Ready For $4/Gallon Gas Prices in February?

Well, at least Bush and Cheney and Blackwater execs and the bastards who benefited most from the subprime mortgage crisis can afford to fill up the tanks of their Humvees. The rest of us? Maybe not so much.

After crude oil prices surpassed their previous record high at above $100/barrel, pushed in part by the assassination of Pakistan's opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and even moreso by the worsening situation and escalating violence in Nigeria, some experts predict that, rather than see "at the pump" prices begin to moderate out again (they actually fell to below $3/gallon in some places - NOT Vermont, but some places), we may very well see $4 per gallon prices before Valentine's Day.

And if Bush further steps up his violent rhetoric toward Iran, we might see them climb higher still.

Obviously, we're not just hurting at the gas pumps. The Bushies further cut funding for energy assistance for money-strapped Americans needing help to pay astronomically high fuel prices.


The "Walken Thing": "Three Little Pigs"

For those who need a little humor, here's Christopher Walken telling the story of The Three Little Pigs (no, this is NOT the story of Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Giuliani) as only "Ronnie" can.

But there is also this "Best of Walken" that's pretty good, too.

Schizophrenic Iowa Caucus Candidate Results Math

With perhaps less than 25% of Iowa's precincts reporting in the big caucus today, NBC has already projected Mike "I put the suck in" Huckabee as the winner of the GOP race there and perhaps Barack Obama as the winner of the donkey lane. (As I type this, CBS News seems to be projecting the same). But there are some problems here, not the least of which is that 25% is a long way from 100% and that we already saw this kind of "jump the shark" math make a complete and utter mess out of the "easy Bush steal" of the 2000 Florida vote where all the networks went back and forth with who won.

Let's start with the Democrats. Though Obama is now projected as the Dem winner, the last numbers I saw actually put John Edwards ahead, followed by Obama and Clinton. Strangely enough, however, even when Edwards held a good percentage lead over the other two, NBC's and some of the other networks' pundits were making it sound like this was great for Obama and a big loss for Edwards. Uh.... huh?

Some of the same pundits were calling a vote for any Dem but Hillary an "anti-Clinton" vote. Gee, who knew that Democrats only had two choices: Hillary or NOT Hillary? They also saw the votes as broken down along specific lines: all blacks and those whites who happened not to like Hillary all voted for Obama, according to these puny pundits, while all women and those blacks who didn't like Barack handed their support to Hillary. Now this wouldn't explain how Edwards still comes out so strong, but this simplistic twit shit doesn't make much sense otherwise anyway. Earth to Pundits: not all blacks, not all women, not all "there is no such thing as evolution and mankind and the dinosaurs began to live contemporaneously with one another on Earth about 5 minutes ago" fundamentalist fruitcakes all think, act, and vote alike.

Another weird Punditry spin, this one espoused by MSNBC's Chris "I jump on board whichever ship isn't sinking quite as fast at the moment" Matthews, is that Obama is somehow more a child of Kenya than of the U.S. To hear Matthews talk, you'd think that Barack arrived in this country about 10 minutes before the caucus. Perhaps I've missed something, but I don't see Obama as anymore (and Matthews actually used this reference) "a child of the third world" than Mike Huckabee is the voice of intelligent Christians (of which I'm not sure Mike is one), or Rudy Giuliani is the voice of adulterers everywhere, or that Hillary is just another Bill.

Meanwhile, Matthews is rather "kind" in noting that Huckabee seems out of touch with what's going on in the world or even in this country. Huckabee, for example, is claiming he appeared on Jay Leno's "The Tonight Show" last night not knowing there was a writers' strike going on (and if you believe this one, than kindly believe I'm a 6 foot tall anorexic natural blonde 17 year old who wants someday to be as smart as the "so dumb she almost makes Paris Hilton seem like she has an IQ in the double digits" Miss South Carolina). But even if you buy (and you shouldn't) Huckabee's claim of ignorance on crossing picket lines, he's equally clueless about a number of other far more important points, such as Pakistan's politics and his repeated statements that religious freedom and true democracy in the US can only be achieved by forcing every American to be baptized into his evangelical faith and to rewrite the Constitution based on his version of the Bible.

To sum it up, if the media's coverage of the Iowa caucus tonight is any indication of how the rest of their reporting on the November's upcoming presidential vote will go, we're in even bigger trouble than we've been.

Say Hello to...

The Aristocrats


Pushing Rope

And, if you haven't visited ZenComix lately, you're missing out BIG time.

Mike Huckabee: Moralist Anus In Sweater And Tie

Mike Huckabee makes me ill, the closer to the election it gets:

The Media never ceases to (unpleasantly) amaze me; after Huckabee has denied evolution, slung as much dirt wherever he can, believes women must "submit" graciously to their men, tried to liken himself to Christ being persecuted over his "cross" Christmas greeting, told people they are required to believe in God and worship Him as Huckabee would in order to "deserve" a free and democratic America (now there's some logic!) and labeled even monogamous gays with those who perform necrophilia and pedophilia, or happen to like a little leather, only NOW does the media think Huckabee's crossed the line by calling all their attention to a negative slam ad his campaign just pulled from release like he wanted brownie points for not doing what his alert to the media accomplished.

Says this shiksa, "Oy!"

Speaking Of The Government Investigating Itself For No Good End...

[See my previous posting on the Justice Department now "suddenly" wanting to investigate the Bush Administration's/CIA's willful and most criminal destruction of two videotapes depicting the torture of uncharged suspects "in our name".]

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent comprehensive piece about how the 9/11 commission - with its strangely picked crew by Bush and Cheney who fought the idea tooth-and-nail - had its work obstructed by... well, I bet you can guess that right on the very first try.


Better Late Than...

Well, you know...

I just updated my list of recommended blogs I (normally) change about once a week.

The 2008 Outlook for Iraq: The Fun Never Ends

[Anyone who reads here regularly knws I adore Greg's work but I did not know until tonight that he now has a blog of his own, separate from Editor & Publisher magazine.]

Can you say, "What exit strategy?" There. I knew you could.

Greg Mitchell, editor at Editor & Publisher and someone I admire highly, posts on his own blog about the very bleak outlook on Iraq and our continued occupation of that country, including why any hope of our pulling out is diminishing rapidly.

Go read. Greg is always well worth the time.

Another Government Probe Of Itself That, Like The 9/11 Commission And the Torture Probe, Won't Amount To Jack Shit

My only question here is, "Why even bother?"

While some seem ready to applaud that the Justice Department announced this evening it WILL (ha!) investigate the willful destruction of the two known CIA torture tapes a judge ordered those under the Bush Administration involved in the matter NOT conveniently destroy, to me it's just another sad, piss poor example of the fox being allowed to investigate the case of chickens murdered in the hen house when it was one of the Fox's minions (in this case, the CIA with marching orders from the fox) who arranged not just the initial crime but the destruction of the evidence.

We see this again and again - hardly new to the Bushies yet they have taken it to ridiculously extremes as they have everything else - as when the Pentagon investigates its own.

This, my friends, is beyond criminal. And, as Bush would smirk and smug-it-up as he tells you, there's not one damned thing we can do to stop it while, at the same time, we know exactly what the results will be: nada, zap, ZERO. At best, they'll point to some very insignificant, powerless peon, throw the book at him while they feed him to the wolves, and then pretend it never happened.

Some democracy. And the new Attorney General Michael Mukasey can control everything this special prosecutor does and, as we've seen with his strange ignorance regarding torture and the American Constitution, he'll prove himself a loyal Bushie regardless of his distinctly token status as an alleged Democrat.

Iowa, Caucuses, And "There's Got To Be A Better Way"

If you listen to the media focusing on the presidential vote that will happen just over 10 months from now, it's "all Iowa, all the time."

Now, Iowa's voters count as much as any groups, but I still find it rather offensive to see Iowa's voters treated like the real race is almost over once the caucus votes are counted Thursday (tomorrow).

Perhaps it's still the very bitter taste left in my mouth by the way Iowans - and the media reporting on it - treated Democrat (and now DNC chairman) prez candidate Howard Dean in 2004; where one corny "Yeeee-haaaaw" derailed a campaign that got average Americans participating with their money and their letter writing in a way we had never seen before.

The reality is that Iowa is

a) the whitest state in the nation which is increasingly NOT white bread,
b) should have no greater power to decide the race than any other,
c) their voters constitute a hardly whopping 6/100ths of 1 percent of this nation's entire voting population
d) Iowa does NOT have the market cornered on the greatest of American values
e) January is JUST too damned early to decide who the best candidates for each party are

Your opinion?

Primary Colors

You don't have to live in one of the two whitest states in the union to vote in primaries or caucuses this Thursday. As Ricky Shambles points out at All Things Democrat, MySpace is running its own primary through 11:59 PM tonight (Wed, 1/2). However, you have to join to vote so....


Assassinating The Truth: Was Bhutto Killed Before She Could Warn of Pakistan Vote Fixing?

My only question here is, "Considering how many American lawmakers have profitted from Bush-Cheney voting fraud and manipulation, would they have cared when she reported it?"

From CNN:

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated hours before she was to tell U.S. lawmakers of an alleged plot to rig Pakistan's elections, sources tell CNN. Violence, ballot-tampering or intimidation could be used, according to a dossier Bhutto requested, the sources said. Pakistani officials have denied the claims. developing story

What *I* Want To Applaud On January 1st, 2009

OK, true, many of us look back on 2007 and ahead to the 365 days remaining to this year (it's a "leap" of 366, y'know) with jaded and anxious concern. Still, this does not stop any of us from hoping for better. What's more likely, however, to bring the better about is not wishful thinking but active doing, of putting our actions where our mouthes are, of becoming the kind of Americans and world citizens we want our neighbors to be.

Here's a short list of what I not only hope we'll be reporting on in the 2008 "year in review" next New Year's Day, but one I commit to do my best to bring about through my actions. Please share your thoughts, dreams, and promised actions here in comments, too.

10. Americans have turned OFF "reality TV" and started to seriously educate themselves both in history AND current events, about the U.S. Constitution and the ways the Bush crew have ravaged it, how our founding fathers EXPECTED us each as citizens to conduct ourselves and how we can make that into a reality NOW.

9. Not only did war with Iran NOT happen, but our troops and mercenaries like Blackwater are booked on flights out of Iraq if they are not already home.

8. A GOOD candidate will have won the 2008 presidential election fairly and honestly (something that did not happen in 2000 or 2004) while legitimate registered American voters are NOT kept from casting their ballots - or having their votes counted - by the dirty tricks perpetrated in the past.

7. Charges will be leveled and full and fair trials held to determine the guilt of the entire Bush Administration re: treason and high crimes and misdemeanors.

6. Thanks to Americans who will not ALLOW it, torture, "renditions", holding people without ever filing charges against them, etc., will no longer be permitted while Guantanamo Bay and all the secret prisons both here in the U.S. and throughout the world are closed for good.

5. Blackwater, Halliburton and its subsidiaries, Bechtel, et al, will be forced to repay American taxpayers and the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere money they took for criminal acts of negligence and murder; they will also be prohibited from ever holding another government contract.

4. A grievous wrong will be corrected that allows corporations to be treated to the rights of ordinary citizens while citizens are denied protection from the willful destructive acts of these companies.

3. These disastrous free trade agreements will be rendered null and void.

2. We'll be on our way to intelligent, inclusive, and actually useful universal health care for all Americans.

1. Each of us will take our role as citizens in a democracy very seriously and act accordingly.


2007: People We Lost Who Gave So Much

[Right after I wrote this, I learned that the mother of one of my best friends died New Year's Eve morning. Mrs. Judd, being human, was hardly perfect. But when my own mother died just as I started college - my father predeceased her, dying just as I started kindergarten - Mrs. Judd was quite kind to me. A few times, I was lucky enough to hear her say that despite all I had been put through - "she's handling as well as anyone could as bad a tragic situation as life deals" - she was impressed that I still kept up with school despite having to take care of my little brother and take multiple jobs to do so. For many years, she allowed me to be an odd little part of her family. Knowing she was ill, she had been in my thoughts a lot lately and especially yesterday. I was about to contact her son, my friend, to ask how best I could contact her to tell her how much I appreciated her kindness at such a tough time when I learned she had died. I was too late - but if the appreciation in my heart counts for anything, then she knows. I dearly appreciated her as a scared teenager and I still do today. Thank you, Mrs. Judd, and may God bless you and show you the same kindness.]

There are many more of these folks than I will list here, but I'd rather publish an abbreviated list (and get it out) than to start some exhaustive, all-inclusive one I won't even have finished by this time next year.

My heart and soul demand I start this list with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., a writer whose work I did not begin to respect and appreciate until I was well into my adulthood (my loss) and whose death I continue to grieve almost a full year later. If you have not yet read his last work, "Man Without A Country", shame shame shame on you... and get yourself to a bookstore and get a copy post haste. A library borrow is also acceptable, though you want this one on your bookshelves (and pity on you if you don't HAVE even one bookshelf).

I also deeply miss Molly Ivins, probably one of the very best things to ever hail from Texas. Her humor, her sharp mind and even sharper pen and tongue, are unmatched.

Norman Mailer, the prized writer, also well more than earned a spot at the top of this list for all he contributed to the arts, to American culture, and to my own education and development as a writer. With all three of these people so far listed, we have a blessing: we still have their work to admire for many, many, many generations to come.

There is also David Halberstam, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and writer whose documentation of the Vietnam War, among other pivotal American and world events, was invaluable.

But I'm hardly done. I also mourn the loss of:

Tom Snyder, the once top TV talk show host who was far more human than the "egos with hair" we have now

Grace Paley, the poet and anti-war activist

Madeleine L'Engle, one of the first and most prolific published women sci-fi writers

Ira Levin, best known as the author of "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Stepford Wives" but I believe his best work was "This Perfect Day", a terrifying and thought-provocating sci-fi future society book; he like Vonnegut and Mailer have played a role in shaping my writing

Steve Gilliard who started The News Blog

Beverly "Bubbles" Sills, the great opera singer who, though I hated opera, I thoroughly enjoyed her and her beloved mother

Art Buchwald, the humorist

Calvert "Larry Bud Melman" DeForest of David Letterman fame

And last but not least, Benazir Bhutto; while her legacy may be considered controversial, she proved that a woman can play an enormous role in traditional Muslim societies and MUST be allowed to do so - few would have been as brave as she in trying again and again to help change her country