Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bigger than Xmas

I was browsing through "If Charlie Parker was a Gunslinger" this morning and came upon this:

Then I went to youtube and found this, one of the greatest songs and male/female duets of the late 20th Century:

There's several versions of this song available at youtube, including the "official video" (remember those?), which is rather movie-like, and unnecessarily explanatory, at least to eyes of 2013. While the one I've posted is a live performance, it's also a Performance, which is perhaps the truth of McGowan, who welcomed a certain Irish spirit into his body and soul so wholeheartedly that today he is a mumbling husk. Yet life is strange, like love. Kirsty McColl was much more centered, and her life seemed much more secure until the moment she was run over and killed by a speeding motor boat off Cosumel, while scuba diving with her children, in 2000. It's said she put herself in harms way saving her kids. It's said the boat was in clearly restricted waters, and driven by a wealthy Mexican tycoon who has never been charged with anything. And, on the google, it's said that McGowan is now worth some $25 million, and inveterate teevee watchers like myself can attest that one of his songs, "If I Should Fall From Grace," achieved the pinnacle of being used in an advert for something or other this past year, the story in the ad involving child hockey players and a harried mom driving them here and there in a minivan or suv of some kind. The mom could, one supposes, have been Kirsty.

In other news, Keith Richards appeared live with the Stones last night in Chicago.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


This might be the best thing you could read today:

It stands entirely on its own merits, but it also raises some questions, such as why it was Mr. Kinsley agreed long ago to participate in William Buckley's "Firing Line" interview show (never mind PBS). Firing Line aired for it seems like now much of my life, until Mr. Buckley gave it up whenever it was that happened. And Mr. Buckley was indeed a fine sailor, and no doubt a nice guy to hang out with in the club or on a starry night on the Atlantic, with a scotch in hand, and I'll bet if a storm came up out there Buckley was a leader and a capable Captain and got the ship and the crew through safely.

But the truth is--the same truth being expressed in this great article at Sadly No--Buckley was an arrogant, mean, son-of-a-bitch who spent his life justifying and defending every arrogant, mean, son-of-a-bitch preconception and prejudice he happened to have faith in, and worse than that, got a long-standing TV program on public television no less with which to defend all his hateful beliefs, and this when he already had his whole fucking magazine at his disposal.

And Mr. Kinsley chose to collaborate in this travesty, for decades. Which gave Buckley and his rancid beliefs stature, and contributed to this terrible, false, pernicious idea that everything is just politics, that there is no core of truth and values to help us decide what's right and wrong. And that pernicious idea has led all of us to where we are today, a country hamstrung and hopelessly divided.

This is the William Buckley who got his goddam PBS teevee show, who indeed "earned" this show with performances like this. I only link to one portion of the "debate." I urge you to take the time and view every segment.

And, as I said. Michael Kinsley collaborated with apparent delight in making bigotry, racism, homophobia, and all the rest of Buckley's long personal catalog of evil beliefs palatable to the American Public, and in so doing contributed in the end to the actual election of our first actor President, Ronald Reagan, who put into practice much of Buckley's philosophy by doing such things as ignoring the AIDs epidemic because it was a "homosexual disease," and funding the "contras" in a dirty war against Nicarauga.

It is not, in the context of Kinsley's life's work, particularly surprising that Sadly No can so completely nail him to the wall in his brilliant post. It's what Kinsley's done, forever.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Soltice Awrredy!

The hell with time creeping at its petty pace. It'll be Summer down heah in less than a month. I was so enjoying non-95 degree, 100% humidity days too. As it's been raining for a week, maybe this is the moment to burn the pile of branches left over from winter's tree work. Right now it's sitting smack dab on the spot I used to grow some mighty fine maters. Another chore for Saturday, along with hitting a new section of roof with some thick, silver paint that should give us several more years of leak-free living.

Seems like the GOP is all lizard-brain now. In Congress they are as intent on finding some kind of scandal to get traction for impeachment as my Houdahenians are to hunt up a fresh vole or skink, when they charge out into the blooming, buzzing confusion. It's become a pattern with the Republicans, and a sick one. It's what they did to Mr. Clinton, it kinda worked, so that's the plan. If the Dem gets a second term, then mess it up with "scandals." It's all grounded in this bottomless sense of victimhood, envy and downright hate that keeps the Republicans simmering. And strangely, they simmer whether they're in office or out. Out, and they chuck spanners into the spokes all the live long day. In--they start wars and other projects.

Roy Edroso* reports that just as in the Benghazi teapot, now the way to understand the "IRS Scandal" is to see it as an election ploy--Mr. Governor Walker of Wisconsin says, for example, that the IRS chilled efforts by Tea Party groups to get out the vote in his state. Yeah, right. All the scandal-scandal serves another purpose for the lizard brains--it draws attention away from the bracing idea that the Republicans lost because they have a narrow, hurtful, spiteful way of governing which involves demonizing over half the public for being "takers."

The folks behind this pathetic, shriveled idea are mostly plutocrats like Mitt Romney and the Koch brothers, people who have so much money that when they spend it they make it. But they want to make your grandmother, who's got nothing at all but about a thousand a month in social security, who picks up cans on the roadside to get a little bit to spend--that person, who probably still waves the flag when the parade goes by, is a "taker."

The metaphor is more lizard-brain. The Romneys know very well that all they do to "make" money is manipulate paper. They know that it would not be unreasonable, in a world where there was some justice, for some larger entity (such as our government used to be) to step in and redress this shocking decades-long tendency for all the wealth to flow upwards into the coffers of a very very few. And so they toil. Three phony "scandals," and talk every day of "impeachment" on the phony news shows the plutocrats lavishly fund.

Happy Memorial Day. The folks we honor gave their lives to defend the country the plutocrats toil to demolish.



Monday, May 20, 2013

Current Absurdities

Kim Morgan posted this at her tumblr site. It speaks volumes.

Summer is slowly arriving on little cat feet, which leave wet footprints on the kitchen floor when they come inside. The hole in the roof got fixed, however.

Happy Monday.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Grover Who?

Who's paying attention? For most folks it's hard enough just driving back and forth, home to work, work to home. Hell, in my house it takes about half an hour each morning to deal with the Houdahenians. First the boys get fed, the two big black panthers follow me and the food into the living room, and dive in, after watching in rapt attention while I mix up the grub at the kitchen counter. Little Mokey follows behind, squeeking, as interested as the others. After they're head down in the plates I scoop him up and take him and his platter into be back room so he can eat at his own modest pace. That way the big boys don't finish theirs and then his. Meanwhile, I'm back in the kitchens, doors all shut, fixing momma's plate. Open the French door and she comes in and eats, with a furtive glance backwards at me while I'm, at last, making the java. All this goes on before I get to you. Sometimes there's one cup left from yesterday, and it gets nuked. It's a help. But now it's nearly 6:30 AM.

So like I say, who's going to notice that some national prune named Grover came to town this week to cheerlead our galloping Legislature as they make drastic "reforms" in the way taxes are determined and collected in the Old Nawth State. Much less consider what the hell it might mean that Grover has noticed. I refer you, therefore, to Sauron's searchlight. Because that's what it means, dear Hobbits. Someone, that is to say, a real journalist, should even as we speak be writing a book on the coup that is happening in North Carolina today. Whatever else you might say, this stuff was planned. There were meetings, discussion groups, theories and campaigns. There was, when the North Carolina Republicans found themselves with a full house, executive and both legislative houses to be precise, an agenda already cocked and ready. And it wasn't an agenda that anyone voted on.

We're Wisconsin now. Apparently the state Democratic Party has collapsed, at least for the moment. Or perhaps the sale of the Raleigh News and Observer back in the '80s to "outsiders" ended any progressive response loud enough to counter the ever conservative TV station run by the Fletcher family in Raleigh. That's the one that gave Jesse Helms his tv show, which eventually vaulted him into the US Senate.

Here's the WRAL coverage of Grover's appearance:

The question is, why should anyone at all care what Mr. Norquist thinks of our coming tax reforms? Who is Grover Norquist anyways? Here's his Wiki entry: He's the guy who thought up this ridiculous "no new taxes" pledge that has hamstrung all efforts to sensibly deal with the United States budget. He's a mischievous rich boy who took his mischief to law school and figured out how to flummux the relatively stupid people who tend to get elected to legislative offices in this great land of ours, state and national. He's the guy who realized that since no one likes taxes, it's a successful political gambit to always run against taxes, and to never ever admit that we in fact ought to all like taxes, because that's what pays for all the things we all really really like here in the US of A. Instead, Grover's successful decades long mischief has widened the gap between a realistic understanding of what taxes mean, and our emotional dislike for paying for anything we don't specifically want, right then and there.

What does Grover care. He's the son of Polaroid, and jumped off that elevator in the nick of time apparently. His "job" is to pontificate. He probably doesn't even need to drive, much less actually work at a job that somebody else pays for, unless it's in the grand sense that like a lot of these mischief makes, he's actually working for the Koch Brothers and their ilk.

Whatever. Take note. Grover came to North Carolina this week, and gave a speech praising the work of our runaway Legislature. It's a sad day, but it might be a wake up call. Meanwhile, that's Puzzle, up at the top. Yesterday Libby told me he found a black snake in the grass. The snake was coiled up tightly, and protecting it's head. Libby picked up Puzzle and took him inside, and when she went back out the snake had departed, hopefully none the worse for wear, as black snakes are definitely good guys and win the battle for grub when in competition with Copperheads, which we also have in abundance in the NC Piedmont. I'm hopefully none of the boys will find a Copperhead. They're not so concerned with what cats happen to think, particularly young naive happy ones like ours, cats that haven't really learned what dangers lurk. That was the trade off. Momma, she knows very well, and that's why she looks behind her all the time.

We can learn a lot from these critters who decided long ago to hang around with us.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Loud Bad Music, It'll Run the Roaches Outa Town

I was walking across the UNC campus one time quite a few decades back and watched a fairly amazing thing happen. The campus has many big oak trees, and of course with the trees come plenty of squirrels. At that time Chapel Hill was a fairly small town, so there were also a number of free-running dogs, no doubt mostly pets of students who lived off campus. Probably some of these mutts had even been abandoned by departing students, and were hanging with other of the boys and getting their grub where they could. It was the middle of the summer as I recall. The livin' was easy.

Anyways, these dogs had spotted a squirrel and chased it up a smallish tree which stood fairly alone in a meadow. The tree was probably at least twenty feet tall, but not so big around. Might have been a poplar, if that whets your imagination. We have the perfect environment for poplars in these parts. Leave a field open and that's the first thing you'll get popping up. So here's the scenario. A ring of dogs, probably five at least, surrounding this poplar tree. Squirrel up at the top, flicking its tail in anxiety and chattering back at them while they all bark in a great cacophonous melee. This went on for some time. The dogs were jumping too, but of course were not specialized climber dogs (I did know one of those, he'd climb a tree for a frizbee, but that's another story). I was probably drinking a paper cup of coffee. It was probably about 10:30 AM. The sun dappled the green green grass, the leaves moving only slightly in the last cool breezes of the morning. It was going to get hot. This is North Carolina summer, you can count on it.

Then the squirrel jumped down out of the tree, into the circle of dogs, and scampered off to a bigger tree. I was glad the squirrel made it to better safety. But I was also struck by the plan fact that the dogs had actually barked that squirrel out of the tree. This was the stuff of Faulkner.

This is what's going on re Benghazi and the so-called "cover up." Ever since those halcyon days of yore, when I was strolling the campus and noting canine behavior and Sam Irvin was taking the Nixon Administration apart, Republicans have seethed with the false but comforting idea that Nixon was framed, or that somehow "they all do it, but we got caught." This is why Republicans keep comparing Benghazi to Watergate. They dream a fevered dream, of somehow finding a balancing scandal which will erase the Nixon blight on their brand. And it seems, at this much later juncture, that they actually believe this. So, this week, Benghazi is if anything worse than Watergate, because Americans were killed.

This is in reality so much squirrel logic. It's Vince Foster yet again. Republicans were no doubt profoundly shocked that an old Southern lawyer like Sam Irvin could actually knock a slick operator like Richard Nixon plumb out of the park. How was it possible? What they've concluded is that somehow there's some kinda magic in these grand hearings. Get one going and eventually your opponent disappears, poof! Even when they tried it with Bill Clinton, it didn't work. But still they dream. And bark.

And at the moment the barking is having some effect. MSNBC's guest Chris Matthew's host, Smirconish, was actually doing a piece yesterday about how maybe there is something to "this." Of course our Lord HawHaw network has been barking since the tragic events happened, and fantasize that if only the voters had realized the Benghazi events were "terrorism," they would have elected Romney. This fantasy is yet more victim thinking, another layer piled on top of Watergate, and the "Lamestream Media," and all the rest. It is really quite unlikely that the last election turned on the terminology used to describe Benghazi, and, moreover, Mr. Obama in one of the debates pretty much destroyed Mr. Romney by noting that he had called the events "terrorism." If that admission had carried the power Republicans imagine, why didn't the tide turn right then and there.

Still they bark. And who knows, maybe we'll all watch in amazement as the squirrel jumps out of the tree. But here's some reminder, if you need it, of the lay of the land, same as it ever was. The sun still shines. The tree's still twenty feet tall.

There are many pathetic things unfolding in the land. It's pathetic that one of the major political parties chooses to destroy our ability to work constructively on real problems and issues for the chimera of some sort of political victory which will redress the chagrin of Watergate, and of George W. Bush. Yet their minds obsess on that moment when the squirrel will, amazingly, jump down into their midst. Oh, won't he be so delicious.

Well mostly likely, he'll just run up another tree. And the Republicans will be left like a pack of dogs on a warm summer morning. Sniffing each other's assholes.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Briar Patch Logic

Read somewheres that some asshat radio guy is trying to foment a 4th of July march from Arlington across the bridge to Washington, DC. He says he wants a thousand people to march or he ain't gonna do it. They all have to be carrying loaded firearms. This would be a "peaceful" display of their vaunted Second Amendment Right. I reckon he needs a full K of bodies to walk behind. Just in case.

The new President of the NRA, who is probably somewhat like the guy who replaced Putin, because I can't imagine LaPierre actually going anywhere, or being contradicted by anybody on the team, gave a speech the other day evoking Appomattox and the South's Glory Days and all that stuff. Which kinda goes with the big gun march thing, since Arlington National Cemetery is or was the Plantation once run by Marse Lee and Ms Custis.

John Stewart did a particularly intelligent bit last week where he shows that all the various "rights" we supposedly have, enshrined in our supposedly quasi-divine Founding Documents, are being in various ways trumped these days. Except one--the Second Amendment Right. That one has become absolute.

This silhouettes a certain tension which, perhaps inadvertently, the divine Founders built into the Documents. See, on the one side you have all these different abstract legal rights, things you can write about, make laws defining more accurately, and so on. You have stuff like "freedom," "liberty," even perhaps "truth," "justice." "Equality."

And then on the other hand you have a little machine, devised originally back in the middle ages by the Chinese, which has come to dominate so much of our thought and history, and which confers power so great as to seem magical or even god-like. "Murder, it's just a shot away." "Power flows from the barrel of a gun." "The right to bear arms shall not be abridged." Surely the Keystone Arms folks are toiling at the legal foundry even as we speak here, since for some reason they are absolutely not allowed to send any machine gun pieces to the state of Washington.

These yahoos, ever since we elected a black President, have been brandishing weapons. The Tea Party eruption was full of it. "Water the Tree of Liberty" signs waved high. Fellows with pistols strapped to their thighs waved banners with "don't tread on me." The proposed march across the bridge, into DC, is the next event in this string. If it actually happens. Kinda ironic if it goes down on the very year Fort Bragg and Camp Lejune have cancelled their 4th of July celebrations because of the Sequester.

But it kinda makes me wonder if these gun rights absolutists actually can see past the end of their noses. Or their front sights. It's not like we don't already know the end to stories where weapons rule the momentum, is it? I mean, how can these 10th Amendment Nullificationists have forgotten that at the end of the original story it was, duh!, GUNS, that won the day for the Nawth. We've already been there. Grant's dogged willingness to keep running blue coats up the hill led Lee and his tattered, starving remnants to retreat to the southwest, and eventually to be surrounded at Appomattox, where Lee at last signed the papers, generous and humane though they were, which General Grant laid before him. To an Arms Absolutist, it is Arms that won the Civil War.

If you're going to put weapons up as a god, you're probably going to have to at some point put that cold steel barrel where the sun don't shine. Like Louisiana Red sang:

How can I miss you baby, with my pistol in your mouth.
You may be goin' nawth, but your brains are stayin' south.

What will this radio fulminator do, pray tell, when his little band of armed doofuses turn the corner and find themselves facing a few tanks? The tanks would be just bearing arms wouldn't they, in defense of all our liberties, and in defense of the laws of Washington DC. It's our national city, and our federal government.

I agree, of course, that in fact arms do not settle moral arguments. It is the materialistic absolutist who says otherwise, and I think history keeps proving the materialist wrong on this fundamental. A few weeks back I reviewed the film Katyn. The historical event was a monstrous war crime initiated by Stalin, and furthered by Stalin's minions during the time they controlled Poland--an effort to erase truth by the exercise of power which was ultimately defeated by, among other things, the very film which told the truth some 70 years after the facts had unfolded. But it is the NRA and its legion of jackanapes which gibber the illogic of Baal, the Golden 1911-A, glittering so bright it rivals the sun itself on a rainy day.

If they're going to keep on with their absurdities, I hope Mr. Obama will at some point meet them with those tanks. If he does, he will be simply speaking the only language they seem capable of understanding.


*The photo is from Juno Beach, June 6, 1944. The history web page from which it was taken states in part:

First Hussars

The 1st Hussars Regiment was from London, Ontario. The 1st Hussars were equipped with DD (Duplex Drive) tanks. The tankers of the Hussars supported the Regina Rifles at Courseulles, the Winnipeg Rifles at Graye-sur-Mer and the Canadian Scottish on the right.

'B' squadron supporting the Reginas, landed at Courseulles at 0755 hours with 14 out of the 19 tanks remaining. The DD tanks engaged the German guns from a distance of 200 yards. An 88mm beside the harbour exit and a 50 mm behind it fired continuously until their protective shields were pierced by shells. A 75 mm on the right flank fired 200 rounds before it was knocked out. No tanks were lost in the spirited duel. When the Regina Rifles landed, they fought their way into Courseulles, and once beyond the town the tank squadrons reunited with their affiliated infantry battalions and worked their way inland against machine-gun nests and entrenched infantry.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

But It's Pink

Here's the big story of the morning:

Here's the lede: Crickett Firearms, the brand that produces the “My First Rifle” line of guns designed for youth shooters, has pulled all its websites offline in the aftermath of a shooting last week in which a 5-year-old Kentuckian, who had been given a Crickett rifle as a gift, fatally shot his 2-year-old sister.

Mother Jones covered the event a couple of days ago:

Here's a pic captured from that MoJo story, which was from the now deleted website of Keystone Sporting Arms:

In the Washington Post story on the shooting, Keystone Sporting Arms, which makes these weapons for children, was reported as starting out as a company of 4 employees, and as succeeding in its niche market to the point that it now employs some 70 persons.

Here's where the tragedy happened (from the Post story):

This week some jackass from National Review argued that gun legislation was not fair, because it was imposing "Chicago's problems" on the innocent people of Indiana. Why should all these freedom-loving, hard-working, gun-owning citizens in "rural American" have their life-styles affected by the sordid doings of mostly "different" people who live for whatever crazy perverted reason in our big cities. The Kentucky newspaper who covered the shooting quoted a local DA who more or less said the same thing when he noted that "these things hardly ever happen down here." Doghouse Riley, in his astute analysis of the story, did the math: Let's holster the self-congratulations, Your Honor. The population of Cumberland county in 2011 was 6,832. That gives a death by gun rate of 0.0037%. In 2011 New York City's was 0.0072%.

Here's Riley's piece:

The lawyer for the people who make and market the guns said this wasn't the time to get into a discussion of gun laws--that would just be exploiting the grief of the family. Charges might or might not be filed. In Riley's comments, someone suggested that the 2-year-old should, obviously, have had a weapon to protect herself.

If you look at the success story of Keystone Arms through the rose-colored glasses Mr. Romney offered all of us back last November, what you see is nothing less than the glory of Capitalism at work. A near majority of our U.S. Senators told us during and after the vote on the pitiful little background check legislation that was quashed that even that bit of effort towards sanity was enough to endanger our Second Amendment Freedom. Obviously, or at least most likely, the background check law would not have stopped the Crickett from being introduced into that household in Kentucky. I'd guess Fox News will shortly be on the case, defending Keystone Fire Arms, Inc.

Here's my long-range question though. If we're going to run our business like this, why in the world should we have an arsenal of nuclear weapons. Would you trust "these people" with your life? They can't even look out for their own children.

Hey, wait a minute, Pilgrim. "These People?" That's us! Yep. And while we try to look sanely at but one small moment of life and death, here in NC our legislative Republican leaders have removed to the ALEC convention (at their own expense they report, nothing to see here). There they will learn what new legislation to craft, in order to further disarm any remaining abilities to resist their coming Kochian Order. They're of course fine with the "Second Amendment Solution." But good luck with that pink popgun if a serious issue with authority happens to come up.

As I've said here before, consider the film "Harlan County, USA." That brave mother with the .38 Special in her bra does not win the day. The day is won by lawyers in New York, far far away from rural America. Keystone Arms will be back in business, because America's Business is Business.

Maybe the truth is, we're all laboring under the false illusion that "progress" is actually possible. Via Kim Morgan's Gunshots Tumblr pages:

This was back in the '50s, when the "true" Americans were entirely in charge, and now and again lynched people who crossed the line. At least mom's not drunk, like William Burroughs.

Monday Update.

You'd think this Keystone Arms Company would be a little concerned, in some way or another, by the terrible tragedy to which their cute little "kid's rifle" contributed. I guess you'd be wrong. Here's what the header at the top of their website says at the moment:


I clicked around on their site for a bit. Here's a pretty neat bit of info, found under the category "Machine Gun Parts."
In fact, this is the whole "Machine Gun Parts" page, at the moment:

Machine Gun Parts

Under NO circumstances will any Machine Gun Parts be sent to the state of Washington

BAR 1918

Bren .303 Cal

Lewis Gun

M-2 Browning .50 Cal



The NRA logo is displayed proudly on the home page, from whence I captured it:

I would presume that this implies that the NRA is behind Keystone Firearms Company. I display the logo here only to prove that it was present on the Keystone site on Monday, 5/6/13.

Earlier in the day I checked our local news website ( for further news concerning the Kentucky tragedy and or the Keystone Firearms Company. WRAL reported nothing new. It's old hat to the media already. That's why Keystone is back in bidness. For them, "events in Connecticut" are just a nuisance, and events in Kentucky are entirely below the event horizon. Mitt Romney would no doubt be durn proud.

And the town where the events occurred apparently stands four-square behind Keystone Arms:

Or at least two fascists who live there do, since their response to media coverage was to slug the cameraman and threaten the writer. Joe Hill, meet Mussolini, as alive as you and me, alive as you and me.


CORRECTION! As Mr. Yothers pointed out to me in a comment, I have confused two different Pennsylvania Arms companies in this post. There is a Keystone Sporting Arms company, of Milton, PA, which markets the children's rifles, one of which was the weapon in the tragedy in Kentucky, and there is also a Keystone Arms Company, of Matamoros, PA, which sells various kinds of firearms and parts thereof, including parts for "antique" machine guns which they name on their machine gun parts page, which I copied above. Whatever you might think about selling machine gun parts, it's not identical to selling pink kid-sized rifles that look like toys. I appreciate Mr. Yothers' interest in factuality and his comment.