“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, February 11, 2012


The Great Council
A saga from the 3rd Age of Usa
by Quirk

The world was in chaos and bathed in woe. War, disease, and famine ran rampant across the land. It was the beginning of the second half of what until then had been called the Golden Age of the fabled Empire of Usa; but these were fey and dour times. There was unrest in the land; brother fought brother; untold masses suffered while a lucky or venal few prospered. Vandals roamed the streets in packs, every home had a weapon, anarcho-capitalism grew with merchants hiring local warlords and their bands of mercenaries to protect their goods. Pilgrims wandered the land predicting Armageddon and Rapture. Peasant revolts were springing up spontaneously in cities throughout the land. The old gods were long abandoned and forgotten.
In the fabled city of Oz, the Dark Emperor O ruled from his throne in the infamous White Palace. He ignored the rules laid down by the Old Ones in the Great Charter. His minions, Lady Pelosi and Lord Harry held sway over the Wise Men elected by the people to offer counsel and direction to the Emperor on their behalf. The Emperor’s policies were profligate and he had brought the country to near ruin.
Much of the known world suffered with Usa. The only ones seeming to prosper and grow stronger daily were her ancient enemies in the lands of the Great Bear and the Great Dragon.
But the Emperor’s powers remained unchecked. The only ones who had the resources in manpower and treasure to stem his disastrous rule were the people of the Gop; but their leaders were weak and torn by internecine squabbling.
They appeared to offer no credible alternative to O’s rule.
Within Usa, there were many lesser powers enthralled to the Emperor. Among them, was the High King Deuce from the realm of Blog in the state of Pa. And it was this same High-King who on the 10th day of the second month of the second year of second decade of the second half or the Golden Age of Usa called forth his Great Council to assemble for a Moot of the high born to discuss major issues and events and reach consensus on actions to be taken.
From across Usa they gathered. There was the great Witch-Queen Zenatherisitawasplenith, riddler and shift changer from the misty lands of the northwest; the Battle mage Gag Reflex, Chief Ranger to the Court ; the Lord Rat, silky and sly, Lord of the Horse from the deserts of ancient Az. There was also truculent Lord Dougo from the fabled land of Maui beyond the sea; and the Corn King, Rufus II, from the swamplands of the South. There was Lord Ash, the Potato Prince from the lands north of the Great Lakes, the lands of the windigo and frost giants; and there was Sir Samuel from the Lands Below, Scribe and Jester to the High-King. There was the warlord OnonomoWiO, Shogun of Oh, who had demanded the moot be called. With him rode Flim Flam, warlock and sorcerer and chief councilor to the Shogun. Nine acolytes accompanied Flim Flam as they always did. Just in case. Also in OnonomoWiO’s train rode, Bobbo his Thane, Jarl of Id, reader of runes, philosopher to the court, and Lord Commander of the Royal Coachmen. There were also great ladies that attended. There was Lady Melody, spellweaver and astrologer, daughter of the moon, born of the ancient blood of elf and fairy. With her came Lady Jenny-Janus, sibyl and seer, magus and medium, dual-natured dark eminence. Also attending was the hydra-headed monster Anonymi, anonymous sower of dissent, son of the idiot god Cthutlu. The only two members of the Council not attending were the Quirkster, Warden of the North and the wizard Whit, friend and councilor to the high-King who had long ago withdrawn into self-imposed exile into the damp, dark recesses of Usa’s southlands.
Those high born who did attend were accompanied by a goodly train of retainers and sycophants.
The edict demanding their presence at the moot was a cause for trepidation among many of the council members. The Council was to assembly at the Post, a huge mead hall in the west of Pa. It was a dark and eldritch place were momentous decisions had been discussed and abandoned in decades past. There was tension in the air for the Great Council was divided and in dispute; and legend informs that the last moot held there had devolved from curses and abuse to a drunken brawl with fists and chairs and (some say) even a shoe being thrown, though none ever admitted to the last act. The incident is still remembered as the Night of the Jabberwocky.
It was near ten in the evening when the Council members began to arrive at the great alehouse. A full moon was rising in the east and it cast stark shadows across the barrow lands through which they road. Because of an unseasonably warm afternoon, wispy tendrils of mist were drifting up from the land into the cool night air. The movement of the mist gave one the impression that barrow wights and vesti were moving silently among the mounds. The travel was slow as the broad highway on which they rode was cracked and pitted and filled with huge cavernous potholes caused by the pervasive neglect that marked the Emperor’s reign. Instead of repairing roads, and bridges, and sewers, Usa’s treasures were being squandered on death panels, wars, military hardware, drones, golf, and vacations for the Empress Michelle, her daughters, mother, her train of tag-a-longs, and a coterie of guards.
The first to arrive at the ancient ale-house was the High-king himself. He was accompanied by the Ladies Melody and Jenny-Janus who had both bummed rides. They approached the alehouse warily, winding their way up the narrow path between the scavenged remains of a Vietnam-era Douglas A-4 Skyhawk on the one side and the hulk of a M48 Patton medium tank on the other, the accoutrements of war and sad symbols of past military adventures. As they approached the entrance, they were confronted by a massive totem topped with a giant, ornately-runed Cross of Malta with a banner draped below bearing the words VFW POST 1264. Beside the totem was another sign, Graham-Foster Wedding: Main Hall. Take Front Entrance. Below in smaller font, The Great Council: The Patton Room. Take Side Entrance.
The High-King and the two Ladies moved to the side entrance but as they entered the hall they were confronted with a roiling miasma of stale beer, mildew, and the tanged odor of old sweat from bitter contests from ages past, of political debate, and drunken brawls, and beer pong matches lasting into the night.
“Good lord, shouted the king. Someone air this place out. Damn. How much did we pay to rent this place anyway?”
After about half an hour, the air in the room had become tolerable and the king took his seat at the head of an array of six square tables that had been arranged to form a circle. Table cloths had been strategically arranged to complete the illusion. Behind him, the wall was dominated by a life-size picture of General George S. Patton, truculent and proud, dressed in jacket and sash with jodhpurs and riding crop. To the side of the king along the wall was a small bar manned by a single bartender who was presently cleaning a crystal tip jar.

The king’s dress belied his foul mood. He wore golden raiment with crimson elephants rampant embroidered on each breast. His crown, a broad golden circlet topped by a pachyderm with lowering proboscis that hung down between his eyes, seemed to sit heavy on his brow. He wore the Black Amulet of the IP draped around his neck, an intricately runed rodent made of some strange impermeable substance which though the king's innate arcane knowledge he was able to manipulate the force of the Web to view some of the hidden secrets of his subjects including even those of the crafty and ubiquitous Anonymi. As he waited, the king toyed nervously with his i-Phone.
Beside the king on the left sat Lady Mel, a breath of spring, dressed gaily in a brief outfit of yellow and crimson lace. It could be described in more detail but as I said it was brief; however, it did show off her tats (yes tats) to maximum advantage. On the king’s right side sat Lady Jenny-Janus the inscrutable. Her moods were often changeable, violent and abrupt, a dangerous women. Oftimes her moods could be judged by the clothes she wore but it was never a certain thing for even the color of her clothes seemed to be able to change to match her mood. When the Good Jenny appeared she often wore brightly colored raiment of greens and reds and purple; but when Janus shifted and Bad Jenny appeared, her clothes usually reflected it, ill-fitting, dark and somber. Tonight, she wore indecipherable shades of sand and light grey. Not knowing which way she or they might shift created tension and uncertainty for all, for the room was now filling up with other members of the council and their minions as they entered carrying their packages. I say packages for as usual the edict mandating the moot spelled out “Dinner: Pot Luck”.
The High-king had his usual five foot Philly Cheese Steak Sub delivered before his arrival. Lady Mel once again went vegetarian with a Caribbean rice and black bean salad while Lady Jenny-Janus contributed an enchilada casserole with Doritos.
Rufus II, the Corn King, grizzled and weary but spoiling for a fight arrived wearing a crown with the words ‘John Deere” drawn from the ancient language of the Cherokee engraved across the front. In one hand, he carried a gallon bottle of crystal clear ambrosia declaring it the be the “whitest damn lighting you will ever taste”. In the other hand, he carried a huge container of Burger Kings “New Fries” which he promptly put on the side board with the other offerings. He then announced a delivery boy from the local Pig-in-a-Poke would be there shortly with his order of corn pone.
Spotting Lady Mel in the corner, he smiled noting she had set up an i-Pod with portable speaker and was now gyrating to the sounds of Heartbreaker.
Queen Zenatherisitawasplenith was the next to arrive. She wore a flowered blouse in greys and blues under a violet jacket of soft leather and over a pair of bitchin tight black slacks. She brought a huge platter of spicy Filipino escabetcheng sauce served over lapu-lapu fish fillets. After setting the platter on the side board, she took her seat and immediately went to the Bible Sayings app on her portable computer to prepare for the moot.
A few minutes later, Lord Ash walked in carrying a quiche and a bottle of port wine with Stilton cheese for dessert. He was dressed in a white parka with matching apr├Ęs ski boots. He was flaunting a pink ‘Walk for the Cure’ ribbon and a NOW Fight for the Right to Choose armband. Noticing the high king was free, he moved to his side.
“Your Grace, I bring news from the Warden of the North. I stopped by his hold at Quirk Rock on my way south from the Great White North. The Warden begs your indulgence but says he will be unable to attend the moot. War and chaos have broken out in the twin cities of Detro and Dearbo. In Detro, bandits and thugs roam the streets in packs, looting and harassing the innocent. Drug deals and drive-by shootings occur nightly. There is even talk of cancelling the rest of Black History Month there. As you know, it now runs into mid-March.
And in Dearbo, the children of Islam are in revolt. They are angered that their Queen has been arrested on a DUI and they cite religious persecution despite the fact she blew a 2.0 on the breathalyzer. They are incensed that their leaders are being persecuted, like the owner of the La Shish restaurants chain who was forced to leave the country because of false charges of tax evasion and supporting terrorists. They argue that not all of the Italian restaurants in the city yet offer falafel. They toss abuse and shoes in all directions. I of course reminded the Warden of the numerous Catholic priests who are proven pedophiles but it did nothing to assuage his anger nor his resolve.
He holds the Eight Mile Gate, and vows that none from the twin cities shall pass forth to pollute the lands while he lives.”
The High-King frowned. “That is disturbing news. And disappointing. Did you see the size of that sub I brought? But in this case the Warden must do what he thinks best. He will be missed. I loved those water chestnuts wrapped in bacon with the barbeque sauce that he brought last time. At any rate, I thank you for bringing me his message. Go. Sit. Enjoy yourself while we await the others.”
Proud and defiant, Lord Ash moved to a seat across from Zenatherisitawasplenith and opened up the “Mr. Potato Head” app on his i-Pod while waiting for the others to arrive.
He didn’t have to wait long. Almost immediately, Lord Samuel walked through the door smiling and carrying a huge poke of shrimp cooked fresh off the barbie. He laid the shrimp on the side table and then proceeded to work the room, joking and cracking wise with all there. He was a handsome man, young and virile, recently voted Metrosexual of the Year by the residents of Blog, perfectly coiffed, every hair in place even, one assumes, those that could not be seen, a true dandy. He was wearing a Tori Richard aloha shirt of soft cotton with oyster shell buttons on a black base with a breadfruit design pattern. He wore light khaki pleated slacks over Salvador beach sandals. He moved with easy grace as he circled the room. His lilting voice could occasionally be heard over the general hubbub, “So these two gay guys are sitting in a bar and a horse walks in…”
The next to arrive were Lord Rat and the battle mage, Gag Reflex. The rat was carrying a pot of his famous southwestern chili sin frijoles. He was wearing his trademark sombero and a desert camo outfit under a long sand colored duster. His spurs, attached to newly re-soled Tony Roma boots, jingle jangle jingled as he strode through the door. Gag Reflex, the Chief Ranger walked in beside him wearing dark green camo and carrying a rolled up gilly suit under his right arm. In his left hand, he carried a frog gig and strung over his shoulder was a huge bag of frogs he had harvested along the way. After offering greetings all around, Gag laid the Sterno cans he had brought to cook the frog legs on the bar and then moved to the rest room with his catch to fillet the legs.

It was then that that the double doors separating the Patton Room from the main hall were thrown wide and in strode the Hydra-headed beast Anonymi accompanied by the soft tribal rhythms of the Hokie Pokie as played by the Sam Geiss Trio who had now started upping the beat at the Graham-Foster wedding. Anonymi was forced to come through the main hall as, due to his great girth, he was unable to make it through the side entrance. He wore his usual oversized ninja outfit with slippers, but tonight he also sported Guy Fawkes masks on each of his many heads.
The High-King viewed him with distain, but as he stroked the amulet at his throat, he also thought he detected wary recognition, or was it hidden guilt, in the eyes of a number of his councilors. He knew, even at that, most despised the creature. They had begun calling him the ‘The Thing’, short for ‘The Thing With Many Heads But No Brain”.
Anonymi was always the last to be chosen for any of the occasional pick-up softball games held in Blog. There was something foreign and out of kilter with him. Even when he made it to second base, he would just as likely run back to first instead of advancing to third. It made it almost impossible for those trying to follow the game on their scorecards. But what could you do? Ban him from the blog for being different? Probably not. The high-king was terrible and just but he understood and was tolerant of the weaknesses of man. However, he was still greatly vexed when he noticed Anonymi once again had come to the moot empty handed. No doubt he/they/it would offer the same excuse, “I must have misread the edict.”
After a brief survey of the room, Anonymi moved to the side board, grabbed a few handfuls of frog legs from where Gag had set them, and then proceeded to the table. He ended up taking up about a quarter of the space at the table, partly because of his girth and partly because none seemed to want to sit close to him.
Soon the side entrance opened again, silently and as if by magic. An amorphous mist flooded the entrance, and through it marched the Shogun of Oh, the warlord OnonomoWiO with his minions in tow. To his left, always a step behind so that he could whisper into the shogun’s ear was Allen of Ga, the flim flam man, called ‘The Fox’ by his friends but ‘The Dissembler’ by his many enemies, sorcerer and chief councilor to the shogun. On AnonymoWiO’s right side strode his Thane, Bobbo the Jarl of Id.
They were a formidable looking group. The Shogun was dressed all in black in tactical slacks and a conceal carry shirt by Blackhawk. He wore sport boots by Bates, ventilated shooting gloves by Bob Allen, and a 5.11 tactical series vest. On his shoulder he carried a heavy duffel go-bag which he now tossed near the coat rack. Wearing his ‘Team Glock’ black hat and aviator sunglasses, one had to admit he looked very impressive and bold and…er…well….very, very tactical.

Beside him, the Jarl Bobbo, called ‘Wolfbane’ by his subjects, 'The Poisoner' by his enemies, and ‘Commando’ by his fishing buddies, wore a green plaid shirt and a fishing vest over faded khakis. On his head, he wore a round helm mounted by two huge horns (a gift from his wife). The helm was surrounded by a band of smooth cotton to which he had attached various fishing lures and flies. On his chest, he wore the badge designating him the honorary title of Commander of the Royal Coachmen. Legend had it that this badge of office, actually a uniquely tied Royal Coachman, had actually been tied by the beloved Thaddeus Norris himself. Instead of the usual smoked salmon that Wolfbane usually brought, tonight he opted to bring a batch of pemmican cakes he whipped up from a recipe by Vihljamur Stefansson that he came across in a recent copy of Mark’s Daily Apple. He displayed them to the high-king with a slight bow and then placed them on the side board.
Allen of Ga now brought forth his offering, a steaming platter of gefilte fish slices served with horseradish and carrots which he also placed on the side board. The shogun’s councilor was wearing a long black leather coat that reached nearly to the floor. It covered a black Cossack style shirt and black slacks. Adding a discordant note to the outfit were the knee high red boots that he wore and which lent the outfit a disquieting androgynous look, a look one suspected was intentional.

It was at this point that AnonomoWiO called forth three of the nines acolytes from Allen of Ga’s train. The first two men carried a number of packages on trays, white boxes tied with red ribbon. “A mix of confectionary delights to be shared with my friends” beamed the Shogun. He proceeded to open one box and lay its contents on the side board. It contained extraordinary examples of the confectioner’s art centered by a glorious masterpiece exquisitely wrought yet understated, a white and dark chocolate pistol designed to represent a Glock 38.
AnonomoWiO smiled thinly at the stunned reaction of his audience and then said, “And now for the piece d’resistance”. He again signaled and a third acolyte approached carrying a huge covered serving tray which he placed on the side board. The shogun lifted the lid and an audible gasp swept the room. It was a brisket. But not just any brisket. No. It was a Brisket WiO. Many had thought it just a legend but here it was. It was rumored that cooking it required the skill of the famous fugu chefs who prepare the erotically dangerous torafugu in Japan.
Regardless, the aroma wafting from the meat was intoxicating. Even Lady Jenny-Janus shifted slightly in her chair.
“Enjoy,” said the Shogun.
And they soon did. Not even the high-king could resist.
It was only later that some in the room began to wonder why the shogun had decided to share this treasure even with those he clearly did not like. And some questioned that there might be some hidden meaning in the fact that he was offering them all a gun to eat albeit one made of candy. Again, an ominous level of tension returned and there was a charge in the air.

The high king rose and called for silence.
“Has anyone seen Lord Dougo?” His only answer was silence.
“Then we must begin. We are now approaching the eleventh hour and we only have the room until one.”
Queen Zenatherisitawasplenith rose. “I would like to offer a prayer of thanks for our bounty.”
Instantly, Lord Ash was on his feet. “Bullshit. I will not have it. We have never said a prayer before. And she is Catholic. Do I have to once again remind you of those pedophile priests?”
“Sit down, you putz,” roared the Chief Ranger, and pandemonium ensued.
“Silence,” demanded the high king. “Any praying will be done silently and to yourselves. We have important things to discuss. Barkeep, tap another keg if you please. Let’s eat and get on with it.”
“But it’s a Brisket WiO,” whined Zenatherisitawasplenith.
The king silenced here with a look. Silence returned as they turned to their food, all but for the sound of a near inaudible whisper from the direction of Zenatherisitawasplenith, “Bless us O Lord for these thy gifts…”
AnonomoWiO chuckled, “Well I am surprised. Not that you didn’t let my people offer a prayer in thanksgiving. That was as expected. But instead, by the fact that you didn’t allow all of your little toadies with their Christian praying and proselytizing to do so.
In frustration, the king said, “Please, WiO. We only have a couple hours to wrap this thing up.”
ust as things were getting back to normal, the side entrance was thrust open and in strode Lord Dougo, dour and truculent. In one hand he carried a tin of Macadamia nuts and in the other a half melted bag of ice. It was obvious he was incensed if not livid.
“You bastards. Couldn’t save me a damn parking space could you? Do you know how big that wedding is next door? I had to park a half mile down the road at Pig-in-a-Poke and then hoof it.”
WiO sneered, “Don’t get your panties in a twist, Dougo. They didn’t save my people any spaces either. We are parked out on the lawn beyond the far parking lot. Join the club. I expected nothing less from this bunch.”
It was difficult for Dougo to contain himself but he moved silently to the table. It was there where his anger flared again.
He now noticed the circular configuration of the table which prevented him from taking his usual spot on the ‘right’ side; and worse, most of the seats were taken and he was forced to sit next to Ononymi. The king noticed that same look of recognition (guilt?) in Lord Dougo’s eyes as he looked down upon The Thing; but then reflected the king, perhaps it was merely due to the competitive factor. Lord Dougo was usually the second to last person picked in the softball games.
Turning to the king and gesturing to the table, Dougo asked, “What is this?”
The high king smiled, “Because of the continuing strife on the Council, I thought the round table might make things appear a little more democratic around here.”
Dougo merely groaned.
“And what is this. You didn’t save me one frog leg?”
“As usual, my people didn’t get any either,” said WiO.
“Hell, nobody did. I didn’t’ even get any. The Thing ate them all,” complained The Ranger.
It was then that Dougo noticed the NOW patch on Lord Ash’s parka. With disdain he said, “You friggin PC pansy.”
Lord Ash merely smiled.
Lord Dougo tugged at his shirt. He was wearing a Tori Richard aloha shirt of soft cotton with oyster shell buttons on a black base with a breadfruit design pattern. He wore light khaki pleated slacks over Salvador beach sandals. It appeared as if he had recently had his hair trimmed. He picked up his fork and glanced across the table. He saw Lord Samuel and what he was wearing and blanched. Sam was smiling. Dougo exploded.
“You dirty SOB. Do you know how long it took me to pick out this outfit?”
The main table exploded in laughter and Lord Dougo’s humiliation was complete.
It took some time for the hubbub to die down and the guests to be satiated but then the high king rose.
“Let’s tap another keg. It’s time to get down to business but you can continue munching as we move along. The Shogun has set the main agenda item for the moot, but I would ask if there is any peripheral business that needs to be taken care beforehand.”
Once again Zenatherisitawasplenith rose. “I’m selling 50/50 tickets to the Our Lady of the Lakes Spring Festival. The drawing will be held on the second Wednesday in April on Bingo Night but you don’t have to be present to win.”
“I’m not contributing to no stinking pedophile priests,” yelled Lord Ash.
“Me either”, screamed the Corn King. “I can’t stand those religious hypocrites.”
Gag Reflex chimed in “Damned papists.”
WiO and his coterie merely smiled.
The high king pounded the table and roared, “I meant any peripheral Council business. Take care of that on you own time Z. Let’s go around the table. Thin…er…Ononymi, you first. Any business you want to talk about?”
“Nuttin,” said the central head on The Thing.
“Any of the rest of you?”
“Nuttin”, said the other heads in chorus.
Relieved, the king moved on. “Lady Jenny-Janus? Anything?”
“Nothing right now but I’ll reserve my time.”
“WiO, you have the main agenda item so I assume you will wait.” The shogun nodded to the king.
“Rufus and Gag, I think you are on the agenda for the next moot. Anything to add tonight?”
Both answered in the negative.
“Rat, what you got?”
“Your Grace, I would only point out once again Teddy Roosevelt’s stated disdain for hyphenated Americans. I think we all know to whom I refer.”
“Thanks, rat. Allen of Ga, anything from you?”
“I wouldn’t waste my time with this bunch, Sweetie.”

The king continued.
“Lord Dougo?”
“Merely, a brief statement. I think Rufus is a shit sucking commie and Ash is no better, the friggin PC prick.”
“Thanks, Dougo. Lord Ash?
“Well, there is the matter of the pedo…”
Anyone else? Jarl Bobbo?”
“Thanks, boss. First, let me say to Z, I’d like a few of those 50/50 tickets. My luck’s been rotten lately down at the casino. I’ll catch up with you later. Now with regard to Council business, I would like to nominate WiO to join the king’s Privy Council as he has proven himself worthy of that honor on many occasions. It is also my understanding that he will be nominating me, Allen of Ga, and Allen’s nine acolytes for the same honor.”
The king responded, “Sorry, Bobbo, but you are out of order. You know well that membership in the Privy Council is an honorary title that is bestowed not nominated and voted upon. If that is all, please take your seat.”
“But…” started Bobbo.
“Enough,” said the king.
“What mummery is this? Tis a farce. Blatant discrimination, WiO has proven himself to be the most…”
“Silence”, yelled the King. “Gag, you and the Corn King are selected as co-sergeant-at-arms. If this man continues along these lines, cast him into the darkness.”
“The closet?” asked Gag.
“No, outside,” said the king.
The Corn King, who had now polished off most of the white lightning said, “I…who there…what’s zo dam funny…I…”
From behind and to the left of AnonimoWiO, came a sonorous whispered “tsk tsk tsk” followed by a message indecipherable and “…my preciousessss…” like the song of a snake or some amphibious Gollum. In response, the shogun rose. “I would only comment my Grace that this is merely one more example of the indignity, persecution, and abuse visited upon my people by you and people like you at this bar and across the world through the millennia.”
“Noted,” said the king.
Moving on, the king said, “Lady Mel, what you got?”
“Your Grace, I have heard this bullshit many times before. I beg your permission to join the wedding party in the next room.”
“So be it,” said the king. “I wish I could go with you. Have fun.”
Smiling, Mel said, “Come on Sam. Join me.”

Sam smiled back but said, “Sorry, Mel, but I have to take down the minutes.”
The king interjected, “That’s alright Sam, I am invoking my royal prerogative and commanding that those who remain will commit the evening’s remaining words and events to the communal tribal memory. I would ask that later you all forward your reflections to Sam so that he can convert them to formal minutes.”
The king was aware of the can of worms he was opening up but he didn’t want to send Lady Mel off by herself.
Mel grabbed Sam’s hand and as they passed through the doors to the main hall, the roiling ethnic beat of the ‘Chicken Dance’ swept the Patton Room and then died as the doors were once again closed.
“All right,” said the king, “if that’s it we will now move to the main business of the evening. But as is our habit we will first ask our oracle, the Lady Jenny-Janus, to cast the runes and grant us some vision into the future."
This was always a moment of tension at the moot. No one knew who Jenny would channel, a spirit of good or a spirit of evil. Some were tacitly optimistic as her clothes had taken on an almost imperceptible change in hue.
The seer stood slowly, took a hefty swig of the Grey Goose from the tumbler at her side and sighed. She then slowly opened her eyes and softly spoke the words, “Can’t we all be friends?”
The relief in the room was palpable for though the words in the manner of all sibyls past and present were ambiguous at best, most on the council elected to give them a positive spin especially since the message contained no four letter words starting with F.
“Thank you, my Lady,” said the king. “And now, AnonimoWiO, you are on.”
The shogun stood, proud and tall, defiant in his tactical glory.
“First, I would like to thank the high king for allowing me to present my petition. This grant is highly unusual and I hardly expected that he would grant someone like me an equal or at least somewhat equal chance to speak before this assembly.”
“Next, I would like to hand out this package of documents from AIPAC, B’nai B’rith, the ADL, and Commentary for the council members to review at their leisure. They contain vital information on our historic homeland and its capital.”
The Jarl of Id, who had started imbibing early, was slightly confused and asked, “You mean Stockholm?”
“No, you fool,” hissed the shogun, “I mean Israel, the font of civilization, Zion and its capital city Jerusalem, the City of God, the jewel of the east, the fountainhead.”
“Oh, right,” said Bobbo.
WiO continued.
“And finally, I am proposing that the Council adopt by unanimous consent the petition I am about to put before you and that we further unanimously agree to send this petition to the Emperor and demand that he immediately implement its provisions in their entirety.
The petition is as follows,
Your Imperial Majesty O, Emperor of Usa
May it please Your Majesty:
It's time to nuke Iran's under the mountain sites.
Sunday, Feb. 5, Alireza Forghani, head of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's strategic team, was quoted as remarking, "It would only take nine minutes to wipe out Israel."
Notice i did not advocate genocide.
I am advocating the complete destruction of Iran's weapons of mass destruction program, it's oil refineries, it's power grid, it's water and sewage infrastructure, it's ports, it's revolutionary guard barracks, it's runways and it's oil wells.
Once those 1st round of destruction occurs?
ANYTHING that is military should be struck.
Any Iranian governmental employee should be targeted for liquidation anywhere in the world.
Round 3?
Any rally against the Jews calling for their genocide? Should be clusterbombed.
Yeah I know the world will get pissy in public.
I know the retarded bar flies here will condemn me for being a maniac and a murderer...
It's war folks...
They win or we win
We die or they die.
I choose they die.
Of course any rockets from Hezbollah or hamas?
Should be responded to as an act of war.
The populations of both should be driven several hundred miles back and then the empty lands should be salted and made unlivable.
No occupation here folks...
Do what the Romans did...
Salt the ground..
Make it barren
Teach them a lesson...
Dont Tread on me...
Good night
We have the honor to remain Your Imperial Majesty’s obedient servants
The Great Council of the High King of Blog
Stunned silence filled the room. Then it exploded.
"All who live by the sword will die by the sword,” quoted Z while frantically keying her i-Pad.
“Fuck you bitch,’ screamed WiO.
The rat, who had been biding his time, smiled and said, “I have one thing to say, Lester Crown.”
“What the hell has that got to do with this, you damned nazi?” countered WiO.
“Well, it’s undeniably true that…,” started rat but he was cut off.
Z shouted, “Do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Rat continued, “The equivalency here is obvious, but of course the Israelis are much more equivalent than…”
That’s right screamed Ash, “If the Israeli’s are as good as WiO says, we should expect more of them.”
“To whom much is given, much is demanded.” Quoted Z.
Lord Dougo rose, “Equivalent? You fucking morons. Next you will be blaming Iran on Donald Rumsfeld and the neocons. None of this could be O’s fault or that of the Libs. No, not in a coon’s age. Man, you people are stupid.”
“All I care about is that none of my money or my kids go to some hell hole in the ME. Screw them all,” said Rufus II. (He was starting to get his second wind and was feeling kinda feisty.)
“Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good,” said Z.
“I merely quote the words of the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, a man who should know of which he speaks,” said the rat.

“You don’t know shit, crapper. You prove it here daily,” chimed in the Jarl of Id.
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" quoted Z.
“Who’s side are you on?” questioned the high king.
"I hate those goat-fuckers," said Z as she frantically keyed her machine and followed with, “Jesus said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one..." The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That is enough," he replied.
“She’s nutz,” said the Corn King.
“Never forget,” screamed WiO.
“Let my people go,” screamed the Jarl of Id.
“Next year in Jerusalem,” screamed Allen of Ga.
The strains of the Macarena suddenly filled the room as Sam stuck his head in the door and asked, “Anyone got change for the condom machine in the john?”
Ash went to give him change but soon returned.
The Ranger had now reached the end of his patience, “Joos, Joos, Joos, Joos, Joos, that’s all we talk about. This is the 30th moot we have had on this subject in the last month. I suggest Korea and nobody listens. Damn.”
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint,” said Z.
“What?” said Gag.
“Forget it Gag, she’s batshit crazy,” said the Corn King.
“Yea, though I walk through the Valley of Death, I shall…” Z continued.
“Enough. Enough,” roared the king.
“It is 12:30 and they will be kicking us out of the hall shortly. We have a motion on the floor presented by the Shogun. It’s time to take a vote. Can we get anonymous agreement? Let’s take a vote by show of hands. All in favor of WiO’s proposal raise your hands.”
Given the votes of Allen of Ga’s nine acolytes and the fact that Doug had moved over to sit with that group, the shogun had achieved a consensus but it was hardly the unanimous approval that he had demanded. He rose and silently gazed upon those who had failed to raise their hands in assent. Then he spoke.
“Once more, you show yourselves to be the base anti-Semitic bastards I have always known you to be. Your blatant disregard for the lives and culture of my people are well known. No more brisket for you. No doggy bags for anyone.
"Allen, have your men collect any of those boxes that haven’t been opened yet. They go with us.
"All that I can say is that you sniveling cowards are a bunch of pussy appeasers who will suffer the same predation my tribe has suffered for thousands of years. When it happens, I will try to contain my laughter. I know I will be unable to contain my derision.
A pox on you and your posterity unto the 10th generation.”
“Ok,” said the high king, “So is that it for tonight?”
Everyone nodded assent and some of the naysayers surreptitiously moved towards the remaining brisket to grab one more bite before the remains were taken away.

“Fine,” said the king.
“Say Ruf, could you let Sam and Mel know that we are wrapping up and will be taking off soon?”
“Sure Deuce. Just need to find my keys.”

As the Corn King entered the main hall it was obvious the Graham-Foster wedding was also wrapping up. Sam was sitting at one of the now nearly empty tables talking to two of the bridesmaids while Melody was in the middle of the darkened dance floor under a giant mirrored disco ball dancing in the flickering lights with a tall, blonde, sensuous beauty to the beat of Clapton’s You Look Wonderful Tonight.
Most in the Patton Room stopped to watch for a moment, then Deuce said, “Just a reminder, at the next Great Moot, the Corn King will present a paper on the progress the state of Ca is making towards energy independence. We will also debate whether to take up the Chief Ranger’s suggestion that we talk about Korea.
“So that’s it. Good meeting. Get those posts with your thoughts over to Sam. I think Lady Jenny-Janus has volunteered to pull together the list of pot luck dishes you are planning to bring for tomorrow's moot. Keep her updated so we don’t end up with a lot of duplicates.
“We’re done here. See you tomorrow night, same time, same place.”
“Take it easy Deuce. Be careful driving,” said WiO.
“I’ll catch you guys tomorrow,” said Ash.
“Damn, I lost my keys again,” complained the Corn King. “Give me a hand here will you rat?”
The lights flickered to announce it was time to go.
The Moot of the Great Council was ended.


  1. Also known as the Protocols of the Elders of EB.

  2. Damn impressive piece of writing. Makes you wonder what is Q’s day job.

  3. :)

    Excellent, Excellent, Excellent.

    Our anticipation was well-rewarded.

    Great Job!

  4. I still say he's in the Federal pen.

  5. Oh shit! I forgot to give my email address. (-_-)

    Once again, though, a remarkable piece by our one-n-only, Quirk.

  6. And, you always wondered how Deetroit got you to buy that Neon.


  7. There is only one problem.

    Yellow and lace. You should know by now that yellow is not my color and lace is only to be used for binding something together.

    You could have at least put me in assless chaps carrying a riding crop.

  8. Also?

    What the fuck is a sub?

    Here in Philly we call them h.o.a.g.i.e.s.

  9. Great illustrations Deuce but not a rater in sight :(

    Pretty darn good writing for a retired marketing guy Quirk! Bobal, time for you to rise to the occasion. Jenny, you certainly have an outsized influence for so few words.

  10. Thank God you had me leaving that room and crashing a wedding cause the thought of sitting in a confined chair for any length of time listening to something that has been repeated time and time again would have resulted in me gaining control of that glock 38 and...and...well you know.

  11. And we all know Mel likes a well groomed man.

  12. Yes, Mea Culpa; Great Job on the Art Work.

  13. You can say all you like Mel but I'll forever remember the assless chaps...

  14. License plates, that's his day job.

    And that charlatan wouldn't let me speak about Sarah at CPAC - I was going offer a resolution naming her as our Guiding Light to the Future.

    Washington, D.C. -- A few protesters mic-checked Sarah Palin's keynote speech at CPAC today but didn't last long. Nothing could touch Palin, who had the crowd on their feet for large portions of her speech.

    The protesters in the back of the room yelled "Mic-check!" and were immediately greeted with a standing crowd -- and Palin herself -- chanting "USA, USA." Security quickly whisked them out of the room.

    “We just won — see how easy that is," Palin said after they'd gone.

    And at least in terms of reception, she did win today. Palin's speech got the biggest reaction of any at CPAC -- much more so than any of the presidential candidates. The audience gave her standing ovation after standing ovation and some even yelled "Run Sarah run!" -- more telling of the GOP field's inability to connect with voters than any poll.

    Palin zeroed in on President Obama. The current state of the economy "is not a failure of the American people," she said. "It is the failure of leadership. We know how to change that, oh yes we do. Oh yes we can," she said, echoing Obama's campaign line.

    "Hope and change – yeah, you gotta hope things change."

    "He says he has a jobs plan to win the future. WTF, I know," Palin said, spelling out W-T-F.

    Palin hasn't endorsed any candidates and didn't do so today, telling the crowd that "For the sake of our country we must stand united, whoever our nominee is."

    Palin left the stage to an extended ovation, having managed to do what none of the candidates except Santorum could: get social conservatives truly fired up.

  15. Quirk, that was a really good effort.

    Whitney Houston is dead. Must have been an OD.

  16. Do you want to hear something really freaky? I mean really freaky?

    I went to a wedding back in November. The bartender asked me to dance. I'm pretty sure it was to that song you posted. He wasn't blond or tall and I have no idea if there was a disco ball but I'm sure that I danced with someone to that song.

  17. Trust me, no one takes my glock, my ruger, my ar15 or my ZT.

    For those that do not know...

    ZT make some real fine power assist knives.

    Very apt description of me, cept I dont wear shades.

    As for the description of the Brisket? That too is accurate.

    To those that do not support equal rights for Joos? Fuck you, no brisket for you.

  18. Ash, the assless chaps will forever be a part of my wardrobe for as long as I can help it.

  19. Whitney Houston is dead. Must have been an OD.

    I can think of several people I wish had kicked the bucket today...

    WH wasnt one of them... Not that I am surprised....

    But would it not be a nice gift to see any of the following die?


    Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

    Abu Mazen


    Ismail Haniyeh

  20. Well, it is black history month.

  21. Giving a loaded AK-47 to a chimpanzee is a good way to become "black history." :)

  22. .

    Hey, nice looking piece of work Deuce.

    Thanks. You made it look great.


  23. You could say the same in reverse.

  24. .

    Rufus, loved the monkey.

    How dumb can one man (some men?) be?

    Laughed my ass off.


  25. I told you he would do it.

    Not only is yellow not my color, but I am now a psychic.

  26. .

    You could say the same in reverse.

    Obviously, I wasn't too clear; otherwise you wouldn't have confused that tall blond with a guy.

    Of course, I didn't notice what you were drinking. Or how much.



  27. .

    Not only is yellow not my color, ...

    You seemed pretty interested in getting together with T when you thought her lesbian.

    I assumed you were ready to spread your wings and move in new directions.


  28. That was a clever and romanticized portrayal of an ugly reality.


  29. Either way I would have had a good time. ( :

  30. That monkey made a monkey of po ol' Rufus, shootin' blanks like that.

  31. I went back and looked at it. I thought I saw dirt kicking up the first time, but maybe I didn't. :) Oh well.

  32. Get Drunk, and be Brilliant.

    The Rufus Way

  33. If I understand correctly, Deuce added the visuals to Quirk's prose. Not one to gush, but talented stuff.

    BC is running a Biology is Destiny thread. Depressing to watch Blog Fashionistas establish their BSD bona fides by systematically demonizing progressive thought as the ideological scourge of the modern century, policy as an instrument of corruption wielded by The State; and women as a corrupt, and easily corruptible, voting block (the 'women are responsible for the welfare state' theme, which has appeared here as well.)

    I'm experiencing focus problems.

    Tough story to come about Whitney I expect. Michael Jackson redux. We'll see.

    Pay no attention to me. I'm watching The Hangover.

    For the second time.

    Anyway - talented stuff - Quirk and Deuce.

  34. I meant to sign that Anon-2.

    Which matters little.

  35. Another day in Philadelphia

    Police are investigating an early morning robbery and stabbing in the city's Fairmount Park section, just blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    A 32-year-old man who lives in the area was walking in the 2700 block of Pennsylvania Avenue at about 4:35 a.m. when a man came up behind him and pressed an object into his back, saying it was a gun, police said.

    The unidentified suspect forced the victim into a wooded area behind a nearby playground. When the victim turned and faced his attacker, he realized the assailant was actually carrying a knife, authorities said.

    The victim tried to shove past his attacker but the suspect slashed at him, cutting him repeatedly, police said. When the victim fell to the ground the suspect stabbed at him more, and hit him with a stick.

    The struggle ended when suspect was startled by a car horn, autorities said. The attacker ran away with the victim's I-Phone, credit card and $20.

    The victim was treated and released at Hahnemann Hospital with cuts to his arms, legs, chest and back, police said.

    Police described the suspect as black, about 20 years old, 5'10", thin, with scruffy facial hair. He was wearing a brimless hat, dark jacket and jeans.

  36. Triple slaying suspect arrested

    By Vernon Clark

    Nalik Shariff Scott of Phila.
    2d arrest in Sept. grocery killings
    Triple slaying suspect arrested
    Mitt Romney gets a win in Maine
    Singer Whitney Houston dead at age of 48
    Robbery, stabbing in Fairmount Park
    Ice sculptures draw visitors to Manayunk
    More Breaking News »
    Police have arrested the second of two alleged gunmen in a triple slaying and robbery attempt at a West Philadelphia grocery store in September.

    Nalik Shariff Scott, 30, of the 1300 block of South 24th Street in South Philadelphia, was picked up Saturday without incident, authorities said. No further details were released.

    Another suspect, Ibrahim Muhammad, was taken into custody on Friday. He allegedly shot the owner of Lorena's Grocery, his wife and her sister during the holdup attempt.

    Muhammad, 31, of Southwest Philadelphia, was originally arrested Thursday afternoon on an unrelated drug charge. The next day, he was charged with three counts of murder in the grocery killings.

    Police said the two gunmen entered the family-owned store at 50th and Parrish Streets at about 8 p.m. on Sept. 6. Scott fired the first bullet into Porfirio Nunez, who turned 50 that day, police said. Nunez fell in one of the store aisles.

    Muhammad then shot Carmen Nunez, 44 and her sister Lina Sanchez, 48, as they sought cover, authorities said. He fired the fatal bullet into Porfirio Nunez while stepping over the wounded man, police said.

  37. West Chester felon charged in killing of Philly man

    By Kathleen Brady Shea

    Gregory C. Arrington, 21, of West Chester.
    West Chester felon charged in killing of Philly man

    A second "gun-toting convicted felon" was taken into custody early Saturday, accused of spraying bullets in a West Chester neighborhood last month that killed a 23-year-old Philadelphia man.

    Gregory C. Arrington, 21, of West Chester, was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, firearms violations, and related offenses in connection with the fatal shooting of Towayne Uqdah, said First Assistant District Attorney Michael G. Noone.

    Police said Uqdah was shot nine times. The shooting occurred in the borough in the area of North Matlack and Chestnut Streets about 2 a.m. on Jan. 27.

    Another bullet went through the window of a residence where a couple was sleeping, and another round went through the coat of a witness at the scene, police said.

    Arrington's alleged co-conspirator, James J.E. Potts Jr., 28, who listed residences in West Chester, Downingtown, and Philadelphia, was taken into custody Jan. 31.

    "Arrington and his co-defendant Potts are both gun-toting convicted felons who killed a young man and put the lives of residents in danger," said Noone.

    West Chester Police Chief Scott L. Bohn said investigators, who included county and borough detectives, had worked the case "round-the-clock”

  38. PHILADELPHIA—A Philadelphia man has been found guilty of fatally beating a 68-year-old grandmother with a frying pan.
    Jurors convicted 20-year-old Corey Conaway of first-degree murder on Friday. He was immediately sentenced to life in prison.
    Prosecutors say he killed Ellen Walton in January 2010 after she walked in on him during a robbery attempt at her home. The two were longtime neighbors in the city's Germantown section.
    Police say Conaway used Walton's car after the slaying while her body went undiscovered for more than a week.
    Judge Glenn Bronson called it a "despicable, horrible, depraved crime." He noted that Conaway returned to Walton's house to steal more items before her body was found.

  39. Four charged in killing of Philadelphia store clerk

    “No witnesses, no case” said the tatted up 23 year old, Jorge Aldea. He decided that anyone who tries to put him in prison should die, police say January 31, 2012. He has 12 prior arrests and luckily for him no jail sentences. At the top of his hit-list was 29 year old Reyna Alonso, a store clerk at Caribe Mini Mart. Aldea believed that the Mexican women had seen him shoot 22 year old Louis Chevere, to death in her apartment window above the bodega.
    Before Alonso was shot four times in the chest Aldea gathered up his crew named “the body boys” and organized the hit on Jan. 23. Raymond Soto, supplied the 9mm murder weapon, Shawn Poindexter, was enlisted as the triggerman. He did not ask for money because Aldea was a brother figure to him and he would do anything for him even kill. Eliana Vasquez was the mother of Aldea’s unborn child and served as the getaway driver for the four men.
    Around 7:40 the night of her death it is said that Poindexter walked into the market that she worked at with a black ski mask on and shot the women. When Alonso was questioned for the Chevere murder she did not identify Aldea as the killer so she wouldn’t have been brought in for another trial. “She died for nothing.” Said one police officer.

    Tuesday all four the suspects were charged with murder, criminal conspiracy, intimidation and other counts in the killing of Alonso, who had worked at the market for about 2 years and weekly sent some of the money from her paycheck to her mother back in Mexico.

  40. PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Three suspects got out of a car and beat a young man to death, but the driver stayed in the car. He never got out and he didn’t participate in the fight. That is the man Philadelphia police want to track down.

    The horrific beating death of 23-year-old Kevin Kless caught the attention of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

    Nutter spoke with the grieving mother of the murdered Temple University graduate, who was beaten to death this weekend during a late night attack in Old City.

    An emotional Mayor Nutter said he had “a very heartfelt” phone conversation with Kendall Kless in upstate New York, in which he expressed his condolences for the beating death of her son.

    At a Martin Luther King event on Monday, Nutter said he and police would do everything they can to track down the killers of the 2010 Temple University graduate.

    “I called his mother four hours ago and I said to her ‘there’s nothing I can really say to you, what can I say? That we’re deeply sorry, that we’re in pain and we’re suffering, but yours is worse.’”

    It was 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning when the beating occurred on the steps of the historic Second Bank of the United States near 4th and Chestnut Streets. Kless, his girlfriend and another woman left Lucy’s bar on Market Street and headed to Chestnut Street to hail a cab.

  41. If white felons were doing this to blacks and Mexicans in Mississippi at 20% of the rate, the MSM would be hysterical and in racial overdrive, but if the victims are white or black, no problem here.

  42. That is racism in its most toxic form.

  43. .

    A bit of perspective on another matter.

    While all this arguing is going on, veterans are struggling. In this country, an average of 18 veterans commit suicide every day. The jobless rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is as high as 15 percent. They are trying to find work despite having been labeled ticking time bombs, unable to assimilate back into society, plagued with post-traumatic stress.

    Later this month, on an evening like any other in America, nearly 70,000 veterans will spend the night on the street while President Obama and the first lady host a special White House dinner to honor 200 or so hand-picked Iraq veterans from a war that produced more than 30,000 wounded in action. Across the country, on any given night, nearly 5,000 dinner tables have an empty place where a loved one who never came home from the war used to sit...


  44. Great point Q. In a more universal thought about it, I was horrified about watching those Syrian tankers firing into those civilian houses and those army deserters pleading with Allah as their defense. What a filthy shitty job it is to be in combat on either side. Curse the politicians that get them there.

  45. …and pity the fools that support the politicians. I do not know a single combat Viet Nam Vet that is not a pacifist at one level or another.

    My father was both a paratrooper and then a high mission combat veteran on B-24 bombing missions, winner of the Air Medal with two clusters. As a naive teen ager I asked him questions which he ignored; he rarely spoke about combat and was critical of politicians that were always anxious to get us into another war.

    Once, I asked him, “would you rather have been a pilot or a paratrooper?” He looked at me and without any thought said, “A cook."

  46. Interesting that a White House spokesman for Obama is on Fox News claiming that the new health care bill gives Obama the right to tell insurance companies what services they can and must give for free.

  47. .

    My father was both a paratrooper and then a high mission combat veteran on B-24 bombing missions, winner of the Air Medal with two clusters. As a naive teen ager I asked him questions which he ignored; he rarely spoke about combat and was critical of politicians that were always anxious to get us into another war.

    I had a similar experiance. My dad got into the war late but he still managed to pilot a B-25 on 33 bombing runs over Italy, Austria, and Germany. He never talked about it.

    I have plenty of friends my age who were in the service. It seems like what a a good portion of the country did back in the day. They rarely talk about their time in service except descriptions of some of the girls they laid and then only when really drunk.

    Yet, you still run across some who, like Levon, wear their war wounds like a crown. But not many.


  48. .

    Interesting that a White House spokesman for Obama is on Fox News claiming that the new health care bill gives Obama the right to tell insurance companies what services they can and must give for free.

    You have to wonder if Obama realizes how lucky he is to be facing the current GOP field. In any other contest, this whole issue would have had the potential to blow him out of the water.

    The Catholic bishops aren't buying his 'accommodation'; but this goes way beyond Catholics and abortion. He has created many enemies throughout the religious community.

    And, it's still a long way to the election.


  49. USS Gabrielle Giffords. That'll scare the Moose Limbs.

  50. Deuce: As a naive teen ager I asked him questions which he ignored; he rarely spoke about combat and was critical of politicians that were always anxious to get us into another war.

    This is why. It's to terrible for words.

  51. Excellent work, Quirk and the art was exceptional, Deuce.

    The Ranger.

  52. How do you starve an Obama supporter? It's really very simple. Just hide their food stamps under their work boots.

  53. LINDSTROM, Minn. — Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government.

    He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor, Chip Cravaack, who ousted this region’s long-serving Democratic congressman.

    Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.

    There is little poverty here in Chisago County, northeast of Minneapolis, where cheap housing for commuters is gradually replacing farmland. But Mr. Gulbranson and many other residents who describe themselves as self-sufficient members of the American middle class and as opponents of government largess are drawing more deeply on that government with each passing year.

    Dozens of benefits programs provided an average of $6,583 for each man, woman and child in the county in 2009, a 69 percent increase from 2000 after adjusting for inflation. In Chisago, and across the nation, the government now provides almost $1 in benefits for every $4 in other income.

    Older people get most of the benefits, primarily through Social Security and Medicare, but aid for the rest of the population has increased about as quickly through programs for the disabled, the unemployed, veterans and children."

    It seems the Tea Partiers and the GOP are also subject to similar lures T.

  54. And you, Wasp, sucking 86k out of the government teat each year. tsk tsk.

  55. Ash: And you, Wasp, sucking 86k out of the government teat each year. tsk tsk.

    I have work boots and no food stamps. There are flying machines in Afghanistan that were CASREP'd and couldn't get home until I fixed things for them.

  56. I see, foreign adventures provide the need but those on stamps, let 'em eat cake.

  57. Today is Chuck Darwin Day. Not a popular holiday with Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin.

    An invitation “to be my Valentine” on February 14 is against Islamic beliefs and would incur the wrath of Allah, Muslims were told today in the official Friday sermon prepared by the Malaysian federal government.

    Not a popular holiday with the Moose Limbs. Same underlying reason.

  58. Those on stamps, let them cancel their smart phone, cable, and broadband accounts.

  59. A gallon of regular gasoline the day Obama was inaugurated cost $1.79 on average. Today: $3.59, a 100% increase.

  60. .

    Comments on the early morning news shows.

    Chris Wallace

    1. Interview with Jack Lew on Obama's budget.

    Wallace pounted him on both the birth control issue and the budget. Lew was uncomfortable and dithering on both subject. The budget coming out tomorrow is merely just more smoke and mirrors. Nothing really changes.

    2. Interview of Sarah Palin: Watched for 35 seconds until I had to switch over to George Stephanopolous. I have a visceral dislike for that woman.

    George Stephanopoulous:

    1. GS interviewed Rick Santorum. I can't get enthused about Santorum primarily because I distrust his religious solutions to a lot of issues and because I disagree with many of his policy stances and willingness to commit us to war.

    Still during the part I saw, GS was trying a lot of gotcha questions on him on trying to pin down how conservative he was. Santorum handled all of them extremely well. He looked poised and confident. He seems to be getting better as the contest goes on. If there's a brokered convention, he might have a chance.

    2. The Roundtable: The usual talking heads pompously talking about the same things they always talk about and in the same way. The only interesting note was Syria. It's getting awful hot over there right now.


  61. The world is on the threshold of what might be called “peak people.” The world’s supply of working-age people will soon be shrinking, causing a shift from surplus to scarcity.

  62. Seems to me that Darwin has become a symbol for the anti-religion, secular, humanist, atheist crowd.
    Even more so than for the scientific community.

  63. Blogger Wasp said...

    Those on stamps, let them cancel their smart phone, cable, and broadband accounts.

    Wow, they've got all that and free food too? Lucky folk. Now all we gotta do is throw those military/industrial complex folk sucking at the government teat under the bus and we might balance the budget.

  64. Let's see how long this lasts:

    "Despite ongoing dissatisfaction among Catholic leaders, the Obama administration is done negotiating and is finalizing its plan to require insurance companies to provide free contraception to women working and studying at religious institutions, President Obama's chief of staff said Sunday."

  65. And renege on their pensions too, of course!

  66. evosceptic:

    Seems to me that Darwin has become a symbol for the anti-religion, secular, humanist, atheist crowd. Even more so than for the scientific community.

    It's just a case of killing the messenger. Evolution simply means there are changes from generation to generation, and those changes which allow better adaption to the current environment have more probability of passing the changes on. It's so obvious it's not funny. This is like Galileo going, "Duh, the sun is at the center and the Earth moves." Unfortunately, that ran afoul of Sacred Scripture.

  67. The U.S. and its allies are "bringing pressure to bear" on Syria's government, but will not provide weapons to Syrian rebels trying to get rid of the government of despotic leader Bashar Assad, President Obama's chief of staff said Sunday.

    The administration will leave that to the jihadists.

  68. Pointing out: The administration will leave that to the jihadists.

    Now the Alawites, clients of Iran, get to drive over IEDs and get blown up in their markets by death-worshipers. Turnabout is fair play.

  69. Q, you thought Palin painful to listen to on GS, try her speech to cpac.

  70. Very interesting

    China has instructed its banks to embark on a mammoth rollover of loans to local governments, delaying the country’s reckoning with debts that have clouded its economic prospects.
    China’s stimulus response to the global financial crisis saddled its provinces and cities with Rmb10.7tn ($1.7tn) in debts – about a quarter of the country’s GDP – and more than half those loans are scheduled to come due over the next three years.

    Since the principal on many of the loans is not repayable, banks have started extending maturities for local governments to avoid a wave of defaults, bankers and analysts familiar with the matter told the Financial Times. One person briefed on the plan said in some cases the maturities would be extended by as much as four years.
    While some analysts have warned that many loans will still go bad and that a rollover only kicks the can down the road, government advisers believe that it will give Beijing time to find a more permanent solution to its debt troubles.

    “An appropriate maturity extension is in the banks’ interest,” said Fan Jianping, chief economist of the State Information Centre, a think-tank within the government’s powerful planning agency.

  71. Palin makes sense here:

    Sarah Palin said Saturday that Republicans should be in no hurry to wrap up the presidential nominating contest, declaring that a competitive campaign until the August convention in Tampa would not complicate the party’s efforts to defeat President Obama.

    “People who start screaming that a brokered convention is the worst thing that could happen to the G.O.P., they have an agenda,” Ms. Palin said in an interview. “They have their own personal or political reasons, their own candidate who they would like to see protected away from a brokered convention.”

  72. She thinks a brokered convention will make her a "player," again.

  73. A brokered convention guarantees Obama wins. The GOP will be divided only two months before the election, and a lot of hard feelings will come out of the brokering process. But at this point I'm resigned to Obama not being "One and Done", so I'm shifting my focus to the congressional elections.

  74. I have a visceral dislike for that woman.

    Nope, not gonna pick a Palin fight, but interesting - the gut part. My "sense" is that most people who respond to her from the distance of strangers are just the opposite - like her personally but question the professional qualifications.

    Nobody asked but I'm a Palin agnostic - thought she would have been an effective Senator (who knows - maybe those viscerally unsettling qualities are assets for a Washington politician.)

    My agnosticism turned to bridled support after reading the Tyson rant. Just to make it interesting, I confess that it stirred up some issues that would probably described as racist by some, especially after the weird denouement with The Cheatah. Primal stuff.

    (Acknowledging of course that it is possible to sneer at Tyson's uncouth and barely verbal rundown of sex at its finest, while still holding Palin's public credentials under suspicion.)

    Santorum interested me after Michael Tomasky commented favorably about his policy wonkiness. Someone who's actually given some thought to things. Then the gay stuff came out - or I guess it was already out and I was behind the ball. OK, enough of that. Come to Jesus is not a policy position.

    But Santorum now? Wouldn't touch him. (Agnostic about gays too but they're not at the top of my list - any of them. One can be excused for expressing concern over the judgement of someone who aggressively disavows the reality of birth conditions that impact some 10% or so of the population.)

    If Palin's advice about not fearing the "brokered convention" is followed, that cracks open the door for Gary Johnson. My SWAG is that he remains "unbought" and stands no chance at the federal level.

  75. That was me anon-2. I have the attention span of a peanut.

  76. It's a sad reality in our fallen world that even folks that show, like Quirk and Deuce, great creativity can miss the mark by a mile in some other area.

    There is nothing to be done about this, other than to sigh, and to wonder.

  77. Obama’s best chance is to keep us out of another war. He needs that to retain his base.

  78. Anonymous: My "sense" is that most people who respond to her from the distance of strangers are just the opposite - like her personally but question the professional qualifications.

    Generally speaking, women go "look at me" and men go "look what I did". The half-term governor of Alaska fulfills that stereotype precisely.

  79. Muslims in Maldives smash Buddhist statues in National Museum

    The number of food stamp recipients rose since Obama took office from 31,983,716 to 43,200,878, a 35% jump.

    Robbie Knievel is going to try to jump over the Oakland Occupiers with a Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer.

    Samuel Jackson says he voted for Obama only due to the color of his skin. Stop watching this racist man's movies.

  80. Good one, Wasp. I kept my opinion superficial by intent, but I have to agree there's way too much winkin', blinkin', and noddin' going on. Like a reindeer caught in the headlights.

    ...great creativity can miss the mark by a mile in some other area.

    Although I wouldn't call it "missing the mark", cafeteria conservatives (and liberals) outnumber the die hard fringe (I think - I wonder sometimes.)

    Consider war with Iran. One can argue that casus belli is not compelling (and/or that USA foreign service/policy is little more than a simple anachronism in the ME) while still supporting the need for a foreign presence and influence in key locations.

    Obama is the only one on track to make that happen. RP wants to lock the gate and not look back. The rest seem to support some version of keep on keepin' on.

    I also agree with Quirk in re the wounded who return - minus limbs, badly burned, traumatized. I've been thinking about them lately for a variety of reasons. AFAIAC, Deuce is correct. If Obama builds a foreign policy that transfers the ME to international authority, He's got my support.


  81. While some analysts have warned that many loans will still go bad and that a rollover only kicks the can down the road, government advisers believe that it will give Beijing time to find a more permanent solution to its debt troubles.

    It's like a revolving credit card account. Pay minimum, hope for a bailout.

  82. Bring back the draft and impose a 10% war tax to pay for wars and see how fast neo-con Republicans stop talking about bombing Iran.

  83. Syrian Christians fear genocide if Assad falls.


    That's why they support Assad using main battle tanks against houses.

  84. The $800 billion in direct costs and $3 to $4 trillion in indirect costs (primarily medical care and pensions for vets) was not "paid for", and certainly not the $60 billion that disappeared in paper bags into the desert, which implies that USA must dismantle its wasteful welfare state to retain economic and competitive viability in the global marketplace.

    Another reason why GOP stands barely a whisper of a chance in 2012.

    Not that the Dems are doing much better but at least they have pulled their heads out of the sand.

    (Caveat: Medicare/caid is a corrupt wasteful mess that needs serious fixin'. SS is easier, given wills and ways.)


  85. So we have the Christians being killed, churches burned in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria next. If Christians were married to the middle east they'd go extinct.

  86. What touched that off was reading about the latest outrages at JihadWatch, and the prospects for Christians in Syria looking ahead.

  87. An Iranian POV:


    Conventional wisdom in Washington is that Obama's diplomacy with Iran failed. It did not. As I argue in my new book A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy With Iran, it was prematurely abandoned. Obama's intention was genuine, but his vision for diplomacy was soon undermined, for four reasons:

    pressure from Israel and its powerful allies in Congress, and to a lesser extent from Saudi Arabia and France, to adopt a confrontational policy;

    the June 2009 election mayhem in Iran and the subsequent repression and human rights abuses, which hardened the regime in Tehran and narrowed Obama's space for diplomacy;

    Obama's early adoption of a contradictory "dual track" policy, combining diplomacy with escalating pressure on Tehran;

    and Obama's unwillingness to create more domestic political space for diplomacy by challenging a status quo in Washington that is set on enmity.

    [paragraphs added]


    He goes on:


    The Netanyahu government and its Washington allies compromised Obama's vision in four ways.

    First, they insisted that diplomacy be given an unrealistically tight deadline of 12 weeks.

    Second, although Obama was potentially willing to accept enrichment of uranium on Iranian soil under strict inspections, Israel demanded complete dismantling of the Iranian nuclear program, an unachievable objective that rendered diplomacy dead on arrival.

    Third, the Israelis and their hardline U.S. allies pushed for sanctions before diplomacy was even tried. Obama pushed back at first, but after the Iranian election scandal, the pro-sanctions camp got the upper hand.

    And fourth, the Israelis opposed Obama's view that demilitarizing the atmosphere would help convince Tehran that America was serious about diplomacy.

    [paragraphs added]



  88. Palin turned Obama’s emphasis on the wealth gap in America to her advantage, and that of her Tea Party allies. Drawing on a Washington Post investigation of how members of Congress in both parties come to Washington as men and women of modest means yet manage to get rich, she said they “spread the wealth around” to their family and friends. Dubbing this “Obama’s Washington,” Palin noted that 7 of the 10 wealthiest counties in the country surround Washington D.C. “This is the government rich,” she proclaimed. “They come to D.C., denouncing the place; after a year or two, it’s not a cesspool, it’s more like a hot tub. … It’s time we drain the Jacuzzi and throw the bums out with the bath water.”

    Not a cesspool, more like a hot tub - heh, I like that line.

    The nitwit from Wasilla had them all on their feet


  89. .

    It's good to see you back Anon-2 although if you are going to stay (a good idea) I would suggest you get a new screen name from blogger (a mere suggestion).

    You seem to have a distinct style of writing but it is still tiresome quessing which of the anonymous anonymi is speaking at times (my opinion).

    I have nothing against being an agnostic on any subject; however, with Palin it is not an option for me. I do not blame her for being picked for VP. That was McCain's fault more than hers. I also understand why she quit half way through her term as governor. She at least showed ambition and an instinct for seizing the moment. She set her site on the goals and priorities, mostly commercial, and exploited what gifts she had.

    While not really impressed, I could at least appreciate and applaud her positives much as I would any celebity who could take their moment of fame and make it pay. However, now I view her as calculating; and worse, I fear she is also actually buying into the myth she has created and thinks she is qualified for higher office.

    You talk of her being qualified for politics but you say that like it is a good thing.

    On this one, I'll ride with Deuce.

    As far as Bob offering up views on my judgment, well...

    From the few posts you have put up today, I get the impression you are female (perhaps in error, but one more reason for an appropriate screen name so that perspective can be judged over time).

    If so, and you ran for office, Bob would vote for you. The man is an incurable romantic and his only brain resides within a very small head, especially when he is fishing commando in a cold Idaho stream.


  90. .


    Conventional wisdom in Washington is that Obama's diplomacy with Iran failed. It did not...

    I have seen this view expressed many times although not with the overriding emphasis on the role of Israel expressed by Parsi.

    Many think the Turkey/Brazil intiative of 2009 provided a real opportunity for progress on Iran and its nuclear ambitions and that Obama gave up on it way too soon and worse that he never went back to it. A missed opportunity.

    Hard to say, but it is obvious Turkey still has an interest in being a player and trying to broker some type of accomodation on this issue.

    We'll have to wait to see the details on the latest proposals coming out of Ankara.


  91. .

    Bring back the draft and impose a 10% war tax to pay for wars and see how fast neo-con Republicans stop talking about bombing Iran.

    Two good ideas in one post.


  92. .

    Not a cesspool, more like a hot tub - heh, I like that line...

    I liked this one (fourth comment on the article).

    Sarah Palin on the other hand has done a mediocre job at best as a parent, governed at both the civic and state level in a manner that was nearly diametrically opposed to her ideology, was found guilty of abuse of power, displayed an astonishing ineptitude with regards to thinking on her feet, and is a quitter, yet Republicans flock around her like she's got the keys to the top shelf booze tucked up in her hair.

    Especially the part about the top shelf booze.


  93. We need more estrogen in this bar, and less crap about nuking rocks.

  94. Next headline in the Enquirer:

    Whitney Houston Beats Bobby Brown to Death

  95. I have nothing against being an agnostic on any subject


    Indeed a fitting outlook for one lacking the gnostic on nearly all subjects.

  96. It's the American way of death. Our heros/hero now lie in state, as the party goes on. Nothing should be allowed to interfere with the party.

    Whitney Lies In State Here

  97. That was a masterpiece, Quirk. Thank you.

    Do you have some kind of secret cam in my place?

  98. Whitney Lies In State Here

    I heard she just finished a new movie too. "The Bodybag".

  99. Zawahiri urges the overthrow of Assad HERE

    This puts Zawahiri and Hillary in agreement that it is time for Assad to go.

    Makes one wonder.....

  100. On this Darwin's Day I would like to say Man is a pestilence. He overgrazes his food supply in the forest, then comes to the farms that feed Ape City and steals our food there.

  101. Who said this?

    “This government isn’t too big to fail, it’s too big to succeed.”

  102. Who said this?

    “We don’t want an economy built to last, we want an economy built to grow.”

  103. Who said this?

    Drain the Jacuzzi!

  104. Eco PCO Jet-X Wasp Spray

    Great gift idea for Darwin's Day.

  105. The ad is real!

    Here is a link to simply the best advertisement ever made.


  106. .

    He called me id.


    A happy conjunction.

    The abbreviation for the state of Idaho and an apt description.

    I couldn't have been happier to see it.


  107. Idaho, where the women are women, and the men have wide stances in the shitter.

  108. People went to see The Vow and Safe House this weekend, to the disappointment of George Lucas, who thought everyone wants to see the Phantom freakin Menace one more time

  109. .

    It's the American way of death.

    I thought The Loved One was great.

    The book not the movie.


  110. And that, I think, is about half the reason why Sarah Palin didn’t throw her hat in the ring for this campaign cycle. Her evaluation of political conditions is remarkably accurate and prescient: she saw, long before most of the voters did, that the game of expectations itself needed to change, and that only we could do it.

    Why Isn't Sarah Running?

  111. The Loved One was good. I had a prof that was big on Evelyn Waugh.

  112. Chapter four: Barlow continues with the funeral arrangements while Hinsley's body arrives at Whispering Glades and is tended to by Thanatogenos and the senior mortician Mr. Joyboy.

    heh, brings back memories

    The Loved One


    You might enjoy this from Col D. G. Swinford, USMC, Ret and history buff.
    You would really have to dig deep to assemble this kind of historical info.

    It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming. This was a mistake. Tracers had different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target 80% of your rounds were missing. Worse yet tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all, it was the practice to load a string of tracers at the end of
    the belt to tell when you were out of ammo. This was definitely not something you wanted to tell the enemy! Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go down.

  114. A very wealthy 86-year-old man went to his doctor for his quarterly check-up.

    The doctor asked him how he was feeling, and the 86-year-old said ,"Things are great, and I've never felt better. I now have a 25 year-old bride who is pregnant with my child. So what do you think about that Doc ?"

    The doctor considered his question for a minute and then began to tell a story. "I have an older friend, much like you, who is an avid hunter and never misses a season.

    "One day he was setting off to go hunting. In a bit of a hurry, he accidentally picked up his walking cane instead of his gun. As he neared the lake, he came across a very large male beaver sitting at the water's edge.

    "He realized he'd left his gun at home and so he couldn't shoot the magnificent creature. Out of habit he raised his cane, aimed it at the animal as if it were his favorite hunting rifle, and went 'bang, bang'. Miraculously, two shots rang out and the beaver fell over dead. Now, what do you think of that?" asked the doctor.
    The 86-year-old said, "Logic would strongly suggest that somebody else pumped a couple of rounds into that beaver."
    The doctor replied, "My point exactly."

  115. During Sunday's parliamentary debate, the head of the small, nationalist Laos party, Giorgios Karatzaferis, called for immediate elections in the face of the growing opposition to the measures.

    The call came just three days after Laos, which controls 16 seats in Greece's 300-member Parliament, effectively withdrew from Greece's coalition government in opposition to the new austerity program.

    The two main parties are facing dissent in their own ranks, and analysts said there may yet be dozens of defections when the vote comes, though not enough to imperil Parliament's backing of the overhauls.

  116. Our political leaders haven't yet risen to the occasion presented by this moment. But here the people rule.

    Here there are not just official Democratic and Republican parties, but there are informal, bottom-up, popular parties. Such as the Tea Party.


    The Tea Party spirit has subsided a bit in the past year, a victim of its own success in 2010 and of uninspiring Congressional leadership and a problematic presidential field in 2011. Could a once-obscure HHS regulation be the spark that leads to a Tea Party revival in 2012, one that redefines the political landscape and reinvigorates the conservative cause?

    Tea Party?

  117. Quirk said...

    Allen of Ga now brought forth his offering, a steaming platter of gefilte fish slices served with horseradish and carrots which he also placed on the side board. The shogun’s councilor was wearing a long black leather coat that reached nearly to the floor. It covered a black Cossack style shirt and black slacks. Adding a discordant note to the outfit were the knee high red boots that he wore and which lent the outfit a disquieting androgynous look, a look one suspected was intentional.

    Ya think :-) ... "Sweetie"

  118. Q: You talk of her being qualified for politics but you say that like it is a good thing.

    I can think of worse things than being calculating, which falls directly into the category of Expecting Too Much from our Polity. That said, I likely would not support her candidacy in the presidential venue, but I persist in thinking she would have been, and maybe will still be, effective in Congress.

    The modern world is unrelentingly visceral at its core, which shouldn't surprise anyone. I'm not going to do a list, but Washington has experienced a visceral decade. The next one will likely be worse.

    RE the hot tub vs cesspool money pit, it is of course common knowledge that Palin is now worth in the vicinity of $12 to $14 million, besting the Obama fortune by a couple of million.

  119. FUBAR Alert.

    The mop lady is my sister. I inherited her lap top. She graduated to a Sony VAIO.

    I'll try to think of something else.


    More than likely Much Later.


  120. Wasp said...
    We need more estrogen in this bar, and less crap about nuking rocks.


    Turning the rock into vapor would free more women than imaginable.

    I guess those that stand to protect the rock, actually hate women...

  121. I thought the lady with pail and rag had gone off to space, touring with those rich anonymous very serious men she was always talking about.

    "Art Bell knows."

  122. Apple Inc. has launched a new legal attack on Samsung Electronics Co.'s flagship smartphone, escalating the sprawling legal battle between the two top sellers of the popular devices.

    The Silicon Valley company's move in a California court to block sales of Samsung's new Galaxy Nexus handset broadens Apple's legal arguments against the Korean giant, whose position in the smartphone market has been growing.

  123. In the fall of 2007 Israel reportedly hacked into Syria’s air defense systems and disabled them, as a prelude to bombing a nuclear facility in the Syrian desert. This vaunted cyber exploit, it turns out, might not merit its spectacular reputation.


    In fact, only a small number of Americans are susceptible to the Syrian regime’s hamfisted propaganda, but on the evidence of the emails, they never needed to be manipulated.

    “Dear Bouthaina, I hope this finds you well,” writes Martin Indyk in May 2010.

    Some close friends of mine will be visiting Damascus from May 25-29, for tourism. However, they are influential people in Washington and I think that you and Walid [presumably Walid Mouallem, Syrian foreign minister] would benefit from meeting them and they would certainly benefit from meeting both of you.


    Maybe he was just trying to put Shaaban at ease​—​Johnson wasn’t one of these self-righteous Washington crusaders, but someone with plenty of political enemies of his own, just like the regime in Damascus.

    It was Johnson’s wife, Maxine Isaacs, who later thanked Shaaban for the hospitality in Damascus:

    Dear Bouthaina,

    I can’t thank you enough for the fun, interesting and most memorable dinner last night. We had a wonderful time and are most grateful to you for taking time from your incredibly busy schedule to spend it with us.


    Shaaban replies in kind to the Harvard lecturer:

    It only goes to show that it is not very difficult to make the world a better place for every one. We have been trying, and I am now even more inspired to continue.

  124. And so can your voice. I hope you’ll pick up the phone, send a tweet, write an email, and tell your representative that they should get this done before it gets too late.

    Tell them not to play politics again by linking this debate to unrelated issues. Tell them not to manufacture another needless standoff or crisis.


    In the wake of the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, we’re getting things going again. And we’re going to keep at it until everyone shares in America’s comeback.

    Middle Class

  125. President Obama did Israel no favors when he pressured it to join his love-peace-and-harmony nuclear summit in 2010, undermining a basic pillar of Israel’s security — its undisclosed nuclear program.


    Trouble is, Israel won’t suffer the consequences alone. Everyone will.

    America included.

    Loose Lips

  126. The bloodshed and the brutality of the dictatorship in Syria are at long last beginning to challenge the passivity of the Obama administration. The word is out that the Pentagon has launched a "scoping exercise" to determine what could be done should the president want to respond to the Syrian catastrophe.

  127. The Global Competitiveness Report 2011–2012 comes out
    amid multiple challenges to the global economy. After a
    number of difficult years, a recovery from the economic
    crisis is tentatively emerging, although it has been very
    unequally distributed: much of the developing world is
    still seeing relatively strong growth, despite some risk of
    overheating, while most advanced economies continue
    to experience sluggish recovery, persistent unemployment,
    and financial vulnerability, with no clear horizon
    for improvement.


    The Global Competitiveness Report 2011–2012 is coming
    out at a time of re-emerging uncertainty in the global
    economy. At the beginning of the year, worldwide
    recovery appeared fairly certain, with economic growth
    for 2011 and 2012 projected by the International
    Monetary Fund (IMF) at 4.3 percent and 4.5 percent,


    For more than three decades, the World Economic
    Forum has been studying the concept of competitiveness,
    defined as the set of institutions, policies, and factors
    that determine the level of productivity of a country, in an
    effort to understand and measure the drivers of economic
    prosperity. The goal of this work is to provide
    diagnostic tools that indicate the areas of strength
    upon which economies can build as well as the challenges
    that must be overcome in order to increase
    national competitiveness.

    Competitiveness Report

  128. Dollar's been falling against the euro and pound for the past month now:


  129. We need to ask ourselves three interrelated questions about Syria. First, what is likely to happen there? Second, what should the United States do about it? And third, what is the broader impact of instability in Syria? I’ll tackle each question in turn.

    What is likely to happen?

    Bashar al-Assad drew an unfortunate lesson from the Arab Spring: Don’t waiver; don’t make concessions; don’t show weakness. In al-Assad’s eyes, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak vacillated in his response to protests and ended up in prison.


    What should the United States do?

    The United States should try to help the forces of democracy and freedom in Syria. But we don’t know who the opposition is, exactly.


    What is the broader impact of instability in Syria?

    The regional or global consequences of low-grade civil war in Syria are limited. Syria is not an oil-producing country.

    What's Next For Syria?

  130. .

    Well, I just watched one of the good things coming out of Detroit. The Red Wings. They just tied a NHL record with 20 straight home game wins in a row. They are tied with the 1929/1930 Boston Bruins and the 75/76 Philidelphia Flyers.

    They also set the record for most road game wins in a row a few years ago.

    Over the past 20 years or so they have been the best team in hockey (if you go by the record, the consistently best team in professional sports). They have not missed the playoffs in the last 20 years. They have only missed 2 in the last 27 years. Pretty good.

    The Red Wings were a powerhouse in the NHL in the 50's and 60' until owner Bruce Norris gutted them. He owned the Red Wings and his brother owned the Blackhawks they started trading off Detroit players to get things more competitive in Chicago. He traded stars like Terry Sawchuck and Glenn Hall. He broke up the Production Line and got rid of Ted Lindsay because he was pushing for a players union. He was a real dick.

    Detroit went into a decline that lasted nearly two decades.

    Mike Ilitch took over ownership in 1980 and drafted Steve Yzerman in 1983 and turned the franchise around.

    Over the past 20 years, they have the most wins, the most playoff appearances, the most division titles, the most conference titles, the most President's Cups, and the most Stanley Cups won in the NHL. They have 11 straight seasons of 100 points or more (now working on 12). They have won when there was no salary cap and they have won under new rules with a salary cap. This despite having to draft near last all of those years and being saddled with the worst schedules in the league due to the travel required by being the easternmost club in the Western Conferance (a source of frustrations for them and their fans for decades).

    The other clubs in the league like it when they visit because of the increased attendance. No matter what city they visit they have a large contingent of Red Wing fans at the game. In some cities like Phoenix, I've seen some games where it looked like the Red Wing fans outnumbered the home fans.

    Most here probably don't care about the Red Wings or even hockey for that matter; however, for those growing up in the north, hockey can be a passion and the Red Wings are my boys.

    When I was a kid, only a few hockey games were on TV and I remember when our radio was broken, I would sit in my dad's car in December and January listening to Red Wing's games.

    Go Red Wings!!!


  131. Film shows three men tying up blood-spattered man before whipping him with cables and touching him on his skin with electric wires

    Man, suspected by rebels of having supported Gaddafi, told: ‘Blood will come from your eyes and nose until you admit what you have done’

    Video handed to Mail on Sunday in Tripoli refugee camp

    Brutal Torturers

  132. In his State of the Union Address, the President laid out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to
    last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers,
    and a renewal of American values.


    I. Manufacturing: Create New Jobs Here In America, Discourage Outsourcing, And Encourage
    • Take away the deduction for outsourcing, make companies pay a minimum tax for profits and
    jobs overseas, and reward companies for bringing jobs back to America.
    • Lower tax rates for companies that manufacture and create jobs in the United States.
    • Get tough on trade enforcement.


    II. Skills: Give Hard-Working, Responsible Americans A Fair Shot
    • Forge new partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train and place 2
    million skilled workers.
    • Reform job training and Unemployment Insurance and create one website that dislocated
    workers can use to help them get back to work.
    • Attract, prepare, support, and reward great teachers to help students learn.

    Built To Last

  133. “I’m worried that the politics of the election are going to interfere and put a lid on this because the Republicans don’t want to face elections in which Obama can claim to have sort of seen the economy recover,” Soros said. “…After the elections, if the Republicans win, actually they’ll undergo a miraculous transformation where they discover that actually it wouldn’t be so bad if maybe we can afford to have some stimulus.”


    “I think — I’m pretty sure that would happen,” Soros responded. “I mean, of course, Obama would like to as well.

    He may find it more difficult if the Republicans continue to obstruct him.”

    More Stimulus

  134. I would sit in my dad's car in December and January listening to Red Wing's games.

    And, I've got a winter stream for you to fish.


    California, if I have this right, passed by 52%/48% a constitutional amendment to their state constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Then the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals,a Federal Court out of San Francisco, rules that this is unconstitutional.

    ah, jeex

  135. Speaking to attendees at the 25th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran on Friday, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said:

    “The developments and revolutions in the region and also the repeated retreats of the United States and the hegemonistic machines and the increasing weakness of the Zionist regime are unique opportunities for the Islamic ummah [Muslim people]which must be taken full advantage of…. Despite all the pressure and conspiracies, the Islamic Revolution… has stood firm, grown day by day, and its power has increased.”


    It’s not surprising that Western news sources picked up on Ahmadinejad’s proclamation, cryptic though it was, since Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is front page news all over the world, but it’s shocking that they failed to grasp the significance of Khamenei’s remarks. From his perspective, the Arab Spring, Islamist political gains in Turkey, the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan, and headway made by Palestinians in their effort to destroy Israel, for example, dovetail perfectly with Iran’s emergence as a regional power in the Middle East and a potential nuclear power.


    Western ignorance where Islam and Iran are concerned is breathtaking. If we continue to ignore and/or make light of what is being done and said openly by Islamists leaders, particularly Islamist leaders in Iran, there will be hell to pay.

    Ignorance Breathtaking

  136. Looking ahead, Roger Johnson, deputy director of siting with the state energy commission, said lessons learned from the Genesis project will be included in other high-priority solar facilities.

    Jeffrey Lovich, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said the challenges facing NextEra are messy reminders of the fact that "peer-reviewed scientific studies to help us tease out the impacts of solar energy development" on the California desert do not exist.

    "So there will be very likely be additional surprises as we move forward," Lovich said.

    Solar Project

  137. The reason for the radical reappraisal of ice melting in Asia is the different ways in which the current and previous studies were conducted. Until now, estimates of meltwater loss for all the world's 200,000 glaciers were based on extrapolations of data from a few hundred monitored on the ground.


    The new study used a pair of satellites, called Grace, which measure tiny changes in the Earth's gravitational pull. When ice is lost, the gravitational pull weakens and is detected by the orbiting spacecraft.


    Grace launched in 2002 and continues to monitor the planet, but it has passed its expected mission span and its batteries are beginning to weaken. A replacement mission has been approved by the US and German space agencies and could launch in 2016.

    No Ice Lost In Past 10 Years

  138. After leading the twisted sort of fairytale that was Hanna, young actress Saoirse Ronan will lead yet another drastically different variation on a classic story in what should be the last adaptation of Snow White we'll need for at least a decade. Variety reports Ronan has been tapped to lead Order of Seven, the Kung Fu centric telling of the tale that follows Olivia Sinclair, a British expatriate in 19th century Hong Kong, who seeks the protection of centuries old warriors, now a jaded group of outlaws (in place of the usual dwarves).

    Order Of 7

  139. .

    What's the status of baseball of SA? Do you watch it at all?

    The hottest international import, Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, remains on the market. And the Tigers reportedly are one of a handful of teams interested in the free agent.

    But the Tigers took two other international players off the market.

    The team last week confirmed they have agreed to terms with Dominican Republic outfielder Ignacio Valdez, 16, and Australian pitcher Warwick Saupold, 22.

    While Saupold has signed, the team said Valdez's contract is still pending a couple of items.

    Saupold is coming off a dominating off-season with the Perth Heat of the Australian Baseball League. He had a 1.41 ERA in 10 starts, limited opponents to a .173 average and was named the league's pitcher of the year.

    February 20 pitchers and catchers report to training camp in Lakeland, Fl.


  140. eh, say, er Rufus, your guy's Chief of Staff don't know how many votes it takes to pass a budget. I guess that's why one hasn't passed in 1,000 days.

  141. Where is everybody? At another Moot? Why wasn't I invited?

  142. Well, if there isn't anybody here, guess I'll go to CdA and see Santorum.

  143. The purple highlights in my hair are from the wig I wear after the chemo that WiO said I never had, as I lean against the husband that WiO said I don't have.

  144. Wasp said...
    The purple highlights in my hair are from the wig I wear after the chemo that WiO said I never had, as I lean against the husband that WiO said I don't have.

    For years you told us of your lesbian lover that now doesnt exist....

    You told us of your years and years of love for your female friend and your plans to move overseas with her in retirement...

    Nothing you say is to be taken on face value. That's the problem when you lie repeatedly for years.

    Are you lying now or were you lying then?

    Considering the fact you distort and lie about many things who knows what truth is...

  145. OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Chris Gregoire handed gay rights advocates a major victory, signing into law a measure that legalizes same-sex marriage in Washington state, making it the seventh in the nation to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed.
    Rick Santorum looks to be the last man standing for many conservative voters in the Republican presidential race after polls showed him pulling ahead of Mitt Romney nationally and in the important Michigan primary.
    Obama proposes $800 million in aid for “Arab Spring” in his $3.8 trillion dollar (seriously) budget.

  146. The vote by Greece's parliament wa a "crucial step" toward winning a second bailout program from its European partners, European economics affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said Monday. However, Mr. Rehn said there is still further work to do for the new bailout package to be agreed.


    Speaking shortly afterward, Mr. Rehn's spokesman said Greece's political party leaders still needed to give clear commitments that they will stick to the austerity measures agreed after an coming election.

    "We expect to receive clear assurances from political party leaders before they embark on the political campaign for next election," spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio said.

    Hurdles Ahead For Greece

  147. It’s the modern left, after all, who are the terrible simplifiers.

    Recall the wise words of Madison, in Federalist 37:

    When we pass from the works of nature, in which all the delineations are perfectly accurate, and appear to be other-wise only from the imperfection of the eye which surveys them, to the institutions of man, in which the obscurity arises as well from the object itself as from the organ by which it is contemplated, we must perceive the necessity of moderating still further our expectations and hopes from the efforts of human sagacity. .  .  . Questions daily occur in the course of practice, which prove the obscurity which reins in these subjects, and which puzzle the greatest adepts in political science.


    Who would be better at preserving our freedoms and strengthening a free society? Republican primary voters haven’t yet decided.


    We trust that the long and winding Republican road will produce, in Tampa in late August, a nominee stronger for the trek he had to endure. And we trust that road will lead, on November 6, to its ultimate destination​—​a new man in the White House, and a new birth of freedom in America.

    Republican Road

  148. After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, New York scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

    Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed, a California archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story in the LA Times read: "California archaeologists, report finding of 200 year old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers."

    One week later. A local newspaper in Minnesota reported the following: "After digging as deep as 30 feet in his pasture near Mankato, Minnesota, Ole Swenson, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Ole has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Minnesota Norwegian's had already gone wireless".

    Just makes a person proud to be from Minnesota. Ufda!

  149. On this day in 2000, the last original "Peanuts" comic strip appeared in newspapers. The finale came a day after cartoonist Charles Schulz passed away.

  150. Those who like to think that mankind is making progress toward the rule of law should have a look at the considerable number of hostages nowadays. There are

    –American hostages in Iran;

    –American hostages in Egypt;

    –An American soldier — Bowe Bergdahl - -held hostage by the Taliban, probably in Afghanistan;


    For many years, there was a polite conceit to the effect that we Westerners did not negotiate with terrorists or terror states for hostages, but nobody believes that any more, not with Israel releasing thousands of convicted terrorists for one soldier, not with the German foreign minister going personally to Tehran to bring back an arrested German journalist, not with top Russians brokering hostage swaps between Ankara and Damascus.

    It’s an important matter, but we don’t want to talk about it. It’s creepy and humiliating.


  151. All County Air: - Brilliant Ac Repair Kendall Services at Dour Door.

  152. Cystic Acne Killer is still the common manifestations or types of skin with Acne Killer are not appropriate for people with
    severe inflammatory Acne Killer.

    My blog :: acne cream