September 19, 2010

The Old West & Wal-Mart: My trip through Wyoming

Early this morning, I started my tour of Wyoming in South Dakota, with a trip to Deadwood’s famous Boot Hill. “Over there is Wild Bill Hickok’s grave,” I was told, “and that’s Calamity Jane’s grave right next to it.” According to her original tombstone, Calamity Jane died from ‘bad alcohol’ – but that was just a polite way of saying that she was a drunk.

Next stop? Devils Tower, a sacred Lakota Sioux monument up near Sundance. I walked around the base of the tower, feeling all holy – but that feeling didn’t last very long. It never does.

Next came the Big Horn mountains. I was actually there in the Big Horns. With Custer and them. How historic is that!

According to Gary Cooper, in a really good documentary called “The Real West” (you can get it at REI), the entire saga of the Old West only lasted around 40 years. This famous era started right after the civil war between the Union and the Confederacy ended, when apparently the U.S. Army was looking around for something else to do and so moved west to fight another, even larger civil war – between Native-Americans and European-Americans.

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around what happened out here during this second civil war — and this is hard to do because the conflict between those who originally lived in this area and those who came pouring in from outside was so vast. The settlers just kept on coming. And the Indians tried to stop them but there were just too many to stop and the newbees didn’t want to share.

Perhaps it would help me to understand this conflict from a modern perspective if I risked getting yelled at by making a comparison between native Palestinians and the unstoppable flood of Zionist settlers from all over Europe that has recently poured into the land of Saladin.

You try to defend your homeland but you can’t.

But Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse really gave it a shot!

So. Who was I cheering for during the glory days of the Old West? The Native-American underdogs or the European-derived settlers? I always root for the underdogs.

And just think of what America would be like today if cowboys and settlers had never arrived in the Old West. Probably not so bad. Native-Americans used to have a pretty good way of life going on here in the Big Horns. They honored the earth. We could use a little bit more of that now.

But instead of that alternative reality, we now have a gigantic new Wal-Mart in Sheridan, Wyoming – with four or five huge aisles alone devoted purely to candy and chips. To the winner goes the spoils.

PS: All this Indian Country talk has got me all identifying with my Native-American great-grandmother, Mary Ballard. Perhaps it’s because of her that I identify more with Crazy Horse than I do with all those 250-pound shoppers at Wal-Mart.

PPS: I wasn’t going to mention the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody that I also visited today, but it turned out to be so completely interesting that I really should say a few words. They had lots of Remingtons there – both the painted kind and the weapons. The museum’s weapons section was fascinating.

Then I tried really hard to organize a ride out to Heart Mountain, the World War II Japanese internment camp, yet another moment in American history that I am not proud of. Heart Mountain is only 15 miles outside of Cody — but everything I tried seemed to fall through. “Most of the cabins there are gone now,” said one old-timer here, “but you can still see the smokestacks and there’s been some recent attempts at restoration. However, you can see several of the old cabins around town, that people are now using for tool sheds.” Tool sheds? They had American citizens living in jails the size of tool sheds — for four years?

Never again.


To see some photos, click here:


Weak Tea Party Candidates Cower in Fear of the ‘Lamestream’ Media


September 18, 2010

Ye Olde Scribe Presents: The O’Donnell Alternate Universe

Filed under: Commentary — Ye Olde Scribe @ 10:12 am

Ye Olde Scribe’s Incredible, Inedible Quote Machine
“Christine? How can someone suck so much who obviously doesn’t?” -Scribe

“Christine O’Donnell gives new meaning to the phrase, ‘Whack job.”

-Caller to Alex Bennett Show

Now Ye Olde Scribe Presents…

The O’Donnell Alternate Universe


Both the GOP and Dems Taking a Dive in 2010


September 17, 2010

My year of living Americanly: Mt. Rushmore

I used to think that if only I could go off to all the hot-spots in the world where American troops or “advisers” are stationed, then I would be able to understand American imperialism better and thus be in a better position to explain to my fellow Americans that, despite all its glittery promises and John-Wayne-style bravado, American imperialism is essentially a BAD thing — one that will come back to bite them in the [bottom].

But after spending many years going to places like Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Myanmar and sub-Saharan Africa, I have finally come to realize that perhaps it is even more important to trace all these imperial catastrophes back to their actual source — the Americans who stand by, do nothing and allow all this [dookie] to happen in the first place.

So I set out to explore and discover the belly of the beast itself — America. Whew! That’s a very big job.

Of course we all know that the real heart of America is in Branson, Missouri, but I haven’t been able to afford getting there yet. But I did go to Detroit, Michigan — and was totally impressed by the courage its residents are showing as they try to pull themselves back from the brink of economic disaster. You can almost hear the sucking sound there — as the wealth of cities like Detroit gets vacuumed away to desolate places like Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan, and into the bank vaults of Wall Street.

And my main memory of Las Vegas was of its poor sweet over-worked cocktail waitresses — trying to look sexy when they have sore feet, hungry children at home and almost no chance of seeing sunshine except on their day off.

Then I went to Disneyland. Can’t get much more American than that. And in October I’m going to Boucher-con, the famous mystery writers’ and fans’ convention in San Francisco. And I also went up to Clear Lake last month — which isn’t clear any more. Nothing but algae. And I worked as a volunteer film extra in a bunch of Bay Area movies. That’s American too.

And now I’m going off to Mt. Rushmore. How American is that!

(Later — much later): Now I’m here at Mt. Rushmore — after having gotten lost at the San Francisco airport and having almost missed my plane to Rapid City. But I’m here now. And it was worth it. Mt. Rushmore is awesome. It is HUGE. And you just gotta love the Black Hills.

I also saw a monument to Chief Crazy Horse today. It’s about 20 miles away from Mt. Rushmore — but it’s even bigger yet. Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt AND Lincoln could easily fit onto just the side of Crazy Horse’s head. The largest sculpture in the world, it’s been a work in progress for the last 62 years and they figure it will take another 60 years to finish it. When completed, however, it will take up the space of a whole mountain.

“Where is your land now?” someone had jeered at Chief Crazy Horse after he had fought and then surrendered because his people were being killed by the U.S. military and because the buffalo they needed to live on were also being slaughtered by the occupying forces in order to starve the tribes into submission. Crazy Horse had begun resisting the U.S. military occupation only after he had been given no other choice.

And Crazy Horse answered, “My lands are where my dead lie buried.”

PS: Speaking of the Afghan money pit and where dead people lie buried, Scottish journalist David Pratt has just written another article about Afghanistan that I think is essential to read if you want to have ANY concept of what’s going on over there right now.

Bush, Cheney, Obama and Petraeus, please take note — especially of the article’s last sentence. “The third message came from an old Russian friend and former intelligence officer in the Soviet army who served in Afghanistan in the 1980s and who now works as a security adviser there. It read: “It’s like the rerun of an old movie for me, the same blunders, the same tactical mistakes … but at least we knew when it was time to get out.”

Here’s the article in its entirety, with Pratt’s kind permission (as originally printed in the Glasgow Sunday Herald):

Now civil war looms for the lost cause that is Afghanistan:

We are losing the war in Afghanistan. It’s as simple as that. If I were a Taliban or insurgency commander right now, I’d feel pretty upbeat about the way things are going. While you’d be hard pressed to notice it – given all the papal hullabaloo – Afghanistan faces a crucial parliamentary election tomorrow.

This time around there has been nothing like the political fanfare emanating from Kabul, Washington and London, as happened previously when we were told Afghanistan was taking its first tentative steps towards democracy. The reasons are simple. First, the election will be riddled with fraud and corruption. Secondly, the Taliban will show once again it can strike with comparative impunity. And, thirdly, those international bodies, such as the United Nations, tasked with helping Afghans realise what free and fair elections actually mean have bottled it and bolted.

Sound familiar? It should, given that this time last year we faced much the same situation with the presidential vote. The significant difference on this occasion, however, is that everyone is keeping their political heads beneath the parapet in the certain knowledge that once again we will fail to deliver for the Afghan people and no-one wants to be blamed.

Every day in the news from Afghanistan, in the comments from our military commanders and the evasive doublespeak of our political leaders on troop drawdown and withdrawal, you sense the tide is changing. And all the time the Taliban are gaining at every turn. Indeed, the evidence on the ground already shows that, far from being on the back foot, the insurgents are advancing and holding territory in provinces such as Wardak and infiltrating the north of the country in places like Kunduz and Badakshan, turning what until now have been comparatively subdued regions into resurgent battlefronts. In all, it seems a case of one step forward and two back.

Today, it’s not so much a sense of mission creep as a creeping sense that the mission is lost. Take tomorrow’s election as a single example. In the aftermath of last year’s presidential vote, as many as 1.2 million votes were said to be illegal.

In its wake, the UN and others swore they would do better next time. Yet, according to Johann Kriegler, one of only two foreigners on Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission, over the next few days we can expect pretty much the same, if not more, widespread ballot rigging and intimidation than before.

And where do we find the UN precisely at the moment we need it most? Heading for the hills. Well, not the hills exactly, given that they’re full of Taliban, more a case of over the hills and far away. Throughout the past week or so, the UN has evacuated what it deems as non-essential staff for fear they might be in harm’s way from Taliban violence during the elections. In all, that’s about one-third of its entire international workforce in Afghanistan. Or, to use UN speak, a “reduction in its footprint”.

“We are going to be particularly careful as the Taliban have announced they will attack anyone involved in this election and we are very much involved,” explained Staffan de Mistura, the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan. Really? Well, perhaps you’re not quite involved enough, Mr de Mistura. Why is it every time we put the Afghan people through the rigours of the democratic process, instead of standing its ground, the UN sticks to its wimpish last in, first out approach that has characterised so many of its international missions?

To be fair, though, the UN is not alone in bending to Taliban intimidation: many other international election monitoring groups have also given up on full “observation” missions, rendering tomorrow’s ballot next to useless. This is bad news at a time when, more than ever, ordinary Afghans need reassurance.

That said, many already sense we have all but thrown in the towel and are doing nothing more than going through the motions of leaving without losing face. While in the country last month, almost every Afghan I spoke with, from Badakshan in the north, to the capital, Kabul, was desperately pessimistic about the future.

Already people across the country have picked up on our own faltering sense of political purpose, and are psychologically steeling themselves for what is almost universally accepted as the coming civil war once we’ve packed our kit bags and left. And we’re not simply talking about the Taliban here.

Around Kabul’s more “fashionable” neighbourhoods, extravagant new houses built on the enormous profits of the illegal drug trade are testimony to the financial and political power of war lords who run private militias and “security companies”. It is these often bitter rivals, not just the Taliban, that ordinary Afghans believe will plunge them back to the dark days of the 1990s when civil war laid waste to much of Kabul and paved the way for the rise of the Islamic extremists.

Having been there many times during those anarchic years, listening to Afghans today draw parallels with those times, I well appreciate their fears.

Speaking earlier this week about tomorrow’s election, Major General Nick Carter, who commands NATO troops in southern Afghanistan, described Kandahar as resembling Moscow in the 1990s, with “mobs, mafia and protection rackets” running madrassas, boarding houses and private security companies.

General Carter has every reason to be worried, given that it’s probably fair to say much of the country, whether under government or Taliban control, is threatened by a similar incendiary brew.

They say that the devil is in the detail. If that’s true, then perhaps the detail in three email messages I received over the course of the past few weeks gives some intimate sense of the prevailing attitudes to the war in Afghanistan and where the country might be going in the future.

The first was from a US Army helicopter ambulance pilot, whose unit I spent time with in the country. As his deployment comes to an end, he told me of the physical and emotional toll the war has taken on him and his comrades, and how much he now just wanted to go home and never see Afghanistan again. The second email was from a young Afghan woman, who described how men with guns – not Taliban – are terrorising the neighbourhood in Kabul where she lives.

The third message came from an old Russian friend and former intelligence officer in the Soviet army who served in Afghanistan in the 1980s and who now works as a security adviser there. It read: “It’s like the rerun of an old movie for me, the same blunders, the same tactical mistakes … but at least we knew when it was time to get out.”


Republican Party Unity?

Filed under: Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 4:43 am


September 16, 2010

Wanker Magazine Features Christine O’Donnell


September 15, 2010

Dental Tourism: The price of saving a tooth

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 3:08 pm

Recently I’ve been having lots of trouble with my upper right-hand bicuspid — but it’s been years since I’ve been to a dentist and I’m not all that familiar with the price of having one’s tooth fixed. But I figured that it might cost me perhaps a hundred dollars, possibly two. “‘How much will this cost?” I naively asked my dentist.

“Hmmm. I would say around $3,000.” $3,000 for one tooth? Yikes! The cost of dentistry has truly gone up. At this rate, a full decent smile is gonna cost me approximately $100,000 — if all of my teeth start acting up. But my dentist is a wonderful person and really does try to help. “Perhaps you could have the work done over at the UCSF school of dentistry,” she suggested. That sounds like a good idea. The the last time that UCSF worked on one of my teeth, it cost me about $25.

So I scooted on over to UCSF on the N-Judah trolley and had them look at my tooth. “We could do the necessary work for approximately $1,400,” they said. Crap on a cracker! Even the dental schools have been hit by stagflation. Good grief.

And I can’t see any help coming from any kind of single-payer dental care health plan here any time soon either, so it looks like America’s teeth are gonna have to be in big trouble. Plus with all those greedy right-wingers doing everything that they possibly can — both in Washington and locally — to insure a steady stream of cheap labor here as well as abroad, Americans are not going to be able to afford very much quality dental care on their own any more — and so, if current trends continue, we’re all gonna become a nation with no teeth fairly soon. Literally. Everyone in America will be toothless by the age of forty at this rate. Eeuuww.

And only the Tooth Fairy is going to benefit from this.

But my right upper bicuspid was still aching, so I wrote to some friends who live in Mexico about the possible costs of dental tourism. I figured that I could take a Greyhound bus to Tijuana, then hop on a Flecha Amarilla down to Puerto Vallarta and not only get my teeth worked on for cheap but also be able to buy lemon meringue pie from the pie girls on the beach in Yelapa.

“I go to a clinic in Puerto Vallarta called ‘Just Smiles’ — located on Basillo Badillo in old town,” wrote back my friend Robert. “The new crown they gave me cost me just $300 (USD).” That’s do-able. Sort of.

And here’s some input from my friend J.R., who knows Vallarta like the back of his hand: “I’ve been going to my dentist here for about 28 years but he’s not the cheapest: Dr Fernando Peñalva, Clinica Dental Plaza Marina, 21-0165. His website is at And also check out for more information on dentists.” Okay.

I know that my friend Stewart goes to a dentist in Nuevo Laredo, but he hasn’t yet answered the e-mail I sent him asking for details. I guess Stewart’s still miffed at me for taking a stand on the Israel-Palestine issue. It seems like nobody can take a stand in favor of Palestinians these days without getting yelled at.

And then my friend Sterling wrote, “Don’t forget San Miguel de Allende. I forget the name of my dentist there, but she was good! Also a friend of mine from college met a Mexican dentist at a fat farm in Arizona and married her. They now live in Mexico City and both look really skinny in their wedding pix — but I’ve lost track of them too.” Leave it to Sterling to throw in a little hot gossip.

Then I heard back from my step-brother Sam, who is a frequent visitor to Mazatlan. “Here’s a link to go to for information on dentists in Maz:” And the site even comes with a video and links for free price estimates. “I love Mazatlan,” said my step-brother Sam.

So I went to the site and here’s what they said: “Need a Dental Implant, including an abutment and crown? Cost in USA: $4,400. Cost in Mazatlan, Mexico: $1,845 — An insane 59% savings! And what if you have all of your teeth missing, on the top or bottom? You may be considering: MDI Upper Arch, based on 6 Mini Implants (Denture secured by mini-implants). Cost in USA: $17,000. Cost In Mazatlan, Mexico: $4,200. A huge 74% Savings for These Dental Implants! Let’s see the difference with dental crowns: Procedure: Crown or Veneer, Metal-Free Porcelain on Zirconium. Cost in USA: $1,500. Cost In Mazatlan, Mexico: $500. A 66% Savings For Affordable Dental Work in Mexico! And here’s yet another dental work comparison: Bridge, 3-Unit Porcelain on Gold. Cost in USA: $3,800. Cost In Mazatlan, Mexico:$1,500.”

I need a bridge! But is it the Brooklyn Bridge that somebody is trying to sell me here? Sam says not.

So. All I have to do now is win the lottery, wait until the weather here turns really cold, dig out my swimsuit and go off to Mexico for new teeth. Or else I could win the lottery big-time and have my teeth done right here at home by my own wonderful dentist. Or else Congress could enact a law that would give all the rest of us the same wonderful single-payer dental plan that Congressmen now hog all to themselves.

PS:  Someone just recommended Poland and Budapest.  “They’ll even pick you up at the airport.”


The Tattlesnake – Serious As A Fake Heart Attack Edition

Filed under: Commentary,Opinion — Tags: , , , , , — RS Janes @ 12:27 pm

“I recognize you – you’re the guy from the ads for the heart attack drug on TV.”

“Ha, ha – yeah, that’s me.”

“Congratulations on recovering so well from your heart attack.”

“Well, actually, I never had any heart attacks, thank God. I’m just an actor playing the role of a man who had a massive heart attack and recovers taking that drug. I can’t tell you if the drug works or not.”

“Ask your doctor if this drug is right for you, huh?”

“Ha, ha, that’s right.”

“Does that bother you? I mean that some people watching that might think you’re a real heart attack victim?”

“Well, I thought there’d be some disclaimer on the ad, letting the viewer know we were actors – that’s the way they used to do it. Then I saw the ad on TV and realized there was no disclaimer – that kind of bothered me, but it was too late to do anything about it.”

“How do they get away with it?”

“Some new law says they don’t have to tell the audience they use actors anymore.”

“Those ads are on all the time – you must be doing pretty well from them.”

“Oh, yeah, the residuals pay very well, but my career in TV and movies is over.”

“Really, why?”

“Because when people see me they think, ‘Isn’t that the guy from the ads for the heart attack drug on TV?’ and, anyway, I’ve got a rider on my contract that prohibits me from working on any other TV shows for a year after they stop running those commercials, to preserve the credibility of the spots.”

“That’s tough.”

“I’m not complaining. I was going to retire anyway. And there’s always dinner theater, ha, ha.”

© 2010 RS Janes.

September 14, 2010

Leave It To Beaver 2010



September 13, 2010

Remind me – who was in charge?

Filed under: Uncategorized — zelator @ 8:58 am

Who was in charge?

Operation Panty-Loons: Palin’s Used Underwear By Mail?


September 12, 2010

The gospel according to Becky

Filed under: Opinion — Peregrin @ 4:05 pm

Becky Benson, 56, traveled [to the Glenn Beck rally] from Orlando, Florida, because, she said, “we believe in Jesus Christ,” and Jesus, she said, would not have agreed with the economic stimulus package, bank bailouts and welfare. “You cannot sit and expect someone to hand out to you,” she said. “You don’t spend your way out of debt.”

— The New York Times, Aug. 28

And when it was evening, His disciples came to him, saying, “This is a desert place and the time is now past. Send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves victuals.”

But Jesus said unto them, “They need not depart. Give ye them to eat.”

And they said unto him, “We have here but five loaves and two fishes.”

And he said, “Bring them hither to me.”

And lo, he himself ate up both the fish and three of the five loaves, having worked up a powerful hunger.

And for the remaining two loaves, he ordered them auctioned on eBay, saying unto his disciples, “You cannot sit and expect someone to hand out to you. Hunger can be a positive motivator.”

more at:

The gospel according to Becky.

Things Don’t Go Better with Koch — Boycott Their Products!


September 11, 2010

Applying for food stamps: “Don’t you feel guilty?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:39 pm

I’m currently reading a book called “The Holocaust,” and in one of its first chapters the author describes Adolph Hitler’s rise to power in Germany — wherein, in the early days of the National Socialist party, Hitler’s Brown-Shirts were thugs and bullies whose main policy was to pick only on vulnerable little guys. Apparently, Hitler’s SS-in-training only went on the attack when they knew that they were significantly more powerful than their opponents. Their main targets were always elderly people, women, minorities and isolated random individuals out on the street by themselves.

This same policy seems to be currently popular here in America now too.

A major policy of America’s many right-wing hate-machines seems to be one of never attacking any of the rich and powerful corporations, bankers and weapons manufacturers who blatantly receive government welfare — billions of dollars at a time. No, the highly vocal right-wingers only attack those who cannot defend themselves — such as the vulnerable salt-of-the-earth Americans who are now forced to apply for a “welfare” helping hand after their jobs have been shipped overseas by wealthy corporatists who also enjoy receiving the government dole.

How come it is considered to be a wonderful thing for the rich to receive welfare — but if the middle-class or working classes apply, they are ridiculed and shunned? Why don’t bankers and weapons manufacturers who live on the dole get that same scorn heaped upon them?

Recently a friend of mine was forced to apply for food stamps after having been laid off when the small company he worked for went belly-up due to lack of customers. My friend was a middle-class, middle-aged man steeped in the American tradition of self-sufficiency, and you could tell that applying for food stamps had been a decision that had humiliated him a lot.

“So why did you do it?” I asked.

“I’d been laid off my work, my unemployment benefits were tiny and my house payments were huge. And after my car broke down….” He shrugged. “It was either get food stamps — or no food.”

“And what was it like?” I meant what it was like applying for food stamps. I already know what it was like to have to make choices between other things and food.

“Humiliating. Guilt-producing. Embarrassing. I kept looking around to make sure there was nobody at the food stamp place that I knew.”

“Where did you apply?”

“At the county agency. I walked into this building, into a huge room, where I saw about ten people standing in line — so I got in line behind them. Wrong thing to do. ‘Ex-CUSE me!’ shouted a very angry lady behind me. ‘This is NOT the end of the line.’ The lady then gestured behind her and I saw approximately 150 more people standing in line behind her, snaking down and across the room and back up the other side — waiting.”

“Waiting for what?”

“Waiting to get a number. And after about a half-hour, I came to the head of the line and was given my number too. I had stood in line all that time just to be given a number? This was worse than the DMV. It was the waiting line from hell.”

“Then what happened next?” I asked, curious.

“I people-watched for about another hour. And felt even more humiliated. And there was a police contingent in one corner — like they were expecting us to riot or something. And everyone else looked as humiliated and downtrodden as I did. They could have at least put up a sign at the door telling us what to expect.”

“So. Did you get your food stamps?”

“I waited around in the waiting room — with about 300 other people — until my number was called. But, you know, once I finally got to talk to a real person, it was okay. The employees were really helpful and nice. They must have to deal with hundreds of people every day — yet they were still very nice. I was impressed.”

“Then did you finally get your food stamps?”

“No. I was given an appointment to come back the next week.”

This is what you have to go through to apply for welfare if you are a middle-class American citizen — in order to receive perhaps as little as $35 a month in food stamps. However, if you are a RICH American and want to receive BILLIONS (if not trillions) of dollars in welfare from the United States government, you only have to place a few calls to your lobbyist or Congressman and you will get immediate service — and probably valet parking as well.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the super-rich American corporatists who are now receiving government hand-outs by the truck-load were required to report to their county social services office and be forced to stand in line, be humiliated, feel guilty and take a number too?


September 10, 2010

FAX the Dove World Outreach Center!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — zelator @ 8:15 am

Tell them how you feel about the burning of religious material!! Don’t let these outrageous fringe white-wing fanatics make all Americans look like insensitive bastards! Tell them to listen to Christ and LOVE AND PRAY FOR THEIR ENEMIES (real or perceived)!! Please forward this to anyone who has a conscience!! Fax: 352-371-6511

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