Monday, March 26, 2007

Alberto VO5 = Very Offensive 5 (times over)

I truly believe one of Alberto Gonzales' problems is the fact that George W. Bush has always given him his political offices and entry into a world that Alberto VO5 is totaly ill-equipped to handle.
While in Texas, the man never ran for anything, let alone won anything. He's always been given his jobs by the same guy, and always been around to cover someone's well-exposed ass when that certain person fucks up royally.
Alberto, hwo was just another non-descript lawyer, was appointed by Bush as:
* Texas Secretary of State (he followed Tony Garza, who would run rings around Gonzales intellectually)
* Texas Supreme Court justice (without having EVER been a judge of anything ... from appellate court to American Idol or even a beauty pageant)
* White House counsel (how's the Patriot Act and all that justification for torture going, huh?)
* Attorney General (I never thought anyone could be as bad as John Ashcroft; oops, wrong that time!)
With Bush, there IS no Alberto Gonzales because he couldn't win office (he's not that good of a politician or candidate). He is what he is - a fuckin' puppet, writing opinions based on politics, and what his superiors WANT, not what the law requires.
To quote Upton Sinclair:
"If is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
I heard this quote from Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," but that should not diminish its truthfulness. It speaks exactly to Alberto VO5.
Mister Peter Principle if ever there was one. And if you have to look that up to undestand it, you are too goddamn young to be reading.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Texas politics producing tragic embarassments

The current political party in power in Austin - the Republicans - has been so fixated on the singular task of reducing property taxes in Texas that far more meaningful problems have gone unresolved and become tragic embarrassments to all Texans.
And it makes you want to cry.
The criminal negligence surrounding the emergencies that exist within Child Protective Services and the Texas Youth Commission cast a sad shadow across this state. This is how the rest of the nation views how we treat children in need, by starving their budgets to death and then covering up abuse (in the case of TYC).
In testimony, it is disclosed that as many as 40 foster children, with no place to go because of a shortage of foster homes/parents and the resources to hire enough people to process the cases, are forced to sleep in CPS offices. What kind of bullshit is that?!? How dare the state of Texas treat children in that manner?!?
Understaffed workers often place these children in situations, equal or worse than the danger that is being avoided. The case load in Texas for a caseworker is twice the recommended national average and people are fleeing from the professional side.
The TYC situation, where abuse has taken place of young children in TYC facilities (by adults), gone unreported and covered up, is intolerable. Heads should roll but they won't because, now we learn, the TYC information reached the governor’s office before last November’s election. Yet nothing was done and fingers are pointing in every direction. I'm sure we will hear a now familiar refrain, "Mistakes were made." The next politicial to utter that should be shot on the spot.
We should be ashamed of ourselves and of how our so-called representatives in Austin are reacting to this catastrophe. It is a prime example of bad government on the cheap and the all-too-casual dismissal of our social responsibilities for the sake of saving a few pennies here and there. Paying less taxes is fine and dandy if we can afford it. But not if we have to live with such blight on our society, perpetrated by people who workship the almighty dollar more than the human condition.
However, until the voters decide to change the faces making these choices, to vogte these bastards out of office, we will be saddled with such horror stories.
"We get the government we deserve." - Don Henley

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gambling at Rick's American Cafe?

"I'm shocked, shocked I say, to find that gambling is taking place in this establishment!"
Read the link:
And the next line from "Casablanca" was:
"Ah, your winnings, sir."
"Thank you."
How appropriate.

All hail the end of ‘Rome’

This Sunday will be sad day for me and others who crave quality television, regardless of its content or origin. The final episode of HBO’s magnificently over-the-top historical drama, “Rome,” will be aired, ending its two-season run,. The final storyline will deal with the obvious storyline of the demise and subsequent deaths (by suicide) of Egyptian queen Cleopatra and her lover, Roman general Marc Antony, along with the rise of the first Roman emperor, Octavian.
This will NOT be a remake of the 1960 Richard Burton-Elizabeth Taylor soap opera movie or Marlon Brando’s Shakespearean version. In HBO’s “Rome,” Antony is not to be praised by anyone, having so many vices as to render him shallow and incompetent. Cleo is a total vixen, who uses sex as power to get exactly what she wants from men. She has all the scruples of an alley cat and the morals of a cheap prostitute. Yet she is a force definitely to be reckoned with.
However, we all know she will get her little asp kicked.
The show might revolve around a “what might have happened with all those British accents” premise, but the central core of the drama has been the friendship of two common men, Roman soldiers, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo. Scriptwriters have heaped every kind of tragedy and peril at them – from the death of spouses to ancient brain surgery, the kidnapping of children and countless bloody skirmishes. Each man has saved the other’s life and what once was a commander-underling relationship has morphed into a strong, manly bond that comes from genuine friendship tested by time.
The end of the series means viewers will not be able to continue Pullo’s and Vorenus’ journey through history as observers. They are the only ones in the entire series allowed to speak to future emperors and generals with a degree of honesty. You feel for them and honestly want nothing too bad to happen – although most of their tragedy is fairly predictable based on how things happen on “Rome.”
This series follows Roman history fairly well – through the presence of Octavian, considered the most important of all Roman rulers (from his growth as a young man to his ascent to historical glory). To read a history of the man, and how well the storyline follows history, go online to
It is a series that does not care if main characters, or major supporting characters, are dispatched – rather brutality if truth be known. But romance was not part of the Roman Empire – that emerged later. It was a brutal time for men and women, filled with ribald sexuality and rather obscene grabs for power constantly. All that is on the cable TV screen and seldom is a punch (or sword) pulled.
The acting is excellent and I would hope that 42-year-old Northern Ireland-born and English reared actor Ray Stevenson, who plays Pullo, will find more roles in major theatrical productions. He turned Pullo from a brutish, boorish killer into a man with deep sensitivity and humanity (yet always to be feared because that “monster” could be unleashed at ANY moment). At 42, he is an overnight sensation in the U.S., having only been seen in “King Arthur.”
It’s sad that a third season won’t be forthcoming. Reading the history of Octavian would certainly provide more than enough intrigue to carry a 12-episode season. But such is (Roman) life.
The first season has been on DVD for some time and it is worth viewing for the bravura, textured performance of Ciarin Hinds as Julius Caesar. But the series belongs to the like of Stevenson, the exotic Polly Walker as Atia (Octavian’s conniving mother), Kevin McKidd as Vorenus, and James Purefoy as Antony.
All hail Casear! All hail “Rome.” I hope anything HBO adds to its schedule (with the final eight episodes of “The Sopranos” to follow in the Sunday timeslot) will meet the same incredibly high standards.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Racism is the real issue in Farmers Branch, Texas

Many of you have heard about Farmers Branch, Texas, a bedroom community directly north of Dallas on Interstate-35, where the city council, under the “leadership” of a neo-conservative wannabe named Tim O’Hare, who will undoubtedly be seeking higher office in 2008,
This May, there will be referendums, widely publicized across the nation, the primary initiative being about forcing landlords not to rent to so-called illegal aliens/immigrants. There have been demonstrations, protests and accusations hurled like football across Texas Stadium.
In all the pronouncements, proponents of the anti-immigrant measures have tried to make the case that race is not involved. But they have lied; it’s ALL about race and the entire issue is an anti-Hispanic attitude among the city’s white residents – mistakenly thinking that they can retain some sort of plantation mentality while the demographics change around them.
Now the proof is in the pudding … that could be sold at a grocery store in Farmers Branch that (horror!) caters to Hispanics!!! And it has the community in a racist uproar, peeling back the truth for all to see.
The corporation known as Minyard Foods has developed a store brand, named Carnival, which, yes, caters to Hispanic customers, the largest growing population base in North Texas. In fact, the store is the biggest money-maker within the Minyard chain. Minyard’s closes its flagship store in East Dallas to open (wait for it) a Carnival.
So why should Farmers Branch think its shit don’t stink on this issue? Not because the white folks say so. Sorry, your white sheets are showing.
And the debate, which isn’t really a debate because Minyard's hasn’t announced a damn thing to go into Farmers Branch, is couched with the kind of racist code words which find bigots hiding behind language.
The building in question was built in 1959 at the corner of Josey Lane and Valley View Lane called the Four Corners (nearly 50 years old and 50 years since substantive renovation). It was once a Skaggs Alpha Beta (a blast from the past for your Southerners) and then Albertson’s moved into the structure in August 1991. It became a Super Saver in December, 2004, and closed late last summer.
Oh yeah, Super Saver? NOT high-end, Senor O’Hare.
There is also a rumor that Brookshire Brothers (oops, NOT high-end) might move into the space. Except Brookshire’s seldom ventures in large urban areas. The Tyler-based chain like smaller, often rural locales … which is NOT Farmers Branch, which hasn’t seen farmers in years.
“I think it is a reasonable thing to wish for to have a grocery store that appeals to higher-end consumers,” O’Hare told the Dallas Morning News. Of course that implies that Hispanics aren’t HIGH-END customers.
More from Mr. O’Hare.
“If a fast-food joint was coming into the Super Saver parking lot, and I said, ‘Hey, can’t we get a Chili’s?’ who am I discriminating against?" he said.
Hey, Tim, you classify Chili’s as HIGH-END????????? Dude, read a Zagat once in awhile.
There is an e-mail (aren’t they becoming the tools of the devil lately?) floating around Farmers Branch from a City Council candidate named Tim Scott, which “encourages residents to call the company to say they want a Minyard, not a Carnival. That has prompted others to distribute fliers or go door-to-door with the same message. Mr. Scott said that he doesn’t recall who told him about the store’s possible arrival but that he heard it from a couple of people,” according to the Morning News story.
And he is quoted using more of that deceptive “language.”
“I don’t think we need any sort of ultra-discount store in there at all. We’re a town of ultra discounts as it is,” Mr. Scott said in the paper.
Gee whiz. So ultra-discount means LOW END, eh? And lots of people believe Farmers Branch caters to that crowd because of the number of businesses chasing that dollar.
Doncha think white people shop there, too?
Time to speak truth to power. The debate that has engulfed Farmers Branch and much of this state (and nation) is NOT about illegal actions by immigrants, or homeland security. It’s about white people’s fears about Hispanics and specifically people of Mexican descent and having Hispanic surnames.
I hope Minyard’s builds a freaking Super Carnival and let’s see if Mr. O’Hare and his followers reject the increase in the sales tax base, thanks to folks with darker skin and Hispanic names.
Perhaps they need to recite some Bob Dylan before the next council meeting.
The times they are-a changin.’

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

NCAA tournament picks

After falling asleep watching Michigan beat some crappy team from Utah (we need to get rid of Tommy Amaker), here are my first round picks.
St. Louis regional - Florida, Arizona, Old Dominion University (upsetting Butler), Maryland, Winthrop (upseting ND), Oregon, UNLV, Wisconson; Florida, ODU, Oregon, Wisconsin to sweet 16.
San Jose regional - Kansas, Villanova, Va. Tech, Southern Illinois, VCirginia Commonwealth (over Duke), Pitt, Gonzaga (better as a low seed than high seed), UCLA; KU, Va. Tech, Pitt, UCLA to sweet 16.
East Rutherford regional - UNC, Marquette, Arkansas (over smaller USC), Texas, George Washington, Washington St., Boston College, Georgetown; UNC, UT, GW, Georgetown to sweet 16.
San Antonio regional - Ohio St., Brigham Young, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisville, Texas A&M, Nevada, Memphis; Ohio State, Tenn., Louisville, Memphis to sweet 16.
My final four - Florida, Kansas, Ohio State and ... Texas! In finals, Florida 68, Ohio State 59.
But what do I know?

Friday, March 09, 2007

You can learn about lives in an obituary

I examine obituaries … every day. I read them to see that I’m not there and to see if I know anyone who is there. In my capacity as stay-at-home copy editor for The Community News in Aledo, Texas, I edit most of the death notices and obituaries that are published in that paper.
Each obituary tells a short story, or at least it should, depending on the amount of information set forth by the funeral home and family. And each obituary should try to contain something to connect it with the readers and, at least, say to the world that this person lived, loved and was a small cog in the machine we know as humanity – which is all we probably can ever hope to achieve.
When I read about the late Robert “Alex” Lee Alexander of Weatherford, Texas (west of Fort Worth), I was struck by his background – he was a retired Lt. Colonel from the U.S. Army and, most importantly, was an actual, on-the scene, Pearl Harbor survivor.
My first thought was, “I wonder if anyone ever recorded or heard the complete tale he had to tell about that fateful day?” Being a person who loves history and believes in the need to study it in order NOT to repeat it, I could only imagine the wealth of information that would have been garnered from a visit.
I learned this from reading the recap of this man’s life. Alexander passed away at the age of 90 and was just 10 days short of his 24th birthday when his world got rocked on that early Sunday morning.
He first joined the military prior to his 19th birthday and left after three years of service. But a year later, when the Nazis overran the French on their native soil, he re-enlisted and eventually made his way to Oahu.
“Alex” was stationed at Schofield Barracks when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 7, 1941. Like everyone else that morning, then-Platoon Sgt. Alexander, overseeing four gun crews, was in the process of having breakfast when the Japanese attacked. Luckily, he survived and continued to serve the U.S. Army for almost 28 years.
He was in the U.S. Army for 27 ½ years, serving as Company Commander of the 90th Division, a reserve unit in Fort Worth. He retained his rank of Captain and shortly was promoted to Major.
Too many Americans, the site of the fallen World Trade Center in New York City is considered hallowed ground, but to me, the real moniker belongs to Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. And it isn’t just “ground” that is hallowed; it is the bottom of the waters where as many as 1,179 American sailors and soldiers went to their death on that December morning – the worst single military disaster (where more men died on a single vessel) in our nation’s history.
If you EVER get to Honolulu, you must visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, one of this nation’s best kept secrets and finest National Park Service properties. My personal journey came two days after it reopened followed 9/11 and it is one I will carry with me for the remainder of my time on Earth.
After seeing the 25-minute film, which includes footage never shown to the public having been captured from the Japanese military, visitors are ushered to a ferry boat for the short ride to the actual memorial, sitting atop on the sunken Arizona. Thus begins a period of silence – and you are reminded that you are about to enter a graveyard. Visitors adhere to that rule above all else.
There is a slightly eerie feeling when you step on the deck of the memorial (one has exactly five minutes to spend). Looking down shows the Arizona in plain view; the outline of the ship’s form is clear to see. The names of all its members are memorialized on a wall and the only sound heard are feet shuffling to and fro; even whispers are magnified.
The other sound is the mixing of the sea waves usually gentle as they strike the sides. A voice tells everyone with a minute left that it is time to leave. Of course, what you see never leaves you.
You will learn things you never knew before. For example, there were some 1.4 million gallons of fuel on the Arizona when she sank. More than 66 years later, officials say approximately two quarts a day still surfaces from the ship. Pearl Harbor survivors, such as Lt. Col. Alexander, refer to the oil droplets as “Black Tears.”
The Arizona memorial is not the only thing at the site; there is a shoreline tribute to all the ships lost in battle during World War II, a refurbished WWII submarine, available for touring, and, docked nearby, the battleship USS Missouri, where the Japanese signed surrender papers in 1945. During my visit, it was off limits; it was, and still is, an active military unit.
There are other unexplained sights that stir your emotions. Pearl Harbor seems to be a major destination for Japanese tourists, perhaps needing to learn the facts of history that their nation, for whatever reason, has chosen not to disclose (a charge often made about the government in Tokyo). One has to wonder what goes through their minds when confronted with the facts and aftermath of that Sunday morning.
The visit is free; you just need tickets (first-come, first-serve) since theater seating is limited (the memorial is open from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and the film is shown starting at 8 a.m. and the last viewing is at 3 p.m.). And you will NOT be alone – the average attendance at the memorial is 4,500 per day, seven days a week.
The most stunning thing about the visit, other than the incredible solemn feeling that engulfs you, is the personal visit with a Pearl Harbor survivor – either military or civilian. My wife and I actually talked, at length, with a man who was on site during the attack. This man seemed genuinely grateful that we took the time to learn about that day and to honor him for surviving and teaching us about his history.
Sadly, those visits will be fewer and fewer by the day. These survivors are simply dying off and when the last man or woman is gone, all those memories and lessons will also disappear.
Lt. Col. Alexander was laid to rest on Feb. 27 in Weatherford. I was unable to be there and I was never able to know him, shake his hand and ask him one of a thousands questions I have about “that day.”
I am poorer for not having that opportunity, but our country is better for his service and his experience. We need to learn more from these veterans about what actually happened back then so we can teach future generations those important lessons.
Yes, you can discover that from just reading an obituary.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Religious hypocrites need to shut their mouths

People like the Rev. Richard Land, who profess to be all that more High and Mighty than the rest of us mere mortals (such as Jews), need to STOP being goddamn hypocrites for the sake of political power/advantage.
Here's the link to what I am writing about:
I have two words for Mr. Land in rebuttal:
Ronald Reagan.
He divorced his first wife, actress Jane Wyman, for his second wife, actress Nancy Davis, for the reason that he fell in love with someone else.
And NO evangelical held it against him in the 1980 election. Hell, they overwhelmingly support Reagan over an incumbent president who taught Sunday School while in the White House. Regaan was never a steady church-goer while Carter wore his honest faith on his sleeve.
But his politics differed from the likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and other hypocrites hiding behind God, Jesus and their own bigotry.
I do not support Rudy Guiliani for President, and he was a pariah on Sept. 10, 2001 (one day before you know what).
But these hypocrites need to stay out of politics and keep their mother-fucking mouths shut (and their too manicured faces OFF cable TV networks, which have no one better to fill their time with).
Please, spare all of us the discharge of useless hot air!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

More signs that politics matter more than people to Bush Administration

A CNN report aired tonight is a perfect example of how morally corrupt the Bush Administration is about handling disasters. Politics rule above all else!
Over the past two weeks, three states have been ravaged by tornadoes, causing death and destruction - Arkansas, Georgia and Alabama. Two states have been declared disaster areas, eligible for federal assistance from that fine example of common sense and quick action - FEMA.
Care to guess which two?
President Bush flew down within 48 hours of one disaster to inspect the damage in two states and offer a shoulder to cry upon.
Care to guess which two?
Two of the three states have Republican governors. The third has a Democrat in the state house.
Care to guess which two?
Answer: Georgia and Alabama to all of the above. Arkansas is still waiting for help, despite the presence of 8,000 (that number IS correect) idle, empty FEMA trailers in ... Hope, Arkansas, home to that previous president, Bill Clinton.
A Democrat.
Oh yeah, a Democrat is governor of Louisiana and New Orleans and other affected parts of that state from 2005's Hurricane Katrina are STILL fucking waiting for the help, homes, trailers and attention PROMISED by George W. Bush, once he got his sorry ass there and after stating such a promise on national television.
Of course, he first visited Alabama Or Ala-fucking-bama to quote Joe Pesci) and Mississippi before he even sniffed setting foot in NOLA. Guess who has Republican governors???
With each passing day, this man in the White House becomes a national embarassment because cronyism and hackism combined with politics rules the day. Those living in states not friendly to "Hack" Bush can go fuck themselves for all he and his cohorts care.
Think it's all just some dumb luck coincidence? Puh-lese! Modus operendi, baby.
For the sake of this country's future, Jan. 20, 2009 can't COME fast enough.

VA - what FEMA has morphed into under the Bush Administration

The sad legacy of the Bush Administration/Republican-controlled Congress will be summed up in two anagrams – FEMA and VA. Because of the lack of the most minute amount of congressional oversight and the need to distribute political rewards through a policy which should now be termed “hackism,” this administration has shown its callous regard for what happens to people AFTER failed policies strike their lives.
The latest fiasco – how Veterans Administration is handling wounded soldiers and the nonchalant bureaucracy that denies or delays needed treatment – is too sad to often contemplate. At the head of the cabinet department is nothing more than a political hack, Jim Nicholson, who got the job in 2005 because … he was the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. It is a political payoff, not done to better the system, but as a payoff for re-election.
His head, along with every general in charge at Walter Reed and other facilities, should roll. Nicholson’s comment on the Bob Woodruff’s ABC News Special (“To Iraq and Back”) made my stomach turn in terms of too much indifference and protection of the bureauracy. He learned nothing from that other political hack-in-charge, FEMA’s Michael Brown.
This, and similar situations, where those in charge have run amok and failed miserably in their administrative duties, was one major reason why the GOP was tossed out last November by voters. At least someone is asking hard questions and demanding answers – albeit a little to darn late.