Zippidy Doo Da

I'm not stupid, I'm from Texas!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Updated Secrets of U.S. History

Have to say that I’m conflicted about our mission to Libya this past week. I am pleased though, to see us acting with the authority of the UN Security Council, the cooperation of European countries dependant on Libyan oil supplies, and at the request of the Arab League.

Yeah, the Arab League; amazing that. All the F-16’s and MIG fighters they’ve been buying all these years and still they ask us to make war for them. Saudi pilots are probably all members of the royal family and the Saudis probably aren’t fond of sending their own children into combat any more than our members of congress are. They all hate Gaddafi: being monarchs themselves they could hardly approve of some two-bit colonel who overthrew the Libyan monarchy in 1969. But they do have in common their extraction-of-resources-based economies and their national policies of repression of their people and aggression toward Israel.

Tonight I saw Monsour O. El-Kikhia on the Daily Show. He’s Chairman of the Poli-Sci Dept. at U.T.S.A. and he’s from Benghazi. He said that the allied airstrikes saved 25,000 to 50,000 lives there when they stopped Gaddafi’s forces from taking the city, and that our actions are giving young people there a chance at a better life. I hope so.

But I hope you’ll take a look at this page I found on Crooks and Liars yesterday.(Click on title to view) It’s a list of U.S. military interventions around the world since World War II. I’d paste it up here but it’s about ten pages long. I’d never heard of some of these, and I’ve been reading history for over forty years. Think of Robert McNamara in ‘The Fog of War’ when asked about the Cuba Missile Crisis, he said that we have been on the brink of destruction about twenty times that he knew about. If we carry on blindly with our National Security State on a Permanent War Footing, we’re bound to eventually find what we’ve been asking for. What a shame.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Impressionists and Post Impressionists at the MFAH

Over spring break, Jokahontas and I got to see the “Impressionists and Post Impressionists” show at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, fifty paintings on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington. I love these shows; over the years I’ve seen hundreds of these pictures without leaving Texas. Cezanne’s Boy in a Red Waistcoat, Degas’ dancers, Monet’s Woman with a Parasol, Toulouse-Lautrec’s Carmen Gaudin; it’s always a thrill to see familiar images up close and in person. Sometimes the paint looks still wet, sometimes the scale is astounding, as when I saw The Luncheon of the Boating Party and discovered that it’s four feet tall and six feet wide, or that The Persistence of Memory is the size of a paperback. Ever seen Henri Rousseau’s The Dream? It’s as big as a wall!

This wasn’t a real ‘blockbuster’ show, but our schedule was tight anyways. There was a room full of Mary Cassatt children and I spent like five minutes in there. Sad. Being spring break and all, we spent some time standing in line. That’s OK, it’s a good time to remember that more Americans visit art galleries than attend major league football games.

The ‘show-stopper’ was probably the self-portrait by Van Gogh from 1889. Gaunt, staring out from a swirling blue background, he painted this in an asylum in the last year of his life. On the opposite wall, his earlier Farmhouse in Provence looks representational in comparison. My favorite was his Roses from 1890. I read that the colors faded quickly on this canvas, but I enjoyed its difference, like he ran out of yellow paint that day. It looked to me like a pattern Grandma would use to cover the davenport.

I heard some folks in line comment that the $20 tickets were probably a fundraiser for the museum. Hardly. I bet the gate doesn’t cover the cost of insurance for these priceless paintings, on view through May 23rd.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chupacabra Report

News that Gets My Goat..

I’ve written here before about my congressman Pete Olson establishing a voting record barely distinguishable from that of the notorious “Dr. No,” Congressman Ron Paul. This week they split on an issue.

No, it wasn’t the vote to defund National Public Radio. Pete Olson’s handlers want him to squash ‘librul media.’ (NPR is not liberal, except in the sense of being tolerant, respectful of the ideas of others, and favoring democratic reform. Those guys want to hear some left wing media they ought to tune in to Pacifica and hear them some Noam Chomsky and Robert Jensen.) Ron Paul of course thinks radio ought to be provided by that nice Mr. Marconi.

No, the divergence came on House Resolution 28, a measure to bring the troops home from Afghanistan by December 31st under the 1973 War Powers Act. This is a case of Ron Paul’s nuttiness ending at the water’s edge. Ron Paul understands that Congress has relinquished its Constitutional war-making powers for half a century, and opposes them rolling over for the gangsters and chicken hawks that keep the gravy caissons rolling all over the world.

Recently I went to look up something about Colonel David Hackworth, the most decorated American soldier since Audie Murphy. I found that in his last years, Hackworth and his wife, founded a 501 (c)-(3) organization, Stand for the Troops that lobbies to provide US troops with proper equipment, such as helmets and body armor that work, guns that don’t jam (for almost 50 years, US soldiers have been found dead with jammed M-16 rifles under them) and planes that don't crash (the VE-22 Osprey has been killing Marines in non-combat accidents for twenty years.)

A recent post on the SFTF site noted that the US is reducing its presence in the Pech Valley in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, setting for Sebastian Junger’s latest book “War.” They quote US officials saying “the valley consumed resources disproportionate with its importance; those forces could be deployed in other areas; and there are not enough troops to win decisively in the Pech Valley in any case.” The author adds; “Can’t the same be said for the entire war effort in Afghanistan?”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

God Bless Them

I don't know much about this noo-klee-ar stuff. I found this image while surfing for male enhancement products.

I found this story from ABC News (viz Prison Planet), too:

Surging radiation levels temporarily halted work to cool the troubled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, raising worries that officials are running out of options to stabilize the escalating catastrophe.
“We’re very close now to the point of no return,” Dr. Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist, said. “It’s gotten worse. We’re talking about workers coming into the reactor perhaps as a suicide mission and we may have to abandon ship.”
A group of 180 workers rotate shifts working at the plant in teams of 50 men. The men have been nicknamed the “Fukushima Fifty.”
When radiation levels surged following a fire at Unit 4 and a rising cloud of radioactive vapor from unit 3, officials deemed it too risky for the plant workers to continue their critical work of pumping sea water on the damaged reactors and fuel ponds.
“The workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told the Associated Press. “Because of the radiation risk we are on standby.”

It's hard to find a real man these days. Judge Hoarse, who is spending the day with his daughter, is one such rare creature, and I have a feeling that he would agree with me if he was here that the Fukashima Fitty deserve a big hat tip from ZDD today.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chupacabra Report

News that Gets My Goat

Reading the “How Texans Voted” report from Thomas Voting Reports this week I see that Texas Republicans voted with their party to defeat three measures to help Americans who are upside-down on their mortgages. The bills in question, HR 830 and HR 836, and amendments, would repeal the FHA Refinance Program and the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program. These measures cover homeowners who are current on their mortgages and whose loans are not insured by the Federal Housing Administration, or are age 62 or older, or have lost their jobs or have fallen behind because of a serious medical condition, or for active duty service personnel, veterans, and Gold Star families. (Foreclosure rates in towns near military bases are more than twice the national average.)

This program is funded from already approved but unspent Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. Seems that the GOP is OK with bailing out big banks and insurance companies, but stands against helping ordinary people. Five million Americans have lost their homes to foreclosure since the Great Recession hit in 2007, compared to a historical average of 100,000 per year. According to the Wall Street Journal, one in four American homeowners owe at least 20% more on their homes than their homes are worth.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Obama’s State Dept spends $770 million on Mosque Makeovers?

I received a forword of a news story about Obama and Hillary spending $770 million to rebuild mosques in the mid east. The sender commented “unbelievable!” and he was right, I didn’t believe it.

It took me a while to find info on this that didn't come from the tea party or neo-Nazis (Stormfront the white supremacist website was one of the top search results.) I finally sifted through the vitriol to find that the story is about the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation or AFCP.

This is a link to the State Dept page:

This program started ten years ago (can't pin this one on Obama) and may not be as crazy as it sounds. The AFCP has supported 640 projects in over 100 countries, here’s some:

Conservation of the 8th-Century Public Baths in the Umayyad City of Anjar, Lebanon

Conservation of 16th-Century Statues and Other Ethnographic Objects at Wat Visoun in Luang Prabang, Laos

Conservation of Armazi Archaeological Site, Georgia

Conservation of Prehistoric Rock Art in Kondoa, Tanzania

Documentation and Training in the Management of Archaeological Collections at Cyrene, Libya

Preservation of the Early 19th-Century Citadelle Laferrière (Henri Christophe) and Military Barracks of the Palais de Sans-Souci, Haiti

Restoration of 17th- and 18th-Century Paintings from the Compañia de Jesus Church in Arequipa, Peru

Restoration of the Early 19th-Century Fort at Lamu, Kenya

Restoration of an Historic Conventual Bakery in the Todos Santos Section of Cuenca, Ecuador

Restoration of the Minaret in the Ancient City of Tichitt, Mauritania

Restoration of the Rocas Canal at the Ancient Site of Chavin de Huantar, Peru

-This works out to about $1.2 million per project. My little hometown of 3,000 people has received bigger federal grants. Heck, we spend more every year giving Americans a mortgage interest deduction on their vacation homes.

We don’t seem to notice when we spend trillions making war but then we listen to demagogues making hay about goodwill efforts.

Polls show that most Americans oppose foreign aid but wildly overestimate the amount of it, (about one percent of the federal budget.) Also, much 'foreign aid' is in the form of weapons or other subsidized trade for US corporations.
Republicans in Congress have de-funded programs to secure Soviet-era nuclear weapons. That’s some foreign aid I can get behind. Sure, I have problems with how Congress spends money, but I’m not down with the GOP’s priorities. I’d like me some spending on rapid rail and wireless internet, a new Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps.

This infographic from, was an eye opener. The real welfare queens in this country are the Fortune 500 companies that manage not to pay taxes every year, the captains of industry and commerce that used to get by on just thirty times a line workers pay, now they make 400 times that, and bitch about paying taxes. If we’d only left tax rates where they were under Bill Clinton, there would be no federal debt today. Look it up.

Until we start voting our own self-interest, the sluts in Congress who write our monstrous tax laws will continue to be like the proverbial two wolves and a sheep, voting on what’s for dinner. The plutocrats we’ve elected will use this manufactured rage about debt to cut needed spending on healthcare, education, infrastructure and the environment. If we let them.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Chupacabra Report

News that gets my goat..

Defense Secretary Robert Gates made headlines recently for a speech he gave at the US Military Academy at West Point. This is being called his ‘farewell tour’ as he has announced that he will retire this year. The speech made headlines because he quoted Douglas MacArthur, saying that any future defense secretary “who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined …” and that The U.S. army should not “turn into a Victorian nation-building constabulary — designed to chase guerrillas, build schools or sip tea.”

This struck me as another example of the ‘retirement syndrome’ James Carroll wrote about in his Pentagon history “House of War,” where retired officials suddenly see the error of our ways and urge us to turn our swords into ploughshares. Henry Stimson, Dwight Eisenhower, Robert McNamara, and now Robert Gates?

Not so fast. According to Ret. USN Commander Jeff Huber at his Pen and Sword blog, “Robert Gates’ proposed Pentagon spending cuts are likely to have as much effect of the deficit as flushing your toilet has on El Nino. Recent announcements of the military’s new age of austerity were the same balderdash we’ve been hearing from the warmongery’s bull feather merchants since President Dwight Eisenhower warned us, in his 1961 farewell speech, that the emergence of a military-industrial complex could lead to a “disastrous rise of misplaced power.”

Check it out, another great post by Huber, author of the darkly funny “Bathtub Admirals.” In the comments, one of his readers gives a shout-out to Juanita Jean’s Worlds Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, another one of my faves. Small world.