Sunday, November 29, 2009

Where I'm At

Sitting here watching the Steelers and Ravens. With Big Ben out, I'm surprised this game is as good as it is. Go, Dennis Dixon!

Anyway, it's been a long, holiday week. As you know, we Unknowns have just bought a house. Since I had vacation to burn, I took the week off to paint. There was a steep learning curve for yours truly. And I'm just getting over my exhaustion. Earlier today, Pooh and I put Mrs. Unknown on a plane to Switzerland for a meeting and settled in for a pleasant afternoon of football and pizza. Pooh was screaming, "Go Steelers! Go Steelers!" as I put her to bed.

So, I figure now is as good a time as any to tell you all where I'm at in this Unknown life of mine:

Well, I'll be honest, August's Health Care Stories Project pretty much wiped me out. There I was, saying I was going to take some time off to write a new novel--only to start the most intense blogging project I could've possibly imagine. I don't know. I was getting so upset over the "health care debate," I felt I had to do something. I hope in our own, small way we made a difference.

I have no regrets either way, but I don't think I've really recovered my former "swagger," yet. Of course, there were a lot of mitigating factors. There was work--as usual. Then there was the accursed house-hunting. I may still rant about that later.

I gotta tell ya, though, I was shocked by how all-consuming looking for a house can be. There's a heart-rending, house-hunting paradox that never can and never will be resolved: you're never supposed to get your hopes up when looking at a house, but, in order to put a bid in and possibly commit yourself to 30 years of debt, you really have to see yourself in any given house; and what is seeing yourself in a house if it's not getting your hopes up?

I can't tell you how many Christmases and barbecues I'd envisioned that will never be. How many disappointments. But hey, it was all part of the process. And, as we kept telling ourselves, these were good problems. There are so many folks out there still losing their homes, while we got to buy our first. So, no matter what was happening, no matter how depressing it became, we were indeed fortunate. Even though I'm a little bummed that we didn't get to move back into the city, I know I should count my blessings. And I do.

So, there are a lot of changes in store for the Campbell Clan. The house will not be the last of them. I'll keep you informed as they come to fruition.

One change was my "celebrating" my 39 1/2th birthday. Yeah, I know. A half-birthday. When was the last time you counted one of those? It's just that I'm suddenly looking at the hilltop, and I didn't know how I felt about possibly going over it.

So yeah ... I'm looking at a few changes.

The new Growler is one I'm looking forward to. Frederick Douglass had one. It's where we got the idea. His was a little, windowless brick building he had built in his backyard where he'd go every night to write. Mine is a little room in the basement overlooking our backyard. I painted mine "Jazz Blue." I'm pretty excited. Like Virginia, I will finally have a room of my own in which to write. I can't wait.

Aside from writing, I would kinda like to turn the Growler into my own, private DJ booth. I don't know why, but I can't get the idea of being an internet DJ out of my system. It's just that, as a music fiend, I have so much music I can never possibly listen to, and I like sharing.

I've done the internet radio thing twice before, which met with (a) little interest. But those were just throwing up a bunch of songs and letting them play. There was no real interaction whatsoever. This time, though, I'd like to be an actual disc jockey--talking, ranting, shucking, jiving--with a podcast. No, I wouldn't expect this thing to be a success, either. But I think it would be fun.

Of course, a bunch of things would have to happen before I go on the cyberwaves, though.

One of those things is a new novel. I don't like talking about works in progress, but I will tell you it's a science fiction story, oddly enough, about storytelling. It's been delayed a bit with the move, but I plan to get back to it in a week or two. I think those of you--all 12 of you--who liked Sunshine Patriots will dig this one.

Actually, if all goes as hoped, I'd like to celebrate my 40th year on this planet by coming out with three books next year. One would be the aforementioned new novel, of course. Another would be a sort-of "Best of" Tome here. And I have another book, a satire, that will be sure to piss a bunch of folks off. I'm four chapters into it.

It's weird. I'm not really looking at the impending doom of my 40th birthday as my becoming "over the hill." It's not that I think 40 is the new 20, or any such nonsense. I actually don't know if I am cool with it. But birthdays are good problems. A lot of people never make it to 40. So, no matter what is happening, no matter how depressing it becomes, I am indeed fortunate. Even though I'm a still little bummed that we didn't get to move back into the city, I know I should count my blessings. And I do.

So, for now, I'm just thinking of all the possibilities the new home and the new year can bring. And how cool would it be to do something extraordinary? How cool would it be to come out with three books in one year?

It would be so spectacular (my name not being Nora Roberts nor Stephen King), it almost wouldn't matter if they sold well, or not.


So, that's where I'm at right now. On the threshold of the Eternal New. A little apprehensive. A little scared. Feeling my age and feeling my oats. But more than willing to take on all this change--and the future.

Way to go, Dennis Dixon!

Sure, you lost, but you sure as hell did yourself proud!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Babe!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Latest GOP Duplicity: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

As we all know by now, last week Attorney General Eric Holder decided to give (you all know the phrase) "accused mastermind of the September 11 attacks" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed his day in civilian court. As was to be expected, the GOP is on the attack. Here are some of the things they are saying about the dangers of not trying KSM in our esteemed military tribunals:

"Mohammad is a terrorist--is alleged to be a terrorist. ... The United States court system was not designed to handle unlawful enemy combatants."

"It represents a historic change in how we treat those who are at war with the United States. It is going to create a lot of complications once we are at trial."

--Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)

"I don't know how you can make a statement that failure to convict is not an option, when you have got juries in this country. I think a lot of Americans thought O.J. Simpson ought to have been convicted for murder rather than be in jail for what he is jail for now... I'm a farmer not a lawyer but I just want to make that observation."

-- Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

"... a perversion of the justice system."

--Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, in an interview with NBC, said the administration's decision to turn to the civilian court system "may be a new level of repudiation" of the notion that the United States is undertaking a war on terror.

-- AP, Giuliani against trying Mohammed in civilian court

"The president is unilaterally ending the war against terrorism and returning us to a pre-September 11 law enforcement regime. ... Because the trials will take place in federal court. The president is conferring Constitutional rights on enemy combatants who are not entitled to Constitutional rights."

-- Rep. Peter King (R-New York)

"The reality is, we are breaking precedent here. ... The reality is, he would get a fair trial there (in a military tribunal). A case like this, the government is put on trial. The more exciting headlines will be the headlines against the government. The headlines will be, '180 Waterboardings. The CIA did this terrible thing and that terrible thing to me.' Some of it will be lies and some of it will be true."

"It's a political decision because I believe this is being done to satisfy left-wing critics who all during the last two or three years have campaigned against these military tribunals."

-- Rudy Giuliani

But, of course, despite what Republican critics want you to believe, trying KSM in federal criminal court is not breaking with US precedence. The original World Trade Center bombers were tried in those same courts. Those courts have also tried and convicted Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, Richard Reid, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, Jose Padilla, Ali Saleh al-Marri, John Walker Lindh, Masoud Khan, and hundreds just like 'em. And, oh yeah, Zacarias Moussaoui (you remember the phrase), the convicted 20th September 11 hijacker, was tried in Virginia back in 2006, which started under Ashcroft's watch (hmm ... "new level of repudiation" there, Johnny?). I wonder what some of those same people said after the latter's trial:

"[The White House] probably thought it might be good to try this one in public."

-- Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)

"Today's verdict is a small but important piece of justice. Mr. Moussaoui's punishment is proof that our society is grounded in the liberating power of justice and the rule of law, which are our most valuable weapons in the war on terror."

-- Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tennessee)

"At times, this has been a maddening experience. The testimony of the defendant was deeply offensive, but through it all the victims have triumphed over the terrorist rants."

-- Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty (W. Administration)

"No, he will be pretty much locked by himself for the rest of his life, which, I think, he deserves, if anyone does. No, this is not an easy sentence by any means. I do think, again, in the sense of justice, that a death penalty was more appropriate."

-- Rep. Peter King (R-New York)

"I testified in the penalty phase of the trial. And it was much more difficult than I thought it would be, reviewing all that, going over it, seeing the films of it.

"And, you know, obviously I'm personally involved in this, but I would have preferred a different verdict. But it does show that we have a legal system, that we follow it, that we respect it. And it is exactly what is missing in the parts of the world or a lot of the parts of the world that are breeding terrorism.

"So maybe there is something good that can come out of this in showing these people that--at least showing the ones that have any kind of an open mind that we are a free society, a lawful society, a decent society, that we have respect for people's rights and that we can have disagreements about whether the death penalty should be imposed on somebody like Moussaoui.

"I think it should have been. I've been a lawyer more of my life than anything else. And I respect a jury's verdict. I sat in front of this jury for about three or four hours. They look like very, very careful and very decent people. And I am sure they did the best they could."

-- Rudy Giuliani

So, let's see, when the Bush administration decided to try Moussaoui in our federal courts, during the very height of "The War on Terror," these Republicans were not up in arms. Ashcroft and Gonzalez (who is also apparently criticizing Holder) initiated these criminal proceedings on this "enemy combatant." Giuliani actually participated in the trial itself. Some, like Giuliani and King, were disappointed that ZM wasn't given the death penalty. But many Republicans, including Giuliani again, considered this civilian verdict was a victory of American jurisprudence and American society as a whole. But now that the Obama administration is pursuing the exact same track that W. went down, America faces the gravest danger we have ever faced!!! All brought about by this rogue President and his AG!!!

Now, Giuliani, who is being accused of flip-flopping, is defending his newfound stance (watch the interview below), saying that there weren't military tribunals during the first WTC bombers trials and that the Supreme Court had declared military tribunals unconstitutional in 2006--which was why he participated in the Moussaoui trial. Well, Rudy, maybe your memory's a little cloudy, but the Supreme Court told the W. administration that they needed to rework the tribunals in June 2006; the Moussaoui trial concluded in May 2006. You weren't complaining about Moussaoui's trial venue any time before then or since.

Hmmm ...

Now, look, it's not as though Republicans are the only politicians who change their positions depending on who is in power. In 2004, Massachusetts Democrats voted in a law to strip the governor of the power of naming a replacement to the US Senate. They thought Dem. Senator John Kerry may win the Presidency, and they didn't want Rep. Governor Mitt Romney to have the power to replace Kerry's seat with a Republican. With Sen. Ted Kennedy's death, they repealed the law, knowing that Dem. Governor Duval Patrick would replace the Dem with another Dem.

It's all normal. It's called "playing politics." It's just ... shall we say, queer that the GOP, the party that portrays itself as the True American Patriots, the party that constantly claims that they are the party to "keep America safe," and who feel that this War on Terror is the gravest, most dangerous threat facing our country today, is so ready and sooooooo willing to play politics on this issue.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tell 'im, BlackMan!

I just had to share this one. Dirty Red, over at A BlackMan's View, has written this brilliantly hysterical and oh-too-true rant about R. Kelly's latest piece of piss-poor pop poop. Apparently, R., the 18th Lunkhead, is extolling the virtues of wanting to get a sister pregnant.

Personally, I can't stand the Urinator. I was still in Chi-Town when he broke big, and, since he was a homeboy, there was nowhere a brother could go to escape the mediocrity. Now, I feel is mediocrity and his depravity deserve my vitriol. Fortunately, Dirty Red's is better. You gotta read it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Our New House!!!

Well, I didn't know whether to jump for joy or vomit all over their offices, but all the eyes have been dotted and the teas crossed.

And here is the Unknowns' new home!!!!

And it will all be ours ...

in 2039!!!!!!!!

And in celebration of this auspicious occasion, we bring you this blast from the past...

Ha! You probably thought it was going to be Madness' "Our House," didn't ya?

C'mon now, you should know by now that I'm more perverse than that!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Peter Galbraith: Advocacy for Oil and the Death of the Common Good

As you've probably heard by now, US Ambassador and renowned "liberal hawk", Peter Galbraith has been caught with his fingers, hands, feet, his entire person, in the cookie jar. Galbraith was Clinton's former ambassador to Croatia and was named second-in-command in Afghanistan earlier this year. During the the lead-up to the Iraq war, Galbraith was a noted "liberal hawk" who strongly advocated Sadam's ouster, giving a peculiar "bipartisan" legitimacy to Bush's claims of Hussein's continued danger to our world.

In 2002, he became an advisor to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz on Kurdistan and has since been a strident advocate for Kurdish autonomy in Iraq and their retaining control of the oil reserves found in their area of the country. "Ironically" enough, back in June 2004, Galbraith set up a little-known company, Porcupine
, that holds a five percent interest in newly-developed oil fields in--guess where?--yep--Kurdistan.

Of course, Galbraith has provided a very peculiar truth in defense of his actions:

“The business interest, including my investment into Kurdistan, was consistent with my political views. These were all things that I was promoting, and in fact, have brought considerable benefit to the people of Kurdistan, the Kurdistan oil industry, and also to shareholders."

Sorry for my lack of eloquence, but ... Well, duh!

His working diligently for the autonomy of his business partners who, if they were to become freer, would favor him with better business deals, which stand to gain him hundreds of millions is no conflict of interest at all. No conflict of his interest.

However, Peter, that is not the issue at all. As Reider Visser, a historian of southern Iraq, has put it:

“Galbraith has been such a central person to the shaping of the Iraqi Constitution, far more than I think most Americans realize. All those beautiful ideas about principles of federalism and local communities having control are really cast in a different light when the community has an oil field in its midst and Mr. Galbraith has a financial stake."

Galbraith says that the Kurds knew about his business dealings while dealing with them and that he had no obligation to tell US and Iraqi officials about his negotiations.

Perhaps Galbraith is right. Maybe he actually didn't have a legal obligation to tell folks what he was up to. But did he not have a moral obligation to let us know what exactly was motivating his actions?

After all, this man has been a vigorous "liberal hawk." His voice helped add legitimacy to the invasion of Iraq. He has strongly fought for the Kurds. He has written op-ed pieces, he's met with other officials and diplomats, he has been on Fox News and Bill O'Reilly advocating these positions. And people took him for his word, took his words as displays of conviction, because they thought he was a dedicated public official, strongly professing all "those beautiful ideas about principles of federalism and local communities having control." But what he was really doing, we can only assume, was trying to line his own pockets.

Now, it's not as though Galbraith's "Advocacy for Oil" is the only example of this. I've already complained about Rep. Mike Ross's enriching himself in a shady land deal with Drug USA while working his ass off trying to stop the public option. I've gone red in the face, screaming about Billy Tauzin's giving the pharmaceutical companies billions with his Medicaid Prescription Drug Bill only to immediately resign and become Pharma's main lobbyist for millions a year. We all know about Duke Cunningham's taking money for military contracts--possibly putting our troops in danger in order to put more money in his pocket. And the Interior Department was tarred-and-feathered last year for Sex-for-Oil scandal.

Obama, to his credit, has tried to at least address the "revolving door" between government officials and their powerful business cronies: where both parties go back and forth, trying to regulate the industries they once worked for and/or may work for one day while trying to regulate or neglecting to regulate their former/future employers. Apparently, with far too many people, when the common good is measured against their own, private interests, the former inevitably suffers. And their actions simply cannot be trusted. I mean, can we really think that Galbraith's actions were solely enacted out of his principles of federalism and local control? Can we not imagine the dollar signs floating in his eyes every time he acted on behalf of the Kurds? Can we think that former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's only concern for Goldman Sachs (where he used to be CEO) was driven solely by his need to "save the economy"? Might he have had other motives? Did those motives allow him to see Lehman go down in flames? After all, Goldman Sachs is now making record profits! And do we think that current Treasury Secretary Timothy "Eraserhead" Geithner's might--just might--be hesitant to come down hard on all these financial institutions because they are all his cronies?

But Obama has faced immense challenges in closing this revolving door, has left many vital positions vacant because of this policy, and has actually let a few go through despite this policy. And one can't foresee these problems resolving themselves any time soon.

It seems to me, with the demise of LBJ's War on Poverty and, subsequently, liberalism and the rise of conservatism, that slowly "Greed is Good" has overwhelmed the concept of the "Common Good." When you look at FDR's New Dealers and the children of the New Deal in the JFK and LBJ administrations, you see a full embrace that government can indeed solve systemic problems, that our government, a liberal democracy, is here to solve those problems, to provide the greatest good for the greatest amount of people. Classic liberals (including our forefathers, for that is what they were) believed that democracy was placed here to free the people--from the tyranny of the monarchy, from the excesses of government from itself, and, with the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, the tyranny of the majority. These core beliefs, in the middle of the last century, gave us the strengthening of unions, the successes of the Civil Rights movement, social security, Medicare and Medicaid, the national highway system, along with many other "rights" and services that we still take for granted.

With these victories did come some overreaching. LBJ and Sarge Shriver's belief that they could actually end poverty did create a culture of dependence among welfare recipients. And it was a vital critique conservatives provided (if they only would've canned the racial shit) when addressing that fact. However, as conservatives often do, they threw out the baby with the bath water. And when Reagan declared, "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem," he provided a fundamental shift within the workings of our own government.

People started entering government because they wanted to dismantle government, and they wanted to illustrate, with as many examples as possible, that government indeed does not work. However, if government were actually the problem and if it actually did not work, what was the solution to this problem?

The only answer available, of course, was business. So, for the past 30 years, we have seen our government moving more and more towards to making more money-making opportunities for the money-makers in the name of the "Common Good" but oftentimes running counter to that good. We have seen waves of deregulation. We have seen the privatization of public utilities. You see city after city using tax dollars that they'll never recoup to pay for stadiums for billionaires. You see multi-billion-dollar, multinational corporations like Wal-Mart receive debilitating tax breaks to build stores in their towns, though they consistently lose money in the deal. You see politicians trading favors with their corporate contributors, driving up our national debt in order to give them government contracts the government doesn't need while levees rot in disrepair in Louisiana. And we see these politicians, their staffers, and government bureaucrats trading in their public paychecks for much bigger, private ones, cashing in on their access to government for their own wealth.

And the rest of us suffer for their newfound wealth. After all, despite all its flaws, liberal democracy's overall concern is the "Common Good." And, while prosperity is the concern of almost any government, Business's overriding concern is making money. And more times than not, that concern runs completely counter to the Common Good. When we have government officials whose interests run in both camps, can we really expect the Common Good to truly be served? After all, at any time, they can cash in for some real money, discretely sliding their resumes to the very people they are supposed to be regulating.

It's a critical question we need to be asking ourselves right now. We are now being poisoned by the fruits of the "Greed is Good" credo that our own politicians seem to still be obeying. The deregulation of the S&Ls led to our bailing them out in '89. Our privatization of public utilities led to Enron. Glass-Steagall's repeal led us to our current financial crisis.

Can we expect our astronomic national debt to be reduced when politicians don't want to raise taxes for fear of being booted out of office but they still want to dole out public largess to their corporate contributors? Can we really expect Barney Frank to re-regulate these financial institutions when they give him so much money? We are witnessing first-hand the power that the health care industry's contributions, how that power will almost definitely succeed in thwarting real health care reform. Won't the same thing happen with any kind of environmental legislation Congress may dream up? Is there any issue, any area of concern, any arena in which we can trust any of our politicians will act in the interests of the Common Good?

Galbraith has proved yet another example (let's not forget Halliburton) that we can't trust them when it comes to our own foreign policy. Geithner, Paulson, et. al, have proved it in this latest financial crisis.

Everywhere we turn, we are looking at really tough decisions that our leaders have to make. And they have to make it for the Common Good. Our health care crisis was largely caused by our health insurers; the financial crisis, by our financial institutions; it shouldn't matter what is best for them. What does matter is what is best for all of us. The same goes for Iraq and Afghanistan. And too many other things to list in this already overly long blog post. What we need are the public servants of old, the LBJs and the Sarge Shrivers of the world, the people who wanted to do what was best for this country. Instead, we're saddled with the Geithners and Tauzins of the world, who are only concerned with lining their own pockets.

Lord help us all.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

My BS NFL Predictions -- 1/2way Thru

Well, New Jersey governor-elect Chris Cristie's campaign has ignited an entire and utterly complete political wave of "accountability" and "personal responsibility" never before felt in our elected officials!

With Rep. Mike Ross no longer taking personal money from the drug companies and voting for the public option and Rep. Barney Frank eschewing all that big, beautiful banking money and cracking down on our nation's financially- and morally-bankrupt financial institutions, I have caught the fever as well!

So, in my first act of personal accountability, I have to decided to hold myself ... well, I guess, accountable for the BS NFL predictions I made at the beginning of the season.

Let's see how I've done so far.

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: No matter how whack these predictions turn out to be, they can't be any worse than my 2-7 fantasy football season. So please keep in mind that I, like my fellow NFL owner-aspirant, Rush Limbaugh, am simply talking out of my ass.]

NFC East


1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. New York Giants
3. Dallas Cowboys
4. Washington Redskins


1. Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
2. Philadelphia Eagles (5-3)
3. New York Giants (5-4)
4. Washington Redskins (2-6)

I originally predicted that the Eagles were the team to beat here. I still hold that to be true. You just have no clue what Eagles are gonna show up. One week, they dismantle the Giants like they were the Oakland Raiders, or something. But a couple weeks before, they actually lost to the Oakland Raiders.

The Giants are even more schizoid than that. They start off the season going 5-0 and then have dropped the next four straight. But when you have Nazi leadership (aka Tom Coughlin), you've gotta expect your boys to be streaky. You blitz through Poland and storm through the USSR and then find yourself stalled at Leningrad's city gates. No, I don't expect a million people to die as a result of the Giants' season. What I figure is, they'll get their act together this week and streak all the way to the playoffs and possibly the Super Bowl.

Hey, did you know there was a Finnish rock band called the Leningrad Cowboys? According to Wikipedia, they are known for their "humorous songs, ludicrous hairstyles and concerts featuring the Russian military band Alexandrov ensemble."

Those hairstyles are ludicrous!

And so is the Cowboys' success (SEGUE!!!). Their schedule hasn't been too heavy, but I'm still a little surprised. The only consolation is that a Tony Romo-led team couldn't possibly win a Super Bowl.

And a Daniel Snyder-owned football team apparently cannot even win a single game. Until the day that the Nashville Niggers take the field against the Kansas City Kikes, I will forever hate Washington's football team's name (no, I guess then I'd hate three horribly-named teams instead of just one). And as long as that little Napoleon continues to own the Foreskins, I will forever wish them ill. However, I have to thank them for giving me the football highlight of the year: their giving the Detroit Lions their first win in twenty friggin' games! That was just beautiful.

NFC South


1. Carolina Panthers
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. New Orleans Saints


1. New Orleans Saints (8-0)
2. Atlanta Falcons (5-3)
3. Carolina Panthers (3-5)
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7)

Please don't let it ever be said that Bill Campbell can't smoke himself up some crack now. Little did we know, he was apparently on a five-week bender when he made the abovementioned prediction.

I originally thought this division was a toss-up. We all know Carolina's about as inconsistent as they come. And they still are (I mean, who loses to Buffalo?), but they are consistently coming up with the short end of the stick.

I thought Atlanta wasn't going to be as good as they were last year. They seem to be about the same. And, wishful thinking on my part, I thought Tampa would be a little better. Who knows, though? That rookie QB of theirs, Josh Freeman, looked like an absolute beast last week against Green Bay.

The real surprise, of course, is New Orleans. I still don't think you can outscore your way to a Super Bowl, but we shall see.

NFC North


1. Chicago Bears
2. Minnesota Vikings
3. Green Bay Packers
4. Detroit Lions


1. Minnesota Vikings (7-1)
2. Chicago Bears (4-4)
3. Green Bay Packers (4-4)
4. Detroit Lions (1-7)

All right, I was gonna make some excuses for the Bears, saying something like, "It must be harder to integrate a new quarterback into your team than I thought." But I guess Brett Favre proves that one false.

Of course, Jay Cutler ain't no Favre and Matt Forte certainly ain't Adrian Peterson. Mrs. Unknown would be really pissed if I say anything nice about Favre. Seriously, I haven't seen her hate an athlete this virulently since the time she found out that steroid-popping Mark McGwire also had special contacts made to see the ball better. I will say this about the Vikes, though: that recent loss to the Steelers proved that they aren't quite ready for prime time.

Aside from that, the Bears are a lot weaker than I'd originally imagined and the Packers much stronger. The Lions looked damned good against the Redskins last month, but that was just a big ole Battle of the Suck. I'd like to see where they go in a couple of years.

NFL West


1. Seattle Seahawks
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. Arizona Cardinals
4. St. Louis Rams


1. Arizona Cardinals (5-3)
2. San Francisco 49ers (3-5)
3. Seattle Seahawks (3-5)
4. St. Louis Rams (1-7)

Face it, this is a crap division. What was I supposed to say? I think Arizona's #1 by default. Seattle is once again plagued by injuries. St. Louis is, well, now we know what happened to the World Class Wrecking Crew.

But I said it before, San Fran is where my heart is this season. They've still got QB issues, but Mike Singletary's got these guys on the right page. Sure, they're 3-5, but they started out 3-1; and they're dead even on Points Against and Points For. They're tough and are only gonna get tougher.

AFC East


1. New England Patriots
2. Miami Dolphins
3. Buffalo Bills
4. New York Jets


1. New England Patriots (6-2)
2. New York Jets (4-4)
3. Miami Dolphins (3-5)
4. Buffalo Bills (3-5)

OK, I have hated the New England Patriots since Sunday, January 27, 2002. Yeah, that's when the Pats rolled into Heinz Field, bleary-eyed from watching all that videotape, and totally dominated the Steelers on their way to their first Super Bowl victory. Look yall, I'm tired of the hate. I need to move on. I've got a kid now. But the rest of the NFL keeps falling for their Jedi mind tricks, falling for the okey-doke every week, never realizing that they don't have a real running back and their D actually kinda sucks, and let's the Pats come away with yet another victory. I'd actually be impressed--if my hate wasn't so great.

I'd originally predicted the Jets to be in last place (for which I got some crap). But I'm impressed with how Matt Sanchez can put down the hot dogs long enough to eke out a victory here and there.

The big disappointment here has got to be Buffalo (Miami has a pretty good injury excuse). I mean, how the hell can you have two of the most dangerous wide receiver threats in T.O. and Lee Evans and still throw mostly to your running backs and tight ends?! It just boggles the mind. But I guess that's why QB Evans is called "Check-Down Trent."

AFC South


1. Tennessee Titans
2. Indianapolis Colts
3. Houston Texans
4. Jacksonville Jaguars


1. Indianapolis Colts (8-0)
2. Houston Texans (5-4)
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4)
4. Tennessee Titans (2-6)

I know some look at Peyton and Eli Manning and argue that they are poster boys for why cousins should never be allowed to marry. Aesthetically, I think they may have a point there. But athletically ... you gotta admit, the Mannings were onto something, doubling up their athletic abilities so that their progeny could be as dominant as they now are.

Like the Patriots and Tom Brady, Peyton and the Colts know how to win. I don't think the Colts are 8-0 material. But we're going to see just how good they are. In the past two weeks, they have lost starting linebacker, Tyjuan Hagler, S Bob Sanders, and CB Marlin Jackson. Indy was fairly vulnerable to the run before. You gotta think folks are just going "three yards and a cloud of dust" on them the rest of the year--if only to keep the ball out of Manning's hands.

The biggest disappointment this year has got to be Tennessee. I often say that water seeks its own level, and, when it comes to Kerry Collins, apparently so does urine. Because his performance this year has been the definition of piss-poor. After leading the Titans to an 0-6 start and that 13-3 season last year a distant memory, Fisher finally benched Collins for Vince Young, who has been living up to all that Heisman hype these past two games. It'll be interesting to see just how far they can turn it around. And let's hope Houston finally makes the playoffs.

AFC North


1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. Cincinnati Bengals
4. Cleveland Browns


1. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)
3. Baltimore Ravens (4-4)
4. Cleveland Browns (1-7)

Oh, like you saw Cincy's starting the season 6-2. I've always been a Marv Lewis fan. So, I'm sorta glad he's righted the ship so far. Let's see how long it lasts (if I sound snarky, don't forget I am a Pittsburgh native). I would be worried except the Steelers are on to that Jedi mind trick shit, too, and own the AFC North.

The Ravens are a little disappointing. The D is getting kind of old, and Ed Reed simply can't be everywhere--though it sure does seem like he is. I wonder if this year will finally convince B'more that they actually need a wide receiver who's not paying AARP dues if they're ever going to get anywhere. Well, I'm a Steeler fan, so I certainly hope not.

The Browns ... hm ... well ...

Here! Maybe these Jim Brown highlights will cheer ya up!!!

AFC West


1. San Diego Chargers
2. Oakland Raiders
3. Denver Broncos
4. Kansas City Chiefs


1. Denver Broncos (6-2)
2. San Diego Chargers (5-3)
3. Oakland Raiders (2-6)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (1-7)

When it comes to pretenders to the throne, the Steelers are singing "Don't Believe the Hype" so often that Chuck D. and the Bomb Squad must be rolling in the royalties. (Yeah, I went a long way for that one). Denver was the latest victim. I can't believe, with Kyle Orton, that Denver's doing as well as they are. But after Monday's game, defenses are going to believe, with Kyle Orton, Denver can't throw the ball down field. I imagine the Orange Crush is about to lose its fizz.

The only problem for San Diego is that LT has gone totally swish and can't be in the least bit depended on. In some ways, I wish they'd shed the Norv Turner Curse and finally win one. But it's so much fun making fun of Norv Turner, it wouldn't seem right for them to win.


My initial BS playoff teams were the G-Men, Minnesota, Seattle, Carolina, Philadelphia, and Chicago for the NFC, and New England, Indy, San Diego, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Tennessee for the AFC.

Well, obviously, Tennessee ain't gonna make it, but the others still have a shot. I also had Pittsburgh and Philly meeting in the Super Bowl. I have a sneaking suspicion it's going to be the Giants, but we shall see ...

We ... shall ... see ...


Health Care Quote of the Day

"We won because [the Democrats] need us. If they are going to summarily dismiss us by taking the pen to that language, there will be hell to pay. I don't say it as a threat, but if they double-cross us, there will be 40 people who won't vote with them the next time they need us -- and that could be the final version of this bill."

-- Rep. Bart Stupak, D[?]-Michigan

Yeah, the Congressman is happier than a pig in shit getting his anti-choice amendment passed and attached to the House's health care bill. And now he's feeling his oats, daring the President and Senate to take the amendment out of the final legislation.

Of course, as the Washington Monthly has pointed out, Stupak only brought 10 votes and not 40 and probably doesn't have the swagger to pull off his threat. Hopefully, they're right and someone finds the chutzpah to hit the Delete button on the Stupak Amendment before it's too late.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans' Day, Fam

Richard Frazier (Grandfather, Army -- WWII -- Pacific Campaign)

Richard C. Frazier (Uncle, Marines)

Robert Frazier (Uncle, Marines -- Vietnam)

Raymond Frazier (Uncle, Marines)

Garfield Campbell (Uncle, Army)

Eloise Frazier (Aunt, Navy, Army Reserves, Air Force Reserves)

Duane Campbell (Cousin, Navy)

Adam Campbell (Half-Brother, Army -- Iraq)

Thanks, yall! And thanks to all the non-fam, too!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just Say "No," Washington ... PLEASE!!!

Like that festering forehead herpe that just will not go away, GMAC is up on Capitol Hill begging for more of our tax dollars to bail their venereal asses out yet again.

No, that $12.5 billion we've already given them apparently was not enough. Of course, how could it have been? GMAC is the only financial institution that has the dubious distinction of failing Geithner's bullshit pass/pass "stress test." The private sector will not touch their toxic asses and give them the capital needed to stay afloat. Yet, they expect--probably in private quarters, demand--that we give them more money to keep them going--so they can ask for more money--so we can bail them out again--so they can ask for more money--so we can ...

Any family who has ever had to deal with an addict knows this cycle well. And no, the folks at GMAC, on all of Wall Street, for that matter, are not the paragons of society they proclaim to be. They're not the "Masters of the Universe," or the savvy businessmen that have "made America great." No, they are addicts. They are crackheads!

Think about it.

These Great American Business Leaders have taken the American family's trust, the same family that gave them all the advantages in the world, who has raised them since they were mere pups, fed them and clothed them, educated and loved them. We believed in them and sent them out in the world to carve their own paths. We seldom regulated their behavior, which was, perhaps, our fault, thinking them responsible adults. We just knew they would do the right thing. We raised them right, after all. They knew that their prosperity was supposed to be our prosperity, too.

So, we forgave them their transgressions and their excesses. We turned a blind eye to much of what they were doing. Only to find that they were getting high off our hog the whole time, robbing us blind while we had our back turned. And now we've lost our homes and our jobs and they've cleaned out our bank accounts.

What we have found out is that these "financiers" are nothing but the greatest junkies America has ever seen--bring the entire American family--and a bunch of our European cousins--down with their addiction to quick riches and their total, criminal disregard for personal responsibility. For they know that Uncle will bail them out if they ever get in over their heads. And he won't even give them a hassle over it--blithely giving them a brand new Hummer when they've gone and fucked up the Porsche.

It's Uncle's fault, of course. They whined and pouted for more responsibility so in 1980, he deregulated their savings and loans. Not seeing the good time they were having, he even decided to no longer restrict their investment opportunities in '82. Cocaine was king, and they lost their minds. And Uncle bailed had to bail them out in '87. That was when they knew they had him. They knew they could get high as a kite, "borrow" all the money they wanted, and never have to pay it back.

Even with Uncle's "War on Drugs," he decided to take it easy on these crackheads. The "gangbangers" got the list of drug offenses expanded, mandatory minimum sentences, and Three Strikes legislation. But for his fam, Uncle repealed the Glass-Steagall Act and said, "Do whatever you want with the money! We love you, son!!!" And when Auntie Brooksley Born tried to regulate their drug use and their "over-the-counter derivatives," Uncle brought down the hammer of God and fired her ass.

And look where all this indulgence has gotten us? Totally, utterly, and royally screwed. And these crackhead capitalists know it. But just like Samuel L. in Jungle Fever, they know that if they just did their little "Happy Dance," Uncle will dutifuly play Ruby D. and pony up the cash--even though the cupboards are dry and she's borrowing milk and sugar from her Chinese neighbor.

But these crackheads ain't your momma's crackheads. Those crackheads had humility. They'd beg you for money. They'd get out their squeegees and clean (well, dirty, really) your windows and earn the chump change you gave them to feed their habits.

No. They ain't Sammy L. in Jungle Fever. They ain't even Halle Berry or that ashy-skinned, crusty-lipped dope fiend in Menace II Society begging to fellate you so they could get their eyes. No. Those crackheads understood the value of a dollar, knew how hard you had to work to get that dollar, and were willing to get their knees dirty and put the work in to get that dollar from you.

No. These fools ain't got a humble bone in their bodies. They are not the down-on-their-luck, end-of-the-road dope fiend we knew in the '90s. These fools are Superfly, Ron O'Neal pimp-shit crackheads. They're all decked out in their gold-plated platform shoes, mink coats, and fur-lined fedoras. They ain't begging for that dollar. They're smashing bottles over Uncle's head, screaming, "Where my money at, bitch?!"

They ain't offering to suck nobody's dick. And you don't want them to, either, cause that $100,000 gold-and-diamond-encrusted grill they're sporting is razor-sharp, ready to turn you castrato singing their tune:

"Ay, Papi, please don't go
Don't you know we love you so
Ay, Papi!"

Just listen to the way Geithner, Congress, and Obama talk about these fools. Balls are missin', people!

Balls ... are ... missin'!

But it's not too late, yall. Congress, find your inner Warren G. and regulate. Tell GMAC, "Hell to the No!" If you have to, go all O-Dog on 'em (minus the blatant psychosis and homophobia, of course)--or better yet, give them some of that Ossie Davis, "wrath of God" tough love shit. While they're busy doing that Happy Dance before your eyes, pull out your whistle and put in some work. Lord knows, letting GMAC go down and a couple of bullets--named Glass and Steagall--in their asses should have thse fools in AA (Assholes Anonymous) in no time flat.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Last night, I took the opportunity to support a co-worker (I won't tell you which one because then you can break my blogger "code") and dove headlong into DC's underground hip-hop scene. I don't know how far talent gets you in this world, but Redhead (who loses points for calling me "sir" after the show--or should he gain points? hm...), Mathpanda, the Read a Book brutha (who is actually quite brilliant), and Arda Mus and Metaphysical have a bunch of it. But before the show, something really disturbed me.

Here, this is how I explained it to Mrs. Unknown when I got back:

"I know people have been griping that hip-hop is dead and that it's stagnant and nothing new and/or worthwhile is going on. I've been defending them and all, chalking it up to aging and sour grapes. But ... well ... I don't know ...

"I mean, I remember back in '94, when I used to go to joints like this back in Atlanta [Author's Note: Yes, Willow weep for me, I used to run the streets fifteen friggin' years ago. Argh]. We used to hear all the hottest shit of the day, Wu-Tang, Black Moon, Gang Starr, Nas..."

"Can I guess what you're going to say?" Mrs. Unknown asked.

"Sure, babe."

"That's what you were listening to tonight?"



Saturday, November 7, 2009

Your Uterus Is Not a Public Option

The latest battleground in America's never-ending War of the Womb is now being fought over the public option provision in Congress's supposed health-care reform bill. As the Democrats' epic struggle to this legislation passed has now overtaken the Soviet Union's 1986 Five-Year Plan for 6th place in All-Time Examples of Political Ineptitude List, Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak has added an amendment to the bill that "would prevent federal subsidies from going to any insurance plans that cover abortion." According to The Hill, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are head-over-heels over the amendment and the Republicans are even supporting it.

Some had thought the GOP would torpedo the amendment to make the final bill unacceptable to pro-life Democrats in the hopes that they would torpedo it. Last month, Stupak threatened to kill the bill himself if he didn't get to add his stand-alone amendment.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, has seriously amped up the rhetoric, telling

"This will be one of the most important roll call votes that U.S. House members ever casts on a pro-life issue. Any lawmaker who votes against the Stupak-Pitts Amendment is, in effect, voting in favor of establishing a federal government program that will directly fund abortion on demand, with federal funds."

And how are Planned Parenthood and NARAL fighting back against this last-minute chicanery? Well, they're not, really.

Instead, Planned Parenthood has gone all passive-aggressive and are currently holding a campaign for donations in Bart Stupak's name. So, you can donate here in the Bartster's name and ask PP to send a thank-you card to the man.

Yeah. That'll show 'em. I guess if Stupak and Crew decided to outlaw abortion throughout the country, NARAL would send them a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates!

Now, Stupak actually is a pro-life Democrat, so his motives aren't as duplicitous and/or morally bankrupt and driven by personal and campaign contributions like his fellow anti-public option Dems, Mike Ross and Max Baucus. But it is interesting to see that AFLAC, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Humana are among his top campaign contributors and that health professionals gave this Blue Dog $103,688 during the last campaign cycle.

No never mind. It doesn't really matter whether Stupak's amendment is due to a principled attempt to provide federally-funded abortions or a capitalized attempt to kill health care legislation for his powerful donors. What does matter is that, once again, the Dems have proven that, even when given overwhelming majorities with which to govern, we can count on them to accept defeat at the drop of a hat, to sabotage their own efforts, and to never govern using Democratic principles.


The Song I Can't Get out of My Head This Morning


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Way to Go, Buccos!!!

I've just finished watching the thirtieth World Series in which you have not appeared. And I just thought yinz--as an organization--as the Pittsburgh Pirates of Willie Stargell, Big and Lil' Poison, Roberto Clemente, and Honus Wagner fame--deserved a big, fat round of applause!!!

I mean, thirty friggin' years of futility! You have got to deliberately go out of your way to pull that off. I mean, you couldn't have accidentally slipped and fell into the World Series.

Think about it! Thirty years!

The last time the Pittsburgh Pirates--the Pittsburgh Pirates of Willie Stargell, Big and Lil' Poison, Roberto Clemente, and Honus Wagner fame--went to and won the World Series, a group of doe-eyed, scruffy-faced college students rushed into the American embassy and took a whole bunch of Americans hostages--bringing a superpower to its knees and causing an American president to lose an election. Did you know one of those students is now the president of his country?

Yeah ... this guy.

Seriously, take a look at him. Sure, he's still scruffy-faced (and, well, a bit cross-eyed), but he sure as hell ain't no student no more. Those youthful days are far behind this guy.

And these guys, too.

Those are the 1979 Pirates today!!!

And as old and fat as these guys are, I still bet they'd beat the 2009 Pirates in a best-of-seven series!!!

Did you know the Soviets ...

No, no, no ... not the Soviettes. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979--forever showing empires that they should never invade that place. Thank God we all learned that lesson.

Well, I just learned that Flo was the #6 show of 1979!

Do you think that's where Flo Rida got his name?

Well, you think on that awhile. Meanwhile, why don't you listen to the #53 song of 1979--the song that the 1979 Pirates took as their theme song?

Do you know who else had hit songs in 1979?

Cheap Trick, Peaches and Herb, Village People, Electric friggin' Light Orchestra, Leif Garrett!!!, Gino Vannelli, and Randy VanWarmer!!!

When was the last time you heard anything from these people?

Oh yeah ... I guess the last time I heard anything from you ....


And who the fuck was Randy VanWarmer?!!!

Oh ... wow ... geez ...

Well then ... what the fuck were yinz takin' back in '79?!!!

Oh yeah ... World Series rings.

But not since. Nope. Not you, Buccos!

Oh sure, you flirted with the idea back in '90, '91, and '92--before this douchebag decided to sue his wife for alimony and take steroids!!!

Seriously, Barry, couldn't you have taken the syringe, bulked up, unclenched your sphincter and de-choke-ified your larynx and given us at least one World Series before you left Pittsburgh?

But no. You choked and left, forever dashing our hopes. After 1979, we had to suffer the abysmal Johnny Ray '80s. We had a little hope with Bonds, Bonilla, and Van Sylke in the late '80s/early '90s. But since 1992, we Pirates fans have not only not seen the World Series nor even the playoffs, we haven't even seen a fucking winning season, you FUCOPs!!!

That's 17 years!!!


Bill Clinton had just been George H.W. Bush for the White House! Ross Perot and "fuzzy math" were all the rage! People actually thought Dana Carvey was funny!!!

Black folks wore X hats! White folks kept talking about The Crying Game! Boyz II Men had the #1 song of the year with "End of the Road" (cough, gag, vomit all over the keyboard, wipe off, finish up rant)!!!!

Hell, this time seventeen years ago, in 1992, Barry Bonds was about to leave the Pirates forever and Dr. Dre was about to drop The Chronic.

Pittsburgh baseball and hip-hop have never been the same since.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Poor Deeds -- The Creigh Don't Rise

Poor Creigh Deeds,

I know you've done all you could to win Virginia's governorship. You pulled off the surprise primary victory against Brian Moran and that corksucker Terry McAuliffe. You've rubbed elbows with the ultimate Virginia King Maker, Poohbutt. You've tried to ride Obama's coat tails while he was popular--tried cutting them off when his poll numbers dropped--and then begged to mend those britches since your own poll numbers remained down. You've apparently even hucked it up twice with yours truly (or so I've been told--I really and truly don't remember--talk about self-importance!).

The biggest gift would seem to be the fact that your Republican opponent, Bob McDonnell, is a Pat Robertson rightwing nutjob who once hated (hates?) working women, homosexuals, and "fornicators" and wants to convert the Taliban to Christ--not to mend the errors of their ways but to improve their efficiency (OK, I made that one up).

Unfortunately for Deeds, Democrats, and all us political junkies, Virginia always votes against the White House. If there's a Republican in the White House, there'll be a Democrat in Richmond and vice versa. It's been that way since WWII, or some craziness like that. There ain't nothin' you can do about it, Creigh.

The same goes for Gov. Corzine over in Jersey. Apparently, Virginians and New Jersey--ites?, oddly enough, have been voting in tandem since 1989 and have voted against the White House each time.

You're just a victim of history, Creigh. There was nothing you could do. Unfortunately for the rest of us, we're going to be victims of the punditocracy. They're going to conveniently forget the history behind these off-year elections and fill our mediated existences with "What does this mean for Obama?"

It don't mean shit. It's just history playing itself out. Of course, it won't stop the soap opera, duh-duh-DAHH!!! weepy-eyed, slavering-jawed reporting talking about the "referendum on Obama," how "Obama is really struggling with his message," and "Obama's agenda is really in trouble." At least the melodrama will be a nice prelude for when the Dems lose a bunch of House and Senate seats next year in the mid-terms--as the party in power always does in the midterms (the noted exception being the Bush Babee in '03).

Ya know, in a way, I feel sorrier for the rest of us than I do Creigh Deeds. I mean, yeah, it's gonna be a blow to the ego to lose a governor's race--especially to a guy who beat you by, like, one vote for the Lieutenant Governor seat a few years back. But at least Deeds is a victim of history. Whether the pundits remember that or not, they'll either blame historical trends or an "anti-Obama wave." They'll never blame Deeds himself. He'll ultimately be able to deflect blame for his failure. But the rest of us are gonna have to listen to the bullshit for years to come--until The Big Brother is re-elected in '12.