Saturday, October 28, 2006

Odds And Ends

Weird news this week. Four firefighters died in the low desert. That caused a good deal of momentary anxiety as the youngest of the brothers has been with the California Department of Forestry long enough to retire this coming May. It turned out that someone other than my sister-in-law and nieces will learn that daddy won’t be coming home. A couple of punk arsonists took action that cost lives and the rewards are up to half a meg. Too bad we have this humane execution law. Somebody should take those b******s out with a blow torch.

Something completely unrelated is the mid-term congressional election. The gloves are finally off and the mud is flying. Republicans cannot defend the administration’s Iraq war prosecution, so they have let the world know that anyone who opposes the war in Iraq is soft on terrorism. Then they go on to point out that having a Democratically controlled congress will weaken the military. And the deaths of nearly a hundred Americans this month didn’t? How about the quarter of a trillion dollars that was borrowed to follow that ill advised course? Did that buy us a new aircraft carrier a dozen or so cruisers and new squadrons of destroyers and submarines?

Unfortunately, there is no way to pull out of Iraq without condemning it to an everlasting civil war.

Iraq is a quagmire pure and simple, no matter what the Minister Of Information … oops …. make that Secretary of Defense says.

I have been against invading Iraq from the beginning. I have taken exception to the war’s prosecution time and again, and I have seriously doubted the wisdom of how the information from the war was disseminated. Time seems to have proven me right. Too bad they didn’t listen, huh?

This is not the best time of the year to go to a funeral and it looks like about a hundred American families will soon be going through that experience if they haven’t already. The ever lasting shame of it is that not a one was necessary.

The alternative is equally bleak. Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. Somebody stop me!

Today is Saturday the 28th. Most of the Halloween celebrations will take place tonight. That’s too bad, as I have a mandatory commitment tonight and I would like to see all the tricycle motors in full spooky regalia. I understand pirates are big this year. I do have a bag of the small Snickers stuck away for the room mates to hand out to the munchkins.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Book Report

I am rarely moved to tears by movie or reading matter. The only time I can recall crying in a movie was in the final scenes of Ray. I wasn’t by myself; I could hear snuffling throughout the theater.

S.M. Stirling is an author of sci-fi thrillers. His past few efforts have been in the realm of alternate history or alternate universes. Peshawar Lancers and Conquistador were stand alone novels which were excellent examples of each. They both followed a formula with macho dudes and fabulous femme fatales.

His alternate universe trilogy, Island In Time, was followed by the off-shoot Dies The Fire which also grew into a trilogy wherein he got a little more risqué and delved into religious and political foundations.

All well and good. Stirling is an excellent word smith in the league of Orson Scott Card and Arthur C. Clarke. His plots, while usually predictable, are well thought out and stand up to the kind of mental nit-picking I find myself doing these days.

The most recent installment of Dies The Fire, A Meeting In Corvallis, takes an unexpected and emotionally moving turn at the climax. Whereupon the tears. Let me recommend it highly, as it is a departure from the usual.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

How Much Is Too Much?

Mark Foley’s behavior toward male Congressional Pages has triggered a number of investigations. The House Ethics Committee has appointed a sub-committee to hear closed door testimony. — America is alleged by some to be a democracy. How come this is happening behind closed doors? — The Speaker Of The House has called in the FBI, Florida is conducting a criminal investigation, and The Holy Mother Church is looking into the history of the now-retired priest who may or may not have sodomized Foley decades ago. To top it off the Washington Post has loosed its investigative reporters.

I, for one, would call all this activity intense scrutiny. So far, so bad. There has yet to be a hint of illegality in his past actions. Tawdry? Yes. Repugnant? Most assuredly. Reprehensible? I hope to smile. But did he do anything illegal? Sure don’t look like it, Buckwheat.

His departure from Congress was a major coup on his part. By resigning, he put himself beyond the jurisdiction of the House to take any punitive action and he became a retired member of congress. Because of the largesse Congress bestowed upon itself over the years, he will receive a pension equivalent to his full salary, benefits will continue unabated, and we taxpayers get to rent him an office and provide a small staff.

Now a word to all you investigators: If your morbid curiosity is driving you to find the inside poop on Riders of the Hershey Highway, you might try starting at Market and Castro in San Francisco and working your way south.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Is It Weird Out Here Or What?

The news today makes me wonder if I’m on the right planet. The first eye catching item was about the Texas Death Row killer who committed suicide less than a day before he was scheduled to meet Mr. Needle. Could it be that he was that anxious to explore the veracity of reincarnation?

In international news, Our Idiot In Washington pledged to come to Japan’s aid in case the big, bad N Koreans get frisky with their new nukes. I reckon that will happen right after he teaches the Iraqi Tar Baby a lesson or two.

In another wonder of technology that borders on sacrilege, someone came up with Ray Charles’ voice tracks by stripping away everything but Ray from a series of live recordings of a European tour. That was combined with the music of the surviving remnants of the Count Basie Orchestra. The new CD is called Ray Sings ************ Basie Swings.

Then there is my pet peeve this month: The House Ethics Committee is conducting closed door hearings into Mark Foley’s extra-curricular activities with former Congressional pages. I have labeled it “Much Ado About Very Damned Little.” In three weeks of intense investigation there has been not the slightest hint of any illegality. What the hell are those twits investigating, anyway? Another question: how come closed doors? And yet another question: with all the FBI agents assigned to the case won’t the economy take a big hit from the drop in donut sales?

And the sane news balancing off the nuttiness is this: A poll shows that most of the electorate is fed up with Congress. Jeesh! You woulda thought that I conducted it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

We Got Nothin’ To Hide

Joel Chandler Harris stories in The Uncle Remus series gave us the Tar Baby icon popularized by Disney.

As one story goes, Brer Rabbit was walking down the road one day when he happened on the Tar Baby sitting to the side. He greeted the Tar Baby, who of course, was incapable of responding. Whereupon he decided to punch the Tar Baby for not speaking to him.

Brer Rabbit was infuriated when he found his fist stuck fast to the Tar Baby; frustrated by the percieved lack of manners, he hit it with his other fist. That one got stuck, too. All the while Brer Rabbit is delivering invective, bombast, and what turned out to be empty threats. After ranting and raving for a while, Brer Rabbit kicked the Tar Baby. The foot became stuck, as well.

Here in America, Tar Baby has come to mean a morass in which one has become engulfed due to one’s own self centered and ill-considered actions.

The House Ethics Committee panel investigating the Mark Foley non-affair looks to be ready to swat the Tar Baby.

Let me explain.

One gay alcoholic placed in a position of power misused his power. Now then, no one has yet made any claim that laws were broken. So far all that has come to light is the sending of some inappropriate — I love that word — emails, some seriously disgusting Instant Messages, and a consensual sexual liaison with an adult former male page who returned to Washington as a government employee.

All along, Foley has exhibited a taste for teenagers and young men, but no one has accused him of having sex with an underage boy, and no one has come forward to claim that he actually had physical contact with any page.

A number of members and staffers of the House have spoken about warning each other of Foley’s proclivities and some have stated that they warned Foley off a course of action that was offensive to others.

Tawdry, right? Is this behavior worth closed door hearings and calling in the FBI?

By hiding an investigation that should be open and above board, the appearance is given that there is something to hide. This is not the first sex scandal involving Congress members and pages and probably will not be the last. Heretofore, the bad apples have been kicked out and new measures adopted to protect the high school juniors who make up the page staff. All done openly and in a forthright way.

Why the secrecy? Foley’s gone. Are more people in position of authority abusing pages? Did any of you guys hit the Tar Baby with something other than a fist or a foot?

By making a big issue of this stinky little mess, the House members involved — peripherally — are splashing the contents of the night jar all over themselves. Lots of luck election day which is next month.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

That Funky Old Crock At Walk And Wait

The Mark Foley much-ado-about-precious-little scandal is in the news again this morning. The usual yes you did, no I didn’t dialog via the press is ongoing. The select committee is deposing house members, their staffs, and house officers.

In the meantime, the vaunted FBI is busy investigating to see what laws were broken, if any. I guess I don’t have any pull. The last time I had occasion to report a fairly obvious violation of international child pornography laws, the person answering the phone at the local FBI office couldn’t get me off of it fast enough. (That was a few years ago when I received spam email featuring pictures of a girl I estimated to be about 12 performing fellatio and being sodomized.) They just weren’t interested in pursuing the matter of Russian children being abused for the amusement of pedophiles in this country.

Foley sent emails from Washington and his home state of Florida, neither of which currently have laws on the books dealing with the age of consent for homosexual or lesbian sex. (The age of consent for heterosexual sex is ages 16 and 17 respectively.) That being the case, I seriously doubt any statutes exist governing racy emails no matter the age of the sender or recipient. That leaves only Federal legislation which is notoriously lax on matters of internet morality, and even when there are laws, there is precious little enforcement. Nowadays they are seriously after purveyors of kiddy porn and more recently have torn into offshore internet gambling.

The House can’t touch Foley as he resigned and is no longer a member, even though he will continue to receive salary and benefits for the rest of his life. He openly admitted to being gay, and then committed himself to alcohol rehab. The investigators can’t get to him until he is released, so they have to content themselves with finding who was involved in “cover up.” If there was no crime, how can there be a cover up?

There has yet to be a complaint or allegation of any illegality in Foley’s doings, yet it would appear that an ant hill has been kicked over.

The Republicans get considerable support from the conservative Christian bloc, most of whose members view homosexuality as morally reprehensible if not a cardinal sin. I would suggest to one and all that there is probably more hanky-panky on high school band trips than has been hinted at here, but your local fifteen year old saxophonist isn’t an elected member of a law making body, which by all measure should be a cut above the average.

This matter will be left hanging during the congressional break for elections and it would appear that along with that, the Sword of Damocles will be hanging over a number of incumbent House and Senate members.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Some More Of That Walk And Wait

Over the years California has been a bellwether state. Comes to mind the Berkeley Free Speech Movement circa 1964, bikini bathing suits, etc.

This was the place where the Republican Party began to self destruct six years ago. Senator Dianne Feinstein the incumbent Democrat was being challenged by Tom Campbell, who had won the Republican Primary. La Feinstein should have been easy to beat on the issues. For instance, she was flaunting her assault weapons ban legislation; the sale of which was not materially affected by the legislation.

The California Republican Party refused to endorse the candidate those of us in rank and file had selected. It seems Campbell had run afoul of Newt Gengrich when he was serving in the House. Even though Gengrich was earlier forced to resign in disgrace, the party was still looking for its pound of flesh. Consequently, campaign funding was minimal and Tom’s boat sank.

That was the beginning.

The Neo-Con coalition is looking a little shaky nowadays. Women are losing their enthusiasm, the much ado about nothing Mark Foley scandal is taking its toll of fundamentalist Christian supporters, and all of us, regardless of party affiliation are really, really sick of the Iraq misadventure.

The Foley scandal is the hardest to figure out. I have separate email addresses for different functions. The two I’ve had the longest receive dozens of sexually explicit spam messages a week. This has been ongoing for years. It is obviously legal to solicit over the internet. So what if Foley has a taste for veal? No one has accused him of sending IM/email to anyone under the age of consent.

The investigation is going to be into the actions of other members of congress. The term being used is “cover up.” Let’s see; if someone tells me something about you that is distasteful, but not illegal am I required to report you? From what’s likely to happen to Hastert, I would say that’s the expectation.

This wacko affair has already cost the GOP one seat and if the upcoming hearings are as titillating as promised they can kiss another ten or so good-bye. As an unwanted side effect, this mess has spilled over into the Senate, and the Democrats who were figured underdogs a couple of weeks ago are now front runners.

One thing about it, what had been foreseen as a blah election has now become somewhat entertaining. Just think, Congress could buy another M1-A1 Abrams tank for the Iraqis to blow up for the amount of money they’re going to spend on the “hearings.”

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Somnolent Sunday

The local professional football teams are the AFC Oakland Raiders and the NFC San Francisco Forty Niners. In times gone past, each has been a powerhouse; between the two of them there are eight Vince Lombardi trophies. That was back when deBartolo owned the Niners and had a serious organization while the team across the bay had an active owner who had the good sense to hire the right people and stay out of their way.

That’s all changed now. Eddie deBartolo got caught bribing Louisiana’s Edwin Edwards to get a river boat gambling license. Can’t stay in the league if you are involved in gambling in any way, shape or form. His brother-in-law, John York took over the team, and the outstanding front office took a powder. The team hasn’t had many winning seasons since then.

The managing general partner of the Raiders, Al Davis, is a 77 year old shadow of his former self.

Both teams aspire to mediocrity these days as a .500 record would be a huge improvement over seasons past.

So guess what’s happening in the country’s fifth largest television market today? the 0-3 Raiders are at the 1-3 Forty Niners. And that’s the only game on the tube this afternoon. I think I’ll take a nap.

Friday, October 06, 2006

What Is Appropriate Or Inappropriate At The Corner Of Walk And Wait

Mark Foley, the former Florida Congressman, has declared himself gay and shuffled off to an alcohol rehab unit. He might as well be on Mars as far as his availability to investigators goes. The burgeoning scandal of his sending racy emails and text messages to former Congressional Pages is being seriously looked into.

In the meantime, Democrats are yelling “Cover up!” at top of their squeaky little voices, while the House Republican leadership is trying to figure out just who among their members need crucifying in order to quell the restless natives.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert is the leading candidate for immolation, and if convincing evidence is forthcoming, he is out of the House. Hastert is a wily old pol, having solicited an endorsement from Dubya in the matter —he must be really desperate to do that — and issuing a statement that any of his staffers who are besmirched in the witch hunt will be dealt with appropriately.

Elsewhere in the House, press releases are flying deploring inappropriate behavior and threatening even more appropriate action.

In the meantime, the former page whose parents complained of the racy emails and instant messages is now 21 years of age and living in Oklahoma City where he is working on the staff of Ernest Istook’s gubernatorial election campaign.

Now then, no matter what the laws of the various states may be on the legal age of consent, there are very few 16 year old kids who are virgins. (Sixteen being the age for acceptance as a Page.) Furthermore by that age they usually have developed their sexual identity, be it straight, gay, or lesbian. So, it is hard to imagine that a big, bad pervert took advantage of an innocent child. The D.C. age of consent is 16 for heterosexual activity, by the way. There is no statute governing the age of consent for lesbian or gay sex in the District.

The former page, Jordan Edmund, is represented by Stephen Jones, who as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVey’s attorney oversaw the leaking of every one of McVey’s privileged revelations to the Federal prosecuting team. I’ll bet the resulting biography from this would-be scandal can be titled The Fudge Packer And Blabbermouth Jones.

It looks like much ado about nothing, as it is not obvious that any laws were broken. The affair will be investigated by the House ethics committee and the FBI.

I think the money would be better spent on running all the illegal immigrants out of Georgia or someplace.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It’s A Wonder What You Can See At The Corner Of Walk And Wait

As was predicted a little over a week ago, the Sonoma County DA’s case against John Mark Karr — which was little more than smoke and mirrors — has been dropped.

Karr’s teaching credential was revoked because he had been arrested on these self-same charges. Since there is no case there was no conviction. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty almost mandates that his license be restored. To go along with this, Karr’s wife divorced him based on his arrest back 2001 resulting in the matter of severe civil damages suffered by him, his now ex-wife, and his sons.

The truly sad fact of all this is that had the prosecutors had the original evidence intact, it would have been impossible for a California court to find him guilty. They would have had to ship him off to Alabama where the statute of limitations would have more than likely precluded trial.

Oh, Joy! Incompetent cops, frizzed prosecutors, and a deviate make for an interesting combination. Particularly now that the deviate is free to walk the streets in the American city of his choosing and more than likely be able to teach at any school of his choosing. Why? Oh why, couldn’t the Boulder DA, Mary Lacy, have insisted on DNA testing being performed while he was still in Thailand?

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