Month: June 2014

I So Want to See this Covered on the Daily Show

While posing for a photograph, an American student fell off a statue of a Giant Vagina and had to be rescued by firemen:


On Friday afternoon, a young American in Tübingen had to be rescued by 22 firefighters after getting trapped inside a giant sculpture of a vagina. The Chacán-Pi (Making Love) artwork by the Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara has been outside Tübingen University’s institute for microbiology and virology since 2001 and had previously mainly attracted juvenile sniggers rather than adventurous explorers.

According to De la Jara, the 32-ton sculpture made out of red Veronese marble is meant to signify “the gateway to the world”.

Police confirmed that the firefighters turned midwives delivered the student “by hand and without the application of tools”.

The mayor of Tübingen told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that he struggled to imagine how the accident could have happened, “even when considering the most extreme adolescent fantasies. To reward such a masterly achievement with the use of 22 firefighters almost pains my soul.”

I want this to get the Daily Show treatment.

I am not sure what is weirder, the Germans having a giant vagina sculpture, or someone getting stuck in it.

Help me Jon Stewart, you’re my only hope.

Megyn Kelly, Seriously!?!?!?!? Megyn Kelly!?!?!?!?

The Fox News blond has called out both Dick Cheney and John Bolton for being insanely wrong on Iraq.

So, Megyn Kelly gets that they are miserable failures, and that they have nothing to add to any discussion on Iraq, but, for some reason, the folks who book the more mainstream Sunday shows, don’t understand this.

I think that part of the reason for this is that she does not personally have skin in the Iraq game.

When the rest of the media was actively cheer-leading the upcoming war, Kelly was still working as a lawyer, so her critique requires neither self-examination nor an admission of wrongdoing.

Anwar al-Awlaki Assassination Memo Released in Redacted Form

The legal justification basically comes down to the fact that the incredibly broad 911 Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) would justify lethal force.

This appears to me to be good law, but remain dubious of the facts.

Basically, and this is on a quick reading of a heavily redacted memo full of legalese, there is no mention of the actual activities that al-Awalki engaged in that had him declared a combatant, just a justification for lethal actions against American citizens who have assumed a combat role against the United States.

So, we still don’t know what he did to be declared a combatant. It could be that he was involved in major military decisions, functioning as a military officer in al-Qaida, but I’ve never seen any sort of release, either officially or through leaks, claiming this.

What we do some of what he was doing.

He produced and distributed sermons supporting Jihad, and we know that he provided religious advice to people in AQAP, including the Underoos bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

If these are the facts that led the US government, and I am inclined to believe that this is the totality of the actual facts against him.  (See my no leaks comment above)

If this is the case, then the US state security apparatus specifically targeted Anwar al-Awlaki on the basis of activities which are purely clerical in nature.

This begs the obvious question, “When do we start droning the leaders of Operation Rescue?”

After all, if pastoral support of terrorism rates assassination, the ongoing terrorism against abortion providers should be at the top of the list.

Memo, such as it is, after the break.

LambBaaacon, It’s Amazing

As I mentioned earlier, I competed at the Trial by Fire cooking competition.

The cooking went well, but the time limits, juxtaposed with some chronic lateness issues, did me in on the competition part.

There was also a separate competition specific to bacon, called the Bacon Challenge.

I stumbled upon a kosher lamb bacon, Lambbaaacon, which is pretty remarkable.

It is very much an an artisinal bacon, which means that it has some layers of flavor that one would not expect from stuff from the store.

Also note, no nitrites, and thus no carcinogenic nitrosamines, but it also means that it does not have the characteristic reddish hue of normal bacon.

It is an amazing piece of work, because the Silberberg brothers have absolutely nailed the mouth feel of bacon, and added to the normal flavor (strong hints of lamb, of apple, and their amazing spice cure).

In any case, I decided to go with a somewhat older, and more Irish version of New England Boiled dinner, bacon and cabbage.  (pictured)

It came out very nicely, and gave a marvelous flavor to the cabbage (and potatoes, and carrots, and rutabegas, and onions).


Recipe (and funny cartoon) after the break


  • 2-3 lbs of lamb bacon (Baaacon)
  • 2 medium heads of cabbage, cut into eights.
  • 2 rutabagas, peeled and cut in eights.
  • 8 carrots peeled and cut to 1″ lengths.
  • 15 small red potatoes
  • 2 medium onions, cut in quarters.
  • 2 tbsp pickling spice
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic

Place the meat in a large pot along with enough hot water to cover it by at least 1″, and add spices.

Bring to a boil, then simmer bacon until fork tender , then remove from pot, and wrap in aluminum foil, and place on pot to keep warm.

Remove floating bits of spice if so desired.

Add carrot and rutabaga and simmer for 20 minutes, then add cabbage, onions, and potatoes for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.

Remove vegetables with a slatted spoon, and place on a platter, and with the bacon.

Jeebus. He’s Bush with a F%$#ing Tan

First, it is announced that will be sending military advisers to Iraq. It’s supposed to be limited, but that will last until someone gets killed there, and then the military and Republican pressure for escalation, and we are back in a war:

President Obama said Thursday that he would deploy up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to help its struggling security forces fend off a wave of Sunni militants who have overrun large parts of the country, edging the United States back into a conflict that Mr. Obama once thought he had left behind.

Warning that the militants pose a threat not just to Iraq but also to the United States, Mr. Obama said he was prepared to take “targeted and precise military action,” a campaign of airstrikes that a senior administration official said could be extended into neighboring Syria.

Mr. Obama’s calibrated military moves — coupled with his pointed warning to Iraq’s Shiite prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, to quell his country’s sectarian fires, and his announcement that Secretary of State John Kerry would embark on a diplomatic campaign — opened a risky new chapter in the president’s reluctant engagement with Iraq.

Advisers and airstrikes ……… Jeebus.

Escalate much?

BTW, while we are at it, it should be noted that the Obama administration is pressuring Maliki to step down as PM, which is probably a good thing, but one of the front runners to succeed him is ……… Wait for it ……… Wait for it ……… Wait for it ……… Ahmed f%$#ing Chalabi:

Iraqi officials said Thursday that political leaders had started intensive jockeying to replace Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and create a government that would span the country’s deepening sectarian and ethnic divisions, spurred by what they called encouraging meetings with American officials signaling support for a leadership change.

President Obama implicitly added his voice on Thursday to the call for change, saying any Iraqi leader must be a unifier. He declined to endorse Mr. Maliki.

The jockeying began as a series of meetings with American officials were held here in which, according to at least two participants, they saw the first indications that the Americans would like to see a replacement for Mr. Maliki, whose marginalization of non-Shiites since United States forces left Iraq in 2011 has made him a polarizing figure.

At least three people, who like Mr. Maliki are all members of the Shiite majority, have emerged as possible candidates to take over as prime minister, with more potential nominees in the wings as parties negotiate alliances from the recent elections. Any prospective successor must convince Iraq’s Sunni Muslims and its ethnic Kurds that he can hold Iraq together, as well as vanquish a Sunni-led insurgency that has escalated into a crisis threatening to partition the country.


It is far from clear, however, whether any of the suggested successors could gather enough votes. The names floated so far — Adel Abdul Mahdi, Ahmed Chalabi and Bayan Jaber — are from the Shiite blocs, which have the largest share of the total seats in the Parliament.

Mr. Mahdi came within a vote of winning the prime minister’s job in 2006 and previously served as one of Iraq’s vice presidents. He is viewed as a moderate who has long worked well with the Kurds.

Mr. Chalabi is a complex figure who has alternately charmed and infuriated the Americans but has ties both to them and to Iran. His biggest liability could be his uncompromising support for the systematic purge of many Sunnis from government jobs after the American-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party a decade ago. Mr. Chalabi now says he supports terminating the basis for that purge, the so-called de-Baathification law.

(emphasis mine)

Seriously, Ahmed Chalabi?

We lost Iraq and Afghanistan well before the current actions by ISIS, it’s time to stop throwing good money after bad. 

And we can’t help here, because our state security apparatus has been too busy surveilling our selfies on Facebook to accurately pick targets in Iraq:

Army general Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told a Senate panel on Wednesday that “until we can clarify this intelligence picture” the US would have difficulty knowing who it would be attacking from the air, indicating military as well as political reluctance to any return to the skies above Iraq.

Your tax dollars at work.


In Japan, the children exposed to the fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown are developing thyroid cancer at 40 times the normal rate:

Some 39 months after the multiple explosions at Fukushima, thyroid cancer rates among nearby children have skyrocketed to more than forty times (40x) normal.

More than 48 percent of some 375,000 young people—nearly 200,000 kids—tested by the Fukushima Medical University near the smoldering reactors now suffer from pre-cancerous thyroid abnormalities, primarily nodules and cysts. The rate is accelerating.

More than 120 childhood cancers have been indicated where just three would be expected, says Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project.

The nuclear industry and its apologists continue to deny this public health tragedy. Some have actually asserted that “not one person” has been affected by Fukushima’s massive radiation releases, which for some isotopes exceed Hiroshima by a factor of nearly 30.

Why are children still in the area, and why are they not receiving large doses of KI would displace radioactive iodine from their thyroids.

I’m beginning to think Tokyo Electric Power Company strategy is to channel the Bobby McFerrin song, “Don’t Worry Be Happy.”

Yes, Please Put the Democratic Party on the Right Side in the Battle Against Cable Company F%$#ery

House Democrats just submitted a bill to enforce net neutrality:

A group of Democrats in Congress have drafted a bill to bar the FCC from allowing “fast lane” prioritization deals.

Dubbed the “Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act,” the legislation would call on the FCC to ban carriers from making the paid prioritization deals in which content providers pay service providers to receive better connection speeds. Additionally, the bill would block service providers from prioritizing their own services.

“Americans are speaking loud and clear – they want an internet that is a platform for free expression and innovation, where the best ideas and services can reach consumers based on merit rather than based on a financial relationship with a broadband provider,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said when announcing the bill.

“The Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act would protect consumers and support a free and open internet,” Leahy said.

The bill is being presented in the Senate and House by Leahy and congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), and is being cosponsored by senator Al Franken (D-MN), congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), and congresswoman Anna Eshoo(D-CA).

I don’t think that it can survive a Republican filibuster in the Senate, and it would never even get to the floor in the house, but this is no longer an obscure technical issue.

Thanks to John Oliver, this issue has a name, “Cable Company F%$#ery,” and everyone knows what that means.

They won’t get the legislation in this Congress, but it is an election winner.

I’m just hoping that if this ever makes it to be a vote, the Dems won’t water this down.

Paul Bremer is not Having a Good Week

This time, it’s Erin Burnett reminding Paul Bremer that he is clueless incompetent f%$#. She actually led with it:

Bremer penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal under the headline “Only America Can Prevent a Disaster in Iraq,” in which he argued for some form of U.S. troops on the ground there. After 4,490 American lives lost and $1.7 trillion spent, Burnett asked him, “How can you advocate any more people, any more lives going to risk for that country?”

“Because it’s in our interest,” Bremer responded matter-of-factly, going to elaborate that the U.S. cannot allow Iraq to become a home base for terrorists like those that constitute the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Taking on the role of the skeptical viewers, Burnett asked Bremer, “Aren’t you the one who got us into this mess?” She confronted Bremer with video from 2003 of him heralding Iraq’s “hopeful” future after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Bremer defended his words and the actions the Bush administration took to bring democracy to Iraq, instead blaming the Obama administration for presiding over the deterioration of those gains over the last few years.

Erin Burnett is just about as establishment as Halperin was yesterday.

She started off at Goldman “Vampire Squid” Sachs, after a stint at CNN, she went to Citi, then Bloomberg, then CNBC, and finally CNN.

She married a guy who worked for Lehman and Citi.

And she just called out Bremer as a clueless incompetent little sh%$.

I’m smelling a very positive trend.

Does Anyone Out there Have an Urge to See Rick Perry’s Circumcision?

Yeah, not me either, but it appears that Rick Perry is about to make it available for public review:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) recently broke bread with The New York Times Magazine’s Mark Liebovitch at a Jewish deli in Beverly Hills.

“I’m more Jewish than you think I am,” he told Leibovitch over a corned-beef Reuben. “I read the part of the Bible that said the Jews are God’s chosen people.”

You’re more Jewish than we think you are?

A am NOT willing to check out this claim.

Your Regular Felix Salmon Fix

I followed his blog regularly until he left Reuters for Fusion, and given Fusion’s new focus on multimedia, he has not at this point set up a regular text-base home blog.

He is, however, still blogging, at Fusion, Slate, and other places.

I emailed him, and he suggested that I can follow him via his (generally pretty low volume) personal domain,, which is is using as an index for his various activities.

Because, Snoops Think that it Is All About Them

It now appears that one impetus for the US state security apparatus to spy on all of us was to cover its own ass:

You may have heard about the government’s spying on the Associated Press. And high-level NSA whistleblower Bill Binney told Washington’s Blog that the government also spied on Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter James Risen, and chief Fox News Washington correspondent James Rosen.

But Senior NSA executive Thomas Drake tells Washington’s Blog that the spying on reporters started 12 years ago – in 2002 – and has been fairly systematic.

By way of background, Drake had championed the “ThinThread” program, which automatically encrypted Americans’ data (data could only be decrypted after a court found there was probable cause that the American was a bad guy).
But after 9/11, NSA instead adopted the competing “Stellar Wind” system, which didn’t protect Americans’ privacy, and was less effective and more expensive.


There was a program called “First Fruits”. They’ve no doubt changed the name of the program [since then.]

And that First Fruits program was a cutout which was designed from all of the domestic surveillance take. “Let’s just pipe off from all” that is involving designated [reporters] … or in some cases whole groups of reporters and journalists.

 So you’re targeting actual newspapers. You’re targeting media outlets.

And you’re monitoring – on a persistent basis – their communications.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: How early did that start?

THOMAS DRAKE: The preliminary version of that – as far as an active program – was in 2002.

(emphasis original)

When secrecy is used as a weapon to cover up ones own misdeeds, not only does it breed more secrecy, it breeds more misdeeds.

Our secret security state is not protecting us.  It is petri dish for incompetence.

The Neocons Have Lost Mark Halperin???? Seriously???

Roll Tape!

Did Mark Halperin just call Paul Bremeran incompetent loser?

I think that Halperin, perhaps the poster child for the toxic consensus inside Washington D.C,  did:

“It seems what you’re proposing is to double down on the policies that the Bush administration and you thought would lead to, not just a democratic and independent Iraq, but a force for good in the region,” Halperin said. “Why should we even consider going back to the same set of ideas to try to prop up a government with U.S. intervention, which seems to have failed and left us in this position?”

“I’m not proposing to prop up any government,” Bremer said, arguing that Maliki had dissolved many of the post-surge gains in Iraq. “In fact, I explicitly said we need a new government…I explicitly called for him to resign as Defense Minister and Minister of the Interior.”

“But what business is it of the United States at this point who is in the government of people of Iraq?” Halperin asked. “Why isn’t that up to the people of Iraq, civil society and leaders there, to figure it out and not the United States?”

“Because there is no one there who can do it and no other country who can do it,” Bremer said. “The experience of all of us involved in this for the last decade is that only the Americans can help the Iraqis broker across these sectarian and ethnic lines. There is nobody else who can do it, including the Iraqis.”

“What’s our record on that –” Halperin tried to ask, but Bremer cut him off.

“We may regret that, but it’s a fact, and facts have a nasty way of coming back and basically determining your options,” Bremer said.

This was on Morning Joe, and though the aforementioned Joe (Scarborough) seemed to like the idea of re-invading Iraq, but everyone else, the very heart and soul of the Beltway consensus are actually unwilling to swallow the bullsh%$ that Bremer was attempting to sell.

I think that the evil spawn of Henry “Scoop” Jackson, the Senator from Boeing, Richard Pearle, Elliot Abrams, Doug “The f%$#ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth” Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, etc.  may have finally run out their string.

I certainly hope so, but I am an inveterate optimist on such matters.

A Minor Correction

Yesterday, I suggested that Gary Larson had encapsulated the id of Baltimore.

On further examination, I realized that I neglected to mention B. Kliban, who penned this cartoon.

He’s best known for his cat cartoons, but he was seriously bent artist.

His cartoon is just one step removed from Attila the Hon.

Another Day at Honfest

In its celebration of all things Ballmur, it strikes me that two of the prominent cultural features of the Charm City, big hair and those funky retro eye glasses, might lead one to believe that it is the spiritual home of Gary Larson’s comic, The Far Side.

Certainly, Mr. Larson and John Waters seem to have a sense of the off beat that comes from similar places.

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