Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Boondocks

MacGruder has been riffing hilariously on Willie Nelson's "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly, Fond of Each Other", which follows homophobic Grandpa's excursion to see "Brokeback Mountain" a few weeks back.
So funny.

I Don't Get It

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Seriously, can ANYONE explain what the fuck Brad Anderson is talking about?
Ok, the dog's wearing a shirt... how do we make the jump to the Internet?
Marmaduke reminds me of Bil Keane's half-witted puns at The Family Circus but worse. At least Keane's got a bunch of grandchildren (and probably great-grandchildren) he can draw on for "inspiration" or whatever dementia drives the man on. No Marmaduke is like Ziggy, only less funny.

Marmaduke was created in 1954. The average lifespan of a real Great Dane is 7-10 years. The average lifespan for a 1-panel comic chronicling the mischief of a Great Dane is probably about 3 years.

Sometimes It's Better to Retire

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FBFW Watch

I owe my boss a beer.
If Lizzy's so in love with Paul, why does she send him off with a hug, not a kiss?
Run Paul, run! You're setting yourself up for a lifetime in which sex is limited to Saturday night, but only after you've made dinner; sat through "Bridges of Madison County"; lit the candles; showered before (and after); and promised to not to make those disgusting noises.

SHUT UP! Like you don't have your stupid obsessions.
I also deface Ziggy, the Family Circus, and Dennis the Menace.

I Need To Change the Way I live My Life

I need to change the way I live my life.
I do not know where to begin, or what is most pressing.
I smoke altogether too much pot.
I drink altogether too much beer,
but I love making beer!
The floral aroma of the hops,
The way the air
turns to bread
as the malt dissolves
in the water.

But I need to change the way I live my life.
I am too angry;
at any moment I could snap.
Tired of that shit, yo.
Tired of that shit.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Maureen Dowd, Eat Your Heart Out

Arianna Huffington shows Mo Dowd how snark is done.

Today on Meet the Press it was Meet the Republicans, as Russert's well-rounded lineup included Republican Senator John Warner, Republican Congressman Peter King and Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Perhaps the phone lines are down on the other side of the political divide...

Thirty minutes of airtime that had absolutely no journalistic purpose whatsoever -- just Tim kicking back with his good buddy Arnold.

Indeed, the segment gave me an idea: Why doesn't Tim just do a spin-off show and maybe call it, "Meet My Friends, Cronies, and Business Associates." Then he could have on all his friends, like Arnold, and people his son is in business with, like James Carville. And then Tim would be relieved of even having to go through the pretense of "hard-hitting journalism." They could talk sports, yuck it up and tell old drinking stories.

Before we get into substance -- actually this is no less substantive than the interview -- I must ask: what's with the hair? On both of them. Arnold's appears to be turning a strange shade of orange, as if he's perhaps acquired not just the charming flirting techniques but the actual hair of Strom Thurmond. And Tim's just seems to be getting darker. Or perhaps it's just my mood as I watch the show every week. Fair warning: Russert Watch will be tracking these important developments in the future...

If there's one thing that can distract from the travesty of journalism Meet the Press was today, it's being forced to think about Tim's abs. I wish I knew how to quit that image.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Open Letter to NARAL

I got this plea from NARAL today after South Dakota passed a bill banning ALL abortions, with no exemptions for the life of the mother, rape, or incest. The bill is specifically to defy Roe v. Wade.

My response:


I received your note asking for emergency assistance
in South Dakota. You have some fucking nerve asking me for money now.

Where were you during the Alito fight? Why are you still backing Lincoln Chaffee, Joe Lieberman, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, and all the other so-called "pro-choice conservatives" who voted for cloture?

Too bad about South Dakota. And too bad you chose to sit out on Alito. If Roe gets overturned, that's in your lap, baby. Suck it up like the rest of us.

I gave you a lot of money. My family gave you a lot of money. We went to your silly little marches and everything, believing in your leadership on the issue.

And for what? Bupkes. You're still supporting Chaffee. What, exactly, did you spend my money on? Why have you only responded to my criticism of NARAL, and apparently everyone else's, since the Alito debacle with form emails?

My mother taught me to use better language than that which you deserve. I am not giving your organization money EVER AGAIN. I am going to encourage my friends, family, and colleagues to drop you as well. You don't get it. You gave a pass to the people who supported Alito. Why the hell was I giving you money to begin] with?

I don't support losers. You want some money, go invest in the wire coathanger industry.

Pardon me. I am going to use language my mother taught me not to use because she just gave me permission.

Brendan Skwire

Don't give ANY money to NARAL. Cut them off until they stop endorsing Snowe, Specter, Chaffee, Collins, and every other so-called "pro-choice Republican" all of whom voted for Alito.


Lynn Johnston, well on her way into menopause and the eventual withering of her genitals, is beginning to live vicariously through the characters in For Better or For Worse. I've said this before, but the past two days' strips are just over the top, even without my edits.

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[I particularly like the look in Lizzy's face, and could not resist the anal sex reference. The strip just cries out for it!]

OK, this goes way too far into my FBFW knowledge, but:

A few months ago, Lizzy was going to move in with this other guy, but backed out when he wanted –gasp- to have sex with her.There was no way she was going to do it, and if I recall the break up was bitter.

My prediction: Lizzy and Paul will consummate their relationship over the weekend. The signs are all there. The panel in yesterday’s cartoon where he’s lifting her up off her feet, thrusting his pelvis forward (GROSS) followed by “pull the drapes”. Today, he’s hugging her from behind and telling her “turn around”. At this point I’m not sure if Lynn Johnston is sweating because of her hot flashes or whether she's rubbing the damp patch between her legs in ever more furious circles (I know, it’s gross, but I was an English major with a focus on lit crit, and this is what we do).

A friend of mine predicts a full-color sextravaganza with Paul and Lizzy on Sunday, but I don’t see it. Although one has to wonder whether Johnston has a collection of "too-hot-for-United Press" doodles: Paul and Lizzy wrapped in a 69; Lizzy riding cowgirl, her abundant and ripe breasts bouncing in the moonlight; Paul hittin' it doggy-style, with his thumb up her rump; Paul's face and Lizzy's face, contorted in orgasm... the list goes on and on. [By the way, have I mentioned I just got a freelance job writing dirty letters for Hustler Fantasies? It's true! But I digress...]

It’ll happen overnight Friday, and by Saturday, Lizzy and Paul will be in bed, with the covers up to the chest (like so many John and Elly midnight conversations) discussing their commitment and their love. It will be so treacly sweet that your teeth will actually begin to fall out of your head. And of course the homily. "Was it good for you?" "Girl, you're always good for me." Or something.

I also predict Paul will die in the line of duty, just before the marriage, with a surprise twist: Lizzy’s pregnant. This plot device that will bring yet another baby into the Patterson’s home, to replace the soon-to-enroll-in-university April, thus prolonging the relevance of Elly (who’ll have time on her hands now that she’s selling the bookstore).


I was driving into work today, and pulled up to the stop sign at Napa and Spring Garden behind a black Lexus SUV, Pennsylvania license plate number EVD-2874. As he made a right turn onto Spring Garden, the driver of the car tossed a Dunkin Donuts wrapper and a coffee cup out of the window onto the street. That just pisses me off: there is no excuse for littering other than laziness and being a disgusting lazy pig. We were heading in the same direction, and pulled up at the stoplight at the on-ramp for I-76. The window rolls down a second time, and another wad of trash goes flying out the window.
Now I'm seething. This person isn't someone who doesn't know any better not to litter: obviously, the guy has some brains, since he can afford to drive around in a Lexus. So I rolled down my window, stuck my head out and yelled "Pick up your trash! Pick up your trash! HEY BUDDY, PICK UP YOUR TRASH!" The guy hit the accelerator and peeled off as fast as he could.

Last summer, Melissa came down to Philadelphia for a visit with Sam. We were walking on 38th Street at the intersection with Walnut on Penn campus, when Melissa saw someone throw trash out a car window. She walked over to the car, which was stopped at the light, picked up the plastic bottle and clump of napkins and handed it to the driver, saying "You dropped this."
The guy turned to her, snarled and shouted "Fuck you you fucking white bitch!"
Nice folks we have here in Philthadelphia. There's a reason we have an inferiority complex here.

The Bush Administration is In Bed With the Terrorists

Arab Company, White House Had Secret Agreement

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration secretly required a company in the United Arab Emirates to cooperate with future U.S. investigations before approving its takeover of operations at six American ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. It chose not to impose other, routine restrictions.

As part of the $6.8 billion purchase, state-owned Dubai Ports World agreed to reveal records on demand about "foreign operational direction" of its business at U.S. ports, the documents said. Those records broadly include details about the design, maintenance or operation of ports and equipment.

The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

"They're not lax but they're not draconian," said James Lewis, a former U.S. official who worked on such agreements. If officials had predicted the firestorm of criticism over the deal, Lewis said, "they might have made them sound harder."

The conditions involving the sale of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. were detailed in U.S. documents marked "confidential." Such records are regularly guarded as trade secrets, and it is highly unusual for them to be made public.

The concessions - described previously by the Homeland Security Department as unprecedented among maritime companies - reflect the close relationship between the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

The revelations about the negotiated conditions came as the White House acknowledged President Bush was unaware of the pending sale until the deal had already been approved by his administration.

Bush on Tuesday brushed aside objections by leaders in the Senate and House. He pledged to veto any bill Congress might approve to block the agreement, but some lawmakers said they still were determined to capsize it....

More at the link.
My gtake? It's a deliberate move to leave our already insecure ports even more vulnerable to infiltration and attack; it is conventional wisdom that another catastrophic attack will lead directly to a police state. THIS IS NOTHING BUT A POWER GRAB BY A MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.

We only inspect something like 5% of the containers coming in as it is. By putting our security in the hands of a company owned by the UAE, one of the only governments to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan, and the source of 2 of the 9/11 attackers, the Bush administration is telegraphing its true aims.

This must be stopped.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Open Letter to Lloyd Grove

Mr. Grove,

In response to the recent break-up of bloated, lying pig Rush Limbaugh and CNN reporter Daryn Kagan you write "The good news, of course, is
that the fabulous Kagan is back on the market."

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Who would want to put his penis into Daryn Kagan's vagina knowing that the bloated, old, liver-spotted, drug addict Rush Limbaugh had already dumped God knows how much of his rancid semen in her? That prospect can't be appetizing to anyone, not even a Limbaugh fellow-traveller like Sean Hannity. I think visions of Rusty, redfaced and wheezing like a steam engine as he pounds away in the act of copulation, would inhibit the ability of even the most virile man to perform. Just typing about Rush Limbaugh mounting Ms. Kagan is causing my own testicles to retract into my abdomen,
and the lingering thought may well inhibit sexual relations with my girlfriend this evening. Thanks a lot, Mr. Grove!

Before Kagan can come "back on the market" she needs a full series of antiobiotics, and her vagina needs to be pressure washed with lye, tsp, or caustic soda.

Best Wishes,

Brendan Skwire

Santorum: Portrait of a Corrupt Politician

My friend Will Bunch at the Philadelphia Daily News wrote this important piece on Rock Santorum for the American Prospect, which is a must read. If you don't have time to read the whole puece, click on the image below for the recap at the Daily News.
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I have a special interest in the story. Back in 2005, when I was employed by Lutheran Settlement House, one of the first foundations we applied to was Rick Santorum's Operation Good Neighbor Foundation. Don't bother to Google them: you'll have trouble finding their site. In fact, I happened upon the foundation quite by accident, and it took a LOT of searching afterwards when I forgot to bookmark the page. We were a good fit with their mission, but unfortunately never heard back from them.

And no wonder: they're not even registered in Pennsylvania.

There's a little more to this story, but nothing I'm ready to talk about yet. Let's just say that someone gave Will Bunch the contact information for Operation Good Neighbor, including contact names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers.

Drinking Liberally Reminder

Just a second reminder that I probably won't be putting in an appearance at Drinking Liberally this week. Three weeks ago, I was too depressed from the Alito confirmation to participate. Two weeks ago, I had a recording sessiong with the Jangling Sparrows. This week, I am going to Wilmington Delaware to play bluegrass music at the 4W5 Cafe.

I've needed to play some bluegrass and old-time for awhile now, what with my exit from the Flat Possum Boys and the general lack of old time and bluegrass in the Philadelphia area. I'm hoping the scene in Wilmington will be fresh and inspiring. Here in Philadelphia, everyone's stuck on "What Have They Done With The Old Home Place" and the rest of the canon from "Bluegrass 101", with little to no interest in learning the more obscure songs I prefer.

So probably no Drinking Liberally tonight (although I may poke my head in on the way out of town: the Tangier is convenient to 95). My friend Wendy gets back into town next week though, and I'll definitely be attending then.

The Well Ran Dry

I once wrote a song called "Whatcha Gonna Do When the Well Runs Dry", a little ditty about what happens when you push someone too far, and they just don't want to deal with you anymore. A number of people and organizations asked me for money this week and found that the well had run dry. NARAL, for example sent me a letter asking for money to protect access to birth control. After the failure to stop Alito, and their consistent support of "pro-choice Republicans" like Lincoln Chaffee and Olympia Snowe, both of who supported Alito, I told NARAL "NO, never again." The DNC came calling as well: I asked them how Paul Hackett was doing.

A few weeks ago, I responded to my friend byl's post about the riots surrounding the Mohammed cartoons. I wish to amend that rebuttal.

I have absolutely no symapthy at all for these whining, misbehaving crybabies. Not a drop. What changed my mind?

Earlier this month, America's own Taliban, the American Family Association (who i will not link to) led by Reverend Donald "Duck" Wildmon, convinced NBC to cancel an episode of [the execrable] "Will and Grace" because it guest-starred Britney Spears as a conservative Christian minister (nice tits, Brit). Earlier in the year, the same group was successful at cancelling NBC's "Book of Daniel". The reason given in both instances was "the programs are offensive to Christians." Well boo-fuckin'-hoo, if what I said at the time, boo-fuckin'-hoo to you poor, downtwodden widdle wight-wing Cwistians. Aw, did someone give oo a buggy-boo?

So if I deplore this kind of caving in to the religious right in America, why would I be willing to offer my sympathy to the religious right in the Middle East and Europe, to people who are even more intolerant of women's rights than right-wing Christians; who persecute gay people even more than right-wing Christians; and who act like royal assholes in all the ways that right-wing Christians act like royal assholes?

Answer: I'm not. You don't like the way your spiritual leader is portrayed in a fucking cartoon? Tough fucking shit.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Pale Ale #2

6.6 pounds of Light Malt Extract.
1/2 pound crystal malt, 50 degrees Lovibond.
2 oz chocolate malt.
1 oz Cascade hops, 60 minutes.
1 oz Cascade hops, 30 minutes.
1 oz Amarillo hops, 30 minutes.
1 tsp Irish moss, 15 minutes.
1 oz Amarillo hops, 5 minutes.
Overpitched American Ale (Wyeast 1056) from the dregs of pale ale #1.

Mary at HSHB pointed out the grapefruit aroma of the cascades versus the tangerine bouquet from the Amarillo. We brewed Sunday night, and there was practically no lag time. By the morning, the yeast was already showing steady but relatively slow activity. By this morning, the fermenter's heavy plastic lid was distended and bloated with gas. The airlock is pointing at a 60 degree angle, but still holding as the only path of release for carbon dioxide and foam. I'm periodically wiping the sticky bubbles from the airlock cap to prevent blowout. I think from now on, I'm going to use sanitized surgical tube for a blow hose.

Tom from Yards gave me the tip to overpitch the yeast and finish primary fermentation as fast as possible. Good advice I think: at this rate, the beer will be ready for the secondary fermenter within 4 days total.

Brown Ale #1 is now drinkable. We only used 3.3 pounds of malt extract in that batch, and while it's tasty, it's definitely on the weak side. Brown ale #2 is just getting to the drinkable stage, still a bit green, but packs a bit more of a wallop. Crisper too.

I've decided within the next 2 months to switch to a keg system. I've been brewing every week, because I was under the impression that yeast from dregs wouldn't last more than a day or two. Actually, the yeast can sit in the fridge for a week. I was reluctant to do kegs because it takes a lot more time to consume 5 gallons of beer than it does to create it. I'd be buying a keg every week! On the other hand, if I purchase, over time, something like 5 kegs (Cornelius kegs, not beer kegs), I would have enough on hand to brew every other week and always have a keg on hand.

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Problem is, and investment in that many used kegs (new kegs are out of the question costwise) is likely to be $150-$300. OUCH. Then there's the initial cost of the CO2 tank, the pressure regulator, and a second refrigerator.

Another idea would be to brew every other month, using 3 or 4 kegs. Brew a series of pale ales in January; drink pales in February, maybe set aside a keg for a party later in the year. Spend March brewing browns; spend May brewing wheats; and so on.

I now have to eat some lunch and get ready to go to Home Depot to schedule an estimate for my upstairs carpetting. It's that time of year!

Worth watching

This is worth watching. Anyone who thinks fundamentalist Christians aren't as dangerous as fundamentalist Muslims is nuts.

tip-o-the-hat to Kate A.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Open Letter to NARAL

Hello NARAL:

I am appalled and angry about your latest emails to me, "98%: Something We Can All Agree On", about the importance of protecting birth control access, followed by yet another pitch for money.

If my money is so important, how come every single one of my emails about your failure to stop Samuel Alito were answered with form letters? For that matter, why
did you give Lincoln Chaffee, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, and the rest of the so-called "pro-choice republicans" a pass on the Alito nomination?

This was a fight we could have won, and not only did NARAL completely drop the ball, you had the audacity, ON THE SAME DAY ALITO WAS CONFIRMED, to send out a crock-of-crap "Better Luck Next Time" email that asked for (what else?) more money. For what? So you can sit on your duffs and tell Lincoln Chaffee what a great guy he is for voting against Alito after he guaranteed the guy would get confirmed with his vote for cloture?

I've signed countless letters on your organization's behalf; attended marches with my family; and God only knows how much money my family and I have given to NARAL for the cause of reproductive rights, only to have NARAL let us all down when we needed your
leadership. You lost Roe, so now I'm expected to follow you into the breach with my commitment to...birth control?

What I DO know is this: you will not get ONE. THIN. DIME. Not one dime out of me. I'm going to invest my money in coat hangers instead, since there's going to be quite a market for them in the near future, thanks to your failure. I don't just mean the failure to stop Alito: I also mean the failure to take responsibility for your screw up.

Well, you screwed up, and screwed up big time.
Go to Hell, NARAL. Enjoy the Middle Ages.

Brendan Skwire
Former NARAL member

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Blogactive, a site I just love because of its dedication to outing hypocrites, has a good piece about the DSCC's knife if Paul hackett's back. Really worth reading, it's a simulated transcript from Meet the Press, November 2006, pointing out what will certainly come up in Republican rhetoric: you can't trust the Dems on security, because look what they did to one of their own, and a veteran at that!

Good stuff, and quite true. I know that I have personally scaled back what I give to Democrats to about $0.00. As a matter of fact, the DNC called me last week asking for a donation. I asked why the Democrats couldn't stop Alito. The guy hedged the question. I got angry and began peppering him with questions, none of which he could answer satisfactorily. "This is Howard Dean's organization I'm calling from," he kept saying. Well, not exactly: it's the DNC, which Howard Dean happens to chair. As in the Democratic Party itself, not some associated group. I didn't give him any money. I told him not to call back. I told him to ask Samuel Alito or someone from "the gang of 14" for a couple of bucks, and hung up the phone.

As 2006 heats up, I will be getting calls from oh-so-many political organizations?
NARAL will not get one thin dime.
The DSCC will not get one thin dime.
The DNC will not get one thin dime.

You want to sell out your partymembers on important issues, that's fine: just don't keep asking us to keep you afloat, motherfuckers.
Start winning a few, and maybe I'll consider.
This is ALSO more important than whether Cheney was drinking malt liquor or cough syrup before shooting his acquaintance in the face with a shotgun.

They Get Letters

Or rather, I send letters, and sometimse I get published.
Hooray for Open Letter to Chris Matthews for publishing my letter to Verizon!

And yes, i really DID switch. Cavalier telecom is cheaper; offers 5-cents-a-minute long distance to Canada (cheaper than Verizon); faster dsl; and a variety of free add-ons that cost money for Verizon customers.

Fuck you Verizon. Take your 50 cent payphones with you, assholes.

One Final (?) Note on Cheney the Rifleman

Tim Kelly and I got into a good discussion about Cheney's possible drunkenness during the shooting incident. Tim pointed out that I seemed a little puritanical about the possible involvement of alcohol, considering my own affinity for a beer or 9.

But it's not purtianism, as I assured him. I don't care if Cheney is an alcoholic. But if alcohol was involved, we're talking about something that adds a whole new layer to the story.

I went to college at UMass; close to the pizza place where I worked were huge cornfields we called "The Meadows". The tractor trails were a great place to go off-roading on a moutain bike, a motorcycle, or a 4wd.

One night after work, my boss Claudio took his girlfriend and a couple of the managers from the restaurant joyriding in his Saab back in the Meadows. They'd all been drinking, and Claudio flipped the car. He left the scene of the accident, with his girlfriend and employees trapped in the car. He went to his
house (which was nearby) and called the police TWO HOURS after the incident. He claimed it took him that long to get to his house, and that he left to call for
help, but everyone (including the cops) knew it was to go sober up so he could avoid the DWI charge. No one bought it and Claudio lost his license for a year.

Here in Philly, we have the story Susannah Goihman, who ran over a teenager and then drove off. Again, alcohol was involved. Lots of it.

In both matters, the drunk driver fled. Why? Because once alcohol is involved with an auto accident, it brings much stiffer penalties, including jail time.

My bet is that the veep had a blood alcohol content well above that recommended when handling firearms. My problem is not with the veep's drinking, but with his failure to be a man and admit to what he did.

My question is "is this illegal in Texas"? I did a google search but came up dry with regard to Texas.
Cheney's lucky he didn't do this in Georgia, where the law is clear:

Discharge of Firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the Official Code of Georgia Section 16-11-134:

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to discharge a firearm while: (1) Under the influence of alcohol or any drug or any combination of alcohol and any drug to the extent that it is unsafe for the person to discharge such firearm except in the defense of life, health, and property; (2) The person's alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams or more at any time while discharging such firearm or within three hours after such discharge of such firearm from alcohol consumed before such discharge ended; or (3) Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this Code section, there is any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance, as defined in Code Section 16-13-21, present in the person's blood or urine, or both, including the metabolites and derivatives of each or both without regard to whether or not any alcohol is present in the person's breath or blood.

What is the law in texas?

FBFW: What Did I Tell You?

Looks like we're in for a discussion of Dr. P's fixation with nubile teens, dp's, and gang bangs.

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Followed by a homily about respecting women, respecting oneself, Dr. P's mortality, Elly's mortality, Elly's sagging sex appeal, and of course April's forays into hot anal sex.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Brendan Has a Thought

To be honest, I could give a fuck about Dick Cheney shooting his friend in the face.
First of all, anyone who's friends with Dick Cheney is probably an asshole to begin with, so what the fuck do I care if something bad happens to him?

Second, and more importantly, I'm more concerned with real problems, like the Republicans in congress blocking an investigation into the administration's illegal warrantless spying program.

THAT'S important. Whether Cheney downed a fifth of Cutty Sark or Macallan 18 Year Single Malt before putting a few rounds of birdshot in his fellow dickweed's face is immaterial.


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I submit that "practical people" do not buy a piece of real estate based on how large a model train track they can lay in the back yard.
But I'm not Canadian, so what do I know?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

And Now, a Message from the Minority Leader

Hello, my name is Harry Reid, the minority leader in the Senate.

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You may know me as the guy who was unable to persuade my fellow Democrats to support a filibuster against Samuel Alito, a man whose hostility to civil rights, reproductive rights, and presidential powers are as well known as his willingness to lie to get a government job. I'm also the guy who "saved the filibuster" by "promising not to use it", thus allowing John Roberts to be appointed Chief Justice.

Supposedly, I am a real pit bull. And it shows in my recent treatment of Paul Hackett, Image hosting by Photobucket
an Iraq veteran and fighting Democratwho not only came within a few percentage points of his opponent for the House in what was supposed to be a landslide, rock-ribbed GOP district, but has been running aggressively in his 2006 Senate campaign. The campaign I just helped derail. Yup, ME motherfucker. And by "derail" I mean, a total fucking train wreck that puts the Old 97 to shame, and makes Casey Jones look like fender bender.

Y'see, Charles Schumer and I decided, as we did in Pennsylvania, that instead of letting the VOTERS decide who they wanted to run for a given seat WE'D make that decision for them.

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We started calling Hackett's funders, telling them to stop coughing up the dough. "Give it to Sherrod Brown," we said. "Hackett's going belly up." According to some people we got a good whisper campaign going that Hackett had committed war crimes; don't tell me the Democrats haven't learned anything, we took that one right out of Rove's playbook! And you know how successful we were? Hackett may drop out of politics altogether! Score! We totally broke an up-and-coming Democrat! Beat THAT Unka Karl!!
Oh sure, Gary Hart doesn't agree, but y'know what? FUCK GARY HART! Who the fuck does that little philanderer think he is? I'm the minority leader, not him, and since I plan to remain the minority leader for a loooooong time, he should shut up. I know better how to keep us Democrats a minority.

It is in that spirit that I offer you our new logo for 2006. I'm sure you will find it accurately represents our party's leadership:

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So remember, in 2006, vote for the party that wants to remain the minority! The Democratic Party: we eat our own.

News of the Day

Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 12:13:55 -0500
From: "Skwire, Steve"
Subject: Grandma is in the hospital

The situation is bad.

There is nothing that can be done about her kidneys and she is going to be needing 24 hour care. David is attempting to make appropriate arrangements. She will not be going home. They are talking about weeks or months to live.

Grandma remains completely lucid however, and I’m sure she would appreciate a call or two.

If there is a God, he had better watch out when Ida dies, because after all the indignities she's suffered, that old lady has got to be boiling, SEETHING with pent up rage at this point.

First she's gonna kick His ass for taking Grandpa Ray; then she's gonna kick it again for letting her live on for so long afterwards (Ray died when I was 8, perhaps younger: I have vivid memories of my newly-widowed Grandmother proclaiming her desire to die, and he never married or dated again. That's a LONG time to go).

Then she's gonna kick his ass for the suffering, all of it. "My eyes, You bastard, why the hell did you have to give me the blisters on my corneas? The fucking LUPUS and the tremor weren't enough?? I COULDN'T BLINK FOR WEEKS! I HAD TO HAVE PEOPLE READ ME THE GODDAMN NEWS! And what the fuck is up with leaving me lucid for all of this, could't you have put me in a fucking coma? You did as much for Ariel Sharon the war-criminal, I never killed anyone! I had to spend the last weeks of my life in a goddamn adult diaper with my adult children cleaning my private parts, and you left me conscious for this? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW UNDIGNIFIED THAT IS? DO YOU?? What kind of benevolent super-being are you anyway?"

Monday, February 13, 2006

Man of My Word

Back in January I wrote an open letter to Verizon threatening to switch if they didn't drop their advertisements on "Hardball".

I switched last week to Cavalier. Their long-distance is cheaper, their internet is faster, and the whole bill is a good $20.00 lower than Verizon's.

Good bye Verizon; don't forget to LICK MY BALLS on the way out...


Brown Ale #1 has a really strong chocolate malt aftertaste after one week in the bottle.
Brown Ale #2, bottled last night, is already a little carbonated even without the priming sugar.
Brown Ale #3 has another week in the secondary.

Pale Ale #1, which will be a little on the dark side due to the color of the crystal malt, is already pretty peppy; we transferred to the secondary last night. I don't think there's going to be a full 5 gallons from that batch. We used Irish moss (a seaweed based gelling agent) as a clarifier, and got a big chunk of trub on the bottom.
We also got a massive yeast slurry, so whatever pale #2 turns out to be, primary fermentation is going to take no more than 4 days.

I really need to invest in a keg system if I'm going to brew this much. I go through WAY too much sanitizer cleaning bottles, almost a cup, where I'd need less than a quarter cup to do three kegs.

My 33 pound jerry pack of malt extract arrived last week.

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My brother Rayjust got linked by glenn greenwald.
I am very proud. good job man.
visit ray at http://www.phillybits.blogspot.com.
You may also know him as Stand Strong at daily kos.

Referred post here.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dr. Patterson is a Pervert

OK, so what's going on in the Patterson's world?

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Looks like Dr. Patterson's been getting an eyeful of some pretty explicit stuff, if he's that "agitated" about what his daughter's been looking at. And given Lynn Johnson's tendency for turning her strip into a long-winded homilies with primitively-telegraphed plot twists, I'm betting we're going to learn all about Dr. P's porn addiction.

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And here's Saturday's strip. That's the face of a man who's not looking forward to explaining those naked pictures of Jessica Alba...

Of course, Lynn Johnson is no stranger to online smut.
Here she pimps out April to all the cartoon-pedosout there (please, spare us a naked Elly).

Friday, February 10, 2006

Jangling Sparrows Friday, Feb 10, at Fergie's Pub

Come down to Fergies Pub, 1200 block of Sansom in Philadelphia, this evening February 10.

My band, Paul Edelman and the Jangling Sparrows will be headlining (click on the link for a sound clip of our new single, Old Red Song). Also appearing will be our friends The Turnsoles (sounds at the link), former members of Paul's previous bands The Boxcars and The Butcher Holler Boys. They have a great sound: Bust Stop Girl reminds me of Revolver-era Beatles.

Also, Ian Thomas will be there. Man, he's got some good looking friends at his site. Paul get us some broads that look like Ranjita chick. NOW, motherfucker, NOW!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fightin' Dems: THIS Is What I Like to See.

A break from personal poblems and brewing. Via Atrios, The Ohio Insurgency of Paul Hackett, a FIGHTING DEM

Paul Hackett is out for one last day of pressing the flesh.

It’s August 2, Election Day, and the lanky, blond, 43-year-old Marine has taken up position outside the polling place in Loveland, a burg on the outskirts of Cincinnati, flashing his toothy smile for the early risers. Hackett is dressed smartly in a blue shirt and striped pastel tie. His khaki pants hang loosely from his wiry, 180-pound frame.

“That’s low politics, punk!” a heavy-set man sneers as he marches toward the poll.
Hackett wheels around. “Pardon me?”
“You know, that radio ad that says, ‘You don’t know Schmidt.’” He’s talking about one of Hackett’s attack ads against Republican Jean Schmidt. The man spews a stream of epithets, and Hackett lets out a crybaby whimper: “Waaaaaaa!”
“What’s that, punk?” the big man growls.

A TV crew is setting up nearby, but Hackett doesn’t seem to care. “What’s your fuckin’ problem?” the candidate snaps. “You got something to say to me? Bring it on!” Hackett, all 6 feet 2 inches of him, is nose to nose with the heckler. “Problem?” he taunts. The man turns around and storms away.

“These guys in the Republican Party adopted this tough-guy language,” Hackett tells me, still steamed, an hour later. “They’re bullies. They’re offended when somebody takes a swing back at them.”

From the beginning of his quixotic campaign in a special election for U.S. Congress this summer, Paul Hackett relished taking swings. His rhetoric was scorched-earth: “I don’t like the sonofabitch that lives in the White House,” he told USA Today, “but I’d put my life on the line for him.” He declared in a debate that the biggest threat to America is “the man living in the White House,” and he slammed President Bush and Vice President Cheney as “chicken hawks.” He described Bush’s infamous taunt to Iraqi resistance fighters—“Bring ’em on”—as “the most incredibly stupid comment I’ve ever heard a president of the United States make. He cheered on the enemy.” The flame-throwing rhetoric belies an analytical attorney with an (often) understated persona; apologetic, however, Hackett is not.

“I said it, I meant it, I stand by it,” he said when I asked if he regretted any of his comments. “Bush is a chicken hawk, okay? Tough shit.” As for the SOB barb, Bush “talks the tough talk. He should appreciate that.”

A major in the Marine Corps Reserve fresh from a tour in Iraq, Hackett proved to be that rarest of modern political animals, a fighting Democrat.

I gave Paul Hackett a chunk of money. If the Dems are going to take back the House, the Senate, or the White House, this is the kind of Democrat we need.

Pat Murphy, I hope you're as ballsy as your colleague and give FitzPatrick a good poke in the eye. Or a kick in the ass.

Support Fighting Dems.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Keg System

Commenter Ryan (hey man, I need your email!) writes " Steve & I have been talking about a carb. system too. Maybe we can team up on some of the parts..."

I've been thinking about this since reading your comment. Your standard forced carbonation system has three major components: a cornelius keg (the 5-gallon cylinder style used for soda); a CO2 tank; and a regulator. Since we would each need our own regulators and C02 tanks (I live in West Philly, Ryan is in Northern Liberties), the only place we might be able to split the investment would be in the kegs.

I'm not sure how much you're producing: I think my last post gives an idea of how much I go through. I would probably wnat at least 5 kegs on hand. Of course, the whole brewing rhythm might change if we invested in kegs. Instead of brewing every weekend, transferring, and wasting godawful amounts of sanitizer and labor on cleaning and capping individual bottles, I would only brew when a keg went dry. How long does it one or two people take to drink 2 and a half cases worth of beer?

But yeah it's worth discussing the logistics. Like if we could get a reduced rate for a larger quantity of kegs or something. All I know is bottling is bringing me down.

That said, time for a beer!

Bottling Complete; Transfer on Friday; Bottle Sunday, Utah Beer

The first 5 gallons of brown ale have been bottled. We tried a sip of the uncarbonated beer. Kinda mellow: we only used 3 pounds of extract, 1/2 a pound of high Lovibond crystal malt, and a 1/4 pound of chocolate malt. This ale will be low-alcohol, but tasty. A good mild for after work, a good social session beer i think. There are two carboys of brown ale left to bottle; one gets bottled Sunday, the next the Sunday after.

Speaking of bottling, I'm going to go out on a limb here and argue that bottling IS THE BIGGEST PAIN IN THE ASS EVER. Georege at Home Sweet Homebrew says he can sell me a full carbonation system with two used 5-gallon cornelius kegs (the kind associated with soft drinks, and easier to use than beer kegs) for $200. I may take him up on the offer. Bottling is for the birds: so much sanitizing, scrubbing, draining, capping... just a big pain.

Also, the first five gallons of pale ale get transferred to the secondary later this week. Fermentation has been REALLY fast on this one, bubbling into, and out of, the airlock. I hope to transfer before I head to Boston this weekend. Perhaps Saturday morning?

And also, I wanted to give a shout-out to a blog I was just introduced to yesterday: UTAH BEER. It's a great blog by Mike Riedel, who clearly loves beer, and I feel for him: Utah has rules about beer that put Pennsylvania's blue laws to shame.


TAVERNS, or BEER BARS These establishments may sell beer no stronger than 3.2% by weight. They need not serve food...

UTAH STATE-OWNED LIQUOR STORES are the sole dispensers of carry-out liquor, wine and real beer. There are a number of these stores hidden throughout the state. They are closed on Sundays, holidays and other designated times. Lack of competition keeps the selection severely limited. Prices for wine and liquor are fixed with a minimum of 61% mark-up over cost, plus high state taxes. For real beer, the mark-up is 75% plus taxes, making the retail cost of some six-packs well over $10. Because of all this, the small community of Evanston, Wyoming (located about 70 miles east of Salt Lake City just over the Utah border) enjoys a bustling economy based on a large number of retail liquor stores located along Interstate 80."

Mike, I am praying for you. If you visit Philadelphia, make sure you visit Monk's. And call a cab home!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Here It Comes

The depression is on the way back. I started the day before yesterday, made some inroads on Monday, and now I can feel the first subtle effects. I can't concentrate on my work. I'm hungry as hell, but food tastes like cardboard. I'm restless, can't sit down for long. Obsessing about Sam. Want to sleep, preferably for the next three weeks.

Oh yeah. It's gonna be a doozy this time. By 2:00 PM tomorrow, I'll be walking around under the hot, wet, wool blanket again. I'm leaving work soon, going to the store, and then heading home for sleep, if I'm lucky.

[UPDATE: Oy. THIS I needed like a hole in my head. If the link won't open for you, it's the latest email from Baby Center, which I subscribed to before Sam was born. Today's email is entitled "7 Signs Tha Your Child Loves You", linking to an article I knew I shouldn't have looked at but did anyway entitled "Top tips for dads on bonding with your baby." Sometimes you just want to say "I get it already, I get it. I'm missing everything. Stop rubbing my fucking face in it, OK< I fucking get it!" I mean, honestly was that really necessary?]

[UPDATE2, 2/8/06: Melissa called this afternoon to tell me that Sam is learning his ABCs and his 123's. Yeah I'm proud, but I didn't need to hear that right now.]

Life Becomes a Mr. Show sketch

The Mohammed kartoon kontroversy kontinues...

The Iranians, those sensitive delicate flowers, are now soliciting offensive cartoons about the Holocaust "to test whether the West extends the principle of freedom of expression to the Nazi genocide as it did to the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad."

This is rapidly becoming a Mr. Show sketch, but with the added bonus of actual warfare.

The sketch I am thinking about is part of season 3, in which two rival landlords (of unknown ancestry, but from some Middle Eastern country prone to grudges) argue over a tenant.

"I spit on your floor?!"
"What? Well, then, I spit on your spit!"
"I-- I piss on your spit!"
"I shit on your piss!"
"I fart on your shit!"
"I laugh at your fart!"
"Wah-- hohoho! We are friends, again!"

Then the two landlords begin to dance around, rejoicing in their mutual forgiveness. They join hands with the tenant, singing "I piss on your spit, i shit on your piss, I fart on your shit, I laugh at your fart, and we are friends again HEY! I piss on your spit, I shit on your piss, I fart on your shit, I laugh at your fart, and we are friends again, HEY!"

Would that life were so simple....

How to Hurt Yourself in the Morning

When you're feeling depressed and you don't want to make things worse do not, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, put on Neil Young's "Comes A Time". Unfortunately, that is exactly what i did this morning, and now I can't stop listening to it (since the album is fantastic).


Monday, February 06, 2006

Beer, again

I must correct myself.
A month ago, I told Byl that beer came before bread.
I was mistaken. Bread came before beer, but beer soon followed.

Speaking of which I am going to enjoy an IPA.
Also speaking of beer, and of IPA in particular, the new batch is working away merrily.
Bottling the brown ale has been postponed til tomorrow or Wednesday.


Byl published this brief post earlier today.

I agree that there is something very ironic about someone who "promised to attack any nation that publishes the cartoon going around Europe depicting Mohammed as a terrorist", although I wonder whether my friend, a devout Christian, thinks Serrano's Piss Christ or Ofili's "Black Madonna (can't find a picture, but it's painted out of elephant poo) is a blasphemous image.

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I bring up blasphemy because it's not just the depiction of Muhammed as a terrorist that has inflamed the Muslim world. It is the depiction of Muhammad ITSELF, due to the Islamic prohibition against artistic representation (the Jews have a similar prohibition against graven images. You may have heard about it, it's called the Fourth Commandment. See a comparison between the Decalogue and the Koran here). Depicting Mohammed wearing a bomb for a hat only adds insult to injury. To the Muslims it is surely as offensive as a crucifix soaking in urine, if not more so.

So yes, I agree that it is ironic. It is as ironic as the existence of people like Eric Rudolph and Paul Hill, Christian terrorists who killed in the name of Life, in the name of Jesus (do make a point of visiting the Paul Hill link, there's a lovely eulogy for "gentle man with a kind face", by a Christian pastor who refused to sign Hill's manifesto regarding murdering doctors. Not because murder and killing are wrong (and in their religion a mortal sin), but because it might "bring the scrutiny of the feds upon me and my family". Swell guy).

Not that the Bill O'Reillys of the Muslim world have a moral platform to stand on here. There's something doubly ironic about the stink made over caricatures of the Prophet: on one level, the state-owned newspapers of so many Middle Eastern nations routinely publish editorial cartoons in which jews are portrayed in broad anti-Semitic strokes; on the other, the authors of these comics are themselves, Semites, the cousins of the Jews by geography, by history, and by faith.

Yes it is ironic, like the irony of criticizing suicide bombers when our own bunker busters, depleted uranium weaponry, and shock-and-awe campaigns have disintegrated and maimed hundreds of thousands more innocent civilians than the 3,000 brutally murdered on September 11th, 2001, or the 56 people who died in the London tubes on July 7th 2005. Are we even now?

It is so easy to get on our pedestals (I am on one right now, can you tell?) and criticize others for their failings, for their crimes, as we carefully neglect to address our own.
Because not all Muslims are Osama bin Laden. And not all Christians are Eric Rudolph.

[UPDATE:Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that have caused a storm of protest throughout the Islamic world, refused to run drawings lampooning Jesus Christ, it has emerged today.

The Danish daily turned down the cartoons of Christ three years ago, on the grounds that they could be offensive to readers and were not funny.

Please Leave Me Alone: Overcommunication

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The telephone, like the internal combustion engine, is a paradox, at once one o the greatest inventions in the world, and one of the worst.

Like many people, I have two telephones. One of them is my cellphone: I use this one all the time. The other is my landline, which I hold onto only because Verizon bundles its dsl service with its telephone service, and because Comcast (headquartered in downtown Philadelphia) doesn't provide service to the southwest corner of the city. My landline is a cordless model.

For some reason, the splitters don't work so well in my house, and whenever I use the internets, an incoming phone call throws me off for about 10 minutes. I've learned to unplug the phone...

The most obnoxious calls I get are from people who have both my landline and my cell phone. My mother is a huge offender. First she'll call my cellphone. Then, if I don't answer the cellphone, she'll call back and leave the exact same message on my landline. My brother does the same thing. My ex-girlfriend does it too.


Add to this calls from people who want my time and/or money, everyone from telemarketers to bill collectors, all of who refuse to identify themselves or who they're calling for, and you've got the makings of a conniption fit. Most of the time they leave recorded messages that begin midstream. "...portant message, and not a sales call. Please call us back at your earliest convenience at..." The last time I responded to a pre-recorded message on my answering machine, I ended up sitting on hold for about half an hour, only to find the call was a wrong number. The time before that I thought a collection agency was after me, only to find out some company wanted to sell me a timeshare toilet. Or something like that.

Once you begin to consider the role of voice-automated sytems, you begin to understand why I hate the telephone: there is nothing quite as irritating as dialing 1 for yes, then 2 for no over and over and over again. Usually, I just it 0 repeatedly until i get to customer service. On my verizon bill, the customer service number provided isn't even the correct number. I know this because last weekend, I needed some dsl assistance and sat on hold for 10 minutes only to be told that I had dialed the wrong number.

"That can't be true miss," I said and read back the numbers on the bill. "it says to call you for--"

"That's the number you dialed sir, but we're not the dsl customer service people. THAT number is blah blah blah," she said, which I duly dialed and sat on hold for 10 minutes before the robot told me Verizon doesn't have customer service on the weekend.

All I want is to not be bothered. It's annoying. If I don't pick up one phone, don't call back thinking I'll pick up the other one. I'm even less-likely to answer.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Over the past year or so, I've begun brewing beer at home again, a skill I learned from Phil Shipman, who you don't know.

It's a pretty simple process really, at least when you do extract brewing like I do: heat about 5 gallons of water to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, steep about a pound or so of cracked barley in the hot water for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour; mix in 6 pounds or so of malt extract, bring to a rolling boil and cook for an hour adding hops as necessary. Cool to 60 degrees F as quickly as possible when it comes off the heat, and pour the liquid into a sanitized 5-gallon bucket with a bunch of brewer's yeast. After a week, siphon to a 5-gallon glass bottle (a/k/a a carboy), leaving the yeast sediment behind in the bucket. Bottle or keg the finished brew after 2 weeks. A single batch (5 gallons, or about 2.5 cases) costs about $40.00.

I learned a trick recently, that saves about $10.00 per batch: you can reuse the yeast at the bottom of the bucket about 3 or 4 times. Thus, when I brew, I decide on what broad style I will make, and then do 3 or 4 varieties of that style.

As I type, my kitchen is littered with brown ales in various stages of production. What I suspect is a very mild, low-alcohol brown ale is waiting to be bottled. The dregs from that brown were used to make a stronger one which still needs another week in the carboy; and some fresh brown ale was transferred from plastic to carboy last night. This afternoon, we begin brewing the first batch of pale ales, which will probably include an ESB, an IPA, and a strong ale (perhaps a Scotch ale). Tonight, we'll be making a plain old bitter.

I always tell myself I'll put away a 12-pack of each brew so I can have a party at the end of summer. Sure, and monkeys may fly out of my butt.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Olbermann Kicks O'Reilly's Ass

This is very very funny. Olbermann makes me laugh so hard.

Such a good takedown. And he gets into the sexual harassment too.

Well, at least someone apologized to Cindy Sheehan, sort of

Murtha Speak, You Listen

Arianna Huffington is right: Murtha should have delivered the Democratic Response

Wednesday February 1, 2006
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

This March will mark the beginning of the 4th year of the war in Iraq. In contrast, U.S. involvement in WWI came to an end after 19 months. Victory in Europe was declared in WWII after 3 years 5 months. In the Korean War, a cease-fire was signed after 3 years and 1 month. But after more than three and a half years into the war in Iraq, your administration finally produced what is called a "Plan for Victory" in Iraq.

Iraq is not the center for the global war on terrorism. I believe Iraq has diverted our attention away from the fight against global terrorism and has depleted the required resources needed to wage an effective war. It is estimated that there are only about 750 to 1,000 al-Qaeda in Iraq. I believe the Iraqis will force them out or kill them after U.S. troops are gone. In fact, there is now evidence that Iraqi insurgent groups are increasingly turning against al-Qaeda and other foreign terrorists.

Our country needs a vigorous and comprehensive strategy for victory against global terrorism. The architect of 9/11 is still out there but now has an international microphone. We must get back to the real issue at hand - we have to root out and destroy al-Qaeda's worldwide network.

There are 4 key elements that I recommend to reinvigorate our global anti-terrorism effort: Redeploy, Replace, Reallocate, and Reconstitute.


The war in Iraq is fueling terrorism, not eliminating it. Our continued military presence feeds the strong anti-foreigner fervor that has existed in this part of the world for centuries. A vast majority of the Iraqi people now view American troops as occupiers, not liberators. Over 80% of Iraqis want U.S. forces to leave Iraq and 47% think it is justified to attack Americans. 70% of Iraqis favor a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces, with half favoring a withdrawal in the next six months. In fact, 67% of Iraqis expect day-to-day security for Iraqi citizens will improve if U.S. forces withdraw in six months and over 60% believe violent attacks, including those that are ethnically motivated, will decrease. Our military presence is the single most important reason why the Iraqis have tolerated the foreign terrorists, who account for less than 7 percent of the insurgency. 93% of the insurgency is made up of Iraqis. Once our troops are re-deployed, the Iraqis will reject the terrorists and deny them a safe haven in Iraq. The Iraqis are against a foreign presence in Iraq of any kind.

The steadfast and valiant efforts of the United States military and coalition partners have provided the Iraqi people with the framework needed to self govern. The Iraqis held elections that have been touted as highly successful, based primarily on the accounts of Iraqis who went to the polls. But our continued military presence in Iraq, regardless of the motives behind it, is seen by Iraqis as interfering in Iraq's democratic process and undercuts the chances for the newly elected government to be successful. Recently, Iraq's National Security Adviser accused U.S. negotiators of going behind the back of the Iraqi government on talks with insurgents, saying the process could encourage more violence. He said, "Americans are making a huge and fatal mistake in their policy for appeasement and they should not do this. They should leave the Iraqi government to deal with it... The United States should allow the new Iraqi government to decide on how to quell the insurgency."

In December 2005, an ABC News poll in Iraq produced some noteworthy results. 57% of Iraqis identified national security as the country's top priority. When asked to rate the confidence in public institutions, they gave Iraqi police a 68% confidence level, the Iraqi army 67%, religious leaders 67%. But the U.S./U.K. forces scored the lowest, a mere 18%.

The longer our military stays in Iraq, the more unwelcome we will be. We will be increasingly entangled in an open-ended nation building mission, one that our military can not accomplish amidst a civil war. Our troops will continue to be the targets of Iraqis who see them as interfering occupiers.

Redeploying our forces from Iraq and stationing a mobile force outside of the country removes a major antagonizing factor. I believe we will see a swift demise of foreign terrorist groups in Iraq if we redeploy outside of the country. Further, our troops will no longer be the targets of bloody attacks.


The ever-changing justifications of the war in Iraq, combined with tragic missteps, have resulted in a worldwide collapse of support for U.S. policies in Iraq.

The credibility of the United States of America will not be restored if we continue down the path of saying one thing and doing another. We must not lower our standards and tactics to those of the terrorists. In order to keep our homeland secure, we must hold true to the values that molded our American democracy, even in the face of adversity. Former Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, said it best during a speech in March 2004 to the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies: "America knows we cannot seek a double standard. And, America knows we get what we give. And so we must and will always be careful to respect people's privacy, civil liberties and reputations. To suggest that there is a tradeoff between security and individual freedoms -- that we must discard one protection for the other -- is a false choice. You do not defend liberty to forsake it."

Restoring the world's confidence in America as a competent and morally superior world leader is essential to winning the war on global terrorism.

A recent pubic opinion poll, conducted jointly with Zogby International and taken in Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, found that 81% said the war in Iraq had brought less peace to the Middle East. A majority of the respondents said they view the United States as the biggest threat to their nations.

Mr. President, I believe in order to restore our credibility, you must hold accountable those responsible for so many missteps and install a fresh team that demonstrates true diplomatic skill, knowledge of cultural differences and a willingness to earnestly engage other leaders in a respectful and constructive way. This would do much to reinvigorate international participation in a truly effective war on global terrorism.


The Department of Defense has been allocated $238 billion for the war in Iraq, with average monthly costs growing significantly since the beginning of the war. In 2003 the average monthly war cost was $4.4 billion; by 2005 the average monthly cost had reached $6.1 billion.

Despite the urgent homeland security needs of our country, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission issued a dismal report card on the efforts to improve our counter-terrorist defenses. Even the most basic of recommendations, such as the coordination of fire and police communication lines, still have not been accomplished.

In the face of threats from international terrorists, we need to reallocate funds from the war in Iraq to protecting the United States against attack. A safe and swift redeployment from Iraq will allow us to do just that.


The U.S. army is the smallest it's been since 1941. It is highly capable. But this drawn out conflict has put tremendous stress on our military, particularly on our Army and Marine Corps, whose operations tempo has increased substantially since 9/11.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report in November 2005 addressing the challenges of military personnel recruitment and retention and noted that the Department of Defense had been unable to fill over 112,000 positions in critical occupational specialties. This shortfall includes intelligence analysts, special forces, interpreters, and demolition experts-- those on whom we rely so heavily in today's asymmetric battlefield.

Some of our troops have been deployed four times over the last three years. Enlistment for the regular forces as well as the guard and reserves are well below recruitment goals. In 2005, the Army missed its recruitment goal for the first time since 1999, even after offering enlistment bonuses and incentives, lowering its monthly goals, and lowering its recruitment standards. As Retired Army officer Andrew Krepinevich recently warned in a report to the Pentagon, the Army is "in a race against time" to adjust to the demands of war "or risk 'breaking' the force in the form of a catastrophic decline" in recruitment and re-enlistment.

The harsh environment in which we are operating our equipment in Iraq, combined with the equipment usage rate (ten times greater than peacetime levels) is taking a heavy toll on our ground equipment. It is currently estimated that $50 billion will be required to refurbish this equipment.

Further, in its response to Hurricane Katrina, the National Guard realized that it had over $1.3 billion in equipment shortfalls. This has created a tremendous burden on non-deployed guard units, on whom this country depends so heavily to respond to domestic disasters and possible terrorist attacks. Without relief, Army Guard units will face growing equipment shortages and challenges in regaining operational readiness for future missions at home and overseas.

Since 9/11, Congress has appropriated about $334 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the insurgents have spent hundreds of thousands. We have seen reports estimating that the total cost of the wars may reach as high as $1 trillion. These estimates are said to include such costs as providing long-term disability benefits and care for injured service members. It is estimated today that over 16,000 U.S. troops have been wounded in Iraq, 10,481 of whom have been wounded by "weaponry explosive devices."

But while war costs continue to climb, cuts are being made to the defense budget. As soon as the war is over there will be pressure to cut even more. This year, even while we are at war, 8 billion dollars was cut from the base defense spending bill. You ordered another $32 billion in cuts to the defense budget over the next five years, with $11.6 billion coming from the Army. The Pentagon told Congress only last year that it needed 77 combat brigades to fulfill its missions, but now insists it only needs 70. In fact, 6 of the 7 combat brigades will be cut from the National Guard, reducing its combat units from 34 to 28. Even though all of the National Guard combat brigades have been deployed overseas since 9/11, your Administration has determined that, because of funding shortfalls, our combat ground forces can be reduced. Not only will these cuts diminish our combat power, but our ability to respond to natural disasters and terrorist threats to our homeland will be adversely affected. It is obvious that the cost of the war, in conjunction with the Army's inability to meet recruitment goals, has impacted this estimate. My concern is that instead of our force structure being based on the future threat, it is now being based on the number of troops and level of funding available.

I am concerned that costly program cuts will lead to costly mistakes and we will be unable to sustain another deployment even if there is a real threat. The future of our military and the future of our country could very well be at stake. The high dollar forecasts of our future military weapons systems and military health care add pressure to cut costs on the backs of these programs. As our weapons systems age, the concern becomes even greater.

During a time of war, we are cutting our combat force, we have not mobilized industry, and have never fully mobilized our military. On our current path, I believe that we are not only in danger of breaking our military, but that we are increasing the chances of a major miscalculation by our future enemies, who may perceive us as vulnerable.


Member of Congress

Sheehan's Commentary on Being Arrested

Cindy Sheehan Discusses her Arrest For Dissent at Buzzflash

This is appalling: the Republicans and their Democratic enablers are dogshit to me.

What Really Happened at the State of the Union

by Cindy Sheehan

Dear Friends,

As most of you have probably heard, I was arrested before the State of the Union Address tonight.

I am speechless with fury at what happened and with grief over what we have lost in our country.

There have been lies from the police and distortions by the press. (Shocker) So this is what really happened:

This afternoon at the People's State of the Union Address in DC where I was joined by Congresspersons Lynn Woolsey and John Conyers, Ann Wright, Malik Rahim and John Cavanagh, Lynn brought me a ticket to the State of the Union Address. At that time, I was wearing the shirt that said: 2245 Dead. How many more?

After the PSOTU press conference, I was having second thoughts about going to the SOTU at the Capitol. I didn't feel comfortable going. I knew George Bush would say things that would hurt me and anger me and I knew that I couldn't disrupt the address because Lynn had given me the ticket and I didn't want to be disruptive out of respect for her. I, in fact, had given the ticket to John Bruhns who is in Iraq Veterans Against the War. However, Lynn's office had already called the media and everyone knew I was going to be there so I sucked it up and went.

I got the ticket back from John, and I met one of Congresswoman Barbara Lee's staffers in the Longworth Congressional Office building and we went to the Capitol via the undergroud tunnel. I went through security once, then had to use the rest room and went through security again.

My ticket was in the 5th gallery, front row, fourth seat in. The person who in a few minutes was to arrest me, helped me to my seat.

I had just sat down and I was warm from climbing 3 flights of stairs back up from the bathroom so I unzipped my jacket. I turned to the right to take my left arm out, when the same officer saw my shirt and yelled; "Protester." He then ran over to me, hauled me out of my seat and roughly (with my hands behind my back) shoved me up the stairs. I said something like "I'm going, do you have to be so rough?" By the way, his name is Mike Weight.

The officer ran with me to the elevators yelling at everyone to move out of the way. When we got to the elevators, he cuffed me and took me outside to await a squad car. On the way out, someone behind me said, "That's Cindy Sheehan." At which point the officer who arrested me said: "Take these steps slowly." I said, "You didn't care about being careful when you were dragging me up the other steps." He said, "That's because you were protesting." Wow, I get hauled out of the People's House because I was, "Protesting."

I was never told that I couldn't wear that shirt into the Congress. I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things...I would have, and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later. I was immediately, and roughly (I have the bruises and muscle spasms to prove it) hauled off and arrested for "unlawful conduct."

After I had my personal items inventoried and my fingers printed, a nice Sgt. came in and looked at my shirt and said, "2245, huh? I just got back from there."

I told him that my son died there. That's when the enormity of my loss hit me. I have lost my son. I have lost my First Amendment rights. I have lost the country that I love. Where did America go? I started crying in pain.

What did Casey die for? What did the 2244 other brave young Americans die for? What are tens of thousands of them over there in harm's way for still? For this? I can't even wear a shirt that has the number of troops on it that George Bush and his arrogant and ignorant policies are responsible for killing.

I wore the shirt to make a statement. The press knew I was going to be there and I thought every once in awhile they would show me and I would have the shirt on. I did not wear it to be disruptive, or I would have unzipped my jacket during George's speech. If I had any idea what happens to people who wear shirts that make the neocons uncomfortable that I would be arrested...maybe I would have, but I didn't.

There have already been many wild stories out there.

I have some lawyers looking into filing a First Amendment lawsuit against the government for what happened tonight. I will file it. It is time to take our freedoms and our country back.

I don't want to live in a country that prohibits any person, whether he/she has paid the ulitmate price for that country, from wearing, saying, writing, or telephoning any negative statements about the government. That's why I am going to take my freedoms and liberties back. That's why I am not going to let Bushco take anything else away from me...or you.

I am so appreciative of the couple of hundred of protesters who came to the jail while I was locked up to show their support....we have so much potential for good...there is so much good in so many people.

Four hours and 2 jails after I was arrested, I was let out. Again, I am so upset and sore it is hard to think straight.

Keep up the struggle...I promise you I will too.

Love and peace soon,