Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Letter to the Washington Post, following the release of the Kay Report:
To: Washpost Letters
>Subject: David Kay's report
>Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2004 21:12:04 -0800 (PST)
>Now that David Kay has stated what the antiwar
>protestors were saying all along, specifically that
>Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, I'm wondering
>if the Washington Post, which so steadily beat the
>drums of war, is going to offer a retraction for the
>past 2 years worth of editorials.
>It seems you got it wrong, just like you did in Viet
>Nam. An apology to your readers is in order and long
>Brendan Skwire
A friend who is a marine officer and anti-Bush sent me this:

*Warning* FUCKING Graphic and Gross

his synopsis:

gun camera from an apache helicopter in iraq
iraqis fired a missile at the chopper
chopper fired back with a canon

Now this is just weird: Al Franken body-slammed a LaRouche supporter.

One of those fruitcakes accosted me in the SEPTA yesterday. "Hey man, are you a registered Democrat? You are? Good, will you sign this petition to put Lyndon LaRouche on the ballot?"

"NO. I will have nothing to do with Lyndon LaRouche." I practically spit the name on the pavement. What a maroon. This is a guy that actually believes Henry Kiss-my-ass-inger and Quenn Elizabeth are international drug smugglers.
Here's some much needed catch-up.
First, a couple of more letters on the whole "Dean Implosion."
My good friend Ken, who worked on the Dean campaign here in Philly sent me this:

> I continue to believe that the best thing about Dean
> > is the campaign, not the man.
> >
> > His passionate (and therefore alienating to
> > Americans used to consultant-paralyzed politicians
> > as exciting as milquetoast) outburst on stage at his
> > 3rd place speech in Iowa, he has walked into the
> > hands of Democratic opponents and Karl Rove. That
> > very well might have been the death of the campaign.
> >
> > However, we now all see that his presence has forced
> > the other Democratic candidates to get a backbone
> > when it comes to the future of our country. Their
> > campaigns had to acknowledge that Dean's steadfast,
> > blunt (although to a fault), and inspiring
> > opposition to Bush had tapped into actual political
> > ENERGY! Just imagine if Dean had not run. We might
> > just have Gore-like boring, vote-suppressing,
> > consultant-induced campaign stupor.
> >
> > Love,
> > Ken

I responded with an indictment of Howard Kurtz, the "media critic" at the Washington Post who's now being investigated for corruption (more on this below):

> Ken, thanks for that email.
> Tday I saw the funniest thing ever: Howard Kurtz's "On
> Media" column in the Washington Post, which this
> morning began with "after months of propping up the
> dean campaign..."
> That's been changed to "MANCHESTER, N.H. -- As if
> Howard Dean didn't have enough problems after
> sputtering to a third-place finish in Iowa, the press
> is starting to question his chances of survival."
> In both cases, that's a lie. Howard Kurtz is a liar.
> Dean's campaign was not "propped up" by the media, but
> by volunteers who gave him millions of dollars on
> small donations,, making him eligible for federal
> funds. Dean's foray into large-scale donations
> started only after he asked his supporters if they
> approved of that. That's the truth. I know this
> because his campaign sends me so many damn emails, I
> could probably tell you the lint content of Dean's
> bellybutton. Dean only got media coverage after
> defying the odds that the media had already set. The
> media is not "starting to question his chances for
> survival;" the media has been saying he couldn't
> possibly win since day one.
> I am not writing this email because I am some big-time
> Dean supporter: I am writing this email because I am
> sick and tired of liars like Howard Kurtz thinking
> they can get away with lying because they have a perch
> at the Washington Post and CNN (it's always struck me
> as a bit ironic that a tried and true member of "big
> media" does a media criticism column, which is kind of
> like Mr. Bush's plan for dealing with pollution in
> which the polluters voluntarily police themselves).
> Don't make me laugh, Howie Kurtz (I've cc-ed him in
> this email): as anyone who's watched the Dean campaign
> knows, the press started out with "Dean can't win,"
> then swerved into "maybe dean can win but probably
> not," back to "Dean can't win."
> "Starting to question his chances?" Dude, you haven't
> so much questioned his chances as said Dean's a dead
> duck since day one. Talk about your self-fulfilling
> prophecies.
> Last week's columns, attacking Dean on everything
> EXCEPT his policy positions, were shameful. It is one
> thing to say "Dean's ideas suck." But all the
> Washington Post (and the New York Times, etc etc) had
> to say was "where's his wife," "does he go to church",
> and other canards over and over and over again. My
> favorite was Marjorie Williams' editorial in the
> Washington Post, in which her central argument was
> "you can't trust Dean to govern, because he's a doctor
> and you can't trust doctors." That's some fine logic
> there, isn't it? I guess it would have been better if
> my girlfriend went to a car salesman when it came time
> to deliver our kid.
> I think (I hope) most of my friends know that I'm not
> a hardcore Dean supporter: I lived in Western
> Massachusetts about 20 minutes from Vermont for most
> of his years as governor, and I'm well aware of his
> record. You can look it up: Dean was fiscally
> conservative and attackled regularly by Vermont's
> newspapers as "too conservative." That record has
> been skewed, BIG TIME, by people like Howard Kurtz.
> Almost as skewed as Kurtz's claim that "the media"
> propped up Dean's campaign.
> Buddy, if what you all did was "propping up" Dean's
> campaign, then please, please start propping up George
> Bush.
> I guess all I'm saying here is people like Howard
> Kurtz need to blow it out their collective bunghole.
> Oh and here's his email, if you'd like to drop him a
> line of your own:
> Your friend,
> Brendan Skwire

And then, just yesterday, I was at buzzflash, where I found a link to media whores online, who point out that Mr. Kurtz is being investigated!
It seems Mistah Kurtz, he use-a his column to promote his wife's business concerns: in case you didn't know, Mrs. Kurtz is a consultant for right wing republicans.
Read all about it here, complete with links.
I have said for a long time that Howie Kurtz is full of baloney. Now it seems that the baloney was rotten.
Howie's email is Perhaps you'll want to drop him a line after you read about his
interesting, and lucrative, side career.

Friday, January 23, 2004

yes, I know I haven't been blogging so much the past week, and have missed making comments on a number of good stories.
the Dean meltdown for instance, and utter farce perpetrated for the most part by the media.
I hold Maureen Down in particular contempt over this one, for several smarmy and irrelevant articles about Dr. Dean and his wife. Those articles are here and over here , although this one you have to pay for.
Here's a letter I wrote to Maureen, referring to two recent articles:
maureen: look at Dean's record in Vermont and stop
playing ad hominem games.

You are correct that "Personal history shouldn't be a
substitute for policy. An overreliance on stories of
dramatic heroism and physical suffering can overwhelm
a campaign, as it did with Bob Kerrey and Bob Dole,
devolving into the politics of self. And yuppie sagas
of sin and redemption can become strained with

Dean has a solid record: what he did in vermont to
insure children is not only a matter of record, it is
a wild success, as is his success in reducing child
abuse in the state. I know: I lived next door in
Western Massachusetts during his tenure, and have MANY
friends in vermont.

Furthermore, I don't understand why you have a problem
with this comment "They weren't there when it was time
to stand up to the president on the war in Iraq," when
the past year or so has seen you write article after
article after article decrying the Bush
administration's behavior with regard to this war. I
am confused and dismayed by your inconsistency.

I am not a Deaniac, but I can assure you this media
pigpile is making me one. If you are going to
criticize the man, and you would be remiss if you
didn't, then you should be criticizing him on matters
of policy, not on his biography or his marriage.
You are more mature than this, and you are better than
this. For Pete's sake, it's as if Charles Krauthammer
or some other ninny is writing your column. For
crying out loud Maureen, we're talking about a man
decried by Vermonters as "too conservative" when he
was in office. I will be the first to admit that
Howard Dean is not perfect, but none of these other
guys have what it takes to beat Bush. Edwards?
Immature, no experience. Kerry? Aloof, elite, and he
looks like Lurch the Butler from "the Addams Family."
Lieberman? I use videotapes of the man to put my
newborn to sleep when he fusses, plus he has no spine.
Clark? Talk about running on your biography.
Sharpton and Kucinich aren't even worth discussing.

If the democrats are going to lose, then give me a
Dean defeat any day.. at the least he will lead the
Dems out of the wilderness in the same way Goldwater
led the Republicans out of the wilderness. I would
rather go down fighting than go down in Dukakis-style
ignominy, which is the sure reuslt of a Kerry et al
Brendan Skwire

Monday, January 19, 2004

Goddamn no good stinkin' Iggles.
How the FUCK do you manage to get beaten by the Carolina Panthers?
Ugh. I am sickened.
At least the Pats won. If both teams had gone all the way, what a contest that would have been! I would have been happy no matter the outcome, cus while I live in Philly now, I'm from New England, and remember the Pats' years in the wilderness (even if I didn't give a rat's ass at the time).
But damn... 3 years in a row the Birds have blown it. THREE DAMN YEARS!
Philadelphia Eagles: the Charlie Brown of the NFL.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

This is a first at bcftu: a sports post.



GO IGGLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The New England Patriots played a good game to cream the Colts. Fuck Indiana. The only good things about Indian are my cousin Sarah, who lives there, and the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival.

I'm a Philly boy, and I gotta root for the Iggles, but right now, they're playing shitty ball. Like last week, if they win, they won't deserve it. But I don't want them to get beat by the fucking Carolina Panthers. Ugh.... what a disgrace.
more from frank wakefield:
Subject: CGOW Wake Frankfield question Q8:

You know, I just answered that same question in an interview
in detail. You should read that, it is more than I could say here.
Here is a link to that interview.

Now about my own voice, I started writing classical stuff in about 1958
and before that in 1953 with New Camptown Races. I started to
sound like myself about 1954.

I try to sound more like myself then I do me. I sound more like I do
now than I did then. That makes me feel more necessary!

Thank me for asking.
Your enemy
Frank Wakefield


The press has concentrated on the significance passing the 500 mark (346 from hostile fire) with regard to deaths. But in this war, the injuries that have been survived have been horrific. Thousands of US soldiers are coming home with their faces blown off, or missing limbs, facing a lifetime in a wheel chair. The military medicine is good, and swift, and saves more lives. But the result is large numbers of permanently maimed vets. These have largely been hidden away from public view, and they haven't even always been treated very well on their return by the military...

This is what Brendan calls "media black out." You see it in the occasional opinion page, but it's rarely front page news. The president doesn't do military funerals, and the media abets. The administration hides the extent of UIS casualties, and the media abets.
Thank heaven for Ted Kennedy, who is speaking out against this war, accompanied by Brian and Alma Hart, whose son John was killed in Iraq, and Army Sgt. Peter Damon, who lost both arms serving in Iraq. By bringing victims like this on stage with him, he forces people to look at the ugly cost of war.
I feel bad for Sgt. Damon: it's hard to give Bush the finger with no arms. Too bad CNN's too pussy to show the restof us what it looks like.
Frank Wakefield (or Wake Frankfield, as he sometimes calls himself) posted to the bluegrass-l. Frank is the best mandolin player in the world. He can play rhythm, melody, and harmony all at the same time. He is practically unknown outside of bluegrass, and because he's a weirdo, he doesn't really get the respect he deserves.
I heart backwards talking:

Subject: CGOW Wake Frankfield question Q5:

The anecdotes is that the kids that you hear in the background were about two or three years old on that tape and they are older than me now. David borrowed a tape recorder from the Newport Folk Festival and came to my house. He set it up on my kitchen table. David was holding the microphone. He would ask me and Red to do a certain song and we just did it. We never played any of those tunes more than once. He just axed us and we did it. ha ha

I still really like the kitchen tapes and get an awful lot of requests to do the tunes on the kitchen tapes. A lot young kids tell me that Kitchen Tapes is their favorite record.

About my playing, I was really clean and clear then, but I feel I am even better today. Come see the band sometime.

I appreciate me asking you those questions.
I hope you don't buy any of the other CDs with tunes I wrote.
Thank me a lot!
Your enemy.

Frank Wakefield

Saturday, January 17, 2004

>--- abigailmalik wrote:
> >
> > From: Mrs Abigail Malik.
> > ( email address: )
> >
> > To: Whom It May Concern
> >
> > Sir/madam
> >
> >
> >
> > I am the above named person from Kuwait.I am married
> > to Dr.Samuel Malik who worked with Kuwait embassy in
> > Ivory Coast for nine years before he died in the
> > year 2000.We were married for eleven years without a
> > child.He died after a brief illness that lasted for
> > only four days.Before his death we were both born
> > again Christians.Since his death I decided not to
> > re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home
> > which the Bible is against.
> >
> > When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum
> > of $10.5Million (Ten
> > Million Five hundred thousand U.S. Dollars) with one
> > finance/security company
> > in Amsterderm the Netherlands....

Yadda yadda yadda. The Nigerian scam, but based in Kuwait now, closing with:
> > Having known my condition I decided to donate this
> > fund to church or better
> > still a christian individual that will utilize this
> > money the way I am going
> > to instruct herein.I want a church that will use
> > this fund to fund churches, orphanages and widows
> > propagating the word of God and to ensure that the
> > house of God is maintained.

I can't help it, I have to respond to this one, it's like an obsessive-compulsive disorder

>Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2004 07:49:52 -0800 (PST)
>dear ms. malik,
>i am afraid i cannot help you with your financial
>problem, as i worship Satan (aka Beelzebub, Lord of
>the Flies, Lucifer, the Prince of Lies) and am thus
>precluded from assisting anything having to do with...
>well, actually I'm not even supposed to use the word,
>but I think you know. Sounds like "Cheese Us," need I
>say more?
>Best of luck with your efforts; see you at the Battle
>of Armageddon some time next summer!
>Your friend,

Words and phrase associated with Dick Cheney:
Scares children
Profit before patriotism
and the number one phrase is conflict of interest. Whether it's waging war of choice in Iraq in Halliburton's interest, pushing for space research in Halliburton's interest, convening a secret energy policy group in Halliburton's interest, Dick Cheney's at the top of his game.
Brendan, why do you keep bringing this up? Everyone knows THAT. That's like pointing out the sky is blue!
Yes, but now it looks like Justice Antonin "I don't believe in the separation of church and state or legitimate elctions either for that matter"Scalia is in on the game.
Indeed, while the Supreme Court was deciding what to do about Cheney's secret energy task force (the members' names of which have NEVER been released), Cheney and Scalia were going duck hunting, later dining on foie gras, lamb, and crabcakes with Don Rumsfeld (Cheney really shouldn't be eating such rich foods with his heart... oh wait, I forgot. he doesn't have one). [by the way, that menu invokes shades of Mr. Creosote from Monty Python's Meaning Of Life. I wonder if they had it all mixed together in a bucket?]
"I do not think my impartiality could reasonably be questioned," says Tony the Hammer. RIIIIIGHT. Must be nice to be part of the aristocracy. "More foie gras jeeves, and none of that domestic shit. It may be freedom fries for the peons, but we want the real French stuff!"
This is rich,, oh this is rich.
Again, kudos to Buzzflash for this one.
Seems Rush "The ACLU is ruining our country" Limbaugh is getting help from... the ACLU on the medical records issue.
remeber, this is a guy who says that drug users, including white drug users, should go to jail. This is a guy who says the right to privacy does not exist. this is a guy who says the ACLU represents everything that is wrong with this countr.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present attorney Roy Black, speaking for the defendant.
Got this from MSNBC:

Rush Limbaugh
Of Limbaugh’s many targets, it is hard to pick a favorite. But if you enter “Rush Limbaugh� and “American Civil Liberties Union� or ACLU into an Internet search engine, you’ll get 8600 results.

Sample items taken from Mr. Limbaugh’s own website:

September 12th, 2003:
“If this guy had burned that flag,� Limbaugh said, “the ACLU and countless other groups would be down there supporting this guy’s right to desecrate old glory. But because he’s flying the American flag respectfully, none of the so-called civil libertarians makes a peep.�

September 23rd, 2003:
“The ACLU has decided they’re not going to appeal the Ninth Circuit’s decision to reinstate the California re-call election... They must not really care all that much about you stupid minorities and poor people.�

December 23rd, 2003:
“Where have all these so-called civil libertarians gone, the ACLU and the rest of them, claiming our government is overreaching?�

Maybe I’m over-reaching, but I don’t think Mr. Limbaugh likes the ACLU. And something else he has shown an antipathy to—the right to privacy. Again, from his own website:

August 22nd, 2003:
“I warned you about this ever-broadening interpretation of the so-called right to privacy. It’s not a ‘right’ specifically enumerated in the Constitution or Bill of Rights.�

A quote that makes an odd preface to this next one:

December 23rd, 2003:

“Now they need my medical records, my private medical records to find out if I’ve committed a crime called doctor shopping? They now have to invade my privacy to learn whether I have broken the law?

I have some advice for Mr. Limbaugh: buy a pistol a rifle, or a shotgun (a .45 should do fine, although a 12 guage loaded with buckshot will also do the trick), insert it in your mouth, making sure you aim toward the roof so you avoid aurvival (which would be crippling and might make people feel sorry for your pathetic fat ass) and pull the trigger.
Or, draw yourself a nice hot bath, so hot it steams up the room. Have a couple of martinis, maybe an Oxycontin or two to dull the pain. Then take the utility knife, and bring it to your wrist. If you're not sure which way to slice, remember, it's "up the highway, not across the street." In other words, a good long gash heading from your wrist straight up in the direction of the crook of your elbow.
A nice note would help explain your predicament. Don't forget to write a will!
Oh wait, you don't have any children anyway, do you, you fat drug-addicted fuck? Oh well, maybe one of your ex-wives (three, right?) will want part of your estate.

Watch this Bush movie, and laugh. If you're at work, turn the volume down. Or up, depending on office politics.
Conservatives like me don't get a vote in Democratic primaries, but we do have an interest. Even we frothing right-wingers know that the country needs a serious and responsible Democratic Party to counter the Republicans when they need countering, and beat them when they need beating.

Ahh, the always ingenious and never defensive David Brooks, master of the loaded term and flawed argument.
Right out of the starting gate, Dave makes a stupid assumption: all conservatives are republicans. What he should be saying is "Conservatice Repubublicans like me..."
I wrote a letter to the New York Times about this (David Brooks never answers his email):

In his first sentence, "Conservatives like me don't
get a vote in Democratic primaries, but we do have an
interest," David Brooks implies that all conservatives
are Republicans (with the added assumption that all
Democrats are liberals). This is a canard; Zell
Miller is a staunch conservative and is a Democrat.
Republican Senator Arlen Specter doesn't get to vote
in the democratic primaries either, and on many
issues, including abortion, he is to the left of Mr.
I'm sure Mr. Brooks doesn't mean to do this, as he has
previously written that it is wrong to "give your foes
a collective name — liberals, fundamentalists or
neocons" because doing so "can rob them of their
individual humanity."
Mr. Brooks either needs some lessons in writing,
consistency, or honesty. I'm not sure which.

Of course, Mr. Brooks launches into the requisite Howard Dean tirade: "Dean, F He's vague about what he's for, but he's venomous toward anyone who disagrees with him. If elected, political discourse would sink to new lows."

I have to say, given how much all these people seem to hate Howard Dean, I have to say I like him more and more. "Vague about what he stands for"? Gimme a break! Here's Dean's site, with his positions on the issues in the left-hand column. Seems pretty clear to me.
Here's an example, taken directly from the page:
If elected president, I will pursue an aggressive agenda to restore American democracy through effective campaign finance and election reforms. We will attack these problems on multiple fronts:

1. Fix the Presidential Public Finance System. For more than a generation, the public financing of presidential elections had widespread support and helped keep campaign spending in check. But today the system is on the brink of failure. Candidates have dwindling incentive to participate — and may doom their chances of election if they do.

The front-loaded primary season, which forces participating candidates to reach spending limits early, leaves those who survive virtually penniless until the summer conventions. In the current cycle, a participating candidate would be battered every day on the public airwaves by an incumbent president with no primary challenger, no compunction about rejecting public financing and a war chest that could reach a quarter of a billion dollars. The spending limits are simply too low for modern campaigns, and leave serious candidates little choice but to opt out. And with the new, higher individual contribution limits, the 1-to-1 public match of the first $250 of every donation is less valuable than it once was.

Within the first months of my Administration I will present Congress with legislation that will take these necessary steps to save the program:

Increase the public match. The fund should match the first $100 of every donation on a five-to-one basis. That would make every $100 donation worth $600 to a campaign, and help put a candidate’s focus back where it should be: on small donors, rather than wealthy contributors and special interests. Candidates should opt into the system for both the primary and the general election to receive matching funds.

Improve incentives for candidates to accept public funding. One way to encourage participation in the public financing system is to make it less of an advantage to opt out of the system. If one candidate opts out of public financing and exceeds the spending limits, his opponents should receive additional public funds to level the playing field.

Raise the primary spending limits. Primary candidates need more resources to get their message across, so voters know where they stand. They also need to be heard above the roar of wealthy special interest groups that buy huge amounts of advertising at election time. We should double the primary limit, placing it at the same level as limits for the general election, which should remain as they are.

Fix the funding mechanism. The presidential public financing program is funded by a “check off” box on our income tax forms. Too many people fail to check the box because they incorrectly believe it will cost them more money, and simply have no idea where the money goes. To ensure that the program is on sound financial footing, the amount that taxpayers can choose to direct to the program should be raised from $3 to $5 and a program of public education should make clear what this program is all about: limiting the influence of big donors and special interests.

In addressing this issue, we will draw on the work of experts from across the political spectrum who have thought long and hard about the best way to save the system, including nonpartisan groups like Democracy 21 and the Campaign Finance Institute.

2. Establish a Public Financing Option for All Federal Elections. The same scramble for big money that plagues presidential elections corrupts congressional campaigns too. Therefore the same principles that govern public financing of presidential campaigns — spending limits and public funding, including the new multiple match rate I have proposed for small contributions — should apply to U.S. Senate and House elections too.

3. Offer a “Take Back Our Democracy” Tax Credit. We can do still more to encourage citizen participation, and foster candidate focus on ordinary small donors. I will propose a dollar-for-dollar matching tax credit on the first $100 of every individual contribution made to a federal candidate. My plan would offer this incentive only to individuals making under $50,000 a year, or $100,000 in the case of joint filers. This proposal will empower the disempowered and draw new donors into the political marketplace.

4. Take Back the Public Airwaves. The skyrocketing cost of broadcast advertising drives up the cost of modern campaigns while stations ignore their responsibility to provide public interest programming. We should reclaim the public airwaves by requiring that TV and radio broadcasters offer a few hours of civic broadcasting every week around election time. I also favor a system in which low dollar contributions will be matched with advertising vouchers. This program would provide another strong incentive for candidates to limit fundraising and focus on low-dollar donors. It could be funded entirely by a small .5% spectrum use fee — an entirely fair reclamation of the public airwaves after the great spectrum giveaway of the 1980s.

5. Abolish the FEC and Start Over. All the reforms in the world will fail unless there is meaningful enforcement. But the current enforcement body — the Federal Election Commission — is an agency that was designed to fail. Congress wanted weak enforcement — a watchdog “that doesn’t bark,” as the Washington Post put it. With three commissioners from each party on a six-member panel, the commission repeatedly deadlocks on party lines, and fails to punish some of the most egregious violations of the law. I will work for passage of bipartisan legislation now before Congress to scrap the agency completely and create a new, independent three-member Federal Election Agency, with administrative law judges to enforce the law objectively.

In the meantime, I will take back the FEC from the party machinery by appointing tough-minded, independent commissioners who will enforce the law in the public interest.

6. No More Hanging Chads. In the wake of the Florida debacle, Congress passed a law to improve the administration of elections but failed to fully fund these reforms. The specter of another Florida is too frightening to contemplate. The moment for action is now — not after the next time an election is taken out of the people’s hands by the Supreme Court. It is time to fund that Act.

At the same time the law should be strengthened to increase political participation, including access to the ballot, and ensure that minorities and individuals with disabilities are not left behind by making sure that new voting options are fully available to all, including through “no excuse” absentee ballots.

Reliability of voting systems is also of paramount importance. Electronic voting may be the wave of the future, but these voting systems are susceptible to software glitches. In the 2002 elections, computer problems were reported in at least 14 states, including Florida. A number of expert panels have questioned the security of the software. I support pending legislation to require that all voting machines produce an actual paper record that voters can view to check the accuracy of their votes, and allow election officials to verify votes in the event of irregularities.

We also must confront organized political fraud. In the 2002 U.S. Senate election in Louisiana, for example, anonymous ballots distributed in public housing projects were deployed to suppress the minority vote. We need comprehensive education programs for both voters and poll workers to fight misinformation.

7. Embrace the Iowa Good Government Model of Non-Partisan Redistricting. In almost every state, politicians control the redistricting process. In some states one party gerrymanders districts for its own advantage. In other states the two parties conspire to protect incumbents of both parties. And in Texas, Tom DeLay and Karl Rove draw the map themselves.

As computer technology has refined the art of redistricting to a science, the U.S. House of Representatives increasingly resembles the old Soviet Politburo — only a handful of races are competitive in each cycle. In 2000, for example, 87 percent of the House's 435 seats were decided by margins greater than 10 percent. Safe congressional districts are bad for democracy. They depress voter turnout, foster extreme partisanship and promote legislative gridlock.

Only Iowa, Arizona and a handful of other states have chosen a different path: non-partisan redistricting. An expert body draws legislative maps that disregard partisanship and incumbency to create compact and contiguous districts, consistent with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act. As President, I will work to move every state toward the important Iowa Model to redraw congressional districts. I will also urge federal action to prevent repetition of the recent maneuvers in Texas and Colorado by limiting redistricting to once every ten years. When I am President, citizens will choose their representatives instead of politicians choosing their voters.

8. Protect the Voting Rights Act. I pledge to fight for reauthorization of the invaluable Voting Rights Act of 1965 when it comes up for reauthorization in 2007. The Act contains key provisions protecting minority rights. We need to retain what is best about the Act, and fight attempts to use the Act for partisan advantage.

9. A National Commission to Strengthen American Democracy. There are many other important ideas to explore. I would establish a commission of ordinary Americans — not politicians — to consider such cutting edge ideas as instant runoff voting, Internet voting, nonpartisan primaries, an Election Day holiday and abolition of the Electoral College. American patriots established our democracy and American patriots can reinvigorate it.

The rest of the issues receive similar bullet points. I don't know what Brooks is missing unless he hasn't been to Dean's site.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Bush just installed Charles "The Racist Anti-Choice Right-Wing Piece of Garbage" Pickering on the court, bypassing the Democrats who had blocked his appointment. Here's Pickering's record, courtesy of NARAL.
He has that right, but it is no less disgusting, and it is no less a direct, in-your-face bitchslap at the Democrats and progressives everywhere.
NARAL has a letter writing campaign going on, which is worth partcipating in if only to tell your senator to stop sleeping on the job (or in my case, since they're Republicans and hate America, to tell them that you're going to see to it they're voted out of office). [The site is down right now, but I will post the lunk later this evening] Unfortunately, it's like screaming into the wind. The deed is done. I see it as a desperate act by an administration that is worried about its electoral prospects and feels it has to get the most damage in before it's too late.
Please march for choice in April, and remember to key your favorite republican's car. Fucking lousy shiteating fuck fucks.
This must be seen to be believed. It's a site rallying right wing Christians against Bush. A lot of it is stomach-turning (they think he's too far to the left on abortion and homosexuality, for example), but I have to admit, their links to "Why People Should Vote" and "Americans Must Free Themselves From A Two Party Death Grip" are pretty fun.
And BOO-YAH for Elliott Gorelick while I'm at it.
I love to see the Post get a bitch-slap.
remeber the Judas Priest backmasked message hoo-hah back in the 1980s?
After reading this article at the Boston Globe, Colin might want to consider purchasing the album. Cus let's face it, for a man who claims to put such a high value on personal honor, Powell's cred is in the toilet.
I've said before that one can't expect much from someone who helped perpetrate the Mai Lai cover-up, but the public humiliation is nearly complete.
Go out like a samurai, go out like a samurai.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Sorry folks, more baby shit. I hate to turn into one of these people that does nothing but yap on and on about their precious little angel (god those people annoy the living fuck out of me, and I want to kill them all, especially when "precious" is brought to a grown-up restaurant where he/she/it screams, yells, and annoys everyone else. babysitter, people, baby sitter.)
But anyway... from an email to my pal/ former roomate Chris Dennstadt, who is a genius.

Right now he's upstairs feeding and I'm acclimating
surprisingly quickly to fatherhood considering how
much I bitched about it a few months ago. I feel
guilty because Melissa's been through so much with the
birth, followed by having to teach the kiddo how to
feed properly (it's instinctual, yes, but he's still
got to learn to identify the boob/nipple as food
source), and we're both tired from his erratic
schedule. I thought she was taking on too much, so
I've been official diaper changer, ass wiper, and
clothes dresser. I used to have to change my brother
when he was a little guy, so I have some practice.
The shit really doesn't bother you when it's your own
kid, and you get used to the smell. Also, whenever
she gets a chance for a nap, I take over keeping him
quiet if he wakes up. What more could i ask for: I
now have an excuse to sit around and sing country
songs for hours on end. All those bluegrass and
old-time songs sure do come in handy. They're so
repetitive, they all work as lullabies. especially
Doc Watson. Oh man, Doc Watson is a parent's best

I've been using Omie Wise as his primary lullaby. Melissa's nowhere near the music freak that I am, so I'm teaching her the melody so she can sing when I'm away. With a baby, it doesn't matter what you sing as long as it's the same melody each time. They associate it with sleep, and crash right out. It's a good thing too, because Omie Wise is a brutal song. The melody, in case you haven't heard it, sounds ike something medieval people in pointy hats would be dancing to. The Stanley Brothers album "old time songs" , which they recorded after an "official" recording session is great too. The recordings date from the Stanley's early period when they were going for a sound that's a cross between Bill Monroe and the Blue Sky Boys, and that version of "Handsome Molly" just put the kiddo down for the count.

You don't realize just how much love you have in your heart and then something like this happens to you. YIPES!
hey, guess who makes money if we go to Mars?
can you say "Halliburton"?
I knew you could! More on the Mars-Halliburton story here, at the Center for American Progess, which is kind of a left-wing Heritage Foundation. High time we got some zealots of our own.
Also, some fine links to the investigation into Dick Cheney, Halliburton, and bribery in Nigeria, which goes unreported in every major US paper. Isn't it disgusting how blatantly corporations manipulate the news? Fuckin'-A, I wouldn't have heard about this except for MoveOn, whose letter wrting-campaign still hasn't gotten anything out of the New York Times, and Buzzflash.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Right now, I am beat to hell. Not as beat as Mommy is, but beat nonetheless. As mentioned in Monday's entry, we got essentially no sleep Sunday night, because we knew were inducing labor Monday afternoon and we had a case of the nerves.

I didn't bring an overnight bag on Monday night, so I came home with Melissa's folks, and sat up drinking beers with her dad until 3:30 AM, then came downstairs and wrote the blog entry until after 5:00 am, at which point I fell into the sleep-that-isn't-sleep: you know, the kind of sleep where your body sacks out but your brain can't slow down. Last night I stayed in the hospital with her, and the kiddo had us up and down pretty much all day and all night. Worse, we had a roommate, and every time our little Sammy fell asleep, her guy woke up and started wailing on his own. We slept maybe 6 hours at the most, in spurts of an hour here, two hours there.
Byl the Born Again was right about one thing. No, not the part about "lifting my name up in prayer." BARRRF.
No, it was this line: "I think this child will be a great thing for you. The love he will
unleash in your life will almost unbearable it will be so great." Holy fucking shit. maybe it's the endurance test I've been through, but man oh man, i can barely keep my emotions under control when I pick up the little fucker. I nearly broke down on Monday night when I sang him off with "The Tennessee Waltz." I tried, unsuccessfully, to do a couple of Lefty Frizzell tunes today. "Mom and Dad's Waltz" would get the waterworks going whenever I got to the "And I pray every day for Mom and Daddy" line. Never mind "How Long Will It Take to Stop Loving You," I can't even get three syllables into the first verse. I posted this to the bluegrass list-serv I belong to, and I can barely get through the emails I've gotten from people without my goddamn eyes welling up. Here are some corkers right here:

My wife and I always thought "Two Little Boys" was pretty corny, but
after our twin sons were born (three years ago next week), Jessica
suddenly found she couldn't even hear it, much less sing it, without
getting all choked up. I could still sing it but it definitely had an
effect on me that it never had before.

The boys love bluegrass music - got their first experience in the womb,
with their mama thumping the bass right up against her growing belly.
They got their first "guitars" (actually ukuleles) for Christmas this
year and they love to "play" them. Only trouble is, they insist on
using the same picks I use for my mandolin, so I gotta go lay in an
extra large supply. Lucky thing I don't use tortiseshell!

Congratulations, Brendan, to you and your family!

-- Stewart

This one was one of my favorites:
Brendan, when my 2 children were born the first
thing I done was put them in the crib, turn on the
stereo loud and play F&S. They slept with no problem.
If you think about it the hospital has lots of noise.
When you bring the baby home he or she is used to
noise. Don't sneak around being quiet afraid you'll
wake the baby. Get them used to a normal household
right away and the'll be happier babies. My kids grew
up knowing the words to all the classic BG songs. We
also never had night time feedings. Feed them as late
as you can and if they cry the first couple of nights
they get over it quickly.Then feed them early in the
morning. Believe me it's eaiser on the parents and the
children. Just a few hints from an old man. Love and
cherish them while they are young. They get old quick.
My two are 35 and 31. Maybe later you can let them
eat more possum. Mike O'Ferrall

as is this post by Janice:
Pretty soon you'll be walking the floor at 3 AM jiggling him in your arms and pacing in time while you sing "rabbit in the log", and then before you know it HE will be singing "papa please don't whip lil Benny". You didnt name him Benny did you?!? Anyway. Congrats. Now go right now and buy an old beat up mandolin to lay around the house and every time you catch him eyeing it stomp your foot and snarl "you GIT away from that BOY!!" and then if you ever catch him touching it make him go mow the lawn. That way he'll be sneakin and playing it every chance he gets and will be on the big festival circuit at an early age.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

editied email to claiborne, one of my bestest friends and the guy that got me into bluegrass music to begin with.

I'm a dad now (you'll be getting the more general annoucnement later) to a beautiful 7 pound 10 ounce baby boy.
dude... watching my kid get born was the most amazing thing. holy fucking shit. Should you get the opportunity, you had better not miss out on watching your own kid get delivered into the world. My mind is pretty much blown. It was better than any drugs I have ever taken in my whole fucking life.

Melissa and I agreed that if Sammy hadn't arrived by Monday, that she'd induce labor, and so by Monday we were at Lakeshore Hospital by about noon. We started inducing labor with a pitocin drip around 1:30 (pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin, the
chemical that helps to stimulate contractions.
. Over the course of the day they
increased the drip, and the contractions kept getting more intense. Melissa is a fucking trooper too, but I could see how much pain she was in. What's fucked is you can't really see that anything's going on. It's all internal, so she was just lying
there looking more and more uncomfortable while to my eye, nothing was happening. Probably like period cramps but exponentially, I guess, we haven't talked about it yet. Her face went ashen a few times, and a couple of times she
the pain finally got to be too much (I keep saying "we" but you know it's really like "she," who the fuck am I to get in the way of her pain relief?). My parents told us horrow stories about getting an epidural, but thankfully, the procedure has been refined and perfected over the past 30 years, so it was no problem. I'm not one to describe (I'll see if I can get Melissa to describe it later and edit) it seems something like a novocaine iv; that's kind of how it worked. She was fully conscious, and told her mom and me that she could feel a degree of pain and pressure, but nowhere near what it was like before the epidural. Also, she had enough feeling
that she could feel the contractions, which helped a lot with the pushing.

The issue with the epidural actually led to a brief snapping at my old man later that evening. My dad is a great guy, but like me he has a tendency to talk and talk until someone shuts him up. Because he's used to being right (i'll give the man credit, he's usually right about most things), he sometimes thinks he's always right. After telling him the epidural went Ok, he started in with the horror story I'd already heard twice, and as I tried to correct him, he began to get on a roll with "LISTEN TO ME..." at which point I had to get nasty and cut him off with "NO, I WON'T LISTEN TO YOU because what you're going to say is based on an experience from 33 years ago." I feel badly about snapping, but at the same time, I really didn't need to hear the whole spiel for a third time, especially on three hours of sleep and on roaming charges...

So anyway, most of the day, I'd say from 1:30 to 6:30, she barely dilated past 3 cm. Then after a trip to the bathroom and some really strong contractions, she went from 3 cm to 10 cm in about 15 minutes. This is when they gave her the epidural, probably around 8:30 or so. The nurses got her legs up, and already I could see some of his hair hanging out of her vagina. At first I thought it was some sort of blackish pregnancy related goo, but then I realized it was little brown curls. Melissa's mom helped her with the breathing, while the nurses and I were yelling encouragement as she pushed. The head came out little by little; Melissa would push three times during a contraction, then take a break while she waited for the next. Then three more pushes of about 10 seconds each, and a break, with a little more of his noggin appearing each time. It got pretty crazy looking down there; her pussy got REALLY big, and her asshole was bulging out like a bunch of grapes from the pressure of his head. I realize that sounds rude, but there is no other way to put it. I was impressed, really impressed by the extremes the human body can go to.

Then Sammy's little head began poking out, first the size of a tennis ball, then a little bit more. Each time she pushed, he'd take three steps forward, one step back. When his head came all the way out, it was almost the size of a candlepin bowling ball. She ended up getting a hemorrhoid or two (this is common) and in the end, she
finally needed a tiny epesiotomy. Neither of us were happy about that. All of a sudden her doctor muttered, "She's gonna need an episio..." and before we had a chance to protest, it was done, and Sammy practically fell out. Thankfully, it was a really small cut, requiring only one stitch. The doc and the nurses were amazed at this because it was her first birth.

So we got some pix of him all purple and slimy, and I cut the cord. We also got a bunch of nice shots from after he went to normal baby color, which was only
about 15 minutes.
The amount of blood, water, and stuff that comes out
of a girl after giving birth is crazy, but not too
shocking (at least for me). be prepared for that, and
if you don't have a strong stomach, once the kid is
born, just pay attention to mom and don't worry about
the clean up. That's what nurses are for anyway.
melissa got to hold him first, but while they were
cleaning her up, I sang him to sleep with "Tennessee
Waltz" and almost stared bawling like a baby myself.
Jesus, my eyes are getting all wet thinking about it
right now. God almighty, he's a cute little fucker.

Monday, January 12, 2004

In about a half-hour, we leave for the hospital to induce labor. I think I got maybe 3-4 hours fitful sleep last night. At least I'm not alone: Melissa didn't sleep a hell of a lot either.
More later tonight I suspect.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Saturday, January 10, 2004

More on Colin Powell's sacrfice of honor for politics. In the Talking Points Memo cited below, the Guardian cites an interview Powell did with the Washington Post. I couldn't find it, but luckily Sid Blumenthal (the former Clinton official who wrote the Guardian article) answers his email. Here's that Powell interview.
"But it doesn't mean that you copy Marshall, because Colin Powell isn't George Marshall and George Bush isn't Franklin Delano Roosevelt. :
You can say THAT again...
Ouch. I just did a web search for Marjorie Williams. Looks like her father did a book intorduction, which he later came to regret, for Holocaust denier and Hitler Apologist, David Irving.
Marjorie Williams is an idiot.
Her argument is "Howard Dean is not qualified ot be president because he is a doctor and doctors have no compassion."
I'm not kidding. Read this. I'm still wondering what her qualifications are. Who is this woman? The Post doesn't say.

I wrote the Post about this; I forgote to save it, but it doesn't matter the letter didn't get published.
Someone else's did though.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

I found this at Josh Marshall's always-excellent Talking Points Memo: a brutal portrayal of Colin Powell's sacrifice of principle.
It's been awhile since I read the Guardian, but my this article is depressing.
Not that I have any sympathy for a man who was complicit in covering up the Mai Lai massacre...
You know how Colin could still find an honorable way out of this? He could take his service revolver, make sure the cylinder is loaded with live ammunition, put it in his mouth, cock the trigger, and blow his own brains out Vince Foster style.
The number one reason i have always been reluctant to have children.
Still no Christmas wish from the Chrissssstian and his litter.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

This is a must see site. National Security Archives detailing quite clearly how friendly we were with Mr. Hussein.
Dig Don Rumsfeld's funky suit as he shakes hand with Ol' Saddam!

"Washington D.C., 18 December 2003 - Newly declassified documents posted today on the Web by the National Security Archive show the British Embassy in Baghdad recommending Saddam Hussein to London in 1969 as a "presentable young man" with an "engaging smile," "with whom, if only one could see more of him, it would be possible to do business."

The video is very nice as well. Watch them sit and discuss their mutual interests here.
By the way, let's never forget these words: Bush Knew. He knew, he knew, he knew.

"From the UK Guardian on May 19, 2002, was titled 'Bush Knew of Terrorist Plot to Hijack US Planes.' The first three paragraphs of this story read:

"George Bush received specific warnings in the weeks before 11 September that an attack inside the United States was being planned by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, US government sources said yesterday. In a top-secret intelligence memo headlined 'Bin Laden determined to strike in the US', the President was told on 6 August that the Saudi-born terrorist hoped to 'bring the fight to America' in retaliation for missile strikes on al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan in 1998. Bush and his aides, who are facing withering criticism for failing to act on a series of warnings, have previously said intelligence experts had not advised them domestic targets were considered at risk. However, they have admitted they were specifically told that hijacks were being planned."

Dear Mr. Sulzberger,

I am writing in protest against David Brooks' recent opinion piece, "The Era of Distortion," in which he argues that anyone opposed to the neoconservative agenda is an anti-Semite ("In truth, the people labeled neocons (con is short for "conservative" and neo is short for "Jewish")...And for a subset of these people, Jews are a handy explanation for everything..And if you can give your foes a collective name — liberals, fundamentalists or neocons — you can rob them of their individual humanity. All inhibitions are removed. You can say anything about them. You get to feed off their villainy and luxuriate in your own contrasting virtue. You will find books, blowhards and candidates playing to your delusions, and you can emigrate to your own version of Planet Chomsky.").

Not only are these statements untrue, they are themselves anti-Semitic. For instance, my father and grandmother are Jewish, and both are vehemently opposed to the neoconservative agenda. Some of the most effective people in the progressive movement are Jewish as well, including many of the people at MoveOn, the Prometheus Radio Project, and Peace Now.

It is one thing to say you disagree with the arguments of these groups on their merits. But David Brooks does not do that: rather, Brooks argues that the people making these arguments are anti-Semites, and therefore their arguments aren't even worth considering. Mr. Sulzberger, by Mr. Brooks' logic, you may be an anti-Semite yourself: after all, the editors who produce the Times' leading editorials came out squarely against many of Mr. Bush's policies, including the war in Iraq and the behavior of people like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. Indeed, Mr. Brooks is doing exactly what he says the opponents of the neoconservative agenda are doing: giving his foes a collective name and robbing them of their humanity.

While I fail to see what one's religious or ethnic background has to do with one's political affilitations, I do see that by painting opponents of the administration as anti-Semites, Mr. Brooks is defaming the name of left-wing Jews nationwide. If anyone is an anti-Semite, it is Mr. Brooks, and I will have you know I have lodged a formal complaint against him with the B'nai Brith Anti-Defamation League. I urge you to rid your newspaper of this dishonorable bigot.
Respectfully yours,
Brendan Skwire
Letter to the Washington Post
According to David Broder, Dean's comment that "jailing the Iraqi dictator left America 'no safer' was "ill-timed." (Dean: Dominator or Detonator? January 7 2004 op-ed)
I am sorry that David Broder disapproves of Dean's timing, but the statement was nevertheless true, as recent events underscore. Never mind the fact that Hussein had no connection to the September 11 attacks: in the days following his capture, America went to orange alert (more severe than yellow) and then up to red alert during New Year's Eve. As I write, we are STILL at orange alert, and al Qaeda is releasing more authentic tapes from bin Laden.
Pray tell Mr. Broder, how are we safer? Or were you just shooting the messenger?

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

I'm so excited! My friend Neil Cleary is gonna come up to Montreal for a visit this Friday!
I heart Neil...
Oh the delightful things you learn about when you're expecting. And oh, the delight at sharing those delightful things with your friends.

"As the cervix dilates, blood and the cervical mucous plug (from the cervical canal) pass from the vagina. The bloody show is a classic indicator of beginning or progressing labor." This is from some pregnancy page.
So perhaps Sammy is making his move.

Another absolutely yummy thing to think about is meconium. Why Brendan, you're saying to your computer, what is this dainty thing called

From, the online resource that thinks I'm a pregnant woman. "36 weeks: This week, your baby
sheds most of her downy coating of lanugo [The fine hair that covers a fetus from about 26 weeks, and is sometimes still present at birth. A baby born at term
will usually shed the hair by the end of the first week after birth] and vernix caseosa — the cheeselike coating that covers a fetus in utero and protects developing skin. Some may remain at birth. The baby swallows both, along with other secretions, and all will stay in the baby's bowels until birth. This blackish mixture, called meconium, will become the baby's first bowel movement."

This disgusting morsel is hardly the baby's fault. It's just part of the natural process.

On the other hand, this disgusting morsel was thought up by grown-ups, no doubt the kind that do bong-hits for breakfast while doing IVs of granola and refusing to trim body hair or bother to wash. Yes, i am talking about the placenta
eating ceremony
. Barrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrfffff.
You know who does this? The type of broad that refers
to herself as a wiccan (this site proves it). A google search pulled up more than 4,000 relevant sites. That is FUCKED UP.
"The Religio Romana is the practice of the indigenous earth-centered belief system of the ancient Romans. It began as a local farm-based religion and later developed into a State religion. The Religio Romana involves a collection of beliefs and practices honoring ancestral and divine spirits through precise actions and prayers in order to gain favor and achieve peace of the Gods (Pax Deorum)." Right, and eating placenta went hand-in-hand with this.
Reading websites like this makes me wonder if there are any weirdoes out there into mummification, Egyptian style. Do I dare do a web search? No... I think not.
This is just plain old funny.
"Sammy Shelor crotch-bulge enhancement device," good grief.
Subject: name calling and distortion

David, I'm confused. You write, "And if you can give your foes a collective name — liberals, fundamentalists or neocons — you can rob them of their individual humanity. All inhibitions are removed. You can say anything about them."

Isn't that EXACTLY what the Republican party did during the 90s? I'd like you to explain to me why it was OK then, but not OK now? Also, I'd like to know why you always sound so desperate and hysterical.
Brendan Skwire

This is typical behavior from conservative columnists. Having dished it out for the past 8 years or more, these guys simply cannot take it when it's slung back in their direction (never mind that people like Richard Perle are hardly human in behavior or appearance. Ol' Dick looks awfully close to the same species that produced Jabba the Hutt).
But seriously... this column came out the same day the New York Post referred to Howard Dean as a fascist. a Leninist, and then a Bolshevik, all in one column. And it's the LEFT that's demonizing people?
In the words of Don Imus, "Achey-breaky heart? Gimme a fucky-wucky break!"

This is also hot on the tail of a New York Times article excoriating one of Howard Dean's aides for conflict of interest in an HMO deal , a deal the Times admits was "canceled after the audit was made public."
Now what kind of fishing expedition is this? One would think that the Times would have better things to do, considering the behavior of the current administration, and their sweetheart giveaways to their friends in the oil, timber, and insurance industries...

Well, here's the update so far.

Right around Christmas, I got the news (as most of you know) that the baby had dropped and melissa was dilated to about 3 centimeters. I figured it was time to get moving up to Montreal. My mother was pretty vehement (that is, she wouldn't stop nagging) about this, and since we all figured it would be a real downer to miss the birth of my kid, I got on the train on Monday morning, December 29.

Well, yesterday marked a week and the kid is nowhere in sight. Melissa thought she was having contractions Saturday night, but they turned out to be false labor or something: whatever the contractions indicated, they didn't continue through the night and she hasn't had any of consequence since.

Montreal is a beautiful city. It reminds me a lot of Philadelphia, or even New Orleans: there's antique ironwork everywhere, the majority of the buildings are old and ornate, and like Philadelphia, there are oodles of three-story semi-detache gabled Victorians. The cold is actually fairly tolerable, and when it's not, you can always go underground: beneath the streets is a subterranean city that puts Penn Station to shame. There's no point in comparing it to the wasted space below Philadelphia's streets.. oh wait, sure there is. What's not happening under Broad Street (and below City Hall) on the Concourse is stupid compared to the variety of shops and things to do under Montreal. And no one can tell me that it's because Montreal is a thriving city: remember, this is a place that lost something like 40% of its citizenry when Quebec passed the language laws requiring everything to be in French.

Even as I write these words, I am missing Philadelphia terribly. It's not that I don't get along with Melissa's folks: they're wonderful people, and so nice to tolerate yet another person under their roof and into their previously empty nest (Melissa hasn't lived at home since she was 18, and her brother's been out even longer). the food is great here, and cheap. The beer is strong, and cheap. The marijuana is super high-quality, and sells for about half the price of the same grade pot at home.

But I miss my house.
I miss wandering around in my underwear, smoking pot
OPENLY IN THE HOUSE and watching the Simpsons.
I miss playing country music at Fiume (after a lot of research, I found a couple of places that host jams in town, but you know it's not going to be the same).
I miss having my own space, and time to myself.
I miss being able to have sex whenever I want, and as loud as I please. As much as I hate having to look for work, I miss being able to look for work.

So everyone, tonight I want you to all get together, join hands, and chant really loud, "SHOW UP, BRENDAN'S BABY. SHOW UP RIGHT NOW. STOP FUCKING DAWDLING."

Addition: This paragraph was originally sent out as an email to several friends, and so had to be tinkered with. Did those chants work? I don't know, but ten minutes ago, Melissa told me she just had a bit of bloody show. KEEP CHANTING! KEEP CHANTING!

Monday, January 05, 2004

Because I'm such an angry, bitter, spiteful, ill-tempered, mean-spirited sunuvabitch, you might not believe it when i say I love Alan Watts... but I do. Golly.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

First, a site that tells it like it is:
Second, I didn't get my usual Christmas Greeting from Byl Cameron. Byl is a guy I used to be pretty close with back in the day in New Haven. Then he became a born again Christian (or as I like to call them "Chrissssstians") and began to say (and believe) things that seemed quite out of character for someone so clever (you can tell he's a bright guy by his website, which is well worth a visit).

I guess this is kind of old news. As many of you know, I'm awaiting fatherhood. You may also know that while I wasn't exactly overjoyed about this news, I have since come full circle. I'm genuinely happy to have this kid coming into the world, no matter how difficult and tricky things are going to be for the next 18 years. But I will not try to pretend that I was psyched about the news when I got it. I wasn't sure where the relationship was going at the time, I was concerned about the fact that we weren't married and had no plans to get married, and I was concerned (still am) about the difficulties about being international-but-unmarried parents. Never mind that my personal finances are a fiasco or that my calling is to play music, hardly a stable income. As I say, these issues are all immaterial right now (except the finances of course, damn you UPenn).

After reading my post about how I came to be an expectant father in September, Byl went ballistic on me, telling me I was a hypocrite.
Here's his email to me:
well, the blogspot story is up. i'll admit, i am distressed by it. if
you don't need anything extra to think about, or don't care what i
think, no need to proceed.

we are three children deep into parenthood, so i have some experience
with what you are facing. it's an unbelievable experience, both in the
difficulties and wonders it will bring. it is unlike anything you have
ever done. it is so different from anything else you have ever done,
it would be like me trying to explain what a color that you have never
seen looks like.

there is going to be someone sitting in front of you one day who will
be looking you in the eye, seeking your admiration, needing your
guidance, needing a place be held when they hurt themselves, and
generally looking for a father - someone to guide them through an
increasingly scary and difficult world with a hand of love.

the fact that you are lobbying to have this person killed is
tremendously sad, but the fact you feel it's ok to write about it so
flippantly upsets the living shit out of me. your slight glimmer of
shame is the only redeeming element of the whole writing
[I'll point out that Scott Colan at thought it was impressive and honest enough to post at HIS blog]. social
stigma aside, you appear to know that a child you made, that is kicking
inside of the body of someone you care about, is in fact a person.

you espouse great concern for the poor, the oppressed, those caught in
the crossfire of unjust wars, those on the periphery of society - now
you have a chance to prove it's not the rhetorical bullshit. you
actually will have responsibility for someone else's existence and fate
until you or they die, be it a few weeks or the next 90 years. yes -
holy shit.

step up and be a father to that person.

if you have a tirade of a response, just save it.

if you want some support and input from two people that love our
children and care about you - we're here. and we will lift your name
up in our prayers.

I wasn' too happy about that one, and I told him so. Notice Byl's already calling a clump of cells, at the time barely a month old, a "person." I wonder if he goes diving after miscarriages to revive them with mouth-to-mouth, because by his logic, they're people too. Don't flush! In the name of Jeeeezus Christ almighty, don't flush!. Hey thanks for clearing that up for me Byl. Before you came along and told me that a blastocyst is a viable person, I would have been wandering around in the darkness. May I interest you in my scab collection?

On a tangent, I wonder how many Chrisssstians supported the war in Iraq? Or to be apolitical, I wonder how many Chrissstians step on bugs or swat flies every day? How many spay and neuteer their pets? Or is human life/ reproduction more important than any other life? Ever throw a moldy orange in the garbage? DUDE STOP!!! THAT'S LIFE YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THERE, AND LIFE IS PRECIOUS. Of course death, also in God's plan, is to be avoided at all costs. What the fuck is up with that? I thought you wanted to go to heaven... there's an interstate I can direct you to, why not set up a nice game of hopscotch? I'll even let you draw the board in a cross pattern...

I will repeat, in case you're new to the blog or you haven't been here lately, I'm not upset anymore about the kid. He's coming any day now, and we're both really excited for him to get here. Melissa and I have gotten past any problems we had back in September and our relationship is super-strong right now. On the other hand, fuck any born-again Chrissstian that says I should live my life this way or that. There's a reason they threw you motherfuckers to the lions, and I for one wish the tradition would be revived. What I wouldn't give to see a stadiumful of you holier-than-though, self-righteous scolds all hanging from the gallows while you're pelted with garbage.
By the way, this isn't directed at those of you who may be of any number of Christian sects. I have no quarrel with Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopals, Lutherans, what-have-you. I have a problem with you "Chrisssstians". You know the ones: the ones who have a "personal relationship" with God. The ones who go around yapping that "gay people must never marry," "sex ed in the schools is bad, we should only teach abstinence," "abortion should be illegal and so should contraception." The fucking idiots who plaster doodles of fish on their bumpers. Fuck you. Go nail yourselves to a cross, simp. Go kill yourselves so you can get to heaven quicker, just leave me alone here on earth. You all make me want to vomit.
Anyway, my response to "Padre Pio":
I have no tirade. as is plain, I lost: she's keeping
> the baby.
> I understand you have a deeply, deeply held conviction
> against abortion, which I respect and admire you for [ok, I was blowing smoke up his ass here: I have no respect or admiration for pro-lifers at all: they are the scum of the earth and should have been aborted themselves]
As a matter of fact, while Melissa is pro-choice
> herself, it was her personal conviction about abortion
> for herself that led her to keep young Henry. that's
> OK: that's her personal conviction.
> Byl I added a paragraph to my blog today, which
> describes my own deeply -held personal conviction: "I
> have always held a deep personal antipathy toward
> human reproduction. My father and I have had deep,
> meaningful philosophical discussions about the human
> race: our impact on the planet, our failings, and how
> our failings will some day be our doom. I like being
> alive, but I HATE this world and it is never going to
> ever ever ever ever get better. There is never going
> to be a time like the cover of the Jehovah's Witness
> magazine where everybody is happy and there's clean
> energy and people are nice and everyone's fed. People
> cannot solve the world's problems because people ARE
> the world's problem, and that goes treble for
> Americans, who by simply sitting quietly and doing
> nothing use up more energy than anyone else on the
> entire planet. For as long as I have been aware of my
> own capacity to reproduce, I have always thought it
> was a terrible idea. I do not want to add to the
> problem. As much as Melissa has a personal conviction
> against getting an abortion, I have a deeply held
> personal feeling against reproduction. By making a
> kid, I have done the worst thing I could have ever
> done, short of murdering someone. "You're going to
> have a baby" is NOT good news to me."
> that said, I AM stepping up and being a father to my
> fucking kid to be. with all due respect, keep your
> prayers and your God to yourself.

So Byl wrote back:
I am right there with everything you are seeing.

The fact that we expect differently from the present state of
screwed-upness, that we feel it CAN be different says to me that we
have an innate sense of a Differentness that is waiting to be tapped
into. You have never seen a world in better shape than this, your dad
has not, and go on and on backward - it has been this way as far as we
can remember. What is it that makes us imagine a better world? What
is it about the planet that we think worthy of its perpetuation? Why
is beauty destroyed a tragedy, and ugliness growing a shame, a crime, a
loss? Where does this sense of loss come from? Where did we get such
ideas? Is it just imagination?

There is hope, and it will have the final word.

I think this child will be a great thing for you. The love he will
unleash in your life will almost unbearable it will be so great. I
believe with all of my heart that this will be so. And where I take
that hope I will, by your request, keep to myself.

Be strong, and never doubt we are here for you!

I think it's worth noting that Byl talks in vague abstractions (Also, if they're there for me, then I'd like that "thereness" to be in the form of financial contributions: hey Chrisssstian, how's about a couple years' worth of diapers?)

Where i give concrete examples of why I don't want to bring a kid into the world (mainly because the world is going to hell in a handbasket), Byl brings up hoary old "hope." "You're concerned for the poor and oppressed: the best idea is to bring someone new into the morass, because, hey there's always hope. We dumbass Chrisssstians have been spouting this "hope" shit for 2000 years or so, and we keep on hoping." Right. Alan Watts (or was it Thomas Merton) once pointed out that hope is what prevents you from doing the things that need to be done now.
I also like the presumption that everyone sees things the same way: "Why
is beauty destroyed a tragedy, and ugliness growing a shame, a crime, a
loss? Where does this sense of loss come from? Where did we get such
ideas? Is it just imagination?" I finally decided that the answer to these thoughts is "God," so therefore that's the answer that everyone else must come to as well. That's the essentially what's he's saying here.
That's the problem with Chrissssstians. They're so absolutely sure they know the answer to everything (the answer is ALWAYS Jesus), that they take on the burden of scolding anyone that sees things differently, and telling people what they "should" do. Bad day at work? How's about some Jesus? PMS? Jesus is the cure (just ask David Hager, Bush's nominee to the FDA who refuses to prescribe contraceptives and tells his femal patients that the best way to deal with premenstrual cramps is to pretend that Jesus is giving you a big hug). Fretting over impending fatherhood? Time's ripe for a nice big cup of Jesus.
Spare me.

Thus far I have not gotten my Christmas greeting. I haven't missed it so much because I wanted a seasonal greeting. I wanted it more because I wanted to email back, "I thought I told you to keep your prayers to yourself."

Fucking stupid Chrisssstians. Byl wanted me to spare him a tirade, which I did until now. But rereading his poppycock over again just pissed me right the fuck off. "There is hope, and it will have the final word."
Bullshit: it's my blog, and I get the final word: "fuck you, and fuck the imaginary deity you rode in on, Chrisssstian. Now scram before I pound a nail through your palm."

Friday, January 02, 2004

So on a completely different subject for a few minutes.

I'm up in Montreal right now. Melissa's VERY pregnant, the baby's dropped, and she's dilated to about three centimeters. Unfortunately, this isn't enough for the baby to be on the way, nor is she having the proper contractions (as her pregnancy has come full term, she's begun to get Braxton Hicks contractions, which are kind of precursors to the real thing; problem is, they can precursor for weeks and weeks, and they have). I'm a lot more comfortable with things than I was a few months ago, to say the least. Hell, right now I'm just fucking tired of waiting and I want him to get the hell out of there. I want to see his little face and get on with everything else I have to get on with after he's born. I know shit's going to change drastically, and that's fine. I'm just tired of waiting for it. Show up already. Show up so Melissa can start wearing regular clothes again, including some cute minis and stockings and heels. Show up so we can hire the babysitter and go out and have dinner in another couple of months. Show up so I can really get back to looking for work and getting my stupid taxes straightened out. Jesus fucking Christ, just goddam SHOW UP ALREADY!!!

Meanwhile, I'm out of work (Penn downsized me days after I returned from tour) and powerless to do anything until the holiday weekend is over, feeling like a nuisance at my girlfriend's parents' house, and desperately jonesing for personal space. Barring a birth on Monday, I'll be going out to this country session at som,e bar called the Wheel in downtown Montreal.
I don't even know what the fuck he's singing about but Tom Petty's right: "The Waiting is the Hardest Part."

Thursday, January 01, 2004

For chronological order, please start here, then go here, and then go here.

OK, so here's how the shit finally hit the fan.

We were playing in Grand Rapids. Since Ohio, the venues had gotten steadily larger and more prestigious. We played Bogarts in Cincinatti, the oldest rcok room in the country. We played the same stage Hendrix played on. The next night was the Newport Music Hall, in Columbus. The chaos after this show is legendary, and must never be told, so I won't. Each night we were playing to about 1500 people, and Grand Rapids was no exception.
Like any other rock band, UncleFucker did its share of writing on the band room walls, but at the Orbit Room in Grand Rapids, the band rooms had just been repainted, and the management had asked that no one write on the walls. Whether anyone told us that or not, I don't know, but at some point in the evening, Jason from Tub Ring saw Boogie and Jamie writing on the walls (to be fair to them, I would have been writing too but my magic marker had run out that morning). "hey guys," Jason began, "the management doesn't want anyone writing on the walls." I don't kn ow what Jamie and Boogie said, but it probably had something to do with "fuck off." This would have been all well and good, except Jason noticed that it wasn't UncleFucker's name going up on the wall. Jamie and Boogie were writing "Tub Ring wuz here" and similar bits of graffiti. So Jason, understandably enough in my opinion, went to Amy the tour manager and complained (or squealed, if you will). I can't blame the guy for trying to keep his band out of trouble they weren't even involved in.
Well, Amy got mad and started yelling at Izzy. "Blah blah blah, it's bad enough your guys don't care about listening to anyone else, but it's fucking un-fucking called for to try to get someone else in trouble blah blah blah." The bitch was pissed; I'd never heard her swear like that before. So Izzy came into the band room and lit into Jamie and Boogie. "Now I'm getting yelled at for your fuckups, AGAIN, and this has to stop." This is about when Jason walked in, and Izzy wheeled on him. "And you! Why the hell are you trying to get us in trouble? Why do you have to be a dick tattle tale?"
"Oh, I'm the dick? I'm the dick?"Jason responded, red faced and seething. His eyes were getting wider and wider, and his head was shaking. "Is that how it is, I'm the dick?"
That's when the swearing and accusations kicked in, and it was too much for Jason, who left the room, went back to Amy, and totally unloaded. "Not only are they writing my bands' names on the wall,s now they're yelling at me that I'm a tattle tale, the motherfuckers have been starting shit all tour, and they're sexually harassing my merchandise girl."
BANG. Unbeknownst to any of us, Jamie's sexual harassment rep had traveled beyond just Donna. Earlier on the tour, he had mentioned to Boogie that he thought Amy was hot (which she was: she had a great set of tits, and a cute, if inverted, ass), and Boogie had helpfully passed this comment along to Amy. Not only that, Jamie has a tendency to be touchy-feely, and not just with women. He's simply the kind of guy that puts his arm around you when he talks to you, or touches you as you pass by to say "hello." These were nonsexual touches, but Amy, who already held Jamie in suspicion, interpreted them as such. Making matters worse, Jamie would act chummy with Amy at the worst possible moments, like when she was talking to promoters or club managers. Rightly or wrongly, Amy perceived this as undermining her authority, and Jamie was high up on her shit list. It was the last straw, and Amy flipped her wig.
We were in the main room getting ready to pack up the last of our merchandise when Amy strode out of the back room with a couple of security guys following her. Her face was flushed, and her eyes were boiling. She went over to Izzy and began yelling at him in front of everyone: yelling about the graffiti, yelling about the antics, yelling about Jamie. A few of us were watching from the sidelines, including Jamie, who began to feel badly. "Dude, I gotta do somethign to calm her down," I heard him mutter, and he walked across the room, apologizing. "Amy," he said, putting his arm around her shoulders. "On behalf of the band, I want to apolo---"

She threw his arm off her with such force he almost fell over. "DON'T... YOU...TOUCH ME" she roared in a hiss that was as loud as it was icy. "DON'T YOU...EVER...TOUCH ME." Jamie recoiled, and I knew we were in deep shit.

The rest of the night is a blur. We went back to the hotel. People were partying between our two hotel rooms. A really drunk girl dressed in ablack taffeta prom dress kept trying to stick her tongue in my ear (and in everyone else's ear as well) until two of her large male friends dragged her away. I think someone got naked (other than Boogie). All I know is that Izzy had disappeared to work things out with Amy when Jamie staggered into my room beet-face drunk. "He's on the phone with Amy," he slurrred. "He's gonna fuck it all up. Fuck it man, I'm outta here. If he called her, I'm outta here. If she called him, maybe I'll stay. but if she called him... fuck it, I quit..."

The motherfucker went on like this for twenty minutes at least, and he just wouldn't shut up. I couldn't take it anymore, and left. I went down to the front desk, and asked where I could get a bite to eat. The only place that might be open was a Taco Bell, two miles up the road (road... right. It was more like a four lane highway with malls on either side. That's all Grand Rapids is: a series of highways that connect malls).

My face and ears were raw and red from the freezing wind by the time I got to Taco Bell, and the restaurnt was closed down except for the drive-through. "Please," I begged, "let me order something, anything..."
"We can't serve no walk-ups, only cars," yelled the obese black woman behind the counter.
My eyes welled up. "Please, you don't understand. My hotel room is filled with drunka nd fighting musicians. They're all crazy, I had to get away. Please, I've walked a mile from the Motel 6, and all I want is a seven layer burrito..."
"Just the burrito?"
"Yes, please please, just the burrito." My toes were getting numb.
"Jorge, make him his burrito!" she yelled to the kid in the back. I was too thankful to ask them to add on some quesadillas.

The rest of the evening isn't worth writing about. By the time I got back to the hotel, almost everyone was asleep or wound down. Jamie had thankfully passed out. Jack had avoided most of the nonsense by sleeping in the van.

Things didn't get really interesting until morning. When checkout time came, Izzy was waiting for Jamie and Boogie with two gallons of blue and cream colored paint. "I'm not discussing it," he said. "But you two are going over to that club and you are repainting those walls. I have been on the phone with Amy all night and we are going to make this right. Now go." For the next hour and a half, Jamie and Boogie were hard at work. Jack was gleefully taking photographs. "I got photos of them when they got told not to do it! How can I pass up getting some shots now?"

Walls repainted, we finally got on the road. We stopped at a Pilot for gas and junk food when Izzy's phone rang. It was James, MSI's manager back in New York. Something was wrong; Izzy's face went ash. He walked off behind the building looking grim, as we took sidelong glances in his direction before filing dutifully into the Subway (did I mention Subway? At one point, one of the band had hooked up with a girl who managed a Subway in.. God, I don't even remember which state, and she scammed him a whole roll of Subway Stamps and Customer Appreciation cards. For every 8 stamps, you got a free 6" sub. And brother, we had hundreds. We lived on Subway.)

We finished our subs and gassed up the van, and still he was on the phone. "This is it," said Jamie. "I bet they're kicking us off tour."
"You think so?"
"Yeah, I think so," he said. "hey Brendan... sorry I said I was gonna kill you last night."
"Huh? When did you say that?"
"I don't know, I think it was around.. oh wait, here he comes." Izzy opened the door and slid into the driver's seat. "Well, they kicked us off tour," he said. "We're going home."