THE DRESDEN FILES Reading Challenge

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011


It’s times like this where I really, really miss our late roommate, Daniel Conan Weiner. He was a Libertarian (which, since I’m an unabashed and unashamed liberal, and WonderWifeTheEngineer was, at the time, an unabashed and unashamed Log Cabin Republican) used to make for some very interesting dinner-time conversations.

He’d have had an absolute hysterical laughing fit at what has happened to the Libertarian (now known as the Tea Party) Party, when their political theorizing has turned into actual fact, and they can’t wrap their consciousness around the simple declaration that the real world simply doesn’t work like their rosy vision of it should. Take a look at the Free State Project, which has been an absolutely abysmal failure ( After all their research and all of their huffing and puffing, they don’t even have 1,000 people on the ground in New Hampshire. Good idea in Wyoming because that state has plenty of land and a fair number of jobs, BAD idea in a state that's basically owned by people that really, REALLY don't want you there because they are worried that your philosophies are going to cause overcrowding, and raise their taxes. So far, they've managed to elect ONE state representative, and he got defeated - SOUNDLY - last year.
What’s even more interesting, I think, is that every single, solitary Libertarian (except for Dan) that I’ve ever known – and I’ve know a shitload of them – has been a worshipper at the Shrine of St. Ayn Rand.

I blush to admit that I was an enthusiastic promoter of her ideas, once upon a time. Fortunately, I got over it. Unfortunately, and catastrophically for our economic system, folks like Allen Greenspan didn’t. You can see the havoc still being wreaked by his application of Randian economic philosophy on our economy. You can especially see it in people like Paul Ryan, who requires everybody that works for him, even the volunteers, to read THE FOUNTAINHEAD and ATLAS SHRUGGED. You can see her philosophies regarding her version of reason and rationality here: ( Briefly put, Objectivism holds that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive and deductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness or rational self-interest, that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in laissez faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform man's widest metaphysical ideas, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form – a work of art - that he can comprehend and to which he can respond emotionally.

I go back once a year, and read everything that she every published, just to remind myself how very much I dislike her philosophies and her collectivist viewpoint. And this, gangers, lead up to the special election last night in New York’s District 26. A DEMOCRAT, folks, took the Republican-ruby red district. The ReThug© that she defeated would have voted for the Ryan Budget Plan if she’d been in Congress at that time (in essence, throwing, not just Grandma, but everybody that needs Federal help to get meds and medical treatment IE Medicare and Medicaid off the cliff – literally), and the #3 person in the race was a Tea Partier. Totals: 47%, 43%, 8%. I believe – and I admit, I also hope with all my heart – that this election marks the beginning of the end for the Libertarian/Tea Party and their ivory tower philosophies, which are based wholly in the writings of a woman who was a collectivist in her writings and whose philosophies have caused and continue to cause more problems than we can support at this point.

Ms. Rand believed in reason and rationality about all else. Unfortunately, most people that take up that philosophy turn out to be ruthless sons-of-bitches (and ruthless bitches as well) who couldn’t care less about social responsibility, community responsibility and the debt that we owe our grandchildren and great-grandchildren to leave them with a higher standard of living. The debt peonage that most of us labour under these days is a direct outgrowth of Randian philosophies of “reason” and “rational behaviours”.
 The Tea Party “patriots” and the Libertarians have lost this round. Let’s us all do our best to insure that they lose the rest.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Wow, what an interesting couple of weeks we’ve had, eh? So, I’m instituting a new irregular feature in honour of all of the weasels that have been on parade this last couple of weeks: The WEASELS ON PARADE award.

WEASEL OF MISOGYNY: Glenn Beck taking on Megan McCain for her public service commercial about skin cancer awareness (both her mother and her father have had well-publicized battles with the disease). Seems that Mr. Beck thinks that she’s too fat to do something like that. Beck landed in hot water with the McCains' after he pretended to vomit for several minutes on his radio show while watching Meghan McCain's skin cancer awareness ad, where she appears to be naked; he said that she needed to be in a burka. What an absolutely classless jerk. She DID get in a few slaps back, though. Writing in the Daily Beast ( she asked if this was the legacy he wanted to leave to his teen daughters, who might be struggling with body issues themselves. I'm going to let you in on a little secret, Glenn: you are the only one who looks bad in this scenario," McCain wrote. She also thanked him for publicizing her PS announcement, and talked at length about how dangerous skin cancer it.

What a class act Meghan McCain is, to be sure!

WEASEL OF “THE FAMILY”: Although I probably say “weasels”, plural. Sen. Tom Coburn played a more active role than was previously known in the negotiations between ex-Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and his former aide, Doug Hampton. The extent of the Oklahoma Republican's involvement is made clear in a report released Thursday by the Senate Ethics Committee that accuses the former senator of serious criminal violations. Coburn, a friend of Ensign’s who confronted him about the adultery, became involved as an intermediary in negotiations between Ensign and Doug Hampton. The former aide sought money from Ensign in spring 2009. Coburn negotiated the payment to Doug Hampton down from $8 million to about $2.8 million, according to the report. Tim Coe, who has been tagged as former Senator Ensign’s “spiritual advisor”, was approached by Mr. Hampton, after Mr. Hampton returned from a trip. Mr. Hampton mistakenly thought that the assistance of Tim Coe, Senator Ensign’s long-time spiritual advisor, would help with ending the affair. Mr. Coe recommended that they bring in a higher authority, which is where Senator Coburn came in. OK, first the “facilitator”, then the “bagman”. It appeared that Senator Ensign got it and was more receptive to actually stopping the affair. According to Mr. Coe, Senator Ensign lied about the affair and how it persisted, and Mr. Coe did not trust him going forward. All of the perps involved – oops, pardon *ME*, the participants – in the intervention and the cover-up, resided in the C Street house owned by The Family, which is a right-wing “christian” activist group.

WEASEL OF THE MONTH: Paul Ryan, he of the “LET’S KILL MEDICARE, WHO GIVES A SHIT ABOUT GRANDMA? *I* CERTAINLY DON’T” budget bill. Funniest darn thing, though: The boy got his head handed to him during his town hall meetings, by a bunch of folks who are on Medicare, and who, while they agree that waste in the system needs to be addressed and correctly, vehemently oppose Rep. Ryan’s bright idea of a $6K voucher so that they can then go out and find individual insurance policies of their own. When Rep. Ryan was asked if he knew anything about Medicare, his answer was “Of course not, I don’t need it”. REALLY bad answer, sonny! Sounds like a good idea in the face of it, except for just one TINY thing: It won’t work because big insurance companies, especially the health care companies, will refuse to insure them because A) they’re over 65; B) most have chronic illnesses; C) the insurance companies would have to cover most if not all of the co-pays out of their OWN pockets and D) they’re over 65, and basically are pretty powerless to oppose this egregious nonsense. Ryan’s budget would guarantee that most of the folks that got sucked into this “plan” would be dead within a few months of their running out of money to pay for hospitals, long-term care, etc. Look up the statistics for yourselves, gangers. Got to wonder just where AARP stands in all of this, because the seniors (of which I am one) are hardly voiceless or powerless. Wonder who bought *them* off?

Talk about death panels!

WEASEL OF THE MONTH PART II (dishonourable mention): Newt “QUICKIE DICKIE” Gingrich. Yes, this wonderful man, who thinks that anyone that opposes him is a Nazi with an SS uniform hanging in the basement closet, is running for President. Again. This is the man that divorced his dying wife so he could marry the staffer that he’d been having an affair with (she was his second wife, by the way; he dumped Wife #1 because he’d been having an affair with Wife #2). He was having the affair with Future Wife #3 while he was publicly calling for President Clinton to be impeached (which he was) and removed from office (which he wasn’t) because President Clinton was having an affair and lying about it.

Gee, gotta wonder where Newt’s “family values” were at that point (r at any point from then to now). Probably the same place where John Ensign’s were.
WEASEL OF THE DECADE: Senator John Ensign. By now, if you watch any of the cable news shows, you’ve been treated to all of the sickening, disgusting twists and turns that his affair, which he forced on one of his staffers, has created. THANK the Goddess that, today, Weasel Ensign is no longer even a senator and, worse still, faces possible criminal charges in the wake of a scathing report issued Thursday by his former colleagues on Capitol Hill. Included are details not only about the former veterinarian's affair with his best friend's wife but his alleged attempts to cover it up. The report reads like a criminal investigation at times with a narrative that recalls a sleazy dime-store novel at other points. He seems also to have involved his parents in this potential criminal case, by getting them to give the Hamptons a $96K check “because they’re friends of ours and we don’t want them to suffer any more”. Severance pay, anybody? He even made his WIFE fire her best friend. Talk about a “hostile workplace environment”!
And straights call the GLBT community perverted? HAH!

WEASEL OF THE CENTURY: Osama bin Laden (THANKFULLY, he’s dead). Need I say more?

Gonna be a very interesting political season, gangers. I’m really looking forward to it, believe me. Ought to be highly entertaining to watch the racist Tea Party, the racist, misogynist ReThugs© and the completely clueless Republicans trying to find somebody that isn’t a loon, a kook or a complete idiot to run for President – and I haven’t even addressed Michelle Bachman yet!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


On Sunday, our country got news that all of us (IF we’re being honest) had all but given up hope of ever getting.

It’s been almost 10 years since the terrorist attacks that took place on 9/11. Ten years, when we were all sickened and spellbound by the worst sneak attack since the one on Pearl Harbour that shoved us will-he/won’t-he into World War II. Ten years, when we all learned how to live with the grey undertone to our lives: fear, despair, hopelessness. It didn’t help that the pResident, George H. W. Bu$hit, urged us to go out and do retail therapy to help us get through the trauma. It also didn’t help that, 6 months into the “pursuit” of Osama bin Laden, the pResident basically shrugged his shoulders and offhandedly stated that he didn’t know where bin Laden was, and that he really didn’t care, either.

Well, we all know where bin Laden was NOW, don’t we? He was “hiding out” in Pakistan. In a million dollar compound. Just a mile or so up the road from the Pakistani version of West Point, in a town that has a 90+% occupancy of active-duty and retired military folks. So, gangers, where *DO* you hide a red fish? In a barrel full of red fish, of course – out in (mostly) plain sight.

Most people have forgotten that the international community had been looking for Osama bin Laden since the early 1990s. Remember the other events? He was being chased long before the 9/11 attacks for his role in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, and the first attack on the World Trade Center. The fact that Bin Laden was hiding so close to the Pakistani capital and a short drive from Pakistani military headquarters has raised eyebrows among many, with some analysts wondering how the terrorist could've avoided the eyes of the Pakistani intelligence services. White House counterterror adviser John Brennan said during a news conference yesterday that we shouldn't forget that "Pakistan has been responsible for capturing and killing more terrorists inside of Pakistan than any country and it's by a wide margin and there have been many, many brave Pakistani soldiers, security officials, as well as citizens who have given their lives because of the terrorism scourge in that country."

Ok, so the Pakistanis have been a big help. I’m certainly not disputing that – BUT I (together with a lot of folks) find it really hard to believe that, in a military town (garrison town) with a huge military reservation and a high number of intelligence people, that nobody was even curious about the people that lived in the house? Sorry, folks, that dog won’t hunt.

We’re extraordinarily lucky in this country, because even at our poorest, we all make more money, eat better and live in better circumstances that our counterparts in the third-world countries. When your take-home salary is the equivalent of $25/weekly, and somebody offers you $1K a month to look the other way, under those circumstances, you take the money and keep your mouth shut. Of course, knowing that too much curiousity will also get you and your entire family killed makes the act an imperative. We don’t understand the concept of baksheesh in this country; we also don’t understand the cultural imperatives that drive 2nd and 3rd world countries. How could somebody from a wealthy, aristocratic background gain such a following?

Be that as it may, an anthropological OR a psychological discussion on this topic is something that I’m going to save for another time – just as I’ll save the finger-pointing and the disgusting amount of Republican gloating that waterboarding and other torture helped the President pull this operation off for another time. Today, I want to share a few things with you all that are joyful, happy things.

I woke up this morning feeling lighter than air. I know that assassinating Osama bin Laden isn’t going to cure the problems. I get that – but today, the sunshine is a lot brighter, and the air a lot clearer, and I don’t have the fear that I had when I got up on Sunday. I know that we’re still going to face ruthless fanatics who kill innocents for whatever excuse they want to give. Still, a great deal of fear is gone, and it’s not going to come back any time soon.

Rudyard Kipling said it best: “Lord God of hosts, be with us yet: Lest we forget, lest we forget."

NOW, maybe, we can get the hell OUT of Iraq and Afghanistan – and bring our troops HOME.