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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 41,434

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Here 'tis. Underwhelming?!1

The highlighted paragraph is what had stuck in my mind these years. My memory was not of the desert, but, probably from preceding chapters, of dank, depressing delays in transportation, misery of populace and environment. This has an actually comedic angle of the driver and the cranky traveler surrounding the (less bleak than I remembered) paragraph. The traveler's griping about being abandoned by the driver made me LOL.


The Pillars of Hercules
A grand Tour of the Mediterranean


G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Copyright 1995 by Cape Cod Scriveners Company

(from Chapter: ) “The 7:20 Express to Latakia” pp 429, 430-431

(p. 429) Nothing held me in Tartus. Wishing to see the great Crusader castle known variously as the Krac de Chevaliers and Qal’at al-Hisn, I made a deal with a taxi driver named Abdallah, who said he would take me there and then on to Homs, where I could get a bus or a train to Damascus.

“Lebanon!” he cried out after twenty minutes or so, gesturing towards the dark hills to the south. ….

(p. 430) Just before the darkness fell the engine faltered and Abdallah cursed, and the car replied, coughing one-syllable complaints, and then we were stuck.

“Okay, okay,” Abdallah said. To prove he was confident he took my picture and he screamed into the wind.

His high spirits unconvincing. It was an electrical fault, he said. He waved to a passing car and said he would be right back. Then he was sped into the failing light, and dusk fell. I sat in the car, tuning my shortwave radio -- news of the Israelis shelling southern Lebanon and blockading the fishing ports. Every so often a large truck went by, and the thud of its slipstream hit Abdallah’s car and shook it, and me.

Cold and unsettled at the edge of this desert, feeling thwarted, this enforced isolation filled my mind with memories of injustice -- put-downs, misunderstandings, unresolved disputes, abusive remarks, rudeness, arguments I had lost, humiliations. Some of these instances went back many years. For a reason I could not explain, I thought of everything that had ever gone wrong in my life. I kept telling myself, “So what?” and “Never mind,” but it was no good. I could not stop the flow of unpleasant instances, and I was tormented.

From time to time, I laughed to think I was so removed mentally from Syria, but then I concluded that being in the middle of this desert had something to do with it. It was pitch dark and silent except for when the occasional trucks thundered by. I supposed that I was fearful and disgusted; I disliked the desert, I had been abandoned by Abdallah in this howling wilderness, where there was darkness and no water.

A pair of oncoming headlights wobbled off the road. Abdallah got out and approached the car laughing, carrying a gas can. Saying it was an electrical fault had been a face-saver.

It was late. Returning the gas can to the town of Deir Atiyeh, he stopped the car and I told him I was bailing out. There ensued a great whinging argument, as he pleaded, berated, complained and demanded more money than what we had agreed on. I bought you oranges! he howled. I thought: I hate this nagging man. Then I said: Do I care? I gave him what he wanted and swore at him, and afterwards realized that the whole incident irritated me because I had been planning to tip him the very amount he had demanded. ....


Since you civilly asked me to explain, I will.

I am a Generalist. Frankly, rehearsing "Constitutional" scholarship is way out of my world view, since I regard the Constitution as something that, not only provided means for improving it, but which really has much room for improvement. We've all played "If I were king of the world..." and made lists of what we would do to make things perfect so we don't have to do that here.

Where I'm coming from, Part I, is that, perhaps from my basic (very basic) Liberal Arts education of "1984" and such I settled into a moderately paranoid expectation of modern society, assuming over the past few decades that there are cameras everywhere, that credit and debit cards and cell phones and cash registers and internet Cookies and advertisers are tracking every single thing we do, such that the SNOWDEN-GREENWALD "revelations" were not even a ripple to me.

Where I'm coming from, Part II, is that Worldly Sophisticated Nations have been spying on one another, including on their allies and their own populations, forever. Think, "Israel spying on CLINTON-LEWINSKY." So again, SNOWDEN-GREENWALD "revelations" are *zip* to me.

Where I'm coming from, Part III, is what Poster #1 said, about breaking the law and then absconding. I grew up with our parental generation telling us that "loose lips sink ships." And in my four years in the military, I was rock hard in believing that I took an oath, silly me. I am more cynical now, but Whistle-blowing does not mean to me absconding, and of all places to the arms of Pooty-Poot PU-TEEN.

Where I'm coming from, Part IV, which is in this entire SNOWDEN-GREENWALD saga for me, is that I don't idol-worship other humans (FDR-Eleanor are as close as I get). And I pride myself on my Bullshit Detector. And in the entire saga, FOR ME, it has ALWAYS been about my Bullshit Detector going off on them, for their self-aggrandizement, their showboating, their putting their own personal interests FIRST. It has ALWAYS, *for me* been ABOUT THEM. This post is as close as I have ever come throughout this saga of discussing "NSA". All my other posts have been about THEM and on reacting to the "authoritarian" name-calling.

We've really DONE this discussion before, ad nauseam. I suppose that if somebody continues the personal attacks I will be rankled enough to respond, but I really see no point to it.

The (my) Democratic agenda

Wingnuts are so shallow, they frequently accuse me of being an Obama-IDOLATOR or a Hillary-IDOLATOR or a Wendy-TX-IDOLATOR or whoever the current human frontispiece is.

No, I don’t CARE about OBAMA or Hillary or McGOVERN.

ON EDIT: Note about McGOVERN:: In my life span, there have been Dem nominees from all wings of the Dem coalition, from the ultra Left to the Southern Conservative, and after the primaries are over, I support whoever the nominee is. I wish I had kept my letter to McGOVERN during his primary, where I said I vastly admired him on a personal basis but that he had NO chance to beat NIXON and beating NIXON was all that mattered, such that I wished he would withdraw and let anybody who had a better chance to beat NIXON run. Whether he or his staff, whether his signature or auto-pen, I got a brief letter saying, “Thank you, I think I have a good chance to win and I hope you will support me.” I wish I had kept the letter. Of course I voted for him, as with DUKAKIS and the rest.

I care about the Dem AGENDA: Civil rights, social Justice, civil liberties, investment in human potential.

O.K., I’ll admit to a bit of idolatry: W. WILSON, FDR, Eleanor, TRUMAN, LBJ, Lady Bird.

Other than that, there’s this:

He lost me when I figured out his Third Way crap. I was a Daily fan before him.

I don't even remember what Craig KILBORN was like back then, just that I was a fan, and didn't follow KILBORN when he moved to late night network, and the couple of times I peeked he was awful.

So when Jon took over, I was bemused in his first shows when he was beseeching and obsequious about us previous Daily fans to give him a break. So I hung in there, and when he appeared to be a brilliant Lib comedian I was thrilled and signed on totally.

But after a few years the first big red flag flew, when he attacked Crossfire. While I could agree with attacking the polarization that LIMBOsevic initiated with Scorched Earth, why Crossfire where at least Lefties got a dig in?!1 I was just puzzled.

And later I didn't mind that he sprinkled barbs at Lefties when deserved. But the big reveal for me was when he piggybacked on the BecKKK "million" march or whatever it was, and put on a thoroughly bullshit fakery complete with the Mythbusters nobodies and other hippie-dippy/street-performing crap. He was like the flip BecKKK sermonizing about Let's Get Along, which he intensified like taking off a mask in years after, reaching out to wingnuts.

MAHER nailed him with the event, "If you're going to stage an event, you should make it about something." I have never EVER watched Jon since, and MAHER and COLBERT are where it's at and no looking back.

Origin of "Rethug" (as in "thug"): The "Brooks Brothers Riot" part of Coup-2000

V-P BIDEN's recent comment that Al "GORE was elected president" led to a couple of nostalgic posts about how we coalesced into DU over the trauma of Coup-2000 and how that trauma has lasted for most of the past dozen years. There might be some DUers who are young enough not to have this that much in their psyche. As a refresher, the picture below of buttoned-down staffers of Republican congresscritters, thuggishly attempting to stop the recount, is what led to the "Rethug" word.

1. Tom PYLE, office of House Majority Whip Tom DELAY (R-TX)
2. Garry MALPHRUS, Majority Chief counsel
3. Rory COOPER, staff member, Nat’l Republican Congressional Committee
4. Kevin SMITH, former House Republican Conference Analyst
5. Steven BRODY, Former Aide to Sen. Fred D. THOMPSON (R-TN)
6. Matt SCHLAPP, BUSH Campaign Staff, Austin
7. Roger MORSE, Aide to Rep. Van HILLARY (R-TN)
8. Duane GIBSON, Aide to Chairman Don YOUNG (R-AK)
9. Chuck ROYAL, Ass’t to Rep. Jim DeMINT (R-SC)
10. Layna McCONKEY, Former legislative ass’t to former Rep. Jim Ross LIGHTFOOT (R-IA)

Since the thread has popped back to p. 1, I want to clarify

1) My broad framework in politics is the Big Umbrella of the Democratic Party coalition: Each coalition group having its top agenda item its own --- civil rights, social justice, unions, humanitarian protections -- but down below on their lists of top one or two items, all groups in general consensus with those of all the other groups. The Democratic AGENDA is primary, not (generally) the messengers.

2) As a youth I looked for heroes and found them in Woodrow WILSON, Al SMITH, FDR, and HST. I was wary of JFK from the start and picked LBJ (not old enough to vote). With an older perspective, I learned that it is the AGENDA that matters, and that the AGENDA is separate from the personal drama of biographies, although fantastic personalities with the right direction can further the agenda immeasurably - or hurt it disastrously.

In my list, FDR and HST retain the high majority of my Personality Worship, with the others keeping somewhat smaller portions. The KENNEDYs were never on my list. Before CLINTON, they became my example of how Personality Cultism gets in the way of the party agenda, disastrously. How much of RFK's anti-war sentiment was deeply rooted in his own personal tragedies and hatred for LBJ and his own career decisions (prosecuting the Mob) that might have led to his personal family tragedies?

So it has been a long process for me NOT to be swayed by Personality Cultism. It would have to be somebody of FDR/HST or even LBJ levels for me to succumb, IF I could recognize them in real time.

3) As for the '08 primary and the future for Hillary: I was really really strong for her all the way until it was clear she had lost (when she finally conceded), and then I opened to giving a second look at OBAMA, and while my original doubts remained over the superficial faddism of the youthful supporters and the hundreds of promises within any given speech and "the heavens opening up" as Hillary put it, my ONE objective was to dump everything Shrub-CHEENEE in the garbage where they should always have been. What the one word "Change" was all about, despite being an elephant in the room, was ANYTHING AWAY FROM SHRUB. But as with all my Dem nominees, I thoroughly threw myself in OBAMA's support, and gloried in any shred of sticking it in the Rethugs' eyes. That's why the Nobel was important, not for what he had done (what?) but because his very election meant a rejection of all-things-Shrub/Rethug.

But to clarify my points about Hillary: She ran a totally INSIDE the box campaign, paying the career p.r. people millions, wasting the millions on conventional by-the-list things without originality or riskiness. As for everybody's saying what a fantastic Secretary of State she was, I will appreciate anybody's telling me what significant negotiation she facilitated. Her statements sound like soulless recitations of positions that have been totally vetted in a way that makes them "safe" and nearly uncriticizeable, and this goes for her recent statements on Women and Gay rights.

********Just to round out my making of more enemies, I've said here several times that McGOVERN was not my choice in that primary and I wrote him a letter saying that and saying that I thought he had NO chance to beat NIXON and that all that mattered was to BEAT NIXON. I wish I had kept the reply, which would be a historic document, whether it was written by staff or the signature was original, in which he said he himself DID think he could win and hoped I would give him a chance. I admired him for his character and beliefs and, of course, voted for him. My point in bringing him up is not JUST that ANY Dem is better than any Rethug, which is true, but that no amount of purity and nobility are good for the AGENDA if the candidate loses. And candidates who are incapable of assessing their own viability are already seriously flawed. They see 400 people at an airport rally and who wouldn't be personally thrilled, but they can't see this doesn't translate into a winning vote.

All of this adds up to, I love and support ALL Dems who are not personally corrupt. The point is that it be a Dem who appoints the Supreme Court and the thousands of policy making bureaucrats and being good-try effective in getting the Congress to follow. As ABBA says, the winner takes it ALL. And if the personal baggage of a Bill CLINTON detracts from the agenda, the personality is just not a help. (I stood by him, too, during that whole FAKE impeachment thing.)

So is my beloved Camillus camp knife now carry-on, measured from where?

Does the blade length go from the non-blade base part or only the blade? The sharp/blade part is 2 3/8" but the whole is 2 5/8" and the width is 5/8". Whoopi said these things were always allowable INSIDE the luggage, not on-person, correct?


The illustrated Camillus Knife is the Camillus Camp Knife that features a 2 3/8" spear blade, can opener, punch and screwdriver/cap lifter made of stainless steel. The stainless steel handle of this Camillus knife, 3 3/4" closed, has U.S. embossing and a shackle.
Camillus Knives: Camillus Camp Knife, US Embossed, CM-1760

Knives Plus ® Home

This item is discontinued and out of stock - it is left for reference only.


Disgusting McCONNELL is the poster boy for wrong "model" for governing

He seemed pleased/relieved with something (anything/whatever) getting sort of done, no matter on the last minute of the last day, the last *artificial* crisis deadline, saying something like, this ain't perfect and I hope this doesn't become THE MODEL of how things will be done!1

Actually, seeing REID and BIDEN smiling about it creeps me out almost as much.

"Model," indeed. Beyond the other criticisms of the deal itself, my beef is the deadwood that is the whole 18th Century "checks and balances" crap that keeps everything logjammed. In CARO's bio of LBJ, there is a whole chapter (in "Master of the Senate") describing the workings of Congress, the inter-locking committees, the rule by seniority, everything built in to keep things jammed. It takes somebody working up from the bottom like LBJ for 30 years to know the buttons to push and where the bodies are buried to get something done and there's no time for that anymore or nobody willing to sacrifice that much to do it. This is the reason CHEENEE and RUMSFELD were able to slap Shrub around and take over for themselves, because they had spent 20-30 yrs inside the bureaucracy and could warp policies and procedures to their will.

CARO describes how the country had been ready for 40 years to do something about civil right but the entrenched Southern Committee Chairs blocked every move. There is so much dead wood in what we profess to believe, and it can't/won't be fixed, so it will have to crumble on its own for something else to take its place.

The preening, the perks, the showboating, the cameras-love, the decisions being made on the basis of personal piques, barf barf BARF!1

Spritual vibes SPIKE!1 Not the Mayas, it's Laura INGRAHAM *off* the air (alas, temporarily)

I'm no authority on religion, but I thought that Xtianity was supposed to be about turning other cheeks, hanging with the oppressed, peace, etc., despite a couple of thousand years of bloodshed in its name, so when one Laura INGRAHAM coverted to Catholicism back when a wave of FBI and NOVAKula also did, possibly all going into an Opus Dei cell, I thought she would be transformed into a gentle, loving, spiritual being, although lifelong Catholics O'LOOFAH, HANNITY, and the BUCHANANs show how a single monk's vitriol kicked off the Crusades. Bah, how gullible could I be?!1 Absolutely NO difference in her viciousness was detectable post-conversion. I even contacted the Little Sisters of the Poor to ask about their being her personal charity, and a dear Mother Superior replied that she has never heard of this person, so either Mother is sheltered or INGRAHAM is, one or the other.

What is the scuttlebutt on this Brit paper, Examiner, which provides this florid St Valentine (in keeping with the theme of sainthood and gore)?!1



Laura Ingraham dumps talk radio for 'modern dance' and 'xylophone'

Tuesday, one of the most popular and entertaining conservative talk radio hosts of all time, best-selling author Laura Ingraham, announced with her signature tongue-in-cheek style that she was not renewing her contract with Talk Radio Network. After nine years of week-day broadcasts, Laura teased she was off to pursue her "first loves, modern dance and the xylophone." Ingraham promised, "In the highly unlikely event that these efforts do not prove fruitful; I intend to return to radio."

Following an article which announced her intentions by Associated Press, Ingraham quickly came through with additional and far more personal information on the "Shut up & Blog," feature of her home site. It was the perfect venue because it is a favorite, always chock-full of nuggets of conservative wisdom, under the subtitle, "Laura Unleashed." Everyone familiar with Laura's inclination to make great fun of herself, rolled their eyes, smiling, and continued to read to find out what Ingraham's serious plans were.

In a heartbeat, Laura followed with an exciting explanation that she was going to take advantage of an opportunity to explore expansion of her radio program, the "Laura Ingraham Show," previously carried by over 300 stations. In lieu of simply signing on to a new contract of the same ol', same ol', Laura was going to rethink and retool. ....

Followers who also are keen on Greta Van Susteren may have their fingers crossed that Fox recognizes another original in Laura, and comes up with a just-right format suitable to showcase Laura's natural vivacity, not simply a rehash of an old been there done that format, once tried. If so, it must include a team that mirrors Laura's intense drive for perfection. She's no shirker; and any team that supports her would need to be similarly driven. ....


This is a replica of the one Laura wears.
All net proceeds go to support the work of The Little Sisters of the Poor.
Yearly Premium Member's Price: $53.96
(A savings of $6.00)


The PETRAEUS twist on "War is a racket." Never should have been in Iraq; should been out Afg FAST

Soon after the Iraq attack took hold suddenly there were reports of missing millions and contracts with private "security" companies, mercernaries, then cute music videos of military personnel dancing in general foolishness, and all of it was swallowed under the guise of "patriotism" and blowing off steam for all the sacrifices.

Now that PETRAEUS has knocked himself off his pedestal, reports of how he was the perpetrator of the WMD mobile trailers stories have surfaced, barely, and not enough about what else his supposed "brilliance" and "genius" fueled the chickenhawks' voraciousness. Besides Abu Grahib and the several war crimes by others, his now questionable judgment has illustrated what has always been a serious defect in how the military works, an organizational flaw always potentially breaking out: How the military brown-nosing system can elevate incompetent jerks into positions, at all levels, of power over others, and at his level, melding with the political kind of ass-kissing feeding into one another.

Iraq should never have happened, but as soon as those music videos surfaced the thought was, "If they have time for that, they shouldn't be there." So now with PETRAEUS and the various people involved in the whole thing: If they had time for hours of jogging and doing book interviews and cocktail socializing, they never should have been in Iraq and Afghanistan should been over, like, 9 1/2 years ago and whatever is next needs to be VERY necessary and very surgical.

Not that civilian politicians are that good at much, but at least the military has *some* kind of civilian control over it.

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