Of course this traitor has no problem making a sick statement like this, while hiding behind his handiwork.
I can only think of the scene from Die Hard 3 where NYPD cop John McClain is dropped off in Harlem with a sandwich board sign that reads "I hate n@$$#rs" in order to appease a maniac bomber. Unlike McClain, I doubt seriously that this clown would even find one "good Samaritan" in Manhattan to bail his @ss out of the world of trouble he surely would receive...
No doubt this is pretty much the same reaction in Ramallah; if I were Yasser I'd think twice before waving out the window again for a long, long time. Kol HaKavod to the IDF for a job well done, and to Arik Sharon for showing some cojones in terminating this POS in spite of "international law." No, no tears from this corner of the blogosphere at the loss of this particular piece of human excrement. May he get the eternal roasting he surely deserves...
Allahpundit really offers the best smattering of links on the dearly departed death-lover, including a couple that show that the clamoring for truly personal relics of the holy sheik has already started...
If you missed hearing the President's speech this morning, then read it. Don't skim over the first few lines. Read all of it. Then read it again, especially the last few paragraphs. Once you're done, then tell me, with a straight face and a clear conscience, that John Kerry will do a better job when his tuchus is sitting in the Oval Office.
It's one thing to get an "attaboy" from the likes of Mr. Bean, but when you start hanging out with characters like Dr. Mo, some of their, uh, charisma rubs off on you. Not to mention that his words of "wisdom" may not sit too well with the long lost Kerry landsmen of Delray Beach and Boca Raton.
Click on the image above to read a really good article on the man who has out-Clintoned Bill Clinton.
Also, Ann Coulter is so far the second person to make use of an awful pun...just read the title of today's column, then scroll down below to my previous entry.
Another good article to look at is this one by Yashiko Sagamori on Arutz Sheva's website. Jeff Jacoby has another column in a similar vein; namely, that "moderate" members of the Religion of Peace® who are willing to speak out against the fanatics in their midst are too few and far between. That is why it is so important to recognize the few courageous folks who have stepped up to the challenge, such as Irshad Manji and Sheik Palazzi, who tell us not what we want to hear, but what we need to hear.
Confidential to Jose in Madrid: Alhambra, al-Qaida, ¿cuál es la diferencia? Stop worrying! Don't treat Allah's groupies like that! After all, they gave you their word!
Here in Southern CA the weather has all over the place, a bizarre mix of heat, haze, and fog that is undoubtedly sending mixed messages to the first buds of spring; on the human side of things, I have to keep reminding my son that it isn't summer yet and he still has to go to preschool, but he can wear sandals and shorts.
Speaking of the sun: She Who Must Be Obeyed (aka my wife) had a "lesion" that had to be removed from her hand, the result, as she puts it, from trying to tan during her teenage years by using a blend of Coca-cola and baby oil." (Apparently this was in the days before we ever needed to care about being slathered with SPF 999 sunblock every time we dared to venture outside.) Her dermatologist wound up cutting out a lot more from her hand than was initially anticipated, and left her with several sutures and a useless & sore left hand for the next couple of weeks. A week later, she is finally healing. Still sore and hurting, but better. She was expecting the doctor to scrape off a basal-cell blemish, but after further examination, the M.D. decided that it was a squamous-cell cancer, and required a more invasive removal procedure, which includes a precautionary biopsy. There is nothing else in the world that is a better wake-up call than hearing your name (or that of your loved one) and "cancer" used in the same sentence. Maybe a bucket of ice-water poured on your crotch while sleeping at 3 in the morning, but not by much.
My uncle sent me an e-mail about my previous postings that caught me by surprise. He basically made the point that the terrorists always seem to choose as targets the average joe, someone who usually has no recourse against the forces that can wreak havoc and destruction. (Unless you count capitualtion and appeasement.) In times like these, where some folks schedule their next trip to the grocery store only after checking the homeland security color code of the day, it's no surprise that the most popular film is about God and religion. Personally, I hadn't seen the tie-in between the two different stories until he brought it to my attention.
All this reminds me of something I read once, the gist of which was that in societies that vast majority doesn't really care one way or another about political systems or ideology, because they are too busy trying to make a living for themselves and/or their loved ones. And yet, these poor shlimazels are the ones who all too often wind up as victims...as you put it, because they are "cheap" and easy targets.
Now on to the link dump, since there is just so much out there to write about. Since there is hope again of yet another championship ring for one of the few unadorned fingers left on Mr. Steinbrenner's hands, a hope that is blooming for the first time since the South Florida Fish rocked the Bronx Bombers last October, I have decided that today's links will be in a baseball frame of mind.
Leading off: Now batting is the "Screwy Professor," Dr. W. Scott Thompson, who demonstrates in his article that it only takes a short skip and bounce to travel from the halls of academia to the wards of dementia. I look forward to hearing from the good professor again, as soon as he's done looking for the neocons hiding under his bed.
On deck: At last! I have been touched by greatness! Iowahawk, one of the "Clown Princes" of blogging, actually featured me in one of his posts! Oh, the joy! I haven't felt this good since...well, trust me, it's been a while. To top things off, I even got fan mail from a real-live "Morlock!" Looks like Egged will need to get bigger buses to make an impression with the AP and Mr. Troll - who's new motto is "63 or bust!" (read on down the thread and see why) All I have to say after that experience is: Bwahahahaha!
Meanwhile, the Jihadis are busy at work grooming younger and younger prospects for the big leagues. Nothing like having the ancient god of Molech to serve as a role model, except in modern times "pinch hitters" like little Abdullah Quran can now keep their "fire" under wraps until such time as the ideal target zome is reached - such as a pizza parlor, commuter bus, or outdoor cafe. Meanwhile, their big leaguers haven't been sluffing off, either. (BTW - note the name of the hotel. Not exactly the first place I would choose off Travelocity if I was concerned with, say, personal safety...)
And on the winter league's home turf, the "Chavo that roared" continues his hot streak as the junior member of a pairing that hasn't been seen since Mantle and Maris back in the early 60's. In a striking coincidence, Hugo's mentor got his start right around that time. Just a thought: Since we know that Fidel was known since the mid-50's as a pitcher with big-league potential, one can only imagine what position little Hugo plays in that relationship...
Anyway, that's enough for now, as I need to re-direct my focus to the main revenue-generating portion of my day...see y'all later!
Oops, forgot one thing: To my Irish and wannabe Irish readers out there, Happy St. Patrick's Day! (which I kind of fitting to note today, since after all yesterday was apparently St. Pancake Day...bwahahahaha!)
Today's blasts in Madrid, in which ten different bombs went off along a main commuter line, should serve as a reminder that the civilized peoples of the world are at war with those who have chosen hatred and death, and we need to act like it. It also should serve notice to those Americans and Europeans who would propose appeasement that their way is the wrong one, 100%. Almost 200 killed (so far) and over 1200 wounded. It is Spain's 9/11, just like Bali was Australia's 9/11, and just like every bus bombing in Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv is another 9/11 for Israel, on an all-too-regular basis.
So far the first claim of responsibility has come from...radical Islamists. Seems that Osama, Inc. is still sore about losing the battle of Granada, which signaled the end of Islamic rule on the Spanish peninsula over 500 years ago, in 1492. To these murderers, today's bombing is just the start of a new battle in the centuries-long, simmering war between the West (i.e.; Jews and Christians) and Islam, a war that entered a new phase on 09-11-01:
The five-page e-mail claim, signed by the shadowy Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri, was received at the paper's London offices. It said the brigade's "death squad" had penetrated "one of the pillars of the crusade alliance, Spain," and carried out what it called Operation Death Trains.
"This is part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader, and America's ally in its war against Islam," the claim said.
Referring to Spain's Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, the statement asked: "Aznar, where is America? Who will protect you, Britain, Japan, Italy and others from us?"
The newspaper faxed the claim to The Associated Press office in Cairo.
The statement warned the United States that a major strike is approaching.
"We announce the good news for the Muslims in the world that the strike of the black wind of death, the expected strike against America, is now at its final stage - 90 percent ready - and it is coming soon, by God's will," the claim said.
I read here that Israel is sending a team of pathologists to Madrid to help with the mammoth task of identifying bombing victims. Thanks to the "terror-acracy" established in Ramallah, the Israelis have become world experts at this sort of thing:
"The Spanish government requested the Israeli help, (Dr. Rikardo) Nachman said. Unfortunately, Israel leads the list of countries with experience in this field," he said. "I myself have had considerable experience in classifying body parts after terror attacks."
I wonder if anyone else sees the different layers of irony at work here. First, Spain seeking aid from Israel. Five hundred years ago, the same Spain that financed Columbus' voyage of discovery also initiated at the same time a journey of an altogether different nature, when Ferdinand and Isabella cast out the Jews from their lands. For hundreds of years afterwards, the Spanish Inquisition persecuted and killed those Spaniards "of Jewish descent" who dared to remain on their native soil, ever after embracing the nation's Catholic faith. Jews were not to return to Spain until this past century, and even then, have kept a low profile until the late 1980's.
And today? Now Israelis, perhaps even descendants of those expelled in 1492, are being asked to come to Madrid, because they have the skills needed to ID bombing victims. And how did the Israeli doctors gain these skills? Simple. These doctors have had the unfortunate ability to practice treating bombing victims because of Palestinian-initiated violence. The roots of the latest round of violence? No, not Ariel Sharon's hike on the Temple Mount, although that's what the Arab media would like you to believe. No, this violence is the direct result of a flawed "peace process" that was born, not in Oslo, but several years earlier, in the post-Gulf War I euphoria of "victory", in Madrid.
I wonder how long it will be before we start hearing calls for Spain to "show restraint" and look for a way to engage it's enemy in a "peace process." Don't hold your breath.
Larry Miller, the writer, actor, and comedian, published an excellent article a couple of weeks ago on Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." You can read it by clicking here. Miller pretty much hits the nail on the head (sorry for the awful pun) when it comes to my own feelings about the movie and the controversy surrounding its release.
Now, I haven't seen the movie, and I don't know Mel Gibson. Likewise, I'll bet ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine-percent-or-so of you haven't seen it and don't know Mel Gibson, either. But this hasn't stopped us all from thinking, reading, and talking about it, has it?
Well, it shouldn't. Here's my take: I'm glad he did it; but I'm a little afraid.
Afraid of what? I don't know. Pogroms? No. Riots? No. Then what? I don't know. Then why am I afraid?
I don't know.
My mother, now living in South Florida (talk about a cliche) seems to be reliving childhood traumas every time the subject comes up. To her, Mel Gibson is the ideological heir of Father Coughlin and the Irish Catholic bullies she encountered in the 1930's Bronx, street toughs and delinquents who chased her home from school, calling her and her friends "Christ-killers" and "dirty Jews." I can understand her fears, and her reactions. After all, Mel Gibson is a schismatic Catholic, part of a breakaway sect that has rejected the changes made by a modernizing Vatican in the 1960's. His faith rejects the reforms of Vatican II, which included the declaration by the Church that it was mistaken in holding Jews responsible for the death of Jesus. In trendy Hollywood and sophisticated Manhattan, Gibson is seen as being way too "retro," and for all the wrong reasons.
I do think that a comparison can be made between Gibson's embrace of a more "traditional" ritual and faith, and the attitude of, let's say, a newly observing traditional Jew who has decided to reject the changes and reforms made by "modernist" Conservative and Reform rabbis. Mel Gibson likes the look and feel of the traditional Church, with the mass conducted in Latin (ironically, the language of Jesus' tormentors, and not the Aramaic/Hebrew speaking Jesus himself) and the priest conducting the service with his back to the congregation. (Again, analogous to the difference between traditional and "modernized" Jewish services) Maybe that's why I am seeing several observant Jews, rabbis and lay leaders, come to Mel Gibson's defense. Perhaps they see his fighting to defend his faith against liberal "modern values" (or the lack thereof) as an extension of their own struggle to preserve the tenets and laws of authentic Judaism.
However, like Larry Miller, I also am a little afraid, and I don't know exactly why. Maybe it's the deep-seated fear that Jews have had for two thousand years, a fear nurtured by hostility, hatred and pogroms all too often fueled by a priest's tirade against those who killed their savior. I know that Hitler was no Christian (he hated the Church as a "Jewish creation") but he was able to tap into this simmering Jew-hatred and exploit it for his own evil ends. So, I can see why people today, even those who have never heard a slur in their life, perceive Mel's cinematic embrace of his "old-time religion" as a potential danger to our current good fortune, even here in the "goldene medina" of America. Two thousand years of history cannot be easily ignored or forgotten, even after a half-century of immensely good fortune.
The sad thing is that there are worse manifestations of anti-Semitism appearing in the world today. Just look at France, where Jews are facing constant attacks from Islamists among the country's large Arab minority. Or in Israel, where men, women, and children are targets for Islamist hatred for only one reason: they are Jews. The truth is, the greater threat to Jews today doesn't come from the Mel Gibsons of the world, but rather from the new alliance of leftists and Islamists, united by their hatred for Israel and Jews, plain and simple. Take some time to review editorial cartoons from world newspapers, or TV clips from Arab networks, archived at MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute. Maybe it's time that Gibson's critics give these materials the same amount of scrutiny and criticism. Go ahead and browse through the site's different galleries, and you soon see that unlike Mel Gibson, there's no question as to the motives, intentions, or dreams of those who produce this material.
And, if you think that isn't enough to keep a man busy, Professor Hanson is also a family farmer, living and working on the same Selma, California tree and vine farm where he was born in 1953.
Welcome to blogging, VDH!
Actually, the funniest part of all this is Chavez's accusing the U.S. of meddling in Venezuela's internal affairs. If the U.S. was really serious about overthrowing him, do you think that they would feature this man and his center as the primary American involvement in the current crisis? Let's face it, the peanut farmer from Plains is the last man you would want to be involved when overthrowing a dictatorship, considering his track record with Chavez's fellow "world leaders" in Havana, Tehran, Ramallah, and Pyongyang.
On another front, El Presidente Chavez is now apparently managed to spread his particluar talent for discontent to the farthest edges of Venezuelan society. Undoubtedly, we will be able to count on more deceased voters coming forward and serving as ammunition for the opposition's efforts:
A man President Hugo Chavez claimed was dead begs to differ with the Venezuelan leader. "I'm not dead. I'm alive and kicking," 61-year-old Emiliano Chavez Rosales (no relation) said in comments published Monday by El Universal newspaper.
Today has been a busy day at the office (as opposed to productive) since our department is in the throes of relocating to a new space down the hall, as part of the latest re-alignment. In practical terms, this means that I now have an extended walk to the restroom, and I need to spin my chair around in order to see the mountains outside our windows. It's actually kind of crazy, in that people are constantly moving from place to place within the same office. You may have noticed that I haven't used the word "cubicle," since what we really occupy are desks with low walls that barely provide any privacy. Someone said that it's probably the result of some very expensive consultant's report on how to make workers more productive in the workplace.
Personally I think it's B.S. After all, it's impossible to concentrate on a problem when you are constantly assaulted by background noise from 30 people working in your immediate space. I mean, I still haven't learned how to fully tune out my children at home when necessary. Every little creaking sound I hear down the hall has me wondering just what nefarious plot they are hatching in the kitchen. I've actually found my son climbing the kitchen counters, scouring the upper shelves of the kitchen cabinets in a desperate search for chocolate. (For those who don't know him, he is a four-year-old chocoholic who is nowhere near recovery. I actually found him one morning eating hot chocolate powder from the can, spoon by glorious spoon. This, and other stunts perpetrated by my progeny, will be the topic of a future posting, if not a whole separate blog.)
But I digress from the topic at hand: What I find to be all the more distracting is that you are forced to hear everyone else's conversations, whether you want to be a party to it or not. At a previous employer, they had the common sense to actually build private "phone-booth" rooms for those calls you'd rather not share with your co-workers. Here, there is no such luxury, so I guess I'll have to endure hearing about how so-and-so struck out for the 785th time on their last date with Ms. Wanda Toothless, or the gruesome details of how they are investigating new treatments for hemorrhoids. Well, two can play at that game. I'll just have to retaliate by blaring into the phone at the top of my lungs random phrases that mimic a real conversation: "Yes, you can use Coca-Cola to remove the decay and corrosion...No, Bismarck is the capital of NORTH Dakota...I said I wanted 40 pounds of entrails, dammit! Not cocktails, but entrails! E-n-t-r-a-i-l-s, you idiot!" You know, things like that, which will hopefully creep everyone out just a little bit and get them to police their own conversations...I'll keep you posted.
On a more serious note, The Devil's Excrement has posted some pictures from the front lines in the urban battles taking place in Caracas' streets. Looks more like Ramallah than Sabana Grande...
Spoke with my mother-in-law earlier, who told me that in her neighborhood there is still the sound of sporadic gunfire. She hasn't left the apartment building, and most people are staying inside, playing the waiting game. It is a crucial time for Venezuela now, as Hugo Chavez has decided to go full speed ahead with bringing down the country's last democratic institutions once and for all. Judges who have freed non-violent protestors and opposition leaders arrested in the past few days, are now finding themselves fired from their posts.
At least one member of the Chavez regime has shown some moral outrage; the Venezuelan ambassador to the U.N., Milos Alcalay, has resigned his post in protest of his own government's actions. Let's hope that more officials will have the same courage as Mr. Alcalay, and will speak out against the growing tyranny taking place in today's Venezuela.
FrontPage magazine.com has a great article by Paul Crespo on the ties that bind Hugo Chavez and his mentor Fidel Castro. Crespo, a former Marine and military attache at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, does a great job of documenting the links between the Western Hemisphere's last remaining Dr. Evil and his latest "Mini-me" who currently resides in Miraflores. (the presidential palace in Caracas) There are at least two differences between the movie version and the real thing. Unlike the diminutive on-screen clone, Chavez does, unfortunately, have the ability to speak; although when he does, one wishes that he was mute. On a serious note, however, El Presidente Chavez has a weapon that his "revolutionary" patron saint has dreamt of possessing - a way to weaken the U.S. while sowing international discord. I am, of course, referring to the massive supply of Venezuelan crude oil that the U.S. is increasingly dependent on for fulfilling our energy needs, and the willingness of Mr. Chavez to cut off that supply, even at the cost of destroying his own country's fragile economy. In fact, you can look at that threat as being key to Chavez's consolidation of power, since he would willingly play the anti-Yanqui card that has dominated Fidel Castro's relationship with the U.S. since 1959, at the cost of his own people's well being. In an increasingly worrisome turn of events, President Chavez has allowed an influx of thousands of Cuban "advisors" to Venezuela, who are organizing "Bolivarian Circles", the local equivalent of Cuba's infamous block committees. According to Crespos, the enmeshing between the two regimes has reached such a high level, to the point that the Venezuelan DISIP intelligence agency has been actually absorbed into the Cuban DGI structure. In effect, the Cuban and Venezuelan regimes have become, in their own words, "one team," looking to flex their combined muscle at the expense of the United States.
One scholar has described the situation with a great turn of phrase; it is, according to Maxwell Cameron, the world's first "slow-motion constitutional coup." Unlike the rise to power of other dictators, Chavez didn't consolidate his gains overnight, but rather through careful planning and execution, in conjunction with multiple missteps by the opposition, the aborted coup in April 2002 being the prime example. What we are witnessing in Venezuela today is the dismantling of asovereignn state's democratic institutions, using a combination of the state's own legal mechanisms and an increasingly lethal dose of raw brutality and intimidation on a scale familiar to those who have languished in Havana for the past five decades. Miami is filling up with Venezuelans in a way that hasn't been seen since the early 1980's, except that this time they are not coming to shop but to stay, in a manner again similar to the first wave of Cuban exiles of the 1960's.
However, this is also cause for concern according to Crespos, as the Bolivarian Republic of Hugo Chavez has decided to issue national ID documents ("cedulas") and passports to thousands of persons from terror sponsoring nations, including Syria and Lebanon, who are now able to avoid more stringent immigration checks at the U.S. border. Margarita Island, a free-trade and vacation destination is now home to support cells of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other groups. Local merchants help fund these groups through money laundering, arms deals, drug trafficking and other illicit activities. Of course, the Venezuelan government denies all the reports, but Western intel agencies, along with indepedent journaists and researchers, have been keeping tracking this activity for some time.
President Bush has made it a point to bring the fight to the terrorists, most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. When will we take a look at the growing threat that is sitting way too close to our own shores?
Shiite Muslim child Mahmoud Slieman after his mother cut him with a sword during the annual ritual to mark Ashoura Day in the southern Lebanese town of Nabatiyeh, Tuesday March 2, 2004. Ashoura day marks the Shiite Muslim’s commemoration of the 7th century killing of their most revered Saint Imam Hussein. Al Hussein was a grandson of Islam’s prophet Mohammed and is a symbol of martyrdom for Shiites. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
"...his mother cut him with a sword..." Words fail me. They absolutely fail me.
Another martyr for democracy...
Jose Vilas was just an ordinary Joe, so to speak, who was involved in the legal petition drive, collecting signatures in his middle-class neighborhood in Caracas. He was a techie, like myself, and until last year he worked at PDVSA's technical and research center. Jose was one of thousands fired last spring, after the nationwide strike against the Chavez regime. Yesterday he was out on the street in his neighborhood, when he was gunned down in cold blood by military police. The first of two photographs posted on this blog show him walking away, looking over his shoulder at the approaching patrol. The next is of him dying on the curb, a friend trying to fashion a pillow out of his backpack, with the exit wound(s) on his stomach clearly visible.
When are the American people going to wake up and realize that we have another dictator who needs to be confronted? When will this country send the clear message that his aggression and repression against those engaged in the legal and democratic processes available in Venezuela will not be tolerated? Yes, I know that the Carter Center is on the scene along with the OAS, monitoring the current electoral process. The CC team on the ground in Caracas has actually showed some backbone when dealing with the Chavistas in the electoral council, and have not been (so far) intimidated by their actions and reactions. I hope and pray that their resolve will continue until the legitimate process for recalling "El Presidente" has run its full course, without trickery or subterfuge. I fear, however, that these fine organizations will be unable to stop what Chavez is planning: a full-blown civil war that will allow him to impose full military control over the country and consolidate his power, on the scale of his mentor's five-decade rule in Havana.
This is not some remote backwater; Venezuela is right in our backyard, and it is a mature and sophisticated society with a tradition of democratic rule. The rule of law should be respected, as well as the right of the people to both elect and recall their leadership when warranted. If we were willing to liberate people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, then we should be all the more willing to prevent a new tyranny from taking root in our own backyard.
Spoke on the phone earlier today with my suegra (Spanish for mother-in-law) in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. For those of you who don't read newspapers, or who get their nightly news from Leno, Letterman and Jon Stewart, Venezuela is a country on the northern end of South America, known for it's beautiful beaches, beautiful women, (yes, I am married to one) and its two major exports: major-league baseball players, and a whole lot of crude oil. In fact, it is the #3 or #4 exporter to the U.S.A. And now, it is known for being led by a man, Hugo Chavez, who actually called the leader of the free world, President George W. Bush, an "asshole" on national T.V. (Without getting into more of a history lesson, I'll just point out that in 1999 the country elected a fiery left-wing populist and former military officer, Hugo Chavez, who was previously imprisioned for a failed coup attempt several years earlier. IIRC, Chavez won only because the opposition to him was divided into several camps, and he didn't win a true majority. If I am wrong about this, let me know, and I will correct this piece of information.)
Chavez is currently facing a recall effort to remove him from office. Over 3.4 million people have signed recall petitions that call for a special election to remove him from office a la Gray Davis. This is being undertaken after a brief coup against him failed in 2002. However, whereas Gov. Davis used political pandering (remember driver's licenses for illegal immigrants?) to try and delay his inevitable termination, Chavez has resorted to a mix of brute force and dirty tricks to keep the recall petitions from even being counted. Protests have intensfied in the past few days, as Chavez has done everything in his power to influence the outcome of the recall effort.
Since gaining power, El Presidente Chavez has done whatever possible to portray himself as a champion of those who would oppose the United States, both before and after 9/11. He made it a point to visit Saddam's Iraq, treating the international pariah with all the respect usually reserved for a legitimate head of state. Chavez also has a deep respect and affinity with another Latin revolutionary figure, Fidel Castro of Cuba, which includes hosting birthday parties and vacations at the Venezuelan taxpayer's expense. Most say that Chavez idolizes the Cuban revolution, and is doing his utmost to import it to his own nation. A steady stream of Cuban doctors and "advisors" has made their way to Caracas and the outlying areas, practicing medicine and preaching the glories of socialism in exchange for crude oil. More recently, as Venezuela was playing host to the G-15 summit, Chavez accepted the embrace of another international pariah, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, a man who has taken Southern Africa's breadbasket and turned it into his own personal fiefdom.
Back to my mother-in-law, the original reason for my posting: She is staying right now in "La Florida" - a neighborhood in Caracas proper, and reports that they are stocking up on areparina, arroz and other staples, since the situation is really getting out of control. The other day when we were on the phone we could hear the gunfire and pot-clanging (anyone who knows Venezuela will know what I am talking about, it's when people open their windows and start banging together pots and pans to create as loud a noise as possible) clearly on the other end.
Chavez's embrace of Khatami and Mugabe is right on par with his previous expressions of culo-licking love for Saddam & Fidel. He has done more to foster terrorism on this side of the Atlantic than anyone in the past few years. Just look at the presence of Hizbollah and other cells on Margarita Island, with the tacit approval of the authorities.
The fact that the media here is more interested in Haiti than Venezuela is mind-boggling. They are either ignorant dupes who see Hugo as the "voice of the Venezuelan downtrodden masses" fighting against corruption and injustice, or are just happy to see someone in power talk about GWB the same way they do in their newsrooms. Let's face it, Haiti's story is tragic, but it's not nearly a direct threat to the U.S. economy like what is going on in Venezuela. Just remember that next time you are paying $3.50/gal for gasoline this spring. Out here in L.A. we've already hit $2.25 and it's only March 1st. Maybe then, and only then, will people start to care about Venezuela. Let's just hope that it's not too late.
Why do this? I mean, there are lots of other things I can do with my few precious moments of spare time. After all, life is complicated enough without adding another project to the mix.
The simple truth is: I am looking to go ahead and write political humor, since it seems to come naturally to me. Maybe it's because of my affinity for the subject at hand. I'm the kind of guy who relaxes before bedtime by putting on Fox News and reading the news crawl at the bottom of the screen. This is opposed to my medically-inclined-nursing-tudent wife, who prefers watching trauma surgeries, colonoscopies, and the like on Discovery Medical while noshing on her late-night snack. Since she is the One Who Must Be Obeyed with primary rights to the remote control, I usually get to read only about six words off the screencrawl before a semi-colon is replaced with one of the natural variety.
Anyway, as I was saying before: I've decided to go ahead and start my own blog (again) but with the hope of keeping material current and up-to-date with daily or semi-daily postings. After all, there is only just so much to offer an opinion on...
Let's see how this blogging thing works...just point, click, type...well, type something.
Yawn. People are starting to move their mouse pointers back to their bookmarks, feeling that they have clicked on this site in error. Write something, dammit!
OK. How about this for starters?
Today is a dreary Monday in L.A., my newest stop on the ride called "making a living." Looking out the window from my office, I can watch clouds circling around the mountaintops to the north and east. We spent our weekend mostly indoors, (either in our apartment or our van) since it has been raining for the past few days and will apparently continue to do so for the next two days. This is what passes for winter here in Southern California, so I guess I shouldn't really complain.
Spent most of yesterday driving around the San Fernando Valley, looking at townhomes and houses for lease. This has become our weekend hobby of late, born out of a desire to have more living space and less debt. If it wasn't for the commute to the kids' schools, I would stay put where I am. However, we are spending $60-70 weekly in gas alone.
Of course we didn't find a thing, since every house and apartment is either too small, too expensive, or a combination of both. So far, I've learned that in California you can legally squeeze three bedrooms into less than 1100 square feet, call it "luxurious," and charge $3000 monthly rent. Kind of like Manhattan, except that there is no real subway, Yellow Cab, or corner grocery selling fresh produce open at 3 AM across the street. At least in Manhattan you can get away without needing a car. Just try that in Hollywood or the L.A. 'burbs. Oh yes, I'm know that there is a good metropolitan transit system here, somewhere... but not near enough to where I need to be on a daily basis.
I've also learned that when a house or apartment is described as "cozy," it means that the floorplan resembles that of a WWII submarine, without the torpedo tubes, or the other creature comforts associated with homes, such as closet or pantry space. Then again, those closets are now being marketed as bedrooms. Same goes for "retro-hip appliances," which means (in reality) that you are getting a kitchen outfitted with the best of 1950's technology. A new coat of paint on a 50 year-old Fridgidare doesn't change the fact that it's 50 years old and will need weekly, or daily, defrosting.
I can really understand why people have sold off their holdings and left this state for points east; the cost-of-living is just outrageous. We actually passed a development out in the suburbs, 20 miles from downtown, which was advertising homes starting "in the low $1,000,000's" (sic) If you want to find a home in Southern California for under $300,000, your options are as follows:
1. Move to the "high desert" 50-60 miles away, with only one freeway that comes into town. If you ever saw "The Right Stuff" you'll know exactly what I am referring to. A lot of folks do just this, and wind up spending more time daily in their cars commuting, than in their homes, or even at work.
2. Buy a 750-square foot condo in town (meaning within 15-20 miles of downtown) that needs to be gutted from floor to ceiling. And, no, it won't be a one-bedroom. Think of a room at the Motel 6, or a two-car garage, except that instead of the big door, you have a solitary window with a panoramic view of the neighboring building, 20 feet away. Then again, if you are lucky, your window will line up with your neighbors', and you'll have no need for your own big-screen TV. Just buy a programmable remote, and watch the fun ensue when you change the channels from across the way!
3. Discover the joys of manufactured-home living. The only problem with this is that you will need to find a "community" (or what we refer to back home as "trailer park") where you can plant your single-or-double wide. Although there are some close to town, most of the places you will find available for move in are, of course, in the desert, 50 miles away, minimum. Think Randy Quaid in National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation. Then again, you can always buy a Winnebago and park it at work a la "Trapper John, M.D."
4. Look for "distressed properties" on "distressed streets" in "distressed neighboorhoods" decorated with burned-out vehicles, empty glass vials, and shards of glass left over from last night's outdoor "wine tasting" (no doubt featuring MD 20/20, no particuar vintage.) Make sure to choose function over fashion (no picture windows, porch swings, or hedges near the front door.) Think ironwork and bars. Lots of bars, placed on any window, door, or other portal that can potentially be considered as a means to enter your new home.
5. Give up.