Archive for September, 2006

Uncle Fester’s Head on Lou Ferrigno’s Body


Richard Armitage was mainly unknown to most Americans until recently.
But now Armitage, the quintessential Washington insider can’t; seem to
stay out of the news. First it was revealed that Richard Armitage was Bob
Novak’s source for his story on Valerie Plame and now a report comes in
about a bomb threat made by him after 9/11.

Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf said that former Deputy Secretary
of State Richard Armitage threatened to bomb Pakistan "back to
the stone age" unless they cooperated with 9/11/2001-related
intelligence gathering.

by By Jack Kramer in the National Ledger

Central casting couldn’t have genetically designed a better
heavy for the mutant crew of the Cheney-gang. Armitage looks like the Adam’s
Uncle Fester’s head spliced onto Lou Ferrigno’s body.

Although he claims not to have been authorized to
threaten and therefore, ipso facto, he could not have threatened (the
logic of which
somehow escapes
us), it seems clear to the Dowbrigade’s overactive imagination that Armitage’s
rap went something like this: "Now look here General, all due respect,
but these psychopathic killers are using your territory to train terrorists
and coordinate attacks against the United States. We are committed
to exterminating these scum wherever they are hiding. These human vermin
have infected your country, and if we don’t have your complete and immediate
cooperation on the ground we are going to take our each and every one of the bastards with a
massive bombardment of high-tech aerial weapons systems which will effectively
transport Pakistan back to the stone age."

See, it doesn’t sound so bad when its put in those terms. Despite this Realpolitik offer that couldn’t be refused, the begrudging
acquiescence of General…..General is just delaying the inevitable. He
knew he was in a lose/lose situation, and was just hoping to somehow get out alive. And looked at from within that context, he hasn’t done bad at all.
Now he feels he has
he has done his time, played his part, narrowly escaping over a dozen assassination attempts,
and as partial compensation has bribed Bush to endorse his book, building
buzz on a world stage, as he quickly feathers his nest for a pampered and
protected retirement far from the threatening streets of Islamabad, a retirement which
may come sooner rather than later.

Because, make no mistake, he is hated in his homeland, as are we, and
Pakistan’s restless young millions, without oil riches to placate them,
represent radical Islam’s best bet and easiest path to nuclear arms. Uneasy
rests the crown on General….General’s head, and we may all pay the price when it falls. Buy the way, the book comes out Wednesday….


Election Day Drizzles Down


Ah, Election Day in Massachusetts, a holiday for all
true fans of Democracy and a day at the races for political junkies,
both of which groups we admit to belonging to. Of course, it is just
a primary election, and every
one of the candidates
has flamingly failed to
inspire, impress, captivate or motivate the Dowbrigade to vote, despite
our having captured and considered their (unavoidable) messages.

Rarely have we seen such an unappetizing buffet of
political hors d’vores, outside of the glorious one-candidate elections
of Communist Albania in its political prime. Actually, the ballot looked
a lot like Albania – in a majority of the races, from Teddy’s on down,
there was only one candidate.

All of this led to an anguished indecision on the
part of the Dowbrigade. To vote, or not to vote. To the stone cold
politics addict any election is worth voting in, right? It’s like Bukowski
and the racetrack – doesn’t matter who’s running, it’s the joy of the
chase (and all of the seedy characters haunting the fringes) that keep
us coming back.

If you don’t vote, where’s the fun of going home to
watch the results roll in on TV and the net? Who wants to watch an
ugly dogfight if, as the saying goes, one "don’t have a dog in the

On the other hand, how can a true believer in Democracy
bring him or herself to pull the lever for some venal hack who sold
his soul to blind ambition, corporate puppet masters and the powers
of darkness long ago? Is not a noble abstention the righteous path to democratic
expression in situations like this?

Caught in a quandary, we called our old man, who schooled
us in this Democracy stuff half a century ago. "They’re all pathetic
losers, Dad," we complained, "who couldn’t lead a chorus of Row, Row,
Row your Boat."

As usual Dad came through. He reminded us of the old
adage that says Democracy is a terrible, flawed, unworkable system
– but it’s still better than all of the others. We figure he meant
that in the real world, we often have to opt for the least of several
evils. After we had hung up (of course) we remembered the perfect rejoinder
– the other adage (we saw this one on a bumper sticker) that says,
Don’t forget that the lesser of two evils is still Evil….

Anyway, we took Dad’s advice and went and voted for
the least of the evils, and so now we sit in our personal Media Center
waiting for the results.  We couldn’t bring ourselves to vote
for the unopposed candidates, and we are almost sure the ones we did
vote for will lose. But hey, losing elections is a long family tradition.  The
one time we tried to use our negative mojo to vote for the guy we wanted
to lose, he
won, with disastrous results. So much for Voodoo

But hey, its Election Day in Massachusetts. Anything
can happen.

Pug Uglies


When the Red Sox acquired relief pitcher (now #3 starter)
Julio Tavarez, our first thought was, "Finally, the Red Sox have a
player uglier than
(Yankees ace) Randy Johnson!" (Personal disclaimer: the only person to
ever refer to the Dowbrigade as "handsome" was our paternal grandmother).

Undoubtedly, these were t he two ugliest dudes in
Major League Baseball. Our theory was, if they ever appeared on-screen
at the same time,
plasma TVs across America would explode, unprotected infants would
go blind,
and aesthetes into shock.

Well, as predicted by the axiom that any weird thing that could possible
happen, inevitably will, tonight at Yankee Stadium, Johnson and Tavarez
are the starting pitchers as the Sox and Yankees square off in an
absolutely meaningless four game series. When was the last time the
Sox and their arch-nemesis played two consecutive double-headers
and absolutely nobody gave a shit? Maybe never.

Anyway, we are waiting to see if the two ugliest men in baseball
ever actually appear on the screen at the same time, and if so, what
that will have. Needless to say, we are watching on an expendable
10-year-old CRT and have applied several chemical masking agents
and pharmaceutical
buffers. After all, we are living in dangerous times.

In a Pigcicle’s Eye


LEWISTON, Me. — On a hot July night, a few dozen Somali men were kneeling shoulder to shoulder in prayer at a storefront mosque here when the door opened and the frozen head of a pig, an animal considered unclean in Islam, rolled across the floor.

Men fled in fear. A child fainted. Some called the police and ran after the person who had rolled the head in. A suspect, Brent Matthews, was quickly apprehended and charged with desecrating a place of worship. Mr. Matthews, 33, said that the incident was a prank and that he did not know the significance of a pig’s head.

from the New York Times

Appropriate story, seeing as how the Downbrigade is heading for Maine in a couple of days. We have been in villages where a pigs head meant soup for a week. Oh well, one’s man’s pleasure is another man’s poison…..

Civil War or Clash of Civilizations


– Attacks and civilian deaths in Iraq have risen sharply in recent
months, with casualties
increasing by
1,000 a month, and sectarian violence has engulfed larger areas of
the country, the Pentagon said Friday in a strikingly dismal report
to Congress.Civilian and military deaths and injuries
have surpassed 3,000 each month since May.

The report held to previous Bush administration statements that Iraq
is not in an all-out civil war, but conceded that "conditions that
could lead to civil war exist."

from the LA Times

What exactly is the definition of civil war we are using
here, and in what metric does Iraq fall short? It seems the only thing
the place from degenerating into a Sunni-Shia bloodbath is the
presence of the US as a unifying force – militias from both sects are
trying hard
to kill as many of us as possible.

Unfortunately, on this point the President is correct – if we leave,
the country will completely break apart. Trouble is, even if we stay,
just means
the Iraqi militias will only be able to dedicate themselves to killing
each other part-time, have of course to devote the rest of their time to
killing US,

The scary truth is that the only thing capable of preventing
an all-out civil war between Shia and Sunni would be the intervention
of an Islamic
or Greater
Islamic Republic with the Theological weight to call the mullahs from
both sides together, and impose order.

It seems clear to the Dowbrigade that theocracy is
the only kind of government that can work in this part of the world
at this point in history. From northern Africa to eastern Europe governments
based on Sharia, 800-year-old Islamic law, have proven functional where
Western-style administrations running the gamut from free-market Capitalist
to Red Book Communist have failed spectacularly and abjectly with a staggering
cost in human misery.

Even in Israel, our pet "only Democracy in the Middle East", the Church
has a greater influence than in any of the other Western democracies. The
Council of Rabbis and the religious parties are consulted on all aspects
of Israeli life.

It is our personal belief that after 5 consecutive generations
being cheated out of their birthright and sold down the river by corrupt
local leaders
in consort with the bloodless
vampires of petro-capitalism, ordinary people in the Middle East are so
jaded and cynical of ALL politicians that they are taking refuge in the
most powerful and real thing they can see and feel in their lives – God.
For them, right now, the life of the Spirit is more real, cleaner and
clearer, and more liberating and rewarding, than anything we or our local
front men can offer them.

But what do we know. Politicians on all sides may try
to take advantage of this sad state of affairs, scholars and pundits
may try to analyze
and explain it, visionaries and educators may be able to change it in a
generation or two, but realists have to accept that any attempts to transform
the Middle East through Democracy are, for now at least, doomed to abject,
tragic and costly failure. The Middle East will be ruled by religion
until well past our lifetimes.

However, all is not gloom and doom. Letting nature take
its course and following a policy of isolation and detente similar to
our posture towards
the Soviet Union will eventually expose the flaws and inability to provide
for its population of the Islamic
, just as they did in the
case of the Soviets. But until we let them expose themselves in equal
and open competition, they have the luxury of controlling the ground simply
on the basis of being anti-US.

Any true patriot who believes in the inherent superiority of our system
should welcome this kind of comparative competition, and should support
anything that can stop the open warfare and move us toward a non-violent
war of economies, social systems, and , yes, cultures. Let the best culture

Converting to Islam


DUBAI, Sept. 2 (Reuters) Al Qaeda, in a video
posted Saturday on the Internet, called for President Bush and non-Muslims,
especially those in the United States, to convert to Islam and abandon
their "misguided" ways, or else suffer the consequences.

from the New York Times

Our first reaction, on reading the above story, was
"Where do we sign up!" After all, the benefits of the offer are immediately
obvious. In addition to avoiding annihilation by the Righteous Sword
of Islam, one could partake in the admittedly limited earthly ecstasies
allowed by the One True Religion while experiencing a lifetime of discrimination
and oppression or a quick and spectacular death leading to the frankly
exhausting servicing of some Wiltonian number of virgins in the afterlife
(the exact number of virgins, we understand, is currently the subject
of an ongoing polemic among the various sects, strains and branches
of the One True Religion).

As to converting, well, how hard could it be? A little
internet research on converting to Islam led us to ConvertingtoIslam
dot com
, where we discovered the phrase "La ilaha il-Allah, Muhammad-ur-Rasulullah".

Translated into English, this means There is no God
except Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. According to Converting
to Islam, recitation of this phrase is all that is required for converting
to Islam! We were saved!

But could we, with clear conscience, recite words
which seemed to negate and deny our racial heritage, religious upbringing
and personal beliefs? Why, sure. As a worker with words, we realize
both their power and their limitations. As a psycho-linguist we accept
words as relative, not absolute, and their meaning dependent on myriad
cultural, psychological and situational factors.

Furthermore, over our long and illustrious career
as an amateur and professional Anthropologist, we have at various times
sworn, sung, chanted, recited or intoned oaths of allegiance to the
Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the Cali Cartel, the International Brotherhood
of Workers Revolution, the National
Society of Hare Krishna, Tyxcotrapti, the purple mushroom god of
the Onawama Indians of southern Colombia, B’nai Brith, the White
Nation, the Movimento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru, the Disciples of Doom and the Magicians of the Golden Dawn.

And we believed with all our heart in all of these
world views at one time or another, at least for a few minutes. If
genius is truly the ability to simultaneously hold irrevocably contradictory
points of view, then the Dowbrigade is an Einstein of Ecumenicalism.

Of course, not everyone feel that way. Take
Jeff Jacoby, in an
OP-ED column
in today’s Boston Globe.

IF YOU WERE one of the journalists kidnapped in
Gaza last month and ordered at gunpoint to become a Muslim, what
would you have done?
Fox News reporter Steve Centanni and photographer Olaf Wiig announced
acceptance of Islam on a videotape released by their kidnappers
— “because they had the guns," Centanni later said, “and
we didn’t know what the hell was going on."

Whether their acquiescence was an act of cowardice or of prudence,
reasonable people can debate. Clearly it wasn’t their only choice.
If I were ever told,
with a gun to my head, to recite the Shahada or die, I hope I would have the
courage to take the bullet.

Whoa! Easy for HIM to say. Put us firmly in the Centanni-Wiig
camp. Following in the long tradition of Jews who wore crosses to escape
the Inquisition, or celebrated secret seders in occupied Europe to
avoid the Nazis, or closeted gays in the army or professional sports,
or terrified teens asked if  they’ve ever smoked pot during a
routine traffic stop, we would recite the words and hope to live to tell
the tale

For words can tell a twisted tale in many ways, and
their meaning is a constant negotiation between talker and listener,
God can hear a human heart, in a language where no parsing is possible.

As to our possible conversion to Islam, it is currently
on hold. Perhaps our position is best summed up by the message
we found on the web site The True Religion. The message read, "
is presently closed."


Black Helicopters Back in Boston


So, yesterday,
we were with our son Gabriel on a US Naval Base, waiting
in line to go through a rather strenuous security check, when another unmarked
black helicopter flew overhead, low and tilted forward, like an angry wasp, meaning business. Quickly and somewhat surreptioously
we whipped out our camera and snuck a shot between the tangled rigging
of the mizzenmast.

Of course, it was not the first time we had seen the infamous and
ubiquitous "Black Helicopters" but it was the first time we had the
means and presence of mind to catch them on film. Unfortunately, we
are not at liberty to divulge what we were doing on a US Naval Base
yesterday, as doing so would violate a blood oath and involve our unmentionables.
Suffice it to say, our mission was accomplished.

additional documentation