dinsdag, december 31, 2002

Happy New Year, Mayakovsky!

With the last embers of the year smoldering on this final day of 2002, I end befittingly, as I do each year, with what is commonly held to be Mayakovsky's unfinished suicide note/poem.

At the top of my voice


She loves me—loves me not.
My hands I pick
and having broken my fingers
fling away.
So the first daisy-heads
one happens to flick
are plucked,
and guessing,
scattered into May.
Let a cut and shave
reveal my grey hairs.
Let the silver of the years
ring out endlessly !
Shameful common sense –
I hope, I swear –
Will never come
to me.


It’s already two.
No doubt, you’ve gone to sleep.
In the night
The Milky Way
with silver filigrees.
I don’t hurry,
and there is no point in me
waking and disturbing you
with express telegrams.


The sea goes to weep.
The sea goes to sleep.
As they say,
the incident has petered out.
The love boat of life
has crashed on philistine reefs
You and I
are quits.
No need to reiterate
mutual injuries,
and griefs.


D’you see,
In the world what a quiet sleeps.
Night tributes the sky
with silver constellations.
In such an hour as this,
one rises and speaks
to eras,
and world creation.


I know the power of words, I know words’ tocsin.
They’re not the kind applauded by the boxes.
From words like these coffins burst from the earth
and on their own four oaken legs stride forth.
It happens they reject you, unpublished, unprinted.
But saddle-girths tightening words gallop ahead.
See how the centuries ring and trains crawl
to lick poetry’s calloused hands.
I know the power of words. Seeming trifles that fall
like petals beneath the heel-taps of dance.
But man with his soul, his lips, his bones…

maandag, december 30, 2002

Home Made Al Qaeda Cells?

Getting the feeling of late that the Al Qaeda is everywhere? A diamond link with Africa, in the Phillipines, looking for nuclear bombs, etc., etc.

These reports have left many of us feeling as though the only place they haven't been spotted yet is popping up in the litterbox.

According to a report from Jihad Unspun however, not all of these Al Qaeda, "boogeyman under the bed" stories are necessarily legitimate. Jihad Unspun reports that the Mossad has been involved in an effort to create a phony Palestinian Al Qaeda cell for their own purposes.

Now, before any of you get the wise idea that you can start creating imaginary Al-Qaeda cells wherever you feel like it whenever the need for a scapegoat arises, you should know that the source of the Jihad Unspun article is the Executive Intelligence Review, a Lyndon LaRouche publication. LaRouche of course, is the same LaRouche who pointed to the "Zionist lobby," "Jewish gangsters," and "Christian Zionists" as forces that have sought to control U.S. policies towards Israel and have been "bought by money, the so-called Zionist money, and the mega crowd in New York." so his credibility is questionable at best but nevertheless, the question has been raised as to whether or not it will become fashionable to start up phony Al Qaeda cells whenever the need arises.

Think of them like sea monkeys, those miracles of nature created with a packet of "water purifier" and a packet of "instant life", reproduced anywhere, everywhere, all the time. And the next time you accidentally blow up your basement trying to manufacture crystal meth, if you can't find anyone else to blame, you can always blame Al Qaeda.

zondag, december 29, 2002

High Stakes Ping Pong in Pyongyang

As if the outrages of U.S. warmongers and their hostile policies toward the North Korean worker's paradise weren't enough, the Korean New Agency revealed that The Linguistic Society and the History Society of the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) just held a joint symposium on changing the English name of the country.

According to the speakers at the symposium, the Japanese imperialists changed "Corea", the English name of the peninsula used since the mid-13th century into "Korea" in a crafty and base method early in the 20th century. According to even historical data that have been discovered and ascertained so far, Corea had been publicly recognized as the English name for the country in the international community irrespective of any European languages from the 1250s to the end of the 1800s and the feudal government of the country also used "Corea" on its diplomatic documents and treaties signed with other countries.

But the Japanese imperialists changed "C", the first letter of "Corea", into "K", prompted by their wicked contention that Korea (Corea??!!) should always come after Japan on the international arena as it was their colony.

So now we know that the wacky Kim Jong-Il isn't the only paranoid pea in the pod. Of course, we should have known that ever since this past summer's World Cup when their hysterical brothers down in South Korea did nutty things like light themselves on fire in some symbolic effort to become the 12th soccer player by becoming a "spirit".

Now, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) more than 10,000 "citizens from all walks of life" gathered in the capital Pyongyang on Saturday to hear parliament vice-president Yang Hyong-sup and other officials denounce the United States, a fairly common activity these days in most of the Third World. The official rally "called on all the Koreans to turn out in the sacred anti-U.S. resistance to drive the U.S. imperialist aggressors out of South Korea and resolutely frustrate the nuclear racket of the U.S. aimed to bring clouds of war to hang over the Korean nation," KCNA said.

Imagine how much energy these people might have if they weren't all starving. Actually, in the fantasy world of North Korea, they aren't really starving, they are only on a mass Korean people "diet". According to the KCNA, it is the unshakable faith of the Korean people that Korean-style socialism is best as it guarantees dignity of an independent human being, and sound ideological and cultural life, harmonious life and equal material life are fully ensured, though their life is not yet affluent.

The only thing nuttier than this worker's paradise is the United Nations Security Council idea of threatening economic sanctions if North Korea if it does not abandon its effort to make nuclear weapons. Economic sanction? They don't even have food to eat. What is the United Nations Security Council planning on doing, taking away their dirt?

Raelian Membership Drive

Friday's claim by the Quebec-based Raelian sect that it has produced the first human clone read more like a National Enquirer headline than a legitimate claim of scientific fact.

According to the claim by resident nutcase spokesmodel, Brigitte Boisselier, chief executive of Clonaid, the 3.2-kilogram baby girl, named Eve, was born somewhere outside the United States at 11:55 a.m. on Thursday by Caesarean section. Yes, that's right sportsfans, born right here on Earth, not Krypton or some other galaxy far, far away. My first hope upon hearing the news was that maybe the Mets could get to work on cloning a Babe Ruth or two before spring training and if not the Babe, at least Ted Williams might still be unfrozen and made available.

Of course, this outrageous claim did not come provided with its own evidence. No two-headed baby, no arthritic sheep, no nuttin'. Just this weird-looking woman with her off-kilter French-born accented English telling the world that her psycho ward crew of alien-abducted publicity zealots have created a human clone by removing the nucleus from an egg of the woman -- a 31-year-old American -- and merged the altered egg with one of her skin cells. The DNA from the mother's skin cell took over direction of the egg. According to Dr. Screwball, the baby is an identical copy of the mother. No immediate word on when "Eve" will be released to assume control of planet Earth and begin turning us all into glassy-eyed robots but then again, a cheap gimmick designed to garner maximum publicity for an outlandish cult will need at least 8 or 9 days of intense world media speculation before everyone begins to realize this is just a rewrite of The Matrix where the majority of unborn humans are bred as a food supply for the elect few whose destiny it is to be born. Vast fields of human embryos and unborn children hang from tree-like structures waiting to be 'juiced' and liquefied. The resulting 'drinks' are then pumped intravenously into the veins of the chosen few.

''These are totally irresponsible experiments, and these people are totally without scientific credibility,'' said Rudolf Jaenisch, a professor of biology and an internationally reknowned transgenic researcher at MIT's Whitehead Institute. ''Their tales are fantastic.''

Fantastic is right. Based in Valcourt, Quebec, where the sect operates a sort of space alien theme park called UFOland, the Raelians advocate free love and believe that extraterrestials hatched humanity in a laboratory 25,000 years ago and then transplanted the new race to earth. According to Raelian teaching, the aliens explained that humanity had been created through DNA technology and then whisked super-freak and Rael founder, Claude Vorilhon to their planet, where his sexual needs were serviced by female robots and where he met Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha. When you've gone this crazy, a few unsubstantiated claims about cloning human babies is really just a drop in the bucket.

Not surprisingly, even though the proverbial placenta isn't even dry yet, there is already a clone right's activist group that has popped up like an unclaimed headache, demanding the right of every other nutjob and petty thief on earth to start cloning themselves.

If these Raelians really want us to take them seriously, they're going to have to get the ATF and Janet Reno to storm their compound and kill everyone. Until then, I'm not buying it.

dinsdag, december 24, 2002

Limited No-Trade Clauses

Yesterday's press conference for the newly-inked Cliff Floyd revealed, among other things, that he is safe to settle in. With the longevity and stability of his locale being essential, Floyd was able to get a complete no-trade clause for the first year of his deal and in the final three years, he is required to submit a list of "10 or 11 teams" to which he won't go.

All of this prompted my mind to wander into the fantasy world of a baseball player's existence and begin to consider if I were Cliff Floyd, what "10 or 11 teams" would I refuse to be traded to. What are the criteria for deciding where you won't go? The franchise itself? The stadium? The surrounding environs? The fans? The marketing possiblities? The chances of playing on a winner? All of these, one assumes, play at least a minor role in the decision, unless I would pretend to be a "real" athlete which would of course mean that I'd announce publically that my only interest is to "be near my family" and then whisper out of the corner of my mouth to my agent: "I don't care where the bleep I go, just get me megabucks!"

So, in further pursuit of entering this fantasy world uninhibitedly, this is my top five list of Teams I Would Refuse To Be Traded To, from the one I'd rather retire than play with down to the one I'd least like to play for:

1. Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Yes, it is nothing less than poetic justice that the whining, irredeemable Rey "Who You Callin' Stupid Now?" Ordonez was dumped off at this final frontier outpost of incapacity and ineptitude, these three stages of hell, this hinterland of baseball talent. The foremost reason Tampa Bay would be number one on my list of teams I would refuse to be traded to is their hidious excuse of a baseball stadium, Tropicana Field. Playing in a domed stadium with synthetic grass might be appropriate for fake talents like Rey Ordonez but for any other ball player, it is a sure sign you've finally connected with the other human inhabitants of the landscape of Hell. If you need a reason beyond the stadium, you might want to consider that they've never had a winning season and even with the magical Louuuuu, they probably won't see one any time soon. Lastly, Tampa Bay is in Florida, one of the most uninhabitable states in the union and guilty of the malefaction of being governed by an honorless farceur of a human being.

2. Milwaukee Brewers: Although there is high personal appeal for playing for a franchise that named itself after its city's well-known beer industry, Milwaukee's beer is much like its baseball team: it sucks. But the more specific reason not to allow myself to be traded to Milwaukee would be because it is associated with baseball's living anti-christ Bud Selig, former owner of the Brewers. His daughter, Wendy A. Selig-Prieb is the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Brewers and one can easily note, by a quick glance at the Brewers' won-lost record over the last decade, the result of having the infamous Selig touch defacing the franchise.

3. New York Yankees: I don't care how many World Championships the Yankees have won, I don't care how historic and prestigious Yankee Stadium is, I don't care what every romanticist in baseball says about playing for baseball's most over-rated wunderkind. I wouldn't play for the Yankees for one very big reason (besides hating them) and that is George M. Steinbrenner III. Steinbrenner, a closet dictator in a somnambulist's world, is the author of the autocratic edict against Yankee facial hair. Steinbrenner has a disturbing and well-documented disdain for beards, goatees, and mustaches. Why? Because, as anyone knows, you don't win world championships with facial hair. Keep your money George. Use it to buy some common sense.

4. Atlanta Braves: Reason Number One, you have to play in the state of Georgia, home of the Griner Brothers and a few hundred deformed first cousins in Deliverance. I don't think it's possible to concentrate on baseball when all you hear throughout the stadium is Wheeeeee!. The other reason is that judging by the attendance at playoff and World Series games, no one in Atlanta cares about baseball. They must be too busy filling out their Georgia State Residency Applications. Lastly, it's just too damned confusing to try and figure out the exchange rate of American to Confederate dollars.

5. Florida Marlins: This has something to do with the fact that they play their home games in a baseball stadium which was built as a football stadium and sits on a street called Dan Marino Blvd for crissakes. How inspirational can that be for a baseball player? Sorry chump, you're playing the wrong sport here. Even if they had a different stadium they've had only one winning season out of the ten they've played in history so if you play for the Florida Marlins you might as well get good at losing because there aren't going to be many other kinds of moments there to experience, other than having to fight off Cubans washing up on shore like dead jellyfish every time you want to take a stroll on the beach. Florida's state motto is "In God We Trust". Not only unoriginal, but irrelevant. God isn't the team manager and even if he was, it's doubtful even he would be able to twist his attention away from the Calder Race Course and pari-mutuel gambling long enough to turn the Marlins into winners.

maandag, december 23, 2002

Kim Jong-il, Faggots and Fires

The Korean News Agency of the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea -- that's North Korea, home of the Kim Jong-il for those of you not already hip and a member of his fan club), has urged Japan not to put unreasonable pressure on the darling of the DPKR over its new nuclear power policy which basically thumbs its nose at the US and its allies the region.

The official statement warns that Japan's "taking an active part in such dangerous campaign is little short of committing a suicide such as jumping into fire with faggot on its back". This of course induced all sorts of strange imagery for me of Samurai swordsmen trying to jump over roaring fires with Charles Nelson Reilly tied to their back while Big Brother Kim Jong "He Be Illin'" wags a warning finger in their faces. But no, in fact, faggot also can mean a bundle of sticks and twigs and such bound together which of course, is something you would not want to have tied to your back when jumping over a fire. Kudos to the crack DPRK translating team on that one.

Of course, this doesn't answer the question of what to do about North Korea's bold decision decision to remove U.N. seals and surveillance cameras from its nuclear facilities.

The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov waxed poetic on how "it is counter-productive and dangerous to blackmail North Korea, with its grave economic position" but as usual, Donald Rumsfeld was less sympathetic and compromising on the plight of his enemies, asking, perhaps somewhat rhetorically "Do you think it's the idea of the rhetoric from the United States that's causing them to starve their people or to do these idiotic things or try to build a nuclear power plant?"

Meanwhile, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises that "Independent tourism is not permitted in the DPRK. Tourism is only permitted in groups organised by DPRK officials." It further states that Australians "are advised that there are continuing serious energy, pharmaceutical and other shortages that may impact on their visit." I didn't know such advice was necessary. Why the hell do Australians want to go to North Korea as tourists anyway? What are they going to there to do anyway? Witness food shortages and watch people kill each other over a celery stick? Dazzle their neighbors at the next shrimp on the barbie with photographs of malnourished North Korean babies?

It isn't clear why a government who can't feed their people anything more inventive than dirt sandwiches and wind soup at the Great Famine Buffet would want to spend their last wons on visions of world nuclear domination and scaring their neighbors back into their holes but it does lend a little insight on their culture when their analogy for suicide is jumping over a fire with a bundle of sticks tied to their backs.

From the Strange But True Collective:

Yeah, But Does She Burp Them Afterwards?

From the country that brought you the Serpent Sediment Sluicing System and the paper clip comes yet another coupler in the inexhaustible chain of fantastic Norwegian ingenuity.

The Aftenposten reports that Kine Skiaker, a Norwegian mother, already nursing her own infant son, took a litter of puppies to her own breast when her dog died giving birth. Yes, that's right, breast feeding her own puppies.

In researching the issue of dog diets, for some crazy reason, I was unable to come across any literature on the benefits of human breast milk for dogs. Of course, I don't have access to Norwegian medical journals but nevertheless, I wondered if the lack of information might have something to do with the question of what kind of maniac breast feeds puppies?. Imagine my surprise to learn that dog's milk, or Lac caninum, is a medicine with a strong action on the human female hormonal system and a great remedy for agressive PMS sufferers.

Of course, when a "normal" person's puppy loses its mother during birth, the "normal" person might consider Esbilac milk replacement formula rather than ripping open her blouse and slapping the poor pooch's puppy lips to her breasts to indulge in some sort of bizarre ritualistic Norwegian milking fantasy. More frightening still is that she was using the same teet to breast feed her own child! "A dog's mouth contains a lot of bacteria," says Dr. Gary "Ask the Vet" Clemons. "Remember, a dog's tongue is not only his wash cloth but also his toilet paper." Yum.

In the end, both the mother pup and three of the puppies died, while another three died later but Ms. Skiaker was able, with her quick thinking and heavy lactating, to save eight puppies, one of whom may grow up some day to become a proud member of the Norwegian Royal Family, from a tragic breast milk shortage.

No word yet on when Ms. Skiaker is expected to stop peeing on fire hydrants and beggging for food scraps from her husband at the kitchen table.

zaterdag, december 21, 2002

Atlanta's Collective Question: Johnny Who??
"Hey, Johnny Estrada isn't chopped liver,"
-----Phillies Larry Bowa

Maybe Johnny Estrada is not chopped liver but he ain't no freakin foie gras either. Yesterday, in what may be the biggest tragedy in Atlanta since Mark Barton bludgeoned his family to death and then calmly strolled into two Atlanta office buildings and in cold blood kill nine people before turning a gun on himself a few hours later, the Atlanta Braves further sabotaged their 2003 season by dumping Kevin Millwood, one of the National League's young stars (75-46 with 3.73 career ERA by age 28) in exchange for a guy who couldn't hit .300 in AAA Scranton last year, Johnny Estrada.

Even Braves GM John Schuerholz had to concede: "We did not initiate this to get Johnny Estrada. . . . We were unable to finalize anything else." Not exactly a rhapsodic endorsement. Schuerholz sought to blame it all on the "new era of baseball" and "the economics of the game," "We had no choice but to try and manage our payroll as best we could, and we had to trade Kevin Millwood to do that," Schuerholz said in a conference call. "It wasn't a pleasant or easy thing to do, but in doing it, we got a guy we have very high regard for as our catcher of the future. I'm not so sure when that future begins." Whenever that future begins, it doesn't look good. Thus have the Braves changed 60 percent of their rotation while getting slightly older and, on the record, demonstrably worse. (Glavine, Millwood and Moss were 48-25 last season with a 3.19 ERA. Ortiz, Byrd and Mike Hampton were 38-36 with a 4.45 ERA.). They've lost the two set-up men who made their bullpen baseball's best. They've done nothing to spruce up their shabby infield. They do, however, have Johnny Estrada. Back in Triple A in 2002, Estrada batted .279 with 11 homers and 67 RBIs and has an acknowledged weakness handling pitchers.

Not that this new development doesn't fill me with the sort of ebullient thrill that only watching your enemy expire before your very eyes could produce.

So now it looks as though the Phillies are a team to be reckoned with in our division. For the Phillies, this trade ranks up there with getting Steve Carlton in 1972 from the Cardinals for a mere Rick Wise. Carlton won 27 games for the last-place Phillies, while Wise went 16-16 for St. Louis. Wise spent one more season in the Redbird rotation while Carlton anchored the Phils staff for more than a dozen years, winning three Cy Young awards and setting strikeout records. Or even the big scam of 1992 when the Phillies got Curt Schilling from the Astros for very laughable price of Jason Grimsley. Grimsley never pitched for the Astros, moving on to Cleveland and later two more teams, winning a ML total 29 games through 2001. Schilling became the ace of the Phillies, helping them to the 1993 World Series. and despite three injury-marred campaigns in Philadelphia, Schilling won 101 games for the Phils in his nine seasons.

But c'mon these are the Phillies after all, losers of 14 out of the last 16 seasons. Getting Thome and David Bell and Millwood are going to improve them but they will still be "managed" by Larry Bowa, a career flounderer with a lifetime losing record as manager and a history of miscalculation and gracelessness. Bowa would have managed the 1927 Yankees into the second division.

As for our Mets, yesterday was a melange of good and bad news. I was sad to see Nakamura crawl like a coward back to the safety and stability of the Nippon baseball league but hey, at least now he can continue to watch daikaiju movies without those ridiculously overdubbed dialogues and won't have to listen to Dave O'Brien nickname him Norihiro "He's No Hero" Nakamura as he breaks Bobby Bonds' major-league record of 189 strikeouts in a season. "I have my own style and pride as a baseball player and I found the answer when I thought which club can make me express myself the best way," Nakamura told Japanese TV network Fuji last night. Head Cheerleader and General Manager of Stupid Moves Steve Phillips was nonplussed: "Despite Mr. Nakamura's decision, today was a productive day for the Mets' organization."

And hey, they signed Cliff "All-Disabled List" Floyd, who brings a dimension that the Mets have lacked in recent years: a run-producing outfielder who can hit with power, get on base and adequately defend his position, provided of course, he can stay healthy.

Not to be a killjoy but the Mets are still missing the entire left side of the infield and the prospects are not good to say the least. When Nakamura decided to stay and hide beneath a pile of geisha kimonos it left the Mets without any interesting options to fill the hole left by Alfonzo's departure. Not that Alfonzo was worth the absurd $26 million contract the Giants donated to him but really, Cliff Floyd or not, how excited can you possibly get about signing a sapless leper like Bill Mueller to man the hot corner? And worse still, after Mueller, the list of available bodies becomes even more lamentable. Don't try to sell me on wiff-machine Jose Hernandez by pointing out that he's available. Of course he's available. He strikes out more than a Branch Dividian at a Janet Reno convention. They say Desi Relaford is untendered and available. But Desi Relaford isn't the kind of hitter who makes pitchers sweat. And he's not even a regular third baseman. Then again, there's always Tiger-reject Chris Truby if you really want a laugh.

And if you think this is a nightmare scenario, start pondering which stiff we can stick in the shortstop vacancy.

Signing Cliff Floyd is a nice distraction. But with half the infield missing, no word on the Fat Man's off season progress with his diet and two-thirds of the starting outfield serving as inedible trade bait, the Mets are still going nowhere fast. Almost as fast as the Braves.

donderdag, december 19, 2002

Saddam, Literary Pioneer
"Don't be attracted to easy paths because the paths that make your feet bleed are the only way to get ahead in life."
Saddam Hussein in his Book of Wisdom

I'll keep that one in mind, Saddam. Bloody feet are the way to success. In the meantime, Saddam's new bestselling pamphlet is one most Iraqis were already familiar: 57 quotations drawn from speeches made by Saddam, including one in 2000 marking the 12th anniversary of the end of the Iran-Iraq war. The most recent speech, delivered in August of this year, is chock-full of enlightening mouthfuls like the unforgettable "Nay, we hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it knocks out its brain, and behold, falsehood doth perish!"

And lest you think this to be merely beginner's luck, you should know that this isn't even his first novel. "Zabibah wal-Malik" (Zabibah and the King), was purchased by the CIA in a London bookstore after the Saudi-owned, London-based Al Sharq Al Awsat daily identified its author as the Iraqi leader -- on the book’s cover only appear the words "by its author." And the pro-Iraqi Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi wrote that the fact that there was no criticism following news of the book "strongly" suggested that Saddam Hussein did write it.

CIA officials have read between the lines to find what they claim is an intriguing window into Hussein’s thinking. They believe Zabibah represents the Iraqi people. "In the book, Saddam is the king, and the king is apologetic to the people. He says: ‘I’m a great leader. You must obey me. Not only that, you must love me’," said one US official.

"The book is a kind of dirge," another official critically panned. "The king is talking about his death. Every time I read the book I feel for the king. This is what Saddam wants the people to do -- to feel for him."

As I've said before, one of the primary benefits of a looming war against Iraq, or any other Middle Eastern nation for that matter, is the staggering, metaphorical palavers foisted upon us by our "enemy" governments. Do you think Bush's speechwriter is clever enough to come up with such megahits as :

"The forces of evil will carry their coffins on their backs, to die in disgraceful failure, taking their schemes back with them, or to dig their own graves, after they bring death to themselves on every Arab or Muslim soil against which they perpetrate aggression, including the Iraq, the land of Jihad and the banner.

Fat chance. And now comes the officially titled: “Saddam Hussein: Great Lessons, Commandments to Strugglers, the Patient and Holy Warriors.”, another plush serial of Saddam's commandments to cover all aspects of life. He advises against making decisions in anger or humiliating an enemy after defeating him. He calls for doing good, depending on brains as well as brawn, ruling fairly, planning well, keeping people's secrets and learning from others' mistakes.

Oft-compared to the irascible Chairman Mao's literary standard, The Little Red Book, Hussein's speeches and text is an almost inexhaustible exuberance of insight and acumen filled with good advise like "Don’t let he who thinks you despise him get close to you.".

If only he were my neighbor! When he writes: "Don’t treat your friend and your enemy equally even if you reconcile with the second. That way your enemy doesn’t scorn you and your friend doesn’t look down on the meaning of friendship and its rights.", I feel like nominating him as leader of my condo board! I mean who else can provide us with such insight and perspicacity?

Haven't heard enough engaging and delightful prose yet? Saddam writes in much the same vein of a hipster melodrama full of anger and hope: "Don’t provoke a snake unless you have the intention and power to cut off its head.", which, were it written as a popular soda jingle, could have become the mantra of our generation.

Nevertheless, someone may be ghostwriting for Saddam in the near future. He has, according to his enemies, failed the crucial United Nations test by supplying an untruthful declaration about weapons of mass destruction. Mais naturellement! What would one expect from a tortured artiste??

Is his alleged scorched earth work a potential masterpiece? Here we confront an avant-garde, unique and uncommon interpretation of defying commercialism which, in the process, developes a stroke all its own. Of course! But as Saddam always says, paints, brushes, sketchpads, pencils, crayons, photo albums, and leatherbound journals in hand, "Keep your eyes on your enemy and be faster than him."

He may have to. Some might find parts a this new work a little touchy-feely for their tastes and once one of the most famous men in the world, Saddam is quickly on the road to becoming nothing more than a ghost - a shrill, disembodied voice heard only in faraway countries. The literary community will mourn him.

woensdag, december 18, 2002

Venezuela 101: It's the Oil, Stupid

Perhaps lost in the cacophony of belicose militarists and political pundits loudly collecting bets on the exact date and time of Trent Lott's resignation, the fourth-largest exporter of oil to the United States and the world's 5th largest exporter of oil, is quite busy itself these days fending off imminent collapse.

Venezuela, escaping all but the most astute news radar, has been embroiled in a national strike against President Hugo Chavez's rule that has crippled South America's largest oil producer, slashing output to less than 15 percent of normal levels and sending shock waves through world oil markets. The strike -- in its 17th day -- has reduced oil output from nearly 3 million barrels per day to 400,000, sending the world price of crude oil above $30 a barrel and depriving the country of $50 million a day in export income.

The opposition -- which consists of the main Chamber of Commerce Fedecameras, the union federation CTV, the coalition of opposition parties and organizations gathered under the “Coordinadora Democratica,” and the private mass media --
accuses Chavez of polarizing Venezuelan society and subverting democratic rule and wants the elected president to resign or submit to a referendum on whether he should remain in office. Chavez, of course, who was elected in 1998 and survived a coup in April, is refusing opposition calls to quit and stage early elections. He has vowed to break the strike.

The OAS (Organization of American States) has reaffirmed its support of Chavez's government and "reject(s) categorically any attempt at a coup d’état or unconstitutional alteration of the Venezuelan constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order.”

In a previous coup attempt against Chavez, in April of this year, following an oil industry strike organized by the bosses and a big antigovernment demonstration in Caracas that ended in violence, Chávez was arrested, and Pedro Carmona, the head of Venezuela’s main business organization, was installed in power. Officials at the Organization of American States and other diplomatic sources, talking to The Observer, asserted at the time that the US administration was not only aware the coup was about to take place, but had sanctioned it, presuming it to be destined for success.

This time around the Bush administration is only saying it supports a referendum on embattled Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, backing away from calls for immediate elections that could violate the country's constitution. Last Friday, the White House increased pressure on Chavez, saying that early elections were the only viable solution to Venezuela's political turmoil.

So, as usual, the primary question is: Who is telling the truth?

Well first, let's look at why the US wouldn't want to support Chavez, jettisoning, of course, any silly notions that the US Government actually cares whether or not Venezuela is a democracy or a autocracy, so long as they like us and give us lots of oil on the cheap:

For starters, Chavez branded the US attacks on Afghanistan as "fighting terrorism with terrorism"and demanded an end to "the slaughter of innocents"; holding up photographs of children killed in the American bombing attacks, while saying their deaths had "no justification, just as the attacks in New York did not, either." A real no-no.

In addition, Chavez is very friendly with Fidel Castro and sells oil to Cuba at discount rates. He has allegedlhy refused to provide US intelligence agencies with information on Venezuela's large Arab community. He has questioned the sanctity of globalization and has promoted a regional free-trade bloc and united Latin American petroleum operations as a way to break free from US economic dominance. In other words, he is not a very good puppet.

Ok, so it's pretty clear why the US Government doesn't support Chavez, but why don't some of these pesky Venezuelans he governs support him? His opponents accuse him of ruining the economy, being a dictator and of dragging Venezuela toward a Cuban-styled communism. Yet, there are plenty of chavistas who still support him.

On the 8th day of the strike, they surrounded the headquarters of all of the major television stations in the capital and of several in the rest of the country, staging loud pot-banging “"cacerolazos". (The opposition had already pioneered such protests on a regular basis at the building of the state-run television channel, ever since the two-day coup in April, but this never received any media attention, not even from the affected station.) After a couple hours of pot-banging, the demonstrators withdrew, at the behest of pro-Chavez legislators and OAS general secretary Cesar Gaviria.

While the strike has been relatively ineffective in the general population and especially among the poor, it has had its most devastating effect in the state-owned oil company, PDVSA. With the complete shut-down of Venezuela’s main oil refinery, which is also one of the largest in the world, the walk-out of key dock workers, and the anchoring of tankers off of Venezuela’s main ports, the supply of oil has been halved, from 3 million barrels per day (bpd) to 1.5 million bpd.

What's next? Well first of all, they need to get on with baseball. Clearly, there will be no lucid discussions about anything until the absurd postponement of the Venezuelan Baseball League has concluded and fans can go back to cheering strikes instead of going on them.

Until then, they'd better get that oil moving because it represents 50 percent of the government's operating revenue. Chavez is going to face serious issues. He's not going to have funds even to pay salaries of the military that support him. So the oil picture is going to put them under great pressure, and the longer there is a work stoppage in the oil sector, the more and more pressure that's going to be brought to bear on the country in all sectors.

Besides, if they don't solve it soon, even less than the near nobody that currently cares about their crisis, is going to care at all later on. While Venezuela is torn to shreds by extremists on both sides, the rest of the world will be busy with arranging their ring side seats for their own extremist heavyweight bout to come.

dinsdag, december 17, 2002

Zit Bread

From the "in case you missed this vital information" Department, a report by Dr. Loren Cordain, an evolutionary biologist in Colorado State University shows that teenagers who eat refined white bread run a far greater risk of suffering from acne than those who eat a diet of what they describe as “naturally produced bread”.

In fact, even the BBC reported that eating too much bread in general may trigger acne in teenagers.

Scientist Paul Stitt takes it a step further with his impassioned claim that "White bread is slightly better than living on candy bars and soda pop. ...it's an absolute crime against humanity when you intentionally make food products that...you know are going to make people sick, are going to make them operate inefficiently and feel lousy and create all kinds of health problems down the road."

As this new war on white bread gains momentum, there is no word yet on the report that teenagers who eat black bread score lower on their SATs than those who eat white bread nor that those eating black bread are 23% more inclined to need institutional long-term care by the age of 33.

Really horrible death photos to make you squirm or cough up lunch.
Porno for Politicos

The US Senate chambers, in addition to the Vice Presidential bust collection, recently added, temporarily anyway, to their internal television system, a porno movie viewing channel.

According to Roll Call, an employee in the Senate Recording Studio had been dubbing a pornographic tape on taxpayer time and "to add insult to injury, he pushed the wrong button and [the porn movie] went out over Channel 5," Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Alfonso Lenhardt confirmed in an interview.

The Sergeant-at-Arms said the employee in question, whom he would not identify, has been suspended pending an investigation by officials from the human resources office. The employee is being disciplined for violating workplace rules prohibiting the use of pornography at work and using a nonofficial tape on the job.

It's interesting to me that there even has to be a rule prohibiting the use of pornography at work in the Senate. I mean, yeah, maybe in the Supreme Court where Clarence Thomas' alleged predilection for pornography is well-documented, but the Senate? I'd have figured on a rule prohibiting white hoods but never pornography.

When asked for the name of the movie in question, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Alfonso Lenhardt answered matter-of-factly, "I have no idea. I did not see the video so I couldn't speak to that." This leaves me to believe if he had seen the video, there was a reasonably good chance that he could identify it. Note how Lenhardt qualifies his abhorance for pornography "in the workplace" but does not declare his enmity for pornography in general.

Rumor has it, the Senate Chambers Cable Channel, stripped of its pornographic programming, will resort to replaying soft-porn episodes starring former "Survivor" cast member Brian Heidik for future early-morning sausage and biscuit breakfast events.

Murder, Death, Kill

Thanks to Samizdata for this first rate video footage from an American AC-130 gunship

maandag, december 16, 2002

Mullah or Mayor?

For 25 years, in the exact same spot in Times Square, a famous billboard for Camel cigarettes blew 15 two-foot tall smoke rings across Broadway. In June of 2001, instead of smoke rings, a quick sign began flashing across a giant television screen: "Quit Yet?"

Since then, Mayor Baffoonberg and the City Council reached an agreement this past Wednesday to extend restrictions on indoor smoking in a bid to protect restaurant and bar employees from the dangers of second-hand smoke. Smoking will still be allowed in some portions of outdoor cafes; in bars that build specially ventilated smoking rooms where employees would not enter; in private clubs such as American Legion halls; in nursing homes and other residential facilities that have smoking rooms; and in existing cigar bars.

Why? Well, for one, according to a Baffoonberg administrative official, he pushed for it "for all the same reasons he pushed the cigarette tax. He makes changes to things that he thinks are important." The cigarette tax raised the tax on each pack from 8 cents to $1.50 and drove the price of some name brands to more than $7 per pack. "You really have to be out of your mind to smoke," Baffoonberg pontificates. "What we are trying to do is provide a smoke-free environment for people." He said his aim in raising that sin tax was to deter smoking by making it prohibitively expensive.

For some very unfunny reason, this fundamentalist's logic against democracy and its related action reminds me of the Taliban's absurdist edicts against everything from all music except religious songs to any books and publications published outside Afghanistan. Bans created because sometimes, the rights of citizens get in the way of the pursuit of pure ideology.

Not long ago, smoking was a pleasurable minor vice indulged in by millions. Today, it is being outlawed everywhere, even though the lion's share of tobacco-company profits go into the coffers of government, as it weeps crocodile tears for the cancer victims. Back in the day when NYC was run by an infinitely more cunning and competent mayor, Rudy Giuliani said he thought, with regards to smoking ban regulations, "you have to balance the interest people have in not being affected by secondary smoke, which is satisfied by the fact that in restaurants there is none, as against the interest of people who want to smoke," the mayor said. "They have a right to make that choice."

Not according to Baffoonberg and his allies who insist that "workplace safety" is their primary concern. According to political puppet and resident sycophant City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, "The purpose here is not to punish smokers but to protect employees."

While it plucks the strings of my heart to know that their concern is so strong for the employees, it should be noted that the American Council on Science and Health considers the hysterical claims by Bloomberg and his anti-smoking toadies in pursuit of their absolutist agenda to be hyperbolistic and absurdist. Further, if these closet autocrats are soooo concerned about employee health, how come they let so many fat and out of shape people on worksites? Isn't a fat cop for example, a bigger risk, not only to himself but to the citizens he is supposed to help protect when he is too out of shape and fat to chase criminals? How risky is it for some fat-ass construction worker handling heavy loads of equipment or materials, not only for the fat-ass himself, but to those around him who might have something big and heavy, like the construction worker himself, fall on some unsuspecting citizen passing by a construction site?

And for that matter, what about fatty fast food establishments and their employees? How healthy is it for people who, as far as I can discern, are by majority, already fat slobs and over-eaters to begin with, to be standing around all that fat, greasy food all day long? How healthy is it for these crazy "out of their mind" people to consume fat, greasy food every day? Isn't the mere existence of unhealthy, fat and greasy fast-food establishments a concern for our paternalistic Tom Thumb mayor?

And what about Bloomberg employees? So concerned as he is for the health of our poor bar and restaurant workers, how does he treat his own employees? You might find the Columbia Journalism Reviews article on what it takes to be a Bloomsberg employee interesting as it notes our merry midget proudly boasts that he makes no apologies for "sweatshop" conditions at Bloomberg Business News. "We hire people who are workaholics," he says. "Anybody I've ever known who's accomplished anything works very hard." So, it might appear that Bloomberg believes that so long as you work hard and "accomplish" something, your health is irrelevant. Of course, this doesn't quite jibe with this alleged passion for the health of workers this anti-smoking bill pretends to concern itself with but hey, this is HIS business we're talking about, not yours.

Further evidence of Bloomberg's great compassion for his workers? They grimly joke about the "Bloomberg waistline," the result of the free Snapple, lunches, and snacks that are always available, enabling them, of course, to remain tied to their computers. In other words, become an unhealthy, over-stressed and over-worked fat-ass and prime heart attack candidate so Mike Baffoonberg can make the big bucks.

Sounds like compassion to me. But the job isn't finished Mayor. There's still plenty more to outlaw. Look at how many things the Taliban was able to outlaw. You're still too far behind and there aren't that many years left until the next elections. You'd better hurry. Accomplish something meaningful. Ban McDonalds.

Trouble In Paradise and The Idiot's Guide to Argumentum ad Captandum

Underscoring the bizarre squabble of competing populists, Al Bawaba reports that Palestinian leader and defacto terrorist Yasser Arafat demanded in a newspaper interview on Sunday that al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden stop exploiting the Palestinian issue to further his own interests.

"Why is bin Laden talking about Palestine now?" he asked in an interview with Britain's Sunday Times. "He never helped us. He was working in another, completely different area and against our interests." Late in November, Bin Laden's spokesman Sulaiman abu Ghaith said, "Liberation of our holy places, led by Palestine, is our central issue".

Last month al-Qaida also claimed responsibility for twin terror attacks against Israelis in Kenya, calling the attacks a "Ramadan greeting" to the Palestinian people, referring to the Muslim holy month. The statement was seen as an attempt to win support for the terror network in the Arab and Muslim world, where resentment of Israel's conflict with the Palestinians is high. Recently the Israelis claimed that al-Qaida members had infiltrated into the Gaza Strip, but the Palestinians hotly denied that.

Meanwhile the Debka File has reported that their experts on terror assert that al Qaeda terrorists are in Israel at the invitation of Yasser Arafat and with logistical support approved by him in person. He imported the Hizballah first, then Osama bin Laden’s Islamic fighters, to advance his single, never-changing goal, to fight Israel until it is destroyed.

Is this merely a lover's quarrel or is it another annotation in Arafat's history of big lies formulated to take heat off of himself in a time of crisis? Is he just trying to whine his way into Xmas in Jerusalem or is he just looking for new material to bitch about in his diary?

Arafat's lack of credibility when speaking to the foreign public is no secret. He loves to lie. Stephen Small, a doctor in developmental psychology notes that children lie for a number of reasons, including:

A.) To make themselves look better in the eyes of others because they don't feel good about themselves;
B.) To avoid punishment because they don't feel they can handle their parents' anger or the consequences of their wrongdoing; or
C.) To avoid responsibility because they don't want to do what's expected.

It doesn't take a doctorate to figure out that Arafat doesn't want to do what is expected of him and is trying to avoid the responsibility for not doing so. It doesn't take a doctorate to figure out that Arafat's game is survival and there isn't much room for truth in the world of survival. Dr. Small says parents can teach children the benefits of telling the truth by citing examples from fairy tales and from real life in which telling the truth was important and helpful.

Arafat might want to check out The Brothers Grim's tale called Old Sultan which begins, appropriately enough: A Shepherd had a faithful dog, called Sultan, who was grown very old, and had lost all his teeth. And one day when the shepherd and his wife were standing together before the house, the shepherd said, ‘I will shoot old Sultan to-morrow morning, for he is of no use now.’ But his wife said, ‘Pray let the poor faithful creature live; be has served us well a great many years, and we ought to give him a livelihood for the rest of his days.’ ‘But what can we do with him?’ said the shepherd, ‘be has not a tooth in his head, and the thieves don’t care for him at all; to be sure he has served us, but then he did it to earn his livelihood; to-morrow shall be his last day, depend upon it.’

vrijdag, december 13, 2002

Bush Rape Rap

Paula Jones, Step Aside. Dubya Sprouts A Monica

Don't look now sportsfans but in what might be construed by many Conservative casuists as a bit of speculative puffery, Pravda reports that an American woman named Margie Schoedinger filed a sex crime lawsuit against our Fearless Leader, George W. Bush.

The allegation claims that "In her suit, Margie Schoedinger states that George W. Bush committed sexual crimes against her, organized harassment and moral pressure on her, her family members and close relatives and friends. As Schoedinger said, she was strongly recommended to keep her mouth shut. In addition to that, three unknown men attempted to kidnap her on October 26, 2000.

Margie Schoedinger further alleges that both she and her husband were drugged after she was raped. She can only state that “those men purported to be FBI agents raping her for the purpose of covering for how many times they had drugged her and allowed the Defendant (George W. Bush) to rape her in the same manner.” (?)

As a result of all that, pregnant Margie Schoedinger was hospitalized. She had a miscarriage. As she says, George W. Bush was the father of the lost child. Furthermore, she alleges that George Bush attempted to pressure her to the point of commiting suicide. Margie Schoedinger’s husband was fired from work. Her husband has been unable to find any job since then. He does not get the federal unemployment allowance either. Later, Margie Schoedinger learned that both police officers and FBI agents acted like that at the behest of the defendant, incumbent President George W. Bush.

The Sugar Land police decided to conduct a background investigation into Margie Schoedinger’s past activities. As it turned out, she “had seven dates, (which then became seven lovers), had told no lies, committed no crimes, gotten two traffic tickets and dated George W. Bush as a minor.”

Kook? Delusionalist? Who knows. This is how Paula Jones got her start. This is how they all start out. Creepy and weird, before blowing into full proportion.

Who knows, maybe it was all a mistake. Maybe later she might recall that while it wasn't actually President Bush who raped her, a "mysterious" and "belabored" Senator from Mississippi was seen fleeing from the scene shortly thereafter.

donderdag, december 12, 2002

The Longest Suicide Note In History

Timothy Garton Ash writes in today's edition of The Age that "in his 12,000-page report to the UN, Saddam has written the longest suicide note in history". There seems to be no clear consensus on what the ideal length of a suicide note should be but one would probably be safe to venture that 12,000 pages is a bit excessive.

What the hell could one possibly have to say in a 12,000 page suicide note? Not even the poet Hart Crane felt compelled to orate long-windedly in explanation. Crane's last words as he jumped off the cruise ship "Orizaba" were "Goodbye, everybody!", hardly qualify as a maundering disquisition.

Curious as to the proper etiquette of writing a suicide note, I found that one of the major things to avoid is ambiguity and contradiction. Granted, I have not yet completed the full translation of my Time-Life series copy of Iraq's Weapons Declaration but something tells me, if the statements of Jack Straw are any indication, this "suicide note" was a pack of lies, filled with little but ambiguity and contradiction. So perhaps Saddam should go into the rewrite phase while there is still time.

Ash notes in his article that "Saddam's solemn claim that he has no more weapons of mass destruction is a blow to those who still hoped for a peaceful solution and a gift to those who think toppling him by force of arms is the only path to effective disarmament. My clear impression from talking to people inside and close to the Bush administration is that this war is now a matter of when and how rather than whether." Rummy has said as much, telling Iraq that the game is up. Must be time for a little euthanasia. Bring on the candles and violins.

As such, perhaps Saddam should consider editing his suicide note, paring it down to a more palatable number of pages, say, one leaflet's worth, something brief and concise, like he said following the Khobar Towers Bombing, June 25, 1996: "The U.S. should send more coffins to Saudi Arabia, because no one can guess what the future has in store."

Otherwise, you might just want to email your encouragement to him personally. Time may be running out.

Nomination From The Grave

The readers of the Brussel's weekly European Voice last week recognized Pim Fortuyn as "European Politician of the Year" for his invigoration of the Dutch political scene. The 54-year-old politician, who led his anti-immigration party to prominence in the Netherlands, was murdered in May 2002.

Below is a poem I wrote in reaction shortly after the assassination:

At Your Service

Verveelt nooit het uitzicht
van een vernauwende gracht
die snikkend en bloemen me draagt?

Te sterven op het juiste moment,
liggende in stakende volgorde
met kaarsen, en verwelkende
de versterte herinneringen –
Totdat de hekken van de Kathedraal
waar een helden beeldnis
recht op heeft?

De schreeuwende waarheid
is door de straten gedragen,
verminkt door een escadrille van media
authentiekte in het bejaardentehuis
van de achterkamer politici,
verraad bij verraad
de oogen barsten:
barst de bom van de woede:
Een brandstapel van menselijke dromen,
waarvon de assen
door kijkcijferzoekers
verzamelt zijn.

Zij rouwen massal;
insinuaties, schuldigen, ongelovingen,
een nieuwe geschiednis zonder herkenbare straten,
een kaartje van bedreigingen,
toeschouwers en kandidaten.

Het verveelt nooit,
droefheid die zo geregiseerd is,
de manipulatie neemt zijn eigen slachtoffers mee;
Te scheppen of stuktemaken
is de vrede vraag.

woensdag, december 11, 2002

I don't normally just post a link with no comment, but this web site merits special consideration.
Whimperwood's Stars Stump For Peace

In yet another penetrating illustration of irrelevance, a number of bad actors accumulated yesterday to publicize a letter urging President Bush to avoid military action. As much as I applaud the efforts of people trying to prevent a war they believe is unjust, I have to wonder just why it is these luminaries believe anyone would trouble themselves over a powerless, plebeian core of quasi-thespians whining about the inevitable and underscoring the futility of their stardom.

Take a look, for example, at the star list that assembled yesterday: Tony "Token Arab-American" Shalhoub, Martin "TV President" Sheen and Mike M*A*S*H* Made My Life" Farrell were the headliners. I last saw Shalhoub, ironically enough, in some terrorist flick called The Seige wherein he portrays an Arab-American good guy must fight for his family's rights as the citizens of New York become increasingly paranoid about the Arab-American population. Yesterday he asked: "Where is the next pre-emptive strike?"

Sheen, an activist who apparently believes that the role that he currently plays as the President of the United States on West Wing isn't sufficient to change American foreign policy and so has taken to preaching from his petulant little Hollywood soapbox, led them all. Again, it isn't the message as much as the messenger that I vehemently execrate. When I need to get my politics from actors, I'll wait until another one of these addle-brained dons like Ronald Reagan comes along to screw things up.

Farrell tells us: "It is inappropriate for the administration to trump up a case in which we are ballyhooed into war." He oughta know. After all, he served countless episodes in a Hollywood-pretend-Korean War pretending to be a doctor, so if anyone is an expert about trumping up reality, it must be him.

I mean come on, this publicity stunt of collective whining is almost as repulsive as listening to Ape-Killer and Moses-Man Charlton Heston sermonize on the pulchritude of gun ownership as President of the NRA.

But Sheen, the virtuoso of this collective whimper, surpassed all with his doyen expertise in stating "I think he'd like to hand his father Saddam Hussein's head and win his approval for what happened after the Gulf War. That's my own personal opinion — I don't know if that's true. I hope it's not, but I suspect it is".

This insight comes from the loins of a man who sired Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez, two Faulkneresquely failed sons who might better serve Daddy Sheen lending a good argument against nepotism and the cancerous spread of bad acting than for the root causes of the coming eradiction of Saddam. The question to me is when Charlie Sheen will ascend from deputy mayorship on Spin City to be the President who succeeds his father in a television series on political primogeniture. Something like "Deputy Mayor Kills President With Own Soapbox", or something like that. Now that would be a combination of protest, acting, farce and patrimony I could get excited about.

dinsdag, december 10, 2002

34,001 Jackasses as Public Transportation

In response to the pending transit strike, our resident halfwit Mayor Bloomberg pledged to ride a bicycle to work from his Upper East Side townhouse, one presumes, in what was supposed to be a pean to solidarity with the rest of us penurious peons who don't have a billion dollars to spend on alternate transportation. One hopes that on the scheduled onsest of the strike, December 15th, the day is not only the coldest in NYC history but also that he has the foresight and courage to paint a big bullseye on the back of his head so we don't have to look hard for the target of our launched projectiles.

While the lilliputian mayor has spent inordinate efforts and energies on his autocratic and draconian anti-smokling bill and has shunted aside the use of logic for polemics, on an issue of what he maintains is an "emergency" such as the transit strike, the best this dwarfish little pimp for ignorance can muster is the acknowledgement that "people are going to have to be as innovative as they possibly can."

Innovative? HELLooo...Isn't that what The Billionaire Buffoon was elected for? If it wasn't so harebrained, it'd almost be funny. Are these the same people Bloomberg believes are too witless to make their own decisions on whether or not they want to work or frequent a bar where people smoke? Now "they" are supposed to suddenly be smart enough to figure out how to get to work when the entire transportation system shuts down? I don't think Buffoonberg can have it both ways.

He says "This is an emergency. We will band together, and we will help each other." Be "innovative"? "Band together"? This is the solution? When this same union of avaricious freeloaders made similar threats in 1999, Mayor Giuliani didn't hide behind euphemistic woolgathering and delusional riposts. He crushed them like the libertine little cockroaches they were, making it clear that their failure to abide by his call for no strike would result in contempt fines being leveled against the union which would quickly bankrupt the union, and that was the end of the strike talk. They crawled back into their contemptible little holes and weren't heard from again until now.

I think instead of riding his bike to work, Bloomberg and all 34,000 members of the Transportation Workers Union should attach donkey ears to their heads and offer themselves as free jackass rides for all the legitimate workers who are stranded without transportation. Now that would be an "innovative" solution to the problem.

And speaking of the TWU, just what the hell are they thinking in seeking 24 percent in raises over three years while the city remains mired in an acute budget crisis and deficit of as much as $6 billion next year? Since their last failed strike effort, transit workers elected union reformers headed by Roger Toussaint, who argued that TWU 100 needed a more democratic and "militant" direction. Toussaint is typecast as a 44 year old Trinidadian hooligan who, among other things, demands reform of what transit workers call the MTA’s "plantation mentality" disciplinary system. Some plantation they're running. These wastrels earn an average wage of $44,000, so I think it's pretty clear what this Trinidadian Trashbag is all about.

So let them all bray on to their hearts' content. I for one, would love to see the Jackass Parade of 34,000 unemployed Transportation Union Workers along with Mayor Baffoonberg carrying the rest of us on their backs up and down Broadway during the duration of the winter months.

maandag, december 09, 2002

Pssst. Dubya, I Found Your First Targets

Just when I thought people in the world couldn't demonstrate their collective stupidity any more clearly than they already have, I came across a news item from CBC about four Canadians who have gone or plan to go to Iraq to act as human shields against bomb attacks on Baghdad. These four martyrs to a supreme cause of imbecility, sponsored by an anti-war organization called Voices in the Wilderness (not called, as you might have imagined, Voices of The Imbalanced), have volunteered to be human shields in an effort to dissuade American-led forces from attacking Iraq.

Volunteered to be human shields in Iraq. Good one.

Irene Vandas, one of the enlightened, in case you are interested, claims she is thinks it "will be a powerful experience." I'll say. There's not much more powerful than a cluster bomb being dropped on your head. Personally, I want a scorecard to go along with this news. How much longer will these four people be around to potentially breed? Who is the lucky bombardier who gets to drop that fateful package? Are all four of them going to be human shielding in the same location or are they going to spread themselves out throughout Iraq? The Colorado Campaign For Middle East Peace has a nice scorecard.

I'm not really "for" this war on Iraq either, primarily because I think we should be spending all our time and money killing every last terrorist who is currently targeting us before we worry about Saddam's soldiers overturning baby human incubators in Kuwait or gassing Kurds in his own country or some fictional nuclear weapons capability Iraq supposedly has. But frankly, volunteering to be a human shield in Iraq is a little over the edge. I doubt the sanity of these people who clearly have nothing and no one to live for themselves.

Lest you think these morons are alone, even the most cursory search I did turned up another collection of idiots faster than you can bomb them, nor is it the first time activitists openly deactivating their self-preservation drives.

I've decided I want to rent some of these people. I'll take them with me on my next crack purchase in Harlem, Spanish Harlem or Washington Heights. I'll pick fights with mobsters, insult their mothers and then stick one of these idiots in the path of the bullets. I'll shoot at cops and grab a human shield. Rob banks and grab a human shield. I'll assign them to my seat on any airplane I have to fly taking off from airports with poorly secured perimeters. I'll give them to Israelis when they want to go shopping or have a smoke and a quick drink in a cafe. The possibilities are unlimited. All I'll need is a few more idiots to replace them.

Correctamundo, Fonzie's Gone

The smashing of idols is in itself such a preoccupation that it is almost impossible for the iconoclast to look clearly into a future when there will not be many idols left to smash.
- Walter Lippmann

Naturally, the recent Fonzie purge immediately brought to mind the fact that the Adynamic Duo of Wilpon & Son dumped the wrong guy, yet again. After all, with Ordoñez still hanging around on the club's roster about as useful as rubber lips on a woodpecker, the process of elimination as to which infielder to ditch should have been pretty simple. The much-rumored Scott Erickson for Ordoñez trade which might qualify as the first intelligent move of the off season for the Mets, hasn't been pulled off yet. Erickson, at age 35, would be a perfect fit for the senescent pitching staff of senior citizens Wilpon has collected to date. Although he underwent Tommy John Surgery in August of 2000, by July of 2002, he seems to have recovered well enough to get busted for assaulting his live-in girlfriend and now seems prepped for a full recovery beyond the mediocre 5-12 5.55 ERA numbers he posted last season. Besides, if the Mets can find Anyone gullible enough to take on a malignancy like Ordoñez when no one in their right mind seems interested in him, they'd better leap at the chance.

The two nice things that jettisoning Alfonzo does is: 1.) Does not allow them to overpay someone whose career has been on the downswing for the last 2 years yet still expects a big salary increase. 2.) Allows them the chance to sign Norihiro Nakamura to fill Alfonzo's empty shoes at third base. Nakamura has hit 88 homers and driven in 247 runs in the last two years playing in Japan. And yes, playing in Japan is a caveat to any batting statistic but consider this: everyone's superhero Hideko Matsui, in the same league over the same two years, hit 86 homers and drove in 211 runs. Nakamura would be well cheaper than Alfonzo and could hit for more power than Alfonzo. While a few pessimists have questioned his fielding range at third base, the Japan Times indicates he has already won three Gold Gloves at that position.

This still leaves the question of finding someone to fill the cap of Ordoñez's fat head at shortstop, but it shouldn't be impossible to scour the benches of other clubs to find a less bombastic, debauched and waning no-hit shortstop to step in. Deivi Cruz comes to mind immediately, one who has a higher lifetime fielding percentage than Ordoñez and certainly hits better. His agent wants a two year deal. How much he wants over two years and how long it takes Jose Reyes to turn into the next Honus Wagner will have alot to do with how desireable Cruz remains. My ideal scenario of a month ago had the Mets re-signing Alfonzo and moving him to back short to allow Nakamura to take over at third but, I suppose in the interests of payroll concerns, Alfonzo didn't deserve the $8.5 million per year any more than I do.

The good news of the weekend was how the unceremonious way Captain Jackass dumped the quiet, steady and effective lefty reliever Mike Stanton gives Wilpon another chance to redeem himself by adding a solid lefty to the bullpen and sticking it to Steinbrenner simultaneously. Stanton, unlike Glavine, has a very successful postseason history, compiling a 1.54 ERA in the World Series games he has appeared in and a 2.10 ERA in all post season games he has appeared in. If the Mets are serious about making their move now then signing Stanton makes all the sense in the world and after being humiliated by the Yankees, Stanton would likely cherish a chance to rub their faces in it right here in New York leading the Mets' bullpen. Speaking of the bullpen, another move I'd like to see is Armando off to some other circus. Against the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies over the last four seasons Benitez has surrendered 28 earned runs while only 14 earned runs to the Marlins and Expos, during the same amount of time. If we are looking to go deep into the post-season, we need a bullpen closer who doesn't choke against our top rivals and better still, one who can get an out with more reliability than Kenny Rogers when the post season comes around. Someone in dire need of a closer might overlook Benitez's perpensity for playoff pyrotechnics. We might even fool someone into giving up someone of value for him. The Armando Dump and examination of possible trade partners, is for another discussion, another day. Suffice it to say that if he could be packaged with someone else we don't want with a fat contract (read: Burnitz or Cedeno) and maybe we could get a decent outfielder in return, then by all means, the move should be made and no time should be wasted.

For now, I'd be happy just to read Ordoñez is gone and Nakamura and Stanton has been inked. While this wouldn't even begin to solve the Mets migraine tension headaches it might at least give me some incentive to believe that the Mets' new "demand-based" ticket pricing system might have something in demand worth paying for next season. Until then, the Wilpons and their boy blunder sidekick, Steve "Fool Me Twice" Phillips had better get busy to appeasing the rest of us.

vrijdag, december 06, 2002

Havin' Glavine Is No Guerdon

It might be time for pharmacological intervention on behalf of Mr. Wilpon and his sticky case of dementia. According to Braves manager Bobby Cox, the courting of Mets owner Fred Wilpon is what turned Glavine toward the Mets once the Braves removed themselves from the competition Tuesday. "Their owner was a huge part," Cox said. "He made a big impression, calling Tommy every two seconds. He swung it."

Meanwhile, back in The West Bank the excitement was palatable. A sea of Palestinians waved flags, whistled and cheered wildly. Young men climbed atop telephone poles to catch a better glimpse of their leader. Elderly women danced. One sign read: "We waited a long time for you."

Before we start killing the fatted calf and fling wide the gates, it should be noted that according to the AJC, a source familiar with the negotiations said there has been talk that wear and tear on Glavine's pitching shoulder caused the Braves to be cautious. Glavine, after all, will be 37 shortly after the onset of spring training. And let's take a look at this new nursing home rotation: Al Leiter, the "other" lefty ace, will be 38. Pedro Astacio is the yearling of the group, pushing 34 with a lifetime 4.53 ERA. What exactly is it we are supposed to be excited about? That the Mets starting pitching staff now qualifies for group discounts on geriatric health care? That Spring Training will bring them closer to assisted living facilities and retirement communities?

Is Glavine really supposed to be the guy who pushes us over the top? Glavine is the losingest pitcher in postseason history, going 12-15 overall. This past post season, Glavine was hit hard, significantly contributing to the Braves annual first round post season knock out by going 0-2 with a 15.26 ERA against San Francisco. We could get that kind of performance at a quarter of the price from some career flunkee like Dave Burba so why spend $35 million? Al Leiter gushed at the news: "It's a heck of a signing for us. I'm real excited — he's a future Hall of Famer and he might be the last guy to win 300 games. I'm looking forward to learning a lot from him." -- yes, Glavine is likely a future Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, his Hall of Fame years were already played, for the Braves.

But despite my pessimism about this deal, there are several upsides to this signing: For one, Glavine has never been on the disabled list. Glavine has started 35 or 36 times in each of the last four seasons and at least 33 times in each full season beginning in 1990. Even with the two strike- shortened seasons factored in, he has averaged 224 innings for 13 seasons. Lucky Met fans will likely get to see his first career stint on the DL sometime in mid-April. Secondly, the Mets not only weakened a division opponent but also prevented another, the Phillies, from completing their bid to land the trio of Jim Thome, David Bell and Glavine. Nothing better than making Phillie fans writhe in the bitter pain of their own inefficacy. Lastly, Glavine has killed us in the past. He has spent the last decade and a half beating the Mets 16 times -- 17 counting the playoffs, going 17-7 against them overall. He went 16-7 in 35 career regular season starts against the Mets with a 2.86 ERA.

As Ogilvie said in the Bad News Bears: "Well, we committed 24 errors, and their pitcher threw a no hitter against us, but there is some good news! Two of our runners almost managed to get to first base, and we did hit seventeen foul balls!"

Hey Wilpon, there are still a few pitchers left in my death pool you haven't signed yet. One more senior citizen and we will qualify for AARP membership. Good work. I think Gaylord Perry is still available and, failing that, maybe you can lure Antonio Todde into a Met uniform. Clearly Mr. Wilpon never listened to what good ole Lyndon Johnson used to say: "We can draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live in it."

donderdag, december 05, 2002

The Nefarious Reign of Sheriff Taylor

When John J. Dilulio, a Democrat who led the White House office of faith-based initiatives until August 2001, was quoted in the January issue of Esquire magazine as saying: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis," I was reminded of a long ago Andy Griffith Show episode in which Barney Fife promulgated in his strung out soprano stuccato: "It's a wilderness out there and every so often a beast of prey comes sneaking in. Now, it's my job as a lawman to stalk him and run him out. That's my number one job...stalking, not fly-killin'."

Who'd have thunk it? Mayberry and the White House in the same sentence. Ok, I might have seen it coming had Razorback Bill Clinton still been in office. The spawn of backwater politics couldn't have been too far from his hootenanny brethren over in Mayberry. But the White House of the esemplastic George W. Bush? Say it ain't so!

Now that I've recovered, I thought a little deeper dissection of this neologism was in order. After all, while we know Niccolò Machiavelli outlined a scheme for governmental policy based on retaining power rather than pursuing ideals, what do we know of Mayberry's own political machinery?

According to episode 188, upon interviewing many descendents of the people involved in the historic Battle of Mayberry, Opie learned that the battle was nothing more than a misunderstanding caused by too much liquor. Was this theatrical militarism a key to the beginnings of Sheriff Andy Taylor as a well-established, ubiquitous Ultimate Evil Power? It's difficult to discern. After all, according to the(Asheboro, N.C.) Courier-Tribune, N.C. Governor-elect Mike Easley not only won the battle at the ballot box, but also the endorsement battle with his selection of Andy Griffith as a spokesman. According to Brad Crone, a political consultant and panelist on Wednesday's NCSPIN television talk show, "It was a Mayberry Miracle! Andy Griffith saved the east for Easley."

This says nothing of Sheriff Taylor's own cynical monocratism. In episode 148, Barney runs for Sheriff, having the nerve to challenge the mighty Andy to a debate and accuses him of malfeasance. The examples he cites are typical Taylor oversights, such as allowing jaywalking, failing to have emergency equipment such as tear gas and submachine guns, and refusing to carry a sidearm. Andy readily admits he is guilty, but Barney backs off, endorsing Andy as the man for the job.

You see Sheriff Taylor was a crafty politician, some might even say, a Machiavelli in a sheriff's uniform. Why do you think he kept locking up that same drunk Otis, night after night? Because he could then artificially inflate crime statistics to make it appear he was arresting more miscreants than he was in reality. The nightly lockups of Otis alone constituted some 89% of all arrests in Mayberry during Sheriff Taylor's terror and turpitude.

Now, whether or not the current White House could be considered so cynical is solely a matter of opinion. I mean even DiIulio himself later reversed his claims in a statement that reaked of chickenshit backtracking and all sorts of pestiferous truth-fixing: "John DiIulio agrees that his criticisms were groundless and baseless due to poorly chosen words and examples. He sincerely apologizes and is deeply remorseful," a university spokeswoman said.

Do you think Sheriff Taylor would have bailed out like that? Fat chance. He would have stood his ground, making Philistine claims much like the beloved Ari Fleischer did in response to the firestorm of controversy over the Esquire article when he boldly declared that "Any suggestion that the White House makes decisions that are not based on sound policy reasons is baseless and groundless."

Right on Ari. The White House is the master of its own reality and destiny. As Winston Churchill once said "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."