Inside the Beltway

Got here this morning via 495 to Colesville Road. Heath Row is copy typing the thing at media diet. Good to see so many friends and acquaintances. Doc Searls asked Donna Edwards, et al. if we can fix congress like we fix dogs.

Blue food…

Seeking blue crabs, bluefish, blue point oysters in the Fort Meade/Goddard/Greenbelt area.


Drove until I was lost, passing strip mall after strip mall with pizza joints and sub shops, Denny’ses and Wendy’ses and a Chick Fil-A, a Ruby Tuesday’s, and a Chevy’s. No seafood. My criteria shifted to “less known franchise” and “tablecloth” (or if crab house, newspapers would have been fine). But I am too far inland and in high geek country. Cuisine here runs more to Mountain Dew and Cheetos.

Finally found a new Italian restaurant, “Benito’s Brick Oven Italiano,” that satisfied both criteria. Ordered a Pelligrino, the fried calamari appetizer, a crab and avocado salad with interesting dressing and several dozen little cherry tomatoes, and for an entree, the baked ziti pomodori. Ended up boxing the ziti for Tuesday evening enjoyment. My splendid hotel room is equipped with both a nuke and a fridge, so if I’m dining alone after F2C, then I’m already set up.


Box lunch from Whole Foods… selected roast beef with blue cheese sandwich.  No blue corn chips available though.

[tags]f2c, f2c2008[/tags]

Twittering F2C

I’ve created a hashtag for Freedom to Connect. If you’re there and twittering tomorrow through Tuesday, use “hashtag” #f2c in your tweets and they’ll be aggregated here. (Clue: you have to “follow” http://twitter.com/hashtags in order to use the service.) endClue

[tags]twitter, freedom to connect, f2c, hashtags, #f2c, faketwitter beta[/tags]

Iraq War News and Analysis

Patrick Lang blogs at Sic Semper Tyrannis.

Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets). He served in the Department of Defense both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years. He is a highly decorated veteran of several of America’s overseas conflicts including the war in Vietnam. He was trained and educated as a specialist in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and served in that region for many years. He was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. In the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) he was the “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism,” and later the first Director of the Defense Humint Service.” For his service in DIA, he was awarded the “Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive.” This is the equivalent of a British knighthood. He is an analyst consultant for many television and radio broadcasts.

His presentation on current events is brilliantly informed and balanced. His commenters are also of the same stripe — people with insights informed by experience and direct knowledge.

From his post “Iraqi Forces vs. the Extremists”

It is clear that US policy is to back Maliki/Dawa/ISCI/Badr Corps (Iraqi Forces) against Moqtada al-Sadr and his “army” of “shirtless ones.” Fine. Why not? I guess the US has no choice but to back someone.

I suppose that the powers that be will shift the Main Supply Route (MSR) to the west (Nasiriyah) if the Basra area becomes too obstructed.

My problem with the present course of events is the ruthlessness of the propaganda campaign being successfully waged by the Bush Administration. The president has succeeded in “framing” the discussion in such a way that Maliki and his assembly of Badr Corps militias are represented as being the equivalent of George Washington suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion. The noble Maliki is portrayed as motivated by a selfless desire for “national” unity. The MSM has re-transmitted that idea without serious question.

In fact he is merely acting on behalf of an emerging alignment of pro-Iranian forces in Iraq that have successfully pulled the wool over American eyes.

… and from a post titled “UCMJ extends to civilian contractors – Gates” we learn that according to the Secretary of Defense Blackwater bullies no longer have license to murder, rape, and pillage (which has to take a lot of the fun and profit out being a mercenary):

The [Gates] directive provides authority for officers and NCOs to arrest and detain persons seen conducting a crime and for military authorities to pursue investigations that may lead to trial by general court martial.

The directive requires DoD to inform the US Department of Justice (DoJ) that it is proceeding against particular civilians. This provision exists to allow DoJ to take charge of the case involving civilians if it wishes. If DoJ declines then the military is authorized to proceed under its own legal system.

A commenter suggests, “But most of these private armies are neither serving with or for the Dept. of Defense. Most are attached to State or to the private contractors and are not under those contractual obligations that the DOD imposes. So the DOD [may have] no jurisdiction….” Interesting discussion ensues.

Col. Lang has a healthy skepticism for most things that smell of Cheney or Bush. He writes respectfully of Obama, and supportively of Clinton. He has no time for McCain whom he considers to be ill informed. I liked this bit:

The Vice President seems as insulated from reality as always and absolutely shameless in his public denials of reality in Iraq. What’s the deal with him? Is he really impaired somehow or is it about the money as the “oilies” insist?

Then, there is John McCain. He does seem impaired. Lieberman had to remind him that AQ is a Sunni group who hate the government of Iran?

The Democrats need to sober up and get Hillary and Obama onto the same ticket. I don’t care who gets the top spot.


We’ve topped 100 inches of snowfall this year in the Madison area. The previous record snowfall was 76+ inches, set in 1978-79. The average snowfall is just over 49 inches. It’s snowing again today, but it’s Spring already, so to hell with it. I changed my header graphic in anticipation of April. (Flowers to report so far? Four snowdrops and a single lonely crocus. yesterday the crocuses looked just about ready to pop, but with today’s snow I’m thinking it will be another day or two before they appear en masse.

[tags]icky white stuff, climate change[/tags]

Stranger things have happened…

…and haven’t I been the self absorbed so-and-so this week! We got more than 4000 American soldiers dead in Iraq (and almost 100 of our brave mercenary troopers!) We got over five years of continuous combat (but really less than five if you start counting since the Presidink said “Mission accomplished!) We got two war mongering candidates stroking each other in the Demomacratic and the Republicant parties (and one guy we’re pinning all our hopes on!) We got an economy collapsing around us (and an international community cheering it on!) We got people like Spitzer who have the goods on the investment bankers (and a Justice Department that had less problem dragging him down than the Iraqi hired claque had dragging that bronze statue of Hussein off of its pedestal!) Strange times…

Keen and mean… a broader reality

Cristen Powell

CRISTEN POWELL (b. 1979) is one of only six women to have won a national event title on the National Hot Rod Association circuit. She started racing when she was sixteen and has set several records since, frequently reaching speeds of over three hundred miles per hour.

Louise Bourgeois

LOUISE BOURGEOIS (b. 1911) was born in Paris and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. She moved to New York in 1938, where she exhibited drawings and prints before becoming a sculptor. She had her first one-woman show in 1942, and in 1982 was the first woman to have a retrospective exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Raymonda Davis

RAYMONDA DAVIS (b. 1980) grew up in Dallas, Texas, and joined the army after she graduated from high school. She completed basic training at Fort Jackson and enrolled in the ROTC program at Dallas Baptist University.

Karen Finley

KAREN FINLEY (b. 1956) performs theatrical pieces that include monologues, music, dance, and video projections. She is also a painter and a sculptor. She began performing in and around San Francisco in the early 1980s, and in 1984, after receiving a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, she moved to New York. Much of her work is political satire, and it often features nudity. In 1989 a one-woman show, We Keep Our Victims Ready, was attacked by self-appointed defenders of public morals, and a second grant that she had just been awarded by the NEA was rescinded. After a lawsuit that she brought against the NEA was settled in 1993, she received the grant.

Christiane Amanpour

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR (b. 1958) was born in London. Her father is Iranian, and they lived in Teheran until the revolution in 1979, when they returned to England. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island and in 1983 went to work for CNN. In 1990 she was assigned to cover the Gulf War and since then has reported from war zones in Bosnia, Rwanda, Algeria, Haiti, and Somalia. Her coverage of the war in the former Yugoslavia has earned several awards. She is also a contributor to 60 Minutes on CBS. In 1998 she married James Rubin, the United States assistant secretary of state for public affairs. JANE EVANS (b. 1959) was born in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated from Southern Illinois University and began working for CNN in Atlanta in 1982. She, Christiane Amanpour, and Maria Fleet were the only women who covered the Gulf War. She is now a senior producer and camerawoman for CNN’s London bureau. MARIA FLEET (b. 1958) graduated from the University of Georgia in 1980. She went to work for CNN the following year and is now a camerawoman in the Rome bureau.

Ann Richards

ANN RICHARDS (b. 1933) was first elected to public office in 1976, when she won a seat on the Travis, Texas, County Commissioners Court. She became Texas state treasurer in 1986. Two years later she delivered the keynote address to the Democratic National Convention. She served as governor of Texas from 1990 to 1994. Lena Guerrero (b. 1957) was chair of the Texas Railroad Commission from 1991 to 1992.

The above photos by Annie Leibovitz (and their captions) are from the New York Times online.

* * *

Today is the anniversary of MeanKids’ last post. The content of that post had to do with the pregnant wife of a popular tech blogger. I’m glad we took the site down before anyone had a chance to see the post, which reminds me of my cousin Jimmy. When Jimmy was a kid, he was a big barfer. He would probably puke if he smelled someone else’s vomit. He would certainly ralph if he saw someone barf. Jimmy regurgitated when he saw someone cleaning fish, when he saw a dead bird, when he got dog poop on his shoe, when the dog up-chucked in the car. Given his weak stomach, you might think Jimmy would have avoided sights and smells that made him puke. But in addition to his peculiar sensitivity, Jimmy also had a perverse curiosity. My Uncle Don and Aunt Karen had a lot of kids, so for years and years there were always babes-in-arms at our family gatherings. It is a commonly known fact that where there are babies there will be spit-up, and also messy diapers. More than once I spotted cousin Jimmy with his hands covering his eyes so he wouldn’t have to look at the base human by-products of one of those babies. And he never was able to just walk away. Rather, he would peek between his fingers until his gorge rose, and then he would retreat gagging and ultimately adding to the fragrance of a summer afternoon at Grandpa’s house.

Naturally, though we had dumped the MeanKids site, drawn the curtain, and called enough enough, there were several cousin Jimmies out there in blogland who thought themselves most clever to be able to dig through cache, find the rotting content and share it more widely. Many of these people remain to be pied.

There are several things I’d like to share this March 26, the MeanKids anniversary. These include:

A link to my favorite graphic ever to appear on the MK site… Anna Nicole Smith’s coffin (ANS took a merciless beating those six weeks. Fortunately she was dead.)


  1. Acceptance. The humble acknowledgment that there are among us people who are beyond redemption. Dick Cheney and Robert Scoble come to mind.
  2. The pie toss. A cathartic moment when the banana cream hits the face.
  3. Letting go. A time of relaxation and enjoyment of the sweet success that comes from a well tossed pie.


  1. Not afraid to leave our own back yards!
  2. DISS, yes. Disinformation? Never.
  3. We take shiny-happy people with a grain of salt.
  4. Two grains maybe.

Well, see you next year on the anniversary of MeanKids’ last post and Krapp’s last tape and so on.

[tags]kathy sierra, robert scoble, hugh macleod, pie[/tags]