Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Saith James Madison, writing as Publius to the people of New York, November 23, 1787:

The latent causes of faction are sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.

And ever shall it be so.

– The Federalist No. 10

Party Politics | 6:50 am CST
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Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Get ready, I’m climbing up on my soapbox.

Manually searching people in airports is wrong first and foremost because it’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Not because it’s a health hazard, not because it’s demeaning, not because it’s worthless security theater. Those are valid concerns and I agree with them, but searching people who aren’t suspected of a crime is, at its core, a violation of a basic constitutional right. I don’t mean to belittle the fear of irradiation or the humiliation of being groped in public, but those are emotional appeals that sensationalize an argument that is already pretty sensational. Could we please stay focused on our basic Fourth Amendment rights?

At times like this I wish I’d gone into law so I’d have the education to back up my argument, but do I really need it? The Fourth Amendment is so straightforward, relying on none of the flowery language that makes some other articles and amendments of the constitution difficult to understand:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, papers, houses and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

I am an American citizen, and unless the federal government suspects me of criminal activity, they have no cause to search me. If they have cause to search me, they must present a warrant issued by a judge that states the reason they have to search me and the things they expect to find. Citizens are presumed innocent, not guilty. It’s as plain as that.

As I understand it, the only hitch to the Fourth Amendment is you. You are the barometer that courts use when defining a reasonable search, and if you submit to being searched on the excuse that “this is for the security of everyone on the airplane,” or that “if you’re doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide,” you’re changing the definition. Scanning and groping becomes reasonable because that’s what you expect. That’s supremely important because, after the definition has shifted, we’re all stuck with it for quite a while.

Right now, the standard has been lowered to this: Whether or not you “opt out,” you have allowed that it’s reasonable for uniformed officers of the federal government to stick their gloved hands down your pants, up your bras, in your children’s crotches. I’m not trying to cast them in the role of sexually depraved monsters; they’re only doing as they were told. I’m just stating in plain language what you’re allowing them to do. You’ve allowed them to demand that citizens exhibit their feminine hygiene pads and their urostomy bags. You have even allowed them to take citizens aside to “privacy rooms” to be searched, as if that wasn’t scary at all. This is the current definition of “reasonable search” that you have all agreed to by obediently shuffling through their increasingly invasive security checkpoints.

I beg you not to let this go on because, if it does, then uniformed officers will soon be scanning and searching us before we’re allowed to get on trains and buses, using the same standards of reasonable search that will have been long established and accepted. And how long will it be after that that they’re stopping automobile traffic at checkpoints on the interstate, a federal highway system? You think that could never happen. Did you ever believe we’d have to submit to a full-body search just to travel freely inside our own country? We’re giving them our okay to do that just so we can catch our flight.

And I’m not asking you to make a big, loud show at the airport of standing on your rights. Civil disobedience doesn’t have to involve arguing with an officer who’s only doing his job, or going to jail or carrying a sign or wearing a tinfoil hat. I don’t travel by air because it would be pointless. I would never make my flight, because I won’t let them scan me and I won’t let them use their “enhanced pat-down techniques” on me. My brand of civil disobedience is as simple as that.

As long as I’m on my soap box anyway: The last time I flew, in June of 2005, I was appalled to have a uniformed officer swab my bags, searching for explosives. I was not only a citizen bearing the passport of the United States, I was traveling under the orders of the United States Air Force, a non-commissioned officer sworn to uphold the constitution. They had no probable cause to search my person or my bags, yet I was treated as if I were a criminal suspect.

Down off my soapbox now. Thanks for lending me your ear.

The Cheapening of the Fourth Amendment | 11:16 am CST
Category: current events, daily drivel, travel, yet another rant | Tags: ,
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Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

It’s National Opt-Out Day! Organizers have set up a Facebook page and a web page to enlist the public’s help in protesting the the, what shall we call it, enhanced security techniques used by TSA. I can’t wait to see how this unfolds. While we’re waiting, here’s my growing collection of links to stories that illustrate how our federal government violates, in the most demeaning ways possible, our fourth amendment rights, to say nothing of personal dignity. Enjoy!

10/20/10 | Pilot Refuses Full-Body Scan: “I’m just not comfortable being physically manhandled by a federal security agent every time I go to work.” – pilot Michael Roberts, as reported by CBS

10/29/10 | For The First Time, the TSA Meets Resistance: “I was the very first passenger to ask to opt-out of back-scatter imaging. Several TSA officers heard me choose the pat-down, and they reacted in a way meant to make the ordinary passenger feel very badly about his decision. One officer said to a colleague who was obviously going to be assigned to me, ‘Get new gloves, man, you’re going to need them where you’re going.'” – journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, writing in The Atlantic

11/1/10 | Opt Out of a Body Scan? Then Brace Yourself: “I was marched from the metal detector lane to one of those nearby whole-body imagers, ordered to take everything out of my pockets, remove my belt and hold my possessions up high. Then I was required to stand still while I received a rough pat-down by a man whose resume, I suspected, included experience at a state prison.” – journalist Joe Sharkey, writing in The New York Times

11/4/10 | The Airport Security Grope: “As a working photographer and lecturer, I fly a lot. The escalating levels of airport security and luggage (read camera gear, not clothing!) restrictions became just another annoying aspect of air travel, a necessary trade-off for rapid access to remote destinations. But this week TSA tightened the screws a little more, and now they’ve gone too far.” – photographer George Lepp, writing in Pixiq

11/4/10 | American Airlines Pilots in Revolt Against the TSA: “There is absolutely no denying that the enhanced pat-down is a demeaning experience. In my view, it is unacceptable to submit to one in public while wearing the uniform of a professional airline pilot.” – pilot David Bates, president of the Allied Pilots Association, in a letter to members

11/12/10 | Protests Mount Over Safety and Privacy of Airport Scanners: “I don’t think anybody would argue the point that the individual risk is small. Whether it’s one in 10 million or one in 100 million, it’s very small,” [Dr. David Brenner] said in an interview. “But multiply that times 700 million people – the number of people getting on planes currently – and that’s the public health risk.” – Shots, the NPR Health Blog

11/13/10 | TSA Encounter at SAN: “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.” – John Tyner, writing in his blog Insert title here

11/21/10 | TSA Strip Searched 5-year-old Boy: “Are they harassing that kid? Nice.” – YouTube video

11/22/10 | My TSA Encounter: “We shouldn’t be required to do this simply to get into our own country.” – Matt Kernan, writing in his blog No Blasters!

11/23/10 | Next step for body scanners could be trains, boats, metro: “I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to trains or maritime. So, what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?” – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, quoted in The Hill

Group Grope! | 6:59 am CST
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Friday, November 12th, 2010

Oh, hai. I don’t have the willpower to make myself drivel tonight, so let me just introduce to you John Shimkus, congressional dorkwad. He’s on a committee that listens to the testimony of people talking about global climate change, so the first thing he did was whipped out his Bible and read aloud from Matthew 12:34, “And lo, I do not hear you la la la la la.” Why do we let people like this run our country? Have we no pitchforks? Have we no torches?

john shimkus | 9:51 pm CST
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Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Okay, I voted. Can the campaign be over now? I’m so ready for it to be over.

I have no idea whether or not it was worth it, but at least I can feel as though I’ve earned the right to bitch about anything the pols do that I don’t like, and it’s an even bet there will be plenty of that. Things I don’t like, I mean. Well, bitching, too.

B and I headed out early this morning to hit the polls when they opened at seven o’clock. I voted a straight Democratic ticket. The Dems have their problems, but conservatives in this state are barking lunatics, so it was a safe bet. I have the feeling B voted the same way, but she took the time to tick the box next to each candidate’s name. She didn’t trust the machine to count it right if she didn’t. That was probably the smart thing to do.

I voted yes for the three referendums on the back of the ballot, too: “Yes” for medical marijuana, just because it pisses people off. “Yes” to float a bond for more construction on the MATC campus. Money for a trade school can’t be bad, can it? Too late if it is. And “Yes” for the infamous “Tax for Trains” to build a commuter rail line through the city, just because I love choo-choos. And maybe especially because that one pisses people off no end. I have serious doubts any of those initiatives will carry but, as I said, I wanted to be able to bitch, and will proudly slap a “Don’t Blame Me” bumper sticker on my car tomorrow.

I hope you voted.

I voted | 7:00 pm CST
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Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

image of Todd Kolosso

Riding home from work yesterday afternoon, we listened to a conversation between Ben Merens and Todd Kolosso that had us hanging on every word. Tod Kolosso is the Democratic candidate for the 5th District seat in Wisconsin, and after Merens let him spout a bunch of the usual crap about being an ordinary average guy who just wants to clean up Washington, Merens asked him: “This campaign is basically just you, isn’t it?”

“No, no, I have a staff,” Kolosso answered nonchalantly. “It’s a small staff, to be sure, but we have a fairly dedicated number of people working for us.”

There was a pause so awkwardly long here that I thought maybe the signal had been cut, and then Merens asked Kolosso, “Are you sure?”

Kolosso choked on the water he was drinking at this point before managing to sputter, “Yes, I have a campaign manager, we have a – excuse me [coughs] – we have a series of volunteers. We have a person who’s running the media end of it … I’m sorry, I got some water …”

Merens: That’s okay, drink the water. The reason I ask that is because, in the last two days, I had a chance to talk to your campaign manager, Leah Horn, who’s on her way back to Colorado, saying she’s no longer with the campaign, that there is no staff to the campaign, and to the treasurer of the campaign, who said there’s no money to the campaign, and to the Federal Elections Commission, who say they’ve written you several letters that haven’t been answered, for filing grievances, and it sounds like this is a campaign in serious trouble … there was a discussion about how forthright you’d be with the electorate about this, and there were no answers given … so I guess I’d ask you again: It sounds like this is truly Todd Kolosso for congress, that there is nobody else.

Kolosso, bless his heart, soldiered on: “Well, as I said, we certainly have staff working for us. I mean, one was in the studio earlier today, obviously. As I said, there are dedicated volunteers still working. I think what you’ve touched on specifically is the issue we’ve had a big problem [with] which is fundraising …”

And here they lapsed into a long, boring discussion about the money Kolosso tried to raise for the campaign but couldn’t before Merens went back to the question of Kolosso’s campaign manager:

Merens: But you said you had a campaign manager. She told me as she was driving out of the state heading back to Colorado …

Kolosso: She’s visiting, she’s visiting Colorado.

Now Merens wasn’t having any of it: “No, she quit,” he said flatly. “She’s no longer with the campaign. She hasn’t been paid since this summer. She was very disappointed in how the campaign has been run, and she’s not coming back.” It reminded me of the parrot sketch from Monty Python, where the man returning the parrot to the store has finally had enough of the store owner’s excuses and verbally beats him into submission: “He’s not pining, he’s passed on! He’s a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace. If you hadn’t nailed him to the perch he’d be pushing up daisies. This is an ex-parrot!”

Kolosso calmly answered him: “That’s the first I’ve heard of it.”

Merens: She didn’t seem to have any doubts when I asked her, because I asked her a couple of times. “You’re definitely leaving?” She said, “I’m gone.”

Kolosso: That’s interesting. That’s the first I heard of it. I knew she was visiting Colorado.

Merens: Okay. [pause] And what about your campaign treasurer? Vicki Mortensen said she also is now former …

Kolosso: Yeah, well, that’s a family issue. She’s a family member, so … we’ve had some internal family strife.

Merens: Her concern was that she has a reputation as a CPA that was being damaged by the way the funds were being handled by the campaign and that you weren’t forthright enough with the electorate and she said well if you don’t want to speak out about this I can’t be part of the campaign.”

And then Kolosso went back to explaining his lack of funds before Merens went to a commercial break.

Kolosso is running against the enormously powerful Jim Sensenbrenner, who will never ever be dislodged from his seat, not even by the Angel of Death, without the use of the biggest bulldozer on the planet, so it’s no small wonder Kolosso was the best the Democratic party had to offer in opposition to him.

Politics usually makes me feel like I’ve got fleas, but every once in a while we’re blessed with a moment like this and then it all seems almost worth it.

Here’s the link to the audio. The good stuff, when Merens asks, “Are you sure?” doesn’t start until 9:21.

Vote For Todd | 6:46 pm CST
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Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

image of Rob Taylor, candidate Yesterday afternoon, talk radio brought us the Constitution Party’s candidate for the federal senate seat coming open next month in Wisconsin, and we kept the radio tuned in and the volume turned up because whenever they have somebody from a political group with a name like Constitution Party or Green Party or American Liberty Party you know it’ll be worth your time listening if only for the phone calls from the Tinfoil Hat Brigade that inevitably call in, although frequently the guest himself is wearing a tinfoil hat himself. If you’re really lucky, he lunched on a nutburger and chased it with a big bowl of Froot Loops before coming on the show.

The guests I love best are the whackos who sound perfectly reasonable for the first five or ten minutes, then answer a softball question from the host with something like, “Funny you should ask that, Ben, because I was conferring only yesterday with my Octopoid friends on the Planet Numbskull via sub-space radio on this very topic …”

The callers can be either maroons or revolutionary thinkers, and I don’t mean revolutionary in the sense of new and improved, I mean it in the good old-fashioned sense of “Off with their heads!” A few of those feral humans come out of the woods every campaign season to wave their guns in the air and warn the rest of us that the end is nigh.

Sadly, the guest yesterday was not chock full o’ nuts and he left his tinfoil hat at home, if he had one. He was actually pretty boring, even when the callers tried to wind him up with questions about gay rights and abortion, two subjects that almost always do the trick. He didn’t want to talk about that; he didn’t want to talk about much of anything but what a sack of bastards all these career politicians in Washington have turned out to be. One of the callers asked him what he thought was so bad about career politicians, a question I’ve wanted to know the answer to for quite a while. Seems to me an experienced politician who knew his way around Washington would be a better candidate than a greenhorn whose priorities included advancing a bill to repeal the seventeenth amendment, one of the Constitution Party’s pet peeves, apparently. Might as well show up wearing a tinfoil hat.

His chief qualification, it turned out, was that he had no qualifications, other than he’d served as an alderman in his town, and he said he was a businessman. A whole lot of candidates have been shoving their business acumen in my face this campaign season, as if that’s something I might think would make them good representatives. Ask them how they would lower taxes and balance the budget, though, and they can’t give a straight answer no matter how simply you try to put the question. I’ve had bosses like this, both in the military and in the private sector. Funny how they’re not that much different from each other.

Our candidate from the Constitution Party kept returning to the refrain that he was just an ordinary guy who wanted to show Washington how things should be done. Maybe I’m too pessimistic for this kind of thing, but I’m pretty sure an ordinary guy from Wisconsin with no political connections who went to Washington with pie-in-the-sky ideas about balancing the federal budget would get stomped flat as a cow pat. Oh, what the hell. Let’s vote him into office anyway. How much worse could he make things?

Let’s Listen In | 6:31 pm CST
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Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

image of congressional pledge-makers

I’m so confused. This Pledge to America unveiled by congressional dorkwads to great fanfare today: It’s just more of the same snake oil congress has been selling us since probably a bit before my time, isn’t it? The gist of it, and correct me if I’ve got it wrong, is: ‘The other guys suck, we rock, vote for us.’ And you can be confident they’re not just telling us what we want to hear because it’s, you know, a pledge.

The thing I’m confused about is, what kind of congenital defect would have to be buried deep in their brains that would let them even think about trying to palm such shitbuggery off on us yet again?

I Got Your Pledge Right Here | 10:36 pm CST
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Monday, August 30th, 2010

I was sitting on the back porch of a cabin on the Chain O’ Lakes with My Darling B on Saturday afternoon, taking in the sunshine and enjoying the good company, when six or seven people came trooping past on their way to the boat dock. The last guy in the line, wearing the most beautiful Hawaiian-print swimming shorts either one of us had seen in a long time, was carrying one of those wooden whistles that goes whooo-whooo like a steam train. When he saw us, he raised it to his mouth and blew a couple quick blasts, but instead of “All Aboard!” he said something like, “Everyone in the water!” The lake was full of boats all afternoon and hundreds of people were taking advantage of the gorgeous weather to go swimming.

“Maybe a little later,” I hedged.

“Those are great swim trunks!” B added.

He chuckled at B and turned around to show off his shorts. “Got ’em at a thrift store,” he told us. “They’re kind of big, but, well, you gotta economize now that we got Obama. There’s seven hundred thousand people on the mall today protesting, even though the lamestream liberal media says it’s only ten thousand or so, and that they’re all racists. But I know who to believe!” Then he tooted on his horn again before continuing on his way, laughing as if he’d just delivered the best punchline ever.

After he was gone I turned to B, whose mouth hung open, still amazed. “Where did that come from?” she begged me to tell her.

“Can’t say, ‘Hey, nice shorts!’ to passing strangers any more, I guess.”

nice shorts | 6:53 am CST
Category: current events, daily drivel, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, vacation, yet another rant | Tags: ,
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Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

There are times I want to completely give up caring about political crap, like last week when the president said something along the lines of, “I’ll defend to the death your right to build a mosque, but I never said it was a good idea,” or any time Sarah Palin endorses a political candidate by giving out the Mama Grizzly seal of approval. Who can put up with crap like that? Not me.

But then there are days like today, when I get the chance to jump smack into the middle of a political argument so near and dear to my heart it makes me feel as though my lucky star has finally gone supernova. A political pollster called me on the phone. That never happens. Every day I read about thousands of people who get to have their insane political opinions splashed all over the front page of the most-read newspapers and web pages in the country, and I get so jealous I could explode. I get calls from people who want me to buy vinyl siding or carpet cleaning. It’s not fair.

But finally I got a call from a pollster, and it wasn’t just any pollster – this was a call from the NRA! The NRA wanted to ask me about my opinion on gun control! I could make so many comparisons at this point: It’s like the Pope calling Christopher Hitchens to ask for his opinion about the church. It’s like Newt Gingrich calling Howard Zinn to ask for his opinion about immigration. Man, did they call the wrong number!

Apparently what’s been going on is this: That wicked socialist witch Hillary Clinton and her nefarious minions at the State Department have been conspiring with the United Nations to take away all our guns. I’m pretty sure that’s the gist of the message they played for me. It has something to do with an international treaty that’s no doubt being manipulated by the far-reaching tentacles of the One-World Government, or something. Whatever it was about, the NRA wasn’t going to take it, and they were calling all solidly patriotic Americans to stand with them and stop the horrific federal government from tinkering with their sacred second-amendment rights.

After the recording had finished playing, a man who introduced himself as an NRA member came on the line to ask me if I’d heard the whole message. “Yes, I heard it,” I answered.

“So after playing that message for you I have just one question,” he said and paused for dramatic effect so intense it was a virtual drum roll: “Do you want third-world dictators of countries like North Korea and Iran to have a say in whether or not you can own a gun?”

There were probably so many better ways to reply to that question than the one-word answer that squeaked out of me, but this was my first telephone poll, remember. “Yep!” I told him.

“Okay, thank you,” he said, not very sincerely, and hung up.

What? You didn’t expect me to give the NRA a straight answer, did you? It’s not like they’re going to include it in their poll anyway.

Gun/Phone | 6:46 am CST
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Friday, August 13th, 2010

image of news headline

Holy crap, there’s a plan! For months, even years, I’ve been asking people to tell me what the plan is but, up to this point, nobody’s sent me a copy of the memo. Now, finally, I find a news article about the plan for the war in Afgahistan …

… or, maybe there’s not. I read the article from beginning to end but found no plan, just the news that fifty-three percent of Americans support it, whatever it is. They won’t say what it is, only that they like it.

I even read the article more than once, just to make sure I hadn’t skipped over it, in case it might be a very simple plan they could spell out in just a few easy-to-miss words. I don’t think I missed it, though. No matter how carefully I read it over and over, I couldn’t find any explanation of a plan for the war in Afghanistan.

General Petraeus says that we’ve made progress, and he would really like to keep on making more progress, but unfortunately he doesn’t say toward what, so no help there.

So if you’re among the fifty-three percent of Americans who are still on board with the Afghan plan, and you can explain it in a hundred words or less, please shoot an e-mail to O-Broze productions, care of yours truly. First answer gets a prize. I think we’ve got some coffee mugs or t-shirts around here somewhere.

The Plan | 2:34 pm CST
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Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

image of people protesting a rally of the National Organization for Marriage on the steps of the capital building, Madison WI

It’ll be a long time before I forget these protesters chanting, “YOU NEED A HUG! A BIG, GAY HUG!” at the counter-rally on the steps of the capital building where twenty or thirty members of the National Organization for Marriage assembled to tell everyone how scared they were that the Defense of Marriage Act was in danger of repeal.

About twenty or perhaps as many as thirty people turned out to rally in support of the National Organization for Marriage, assembling on the western steps of the capital building this morning. The organization sponsored a whirlwind bus tour across the northeast and midwest U.S.

In response, several hundred people, organized by Fair Wisconsin using Facebook and other social media, marched up State Street to meet them, wave colorful signs and flags, chant “YOU NEED A HUG!” and otherwise give them a big dose of good old Madison hospitality.

I caught up with them as they were marching up State Street. Actually, I found them gathering on Library Mall on the UW campus, but there weren’t very many of them and I figured they weren’t going to amount to much, so I went up the street to one of my favorite book stores. I’d been there about twenty minutes when I heard them chanting as they marched up the street and, sticking my head out the door, I saw that their numbers had swelled to several hundred. I chased them up the street to see what would happen when they got to the capital.

For a little while they hung back, congregating at the foot of the steps and chanting occasionally at the NOM folks from a distance, but they gradually worked their way up the stairs until they were right at the very top, chanting and cheering and making it generally impossible for the speakers to be heard at all. The rally and the counter-rally lasted almost an hour and was quite a lot of fun. There were even kids running around, stopping to led their voices to the chant. If it hadn’t been ninety degrees under a blazing sun I would have enjoyed it even more.

[Link to photo album with more pictures.]

March Against N.O.M. | 12:17 pm CST
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Saturday, July 10th, 2010

I haven’t been paying much attention at all to the media frenzy that erupted when ten captured Russian spies almost overshadowed the monumentally shattering decision by Lebron James to leave Cleveland to play foosball, or something, uh, somewhere else. Sorry, it was way too involved and dramatic for me to absorb it all. I’ll try to take notes next time.

The spy story should have been awesome, though, don’t you think? A cell of Russian spies, living undetected among us for ten years! Russian Spies! Just like in the old days! And not just any spies but moles who adopted fake identities, insinuated themselves into American society, took out an American mortgage on an American house and raised good-old American children. They were so super-secret that their own children didn’t realize mummy and daddy were transmitting secrets to the motherland under cover of their boring day jobs. Bozhe moi!

As it turned out, though, there was just one small problem with this Ian Fleming wet dream: The spy ring these guys were running turned out to be a terrific snoozefest.

Maybe they got hold of information that might one day aid the Russians in their attempt to build a bomb that goes kaboom louder than our bombs. But the way they did it was boring! They were not sneaking around CIA headquarters after hours with a pen light between their teeth, shuffling through file after file in a search for the blueprints to the ultimate kaboom. Instead, they mingled with ordinary people at dinner parties, making acquaintances and chatting them up, hoping to glean a tidbit here, a fact or two there. They networked their way toward their goals. Only Steven Covey could make covert intelligence-gathering sound more dull than this.

Then there’s Anna Chapman, the spy everyone’s been drooling over. She’s the sexy one, according to every single tabloid news outlet on the face of the planet. Seriously? She puts on a bustier, ducks her head a little and gives the camera a smoky glance, and that’s all it takes to win the title of Sexiest Spy Ever to Blow a Kiss? Sorry, honey, but Honor Blackman has you so outclassed in the sexy spy department that you could pout from now until your teeth fell out and you still wouldn’t catch up.

Finally, while I was listening to a news report yesterday on the radio, I heard the ultimate fly in the ice cream: We flew our ten spies to Vienna and exchanged them for four Russian double agents. Our ten sleeper-cell spies were worth four double agents captured by the Russians – they weren’t worth half what theirs were worth!. We really got shafted on that swap. Wal-Mart doesn’t offer bargains that cut-rate.

Bargain-basement spies | 3:24 pm CST
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Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Dear Democratic National Committee: You’re pissing off the independent voters with your telemarketing script. Two of them, anyway.

Mister McChuckletrousers called Our Humble O’Bode on behalf of the Democratic National Committee this afternoon and My Darling B picked up the phone on the second ring instead of screening the call as we normally do. We get calls from telemarketers all the time, even though we’re theoretically on the don’t-call list and we tell every single one we speak to that we’re not interested in their products. We don’t try to be rude, we just tell them no, thank you. You’d think they’d take the hint after a few of those, but they keep calling back, so we screen ninety-nine percent of all the calls we get.

But B was expecting a call so she picked up … and was treated to a hard-sell pitch from Mr. McChuckletrousers. When she could get a word in edgewise (we wait until they take a breath to jump in, rather than rudely interrupt) she told him thanks for calling but we wouldn’t be able to make a donation today.

I’ll say this about most telemarketers and solicitors: Nine out of ten times, that works. You tell them you can’t make a donation and they thank you and move on to the next call in their queue. They’ve got a quota to meet, after all. This dorkwad from the DNC, though, wasn’t going to be put off so easily. “We’re not asking everyone to make large donations,” he said, “a small donation would help us out, too.”

Not that it was any of his business, but B explained that money was a little too tight in our household right now to make a donation of any size to his cause.

“Whatever you could afford would be just fine,” he said. “I’m sure you wouldn’t want the Republicans to get control of Congress again, would you?”

Whoops. Wrong thing to say.

“Look, buddy,” B told him, “I’m an independent. I vote for whomever looks like the best candidate, so don’t assume who I would and wouldn’t want in office.” And it’s not exactly like the Dems have done a bang-up job changing anything after pumping us full of hope, either, she wanted to add, but didn’t. “My husband just lost his job and we’ve got to pay the mortgage on what I make, so we won’t be making a donation, okay?”

You’d think that would have pushed him back a bit, but you’d be wrong. “Well, there are other ways you can contribute,” he said, changing to a new tack and taking a big breath to launch into who-knows-what.

“Thanks,” B jumped in, “I’m expecting a call, so I’m going to hang up now.” And she did.

I don’t know if this would make anyone in the DNC re-think their hard-sell, but here are my two cents:

I can see why the DNC might think we’d be a soft touch for a donation or two. We’re both rather progressive when it comes to our politics. I think the federal government should provide basic health care for everyone, for instance. I don’t know how, but I sincerely believe it could be done at no great increase in spending, and without too much bureaucracy. I also think we should get our military the hell out of Afghanistan and the Middle East. Lend them whatever diplomatic help they need, but pull out our soldiers and refuse to sell them arms.

I said I think these things could be done. I even had some hope we would be seeing changes like these after the last federal election. I know it’s hard, bordering on impossible, to make big changes considering the political climate in Washington and across the nation, but so far I’m not overly impressed by the changes the Dems have made. And my opinion of the Dems sinks even lower when they call Our Humble O’Bode on Sunday afternoon and try to shake down my darling bride for money after she politely tells you we haven’t got any to spare.

If you must call, please don’t call on the weekends. We like to relax on the weekends, and the clanging of telephone bells all afternoon makes us cranky. Cranky people don’t give any money to anybody.

And, when someone tells you, politely, that they won’t be able to make a donation, don’t suggest making a smaller donation. That makes us cranky, too. See above for the result of making people cranky.

Dear Donkey | 8:00 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, entertainment, messing w/telemarketers, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, story time, yet another rant | Tags:
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Friday, April 16th, 2010

President Obama issued a memorandum Thursday to the Department of Health and Human Services, ordering hospitals to give same-sex couples the right to be with a partner who is sick or dying. The memorandum applies to every hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding — nearly every hospital in the country.

Bravo, Mister President.

J.P. Duffy, vice president for communications at the Family Research Council, said Obama is pandering to a radical special interest group.

“There are many other ways to deal with this issue, whether through a health care proxy or power of attorney, through private contractual arrangements. We have no problem with those situations,” Duffy said, “but the fact here is that this is undermining the definition of marriage.”

Actually, no, Mister J.P. Duffy, the fact is that we have no “definition” of marriage to apply here. A marriage can take place in a church, or in a county courthouse, or in a Las Vegas casino. It can take place between middle-aged people who were high school sweethearts, or between people who met each other in a drunken haze last weekend. And it can be dissolved as capriciously as pissing in a public parking garage.

Does the Family Research Council have plans to mount a persistent nationwide campaign to pass legislation that would mandate classes to prepare for marriage, or to ban divorce? Until it does, you and your ilk can take your empty arguments that allowing a person to sit at the hospital bed of the one they love somehow undermines your narrow-minded definition of what you think we should all view as “marriage” and you can blow it out your ass, Mister J.P. Duffy.

Reference from the story at

Full text of the president’s memorandum

what is the definition? | 8:10 am CST
Category: current events, daily drivel, yet another rant | Tags: ,
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Friday, March 26th, 2010

politics, protest, health care, obamacareTo answer the sign-holder in the back: Well of course you don’t have to pay your taxes if that’s how you want to protest a policy. That’s what democracy’s about. It gets you thrown in jail, but that’s sort of the point of bucking authority.

Not paying your taxes won’t keep congress from enacting programs like health care reform, though. You’re imagining that they’re going to tax you to pay for it, when in fact what they will do is make up money out of thin air to pay for it.

Deficit spending: It’s the American way.

[Photo: NPR]

civily disobedient | 6:25 am CST
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Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Now that the nation is committed to Socialism, thanks to the newly-passed health care bill, I thought I’d post just one or two thoughts about the “conversation” going on about health care reform before our totalitarian overlords enslave us all with their mind control rays. It’s a virtual conversation because I can’t actually scream in your face or spit on you, the way most of the “conversation” has been carried on. Send me your address in e-mail and I’ll make up for it one day, if you like.

Can I just say first of all that it’s pretty creepy the way members of congress can read my disappointment, my concern, even my very thoughts? “The American People think this,” and “The American people want that.” It’s amazing. How do they do it? They’re a little indiscreet with broadcasting these thoughts on the radio and television every day, though. I kinda figured that was just something between us.

Considering how well they know my own thoughts, it’s more than a tiny bit alarming they don’t seem to realize they’re part of the government. “The government should have no part in health care reform,” I heard a member of congress say yesterday, speaking as if “the government” were some ravenous, fanged beast he was gallantly fighting saving us from. Then he went on to outline his plan to reform health care.

the American way | 8:16 pm CST
Category: current events, daily drivel, yet another rant | Tags:
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Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Not a hermaphrodite or transgendered so keep your gay eyes off his wee-weeDuncan Hunter, Republican representative from California and proud to be a Marine, doesn’t want transgendered hermaphroditic gays and lesbians (well, maybe lesbians would be okay) wantonly peeping at his wee-wee. He only wants that ‘special bond’ that exists in ‘very close situations’ in military life, and says so in no uncertain terms in the interview he gave to NPR:

Rep. Hunter: I think the folks who have been in the military that have been in these very close situations with each other, there has to be a special bond there. And I think that bond is broken if you open up the military to transgenders, to hermaphrodites, to gays and lesbians.

Melissa Block: Transgenders and hermaphrodites.

Rep. Hunter: Yeah, that’s going to be part of this whole thing. Its not just gays and lesbians. Its a whole gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual community. If you’re going to let anybody no matter what preference – what sexual preference they have, that means the military is going to probably let everybody in.

Everybody! Dogs and cats! Living together! It’ll be anarchy!

Duncan Lee Hunter | 8:42 am CST
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Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said on NPR this morning that everyone who paid taxes last year ought to receive stock in General Motors in order to get the federal government “out of the automobile business.”

This is what’s wrong with the federal government. Dorkwads like Alexander think we want them to shower us with shit. Like I want some worthless stock in a crappy car company.

Now, offer me stock in a good car company and maybe you’ve bought my vote.

how to buy my vote | 8:59 am CST
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Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Hard as life must be for Richard “Shoe Bomber” Reed, who got pinned with the dumbest terrorist nickname ever, not to mention that goofy photo, no amount of away time and psychoanalysis is going to let Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab live down the sobriquet “Underwear Bomber.” That’s gotta suck.

Let’s listen in to Fox News Network as they discuss terrorism with Joe Lieberman. These guys got all the answers, I’m tellin’ ya.

Fox guy: “This guy was able to get through security in Nigeria…”

Huh, I wonder how hard that is? Maximum security at American airports is, they make us take our shoes off and confiscate our shampoo. I’m thinking they’re probably not checking underpants in Nigeria.

Fox guy: “…got on this plane with this high explosive, PETN .. does that mean the terrorists are coming up with new weapons that can defeat our technology?”

Lieberman: “Richard Reed had a similar device on him eight years ago …’

So, no.

Lieberman: “A terrorist from Yemen went into Saudi Arabia with this same explosive and blew himself up … only slightly injured Prince Mohammed bin Naiev.”

The shoe bomber utterly failed to blow up an airliner, the underpants bomber failed to blow up an airliner, and there’s this other guy who failed to blow up the Saudi counterterrorism chief … if I was the Quaeda quartermaster, I’d take that lot of plastic explosives back to the factory and threaten to blow myself up if they didn’t give my laundered money back. That’d get a few laughs, I bet. “What are you gonna do, blow up your underpants at us?”

Lieberman: “The 9/11 happened because of a failure of imagination. We could not imagine that people could do what they did.”

Because it would be just impossible to imagine driving an airplane into a building a thousand feet tall. How would that even occur to a sane person? Just unimaginable.

[Oh, Joe, did you really say “the 9/11”? Thank you, thank you so much.]

Lieberman: “There have been privacy concerns about the use of these whole-body imaging devices, but I think those privacy concerns, which are frankly mild, have to fall…”

He says that now, but Senator Lieberman’s tune will soon change after the ghostly image of his pee-pee and buns shows up on the internet.

Pete the Pointing Guy: “We have about 90 Yemenis left in Gitmo. They should stay there. They should not go back to Yemen. If they go back to Yemen we will very soon find them back on the battlefield.”

Okay, then we could shoot them, right? Send them back to Yemen, have a planeload of Delta Force guys paradrop on top of them, as soon as the Yemenis step off the plane onto Yemeni soil, blam. That’s got to be legal. They’re officially enemy combatants. There’s only ninety of them. How long could it take for our boys to mow them all down with Tommy guns? I don’t see the problem here.

Lieberman: “[Guantanamo] is a first-class facility, it’s way above what’s required by the Geneva convention or our Constitution.”

Except maybe for that one teensy-tiny insignificant part about indefinite incarceration without due process, or a right to a speedy trial. Other than that it’s so totally Constitutional that George Washington himself would bust a chubby over it.

Lieberman: “If we don’t act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war.”

Am I presuming too much to hazard the guess that “acting preemptively” translates to “INVASION!”?

all the answers | 6:05 am CST
Category: current events, yet another rant | Tags:
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