Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Another Hero Has Died

Syndicated columnist, noted Texas liberal Molly Ivins dies
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Best-selling author and columnist Molly Ivins, the sharp-witted liberal who skewered the political establishment and referred to President Bush as "Shrub," has died after a long battle with breast cancer, the managing editor of the Texas Observer said Wednesday. Ivins was 62.

The writer, who made a living poking fun at Texas politicians, whether they were in her home base of Austin or the White House, revealed in early 2006 that she was being treated for breast cancer for the third time.

"Molly was a hero. She was a mentor. She was a liberal. She was a patriot. She was a friend. And she always will be," the Observer said in a statement. "With Molly's death we have lost someone we hold dear. What she has left behind we will hold dearer still."

Managing Editor David Pasztor said Ivins died Wednesday afternoon at her home while in hospice care.

More than 400 newspapers subscribed to her nationally syndicated column, which combined strong liberal views and populist-toned humor. Ivins' illness did not seem to hurt her ability to deliver biting one-liners.

"I'm sorry to say (cancer) can kill you but it doesn't make you a better person," she said in an interview with the San Antonio Express-News in September 2006, the same month cancer claimed her friend former Gov. Ann Richards.

To Ivins, "liberal" wasn't an insult term. "Even I felt sorry for Richard Nixon when he left; there's nothing you can do about being born liberal — fish gotta swim and hearts gotta bleed," she wrote in a column included in her 1998 collection, "You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You."

In a column in mid-January, Ivins urged readers to stand up against Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq.

"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war," Ivins wrote in the Jan. 11 column. "We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!'"

Ivins' best-selling books included those she co-authored with Lou Dubose about Bush. One was titled "Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush" and another was "BUSHWHACKED: Life in George W. Bush's America."

Ivins' jolting satire was directed at people in positions of power. She maintained that aiming it at the powerless would be cruel.

"The trouble with blaming powerless people is that although it's not nearly as scary as blaming the powerful, it does miss the point," she wrote in a 1997 column. "Poor people do not shut down factories. ... Poor people didn't decide to use `contract employees' because they cost less and don't get any benefits."

In an Austin speech last year, former President Bill Clinton described Ivins as someone who was "good when she praised me and who was painfully good when she criticized me."

Ivins loved to write about politics and called the Texas Legislature, which she playfully referred to as "The Lege," the best free entertainment in Austin.

"Naturally, when it comes to voting, we in Texas are accustomed to discerning that fine hair's-breadth worth of difference that makes one hopeless dipstick slightly less awful than the other. But it does raise the question: Why bother?" she wrote in a 2002 column about a California political race.

She referred to conservative Panhandle Rep. Warren Chisum, a favorite target for attack, as "the Bible-thumping dwarf from Pampa."

Chisum said that if Ivins didn't agree with him, he was doing the right thing.

Born Mary Tyler Ivins, the California native grew up in Houston. She graduated from Smith College in 1966 and attended Columbia University's School of Journalism. She also studied for a year at the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris.

Her first newspaper job was in the complaint department of the Houston Chronicle. She worked her way up at the Chronicle, then went on to the Minneapolis Tribune, becoming the first woman police reporter in the city.

An Ivins bio on the Creators Syndicate Web site said Ivins counted as her highest honors that the Minneapolis police force named its mascot pig after her and that she was once banned from the campus of Texas A&M University.

In the late 1960s, according to Creators Syndicate, she was assigned to a beat called "Movements for Social Change" and wrote about "angry blacks, radical students, uppity women and a motley assortment of other misfits and troublemakers."

Ivins later became co-editor of The Texas Observer, a liberal Austin-based biweekly publication of politics and literature that was founded more than 50 years ago. Ivins was the featured attraction in October at a huge Texas Observer fundraising "barbecue," at which politicians, journalists and entertainers honored her.

She joined The New York Times in 1976. She worked first as a political reporter in New York and later was named Rocky Mountain bureau chief, covering nine mountain states.

But Ivins' use of salty language and her habit of going barefoot in the office were too much for the Times, said longtime friend Ben Sargent, editorial cartoonist with the Austin American-Statesman.

"She's a force of nature," Sargent said.

Ivins returned to Texas as a columnist for the Dallas Times-Herald in 1982, and after it closed she spent nine years with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In 2001, she went independent and wrote her column for Creators Syndicate.

Ivins won the William Allen White Award from the University of Kansas and the Smith Medal from Smith College in 2001.

She received the 2003 Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Progress and Service.

In 2003, she also won the Pringle Prize for Washington Journalism from Columbia University and the Eugene V. Debs Award in the field of journalism. In 2004, she received the David Brower Award for journalism from the Sierra Club.

In 1995, conservative humorist Florence King accused Ivins in "American Enterprise" magazine of plagiarism for failing to properly credit King for several passages in a 1988 article in "Mother Jones." Ivins apologized, saying the omissions were unintentional and pointing out that she credited King elsewhere in the piece.

She was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, and she had a recurrence in 2003. Her latest diagnosis came around Thanksgiving 2005. After her most recent recurrence, Ivins said she wasn't giving in to the illness.

"Maybe this is false bravado," she told the Austin American-Statesman in early 2006. "In some ways for me, this is like having a manageable disease. It's like diabetes. It doesn't mean it's not going to come get me in the end."

RIP, Girl

Monday, January 29, 2007

From Congressman John Conyers

...So, as we take stock of our efforts today, I wanted to sum up the myriad of challenges that lay before us and the opportunities we have to make things right again in this country.

The Bush Administration has given us:

* Voter Intimidation and suppression and worse costing us two presidential elections.
* The Downing Street Minutes, manipulation of intelligence, and going to war under false pretenses.
* Outing a CIA agent as an act of political revenge.
* Warrantless wiretapping, outside of the law and the Constitution, and creating an unauthorized data base of millions of innocent Americans.
* Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, waterboarding, and other forms of illegal torture.
* Racial Profiling, Rendition, and Secret Prisons.
* An imperial president who takes it upon himself to issue signing statements which change the law to take away our rights.
* Intimidating the press, and firing government whistleblowers.
* Operating a government in secret, above the law and outside of court or congressional scrutiny.
* More than 3,000 Americans dead, scores of thousands of Iraqi's dead, hundreds of thousands wounded, and a cost of more than one trillion dollars.
* And now a massive escalation, disguised as a "surge," with no end in sight.

Today, and every day, we need to let this President know and let the Congress know that we have had enough.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Before He Cheats

Okay, I'll admit I'm out of it in terms of American Idol, country music and so on.
But last night I heard the most hilarious white trash country song from someone named Carrie Underwood.
Get a load of the lyrics:

From the album "Some Hearts"

Before He Cheats

Right now he's probably slow dancing with a bleached-blond tramp,
and she's probably getting frisky... right now,
he's probably buying her some fruity little drink cause she can't shoot whiskey...

Right now, he's probably up behind her with a pool-stick,
showing her how to shoot a combo...

And he don't know...

That I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped up 4 wheel drive,
carved my name into his leather seat...
I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights,
slashed a hole in all 4 tires...

And maybe next time he'll think before he cheats.

Right now, she's probably up singing some
white-trash version of Shania karioke...
Right now, she's probably saying, "I'm drunk"
and he's a thinking that he's gonna lucky,
Right now, he's probably dabbing 3 dollars worth of that bathroom Polo...
And he don't know...

That I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped up 4 wheel drive,
carved my name into his leather seat,
I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights,
slashed a hole in all 4 tires...

And maybe next time he'll think before he cheats.

I might saved a little trouble for the next girl,
Cause the next time that he cheats...

Oh, you know it won't be on me!

Oh... not on me...
Cause I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped up 4 wheel drive,
carved my name into his leather seat...
I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights,
slashed a hole in all 4 tires...

Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats.

Oh... Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats...

Oh... before he cheats...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Anne Heche & Husband Divorcing

After nearly five years and a son named Homer, crazy demi-lesbian Anne Heche and her husband Coley Laffoon (who stepped on my foot at an Ellen DeGeneres concert) are divorcing.
She's now schtupping her "Men in Trees" co-star, actor James Tupper.
Of the divorce, Heche said in her native language Celestia, "Ooma pooma poohbah boombah."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It Won't Stop Us?

Dick Cheney once again demonstrated the outrageous sense of entitlement he and Vice President Bush possess. Dig this:

...Even as the White House delicately worked to persuade some Republicans to consider the president’s approach, the administration also said Congressional action would not interrupt the plan to send more than 20,000 American troops to Iraq. In a television interview on CNN, Vice President Dick Cheney declared, “It won’t stop us.”... --NY Times

Thank God for his arrogance! The more he and the Pinhead-in-Chief say, the better they illustrate what nearly three-quarters of Americans already think: they are terrible, terrible leaders who do not listen and do not care.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bush and His State of the Unction Address

What can I say?
Bush always says whatever he wants without any thought of accountability, and last night was no different.
Even his opening praise of Nancy Pelosi was diminished by his immediate reference to the "Democrat party," which any fool knows by now is the Republicans' sophomoric way of dissing the Democrats.
Granted, last night Bush didn't sound quite as stupid as he usually does, that is, he seemed to manage to pronounce all the words fairly well, yet his words remained vapid and hollow.
Sure, he took a somewhat conciliatory tone- he was outgunned- he had to.

For more than six years, I have tried to tell people who read this blog that Bush is a dangerously mean-spirited lout without a sufficient IQ to successfully perform even slightly challenging intellectual or moral tasks.
Now nearly three-quarters of Americans think the same.

The fact is, I don't care what he does or says anymore.
His fate is sealed. He's proven beyond a doubt that he was wholly unsuited for the job of governing, and he deserves the legacy of shame, failure and contempt that he has so carelessly cultivated.
If he were an insightful man, he'd likely feel so guilty he'd kill himself for the litany of moral and fiscal wrongs he's perpetrated against America.
But he's not.
Like O.J. Simpson, he'll retire to a life of golf, corn-ball quips and unrepentant evil and clownishness.
He's an imbecile with family money.
He's a nowhere I said all along.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Freezing in the Alamo City

There are icicles hanging off my license plates and the rim of my trunk. My lawn is crunchy.
No school today and most of the businesses are closed.
I made it into work, but I was the only one among more than 30 employees. I came home at 9:30, in a sleety mess that froze on my windshield as it hit so I couldn't use the wipers.
I slid in a little patch of black ice on the access road. Luckily, there were no other cars around.
Freeways are shut down.
On TV, a longhorn cow in the Hill Country had icicles hanging off his horns.
I covered my potted plants with a sheet last night and the sheet got wet in the drizzle, then froze stiff.
The TV weather people are calling this a "wintry mix."
I call it a couple of days off!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Selective Listening

Have you ever noticed that Bush says he listens to military commanders, only after a handful resign so he can listen to the ones who tell him what he wants to hear?
Just checking.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bush: It's Just Not Do-able

In a way, I'm glad Bush is insisting on sending in more cannon fodder to Iraq.
That way, even the staunchest Republicans who once supported him will pull away for good, leaving him as he is: a ridiculous, petty tyrant with the warped thinking of an untreated alcoholic.

Even Saddam's execution-- what could have been a real victory for Bush-- is tainted. If we invaded Iraq based on lies, then executing its leader takes on a rather phony veneer. Nah, Bush just wanted him dead and he's dead. That should have ended things.

But what bothers me most is that America is a young country of citizens whose origins span the globe. We do not have centuries old, common traditions that might appear mysterious to other nations, and our leaders don't bother to learn about other nations before we attack them.

The Middle East is the cradle of civilization, with ancient traditions, folkways and mores only scholars of the Middle East can even hope to learn of and comprehend.
One tradition is that of cousin marriages. More often than not, married couples in the Middle East are first or second cousins. When tribes are related by blood, one would think the bond would be even stronger, making foreign invaders that much more of a loathsome threat to their homeland security.

If BushCo's initial aim was not to depose an evil dictator but to invade Iraq to grab its oil, that mission failed.
And forget about fighting terrorism, because we know by now Saddam was not in league with bin Laden--bin Laden thought Saddam was too liberal, and we should also know that Saddam's Baath party was secular, not religious. Bin Laden is anything but secular.

So now we've come to a pissing match with Bush. He just can't admit that his plan was botched from the get-go, so he wants to escalate even more to try to save face. To hell with the expense, to hell with the lost lives, Bush wants his way because he's used to getting his way.

And the more he tries to force his will on we the people, the worse he'll look.
It's a classic example of someone hoisted by his own petard.
Or shall I say, "hoisted by his own retard?"

Friday, January 05, 2007

Stoned, Delusional William Rehnquist

Have you noticed lately that the more conservative a clergyman, politician, judge or commentator is, the more likely he is to be either a man-boy pedophile, a sexual harasser or a drug addict?
Revelations that "Justice" Rehnquist was addicted to a zombie-making RX medication should come as no surprise- like Rush Limbaugh, people make ridiculous statements and pass outrageous judgments when they are stoned out of their heads.
The Supreme Court had to rely on Rehnquist to be the swing vote in at least a few major cases. After all, he was on the bench for 30 years.
I wonder if anyone will hire a lawyer to appeal a tie breaker case that Dopey Willy ruled on during his dope addict days?
Let me know if you hear of anyone doing that, I'll chip in for legal fees.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Get a Load of This!

Second Thoughts on Gays in the Military
Published in the NY Times: January 2, 2007

Two weeks ago, President Bush called for a long-term plan to increase the size of the armed forces. As our leaders consider various options for carrying out Mr. Bush’s vision, one issue likely to generate fierce debate is “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy that bars openly gay service members from the military. Indeed, leaders in the new Congress are planning to re-introduce a bill to repeal the policy next year.

As was the case in 1993 — the last time the American people thoroughly debated the question of whether openly gay men and lesbians should serve in the military — the issue will give rise to passionate feelings on both sides. The debate must be conducted with sensitivity, but it must also consider the evidence that has emerged over the last 14 years.

When I was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I supported the current policy because I believed that implementing a change in the rules at that time would have been too burdensome for our troops and commanders. I still believe that to have been true. The concern among many in the military was that given the longstanding view that homosexuality was incompatible with service, letting people who were openly gay serve would lower morale, harm recruitment and undermine unit cohesion.

In the early 1990s, large numbers of military personnel were opposed to letting openly gay men and lesbians serve. President Bill Clinton, who promised to lift the ban during his campaign, was overwhelmed by the strength of the opposition, which threatened to overturn any executive action he might take. The compromise that came to be known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” was thus a useful speed bump that allowed temperatures to cool for a period of time while the culture continued to evolve.

The question before us now is whether enough time has gone by to give this policy serious reconsideration. Much evidence suggests that it has.

Last year I held a number of meetings with gay soldiers and marines, including some with combat experience in Iraq, and an openly gay senior sailor who was serving effectively as a member of a nuclear submarine crew. These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers.

This perception is supported by a new Zogby poll of more than 500 service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, three quarters of whom said they were comfortable interacting with gay people. And 24 foreign nations, including Israel, Britain and other allies in the fight against terrorism, let gays serve openly, with none reporting morale or recruitment problems.

I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.

But if America is ready for a military policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation, the timing of the change should be carefully considered. As the 110th Congress opens for business, some of its most urgent priorities, like developing a more effective strategy in Iraq, share widespread support that spans political affiliations. Addressing such issues could help heal the divisions that cleave our country. Fighting early in this Congress to lift the ban on openly gay service members is not likely to add to that healing, and it risks alienating people whose support is needed to get this country on the right track.

By taking a measured, prudent approach to change, political and military leaders can focus on solving the nation’s most pressing problems while remaining genuinely open to the eventual and inevitable lifting of the ban. When that day comes, gay men and lesbians will no longer have to conceal who they are, and the military will no longer need to sacrifice those whose service it cannot afford to lose.

John M. Shalikashvili, a retired army general, was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997.
Happy New Year!

I wrote another New Year's blog but I deleted it because it didn't say much about much.
This blog has been largely political since 2004.
I felt the frequent need to speak out against the Bush administration and the GOP because I felt strongly about what they were doing to undermine our country.
Now Bush has been defanged, because the nation voted to remove the Senate and Congress from GOP control, making it harder for Bush to ramrod through his insane visions for world domination.
It's almost better than seeing Bush impeached and removed from office, because now we get to watch how the little tyrant reacts to the word "no," again and again.
The year 2007 will be more peaceful for America because Bush's war machine will be slowed to a crawl.
His plan to add tens of thousands of troops to fight the winless war in Iraq was not well received; in fact he made himself even more of a laughingstock with that ill-conceived scheme.
So, onward and upward.
My little blog may take a new direction now that I don't feel as politically hyper-vigilant.
Where do you want it to go?