Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Dr Dreds Medicine Sh

Dr Dred’s Medicine Show

  I can no longer sit by and watch as millions of my countrymen are forced to fend for themselves in the aftermath of Katrina, and now Rita. While our government has failed our republic, it is the common citizen that is stepping forward and coming to the aid of our brothers and sisters. I would be a fraud to exhort others to do so and yet stay safe and comfortable at home. If I am to keep my rank as Subkommander, the time has now come that I put up or shut up. Therefore, I have undertaken a rescue mission of sorts, and plan to arrive in Waveland, Mississippi sometime Friday, September 23. The Rainbow Family has a kitchen there, and they seem to be providing for many with limited resources. If you are interested, you can Google them to check out what they are all about. Wikipedia also has a good article as well.
   In either case, I will be departing in just a few short hours now for the Southland. The vehicle I am driving is a huge V8 pickup truck with lots of bells and whistles. The cargo bed is packed to the gunwales with medical equipment; tools, water and camping gear, and hopefully I will be able to render some minor assistance in my capacity as a highly trained health care professional. Yes, it is an alter ego that I sometimes assume, when not leading a huge army of the vast lumpenprolariat, fellow citizens and members of the human family, proud negroes and white trash, hopheads, squares, beatniks, burned out rock n rollers with one foot in their graves…you know the rap.
   I shall attempt to keep the communiqués coming, however the situation is relatively primitive, hence communications are of necessity problematic. However, I shall stoically attempt to remain in communication.

                                        Your most humble servant,

                                                Subkommander Dred

Monday, September 19, 2005

President Chavezs Sp

"Hugo Chavez is more important than God!"

The following is the speech that Brother Hugo gave the United Nations last week. For those of you not familiar with El Jefe Chavez, you might want to give his remarks a careful read. The above quote was from a sister in Venezuela, singing the praises of Mr Chavez at a street demonstration some years back. While Subkommander Dred has a hard time getting his arms around this "God" thing, there is no doubt that my man Hugo is doing well by the majority of the poor and working class in his country. Access to education, increasing literacy, free health care for those who can't afford otherwise...sounds like a good deal to me. Love him or hate him, there is no middle ground with Brother Hugo.

Excellencies, friends, good afternoon: The original purpose of this meeting has been completely distorted. The imposed center of debate has been a so-called reform process that overshadows the most urgent issues, what the peoples of the world claim with urgency: the adoption of measures that deal with the real problems that block and sabotage the efforts made by our countries for real development and life. Five years after the Millennium Summit, the harsh reality is that the great majority of estimated goals- which were very modest indeed- will not be met. We pretended reducing by half the 842 million hungry people by the year 2015. At the current rate that goal will be achieved by the year 2215. Who in this audience will be there to celebrate it? That is only if the human race is able to survive the destruction that threats our natural environment. We had claimed the aspiration of achieving universal primary education by the year 2015. At the current rate that goal will be reached after the year 2100. Let us prepare, then, to celebrate it. Friends of the world, this takes us to a sad conclusion: The United Nations has exhausted its model, and it is not all about reform. The XXI century claims deep changes that will only be possible if a new organization is founded. This UN does not work. We have to say it. It is the truth. These transformations – the ones Venezuela is referring to- have, according to us, two phases: The immediate phase and the aspiration phase, a utopia. The first is framed by the agreements that were signed in the old system. We do not run away from them. We even bring concrete proposals in that model for the short term. But the dream of an ever-lasting world peace, the dream of a world not ashamed by hunger, disease, illiteracy, extreme necessity, needs-apart from roots- to spread its wings to fly. We need to spread our wings and fly. We are aware of a frightening neoliberal globalization, but there is also the reality of an interconnected world that we have to face not as a problem but as a challenge. We could, on the basis of national realities, exchange knowledge, integrate markets, interconnect, but at the same time we must understand that there are problems that do not have a national solution: radioactive clouds, world oil prices, diseases, warming of the planet or the hole in the ozone layer. These are not domestic problems. As we stride toward a new United Nations model that includes all of us when they talk about the people, we are bringing four indispensable and urgent reform proposals to this Assembly: the first; the expansion of the Security Council in its permanent categories as well as the non permanent categories, thus allowing new developed and developing countries as new permanent and non permanent categories. The second; we need to assure the necessary improvement of the work methodology in order to increase transparency, not to diminish it. The third; we need to immediately suppress- we have said this repeatedly in Venezuela for the past six years- the veto in the decisions taken by the Security Council, that elitist trace is incompatible with democracy, incompatible with the principles of equality and democracy. And the fourth; we need to strengthen the role of the Secretary General; his/her political functions regarding preventive diplomacy, that role must be consolidated. The seriousness of all problems calls for deep transformations. Mere reforms are not enough to recover that “we” all the peoples of the world are waiting for. More than just reforms we in Venezuela call for the foundation of a new United Nations, or as the teacher of Simón Bolívar, Simón Rodríguez said: “Either we invent or we err.” At the Porto Alegre World Social Forum last January different personalities asked for the United Nations to move outside the United States if the repeated violations to international rule of law continue. Today we know that there were never any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The people of the United States have always been very rigorous in demanding the truth to their leaders; the people of the world demand the same thing. There were never any weapons of mass destruction; however, Iraq was bombed, occupied and it is still occupied. All this happened over the United Nations. That is why we propose this Assembly that the United Nations should leave a country that does not respect the resolutions taken by this same Assembly. Some proposals have pointed out to Jerusalem as an international city as an alternative. The proposal is generous enough to propose an answer to the current conflict affecting Palestine. Nonetheless, it may have some characteristics that could make it very difficult to become a reality. That is why we are bringing a proposal made by Simón Bolívar, the great Liberator of the South, in 1815. Bolívar proposed then the creation of an international city that would host the idea of unity. We believe it is time to think about the creation of an international city with its own sovereignty, with its own strength and morality to represent all nations of the world. Such international city has to balance five centuries of unbalance. The headquarters of the United Nations must be in the South. Ladies and gentlemen, we are facing an unprecedented energy crisis in which an unstoppable increase of energy is perilously reaching record highs, as well as the incapacity of increase oil supply and the perspective of a decline in the proven reserves of fuel worldwide. Oil is starting to become exhausted. For the year 2020 the daily demand for oil will be 120 million barrels. Such demand, even without counting future increments- would consume in 20 years what humanity has used up to now. This means that more carbon dioxide will inevitably be increased, thus warming our planet even more. Hurricane Katrina has been a painful example of the cost of ignoring such realities. The warming of the oceans is the fundamental factor behind the demolishing increase in the strength of the hurricanes we have witnessed in the last years. Let this occasion be an outlet to send our deepest condolences to the people of the United States. Their people are brothers and sisters of all of us in the Americas and the rest of the world. It is unpractical and unethical to sacrifice the human race by appealing in an insane manner the validity of a socioeconomic model that has a galloping destructive capacity. It would be suicidal to spread it and impose it as an infallible remedy for the evils which are caused precisely by them. Not too long ago the President of the United States went to an Organization of American States’ meeting to propose Latin America and the Caribbean to increase market-oriented policies, open market policies-that is neoliberalism- when it is precisely the fundamental cause of the great evils and the great tragedies currently suffered by our people. : The neoliberal capitalism, the Washington Consensus. All this has generated is a high degree of misery, inequality and infinite tragedy for all the peoples on his continent. What we need now more than ever Mr. President is a new international order. Let us recall the United Nations General assembly in its sixth extraordinary session period in 1974, 31 years ago, where a new International Economic Order action plan was adopted, as well as the States Economic Rights and Duties Charter by an overwhelming majority, 120 votes for the motion, 6 against and 10 abstentions. This was the period when voting was possible at the United Nations. Now it is impossible to vote. Now they approve documents such as this one which I denounce on behalf of Venezuela as null, void and illegitimate. This document was approved violating the current laws of the United Nations. This document is invalid! This document should be discussed; the Venezuelan government will make it public. We cannot accept an open and shameless dictatorship in the United Nations. These matters should be discussed and that is why I petition my colleagues, heads of states and heads of governments, to discuss it. I just came from a meeting with President Néstor Kirchner and well, I was pulling this document out; this document was handed out five minutes before- and only in English- to our delegation. This document was approved by a dictatorial hammer which I am here denouncing as illegal, null, void and illegitimate. Hear this, Mr. President: if we accept this, we are indeed lost. Let us turn off the lights, close all doors and windows! That would be unbelievable: us accepting a dictatorship here in this hall. Now more than ever- we were saying- we need to retake ideas that were left on the road such as the proposal approved at this Assembly in 1974 regarding a New Economic International Order. Article 2 of that text confirms the right of states to nationalizing the property and natural resources that belonged to foreign investors. It also proposed to create cartels of raw material producers. In the Resolution 3021, May, 1974, the Assembly expressed its will to work with utmost urgency in the creation of a New Economic International Order based on- listen carefully, please- “the equity, sovereign equality, interdependence, common interest and cooperation among all states regardless of their economic and social systems, correcting the inequalities and repairing the injustices among developed and developing countries, thus assuring present and future generations, peace, justice and a social and economic development that grows at a sustainable rate.” The main goal of the New Economic International Order was to modify the old economic order conceived at Breton Woods. We the people now claim- this is the case of Venezuela- a new international economic order. But it is also urgent a new international political order. Let us not permit that a few countries try to reinterpret the principles of International Law in order to impose new doctrines such as “pre-emptive warfare.” Oh do they threaten us with that pre-emptive war! And what about the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine? We need to ask ourselves. Who is going to protect us? How are they going to protect us? I believe one of the countries that require protection is precisely the United States. That was shown painfully with the tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina; they do not have a government that protects them from the announced nature disasters, if we are going to talk about protecting each other; these are very dangerous concepts that shape imperialism, interventionism as they try to legalize the violation of the national sovereignty. The full respect towards the principles of International Law and the United Nations Charter must be, Mr. President, the keystone for international relations in today’s world and the base for the new order we are currently proposing. It is urgent to fight, in an efficient manner, international terrorism. Nonetheless, we must not use it as an excuse to launch unjustified military aggressions which violate international law. Such has been the doctrine following September 11. Only a true and close cooperation and the end of the double discourse that some countries of the North apply regarding terrorism, could end this terrible calamity. In just seven years of Bolivarian Revolution, the people of Venezuela can claim important social and economic advances. One million four hundred and six thousand Venezuelans learned to read and write. We are 25 million total. And the country will-in a few days- be declared illiteracy-free territory. And three million Venezuelans, who had always been excluded because of poverty, are now part of primary, secondary and higher studies. Seventeen million Venezuelans-almost 70% of the population- are receiving, and for the first time, universal healthcare, including the medicine, and in a few years, all Venezuelans will have free access to an excellent healthcare service. More thatn a million seven hundred tons of food are channeled to over 12 million people at subsidized prices, almost half the population. One million gets them completely free, as they are in a transition period. More than 700 thousand new jobs have been created, thus reducing unemployment by 9 points. All of this amid internal and external aggressions, including a coup d’etat and an oil industry shutdown organized by Washington. Regardless of the conspiracies, the lies spread by powerful media outlets, and the permanent threat of the empire and its allies, they even call for the assassination of a president. The only country where a person is able to call for the assassination of a head of state is the United States. Such was the case of a Reverend called Pat Robertson, very close to the White House: He called for my assassination and he is a free person. That is international terrorism! We will fight for Venezuela, for Latin American integration and the world. We reaffirm our infinite faith in humankind. We are thirsty for peace and justice in order to survive as species. Simón Bolívar, founding father of our country and guide of our revolution swore to never allow his hands to be idle or his soul to rest until he had broken the shackles which bound us to the empire. Now is the time to not allow our hands to be idle or our souls to rest until we save humanity.
Translated by Néstor Sánchez

Thursday, September 15, 2005

FDR was not a used car salesman

FDR was not a used car salesman

Michael Brown, in so many ways, was the perfect FEMA director for a man like George W. Bush. Indeed, in retrospect, it seems that Mr. Brown’s lack of experience and serious shortcomings regarding his actual ability to lead a previously well thought of government organization in the serious business of disaster management and emergency response would have seemed to be a serious hindrance to his ability to command that post effectively. However, largely because he was the college buddy of George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign manager, he was chosen to head this important post. It is frightening indeed that now the grounds for appointment to a very important, high level government position, which is responsible for the life and safety of the nation’s citizens, the closest equivalent we have to a national fire and emergency services department, was given over to some guy who had never been on the nozzle of a charged line or extricated a trauma patient from a wrecked vehicle , or did something, anything, a little bit more involved with a public safety agency than just have good connections. Did Brownie even have a valid CPR card? Did he at least get a merit badge for first aid in the Boy Scouts?
It’s truly amazing that today in America, this sort of thing can happen. This is exactly what occurs in so many of those third world nations where corruption is rampant; the government is run by a bunch of hired stooges, almost always in a one party state, with a dominant if not complete control of the news media. It also brings back a time in America’s past when we were run by a monarchy, not citizens at all but subjects to the crown. Part of what the American Revolution was about most certainly liberty and justice, but it was also about the accountability of the nation’s leaders to the citizens that elected them.
A brother could say many things about Bill Clinton. Mean things. Vicious things. Very uncharitable things. And for the most part, you would be right about a lot of them. But one thing Bill Clinton was not; stupid. At least when it came to matters where he had to keep his pants on. James Lee Witt, the FEMA director under President Clinton and now hired by the governor of Louisiana to oversee the Katrina crisis, was widely lauded for his leadership by Republicans and Democrats alike when he oversaw the federal response to the Oklahoma City bombing and the North Ridge earthquake. Mr. Witt had previously overseen emergency preparedness for the state of Arkansas while Mr. Clinton was governor. This is not a defense of Bill Clinton or the Democratic Party. Senator Joseph Lieberman, (D) Conn. was the committee leader in the Senate at the time of Brown’s confirmation hearing. To read a transcript of that event is to read of a truly sickening episode of the Democrats rolling over to the Bush White House. Whether this is due to spinelessness of the Democrats or just incompetence in their own right, the fact of the matter is the opposition party failed to…well, oppose, on good grounds, a man like Michael Brown. How could a reasonable and thinking person consider Brown for even a moment for such a position? Well, George W. Bush did.
That’s how George Bush looks at the world. It’s not “Who is the best person for the job?” but “What political ideologue can I give this department to?” That is all George W. Bush knows. That is how he has gotten ahead in life, and thus that’s how he thinks he should run things, by doing favors for political bag men.

There was a day when the Democratic Party had a spine. When a man in a wheelchair provided all the courage and chutzpah to see a nation through a terrible economic collapse and a world war, all while keeping the country from being taken over by the communist party. Yes, this may come as a shock to you, but in the 1930’s the CP was something a lot of out of work and angry working class people were looking to for answers. If you think about the world in the context of that time, with Stalin consolidating power and covertly funding the American Communist Party, one alternative scenario of world history is our country being taken over by some socialist totalitarian state, not that different from Russia or even Germany of the time. Franklin Roosevelt saved America from the communists. And that is a fact.
I make the comparison to Roosevelt for a reason. George W. Bush, like FDR, is a man who was born into a wealthy family. They both come from the power elite in this country. Both overcame hardships (Roosevelt’s polio, Bush’s alcohol and drug addiction). But whereas FDR rallied a nation by appealing to its loftiest principles, Bush and his media savvy goons play to our fears and prejudice. It’s been my experience that people tend to make really bad decisions when they’re afraid and not getting the truth. Roosevelt knew, for reasons quite aside that it was the decent thing to do, that by providing huge government work and development programs he could at least get some people back to work, maybe enough to be able to ride out the great depression. He understood that government, at its root, exists to serve the interests of the nation and her citizens. And to ignore the fact that there was no work, no heat and no food for millions of Americans was to court the destruction of the United States of America. He understood that American society had changed significantly, and was no longer a country of yeoman farmers and blacksmiths. We had become a modern industrial power, with all the attendant class and social conflicts that came with it. In the high spending days of the 1920’s, the noise of that economic boom time covered up some of the more gross inequalities in our society, perhaps in much the same way that the spending and excesses of the 1990’s heralds a darker time for those of us living today. I hope not. I really do. But these days lately, I’ve been having a hard time being optimistic.
I could argue about compassion for our brothers and sisters, reverence for human rights and a desire for basic justice all day long, and while those things are worth fighting for in their own right, I could also make the assertion that money spent for the improvement of the commonwealth and it’s citizens is an investment in the kind of a society we want to create. Good schools, decent health care and affordable housing cost so much less in the long run than prisons, police departments and courts. George W. Bush talks about an ‘Ownership society.’ FDR talked about service and sacrifice, so that all may share in the promise of America. Franklin Roosevelt wanted to save a country. George W. Bush wants to sell you a used car.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Angry Punks

Angry Young Punks

Angry Young Punks recently recruited into the massive army of Proud Negroes, White Trash, Geeks, Freaks, etc, etc…
These young brothers are an example of the Angry Young Punks to be found spread far and wide in our land, ready to respond and answer the call of “Long Live The Republic!” Though they may be burned out rock and rollers with one foot in their graves, they are still patriots and are to rushing the aid of their country.

Photo credit: Special Agent Boersma

Some Friendly Advice

Some Friendly Advice for the Young MBA
Guido ‘The Hammer’ Corleone,
CEO Fortuna Olive Oil Imports, Inc.

Normally, I wouldn’t be the kind of guy who sticks his neck out very far. In the kind of business I deal in, I have found that it’s best for all parties involved to stay out of the limelight. So you could well imagine my reluctance to talk with you about some of my business experiences, and how these could be used to illustrate modern business practices currently employed in a free market economy such as ours. However, since I am after all an honest business man, just doing his best to take care of his family and put food on the table, I began to think that maybe, I could share a thought or two to help the young and ambitious entrepreneur, just out of Harvard Business School with an MBA diploma on the wall and eager to get a piece of the action for himself. That is what we’re talkin’ bout here. Getting a piece of the action.
For starters, it’s always a good idea to have friends. My old man used to tell me that a man could never have too many friends. Particularly, friends in high places. You see, my father, may he rest in peace, used to say “American politicians are the most honest politicians in the world. Once they get bought, they stay bought!” My old man knew that a politician in the pocket was worth more than 10 hardcore button men. Why, you could have all the sharp pencil boys in the IRS and the Pezzo Novanto Justice Department on your back, backed up by a DA out to indict with a sitting grand jury. But if you got a senator and a few congressmen in your pocket, you got a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Why do you think all those executives at big companies like Enron, WorldCom, Halliburton and Exxon Mobil, just to name a few, make out like bandits and are still mostly free as a bird? Campaign contributions can be a great investment.
Now, like I was saying, me, I’m just a legitimate business man trying to make an honest living. But, I always followed my father’s advice, and I’ve profited immensely from it. The olive oil importing business can sometimes be a rough game, but over the years my associates and I have come to an understanding in the running of our affairs. I guess you could call it a ‘trade’ organization, where we have a chance to sit down and discuss new ideas or perhaps even mediate some of our more ‘controversial’ issues. Like the time Joey Mopes had a beef with some of the ‘executives' from the Franchesi Trucking Company. Joey, god bless his soul, was a good guy, but he had a temper like you wouldn’t believe. And when he started goin’ on and on about how he was gonna whack Tony Franchesi for some minor slight, it was only a matter of time till he showed up with a bullet to the back of the brain. Now, that, as my old man would say, is “Business As Usual.”
Yeah, Business As Usual. As in, this is strictly business. Nothing personal. Me, I liked Joey Mopes. I thought he was a great guy. Played cards with him all the time. Even sent flowers to his widow after the funeral. But, he was crazy. He was a madman. He had to be stopped. He was talking about whacking the head of a serious enterprise, and in the process he could have screwed up a very lucrative trade for a number of honest businessmen, just trying to provide for their families.
Which brings me to another important lesson; Muscle. Politicians are good in most instances, but sometimes, you just have to do what you have to do to take care of your business. That’s where a good button man comes in.
Times were, you just looked for a tough kid from the old country, like from out of the hills around Messina. Kid just got off the boat, you gave him a couple of jobs to do, and if he did them OK and kept his mouth shut and followed orders, we’d make him a soldier, you know, a made man. Make him a part of ‘this thing of ours.’
But now, they got this company out there called Blackwater Security. And even though I hate to admit it, these guys have taken the concept of a button man to a completely new level. I mean, I really have to admire these guys. They go out and get a bunch of ex-government secret agent types to run a corporation that hires out button men as needed, all for profit and all completely legit! Now, that is some serious juice! And imagine the cost savings!
Now, when it comes to the type of politician to buy, it always pays to back the one with the least brains. Otherwise, they might get ideas of their own, like actually representing the citizens that elected them or some other kind of ridiculousness. I’ve had the chance to deal with a fair number of cheap political crooks from both sides of the aisle. While I have had the occasion to make the odd campaign contribution to a few Democratic ward healers, the return on investment ratio has not been very good.
Which leads into the last thing I would like to mention. As an honest business man, the last thing I need is onerous government oversight of my business affairs. I want tax relief. I don’t understand why some spotted owl gets to decide if I cut down a forest just because it’s on the endangered species list. I think prayer should be allowed in classrooms (Catholic prayers, that is). We need to clean up our neighborhoods from all this rap music and longhairs and whatnot, and make our towns and our cities safe for decent folk again. And definitely not allow soddomites to get married! Holy Madonna! What sacrilege!
And that’s why I always, always vote Republican. I mean, I might as well. I own a few already.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A Fish Story

It was early September and they were stone broke. For the past 3 months Pete Kadanski and Jimmy Hollis had been up before dawn, down to the dock, bleary eyed and swilling Dunkin’ Donuts coffee while heading out to the fishing grounds before daybreak. It had become a monotonous routine carried out by zombies. Whatever excitement and adventure they had felt at the beginning of this folly had long since vanished, their initial enthusiasm to make some serious cash as commercial fishermen having turned into the desperation and despair of two men with empty bank accounts, and maxed out credit cards. It was something neither of them ever talked about. It was a taboo subject, as if to speak of it would ensure the loss of all they had sweated for.
It was a fate that had befallen fishermen far more wiser and experienced, such as Dickey Martin and his longliner State of Grace, and Joey Texiera, captain and owner of the stick boat Hannah’s Gold. They were victims of The First National Bank of Massachusetts. That August institution had made predatory loans to several of the more respected, but struggling, commercial fishermen of Gloucester. Now that the economy had turned south, and the fish increasingly not where they were supposed to be (in the holds of the fishing boats), the bank was coming to take the collateral. Being Gloucestermen, they didn’t give up their boats without a fight. Dickey had tried to run a harpoon through the town constable when he was presented with the papers to repossess his boat. It had taken a can of pepper spray to the face and a beating from the city cops before they hauled him off in handcuffs to the Suffolk County jail. Joey had taken it a step further, mooring his boat in the middle of the harbor and threatening any “scumbag that tries to take my boat gets a load of birdshot right in the ass,” backing up his threat by brandishing a double barrel shotgun he took to carrying while on deck. He was joined by his wife, Hannah (a woman as every inch as tough as her husband), the vessel’s namesake, and they took turns standing watch, each brandishing the weapon in defiance of the Gods of the free market, international banking and a shit economy.
It had taken the Coast Guard and a contingent of both Department of Natural Resources and Massachusetts State Police in full tactical gear to storm the boat and end the “siege,” in a raid conducted in the middle of the night, complete with flashbang grenades and tear gas. Like they were both on the “FBI’s Most Wanted” list, maybe even sheltering Osama bin Laden in the engine room. That show made all the local Boston TV stations. Police raids always make good video. Yeah, Johnny Law got to use all his goodies on that one, and notwithstanding the two MSP cops who puked up their guts from getting seasick on the assault boat, and the one Coastie that had been kicked in the nuts by Hannah while they were trying to cuff her, no one had been seriously hurt. Justice? No, it’s Just Us.
Commercial fishermen were quickly becoming an endangered species. Nowhere was that fact more apparent than in Gloucester, Massachusetts. They had become almost as endangered as they fish they were hunting. The codfish stocks had collapsed. The swordfish fewer. And the giant Bluefin tuna, the fish the Whitefin was made to hunt for, was fast becoming more myth than reality. The Giant Bluefin was a victim of multiple factors, all manmade, all foreseeable, all ignored. It was a bad time to start out in the tuna fishing business. Only Pete and Jimmy were too stubborn, too proud, too desperate or too stupid to let that that stop them.
Like all ventures, it started out with a dream. An idea. Something that would free Pete and Jimmy from the paycheck to paycheck existence they had been living for the past year or so, ever since they got laid off from the MIC plant in Lynn. The top executives had figured that machining parts for Peregrine attack helicopter engines recently ordered by the Pentagon could be done a lot more cheaply in Mexico. They promptly shipped the jet turbine division down to a maquiladora in Juarez, while awarding themselves large bonuses for their business acumen. In the meantime, Pete and Jim, along with 250 of their coworkers, were out on the street, a pink slip in one hand, directions to the local unemployment office in the other.
They had known each other since High School, Lynn English, class of 2000, and like their fathers had gone on to work at the plant, the largest employer in town. They had been bright students, but known pranksters. The inflatable doll in bondage gear and strap on sexual aid suddenly appearing out of nowhere in midfield at the homecoming game between Lynn English and Lynn Classical, while never linked to them, had their sick sense of humor labeled all over it.
Despite their antics, they had been encouraged by their teachers to go to college. But college cost money, and for a couple of working class kids from Lynn, no matter how smart they were, going to college was as likely as going to the moon. Now, the two friends were at the bottom of the capitalist food chain. Yeah, the sharp pencil boys always make out like bandits; complete with a golden parachute for the CEO should he have to bail out if the stock price drops. Wall Street can be a cold hearted bastard. The prudent man should be prepared.
Jimmy and Pete didn’t get golden parachutes. Instead, they got an economic golden shower, shown the door by stern faced security guards, themselves aware that in the new global economy, they could be next. To get by they’d taken odd jobs, and being bright, hard working, jack-of-all-trades types, had managed to scrape by with the assortment of skills and tools they had at their disposal. They delivered pizza, installed cable TV and computer networks, debugged PC’s, built bookshelves and remodeled kitchens, basements and bathrooms for folks still wealthy enough to afford it. But it was still a struggle, and some months they earned just enough money to pay the rent, while subsisting on a diet of PB & J sandwiches and Progresso soup. What little they had left went for a few beers on Friday nights at Harry Hope’s Bar and Grill. The idea had been percolating in Jimmy’s brain for some time now, and before the evening was over, he had managed to talk Pete into it, with the aid of more beer than usual, with a few shots of Jose Cuervo thrown in for good measure.
“So, let me get this straight” said Pete. “You have this idea to make us financially solvent and earn a good deal of jack to last a good long while, and we’re gonna do it by tuna fishing?”
“Look man,” replied his friend, “It’s not like we’re gonna go to Mars or perform brain surgery or anything really complicated. I mean, what could be simpler than fishing. You remember all those times my Uncle Dave took us out on his boat, and he was as hardcore a Gloucesterman as they come.”
“Yeah, and I seem to recall he lost most of his left foot when he got too close to a Mako shark he thought was dead. Man, we’re not talkin’ about getting on a tourist boat with a bunch of geeks from Boston, jigging for mackerel off Stellwagon Bank. That’s a dangerous goddamn job! If you’re really serious about this, you need to have a plan. You got that? I mean financing, capital investment, charts, navigation equipment, safety equipment, a fisheries license, just for starters. And that’s not even considering the fact that you don’t even have a goddamn boat.”
“You know, dude” countered Jim, “ I was reading in the paper the other day there was a crew last summer on a stick boat, you know, a harpoon boat…”
“I know what a stick boat is…” interrupted Pete, his attention wandering to the slender figure of Melissa, the barkeep who kept the two supplied with alcohol.
“Yeah, sure, right. But listen. This boat, the Spartina out of Seabrook. It had 3 guys on board and they caught a bigass fish, a Giant Bluefin Tuna. I mean big, 850 pounds, and they sold that thing at auction at the Tokyo fish market a day later…”
“How the hell did they get it to Tokyo a day later?”
“They packed the goddamn thing in a box the size of a piano case, stuffed it with ice and sent it next day shipping via air to Tokyo. You may have heard of this invention they got nowadays called jet airliners…”
“Don’t be a dick” Pete said, taking another pull off his Rolling Rock.
“Stop looking at Melissa and shut your pie hole! Listen to me for one goddamn minute!” said Jimmy. “The fish dealer trucks it to Logan in time to catch the next flight to Tokyo. It arrives in the fish market 24 hours after it was landed on the boat. That day in particular they had very few fish come in, and the next thing you know, this fish is sold to the highest bidder for $74,000.”
“What did you say?” said Pete, his attention suddenly redirected from Melissa by the mention of such a large sum of money.
“74 grand. As in a seven followed by a four followed by a comma and three zeroes. Then a decimal point.”
“74 large, huh?” commented Pete thoughtfully. “That’s a lot of jack.”
“Split 3 ways,” added Jim, “The take for each guy was a little under 17 grand, after expenses, such as diesel fuel, bait, insurance…you know, all the usual stuff. And that was just one fish. That boat caught three additional fish last summer. Anyway you look at it, those guys had a pretty good season. Matter of fact, I heard a story of one fish being auctioned on consignment in Tokyo a couple of years back for over $172,000. One fish. Can you imagine that?”
“You’re making this shit up, aren’t you. No fish is ever gonna go for that much money.”
“Here’s the article, brother,” said Jimmy, pulling a folded piece of paper out of his shirt pocket. “I printed it off the English language website of Asahi Shimbun. There it is, man. Look at the size of that fish.”
Pete took the printout and unfolded it, and as Jim had said, it was all there. Yes, the fish story was true. It had been sold for such a large amount of money. The picture accompanying the article showed a magnificent looking animal, steel blue and shaped like a torpedo, a perfect underwater speed machine, all 940 pounds of it. 940 pounds. Now, that was a big fish. And it had been caught just 60 miles from where they were sitting right now, at a place called “The Cat’s Paw” off the coast of Newburyport.
“Well, that’s all well and good,” said Pete, after a few moments reflection. “But that still gets back to the essential problem of investment capital. Or should I say, lack of. Where you gonna get your hands on that kind of cash?”
“Look, I have a plan, OK. Just trust me on this. We can do this thing. You let me handle the finances, and you take care of the rest. I know the basics, but you know about electronics, and diesel engines, and all that other stuff. We can do this thing. But it has to be the both of us.”
So it was in Harry Hope’s Bar and Grill that Pete and Jim decided to go into the commercial fishing business. That was in late January, and they needed to act quickly. Working capital had to be raised, a suitable boat found, equipment acquired, knowledge gained. Pete started looking for used boats, evaluating their seaworthiness, all the technical wonkish stuff he could really get into. Jim was responsible for financing the operation, devising a more imaginative approach to financing this particular venture.
Using a copy of his old MIC plant ID, he was able to bluff his way past the joke of a security detail that guarded what was left of the MIC plant in Lynn. Scouting out the executive offices, he found the general manager’s office not only open, but empty. Jim had gained intelligence from a source within the plant that the general manager was having an ‘staff meeting’ with one of his more junior employees, and also knew that it was right around that time of day that he and his colleague would be in the throes of passion, mounted on the large oak table in the executive conference room.
As expected, Jim found the general manager’s expensive leather briefcase by his desk and left the plant undetected, carefully avoiding or shielding his face from the multiple security cameras arrayed about the plant to protect our nation’s secrets from theft. The plant manager had conveniently left his wallet and PDA in the briefcase, along with his cell phone and company ID. Within the hour, after altering the various picture ID’s with his own photo, Jimmy donned a nice looking suit he had purchased at the Salvation Army for 20 bucks, and managed to talk his way into office of the vice president for loans at the First National Bank of Massachusetts. Within 30 minutes, he had managed to wrangle a cashier’s check for a personal loan in the sum of $35,000 from the accommodating Vice President for Loans. The check was subsequently laundered with the help of an Italian acquaintance of Jimmy’s who had rather strong “family” connections. A certain favor was owed to Jimmy by this individual, and a favor owed is as good as money in the bank.
The way Jimmy Hollis saw it, the rat bastard of a general manager deserved it, especially after he had received more than twice that amount as a year end bonus for all the cost savings he had accomplished at the plant, namely by having Jim and Pete laid off, along with all those other folks. To Jimmy’s way of thinking, karma has a way of coming back and biting a person in the ass when they least expect it.
And so it came to pass that working capital was raised, and a suitable boat was found. It was an older boat, a 30 foot Crosby Canyon. The engines were beat, the electronics outdated. It had been put in storage on land for the better part of two years, in need of a buyer. A price was negotiated, papers were signed, money exchanged, documents filed, and the boat, renamed Whitefin, was theirs.
In addition to their day jobs, they spent every evening and weekend getting the vessel ready for the rigors of a workboat. Among other things, the stuffing boxes had rotted out and both diesel engines required complete overhauls. But over the months, the work was completed and the boat, their boat, was ready.
That was back in early June. Now it was the first week of September, and they had succeeded in catching not so much as a cold. With the end of the fishing season approaching fast and absolutely nothing to show for their labors, Pete and Jimmy were men on the verge of madness. Rough weather, engine breakdowns, foul smelling bait and just plain bad luck had pushed them to the limit. They figured they had just enough fuel to make one more day on the water. After that, no more cash. No more credit. No more fish. As if they even had a chance in the first place.
This last day they had anchored off “The Curl,” a spot on a chart 40 miles out, with a steep drop off below where the bait fish would congregate at high tide. The first tide had come and gone at 6 am, and they were waiting for the next tide to come so they could finally stop this madness once and for all, call it quits, and go home.
It was late afternoon that Jimmy, at the helm watching the depth finder, noted some large blobs on the view screen, each blob representing some sort of marine life. They had been plagued by seals earlier that day, eating the chum, the baitfish that Pete had been cutting up like an automaton and dumping overboard in an effort to bring the fish to their 300 pound test monofilament lines, hanging adrift in the water, suspended 30 feet below the surface from black plastic trash bags filled with air.
They were too poor to afford proper rods and reels, equipment that costs thousands of dollars. Instead, they were using 2 handlines, 200 feet of 1 inch manila rope spliced to monofilament, each handline carefully stored in a large milk crate and attached with a 1 foot diameter orange ball, a kind of inflatable buoy.
Pete, sitting on the stern rail said “Hey Jimmy, it’s your turn to cut up this shit. I’ll take the helm for a while.”
“I got something spotted on the depth finder,” replied Jimmy. “Dump out some more chum.”
“Man, how many times you been sayin’ that this past summer? ‘Keep cutting up the chum, I see some fish on the monitor.’ Screw you! I’m tired of cutting of this foul smelling shit we got for bait. No wonder we ain’t catching any fish. No fish would come near the foul smelling stuff we’re using. Besides, it’s probably just that same goddamn seal that’s been eatin’ our…”
Pete was about to continue in his tirade when a sudden explosion of water occurred about 20 feet astern of the Whitefin, with the sudden disappearance of the starboard black trash bag, followed instantly by noise of starboard handline zipping out of its milk crate. Only one fish hits a line like that, a Giant Bluefin Tuna. And the fish was already running away, the 2 inch hook mouse-trapped into the mackerel bait deeply set in his jaw.
“Jesus Christ!” yelled Pete. “FISH ON!”
“Shit, Shit, goddamn….SHIT! Get on that line! I’ll get the other hand line in!” yelled Jimmy. What followed was Chinese fire drill of an affair, as Pete grabbed a pair of heavy leather gloves and tried to take control of the handline running off faster than he could have imagined. Jimmy, stumbling on the step down from the helm, fell and smashed his knee on the deck, cutting open a large gash which proceeded to bleed profusely. Jimmy didn’t notice the wound. All he wanted to do was get the port handline in, drop off the anchor with the quick release, fire up the engines and chase this fish that by providence, by God’s grace, by karma, the Whitefin had somehow hooked into.
“Don’t hold onto the line!” yelled Jimmy, ripping off his T shirt to use as a makeshift bandage around his leg. “That bastard will take you over with him, Pete.” Jimmy fired up both diesel engines, and engaging both screws, started to turn for the fish, to catch up to the animal. Pete, on the handline, yelled “Man, this one is big! He’s got almost all the line out! Get this boat moving you son of a bitch!”
What followed was an exchange of language so profane and vulgar that it shall not be repeated in these pages. They were sailors, and they lived up to their reputation in that regard. Pete stayed on the handline, pulling and letting go, letting the animal run itself out. Jimmy pursued it, maneuvering the Whitefin to force the animal to exhaust itself, literally to the point of death. Time passed, minutes, then an hour, and finally, at the end of one hour and 25 minutes, Pete had managed to bring in all but the last 25 feet of line. That’s when they saw it surface, a perfect creature, a Giant Bluefin Tuna, a big one. What little life it had left in it was ebbing fast, and grabbing the monofilament line, Pete hauled in like a madman while Jimmy jammed the craft in neutral, grabbing the harpoon and jumping to the transom. The fish was brought alongside the boat, and Jimmy rammed the harpoon home, the barb striking firmly into the flesh of the animal just behind the head.

Israeli Defense Forc

Israeli Defense Force soldiers at a checkpoint.
Something about a woman in uniform (heavily armed is best) is quite appealing to Subkommander Dred. Makes a brother (or even more than a few sisters, for that matter) want to convert to Judiasm. What I want to know is are all the chicks in the IDF this hot? Now if only they could just leave the Palestinians alone and work something out...
Photo credit Commandante Wolf, a righteous comrade in his own right who is also an artist and professional photographer.
Check out his other work at

Brownie youre a dead

“Brownie, you’re a dead man.”

How is it that in a democratic republic such as ours, the mediocre and criminally incompetent manage to surface to the top, while hard working, bright and experienced professionals are tossed aside? This is especially true when the bright and experienced professionals break with the party line. Then, they are either shown the door, as in the case of U.S. Army General Eric Shinseki (a Vietnam veteran who had part of a foot blown off in combat), or attacked, as in the respective cases of Richard Clark or Ambassador James Wilson. General Shinseki lost favor with Donald Rumsfeld and the Neo Cons by suggesting that the battle plan for Iraq was woefully undermanned, on the order of about several hundred thousand soldiers. And both Mr. Clark and Ambassador Wilson have been viciously attacked by administration toadies in the executive and legislative branches, as well as their various media organs for spilling their guts on what they knew regarding the lies the administration had been pedaling about Al Queda, Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
So, here we are, 4 years after that bright September morning in which our country was attacked and thousands of fellow citizens were murdered in cold blood. Despite a massive governmental reorganization, the likes of which had not been seen since the establishment of the National Security Act of the Truman administration, despite assurances from our elected government officials that they were now better able to respond to any calamity, whether an act of crazed extremists or an act of God, it appears that “Business As Usual” remains the course of this most corrupt and rotten political regime. Indeed, I wound venture so far as to say that crazed extremists have taken over the federal government. It would appear that we have learned little, other than the total and complete mendacity, the utter moral bankruptcy, the political and physical cowardice of George W. Bush. George 43, with the aid of Karl Rove and a cast of thousands of Republican Party cadre have proven only to well that they can run and win a political campaign. When it comes to matters of running our country, however, they really haven’t a clue. Could someone in our current government please provide a rational explanation as to why the top 5 of 8 slots in the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been given over to slick PR skels? I fear that an answer to that question will be a long time in coming, for the obvious fact that there is no good reason. Why in the world would a president pick, not a former cop or a firefighter, a seasoned street medic or even a national guard general, but the college roommate of a political operative with no experience in disaster management, to be the head of FEMA? How could a well respected organization such as FEMA, lauded by talking heads and politicians of various political stripes for their timely and professional response to disasters during the Clinton administration (the Oklahoma City bombing, the Northridge earthquake) turn so quickly into a parking lot for cheap political hustlers and cretins, too stupid to hold down a job in the real world that they have to rely on political connections for a job?
George W. Bush has vowed to lead an investigation himself to find out who is responsible for the pathetic response to the disaster in the Gulf States. However, it has become apparent to all who have eyes with which to see and brains with which to think that George W. Bush couldn’t lead a circle jerk at a fraternity party triple kegger, much less the government of a nation as grand as the United States. Michael Brown and Michael “Ming the Merciless” Chertoff, his boss from the Department of Homeland Security (alas, we are no longer a republic but a “Homeland,” as my man Gore Vidal once said) are both prime examples of “Business As Usual” with the Bush Administration. You know…you just know…in the same way you the know the sun is up in the sky…that George W. Bush is going to have Brownie and Ming over to the White House for a photo op, pin some nice big medals on the lapels of their respective 5000 dollar suits and thank them profusely for their service to the country. He did the same thing for former DCI George Tenet, Former CPA Head Paul Bremer and US General Tommy Franks, all for the great job they did regarding Iraq. Unless the definition of the term “doing a heck of a job” has changed lately, it would be hard for anyone with an IQ above 60 to understand what he was talking about when George W. Bush told Brownie he was doing a heck of a job. Yes, while George W. Bush leads the circle jerk in the Oval office, the bodies of thousands of our countrymen lay bloated and rotting in the toxic waste dump that once was the city of New Orleans.
It has fallen to the common citizen to answer the call of their brothers and sisters. Like that kid who stole a bus in New Orleans and spirited out over 100 survivors from the city, making a 10 hour dash to safety in the Houston Astrodome. The story of another, buying a 2nd hand school bus with money out of his own pocket, and after stocking it with relief supplies, started running other evacuees out of the danger zone. The folks at Camp Casey-Covington, who set up a soup kitchen and medical aid station, are making daily forays into the wreckage of southern Louisiana to save whoever they can. There are more, many more folks, who want to help, but are being thwarted by the very administration responsible for the pathetic response to this disaster. Hundreds of airboat owners from Florida who were willing to rescue those trapped have been prevented from doing so, a completely staffed mobile hospital has been held up just a short distance from the disaster area, a contingent of sheriffs deputies and other public safety personnel from Loudon County, Virginia were turned back by the National Guard despite having been specifically requested by the civic leaders of a Louisiana parish. This is the type of response that our tax dollars are paying for?
In the meantime, it turns out that mercenaries are being brought in to secure whatever is left of New Orleans. While private citizens of the Crescent City are being told to evacuate or else, hired goons are descending upon the city like a horde of locusts, eager to do the bidding of their corporate masters. While members of the press are having their 1st amendment rights curtailed (with reports of cops and soldiers pointing weapons at journalists or beating them up and taking away their cameras), Dick Cheney gives interviews talking about ‘the great progress’ that has been made in Iraq…er, I mean the relief effort. While American citizens are having their 2nd amendment rights to bear arms abrogated (the New Orleans Police Department as well as the National Guard are under orders to take away the firearms all who have managed to survive this disaster in New Orleans), the likes of Blackwater Security are feeding heavily at the public trough. Will these corporate hired guns also be relieved of their firearms? Or are they somehow ‘more equal than others’ when it comes to basic constitutional freedoms?
This is America? This is what we have come to? Our country is being destroyed by the lies and greed of corporations and their politically connected stooges. How much longer can we endure this assault on America? We must impeach those that have sold us out. We must take back our government. Our country was borne out of a bloody revolution against a tyranny of an unaccountable, far removed and out of touch monarchy. The blood, sweat and sacrifice of so many that have come before surely deserves a better legacy that the pathetic excuse of a federal government we have today. Sisters, brothers, citizens, friends! I call upon all patriots to fight the despotic corporate machine now running our country into the ground. If we do act quickly, we shall all become slaves of the Babylonian nabobs cavorting in Wall Street boardrooms and the Oval office. We must save our country and our constitution. We must impeach the lying, sleazy bastards that got us into this mess.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Subkommander Dred. Photo credit Commandante Wolf. Posted by Picasa