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The Next Big Scandal

Someone who ought to be on the short list as a Veep pick for the Democrats is Claire McCaskill, and not because she's from the swing state of Missouri. She's been an auditor, and understands that the Pentagon is a budgetary mess. The Pentagon can't keep track of how it spends money. Just watch: the next big scandal will involve war profiteering.

The Pentagon, you may recall, spends as much money as the next 15 countries in the world combined. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost more, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than World War I or Vietnam -- and about 200 times what we spent on the American Revolution, according to a recent article in the libertarian magazine Reason.

The official cost already on the books, through fiscal year 2008, is $820 billion, and that doesn't include all the downstream and secondary costs such as long-term health care for wounded veterans. In fact, a realistic estimate of how much the U.S. is spending on defense and national security may be about a trillion dollars a year.

The problem is, it's hard to spend a trillion dollars wisely. Just try! You lose track of a billion here, a billion there. Here's the report from Portfolio magazine:

'Since 2004, the Pentagon has spent roughly $16 billion annually to maintain and modernize the military's business systems, but most are as unreliable as ever--even as the surge in defense spending is creating more room for error. The basic defense budget for 2007 was $439.3 billion, up 48 percent from 2001, excluding the vast additional sums appropriated for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to federal regulators and current and former Pentagon officials, the accounting process is so obsolete and error prone that it's virtually impossible to tell where much of this money ends up. While the department's brass has made a few patchwork improvements, billions are still unaccounted for. The problem is so deeply rooted that, 18 years after Congress required major federal agencies to be audited, the Pentagon still can't be.'


Stuff to read:

Michael Pollan in the NYT explains why you should bother to make small gestures of environmental consciousness even though it might not make a huge difference. Bottom line is, it's good for your soul. Plant a garden and save the world.

Meanwhile, make sure to read the terrific David Fahrenthold piece on mountaintop mining, with its classic dateline.

Michael Leahy yesterday produced a close look at McCain's temperament. Guy's a hothead, though whether that's a deal-breaker depends on who you ask. McCain on Stephaopoulos tried to wave it all away, saying the stories of him blowing his top are untrue or exaggerated.

Boodler bc ponders the eternal question of whether it would make sense to obtain insurance for the entire Earth in case it gets totalled.


As you know, women invented civilization and have always secretly operated the thing while letting men delude themselves into thinking that it was a patriarchy. But there are contrary views on this, I realize. Here's Nora Ephron on white men and the PA primary (via Memeorandum):

'This is an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I don't mean people, I mean white men. How ironic is this? After all this time, after all these stupid articles about how powerless white men are and how they can't even get into college because of overachieving women and affirmative action and mean lady teachers who expected them to sit still in the third grade even though they were all suffering from terminal attention deficit disorder -- after all this, they turn out (surprise!) to have all the power. (As they always did, by the way; I hope you didn't believe any of those articles.)

'To put it bluntly, the next president will be elected by them: the outcome of Tuesday's primary will depend on whether they go for Hillary or Obama, and the outcome of the general election will depend on whether enough of them vote for McCain. A lot of them will: white men cannot be relied on, as all of us know who have spent a lifetime dating them. And McCain is a compelling candidate, particularly because of the Torture Thing. As for the Democratic hope that McCain's temper will be a problem, don't bet on it. A lot of white men have terrible tempers, and what's more, they think it's normal.'

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 21, 2008; 8:23 AM ET
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Auditors. Gotta love 'em.

Posted by: dbG | April 21, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Although I have to admit, getting a VP (or P) who's actually worked for a living is a seductive idea.

Posted by: dbG | April 21, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Pentagon waste is such a standard story that it would have to be truly mind-boggling to rise to the level of new or different.

I think it will be the focus of much scapegoating, chest-thumping, and brow-beating once the current crop of scoundrels is out of office. Unfortunately, a great deal of pork comes out of that trough and a lot of people's oxen would be gored if the lights were switched on in this cockroach infested kitchen.

I think I have managed to mix that metaphor into a fine meringue proving that you can have your cake and eat it too with too many cooks. It frosts me to think what we could have done with that trillion dollars. Like fund the National Park Service for the next 400 years.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Portfolio's turning into a fairly serious magazine. I noticed once, long ago, that Fortune was heavy on stories with photos of CEOs posing with their cigars. After that, it was difficult to take any of their journalism seriously.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 21, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

... what a frightening state of affairs... makes us shiver here north of the border, despite the sunshine... most enjoyable metaphors yellojkt.

Posted by: Miss Toronto | April 21, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

The budgetary situation at the Pentagon is clearly a mess.

In a former life I once worked on an effort to use relational databases to streamline one small portion of the Defense procurement process. I saw, on a small scale, the issues being faced.

First of all, mission requirements are never-ending. Changing the system is like attempting to modernize a six lane highway in the middle of rush hour. You can't just shut the place down to retool.

Then there is the matter of turf. There are dozens of discrete offices and organizations all of whom insist in having a say in the procurement process.

And, realize that the tour of duty for senior people at the Pentagon is typically something like two years. It is extremely difficult for such people to institute meaningful structural change in such a short period of time - especially since the permanent bureaucracy is composed of an enormous number of individuals who have devoted many years to mastering the intricacies of the process. These people are profoundly unmotivated to learn something new.

Finally, it must be understood that with *any* government expenditure there is an implicit tradeoff between accountability and speed.

On the one hand you have people screaming about "red tape" and the inability of the government to effectively respond to emergencies (like, say, Hurricane Katrina or the need for IED-hardened vehicles ).

On the other hand, there are people who are screaming about the lack of proper accounting controls and government waste.

It is very hard to make both sides happy.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 21, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I think New Zealand has tried to insure itself against the next big volcanic eruption.

The Florida legislature has worked just as diligently to ensure that the state will go bust after the next serious hurricane.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 21, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

If it's so difficult to spend a trillion dollars wisely, why does Mastercard keep trying to raise my card limit to that level? Do they WANT me to get in trouble? They wouldn't do that, would they?

Posted by: kurosawaguy | April 21, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

RD, I don't think it's just hard to make both sides happy. I think it's impossible. To make a system that large work, you'd have to break it down into at least ten different systems, and then what? More chaos than currently exists, I imagine.

I wonder if continuity in leadership for a couple of generations would help? Of course, it would have to be excellent leadership.

Posted by: slyness | April 21, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

"Pentagon waste is such a standard story that it would have to be truly mind-boggling to rise to the level of new or different."

yello, if defense spending on the order of a trillion dollars a year isn't already boggling minds, nothing will.

With the possible exception Wheel Of Fortune:


"I'd like to buy a vowel, please."

Posted by: byoolin | April 21, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Mastercard... did you know that if you cancel your card, a retailer can still charge something to that card if they have your card number... where is the sense in that!!!!

Posted by: Miss Toronto | April 21, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I think they should make every politician personally responsible for balancing their budget. In other words, they are held financially accountable for negligence incurred. That would snap things into shape pretty quickly.

Posted by: Miss Toronto | April 21, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

This is why I will never ever take Pentagon accounting seriously- In my first summer job, as a 14 year old at Naha Port in Okinawa working for the US Army, I was given an adding machine and a list of equipment and told to figure out how many vehicles to cut from the motor pool inventory to match the $ amount called for. This was the great post-Vietnam draw down and my boss was a Captain who was being "RiFed." In the 33 years hence I am sure the technology is vastly better, but I have my doubts about the expertise and motivation of the people keeping tabs on it. At least at 14 I had no skeletons to hide or agendas to pursue.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 21, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Strip mining makes me cry, and not just because of this song:
...And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away...Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

full lyrics here:

Posted by: frostbitten | April 21, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I'd be happier if our leaders bought a clue. At one level, Pentagon (and government in general) waste is wealth distribution scheme. Just not done fairly or justly. The privatization fad (quick: name your organizations core competency) enriched a lot of private corporations at the expense of government efficiency (who watches the watchmen?) and taxpayers dollars.

The real tragedy is that instead of just making work and shuffling things around like New Deal programs where we got a lot to show for the money spent, The Fiasco/Debacle/Boondoggle is turning our money into munitions that kill many innocent civilians.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

A friend of mine, from West Virginia, has noted that it sure is beautiful there. But, you can't eat scenery unless you're a goat, so you've gotta do something for work. Of course, the counter-argument is that work could be found elsewhere.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | April 21, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

If our "leaders" bought a clue, you can be sure it would cost $2.8B and be supplied by either Halliburton or Carlyle.

(Internal dialogue: Oh, this is *just great*. Not even 11am on Monday and already I'm completely cynical and depressed.)

Posted by: byoolin | April 21, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

For many of us, gardening is not just an aesthetic choice, it is a cultural imperative. And, given the price of food, a darn handy one. Especially those of us with access to copious quantities of high quality rabbit doodoo for fertilizer.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 21, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I think the White Guy thing will actually play less in the general election (although it will clearly be a factor. The thing about White Guys is that there are an awful lot of us.)

The White Guy vote has been so crucial in the Democratic primaries, clearly, because Obama and Clinton are splitting the Non-White Guy vote.

Ideally, these Non-White Guy folks will all unite behind the Democratic candidate.


Posted by: RD Padouk | April 21, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Joel writes:
"The Pentagon can't keep track of how it spends money. Just watch: the next big scandal will involve war profiteering."

Well, five locals got their fingers rapped just five days ago (Look at how light the sentences are! The law has no teeth.) for egregious profiteering acts through our Fort Sam's (local lingo) Army Medical Command. And I betcha Joel's right. Somehow I suspect this local case is just the tip of the proverbial military iceberg. (And recent reporting informs the public that it was subsandard rivets that helped to sink the Titanic...)

A federal judge Thursday sentenced five men involved in rigging $79 million in Army contracts at Fort Sam Houston to prison sentences of five to seven years, a fraction of what they could have faced.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia thought about saddling the men, whom he called "crooks," with longer sentences. He backed down after learning the agents who investigated the case were OK with the plea deals that prosecutors worked out with the defense, and after hearing the circumstances of each defendant.

"There is a crime of need and a crime of greed," Garcia said. "This was pure greed."

The defendants, who pleaded guilty to fraud conspiracy and bribery-related charges, faced sentences closer to 20 years if convicted at trial. The scheme developed at the U.S. Army Information Technology Center, a division of the U.S. Army Medical Command, or MEDCOM, where three of the men had worked.

Criminal investigators with the Army, FBI, Internal Revenue Service and other agencies found three of the MEDCOM insiders used their positions to manipulate and steer contracts for computer equipment and technology for the Army -- such as computer cable upgrades -- to companies they controlled or contractors with whom they were aligned.

"From tax violations to bribery, these subjects showed complete disregard for our laws," said Marcus Williams, chief of the IRS' local criminal investigators. "Their scheme affected numerous legitimate business owners of our community." ...

The Army conducted its own housecleaning in 2005, relieving a colonel who headed the Information Technology Center and reassigning other employees because of the probe and "so many ongoing issues," military records show. The Army's own documents show that for weeks, workers reported inappropriate contracting activity, but the reports were cast aside as coming from employees unhappy with how their own personnel issues were handled.

LL: Let's hope John McCain picks someone with some financial and acounting knowledge--an area in which he acknowledges weakness. I see Romney or McCaskill as a better Veep matchup than say Pawlenty.

Posted by: Loomis | April 21, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

So, is the this the topic that Washington Post's Steve Fainaru will be working on for his next Pulitzer?

Posted by: Loomis | April 21, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Or Washington Post's Dana Priest, since I know she was rubbing elbows with Sy Hersh recently?

Posted by: Loomis | April 21, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

The "Mud" dateline is, indeed, a great aptonym. There are many small cities with such interesting names. Close to where I was born is "Electron, WA" location of large electric substation. And one can never overlook another smalltown in West Virginia - and birthplace of a friend of mine. "Nitro," where they take their blasting caps seriously.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 21, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of aptonyms, check out the name of the attorney for the payday lenders in this story-

Posted by: kurosawaguy | April 21, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

And in more News Of The Obvious, the NYT is trying fill the Pulitzer gap by revealing that most people identified as "military analyst" on news shows have strong financial ties to the Pentagon and/or defense contractors. And they get talking points from government and political strategists.

Any more revelations like this and my faith in our open and transparent political system will be completely shattered.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I heard a report on public radio that compared the weekly costs of the Iraq war to that of the annual budget for research and development of alternative energy resources. The former has costs estimated in the neighbourhood of $1B, weekly, and the latter about $3B annually. A lot of the contracts awarded for the accoutrements of war will never see the light of day, leading me to conclude that Pentagon spending is only an estimate.

Posted by: jack | April 21, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Gardening is good for the soul, and I will focus on it immediately after this last foot of snow melts.

Government and money? What Padouk said.

Posted by: dr | April 21, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

That was one heck of a piece of reporting by the NYT just yesterday, Sunday, that you linked to, yello. I have pointed out on a handful of occasions here on the blog NBC's Wayne Downing's links to SAIC, and his close ties to weapons inspector and Texan David Kay.

Ken Allard, one of the six military analysts and talking heads and Pentagon retirees profiled in Sunday's NYT investigative feature story, has been a columnist for the Express-News for the last several years. Since I haven't seen a column by Allard recently in our local paper (mostly garbage, I might add--Allard's output, I must clarify), I don't know if he still writes for our local Express-News. Here's the blurb, written very tongue-in-cheek (why?), introducing him some time ago to Express-News readers.

Last graf:
Ken has adopted San Antonio, Texas as his latest hometown, although there is some talk that local authorities may demand a recount.

It was fascinating in the NYT overage the detail about the CNN analyst and how he was not vetted, and how NBC, which likewise did not investigate its analysts' ties to military contractors, had no comment on the matter to the NYT reporter. And I'm supposed to trust Brian Williams' reporting about the war, when General Electric, NBC's parent company, has military contracts coming out of its ying-yang? Black eyes for these television "journalism" outfits and kudos to the NYT.

Posted by: Loomis | April 21, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Yello-Mr. F was a student at the War College during 9/11. The phone almost immediately began ringing for instructors (expected) and students (not so much) to be "experts" on TV. As much as collusion among so called independent analysts and the pentagon makes me blanch, it is just as bad to see someone you know opining on things that are not his/her area of expertise or study, much less inside secret knowledge that could add to what a good reporter could find out truly independently. As for the military anaylysts and deliberate misinformation? I hope that's still fairly rare, but I would imagine SOP for this administration. Cluelessness? In abundance.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 21, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Boodle. Somethin' funny goin' on over in the Chat section. It's after 1 p.m.--and both Howie Kurtz's chat and Adrian Higgins chat aren't registering properly. I'm seeing only three questions on the Kurtz chat and zero on the Higgins chat. Anybody else replicate that?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 21, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

That some military experts were unofficial mouthpieces for official positions is clearly wrong. But there is a tremendous difference between people serving as secret shills and people who simply have associations or spurious connections some might find suspicious. One shouldn't throw the net of indictment too broadly.

For example, SAIC is a *huge* and incredibly diverse company. To automatically discount anyone who has ever had any dealings with this company as being hopelessly tainted is to disqualify an enormous reservoir of expertise.

Further, just ferreting out some kind of connection between entities proves very little without evidence of some sort of mechanism of persuasion. It is easy to find links and postulate mysterious influences. To be persuasive, one must uncover emails, letters, or other concrete proof that arms were twisted for corporate interests.

For example, NBC owns Saturday Night Live. Are we to believe that SNL is, therefore, naught but a mouthpiece for pro-military views because GE has military contacts? I imagine this might be of some surprise to them.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 21, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - they look good to me. I'm using Firefox.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 21, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

As of 1:16, Kurtz had finished his chat session and the questions were posted completely.

Posted by: daiwanlan | April 21, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Back in town, at least for a few days. Might even be around long enough to make it to the BPH for a little while.

Nice kit. Lots of interesting stuff here.

War profiteering must hit the radar screen sometime soon. My guess is sometime in the general election season.

In re McCain's temper...I know a politican or two who has that characteristic. To be honest, I kinda like that in a political leader. The difference here might be that McCain seems to lose it in public more than most.

S'Tim...yep, the way DC's industry is government and CTs is insurance, West Bygod's is mining. They need a new industry something fierce, and one with an oversight agency that isn't a toothless watchdog.

For a while, the slogan was Wild Wonderful WV. When that didn't pull in big tourist dollars (except for the whackjobs who jump off the New River Gorge Bridge), they changed it to "Open For Business." I don't know why, but it sounds like a drug dealer, doesn't it? Of course, there is a big cash crop there...

On a totally unrelated topic, DC has been all into the sun lately. She asked that if it's going to run out of fuel, and we have all this time, wouldn't it be easier to find more gas for it, fill it back up like a car, than it would be to find a new sun to use? I wanted to explain that PBKs aren't known for our science acumen; instead, I said...hmmm. cool idea.

RD...Don't all you white guys have regular meetings? Can I have your proxy one month? I promise..I won't do anything too rash. Well, at least at my first meeting.

bc...good piece. But I gotta wonder..who is his Dulcinea? Some babe in a sarong, or Leibowitz's Mrs Grales/Rachel? Yipes.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 21, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

If you make it through all 11 pages of that NYT article, they document where these advisors were working very hand-in-glove with Pentagon public affairs officers to the point of receiving talking points and reviewing drafts of articles. They were also taking taxpayer financed fact finding junkets (if visiting Iraq can ever be called a junket). Way closer than arms length. That said, I would rather have the opinion of a retired general than an Ivy-League think tank ivory tower type in many instances.

Last week 30 Rock had Tracy Morgan film a pro-Republican campaign ad aimed at African Americans with the theme "Just Don't Vote."

Everybody serves their corporate overlords in some fashion.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

RD- well put in your 1:10

LiT-What!? That Wild and Wonderful campaign pushed the Frostbitten fam to do a whitewater rafting trip that is still on the top of our "best family vacation" list.

Anyone up for an Army Ten Miler BPH? The race is on Sunday, Oct. 5th and as of 15 minutes ago there were just over 200 slots left (out of 26,000).

Posted by: frostbitten | April 21, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks frostbitten! LostinThought. Of course we white guys have secret meetings. Cause, you know, we all think alike.

The bit about the Nora Ephron post I found most ironic was the implication that we White Guys are all hot tempered. I

can think of a few ladies with a short fuse as well.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 21, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

LiT, I expect that cash crop will either mushroom or go up in smoke...

(yesterday *was* 4/20, after all)

Where's the West Virginia Glaucoma Test Pilot Cash Crop Dust Team when you need them? (Probably plowing through several boxes of Entemann's Coffee Cake Covered donuts, I'd think.)

On another note, yes, the Pentagon spending is clearly not as


Posted by: bc | April 21, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

And in fairness to WaPo who is kind enough to cover the overhead on our floating cocktail party salon, Kurtz wrote a column on the Military-Informational Complex today.

Not that I would get a chance to read it since my paper arrived this morning as a single-bagged soggy roll of pulp. I promptly called in for a replacement so that can sit on my driveway and absorb rainwater until I get home from work.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Had to hit the refresh button three times to get Kurtz to show all the posts. The odd thing is, this is exactly the same problem I'm having with my home computer, too.

Hmm. Maybe I'm a cyber "carrier"? Whatever computer I touch just seems to come down with typhoid refreshing.

Yes, LiT, we white guys do indeed have meetings. I confess, I haven't been to my group's meeting lately, and I probably need to go. As you are aware, we guys hold these meetings in small groups all over the world, and we follow basically the same 12-step format wherever we go, so that, if you are traveling out-of-state or even in another country, you can still go to a local meeting if you need it. Typically, we sit around in a circle, and the meeting begins when one guy stands up and says, "Hi. My name is [Mudge; we don't use last names], and I'm a guy." And everybody respons, "Hiya, Mudge," How ya doin', Mudge," and so on. And then you say something like, "It's been three months since I took out the garbage, and two weeks since I left the toilet seat up." And like that: you confess all your manly shortcomings. And if you have trouble with some particular problem -- say, you forgot your wedding anniversary -- one of the other guys can help you get through the crisis.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 21, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, RD, et al., is there a secret handshake? An official airline? An annual picnic? And most importantly, do you wear hats at these meetings and are they like Shriner's hats, or more like the Fred Flintstone Order of the Water Buffalo's Grand Pooh-bah kind of hat? Something with horns would seem somewhat trite, but not having been to one of your meetings...

Our chapters are distinguishable by the shoes. I've been attending over at the Black Strappy FMP Chapter, but summer is coming...

Posted by: LostInThought | April 21, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Two things before I crawl home into bed for this developing cold. Remember: Military Intelligence is an oxmoron. Two, I presume that Tim's talk last night was cancelled/postponed due to somewhat inclement weather?

Posted by: ebtnut | April 21, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Clicking "Submit" while Windows chooses to misbehave. "On another note, yes, the Pentagon spending is clearly a problem, but that's been true since Eisenhower's time. The bigger problem is the war that's put them in the position of having less time to consider the bidding process."

Something else, LiT - thanks for catching my quixotic references to the Man of LaMancha in my 10thcircle item.

I thought the first sentence was a giveaway, but ya never know.

His Dulcinea is Mrs Grales/Rachel but in a French Maid's outfit - the LHC is in France (at least, a little bit of it is, anyway).

Yipes, indeed.


Posted by: bc | April 21, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, it has been my invariable experience that computer problems always occur when the user is thinking impure thoughts. Try to vary your thought patterns. Watch the zoo pandacam. Listen to Celine Dion. Mainline some heroin.

Posted by: K:LOTD | April 21, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Ss an Italian, I've been attending the Green Guy Chapter meetings, myself.

We wear the Gladiator outfits and meet at the Olive Garden (talk about hiding in plain sight).

The handshake's tricky, but not as tricky as the Olive Oil ritual and the Strappy Sandal dance.


Posted by: bc | April 21, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Sking Mudge to avoid umpire thoughts is like,,,Oh wait you said impure...never mind

Posted by: omni | April 21, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The Black Strappy FMP Chapter? Jeez...

No, we don't really have anything like that. Oh, sure, the gay guys probably do-- you know, the buff, chiseled guys who wear sleeveless T-shirts to show off their tats and engines -- but we straight guys dress kinda schlumpy, and so we aren't overly concerned with our appearance. (Which some say is exactly our problem, and though we do discuss it, it doesn't have a lot of priority.)

No secret handshake, other than punching the bicep or a high-five. We generally refrain from touching each other as much as possible except at sporting events, where the chest bump and the fanny pat are allowed. Beyond that, we think touching is kinda icky.

The annual picnic? You mean, like, Super Bowl Sunday? The World Series? March Madness? The Stanley Cup? I don't think I understand...

The official airline used to be Virgin Airways, but the rules committee had a lot of problems with the name, and that airline was struck from the minutes of the meeting.

There is no one "official" hat; rather there are many regional variants. For instance, in the south and the west, the cowboy stetson is often seen. However, here in the north, east coast, and west coast, it is usually the baseball hat; under 40s wear it backwards, over-40s wear it frontwards and get pi$$ed off at the backwards-wearers. Under-40s also tend to wear their hats indoors, having never been raised properly. This is especially irksome in the south and west, where many men claim to be upright church-goin' "traditional" Muricans who say ma'am, and yessir and nosir, but have never been taught to take off their hats indoors.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 21, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

First chance to post and I scare it up...Sking shoul be Asking. I'm blaming it on the fourth cup of Diet Coke!

Posted by: omni | April 21, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Second post...two SCCs' carp, I should use Preview daggit.

Posted by: omni | April 21, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Wait! I think I've seen some of the college chapters. They wear the ballcaps with beer cans and really long flexible straws. Sort of like a beer-b0ng, but as attire. Who knew it was an official kinda thing? Live and learn.

Is this where the feds recruit for the accounting department over at the Pentagon? This might explain a lot.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 21, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Of course, let's not forget the Entrance Test to be a Hot_tempered White Guy. It's simple, really: just write your name in the snow. With the usual utensil for such things. Spelling doesn't have to be accurate, but it needs to be a good-faith attempt, as judged by the Sergeant-at-Arms. It is difficult for a woman to pass this test, unless her name is spelled *

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 21, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... I believe Chatwoman addressed the problem some folks are having viewing the chats. Er... addressed it as in, please contact her if you're having the problem. I guess they're trying to troubleshoot.

And RD said...

"I can think of a few ladies with a short fuse as well."

To which I say...


Posted by: TBG | April 21, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "we think touching is kinda icky" ought to read: "we think guy-touching is kinda icky."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 21, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, I've met a few ladies who might surprise you by their ability to write their name in the snow.


Posted by: bc | April 21, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

bc, I was gonna ask a follow-up question, but decided against it.

The thing about writing your name in the snow is not to confuse it with making a snow angel. You can make the snow angel first, and then sign your work-- but don't do it the other way around.

LiT, those college chapters are only provisional members; they don't really become full-fledged members until they graduate, get jobs, and generally get trashed, humbled, humiliated, shot down, and generally defeated by life. Only after they've been pretty thoroughly beaten and kicked by life (read: women) are the eligible for full membership.

It's a guy thing.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 21, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I was always told that Guy Meetings were held Saturday mornings at BigOrangeBoxOfHardware, which is why I'm so behind on attendance that they are going to charge me back dues.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I don't know for the Pentagon but mission capability creep was the source of much overbudgetting and underdelivering in my time with the Canadian (unarmed) Forces. I have a special recollection of a flag officer who was basically lionized by my colleagues because he took on a project approved at 1 billion dollars and turned it into a 4 billion dollars project. Toward the end of that disaster a second much bigger project was also on its way to be grossly over budget. However, the department responsible for actual contracting and procurement had become a lot wiser and got things under control, albeit there was still significant mission and capability up-creep. Within the military community these project managers were appreciated for the early efforts but were found wanting in the second half of the project. A third, much smaller, project was started toward the end of the huge project. By then a government quite hostile to the military was in power and this government was bent on reaping the peace benefits although Canada never really bore much of the Cold War cost. The procurement department held the military to the exact amount of money that has been approved by the cabinet. This project manager was almost universally considered a failure by his colleagues. The project was badly low-balled and much regular maintenance/operation money had to be spent on the project just to make these items workable. An organization that makes a heroe out of someone who puts his project four times over budget and pour scorn on a guy who comes within budget will naturally tend to be a chronic overspender.

Mudge, try to uninstall your current Flash Player (some early FP 9 caused me no end of grief with the refresh function)
To uninstall:
Install the December 2007 version available from the same site.
At work, you need admin privilege to do that.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | April 21, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Aha! Shriek, you're a hero.

yello, yes, the meetings at the BigOrangeBoxofPowerTools meetings are generally held in the First-Aid room located just off the bandsaw/mitresaw/table saw/skill saw section of the power tools department. They serve coffee and tourniquets.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 21, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Something insidious is causing all kinds of IT problems here: access to the internet is even more sporadic compared to Friday, and now a code 500 error is showing up on the screen. Harumph. This summary of the events leading to the approved use of enhanced interrogation techinques is amazing, and even more so, as the DOJ folks crafted legal protection for those involved.

Posted by: jack | April 21, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Back to elevators for a moment... I once heard a story (urban legend?) about a building that was under-elevatored...

The owners of the building opted for the least-expensive option posed to them. Instead of the hundreds of thousands of dollars they would have spent adding new elevators, they spent only hundreds putting up mirrors in the elevator lobbies on each floor.

No one ever again complained the elevators were too slow showing up.

Posted by: TBG | April 21, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

bc wrote "*Tim, I've met a few ladies who might surprise you by their ability to write their name in the snow."

And I can assure you it can be done with no hands.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 21, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Well, look here...

And several others that mention it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 21, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

If IBM was involved with it, it probably cost as much as installing real elevators.

Posted by: byoolin | April 21, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I figure maybe a dot-matrix sort of name-printing could be achieved, with a lot of self-control. And waddling.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 21, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Why do mirrors help? Are people primping all that time? Wouldn't help me pass the time, or notice that I was still waiting a he11 of a long time...

I don't get it.

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 21, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I love Ephron's comment that Hillary Clinton is the true whack-a-mole. Now that's an image that makes me laugh. But, she's right.

I dated a white man once upon a time, interesting experience. He wasn't a full-fledged member yet, just a provisional chapter member but progressing well to full-fledged white guy. I'm sure by now he's president of his local BigOrangeBoxOfHardware chapter.

Posted by: Aloha | April 21, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

SCC - not notice

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 21, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Lost in Thought, as somebody used to male tempers, I'd say that somebody who easily loses his temper to the point of saying irrational things needs to be careful of how easily his buttons are pushed.

It's one thing to lose your temper in a just cause, it's another to be tantruming over piffles before the politics even get underway. The latter indicates something else is already eating you.

If you lose your temper over piffles every time you're in a bad mood without focusing on the issues, you send a message of inconsistency and make it hard for others to work for you and feel secure in reporting bad news to you.

Sounds familiar? Also, anger can be a symptom of depression and heart disease in men.

Personally I would prefer to see a leader be able to stay on message even when provoked to anger.

Good leaders rarely NEED to get angry to be taken seriously, IMO.

Unfortunately, anger is often the one most socially acceptable male emotion to display in public, so I do think we like that because it indicates the guy has some emotion and cares about things.

It's a riddle that I'll let the guys handle... what is appropriate temper, what is not?

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 21, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

So the elevators are supposed to distract people? How and why? Are we supposed to look at ourselves or the other people waiting? This story sounds mighty apocryphal.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 21, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Oh but Wilbrod, the temper issues aren't restricted to men, and having a really bad one doesn't necessarily mean saying something that's a stretch of the truth or going off-message. From my experiences in the political mudpit, a temper comes in handy if you want to be successful. Again, it's a mudpit. No girls' rules, or mulligans, or any of that type of thing here. It's not an arena for those with thin skin or a weak stomach.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 21, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

About having a temper making it hard for people to work for you or tell you bad news...just because that appears to be the case with the lackeys GWB has surrounded himself with doesn't make it true for all politicians. Al Gore was known to be something of a pitbull, Bill Clinton's temper is legendary, and HRC isn't anybody's wilting violet. Pick any political type you want, and you'll see there's some truth to the saying...if you wanna run with the big dogs, you gotta bark sometimes, and might even occassionally have to take a chunk out of someone's butt.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 21, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Of course a temper can give you the guts to say what needs to be said, LiT.

When I get angry, I get especially blunt which I normally wouldn't. I think the question is not of having a temper-- every last person I know has a temper that can be tapped under enough pressure-- but why and how that temper is provoked.

And of course, how well that temper is communicated.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 21, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Or where that tempers leads.

Posted by: TBG | April 21, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Here's a page that finally loaded...

Posted by: TBG | April 21, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

LiT, you don't see Bill Clinton "losing it" in public that often, which indicates he has some control over his temper, he just loses it behind closed doors.

And I think that's the issue-- a perception of self-control in public. If you break down and cry for 20 minutes, or rant for 20 minutes, that's a very different perception from a few tears or a moment of anger. Speaking angrily is also different from screaming.

Remember Howard Dean's public scream?

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 21, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

They already have the guts to say what needs to be said. That's why they're one of the top dogs. It's a requirement in order to be in a position of authority in any business in general, and the whole political career path specifically. But as I said earlier, McCain's temper problem might be that he let's in fly in front of reporters/cameras more often than most.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 21, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

One might note that on carefully selected occasions a bit of temper (real or faked) can be a useful management/motivation tool. Contrary to my occasion displays of umbrage here, I actually have a very slow, very long fuse (so my wife says) and seldom get really, seriously mad at anything. But I freely admit that on several occasions I have faked a display of temper with my kids, and when I was editor of the paper in college, I was having some newsroom problems with reporters, and kicked a (swivel) chair across the newsroom. Very effective. Sometimes you have to signal to people that you are not someone to be crossed, or trifled with, or that there are limits and borders and boundaries. The trick is not to overdo it, or do it irrationally. He11, sometimes you are *supposed* to be angry. (Anger has such an undeservedly bad rep.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 21, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Duh. lets it fly.

Time to figure out what I'm feeding Dear Child for dinner. Have a good one all.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 21, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me, did somebody say something about aggression being key to running with the big dogs?

Being a big dog myself, I can tell you that I don't put up with no yappy nonstop barking, growling, or chunks taken out of my rear from any dog.

The most mean stuff that goes on is play fighting and trying to be top dog, but it's all according to dog politics.

No matter how loud the play fights get, it's not about hurting the other dog.

If I meet a dog who gets confused on the difference, I ain't going to wrangle with that dog, but I ain't going to follow that dog or lay down and give that dog everything I have either, just like you wouldn't follow right behind a mugger as your leader of tomorrow.

Heck, I've been known to cut dogs dead for good after an inappropriate "I hate you" growl at first hello. I got my standards, LiT, and I don't waste my time with dogs who don't get me.

Heck, I've met tons of people, including senatorial candidates and a congressman, you know. Not bad, eh? How many ever-so macho anklebiters can say that? None, they're all yapping to themselves in their high-fenced yards with "Bad Dog" signs.

I'm really greasin' along in the world, only problem is that I'm escorting a gnome who isn't much of a social climber. I try anyway.
Confidence, that's the key. Keep your chin and tail up and walk in like you own the place, and all eyes will be on you and all tongues will be saying "what a beautiful dog and so polite, I'd love to give him some of my best food."

Posted by: Wilbrodog | April 21, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Mudge, that's what I meant about the appropriate use of anger. It shouldn't be anybody's only tool for communicating boundaries, though.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 21, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog, while I'm not a big dog to anyone but my kids these days, I'm not now nor ever was an anklebiter. Further, and I'm sorry to say it, but there's a difference between meeting a candidate/having a drink with one at a fundraising/C&E event and working with them.

Looks like gnocchis for DC tonight. Again, have a good one all. Maybe see you later.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 21, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

OK, LiT, buenos gnocchis.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 21, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

It's not have a temper, it's lose one's temper. Padouk keeps his temper while I go off madly in all directions.
Still in Ottawa, beer not all gone.
I can hardly wait to backboodle in more depth.

Posted by: Boko999 | April 21, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

LiT, I'm talking about real big dogs. You've made the topic into a figure-eight of speech. I'm all confused now what you mean now.

The only thing I know about big dogs and human "politics" is this quote:

"Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far." (Oh boy, fetch time!)-- Teddy Roosevelt.

Wilbrod found this letter for you:

Posted by: Wilbrodog | April 21, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Like LiT, I like a politician with a bit of a temper.

To Mudge's point, sometimes a temper can be a useful tool for commuicating (whether you're actually angry or not), and at other times simply an honest expression of thought and emotion at that moment.

Not to mention that it can be cathartic.


Posted by: bc | April 21, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

No need to bring religion into it, bc.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 21, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Well after reading the WaPo story about McCain's temper, I want to see this come out with his opinions in a direct debate. Let's see if his temper is in fact that judicious.

Ad hominem attacks are not a good sign. Bob Smith's comments about how McCain tore down his record as a Vietnam vet, that was inappropriate. You don't openly disrespect people in an junior position to yourself.

He attempted to blackball 2 women's careers... Karen S. Johnson, an senatorial aide. He also wanted another female senatorial aide, Judy Leiby, to be fired. They weren't his aides. He just didn't like those women due to a prior conflicts which he didn't get the upper hand he wanted.

Both hiring senators took umbrage with his attempting to bully and meddle in their employment practices. There are two reports from other women, Dowling, and Barnett, that he attempted to use his temper to inappropriately bully them for the crime of participating in politics. Those people didn't back down, so he was unsuccessful for all his temper.

Now, we need to ask ourselves, why was he so threatened by those women that he had to try and block them from the senate? Second, does misogyny in politics bode well in this day and age? Not when it is reflected by his voting record and personal opinions on reproductive rights.

Employment rights, as indicated by his personal actions, also are not a priority in his voting.

He also voted against the Civil Rights Act (which failed by one vote)-- that would have restored the ability to sue for employment discrimination. He slammed it as creating "quotas"

" Bill Would Not Have Created Quotas. "Proponents of the bill contend
that it essentially would have restored the law of employment
discrimination that had been in force for nearly two decades, prior to six
recent Supreme Court rulings that made it more difficult for minorities and
women to win discrimination suits. They strongly dispute the contention
that the new law would result in quotas." [Washington Post, 10/23/90]"

Folks, I wish the temper was what we had to be worried about.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 21, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I hate to say it...but I think you kilt it, Wilbrod. Unless it was my buenos gnocchis joke.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 21, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I hate to burst Nora Ephron's bubble, but it's women who decide the elections if you count who votes. (women, at about 55% of actual voters, according to the Census Bureau). Now, if you believe that people are sheep and vote for the biggest spender, then it's men who control the spending, so there's some truth in that. If you believe the premise. We are uncomfortable with the women who support, oh, say, a Hitler. But they did exist. Believe it. And they scare me. Very much.

Posted by: Jumper | April 21, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, boodle death by gnocchi seems unlikely. Now, a dissection of McCain's voting record, extremely likel-zzzzzz.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 21, 2008 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Buenos gnocchi boodle! Has a nice ring to it Mudge.

I don't suppose anyone else managed to register for the Army 10 Miler before it closed this evening. (sniffing and whining hopefully;misery loves company)

Hate to see anyone's temper spoken of as if it were some entity outside personal control. Well directed anger has its place, and we saw too little of it in this administration as evidenced by the lack of "heads will roll" reaction to hubris and perfidy. But, a "temper," whether bad or lost, just begs for some behavior modification.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 21, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

As I child the only person free to indulge in uncontrolled anger was my father. Controlling one's anger became a survival skill. And the thing is, I quickly learned it wasn't that hard to master calm anger. Indeed, I am convinced that angry outbursts lead to angry outbursts. Constant indignation and daily seething feeds upon itself. And if one gets angry about everything, the anger becomes meaningless.

Which is not to say that I never lose my temper. Heck, regular readers of this blog know that. But it is a controlled anger. A carefully modulated rage that takes a lot to provoke, and dissipates quickly once expressed.

Life is a lot more pleasant that way.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 21, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Gee, Frosty, I meant to enter that marathon, but it slipped my mind.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 21, 2008 8:03 PM | Report abuse


What a subject! I have a nasty temper that I have to work on constantly. Praying, counting, but mostly praying. I don't say the ugly words any more, and yes, that was part of it too. And yes, they could roll.

I believe when one allows the temper to fly, that person is sort of out of their mind, for just a little bit? And it does feel good sometimes, but oh, the damage that can be done by such a outburst. And saying I'm sorry, sometimes, will not cover the hurt.

We all get angry, some more than others. I do believe that men can get away with it a tiny bit more than the ladies. When ladies get angry, most folks want to say we're nuts. It's a case of off our meds,suffering from mental issues, you know, the whole nine yards.

Time to turn in. I've been cold all day. Have a good evening, friends. Night,boodle. Sweet dreams.

Posted by: cassandra s | April 21, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Aaaakh!!!! Mudge a 10 mile run is most certainly a long run but it is not a marathon. The vastness of the difference between 10 miles and 26.2 is beyond description.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 21, 2008 8:32 PM | Report abuse

I agree that a woman's anger can be used as against her as evidence of being too emotional. On the other hand, a man's anger can be perceived as much more threatening.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 21, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

You just summed up my attitude to untrammeled displays of anger, RD. It's even worse in a leadership context.

Sun Tzu said of intelligence:
"Unless someone has the wisdom of a sage, he cannot use spies; unless he is benevolent and righteous, he cannot employ spies; unless he is subtle and perspicacious, he cannot perceive the substance in intelligence reports. It is subtle, subtle, subtle."

Also he said about the qualities of tempers in generals:

"The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness...
"All warfare is based on deception. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him....
If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant."

"There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general:
(1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction;
(2) cowardice, which leads to capture;
(3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults;
(4) a delicacy of honour which is sensitive to shame;
(5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble."

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 21, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't get angry. I get p!ssed off.

I've even been known to throw things heavier than words.

I was just thinkin' (and you all know that can be a dangerous activity for someone like me) -- just thinkin' that I would vote three times for a candidate who had the cajones to respond to their opponents (when appropriate) with gems like these:

"If I wanted to hear from an a-hole, I'd have f@rted."

"Why don't you blow that smoke up your own @ss?"

"Do you plan to give taxpayers at least the *courtesy* of a reach-around?"

"Were you born with your head up your @ss or did you put it there on purpose?"

I mean, Dick Cheney is a royal a-hole, but he actually earned some grudging respect from me when he dropped that f-bomb on the floor of the Senate (or was that the House?).

I'm not saying they should cuss like sailors (or worse, like gnomes), but how refreshing would it be to hear a politician respond to an attack or general idiocy with a great big "WTF?!" wrapped in genuine umbrage?

{* trying this again to see if it passes that stinkin' filter *}

Posted by: martooni | April 21, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Oh my, I stopped by to wake up (one more all-nighter and I'll be caught up), and ran into Mr. Martooni in fine fettle.
I'm awake now, thanks!

This is for you:

Posted by: DNA Girl | April 21, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

You mean there's been too much faux umbrage this campaign, Martooni?

I do agree with you that we don't want gnome-mouthed politicans out there.

Check out some humorous quotes as WTF responses....

Does McCain's "Thanks for the question, you little jerk" come closest to what you want?

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 21, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

DNA girl... THANK YOU! I needed a good laugh and that one did the trick (and then some).

{* checking to see if sunshine is beaming out of my bum, and if so, who to blame for it *}

Wilbrod... it's not that there's too much faux umbrage, but that there's *any*. Nothing screams "I'm not only pandering to you, but being patronizing and condescending to boot" like faux umbrage does.

What's really scary is that it often works.

Posted by: martooni | April 21, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

faux plus umbrage = fumbrage

Posted by: dr | April 21, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

(3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults;
Explains most of my poker loses.

Posted by: Boko999 | April 21, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Death by gnocchi?
Sign me up!
But please -- make sure it's a cheese gnocchi, not the potato stuff.

On a related note, I just made a fine polenta and I'm letting it chill before serving it to the kids tomorrow night with a good Italian sausage gravy...

Back to the temper thing for a minute - well, never mind, I don't want to kill the Boodle again. Oh well, here goes anyway: Rightly or wrongly, I can't recall having met a man or woman in a position of significant leadership who was not reputed to have -- if they did not in fact have --a significant temper if provoked. People display it in different ways; but it's there, all the same.

Successful people wouldn't get angry if they didn't care passionately about something. Granted, it does depend on now an individual expresses anger or displays a temper (hopefully, reasonably appropriately), but I guess I prefer my representatives to be passionate.

And I don't care *what* gender they are.


Posted by: bc | April 21, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

The War College's quarterly journal arrived in today's mail, and what does it have but "Revolt of the Generals: A Case
Study in Professional Ethics." Interesting comments on the efficacy of resigning in protest toward the end. What really struck me though is that it opens with a quote from Stephen Colbert

"Let's see who we've got here tonight. General Moseley, Air Force Chief of
Staff. General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They still
support Rumsfeld. Right, you guys aren't retired yet, right? Right, they still
support Rumsfeld. Look, by the way, I've got a theory about how to handle
these retired generals causing all this trouble: don't let them retire! Come
on, we've got a stop-loss program; let's use it on these guys."
- Comedian Stephen Colbert
2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner

The fact that a joke like that could be told in front of an audience including the President, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Chief of Staff, and many other Washington dignitaries spoke volumes for the state of relations between senior military leaders and their civilian superiors. For those recently retired general officers who chose to go public with their criticisms of then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (and by implication the Iraq policy), clearly the situation had reached a point where they felt it was part of their obligation to the profession of arms and the American people to dissent. Such intense criticism from military officers who previously held positions of great responsibility in implementing the Administration's policies is something rarely seen in American history..."

Read it all from Parameters here:

Posted by: frostbitten | April 21, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Bc, your perfect word in that phrase "a significant temper if provoked."

Is..."if". Not "whenever".

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 21, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

dna girl, you have a sinfest cartoon for every occasion. impressive.

count me in for death by gnocci as well.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | April 22, 2008 2:05 AM | Report abuse

I suspect that people (boys or girls, black or white, whatever variations you care to mention) are taken less seriously once they make it clear that anger is their default coping strategy. Power often masks the debilitating effects of anger, but the effects are no less real for that. At some level, most people instinctively understand that anger is always a manifestation of fear. Angry leaders seem to me to be less powerful and more vulnerable than they might otherwise be.

Posted by: Bob S. | April 22, 2008 2:24 AM | Report abuse

More like Tatsuya channels the boodle (freaky ain't it?). I just memorized a bunch over the years. Now even that skill is outmoded as he just installed a search option...

Posted by: DNA Girl | April 22, 2008 3:48 AM | Report abuse

A good temper, what would proper steel be without it? :-)

Of course, I get wrapped around the axle now and again, but that's why I keep some music nearby at all times. Tough to stay upset when "I'm So Glad" is rumbling through the headphones ('specially the '04 Royal Albert Hall live version).

And if a topic can't get your temper up, do you really care about it?

*pointedly-happy-about-life-in-general-despite-the-daily-grind-stuff Grover waves*


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 22, 2008 5:03 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and YAY for the Capitals, "Get on with it!" for the Wizards, and does THIS really surprise anyone?


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 22, 2008 5:09 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Well, today's the big day: in a little more than an hour, polls will open in Pennsyltucky. The Post headline is playing it safe and making no predictions outside of the "common knowledge" that Hillary is going to win, but not significantly. So it is really all about the expectations game (of course), which allows everyone -- spin doctors, pundits -- to "stay in the game" a little while longer. (Now, we wouldn't want them unemployed, now, do we?)

For good or ill, after today the primary race will be all about the money: Hillary's got $8 million (and owes $9 million) while Obama is sitting comfortably on $42 million. The Fat Lady hasn't sung yet, but methinks she's heading toward the podium and is practicing her scales.

Onward and upward! C'mon, Cassandra, let's go.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 22, 2008 5:59 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. I keep having bad dreams at night, so I'm up early this morning. I'm going to try and walk this morning, just a little bit. I know I'm going to feel better from the walk, just hope I can do it safely.

I read part of the Post story this morning about life expectancy for women living in rural areas of the countries, and it is not good. I realize that lifestyle plays a significant part of this study, but why don't these studies include the fact that money impacts these findings? Of course, they do mention what the economics is for these areas, but it is sort like a side bar. I think money is sometimes, many times, the root of the problem. People so much of the time just give up on life when dealing with so many problems.

Eugene Robinson's take this morning on McCain is very good. Very good. I've said here many times that before McCain went South and kissed so many butts, I thought he was a man of integerity(?), but after that trip, no way. And his age has been a problem from the beginning. Now we have the anger thing, which has always been there, but I wasn't aware of. Robinson contends the Repubs want to sell McCain like Ike. Who needs that? He also states that Clinton and Obama are doing a pretty good job of helping McCain by their duel with each other. My state votes next month. I will be glad when this thing is over.

Time for me to hit the shower. Morning, Scotty. Mudge, Slyness, where are you?

Morning Martooni, had to laugh at your take on umbrage being taken in the sacred halls of Congress.

Have a great day, folks. I'm going to check the weather to see if walking is possible.

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: cassandra s | April 22, 2008 6:11 AM | Report abuse

Goood morning and happy Earth day to all!

I saw a headline about the failure of ethanol to be the solution but didn't read the story. Ya think? I'm ready for the giants of science to come up with a solution for this problem!

Still feeling the lingering aftereffects of having a cold. I'm ready for it all to go away.

Posted by: slyness | April 22, 2008 7:07 AM | Report abuse

One more thing about temper. And I think boko, in a very kind comment, highlighted it. There is a difference between having a temper and losing one's temper. Between feeling passionately about something to generate strong emotion, and indulging in an extended tantrum. Between invoking inspiration through one's intensity, and fear and disdain through one's recklessness. It's a fine line.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 22, 2008 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, boodle.
I think I'm gonna think about trees more than polls today. Does anyone have a tree hugging story? I would think sitting under a tree and reading counts, right? Martooni, surely you have tree stories. I hugged trees as a child because that's what kids do. Hug stuff they like. Now the term "tree hugger" has so many other meanings too, especially for adults. Funny how everything gets labeled.
The last time I intentionally hugged a tree as an adult was the day my husband and I decided to buy the woods we live in now. It's a huge white oak, and looking up through its branches just sealed the deal. Anyway--I think I'm going to hug a tree today. Anyone care to join me? Happy Earth Day!

Posted by: Lyssa | April 22, 2008 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Morning boodle!

Why didn't this happen when it was still on kit? Another reptile run amok in Florida.

"Deputies say 69-year-old Sandra Frosti* of 20 Evelyn Court, near Oldsmar, heard a noise coming from her kitchen about 10:30 p.m. and went to check it out. She walked into the room and saw the head of an alligator. Frosti quickly called 911 and left the house."

*No relation.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 22, 2008 7:54 AM | Report abuse


Sitting under a tree reading SO counts!!! *L*

Happy Earth Day!

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 22, 2008 8:00 AM | Report abuse

For Scotty

Posted by: omni | April 22, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

oops: meant this one:

Posted by: omni | April 22, 2008 8:06 AM | Report abuse

The 8:06 link is RAH 2005 Live

Posted by: omni | April 22, 2008 8:07 AM | Report abuse

For Wilbrod:

By skip james

Im so glad, Im so glad. Im glad, Im glad, Im glad.
Im so glad, Im so glad. Im glad, Im glad, Im glad.

I dont know what to do, I dont know what to do, I dont know what to do.
Im tired of weeping, Im tired of moaning, Im tired of crying for you.


Im tired of weeping, Im tired of moaning, Im tired of groaning for you.
I dont know what to do, I dont know what to do, I dont know what to do.


Repeat chorus five times

Posted by: omni | April 22, 2008 8:10 AM | Report abuse

An excellent Earth Day idea Lyssa. Yes, I will hug a tree or two today.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 22, 2008 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Add that to the truly great riffs list, if not already on it...

Posted by: omni | April 22, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

*SIGH* I'll watch that when I get home, omni. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 22, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

All alligator in the kitchen stories require a picture, otherwise they just aren't news.

I was a inveterate tree climber as a kid. It's part of our simian heritage. We had a huge oak tree I once got half way up and couldn't get down. I was hanging from a limb and I screamed until a neighbor came over and grabbed my ankles so that I could drop down. In hindsight I probably could have just jumped.

My wife hates the ash tree in our yard. Over the weekend it turned green and dropped little brown dander all over our driveway. She spent the morning sweeping it up. Like mammals and reptiles, some trees are huggable and some are just a nuisance.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 22, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I like it best if I just close my eyes and listen.

Posted by: omni | April 22, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Happy Earth Day.

also, Happy B-Day to Sheryl Lee.

Posted by: omni | April 22, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

You're right, yellojkt. Bradford pears are beautiful, but they stink. I think my all time favorites are those huge old live oaks found in places like Savannah and Charleston. Of course, I'm not very well traveled and I'm sure there are trees around the world that would take my breath away. with beauty and aroma.

Posted by: Lyssa | April 22, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

When I was a kid we had a Dogwood tree in our backyard that had three entire trunks (I suppose it was really three trees growing *very* close together). The way they were positioned, a child could fit very neatly inside.

It was alternately a jail, a phone booth, a closet... whatever a kid's imagination needed it to be at the time.

And in the springtime, it was beautiful.

Thanks for the tree memory, Lyssa. Glad to see you this morning, too. Happy Earth Day everyone!

Posted by: TBG | April 22, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Going to teach class outside now, under a tree. Will give it a hug when the kids are not looking...or maybe we'll do a group hug?

Happy Earth Day everyone!

Posted by: DNA Girl | April 22, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Hi DNA Girl!
Group hug. Definitely! Have them look up!

Posted by: Lyssa | April 22, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' all..

Okay, Lyssa asked if I had a tree story, so here it is...

When I was about 3 or so, our next door neighbor raised chickens and would let me play with the "peeps" (this, of course, being a time before "peeps" meant *you*).

Anyway, at any given time they had three or four hens, a couple dozen peeps and one rooster. The rooster never liked me and I must say the feeling was mutual.

One day I was playing with the peeps and the rooster decided it would be a good time to see who was boss of the chicken coop and went after me. I ran as quickly as my little 3-year-old legs would take me, but forgot to close the door of the coop behind me. Needless to say, the rooster took advantage of his sudden freedom and chased me into my yard.

The b@stard blocked my only escape route -- the back door of our house -- so I was in a bind. Where to run? Where to hide?

This is where this turns into a tree-hugging story...

I spied with my little eye a tree. It was a very small tree by grown-up standards and would have fell in the "Charlie Brown" class of trees, but to someone just 3 feet tall or so, it was adequate.

I climbed up that little tree and hung from (no, hugged for dear life) the very tippy top branch, which proceeded to bend under my weight, leaving my feet dangling about two feet from the ground. The rooster circled his prey.

Unbeknownst to me or the rooster, our pet Collie -- Penny -- who was chained to her dog house on the other side of the yard, saw my predicament and -- me being her adopted pup -- let her maternal instincts take over. She literally dragged her very hefty dog house across the yard to save me, snagging the evil rooster in her jaws and snapping its evil neck with a quick shake of her head.

I loved that dog like you wouldn't believe, but after that day she was my hero. And still is, rest her soul.

My parents had to buy the neighbor a new rooster and I was no longer allowed to play with the peeps unsupervised, but I got a great story out of it. Little Bean loves the tale of "Daddy and the Evil Chicken from Hell".

Posted by: martooni | April 22, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I usually like Nora Ephron, and I was looking for any semblance of tongue-in-cheekness in her comments, but all I saw was a virulent anger and fear.

I think she's way off base, here. She's taken her personal anti-male axe and ground it in the public square.

Distasteful. And polarizing.

Posted by: amo | April 22, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Scarlett Johansson singing Tom Waits 'Falling Down' -

I like it.

Lyrics -

Posted by: omni | April 22, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Florida residents want native southern magnolia trees to look sort of like broad-leaved Christmas trees. They eventually remove mature ones on grounds that they create too much shade for the lawn, drop huge leathery leaves, and also drop those cone-like seed holders. Messy.

In Japan, you see big, mature southern magnolias in prominent spots in major-cultural-site gardens. Sometimes even meticulously pruned to remove superfluous branches and leaves.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 22, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I could go for Tom Waits' "Heart of Saturday Night"... used to play that one at 3am after closing down the bar where I worked.

Unfortunately, I just have the CD case for that one. The CD itself has disappeared.

Posted by: martooni | April 22, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all and happy Earth Day! Such as it is - I'd rather we remember the Earth every day, than set one aside for it. Might help with that Global Warming thing. Our local paper (formerly the Conservative Bastion of All Right-Thinking People) has been running "green" stories, tips and suggestions for days. When even they are on the bandwagon, you know the times have changed. I will happily hug a tree today.

I soothed my sore muscles from garden work by setting in edging and big rocks, and turning over soil with a shovel rather than a tiller.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 22, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Thanks martooni! knew you'd have a good one!
DoTC--I love how folks with a true southern drawl say "mag-noool-ee-ahs." Sort of slow and syrupy. Begs for a mint julep.
I'm headin' out now. thanks for playing along with the newbie, guys. enjoy the trees!

Posted by: Lyssa | April 22, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Happy Earth Day, everybody--

I have plenty of tree stories; I'll just go back to my earliest tree memory, because TBG reminded me of it. In the first house I remember, where we lived until I was five, there was a big catalpa tree in the back yard. It had really cool seed pods that served many purposes in imaginative play situations. "Catalpa" was the first big word I ever learned and one of the first words I ever loved, I think.

* * *
Today the company I work for is starting a recycling program--whether it's in honor of Earth Day or the start date is just a coincidence, I do not know, but I am very happy they are finally doing this.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 22, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, Hank Stuever nailed it...


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 22, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Also, thanks to DNA Girl for the continued Sinfest cartoons. I finally just added it to my favorites list.

Congratulations to Mudge for "buenos gnocchis". That's a great addition to vaya con questo and fondue.

About tempers - many years ago I realized I had one of those very quick, violent tempers so I set about taming it and now do the slower, reasoned anger response RD described. I find it is actually much more effective. I think I succeeded; however, there must be something residual lurking about. I always try to be at least civil (if sometimes sarcastic) and usually go out of my way to be cheerful and positive. However, several friends and colleagues over the years have remarked that they wouldn't want me to be mad at them or I'd be a bad enemy. Hmmm.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 22, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Yes, scottynuke, that Stueber piece says it all. Thanks!

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 22, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

i climbed trees a lot as a kid. we had one really nice pin oak out front that was our favorite.

my most interesting story would probably be the time my cousins (slightly older boys) and i climbed up a very tall pine tree. i'm afraid to say how high we were up in it, but several stories up (at least 3-4) or close to 50 feet would probably not be too inaccurate. we were on an island in maine, 1-2 miles offshore, and we climbed high enough to be able to see the shore of the mainland and all around the harbor. my cousins were above me in the tree and as we enjoyed the view, two osprey flew very close to the cousin highest in the tree and almost landed in the tree right above him (either almost landed or landed and flew away quickly after noticing us). we were all hugging that tree.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | April 22, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Just staying on your good side, Ivansmom...

*peering from behind the couch*


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 22, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I think I have a look about me that says I have the capacity to go postal, but I just keep it reeled in. Once I realized this, I learned the art of saying something really quietly, with that air of restraint -- very effective (but I never use this one on the's just too frightening for them).
Having said all this, I think that class and grace means making others comfortable in your presence -- a goal I strive to achieve.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 22, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Well said, lostinthought - I strive for that goal as well. That's why I particularly admire Scottynuke's cheerful and pleasant demeanor here in Boodleland. I also find that tone of voice, not volume, is the key. I have a "mommy voice" which is authoritative but not angry, and is pretty persuasive with strangers as well as relatives.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 22, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

My favorite childhood tree was the weeping willow in our Newport News VA backyard circa 1968. Not the right tree for a yard that size, at least not if you care about water pipes or the city sewer system, but it was the ultimate kid tree. In a single day you could make a grass skirt from new growth, swing like Tarzan, or cut off a switch and come this close to taking a neighbor kid's eye out playing Zorro.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 22, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I have a daddy voice, but it usually falls on deaf ears and is often contradicted by the mommy voice.

Little Bean and I have learned to respect the mommy voice.

Or else.

I won't even get into "the look".

{* joins Scotty behind the couch with a six-pack and a white handkerchief tied to a severely chewed #2 pencil *}

Posted by: martooni | April 22, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

LiT, I've met you and know you to be an Italian Woman. Every Italian Woman that I'm related to has "that look" that can pass over her face like an eclipse of the moon, letting me know I'm on a very dangerous mare (in the lunar sense), and that I should choose my next actions or words *very* carefully.

I understand that I have a "look",
and I try very hard to modulate my voice as well when I'm experiencing emotions while interacting with others.

It *is* important to understand the effects of how we look, dress, and act, and to make sure people feel comfortable while being myself. For those of you who've mastered it, you have my respect. I'm still learning this grace, and trying to teach it to my children.


Posted by: bc | April 22, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I find it useful to imply that to cross me will result in either black helicopters or a dismembered horse head in one's future.

This is, of course, silly. I would never hurt a horse.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 22, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse


Forgot to mention earlier -- didn't have a chance to register for the Army 10-miler, but I would imagine a celebratory BPH following the event might very well be in order.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 22, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse


I got nothin', and the kids know it.


Posted by: bc | April 22, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Happy Earth Day all. Scotty, Steuver just cracks me up all the time.

martooni - delightful tree story. I can just see (sorta) Bean's expectant face as you begin the story!

My only tree story is the time that my sister got stuck in a tree (some mangy old dessicated desert tree, can't even remember) while my parents were gone and wet her pants. She still gets a cranky look on her face when she gets teased about it.

I remember when we moved to MD from yucca tree land I was completely dumbfounded by the beauty of the blooming pink dogwoods. I still am.

Have a great day!

Posted by: Kim | April 22, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I inherited from my mother the ability to raise one eyebrow, which is the preliminary warning sign and the beginning of "the look." Like her, I can raise either eyebrow independantly. However, I think I kinda ruin the terrifying effect the Raised Eyebrow Look is supposed to have, because I tend to raise and lower them back and forth, which is disconcerting, and if there happens to be music playing at the time, I can "conduct" the music with my eyebrows. So rather than produce instant terror and obedience, I pretty much wind up with an audience of gigglers. *sigh* It's tough trying to be an ogre when you look like Mickey Rooney Meets Favog.

*faxing Ivansmom a 55-gallon drum of industrial strength liniment*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 22, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I have a tree story I first must excuse myself as we were all only 8 and 9 years old at the time. It was called parachute. In the woods behind our back yard there was a row of 8 pine trees about twenty feet tall. We'd climb a tree as high as we dared, which was to the very top. Then we'd push off with our feet and hang on for dear life while the pine tree would bend all the way over till our feet touched the ground and we'd let go. Lots of fun, but prolly not very good for the trees.

I only once permanently scarred a tree with a carving (when a teen).

I probably have hugged about two dozen trees in my life since then.

I've even hugged a few logs too.

I've also hugged the earth once. It was a lot like hugging my Aunt Joan.

Posted by: omni | April 22, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Sounds good S'nuke. I haven't yet mentioned to Mr. F that the trip to do the run is really just an excuse to try for a BPH.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 22, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Pictures of the gator in the kitchen

Posted by: frostbitten | April 22, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I hadn't heard of the Army ten-miler. The Marines with their Oprah connections get all the publicity. Do they let furriners in?

This is a great event that I've been in several times:

I've been, um, busy the last couple of years though.

My firm was also in the last Jasper-Banff relay before they changed the format. In the Old School format, it was continuous so the real hard core runners would be starting a high-altitude up and down leg in the middle of the night.

I wonder how Don's running is coming along.

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 22, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

My mom, black Irish that she was, expressed her dismay with the one-raised eyebrow to good and swift effect. Her ebony hair and buttermilk skin meant that said brow-of-majesty communicated in low light situations.

She managed the seven us in Mass, along the pew, with this accented-gaze. My four brothers responded quickly.
Anger can be a sign that something is wrong. Anger can remind of us injustice.

Anger, however, can seethe and simmer below a surface or the skin. The wages of anger are sometimes isolation and depression and despair.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 22, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I hugged the earth a lot during basic training. And other training.

Et tu, frosti? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 22, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

SofC-the Army 10 miler is usually a couple weeks before the Marine Corps marathon so it is a good tapering run for the marathon. They do let ferriners in, but much to my amazement they've already filled the 26,000 runner field.

I should say I'm not really a runner, I RWF (run while fat). I have fallen away from the habit though and find that it takes a significant mileage and $ commitment to get my wide posterior in gear.

That relay looks like a great experience. Mr. F ran the 139 Oahu perimeter relay two years in a row and taught me that it is way beyond anything I want to do, despite his protestations that no team member ran more than 26 miles total.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 22, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

S'nuke-Basic not so much, but OCS every day for 3 months.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 22, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Frosti... if you come to run the 10-miler, or if you just come to watch, we'll make sure to arrange a BPH.

I also remember fondly our weeping willow tree. Where have they all gone? Is it a result of building too many houses and losing too many little creeks? We didn't have a creek in our yard, but certainly had a great weeping willow standing guard over the entrance to our driveway (maybe the little ditch was all the creek it needed).

I used to pull down a branch as far as I could... my little sister would then climb up me and grab on as high as she could onto the branch. I'd let go and she'd go flying high. It was quite fun. I remember doing this into her high school years (my sister is still pretty tiny). One day we were doing it and her Algebra teacher walked by. Much hilarity ensued.

Posted by: TBG | April 22, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

The weeping willow is a member of the plant family Salicaceae and the genus Salix. The bark contains salcylic acid and used to be boiled, steeped ant the resulting brew consumed to relieve any variety of aches and pains. The chemists at Bayer (Munich) figured out how to synthesize this stuff, thus we have aspirin.

Big River (Cash)

Now I taught the weeping willow how to cry,
And I showed the clouds how to cover up a clear blue sky.
And the tears that I cried for that woman are gonna flood you Big River.
Then I'm gonna sit right here until I die.

I met her accidentally in St. Paul (Minnesota).
And it tore me up every time I heard her drawl, Southern drawl.
Then I heard my dream was back Downstream cavortin' in Davenport,
And I followed you, Big River, when you called.

Then you took me to St. Louis later on (down the river).
A freighter said she's been here but she's gone, boy, she's gone.
I found her trail in Memphis, but she just walked up the block.
She raised a few eyebrows and then she went on down alone.

Now, won't you batter down by Baton Rouge, River Queen, roll it on.
Take that woman on down to New Orleans, New Orleans.
Go on, I've had enough; dump my blues down in the gulf.
She loves you, Big River, more than me.

Now I taught the weeping willow how to cry, cry, cry
And I showed the clouds how to cover up a clear blue sky.
And the tears that I cried for that woman are gonna flood you Big River.
Then I'm gonna sit right here until I die.

Posted by: jack | April 22, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, "Mickey Rooney Meets Favog?"
My advice: Ditch the glasses, shave your head and let your nails grow, go for the "Nosferatu" look.

My tree story:

When I was 12, I was hiking with my brothers and cousins in the woods near their house in Connecticut (not sure where in relation to Mianus, in case you were wondering), and we encountered tree that had fallen across the trail. Being the oldest and largest, I brought up the rear. All of the smaller kids stepped up onto the tree and over it with no problem. When I stepped on it, it caved in a little bit - clearly rotted somewhat - and I had to catch my balance stepping over to the other side to continue down the path.

A few steps later, I noticed a pricking sensation on my back, and thinking I had picked up a burr, I reached back and pulled it off.

Much to my surprise and dismay, what I had in my hand was a yellow jacket wasp. It was at that point that I began to feel those same pricking sensations all over my back, and when I turned around to look, I saw a miasmic cloud of yellow jacket vengance heading right at me.

So, I dropped the wasp in my hand, started screaming for all the kids to run (lord only knows what actually came out of my mouth - I don't), and started to run myself, pushing the closest kids in front of me ahead as best I could. They picked up the idea pretty quickly, and sprinted ahead, screaming as well. As I was running, I dropped my backpack, and started taking my shirt off as I ran to get the wasps off. Unfortunately, as I was looking back and trying to get my shirt off I ran directly into a fairly substantial oak, adding phosphenetic stars to the galaxy of my personal space.

I stumbled forward along the path for some time, trying to pull the yellow jacket-festooned shirt over my head, until I caught up with my brothers and my cousins. The Swarm had given up their pursuit, but there were still a few dozen tenacious hangers-on my back.

It was at this point, that one of the kids - I don't remember who - decided that the best way to address my situation as wasp pincushion was to pick up a thick stick (in my mind, it's a log big enough for use by the American Birling Association) and to smash them by vigorously beating the remaining wasps on my shirt back.

While I was still wearing it.

Later that day, as I lay face down on my Aunt's couch, while the throbbing of my bare, welted, cornstarch-covered back subsiding, one of my cousins asked if I wanted to relax on the tire swing for awhile. I asked if it were attached to a tree. She said yes. I replied something along the lines that I hadn't had much luck with trees that day, so no thanks (I think I was full of some heavy-duty pain relievers at that point, my Uncle being a dentist and this time-period being the mid-1970s).

For all that, Dr. Seuss' the Lorax remains one of my favorite children's stories.

There's my tree story.
Happy Earth Day, everybody.


Posted by: bc | April 22, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Greetings from Wet Wild and Wonderful West by God. Happy earth day everyone.With all the rain we had over the last 3 days I am sure things will be popping up green everywhere. We had major flooding yesterday and my commute was tricky to say the least.

I am home today with a bad back,I made an attempt to work last night but it was rough.Time to medicate and rest.

Omni we used to call that "twanging trees",I haven't tried that in years but it brings back fond memories and a few that weren't so fond.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 22, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

>adding phosphenetic stars to the galaxy of my personal space.

Very nice!

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 22, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm behind on boodling as usual. Bad Sneakers--I had gall bladder surgery about five years ago. I was off work a total of four days and worked 50 hours the week I went back. If I had it to do over, I would stay off work a couple more days. I think total recovery would be quicker. Even though it was relatively painless, it is still major surgery and you still go under anesthesia. Anyway, good luck with your surgery.

Posted by: OK | April 22, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

bc, you have just described my worst nightmare - since childhood I have been terrified of bees/wasps - I am better now but still had to skim your post as I could only think of how awful that must have been.

We had a big willow on our front lawn, it was a wonderful tree, fun to climb and a few years dad made a skating rink around it - the bumps from the roots made the rink unique. One day we had a freak wind and the tree toppled over take a large portion of our front lawn with it - I never thought the front of the house look as nice after the tree was gone. We live about 100 yards from a harbour but up a hillside and the sandy soil (close to beach sand) could not sustain the nutrients and water requirements the tree need.

Posted by: dmd | April 22, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Ten miles? Humph!
"The fifteenth running of the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run is scheduled to start at 6:00 am, Friday July 11, 2008, in Silverton, Colorado. In 2008, the course will be run clockwise - a big loop through the San Juan Mountains of beautiful southwest Colorado: Silverton - Ophir - Telluride - Ouray - Sherman (Lake City) - Silverton, 100 miles, 33,000' total elevation gain, 11,186' average elevation, low point 7,680' at Ouray, high point 14,048' at Handies Peak." -from the race website.

I actually have a retired veterinarian friend who ran this with his son. He finished in 39 and a half hours and won for the 60+ age group. Makes me tired even to write about running for 39 hours. I'm going to lie down for a while now.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | April 22, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Twanging trees. I like that. And yes, fond memories. Glad I'm not the only one.

Posted by: omni | April 22, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Much greenage here today... and leaves! We've got leaves again!

I would go out and hug the maple in our front yard, but I feel a nap coming on.

This is one of the few fringe benefits of being self-employed and working from home.

Posted by: martooni | April 22, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

CP: //The wages of anger are sometimes isolation and depression and despair.//

And sometimes great relief and energy! :-)

Posted by: dbG | April 22, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Can we tailgate after the Army 10K? Bring a coupla grills, our best recipes and wine, . . . do we order t-shirts that say "RWF Team?"

I'll come down for the BPH either way.

Posted by: dbG | April 22, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The tees could have a picture of the bunker in the back.

Posted by: dbG | April 22, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Gene thought my comment was interesting and educational! The only other time I made it into his chat, he made fun of me. I'm very proud of myself.

Posted by: bia | April 22, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

SCCs for my 12:19: Too many to list, but I did actually write that comment in one take, no editing.

That's my excuse, and I'll stick with it.

SoC, I'm glad you liked that - I was a bit preoccupied with that phrase, and the rest of the sentence was shortchanged somewhat.


Posted by: bc | April 22, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

No grills, or wine, at the Army 10 miler per DoD policy as the HTZ, or Hooah Tent Zone, is in a parking lot at the Pentagon. I think a mid-afternoon BPH somewhere away from all the Hooah would be good. Besides, I'd like to have a shower before getting too close to imaginary friends. Lots of time between now and Oct. 8th, but save the date!

Posted by: frostbitten | April 22, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Meant to add, gwe, I hope your back feels better soon.


Posted by: bc | April 22, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I'll be good. I didn't hear the t-shirts nixed, however.

TBG, start planning!

And now, out to vote.

Posted by: dbG | April 22, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

A few dozen? A single yellowjacket on the hand sent me to the infirmary for two nights. At the time, I was warned that the next one could be fatal, but in a fit of young-adult idiocy, I spent about three years in places where the sting could have happened at nearly any time, with an exclusion in my health insurance for stings. What was I thinking?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 22, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

In partial rebuttal to the not particularly funny Stuever article I put together this Earth Day rant:

It turned out not funny at all, but it does have a nice picture of St Pauls Cathedral and references to tree hugging and the Lorax. I swear I wasn't peeking at your paper, bc.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 22, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Great gator pictures, frosti. Thanks.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 22, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

DoTc, fortunately, I'm not allergic to yellow jacket stings, else I'd probably not be here to engage in typos upon the topic. Sorry to hear that you are, please be careful.

I'd add that it was painful to wear a shirt for the next few days.

And yellojkt, I believe you weren't peeking.


Posted by: bc | April 22, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

New Kit.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 22, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

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