz says. "I don't think I was meant to know."

As people learned of his death last month, they flocked to his hospital room to pay their last respects: Doctors, nurses, therapists and others, many arriving from home, kept coming as Friday night faded into Saturday morning.

German was just 22.

He had so many dreams that will go unrealized: Becoming an FBI agent (he liked the way they dressed). Going to college. Starting a business. Even writing comedy.

But he did accomplish a major goal: He set up a foundation for burned children called "Merlin's Miracles" to raise money so these kids could enjoy life, whether it was getting an air conditioner for their home or taking a trip to Disney World, a place he loved.

On a sunny April afternoon, German was buried among the giant oaks and Spanish moss of Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. Memorial Day is a time to remember the fallen with parades, tributes and stories.

Sgt. Joe Gonzales, a Marine liaison at Brooke, has a favorite story about German. It was the day he and German's mother were walking in the hospital hallway. German was ahead, wearing an iPod, seemingly oblivious to everyone else. Suddenly, he did a sidestep. For a second, Gonzales worried German was about to fall. But no.

"He just started dancing out of nowhere. His mom looked at me. She shook her head. There he was with a big old smile. Regardless of his situation, he was still trying to enjoy life."

link here.

I salute German's tremendous courage. Setting aside the personal tragedies that result from war, we should never have gone into Iraq in the first place. Tragedies like German's never had to occur. Their suffering, and their blood, is on Bush's hands. May he rot in hell, even though I don't believe in hell.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Obama: Offer the VP to Hillary

Ever since Barack Obama began his rise to the top of the heap for the Democratic nomination, displacing Hillary Clinton, I thought that the two of them, either Obama/Clinton, or Clinton/Obama, would make a great ticket.

It's been a hard, long slog for the Dem nomination. Many Dems have become quite embittered by the battle. I have, by and large, stayed out of the fray. To me, there are oh, so many more important things to do than to argue with good fellow Dems over who said this, who did that, who insulted who, etc etc.

Thom Hartmann, now with AirAmerica, has come around to my way of thinking. But for all I know, he and I have been on the same wavelength for a while now.

Will this happen? Who knows? Should this happen? Absolutely.

Here's a note from Thom:

Obama - Ask Hillary First!

Air American:

The issue at hand for the Democratic Party for winning in ‘08 is not losing to McCain but losing to a divided Democratic party. The first thing Obama should do if nominated is put Hillary on the ticket. Will the Republicans have a field day with her on the ticket? Yes! Is their some bad blood in the water due to some negative campaign strategies on the part of the Clintons? Probably. Can Hillary be a tough fighter able to play tough allowing Obama to stay higher above the fray? Yes!

Howard Dean said a few months ago that the loser will be the most important person in the Democratic presidential run this year. Hillary's legacy in this 08 election could place her as the healer and bring together a united Democratic party. As a winning ticket they also move this country closer to healing the racial and misogynist undertones that still have roots.

Can you picture Denver with Hillary's delegates close to half of all delegates demanding that she be included on the ticket? To some it's a crusade. If Hillary was the one out ahead - by just a little over half - wouldn't Obama supporters want the same?

Obama's offer and Hillary's acceptance of an Obama/Clinton ticket hold the healing and the power to move this country in the direction of the real change in Washington that Obama talks about. First he must bring the Democrats back together again.

Obama - ask Hillary first. And if she should say no, the offer would still have a unifying affect.

--Thom Hartmann

Thom lays out the argument on why an Obama/Clinton ticket would the equivalent of a Johnson/Kennedy ticket here.

McCain vs. McCain

Video Description Get off the double talk express!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Free Money!

Jamail Skate Park opens 6/1/08

What? Ever!

Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark

Houston Public Grand Opening

Sunday, June 1, 2008

1:00 – 5:00 pm

Bring your board and join us for the Grand Opening of the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark on Sunday, June 1 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The entire family will enjoy the skating, artwork, live music and more during the first of what will be many events at the new downtown skatepark. The event is free and open to the public.

From Memorial Drive headed east toward Downtown exit Sabine. Turn right on Sabine and park in Fonde Recreation Center parking lot or park in City lots C or H.


The Grand Opening day events include a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at 1:00 p.m. with Mayor Bill White, the Jamail family, and representatives from Houston Parks Board, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and Public Use Skateparks for Houston (PUSH). Activities during the rest of the afternoon will rotate between open public skating sessions and professional skateboarder “jam sessions.” DJ Squincy Jones and DJ Dayta will be spinning tunes to keep the crowd hyped.

Houstonians will be joined by some of the top professional skateboarders in the country. A few of the professional riders include: Kronik Energy’s Benji Galloway (World Cup Skate Board Champion); Nike’s Lance Mountain; Hurley International’s Steve “Salba” Alba, Bruno Passos, and Lincoln Ueda; and Independent Trucks has incorporated Houston as a destination along their national tour, bringing 17 of their riders including Christian Hosoi, Andrew Reynolds, and Steve Caballero, just to name a few.

The Houston Parks Board has partnered with the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art to coordinate the display of five large panels showcasing urban art created by local aerosol artists. The five panels will be placed along “Skater Alley,” the winding walkway between Sabine Street and the skatepark entrance, and will be featured at the park for six months. In addition to the five panels, the Orange Show has coordinated a live urban art demonstration that will take place as visitors enter the park on Opening Day.

Designed by premier skatepark firm Grindline, the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark is a state-of-the-art 30,000 square foot in-ground public facility, known to contain the largest cradle in the world. Houston’s new skateboarding facility will provide the first world-class, in-ground skatepark in our region, and vault the city to the forefront of American venues for this fast-growing, dynamic sport. The park will have areas for skaters of all levels, from the seasoned pro to the beginner – skaters can work on their kick flip, ollie, fakie big spin...or simply learn to stay balanced!

World-class skateboarding in Houston! Oh. Boy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bush family aided Hitler and the Nazis

This is rather old news to me, but probably not to many. The Bush family should have NEVER been allowed anywhere near politics. Their whole family is like a POX on the butt of America, growing and festering and spreading filth and disease everywhere they go.

The Bushes and Hitler's Appeasement

By Robert Parry
Consortium News
Sunday 18 May 2008

The irony of George W. Bush going before the Knesset and mocking the late Sen. William Borah for expressing surprise at Adolf Hitler's 1939 invasion of Poland is that Bush's own family played a much bigger role assisting the Nazis.
If Borah, an isolationist Republican from Idaho, sounded naive saying "Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided," then what should be said about Bush's grandfather and other members of his family providing banking and industrial assistance to the Nazis as they built their war machine in the 1930s?

The archival evidence is now clear that Prescott Bush, the president's grandfather, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from and collaborated with key financial backers of Nazi Germany.

That business relationship continued after Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 and even after Germany declared war on the United States following Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. It stopped only when the U.S. government seized assets of Bush-connected companies in late 1942 under the "Trading with the Enemy Act."

So, perhaps instead of holding up Sen. Borah to ridicule, Bush might have acknowledged in his May 15 speech that his forebears also were blind to the dangers of Hitler.

Bush might have noted that his family's wealth, which fueled his own political rise, was partly derived from Nazi collaboration and possibly from slave labor provided by Auschwitz and other concentration camps.

A more honest speech before the Knesset - on the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding - might have contained an apology to the Jewish people from a leading son of the Bush family for letting its greed contribute to Nazi power and to the horrors of the Holocaust. Instead, there was just the jab at Sen. Borah, who died in 1940.

President Bush apparently saw no reason to remind the world of a dark chapter from the family history. After all, those ugly facts mostly disappeared from public consciousness soon after World War II.

Protected by layers of well-connected friends, Prescott Bush brushed aside the Nazi scandal and won a U.S. Senate seat from Connecticut, which enabled him to start laying the foundation for the family's political dynasty.

In recent years, however, the archival records from the pre-war era have been assembled, drawing from the Harriman family papers at the Library of Congress, documents at the National Archives, and records from war-crimes trials after Germany's surrender.

Managers for the Powerful

One can trace the origins of this story back more than a century to the emergence of Samuel Bush, George W. Bush's great-grandfather, as a key manager for a set of powerful American business families, including the Rockefellers and the Harrimans. [See's "Bush Family Chronicles: The Patriarchs."]

That chapter took an important turn in 1919 when investment banker George Herbert Walker teamed up with Averell Harriman, scion to a railroad fortune, to found a new investment banking firm, W.A. Harriman Company.

The Harriman firm was backed by the Rockefellers' National City Bank and the Morgan family's Guaranty Trust. The English-educated Walker assisted in assembling the Harriman family's overseas business investments.

In 1921, Walker's favorite daughter, Dorothy, married Samuel Bush's son Prescott, a Yale graduate and a member of the school's exclusive Skull and Bones society. Handsome and athletic, admired for his golf and tennis skills, Prescott Bush was a young man with the easy grace of someone born into the comfortable yet competitive world of upper-crust contacts.

Three years later, Dorothy gave birth to George Herbert Walker Bush in Milton, Massachusetts.

Lifted by the financial boom of the 1920s, Prescott and Dorothy Bush were on the rise. By 1926, George Herbert Walker had brought his son-in-law in on a piece of the Harriman action, hiring him as a vice president in the Harriman banking firm.

By the mid-Thirties, Prescott Bush had become a managing partner at the merged firm of Brown Brothers Harriman. The archival records also show that Brown Brothers Harriman served as the U.S. financial service arm for German industrialist Fritz Thyssen, an early funder of the Nazi Party.

Thyssen, an admirer of Adolf Hitler since the 1920s, joined the Nazi Party in 1931 when it was still a fringe organization. He helped bail the struggling party out with financial help, even providing its headquarters building in Munich.

Meanwhile, Averell Harriman had launched the Hamburg-Amerika line of steamships to facilitate the bank's dealings with Germany, and made Prescott Bush a director. The ships delivered fuel, steel, coal, gold and money to Germany as Hitler was consolidating his power and building his war machine.

Other evidence shows that Prescott Bush served as the director of the Union Banking Corp. of New York, which represented Thyssen's interests in the United States and was owned by a Thyssen-controlled bank in the Netherlands.

As a steel magnate, Thyssen was amassing a fortune as Hitler rearmed Germany. Documents also linked Bush to Thyssen's Consolidated Silesian Steel Company, which was based in mineral-rich Silesia on the German-Polish border and exploited slave labor from Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz. But records at the National Archives do not spell out exactly when Bush's connection ended or what he knew about the business details.

In 1941, Thyssen had a falling out with Hitler and fled to France where he was captured. Much of Thyssen's empire went under the direct control of the Nazis, but even that did not shatter the business ties that existed with Prescott Bush and Harriman's bank.

It wasn't until August 1942 that newspaper stories disclosed the secretive ties between Union Banking Corp. and Nazi Germany.

After an investigation, the U.S. government seized the property of the Hamburg-Amerika line and moved against affiliates of the Union Banking Corp. In November 1942, the government seized the assets of the Silesian-American Corp. [For more details, see an investigative report by the U.K. Guardian, Sept. 25, 2004.]

No Kiss of Death

For most public figures, allegations of trading with the enemy would have been a political kiss of death, but the disclosures barely left a lipstick smudge on Averell Harriman, Prescott Bush and other business associates implicated in the Nazi business dealings.

"Politically, the significance of these dealings - the great surprise - is that none of it seemed to matter much over the next decade or so," wrote Kevin Phillips in American Dynasty.

"A few questions would be raised, but Democrat Averell Harriman would not be stopped from becoming federal mutual security administrator in 1951 or winning election as governor of New York in 1954. Nor would Republican Prescott Bush (who was elected senator from Connecticut in 1952) and his presidential descendants be hurt in any of their future elections."

Indeed, the quick dissipation of the Nazi financial scandal was only a portent of the Bush family's future. Unlike politicians of lower classes, the Bushes seemed to travel in a bubble impervious to accusations of impropriety, since the Eastern Establishment doesn't like to think badly of its own. [For details, see Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege.]

To this day - as President Bush showed by mocking the long-forgotten Sen. Borah and then wielding the Nazi "appeasement" club against Barack Obama and other Democrats - the assumption remains that the bubble will continue to protect the Bush family name.

However, the evidence from dusty archives suggests that the Bush family went way beyond appeasement of Adolf Hitler to aiding and abetting the Nazis.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, "Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush", was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, "Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq" and "Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth'" are also available there. Or go to

Original story is here.

Bush gives up golf

Go to the page here.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Esperanza is planted

Another 4' x 3' patch of grass of the front yard is now gone, replaced with an esperanza, or yellow bells, bush and covered in pine bark mulch. I had my sights on digging up a 4' x 12' section today, but my sights were far too high. It was all we could do to remove the grass from the smaller 4' x 3' area, and the sweat was just POURING off of me. They say it's good for you...

Within ten minutes of planting this shrub, I saw two bees buzzing around its flowers. Wow. We're going to cover the entire front yard with the pine bark mulch, and then drop in a plant here and there. Also will be putting in two walkways thru the yard/gardens. I think we're going to use the glass mulch for the main pathway, and not sure what we'll use yet for the stepping stones.

The front herb garden is growing well. The lavender is outstanding. Can you smell it? Or is that rosemary? heh heh

We'll transplant some basil down there, as soon as it roots, so we'll have basil, lavender, oregano, thyme, rosemary and chamomile. We plan to add dill, fennel and tarragon soon.

Speaking of fragrances, the nicotiana that we have growing on the roof ... the smell is just heavenly, but it only exudes its best smell in the early evening or at night. In the heat of the daytime, they have practically no smell at all, but when it cools a bit and gets dark, they really pump out the perfume. It's just awesome.

Nicotiana up close...

Just don't try to eat any part of the nicotiana plant. It's all poisonous. Funny, that ... the fragrance will attract you, but the taste will kill you! Nature is such a joker.

Is The US Military A Christian Organization?

It would appear that the religious freaks running amok in this country today are trying to turn our all-powerful military into a Christian organization. In the context of our aggression in Iraq (and Iran?), the idea of a Christian army is a frightful one. This would not, in any way, be consistent with our Founding Fathers intent, but it is indicative of how far the religious freaks have gone, surely aided and abetted by the Worst President In History, George W. Bush.

Specialist Jeremy Hall is a hero. He is also an atheist, and he is being drummed out of the military because he doesn't believe in God.

Who would God kill? Who would God nuke? Who would God use Agent Orange upon?

What also troubles me is that both Democrats are plunging headlong into the religious bullshit. There is such tremendous religious pressure in this "free" country that an atheist stands little change of obtaining public office. The religious enforcers would come out in force against them. And it appears that an atheist cannot remain in the military either. How many other professions are prohibited to free thinkers?


Atheist soldier claims harassment

JUNCTION CITY, Kansas (AP) -- Like hundreds of young men joining the Army in recent years, Jeremy Hall professes a desire to serve his country while it fights terrorism.

Spc. Jeremy Hall says the pressure to believe in God is so strong, "I was ashamed to say that I was an atheist."

But the short and soft-spoken specialist is at the center of a legal controversy. He has filed a lawsuit alleging that he's been harassed and his constitutional rights have been violated because he doesn't believe in God. The suit names Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

"I'm not in it for cash," Hall said. "I want no one else to go what I went through."

Known as "the atheist guy," Hall has been called immoral, a devil worshipper and -- just as severe to some soldiers -- gay, none of which, he says, is true. Hall even drove fellow soldiers to church in Iraq and paused while they prayed before meals.

"I see a name and rank and United States flag on their shoulder. That's what I believe everyone else should see," he said.

Hall, 23, was raised in a Protestant family in North Carolina and dropped out of school. It wasn't until he joined the Army that he began questioning religion, eventually deciding that he couldn't follow any faith.

But he feared how that would look to other soldiers.

"I was ashamed to say that I was an atheist," Hall said.

It eventually came out in Iraq in 2007, when he was in a firefight. Hall was a gunner on a Humvee, which took several bullets in its protective shield. Afterward, his commander asked whether he believed in God, Hall said.

"I said, 'No, but I believe in Plexiglas,' " Hall said. "I've never believed I was going to a happy place. You get one life. When I die, I'm worm food."

The issue came to a head when, according to Hall, a superior officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, threatened to bring charges against him for trying to hold a meeting of atheists in Iraq. Welborn has denied Hall's allegations.

Hall said he had had enough but feared that he wouldn't get support from Welborn's superiors. He turned to Mikey Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Weinstein is the foundation's president and a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate. He had sued the Air Force for acts he said illegally imposed Christianity on students at the academy, though that case was dismissed. He calls Hall a hero.

"The average American doesn't have enough intestinal fortitude to tell someone to shut up if they are talking in a movie theater," Weinstein said. "You know how hard it is to take on your chain of command? This isn't the shift manager at KFC."

Hall was in Qatar when the lawsuit was filed September 18 in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas. Other soldiers learned of it, and he feared for his own safety. Once, Hall said, a group of soldiers followed him, harassing him, but no one did anything to make it stop.

The Army told him it couldn't protect him and sent him back to Fort Riley. He resumed duties with a military police battalion. He believes that his promotion to sergeant has been blocked because of his lawsuit, but he is a team leader responsible for two junior enlisted soldiers.

No one with Fort Riley, the Army or that Defense Department would comment about Hall or the lawsuit. Each issued statements saying that discrimination will not be tolerated regardless of race, religion or gender.

"The department respects [and supports by its policy] the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs," said Eileen Lainez, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense.

All three organizations said existing systems help soldiers "address and resolve any perceived unfair treatment."

Lt. Col. David Shurtleff, a Fort Riley chaplain, declined to discuss Hall's case but said chaplains accommodate all faiths as best they can. In most cases, religious issues can be worked out without jeopardizing military operations.

"When you're in Afghanistan and an IED blows up a Humvee, they aren't asking about a wounded soldier's faith," Shurtleff said.

Hall said he enjoys being a team leader but has been told that having faith would make him a better leader.

"I will take care of my soldiers. Nowhere does it say I have to pray with my soldiers, but I do have to make sure my soldiers' religious needs are met," he said.

"Religion brings comfort to a lot of people," he said. "Personally, I don't want it or need it. But I'm not going to get down on anybody else for it."

Hall leaves the Army in April 2009. He would like to find work with the National Park Service or Environmental Protection Agency, anything outdoors.

"I hope this doesn't define me," Hall said of his lawsuit. "It's just about time somebody said something."

The story is here.

And here is a link to the transcript to the CBS Sunday Morning segment of April 27, 2008, covering Jeremy's story. Kudos to CBS for even covering this story. I was rather surprised they did.

Meanwhile, if you don't think this is a problem, pick up Michael L. Weinstein's book, "With God On Our Side. One Man's War Against An Evangelical Coup In America's Military."

This shit has to stop. But I don't see much progress on that score if either Hillary or Barack becomes President. Certainly not McCain. It will have to be left to someone else to finally begin to pull our heads out of our asses in regard to religion. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

We feel so....stimulated

We got our "stimulus" bribes, er, checks last Friday. $1200. Just in time to give a nice monetary gift to my niece who graduated college. We also decided, hey, WTF, let's go and buy some clothes. It's a little too late for Bush to do ANYTHING to "fix" his legacy. His legacy will be one of lies, death, reckless war, reckless spending, thuggishness, hyperpartisanship, bad grammar and sycophancy. No small bribe is going to turn that around. Too late, fool.

So we went shopping and dropped about $200 on clothing. When we take out another nice graduation gift for our other niece at the end of May, we'll still leave about $700 that will stay in savings. Or maybe it will go to pay off the scooter, which I had already charged to a credit card (to get the cash back) before the bribe even came in.

Olberman - Special Comment 5/14/08

George W. Bush has got to be the biggest disgrace to sit in the White House. But on the other hand, he is probably very representative of America: not too bright, can't handle money, and lies his ass off. Or, at least very representative of close to half of America. Republicans, that is.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dowd - Raspberry For Barry

This past weekend the wife and I attended our niece's graduation ceremony from college. Much of the family was there. I was a little shocked and upset to learn that three of ten family members in attendance, while they vote Democratic, said they would NOT vote for Obama if he was the nominee.

When I pressed them as to why, all they could come up with is, "He has no experience! All he does is TALK!" Total bullshit. Obama has more "experience" (time in government) than Hillary does, or JFK did, or several other prominent politicians. It's a smoke-screen. Unfortunately, I think they are actually racists, and will not vote for a black man, even if he is only half- or a quarter-black.

I'm going to work on them. Hopefully, when the time comes and Obama is the nominee, they'll see the light (skin) and do the right thing. But I am worried that this country is a whole lot more racist than they like to admit. It's absurd, but it's there.

In that rather depressing vein...

Raspberry for Barry

Published: May 14, 2008

In grim times, a bitter Hillary clings to bitter voters who in grim times supposedly cling to guns, religion and antipathy to people who aren’t like them.

Mining that antipathy, the New York senator has been working hard to get the hard-working white voters of hardscrabble Appalachia so she can show that a black man can’t yet be elected president.

Obama breezed through West Virginia, the state he couldn’t charm even wearing a flag pin and promising to invest in “clean coal.” Fast Barry shot some pool Monday afternoon at Schultzie’s Billiards in South Charleston, including prophetically sinking an eight-ball in the pocket, and then fled from Hillary territory to pursue white, blue-collar workers in battleground states and convince them not to vote for John McBush.

Obama is acting the diffident debutante, pretending not to care that he was given a raspberry by a state he will need in the fall. He was dismissed not only by the voters Hillary usually gets, but was also edged out in blocs that usually prefer him — the under-30 set, college graduates and affluent voters.

Interviews with West Virginians leaving the polls showed some profound weaknesses that could haunt the Illinois senator in the fall. More than half said they would be dissatisfied if Obama was the nominee. Half believe he shares the views of the Rev. Wright, and more than half said he does not share their values. More than half also said that he is not honest and trustworthy. Just under half of the Clinton voters said they would not support Obama in the fall.

Obama may have started the primary season with an inspiring win in 94-percent-white Iowa, but he is winding it up with a resounding loss in 94-percent-white West Virginia.

“As the song says, ‘Almost heaven,’ ” Hillary said at her Charleston victory party, hailing herself as “the strongest candidate,” the one who can win swing states, and urging again that Michigan and Florida votes be counted.

“You know I never give up,” she said, with a W.-strength denial of reality.

Two in 10 white voters said race was important in how they voted, and more than 8 of 10 of these went for Hillary. This echoes an article in The Washington Post on Tuesday that chronicled the racism that some Obama volunteers found in Indiana and Pennsylvania.

The story quoted Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, who could take only one night on an Obama phone bank in the nearly all-white Susquehanna County, Pa.: “One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn’t possibly vote for Obama and concluded: ‘Hang that darky from a tree!’ ”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote about complaints of racism after a bar in Marietta, Ga., began selling an Obama 2008 T-shirt with a picture of Curious George peeling a banana.

Charlie Peters, the legendary former editor of the liberal Washington Monthly who ran Jack Kennedy’s campaign in Kanawha County, W. Va., said Obama should study how J.F.K. managed to win there despite raging anti-Catholicism.

(My father, in West Virginia once on business, found his car had been flipped over by some locals furious about a sign on it supporting the first Catholic Democratic nominee, Al Smith.)

“The point of West Virginia in 1960 is that you can change attitudes,” Peters, an Obama supporter, said on Tuesday evening. “But if you don’t act to change them, he could lose West Virginia and I think he could lose the country.

“He has to change those perceptions of the people who think he could actually agree with the Rev. Wright.”

J.F.K. bought affection in West Virginia. “The boss of Logan County said 35,” Peters recalled. “He meant $3,500, but Kennedy thought it was $35,000, so he gave him $35,000. They put out all this money and they carried the precincts.” (Hillary has been using street money more than Obama, though it is unclear how much it has helped.)

West Virginia loved F.D.R. “because the Depression had been very tough for them and F.D.R. was kind to them,” Peters said. (On my father’s trip, he was threatened by a man who asked him about “rumors” that President Roosevelt was in a wheelchair and threatened to thrash any man who said so. My dad, a detective who served on protective details for F.D.R., assured the ruffian that Roosevelt was “a fine, athletic man.”)

So the campaign brought down F.D.R. Jr., Peters recounted, to “say it’s O.K. to vote for this Catholic.” Because West Virginia had a lot of veterans, they distributed a little tabloid emphasizing J.F.K.’s war record, including a Reader’s Digest piece about his heroism in the Pacific.

And finally, there was the beguiling Kennedy wit and smile. “Kennedy turned out to be this engaging person,” Peters said, “especially with young people, and children talked to their parents.”

Peters says Obama needs imagination and a “tremendous effort” to dispel bias in West Virginia, and quickly, “because once it’s set in concrete, you’ll have a hell of a time.”
Maureen's column is here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Get a job!!

We attended graduation ceremonies last weekend at Texas State University San Marcos. My niece was among hundreds set to walk across the stage to clutch that piece of paper and plunge headlong into the "real" world. And get their photo taken. And placed into the DHS database.

Best of luck to you all. You'll need it. We've pretty much trashed the place. Would you see what you can do about that? Thanks.

I went to college in San Marcos too, in the '70's, when it was called Southwest Texas State University. It's a beautiful campus in a terrific part of Texas, halfway between Austin and San Antonio, on the edge of the Texas Hill Country. Originally a teachers college, the school had long had a high percentage of females, and purty ones at that. Mmm mmm!

Back in those ancient days, there were only around 12,000 students. By 2007, there were over 28,000. Just milling about the crowd before the ceremony, I must have spotted six or seven Miss USA's in the making, and quite a few runners-up. Ah, glorious natural selection at work. But I'm glad to see that this hadn't changed about the place.

The stage was set...


And so finally comes the fun part. Get out there in the world, get a job, and hey, would you mind trying to clean up a bit around here, please? Like I said before, I'm sorry, but, we've pretty well fucked things up. Oh yeah, yeah, we're the greatest country on the face of the earth. Well, perhaps at one time, we were. But we've lost it. We've lost it bad. We're on a mean, stupid streak right now. Right towards the dumpster of history.

The U.S. has had a string of white males in power since its incepetion, and, looking around these days at the state of the nation, maybe it's time for something new. Of course, I don't really doubt that a female or a black man could be just as toxic, corrupt and thuggish as any white male could be.

Oh yeah, graduation.

It was inspiring to just sit there and think of all these fresh hearts and minds being unleashed into the "real" world, but, looking thru the printed program, I was a little disappointed to learn that the Commencement Address by Texas Supreme Court Justice Dale Wainwright had been given the day before. I kinda wanted to hear what that fool had to say. Wainwright is up for re-election this year in the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court. In addition to taking back the White House and building Democratic majorities in the Senate and House, we need to flush the Republican roaches out of state houses and the Judiciary too.

Oh yeah, the graduation...

It went without a hitch. One guy launched an air horn when his favorite graduates name was announced, even though they had specifically asked people NOT to do that. The authorities came and he walked out peacefully with them. Idiot.

People really do love their mobile phones these days, don't they? Everywhere you look, people are either speaking into their mobile phones, or they're madly texting someone.

At the graduation lunch after the late-morning graduation ceremony, the grad-of-honor (not pictured here, oddly) sat so far away from me at a long, long table that they only way I could really communicate with her was by ... texting her. So I whipped it out. Works pretty well actually. At least people ARE communicating. Somewhat. On the unlimited access plan.

BTW, whatever happened to Howard Johnson's? The room we had in San Marcos had seen better days. I hope. Maybe not.

One a positive note, they DID have free and easy Wi-Fi broadband internet access, and only two sexual predator/hackers in adjacent rooms stole my personal data as it sliced thru the air.

Lucky us! For this one special, graduation weekend, good ol' HoJo yanked up their nightly rates! To double?! Now THAT'S patriotism.

I felt like saying....
...but every room was taken.

Good luck Grads!