Thursday, February 28, 2013

a tale of two realities

OK, this one is for all the "That'll never happen" yowlers in the deficit-panic chorus.

The news is the deficit is shrinking, and at a fairly dramatic rate.

This information has been stealthiy lfloating around for a while. Rachel Maddow covered it last night, which means it might finally grow some feet.

From Dave Johnson, ,

This is understandably just as or more important than this silly sequester about to land on us supposedly driven by the overwhelming need to get the deficit under control

Right now, 62% of Americans think the deficit is rising, while 28% think it is crusing along basically unchanged. It's no wonder they don't know better, since the media narrative on this issue is driven by plutocrats and pickpockets.

I'm a little bit pleased to hear the news, but also spooked by it, because it shows that the electronic media, from NPR and PBS right on through FoxNews are nothing but a vast echo chamber for the political establishment inside the DC beltway.

The political establishment are the people who actually rule us. They do so at the pleasure of the people paying them, but they are the agents who carry out the policies.

It also shows that for most of us, what we see on TV is more real than reality. And that's a big scary.

Also, from Dave Johnson's (unattributed) chart, it's unclear whether the deficit is shrinking in absolute terms or whether it's simply growing more slowly than before. There's more research to do on this issue before the people's press can cover it right.

Johnson reports what he knows, that the deficit is getting smaller expressed as a percentage of the gross domestic product. I never trust that % of GDP stuff. It's an unnecessarily complicated way to express something, and leads to confused thinking.

We need more facts and less rhetoric! More light, less heat. More reality, less "As Seen on TV!"

the art of money

I know I don't have too many readers with a burning interest in numismatics, but there are a lot of art lovers out there who may be drawn to that point where high art intersects with coinage.

This dime-sized Roman denarius is the most perfect example of artistic near-perfection I've yet seen on a coin. It depicts the Roman god of bridges, Fontus, as a Janus-headed deity, reflecting the name of the official who ordered it minted in 114 CE, Caius Fonteius. Fontus was undoubtedly the household god of this family.

I don't know the meaning of the "G" on the left, although it might be the slightly altered version of the moneyer's initial (Gaius, rather than Caius). The symbol on the right is the value mark, indicating that this 90% silver mite is worth 10 bronze asses.

The denarius, or 10 asses, was a day's wages for unskilled Roman workers at the time.

You can see this item enlarged for detailed viewing at E-bay.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

the sequester is just bad tv

Personally, I'm not too worried, since this whole crangleschnazzle is just another episode on that boring TV series, "Lady Liberty's PMS."

It's a monthly thing that goes under different names -- "the debt ceiling," "the fiscal cliff," etc. -- but the plot is always the same, which is why this show is a bore.

It starts with the Republicans holding a pistol to their collective head and hollering "Do what I tell you, or I'll shoot!" Then come the grandstanding senators, the frantic lobbyists, the wrinkle-browed pundits, and Sean Hannity yapping in the rear rowf rowf arooooo.

Then come the tea party chants of "Pull the trigger! Pull it!" and the Republicans deciding not to blow themselves up, yet anyway, and the Democrats being nice and giving them half of what they're demanding, because that's what Democrats do. After all they're the "real conservatives here."

Then the segment ends with Obama and Boehner and Hairy Reed and McConnell standing around the water cooler in the capital lobby, where Boehner says, "You know, you disrespected me there, Prez," and Obama answers, "Well, yeah, JB, I did, but only after you said I've got balls made outta marshmallows." Then they all laugh ha ha ha kashl kashl.

If you missed it, don't worry. It'll be back next month with a new episode: "The Bride of Debt Ceiling." Meanwhile, we've still go this month's "exciting conclusion" to get through.

winning isn't everything

CPAC -- the Conservative Political Action Conference -- is snubbing Chris Christie, who's not even invited to their annual barbeque because leading Republicans don't believe he's part of the party's future.

So instead the speakers this year will include Mittens, Gingrich, and no I'm not making this up, Sarah Palin. Whether they believe winning elections is even important is the unasked question here.

Some future.

the concealed mohammedan

This is very cool. I found the origin of the "Chuck Hagel is a secret Mooslim" crude stupidity that was floating around during the new Secretary of War's confirmation hearings.

On 2/6 when the Senate furrin relationships committee was grilling Hagel, a NY Daily News reporter, Dan Friedman, "called a Republican aide on Capitol Hill with a question: Did Hagel’s Senate critics know of controversial groups that he had addressed? Hagel was in hot water for alleged hostility to Israel. So, I asked my source, had Hagel given a speech to, say, the 'Junior League of Hezbollah, in France'? And: What about 'Friends of Hamas'?"

Friedman was speaking sarcastically here. He says he never imagined anybody would be dumb enough to think such groups actually exist.

"I followed up with an e-mail, as a reminder“ says Friedman. "'Did he get $25K speaking fee from Friends of Hamas?'” I asked. The source never responded, and I moved on.

It didn't take long for the maggots to attack. The very next day runs the story:

“On Thursday, Senate sources told Breitbart News exclusively that they have been informed one of the reasons that President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has not turned over requested documents on his sources of foreign funding is that one of the names listed is a group purportedly called ‘Friends of Hamas.’”

Believing in Santa Claus (or in this case, Beelzebub) is easy. You just have to want badly enough for it to be true, which is how these ugly rumors get started -- with the impossible things people wish were true.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

off key i sing

The US eek conomy is trying to recover. It acts like it wants to, but it cain't.

Because we're driving so much less, the price of crude is down to just a shade over $92; wholesale gasoline at $3. Three years ago it was $75, but if we control the trips to the convenience store, this is doable.

House prices are up almost 7% on average nationwide, the embryo of real recovery. It means householders are beginning to recover some of the wealth that vaporized during the big clusterschnazz, in the form of equity.

Other commodity prices besides oil are low also: gold at $1590/oz and silver at 29. US Morgan silver dollars and Mexico silver pesos, 1902-1920, remain excellent investments.

Unemployment remains at 8%, or 12 million people, which is inexcusable, and the main reason real recovery and re-constitution of the eek conomy is not moving forward. That's 12 million Americans, a lot of them laid-off construction workers who could be building our future infrastructure and maintaining what's being neglected now.

This is what led Mark Thoma to write in the Fiscal Times, "Our real worry isn't the debt, it's our politicians."

Monday, February 25, 2013

gun license

Right. Lately I've noticed a lot of gun pecans putting out this argument that cars kill more people than guns, so we should ban cars.

The thing is, we use cars for other things besides running over other people & animals.

But I could get behind state licensing for firearms possession.

When someone buys a piece or ammo, a computer check of the license would give a status update on the licensee. Any outstanding warrants?

This would be a big improvement over the ineffective background check system.

You could have your license yanked and weapon seized if you use your firearm for inappropriate purposes, such as, say, shooting the neighbor's cat.

It works well for vehicles.

Or, we could just ban guns and private vehicles.

old men

The sun was still coming up when Dub saw Wally Sternberg puffing up his front steps. Old Sternberg was a very interesting guy for an ancient sad sack, Philadelphia bred and a graduate of Penn State who, late in life converted to Christianity and Republicanism.

Dub always suspected he did so to get back at his parents for naming him Walter. Poor Wally first became Catholic and voted for Bush in 2004. By 2008 he belonged to some sort of Baptist cult and "liked" John McCain's Facebook page. Dub considered him a brilliant mind gone to seed,

"C'mon in, Walter," says Old Dub throwing his front door open. He was actually very glad to see the old fart, since he felt as if Sternberg had been avoiding him for about a month. The last time they'd talked, Dub had asked whatever possessed an urban sophisticate like Sternberg to adopt the religion and politics of barbaric regions where people are unfamiliar with using forks and knives. Old Walter had gotten sore, but seemed over it now.

In the interim, Sternberg had proudly cast his ballot for Mitt Romney and, when he lost badly, testified for Christ at church. But he was here now, smiling even, and Dub, a surprisingly gracious host, soon had tea, Fig Newtons, and cigarettes served on the deck, and, fighting down an urge to ask Wally whether he'd ever been bitten by a snake "at that church you go to," commented perfunctorily about the weather.

Between slurps and bites, Walter announced "I'm goin back to Australia again." He lit a Marlboro, and exhaling added, "I'm thinkin about moving there."

"Well," says Dub, "money's certainly no problem. You're free to do whatever you like there, amigo." He knew that Sternberg had been loaded since his mom died. "You can even come back to good ol' Point Utopia when you get tired of it down there."

"I just feel like I gotta get outta this country," Sternberg continued, "It's gotten too crazy here."

"Well I told ya that a long time ago, Walter, but you never listen to your old friend and buddy." Dub, who had a little tucked away in savings but lived mostly within the limits imposed by a small, fixed income, was slightly envious.

"I may be back some day," Sternberg went on, talking mostly to himself now as he often did. "I dunno."

"So this is how it ends," Dub thought to himself. He'd known and carried on an intermittent friendship with Wally Sternberg for over 30 years, but now Sternberg was passing out of his life, going to Australia to drink Tree Frog beer and learn how to say "G'dye."

It occurred to him that life was like occupying a fixed point, which other people approach, stay for a while, then leave to go somewhere else and never return. Friends, lovers, co-workers, even wives and family members came and went, a few taken by the reaper, but most simply migrated to other places, never to be heard from again. Only the three women, his daughter and sisters remained constant, and would still be with old Dub when his pilot light went out.


Dreaming of Lady Lynn made him uncomfortable, because he knew his woman-lovin days were over. Lynn, his barber and local beauty in her fifties whom he saw every couple of months, never did anything improper in these dreams, and last night she had been a nurse in the hospital where Dub had gone to get his oil changed. First they drained him, then she had used an IV connected to a big steel tank to put the new stuff in.

There was no obvious erotic content to these dreams, but as he fogged through his first steps, grousing around the kitchen and fumbling with the first pot of coffee, Dub couldn't help but reflect on how fetching Lady Lynn looked in her starched, white nurse's uniform, with its tiny hat emblazoned with a red cross.

"Better cut that shit out," he muttered, pouring a cup of very hot, black Java and opening the laptop computer. Dub had no TV -- he couldn't stand the sound of it -- and only an old-style "dumb" cell phone which he seldom used. He mostly lived his life on the internet.

This morning, though, there was no time to fart around. He was due early at the Volkswagen dealership 25 miles away. He usually avoided the place, but the "check engine" light on his old beetle was lit, and that was likely an emissions problem. He agonized over his relationship with the car (Parkinson's Disease doesn't enhance one's driving skills), but being 10 miles from a supermarket left him no choice but to keep driving occasionally.

And most immediately there was this morning's 50 mile round trip, directly concerned with the life of the car. The purpose of this longish drive was, of course, to be able to keep driving.

The Bactrian Inevitability (One Hump or Two?), part the second. ©2013 by David Brice.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

poetry page

From one of America's great unsung biographical singing poets:

Ummmmm Big Brazos here I come.
Ummmmm (Lord have mercy) Big Brazos here I come.
I'm doin time for another man;
And it ain't a thing poor Lightnin done.

You oughta been on Bragg,
Nineteen and ten;
Bull Russell drove pretty women
Just like he did ugly mens.
Mmmm hmmm Big Brazos, oh, Lord here I come;
Figurin to do time for another man;
And ain't nothing poor Lightnin done.
(Well, you oughta be ashamed.)

My mama called me; I answered, "Ma'am?"
She said, "Son, you tired of working?"
I said, "Mama, yes I am."
My papa called me; I answered, "Sir?"
He said, "Son, if you're tired of working
What the hell you gonna stay here for?"
I couldn't...Lord, I just couldn't help myself;
You know a man can't help but feel bad,
Doin time for someone else.

--Lightning Hopkins, Penitentiary Blues (It's off the Arhoolie album in the pic.)

annals of moranitude

That Mecca of Moranitude,, this morning mounts a spirited defense of Milkman Ted, recently attacked and savaged by the New Yorker's (that leftist rag) 90-pound gangsta, the lovely Jane Mayer.

However, even deadbreitbart has its hands full defending the full-meltdown hallucinatory rant the Milkman delivered to the Koch Bros. faithful at his Americans for Prosperity speech. Buried deeply toward the bottom the editorial we find:

Cruz was absolutely correct that there were, and are, many radicals on Harvard Law’s faculty, and few Republicans. Give the Texan a technical for hyperbole: he may have over-counted the Communist revolutionaries, and undercounted the Republicans.

Ok, maybe he was technically wrong when he said that the overwhelming majority of profs at Harvard Law are communists whose aim is to overthrow the US government. But...

Several members of Harvard Law’s faculty espouse other radical left ideas. They are not card-carrying Communists, but some do see themselves as proponents of different forms of Marxist thought, and would like to see revolutionary changes in both the U.S. government and the international order.

This is not exactly the sort of criminal conspiracy Milkman Ted described. In fact, it's about as far from the Milkman's scenario as lightning is from a lightining bug. I also noticed that the descendents of the late St.Andrew criticize Mayer because she "seized on a speech Cruz gave three years ago," but in their own attempted takedown of Chuck Hagel they were pulling speeches and testimony of his that were a lot older than that.

God, I hate a bully. The only thing lower than a bully is a bully who is also a demagogue, and despite their best effort at convincing me otherwise, I see no reason why we should not, at the first opportunity, throw evil Milkman Ted Cruz back into the bottomless hell pit he crawled out of with the mission of inflicting insanity on an unsuspecting nation, and revenge for crimes which only occurred in his diseased mind.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


As with any such clusterschnazzle, determining how it came about requires a time line.

The pundit class is holding Obama and the dhimmocrats equally responsible with the usual Rehooligan suspects in this. I'd agree, except for the fact that Emperor ConstantTeen took his whole first term to figure out he was not dealing with rational human beings "on the other side of the aisle," but with a mange-ridden pack of rabid coyotes.

Paul Krugman provides the time line:

1. Republicans engage in unprecedented hostage-taking, threatening to push America into default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless Obama agrees to a "grand bargain."

2. Obama agrees to it in an attempt to buy time.

3. Both sides decide that the way to buy time is to create a fiscal doomsday machine that inflicts gratuitous damage on the nation through spending cuts unless a grand bargain is reached.

4. Sure enough, there is no bargain, and the doomsday machine will go off at the end of next week. ...

So now I hear Dems are proposing a "middle-of-the-road" compromise solution consisting of spending cuts combined with tax increases. House Republicans say "No way, man."

But no matter, because both plans bite. What we need is for the gov to spend some money on an infrastructure binge -- sewer mains, water mains, bridges and overpasses, etc, and also subsidies for energy generation for today and tomorrow. We're going to have to do all that stuff at some point anyway, and we really need to take some other action besides watching the Social Security trust fund go down the drain. Seriously, Screw Austerity and the horse it rode in on.

Because we do not -- DO NOT -- have a spending problem. At this point, I'd say our biggest government problem is bare competency.

Where are the jobs we need? The economy sucks because people don't have jobs, and don't have any money!!!

django lives!

Yesterday we celebrated my twin sisters' birthday with a concert right here at the Bay Club in Port Ludlow. I hadn't heard the International String Trio before, so this was a shot in the dark, but having taken a chance on them, I must say they did not disappoint.

The group's founder and leader, Russian Slava Tolstoy (guitar), combines with Englishman Ben Powell (violin) and bassist Ippei Ichimaru of Tokyo, Japan to produce a bright, lively sound that floated last night like a lighter-than-air vehicle. These are conservatory-trained musicians whose professionalism and enthusiasm made believers out of a sophisticated audience, meeting and exceeding the crowd's high standards.

Violinist Ben Powell, who achieves a perfect, bell-like tone on this most tonally challenging of all instruments, was showcased last night by the Bay Club's excellent acoustics, and I can't write a review of the concert without complimenting whoever it was that engineered the window coverings which give this room such acoustic integrity, so essential to an unplugged concert.

Slava Tolstoy led the group through a repertoire that included original Americana with a Ural Mountains flavor (are there hillbillies in the Russian hills?), Klezmer, and especially Gypsy jazz, and his solo on the Django Reinhardt - Stephane Grappelly chestnut "Minor Swing" was a finger-blisterer. Ippei Ichimaru's athleticism on contra bass was a visual treat as well as an audial workout. You've never seen a guy who's literally all over his instrument like this virtuoso, and here again the Bay Club's remarkable acoustics lent this usually reticent instrument a wonderful presence I haven't experienced before.

My sister Sue bought three CD's so we each got a sample to take home. and I'm already looking forward to this trio's return.

Friday, February 22, 2013

the milkman cometh

OK, other people may be fooled, but I'm not.

Senator Ted Cruz, that new Teabagger-gunslinger out of Texas, is not a real person. He's some kind of elaborate hoax being perpetrated by Stephen Colbert. or somebody like that. Maybe this crazy stuff is the work of an actor SNL sent in, and they'll be running the tapes of him badgering Chuck Hagel on the main show.

This week's New Yorker recounts how, speaking to one of the Koch Brothers' agitprop forums put on by Americans for Prosperity, Cruz went all "Tail Gunner Joe" on us.

He then went on to assert that Obama, who attended Harvard Law School four years ahead of him, “would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School.” The reason, said Cruz, was that, “There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”

Really? In 2013?

I don't think so. This guy looks to me like an evil milkman who goes around scaring little kids. The Milkman cometh -- Milkman Ted.

heart's desire

I wonder sometimes how many of us really want peace. It seems to me there are quite a few in this country who prefer conflict.

I know that all the little gangsters in the ghetto and the barrio prefer conflict, because it gives their lives purpose and meaning. The gangs fight each other for turf and territory, and individuals find security, comradeship, and status within the gang hierarchy, not to mention the heightened sense of excitement that only exposure to real danger can give a person.

Everyone who relishes and enjoys some conflict once in a while has his or her reasons for feeling that way, and I'm certainly not going to say someone's feelings are wrong.

The problem of violence begins in the mind. Violent minds produce violent thoughts, which in turn give rise to violent acts. Each of us ought to be able to take an honest enough look inside to determine how much violence lurks there.

To what extent have we all been conditioned to have violent minds?

The Vietnamese monk That Nich Hanh says that if we really want peace, its not enough just to want it. He says we have to be peace, if we truly want to have it. I think I'm beginning to understand what he meant.

I'm also wondering just how much peace this country can handle.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

punch kick slice maim destroy

Personally, I have no interest in new laws, or defining mental illness, or convincing other people to change their behavior or attitudes. And I don't need a definition of insanity from an academic or clinical psychiatrist to know that the old lady who lives above the barber shop is nucking futz, because she talks to bushes.

Because I can see now how this is going to play out. Starting with the watershed event of Newtown, public attitudes and behaviors have already started changing. This is how we finally came to terms with racism, sexism, and anti-gay bigotry in the US -- there were new laws added to the books in each instance, but these turned out not to be so important as the evolution of people's attitudes.

I spent quite a bit of time yesterday examining my own mind, and the gravitational pull of violence within it. I looked back into my childhood, at the childish games we used to play where we were cowboys with guns, miming killing and death, and wondered if this is normal. Puppies and kittens play at fighting, so why shouldn't human puppies do the same? I came to the conclusion that my mind habitually perceived violence as way of solving problems "with finality," that this was neither normal nor healthy, and that it had been culturally imposed, by the American war-and-cowboy culture which "shoots first and asks questions later." I also thought quite a bit about the historical specifics of who the cowboys were and where they came from, rather than just thinking of them as a bunch of average guys who went west and happened to blow each other full of holes.

Because if you think American society doesn't have a "violence problem," if you think the number of gun deaths we experience each year in this country is normal, if you're able to look at this galloping pathology and see nothing amiss, I have nothing more to say to you except "Enjoy your lunch." You know, there was a time in this country when slave-owners thought of themseles as normal people, and a slave-owning society as perfectly acceptable, and what monsters of iniquty they were. Not just gun violence, but violence as a state of mind, option, or solution to anything is on the outs. Attitudes are already changing, plus a little introspection doesn't hurt a thing, and it's about time we all had some, on this topic anyway.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

america's "violence problem"

The trouble with trying to solve "the violence problem" in the US is that if we magically removed all the violence from the country -- performed a "violence-ectomy," -- there wouldn't be much country left.

This is sort of like when the Big Texan lay dying in the hospital, and the local undertaker despaired of finding a coffin he'd fit into. So the doctor gave the Big Texan an enema and the next day they buried him in a shoebox.

The US today is a mentally ill society, populated in part by semi-educated men and boys with cowboy mentalities who carry guns, are afflicted with violent tendencies incurred by the habit of war and a militarized culture, and have a penchant for violent solutions as the answer to all one's problems. It's expressed culturally in the popularity of fictional characters like Mr. "T," a bully who threatens even his friends with violence, and is considered "cute." Or in stories such as Clint Eastwood's movie, "The Unforgiven," in which a bottle of 90-proof whiskey serves the same function as Popeye's can of spinach, and is the necessary, magical prelude to either a mass shooting or a memorable ass-kicking. And I could go on and on and on...

We've got the violence against women law, violence against children laws, violence against pets laws, yet we're still the most violent society in the history of the world, leaving the Mongols, Huns, and Romans in the shade. Even our "easy motoring" way of life is violent, and consists of assaults on the health and viability of the earth herself -- our own mother! Do we really want to be in the company of matricidal monsters like Nero?

So to answer the question on everyone's mind, the law should be that no American adult can buy a firearm without first submitting to a comprehensive mental examination by a panel of psychiatrists who have themselves been certified free of paranoia, delusions of grandeur or other manifestations of hallucinatory thinking, and upon a finding of sound mental health and a non-delusional outlook, be permitted to buy one (1) firearm and 20 rounds of ammunition at a time.

That should make a dent in it, anyway.

the important things in life

Stumbling into the bathroom at 5 a.m., he realized he'd slept a little later than usual. No matter. He had no appointments, no obligations, no kids to make breakfast for, no sleeping lover in the bed for whom he must tread silently and carefully, so as to not awaken her.

The lights came on and Old Dub realized, for the thousandth time, that he took no pleasure from the reflection looking back at him from the mirror. The wiry, white hair surmounting the distorted, unhappy visage wasn't thinning out; "There is that to be thankful for," the old man mused to himself as he swallowed a pill.

As he shut off the tap he could hear the water on the stove boiling merrily, and he was soon sitting at the little kitchen table armed with a small cup of hot black Java and the day's first Marlboro. Knowing that he would hack painfully on the first drag, Dub laid the cancer stick aside and parked his chin thoughtfully between his spotted hands.

"Altogether, it wasn't a bad life." he thought to himself. But he regretted spending so much of his life and energy obsessing and stressing over things that don't really matter all that much.

But that train of thoght naturally led him to the question, "What matters." And in his wise dotage, Old Dub came up with three things: Peace, democracy, and land.

"The Bactrian Inevitability," (One hump or two?), part the first.

a history of violence

So how was the PBS special on gun violence in America last night? Anybody see it?

I wonder if the show's writers made the connection between the fact that the US is now permanently at war with pretty much the whole rest of the world and the level of violence in this society.

Militarism is, after all, nothing but controlled violence. Then you release a few million veterans, who have been schooled and programmed for violence, onto the street, and wonder why your society is out of control.

A feature article at TruthOut yesterday explored this topic thoroughly.

I'd like to ask everybody here to think about this for 30 seconds or so, before you reflexively and angrily reject the argument. Think about the "old west" and its culture of gun violence and shootouts, and think about who was there. It was Civil War vets, for the most part, wasn't it? Men familiar with weapons and violence as the answer to everything, and permanently afflicted with PTSD.

We're in worse and deeper trouble than we know.

his ossumness

National politics has degenerated into a cheerleading contest, and we've got the cable news networks to prove it. There's now an "Obama: god's gift to the human race" channel (MSNBC) to serve as a counterweight to the "Obama: a big poopy-pants with big hairy ears that stick out" channel (I don't think I have to tell you their nem).

Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian has an extremely entertaining column today about the transformation of MSNBC into the administration's #1 government propaganda organ.

Last month, MSNBC's Al Sharpton conducted a spirited debate about whether Obama belongs on Mount Rushmore or instead deserves a separate monument to his greatness (just weeks before replacing frequent Obama critic Cenk Uygur as MSNBC host, Sharpton publicly vowed never to criticize Barack Obama under any circumstances: a vow he has faithfully maintained).

With the purging of Cenk Uygur, all criticism of Hizonner the Preznit is declared anathema and banished into outer darkness. And in addition, now they've gone and hired old Uncle Dave Axelrod, Obama's BFF, as a pundit and truth-teller. They're gonna screw themselves up too, because government prop is the most boring thing in the world. There's no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia.

Meanwhile, Fox News is getting better, and I find it actually watchable now. I don't own a TV, but there's a local fascist workout fiend who haunts the club where I go and always has Fox on. They have more Democrats on now, including this young black gal who is extremely informed and well-spoken, and has facts, figures, and ready rebuttals at her command. She kind of leaves poor Megyn Jelly standing in her socks, but May Gun is still queen of the hop.

But I digress.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


A highly-respected and award winning British writer has scandalized the island kingdom by characterizing Princess Kate as nothing but a breeder.

In a lecture two weeks ago at the British Museum, novelist Hillary Mantel described the Duchess of Cambridge as a varnished "store-window mannequin" with no personality, selected solely for breeding.

"She appears." the famous author said, "precision-made, machine-made: so different from Diana, whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture."

I'm drawing two fast and dirty conclusions from this. The first is that anyone who comes up with a fantastic phrase such as "emotional incontinence" must be a gifted writer, and I really need to look into one of her novels. The other is that Hillary Mantel, in growing older, resents the way the world works, since she neglected to say why anyone who looks like Kate Middleton even needs a personality.


Scored both this great post title and the wonderful graphic from the nice folks at the blog Rumproast.

Yes, tail-gunner Joe is back, this time as a Cuban-Irish-Italian junior senator from Texas. Ted Cruz, The former Texas solicitor general, Princeton debating champion and magna cum laude Harvard Law graduate began his Senate career by accusing the nominee for Secretary of War, Chuck Hagel, of being a double agent for al-Qaida. Or something; I'm really not sure what this one-man clown show was going on about.

So at a time when this country and its people need real leadership, we get demagogues. Way to go, Texas. We should have let you secede when we had the chance.

Monday, February 18, 2013

breaking news

Mississippi today ratified the 13th Amendment, banning slavery.

I don't know if it was the last, or if there are still some others that haven't.

Old times there are not forgotten.

The 13th has been on the books since 1865.

The full story is at Talking Points Mammals.

200 years

I've got a half dollar just like this one, only not in quite as good shape, and bearing the date 1813.

it prompts me to think about life in this country as it was 200 years ago. We were at war with England for a second time, and holding our own, as the Brits were preoccupied with the Napoleonic wars and the American campaign was a back-burner project.

But in 1814 Napoleon was defeated and sent into exile, and England landed three large armies in the US, two on the coast and one in the south. One of them captured Washington, D.C. and burned it, chasing President Madison and his wife from the White House.

The Americans counter-attacked and drove all three armies back into the sea, the last one at New Orleans in 1815, after the British had already sued for peace the year before. News traveled slowly in those days.

This was before America became the awesomest country in the history of civilization, of course. Back then it was just an experimental startup, but we felt very good about ourselves after the Battle of New Orleans, as it was beginning to look like the experiment would succeed.

And it did, for a while. But now I wonder if this country or anybody in it could produce something as beautiful as this coin today.

The second Battle of New Orleans didn't go as well as the first one. Mother nature kicked our ass, and now we're not feeling all that good about ourselves.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


I went to Costco this morning and dealt with it like an old pro.

If you've never shopped Costco before, I wouldn't advise just showing up there some Saturday afternoon saying "Oh, I wonder what this place is?" then walking inside. That's a recipe for spending all your money and dying an early death, run down by frenzied Costco Saturday shoppers who look like they've just eaten their young, and ground to bits beneath the wheels of their 8-foot-long shopping carts.

1. When you go to Costco, you need to go with a list.

And you need to stick to it, and avoid impulse buying, otherwise you'll spend yourself silly. Supermarket prices are inflated because they charge what I think of as a "convenience tax." For the convenience of being able to buy a small (8 oz.) can of Bush's baked beans, you pay twice as much per bean as when you buy a case of big cans at a big-box store. Costco and the other big-box outlets deal in bulk -- Costco especially. That means each individual item is expensive, 'cause you're buyin a lot of it.

2. They don't let just anybody in there.

You have to be a member. The $55 annual fee to belong to "the club" is a major source of revenue for the company enabling it to keep prices and profit margins very low.

3. You really can save a lot of money this way.

How much? Depends on what you're buying. The best deal I've found so far, and for something that's big in my life, is coffee. Costco sells a 3-pound can of house brand (Kirkland) Columbian, ground fine in the Starbucks manner, for $9.99. That works out to $3.33 per lb. of good coffee -- a price no supermarket "deal" could come close to.

Going by a median supermarket "deal" price of $6.99 for 12 ozs. of the same thing, and doing the arithmetic, I save ten bucks every time I buy coffee at Costco, and at a can every other month, or six a year, what I save on coffee alone more than pays my yearly membership dues.

4. Local company, gets along well with its work force

Although it has over 200 stores nationwide and has expanded overseas, Costco remains a local business headquartered in Issaquah, WA. it's always had a reputation for offering fair compensation to its workers, who remained characteristically quiet during WalMart's recent labor troubles.

No one has yet put two and two together in the matter of WalMart's recent steep drops in sales and revenue coinciding with worker unrest in the chain. The thing is, if you're the big box in a community, and you don't treat your workers right, you dig up your own roots. Those workers are the family and friends of people throughout the community, and if the community turns on you, where will you go?

Costco, though it truly is a big-box warehouse store, still has something of a northwest cache, like Starbutts. What Wal-Mart has I'm not quite sure, but don't think they do cache in Arkansas.

5. It's a pain to go there.

Nobody's kidding anybody. This is a bunch of people crowded into a warehouse, all with the same purpose, to lay in some supplies and save a few bucks. That's why it's best to go at an early hour, on a day other than Saturday.

If you plan ahead, and know what you need for the long run, this is doable once or twice a month. Nobody ever tries to sell us on the glamour of the Costco shopping experience.

So, long story condensed: went to Costco, picked up coffee, tuna, eggs, and a cooked chicken for which I have extensive plans. But that's another story.

deprtment of preparations departament

It's a good time to buy silver at the moment. These things can change very fast.

Always a good idea to have some silver around -- coins, jewelry, whatever. Who knows? It might be money for a while one day.

I could be wrong, or even very wrong, but I don't think we'll go much lower than this.

Mouse click on the image to make the graph large enough to read.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

morning schmo

He went from being a Republican back-bencher in the House of Representatives, circa 1990's, to the host of a little-noted MSNBC talk-show host with a program called "Scarborough Country."

Then about five years ago Don Imus, who had the 5 a.m. -- 7 a.m. slot at the network, melted down after he and his fascist/racist producer/engineer, Bernard McGuirk (today a Fox News "contributor") got into calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "a bunch of nappy-headed hoes." Long story short, Scarborough gets the morning slot, and his show acquires a great name: "Morning Joe."

Scarborough makes a good "Everyman" type, who mistakes the right to his own opinion with expertise, as so many of us often do. And his current confusion of political orthodoxy with economics shows the same lack of comprehension the entire country is struggling with at the moment.

A few weeks ago he had Paul Krugman as a guest, who did his usual schtick -- the government should be working to create jobs right now as its deficit reduction program, and pivot to taking care of excessive spending later. Morning Schmo was apparently shocked by Krugman's lack of orthodoxy, and has been attacking him ever since, claiming that Krugman is a deficit denier.

Here's the orthodox view: the US has a spending problem, and the yearly deficits will ruin us, and morning Schmo, in doing battle with Krugman, has been humping it for all he's worth. Where does this orthodoxy come from? Krugman calls it "the beltway deficit feedback loop," and Scarborough is simply functioning as part of the echo chamber.

Krugman, as far as I know, has not responded to Scarborough directly -- that would be engaging in a battle of wits with an unarmed person. Maybe I can help, since I taught remedial economics in high school one year.

Now, class, what's the opposite of a deficit? That's right, it's called a surplus. You know, back at the beginning of the century we had one in this country. And what's the opposite of expenditure? That's correct, it's called income, or its proper name, revenue.

So when we had a surplus, we decided to radically reduce our revenue, but then, after adding in the cost of a couple wars, the books didn't balance.

It's obvious, isn't it? We have a serious revenue shortage in the US.

the yellow finger

Ran across an interesting item from Reuters a couple days ago.

(T)he Pentagon on Wednesday created a new medal recognizing combat contributions of people like drone pilots and cyber warriors who are reshaping the battlefield, even from thousands of miles away.

Outgoing Defense Secretary and former CIA Director Leon Panetta - who spent much of the past four years bolstering those new capabilities - announced the decision to create the "Distinguished Warfare Medal" at a Pentagon news conference.

Further down the column, we find this:

Previously, drone pilots who remotely guide missiles against important targets in places like Pakistan or Yemen would not qualify for combat awards, because their acts technically lacked "valor" - a key requirement.

To say that killing people by remote cntrol from thousnds of miles away "technically lacks 'valor'" doesn't just understate the case; it mis-represents the nature of a cowardly act.

Murdering faraway people with flying death robots is the perfect expression of pseudo-military gallantry for this country right now. From the cowards working the keyboards, to their yellow commanders in the Pentagon, bureaucrats who bear little resemblance to actual soldiers, and right on up to our timid emperor, too scared to send actual American troops into harm's way to do his dirty work (people might object to having their lives wasted in a "war on terror"), we're getting serious discussion of this award which any genuine soldier would scorn.

It's not surprising such a bunch of losers want to give themselves a medal. Since soldiers wounded in actual combat receive a recognition of their service and sacrifice called the Purple Heart, I believe the new medal should be called "the yellow finger," for obvious reasons.

Friday, February 15, 2013

sunshine superman

The sun is shining in Pludlow today, and it's warmed up all the way to 50 degrees according to the thermometer on my deck, which is in the shade. It's a lot warmer than that sitting in the sun on the front porch.

I've got my little auxiliary heater turned off in the daytime for I think the first time since I bought it at Costco in December. It's over 70 in here with no furnace running, and I've even got the front door open.

This is the sprouting season, when worms, flowers, vegetables, and especially herbs begin to writhe about in the earth and put up seedlings (except the worms, of course). And I say "Thank God for a garden," because it will be such a renewal to have my hands in the dirt again this spring.


At some point there will be recovery to a new equilibrium. We're beginning to see it now, finally, six years after the start of the Lesser Depression.

This was a bad one; the only reason it was not as bad as the Great Depression was because of the moderating effect of Social Security benefits and unemployment insurance. How bad was it? From Calculated Risk, the scariest chart ever, up to the moment:

The economist I trust the most, Bill McBride, who writes the Calculated Risk blog, wrote this morning:

Residential investment (RI) has bottomed and is now contributing to economic growth. Since RI is usually the best leading indicator for the economy, the economy will probably continue to grow for the next couple of years.

We obviously are not going back to the way things were before. The new equilibrium, for example, will feature widespread unemployment as a constant, at least for the time being. The price of oil changes everything, also. But we're not going to continue forever in crisis mode.

The widespread unemployment, by the way, is partly a function of that new and backassward approach to fighting recession, austerity. At this point the federal government is not spending enough on anything except "defense" to stimulate employment.

I know, I know, everybody's saying (especially everybody to the right of Olympia Snowe) federal spending has "exploded" under Obama. Uhh...

Click on the second graph to make it large enough to read. To get a clear view of the first graph (scariest chart ever) go here.

is it warm in here?

Have you ever bought $120 million worth of horse manure? if you have, you wouldn't be the first. From a story in The Guardian this morning.

Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned.

The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising "wedge issue" for hardcore conservatives.

This is a lesson in how doublethink works. If you don't like reality, you lie to yourself, tell yourself it's not real. Then you lie to the press, and tell reporters the same lie you've told yourself. Then you believe what you read.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

the happy hayseeds

f you're Chuck Hagel, a funny thing happened on the way to the Pentagramgon.

You're on your way to your first day on the new job, when, suddenly, you are set upon by ruffians.

Extremely good writer Charlie Pierce (libs who write for money have generally got what it takes) has the story, the lineup of unhappy hayseeds in the US Senate, and their individual modus operandii.

Photo: 1920's string band the Happy Hayseeds.

a reminder from charlie

If Charles Darwin was alive today he'd be 204. He's also be reminding us that superstition ain't the way.

Found this at an interesting site, new to me, Infidel 753.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

there ain't nothin else

Atrios says that all policy (and by extension, all policy debate) is tax policy, and I think that's about right.

Consider the policies of Dubya. He gave a hundreds-of-billions tax cut, then launched two wars, and put them on the credit card. So he had a definite tax policy, namely, "Somebody else can worry about this."

That and the consequences of the financial crash that sploded the economy during the last year of the Dick 'n' Dubya debacle pretty much sets us up for the present.

In most countries that have progressive income taxes, the policy objective is income re-distribution. This is accomplished both directly, by taxing the well-off at higher rates than the less well-off, and indirectly, by using tax revenue to support social programs, primarily a state pension and a medical treatment system financed by some sort of government scheme.

That's the promised land, and we'll get there after 40 years wandering in the wilderness. By my reckoning, we've got about seven years to go.

the bactrian inevitability

I've decided I've got to write a novel. It's what real writers do, right? They write novels, full of tough, intelligent, but sensitive females and protagonists with a lot of lean tautness.

So, you have to start with a title. I mean, that's kind of before you even start writing -- it's what people will see before they even start reading it. I thought of a good title and wrote it down here, so I wouldn't forget it.

The thing is, "The Bactrian Inevitability" sounds like a book title, because it takes that familiar form of article--adjectivized noun-- noun. The Andromeda Strain. The Mists of Avalon. The Princess Bride.

I have no idea at this point what it's about or who'll be in it, except for old Dub, a geezer curmudgeon who sits on his front porch drinking Buds and smoking Marlboros whlle softly cursing under his breath at the traffic rolling by his door.

drone warfare

I HATE the goddam state of the union speech. I don't care who gives it, I hate the MF speech, because it's a lot of empty pageantry enclosing a lot of empty rhetoric.

I heard maybe 30 seconds of it last night, cause I forgot it was on and when I turned on my radio to listen to Terry Gross, the Obamanator was on there spinning the true state of affairs.

I can't listen to that stuff, and don't understand why anyone would want to. I agree entirely with good old upyernoz (with a rubber hose) when he says "that the media has deemed it important and thus people feel like they have some kind of civil duty to sit through the ridiculous thing."

No matter whether it's a Demolican or Republicrat in the Casa Blanca, we search in vain for a longitude without a platitude, and for a globe without any spin. It really should be called "The Spin on the State of the Union" address.

This is "drone warfare" of a different kind.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

hagel zin

Despite not getting a single Republican vote in committee, Chuck Hagel got committee approval by a 14-11 vote, and the way is now clear for his confirmation. Word is he's got the 60 Senate votes he needs to overcome Bauregard Graham and that other Bozo who want to block him.

So I was wrong on this one. The former Republican senator wins the war secretary's job on a mirror-image party line vote, just as Democratic (ha ha) Senator Joe "the Schmoe" Lieberman does all of us a favor by retiring.

Secretary of War won't be an important job under Hagel, who is a "team player." It only takes on importance when someone who fancies himself a "leader of men" is in it, for example, Mr. Rumsfeld. Such a person can make a real mess.

ted nugent ted nugent

So when and how did Ted Nugent become a pundit? I have to wonder where he gained the expertise that thousands listen to him and some even take him seriously.

"We know that the president will have the state of the union stacked and jammed with props, children, and victims of violent crime, " Nugent said. "And my friends wanted me to attend to counter that the way that I do: with facts, statistics and common sense and logic and a celebration of self-evident truths. So I will be taking on the media orgy following the State of the Union Address."

He'll give them a piece of his mind, too, I'm sure. Not too big a piece, though. The world can only handle so much brilliance all at once.

Nugent said the media does not realize he is a "force to be reckoned with" and therefore he will "dominate them."

Delusions of grandeur have always come as naturally and easily to this guy as his urge to make excessively loud, annoying noises. His music was no different than his politics, and it appealed to the same demographic as his hysterical anti-Obamism does.

Back in the 70's when I was playing in a duo in the Seattle area, morons used to sit in the back of the room yelling at us: "Ted Nugent! Ted Nugent!" This is a small room, mind you, with two guys dressed in tuxedos playing softly. He probably has the same fans today, only now they're balder, fatter, and stupider than they were then.

a funny thing happened on the way to the vatican...

Now that Benny Ratzinger is getting forced off the papal throne because he was an indispensable cog in a sex abuse conspiracy, we're all wondering who his successor will be.

I don't care who it is, as long as he takes the name Hilarius II.

It's been 598 since a pope abdicated, but it's been 1,545 years since we had a Pope Hilarius, and it's about time.

Our thanks to upyernoz (with a rubber hose) for providing this perfect papal priceless factoid.

Illustration: Woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493.

Monday, February 11, 2013

tune remains the same

If we had clearer memory of the evil we've done, we might be motivated to forego the evil we're doing today.

Last week was the tenth anniversary of Colin Powell's speech to the UN Security Council about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction on February 5, 2003.

Just as John Brennan sat in front of a Senate committee regurgitating specious legalisms justifying Obama's murderous drone war and gelding of the constitution, Powell sat in the UN general assembly and lied through his teeth.

Not one major newspaper or news network responded to Powell's theatrics with anything remotely approaching skepticism. The obsequious, totally credulous editorials read like Onion articles today. The NY Times was probably the soberest, merely noting that "Mr. Powell's speech was all the more convincing because he dispensed with apocalyptic invocations of a struggle of good and evil and focused on shaping a sober, factual case against Mr. Hussein's regime."

Powell's "sober, factual case" turned out to be nine parts bullshit and one part sales pitch, but the corporate media swallowed the b.s. so easily the pitch wasn't really necessary. Any human who's breathing and semi-conscious can't help but notice how similar "Hussein's WMD" were to "Iran's nuclear capability" or the "threat" to national security from impoverished desert-dwellers in Yemen and hillbillies in Pakistan today.

So what happens to journalists who are really nothing more that stenographers bending their knees before the war machine? They all get turned out for being such tools, right? Actually, most of them have the same jobs today they did back then. For example, Google the name of Richard Cohen, one of the biggest sewer pipes who channeled the Bush administration's lies, and you'll find out he's "honored, respected, award-winning," etc.

I've noticed that among people who stood erect for war with Iraq, there are two approaches to the problem of the past. First, and most common, there's the "Who?Me?" approach, in which one conveniently forgets that he or she was a cheerleader for the destructiion of Iraq and the deaths of at least 100,000. The alternative approach, not quite as lame but certainly more bizarre, is to try to brazen it out, and claim the war was justified, "because, you know, he had em."

And most of them, just like most of the pundits and talking heads are still around, willing to share their vast knowledge of world politics with the rest of us, telling a new set of lies about a new (but similar) set of villains who are out to destroy us all, take away our guns and state lotteries, and devour our children, yadda yadda.

It's all here and more, at Gin and Tacos.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

prayer breakfast

harumph. Well, a bunch of people are talking about some sort of national prayer breakfast that happened, where this brain surgeon, Ben Carson, dissed Obama who was sitting there grinning like a pet opossum. "Spoke truth to power" as some of the more wingoid sites have expressed it. Whatever.

I had a prayer breakfast at my place this morning. I was the only person at this event.

Anyway, I prayed to Ganesha, who is on my dashboard, to remove all obstacles, including the Department of Homeland Security.

Sometimes prayers are answered, amIright?

Saturday, February 09, 2013

starbucks and socialism

I get my best writing prompts from the discussion board I frequent. Occasionally they're so good I have to copy and paste them here. Consider this:

Folks, we need oil and gas it is the very life's blood of modern society. People (left leaning) get so very pissed off when you talk about oil and gas - it really puts them into a pout so they drive off to Starbucks (in a Prius of course) and order the $5 coffees ad blog about it on their laptops that are plugged into the electical outlet.

OK, she forgot to mention putting on my Birkenstocks before I roar off to Starbucks in my VW Beetle (in my case) for my five-buck triple mocha.

But it's true, you know, that Teh Left loves Starbucks. They want red-blooded, patriotic Americans to squander all their wealth on expensive coffee drinks and lottery tickets, and then, when they have no money left for taxes and their Obamacare premiums, they'll be forced to work off the debt as "interns" laboring in one of Michelle's "socialist victory" organic gardens which are being set up all over the country for that very purpose.

This is just one of Teh Left's diabolical schemes which shows how much they want to destroy the country and make formerly happy people miserable.

Friday, February 08, 2013

have you hugged your fetus this morning?

Beat it! (Beat it) Beat it! (Beat it); No one wants to be the fetus.

--Michael Jackson

No one ever asks to be a fetus. I know I didn't.

Two fetuses went into a bar, but the bartender told them "Sorry, you can't stay."

We all started out as embryos. Fetus is an intermediate stage. Then comes personhood. Then you have to get a job.

Sapos yu endanger fetus bilong yu? Does that make yu a criminal?

spiky hat guys

Reading the parallel histories of the Roman and American empires, it's fun and useful to try to locate where we are today by finding the same approximate place in the sequence of the slow Roman slide into oblivion. It looks to me like we're at the "crisis of the third century stage of unravelling, as we attempt to deal with our own 21st-century disaster.

Just as Bush II took office 21 years after Reagan first sat on the throne, so the first Gordianus followed Reagan's opposite number, Septimius Severus by 27 years, and presided over the near-dissolution of the whole shebang due to civil war, financial crisis, and plague. He ruled for a little over a month in 238, and committed suicide on hearing of his son's death in combat.

Then came Pupienus, not only my favorite name of any emperor, but was the first in a line of tough old soldiers who were chosen for the job by the army, then quickly discarded. The military establishment, who were well aware that they alone chose the emperor by this time, but were very fickle, killed Pupienus and his co-emperor Balbinus, with whom he did not get along, afer they'd been in office a bare couple of months.

Philip I, called the Arab (he was from Syria) ruled for nearly five years and presided over the thousand-year jubilee of Rome's foundation, a very nervous and not particularly joyous occasion. He was killed in battle against a rival general supported by his own troops, Decius.

Hostilianus, the son of Decius, took over after his father was killed fighting the Goths. He ruled briefly in 251 and died of the plague.

Look, it's Claudius Gothicus again, my all-time favorite spiky-hat guy, whose brief reign was going well (he was successful both as a general and a ruler) until the plague took him in 270.

Some of these guys were capable and honest, others were incompetents and scoundrels, but all were equally helpless in dealing with the simultaneous, cascading disasters of the time in government, war, public health, and public finances.

The crisis of the second century finally ended in 285 with the accession of the Emperor Diocletian, who re-organized the government, reformed the finances, and did what he could to shore up security along the frontiers. The Roman Empire weathered the crisis, and went on to last another 200 years.

Likewise, the American empire is not done yet, although ecological meltdown, the modern day version of plague, make our future cloudy and uncertain.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

incursions against the persians

This is a US Navy aircraft carrier group, of which we have ten. Even from high up and far away you easily spot the carrier, like a whale shark surrounded by so many pilot fish.

We currently have two carrier groups stationed in the Persian Gulf, in order to intimidate Iran but also to try to provoke them into open war. Until a couple of years ago, we just had one carrier group parked on their doorstep, but the tensions have become considerably greater since then.

Now comes the word we're cutting back to one carrier group stationed in the Gulf once more. The Associated Press coverage tells us this "represents one of the most significant effects of budget cuts on the U.S. military presence overseas. The decision comes as Washington struggles to find a way to avoid sharp automatic spending cuts set to strike the Pentagon and domestic programs next month."

I feel very much of two minds about this "sequestration" clusterschnazzle. On the one hand, I have to like anything that makes us less belligerent and saves some serious money in the process. Anyway, why did we need two carrier groups over there? Are we planning to kill them all twice?

On the other hand, the economic effects, especially the employment picture, will be devastated by these crude, unplanned-for cuts which are essentially surgery with a chainsaw. And that's what austerity does -- crashes economies.

Hang on, Slupe, Slupe hang on.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

fetus don't fail me now

Right. A woman in Tennessee was arrested and jailed for drunk driving and child endangerment. After she crashed her car late Saturday/early Sunday on I-240, the cops tested her for intoxication and found her blood alcohol level registering half the legal limit. However, the Memphis police say Maria Guerra "smelled of alcohol, was unsteady on her feet, and had bloodshot eyes."

When she told officers she was four months pregnant, they added an endangerment (of a child under 18) charge to the DUI. The little munchkin int the picture is a four-months fetus. So for now she's stuck in the slammer until somebody puts up a $5K bond.

In contrast to the sad story of the irresponsible and intoxicated Maria Guerra, we have this item from the Fox affiliate in Cleburne, Texas:

No charges will be filed against the Cleburne dad who shot his daughter while loading his gun.

Police said the accident happened this past Friday. The man was loading a handgun that he had recently purchased and accidentally fired it.

He shot his 5-year-old daughter in the abdomen.

She was taken to Cooks Children's Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police and the district attorney's office reviewed the case and decided it was an accident. No criminal charges will be filed

That worked out well for everybody. I mean, the kid didn't die, and everybody understands that dad just made a mistake. It's not like he did something serious, like endanger a fetus.

It's all here, and a lot more, over with that mean-workin crew at digby's place.