Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Kennedy Curse

American and Washington politics is somewhat comparable to a tidal pond. One must exercise all appropriate caution when attempting to navigate over the dark, murky, treacherous-though shallow-waters that rage below. It is a necessity more often than not to build bridges in order to carry oneself over the danger that lurks below. In building those bridges, however, one must seek diligently for those with the proper expertise in driving one across to the other side in safety and security.

If one is unfamiliar, or moves too swiftly, or makes the wrong move, or exercises the wrong judgment, it does not have to be what would appear at first glance an obviously dangerous misstep. The slightest miscalculation can lead to unmitigated disaster.

Such was the case over the last few days, when Hillary Clinton, hoping for an endorsement from Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts-or at least hoping the Senator would stay neutral-found herself dumped unceremoniously off the side of the bridge that marks the political divide.

It has most assuredly been a most traumatic experience for Senator Clinton, and one is left to ponder the obvious question-will she, in fact can she survive?

What was Senator Kennedy's reasoning behind his action? After all, Senator Clinton would seem to have been a devoted advocate of most of those things the Massachusetts senior Senator cares deeply about. One might even make the case that she has been a faithful and tireless worker deserving of the Senator's appreciation, as well as that of his family.

Indeed, one would assume the two of them should be good friends-though certainly nothing more than that, regardless of what the jackals of the press and the Republican Party might be tempted to insinuate.

Is it possible that Senator Kennedy wanted more from Senator Clinton, and that she disappointed him in some regard? Moreover, is it appropriate to ask, is the Massachusetts Senator, that liberal lion, suffering from some intoxication from the presence of Senator Barak Obama, whom he has so enthusiastically endorsed? If so, what is the basis of this intoxication?

Is the Senator drunk with the promise of an extra power and influence that he feels he can acquire through Obama to a much greater extent than he ever could with the seemingly faithfully partisan Clintons, whom he might possibly feel are too independent, too undependable in some regards?

Is it possible that it is such a misjudgement on Kenedy's part, it could even be construed as an accident of some sort, one that has led him to react in a foolhardy and inappropriate manner?

Senator Kennedy spoke quite eloquently in giving his endorsement of Illinois Senator Obama. Yet, a good lot of what he said doesn't seem to coincide with reality. Perhaps his speechwriter might explain the disparity, but somehow I doubt he could.

Whatever the case, I wonder if this tragedy that has befallen Senator Hillary Clinton might, in fact, doom her political career. Someone should move fast to save her if she is to survive. After all, she languishes for now below the surface of those murky, dark, treacherous-and yet shallow-waters that that make up the tidal pond of Washington politics.

True, she has an air pocket, so to speak, that will serve to keep her going for some time. However, this air won't last forever. It's obvious Senator Kennedy is not going to reverse his actions in time to pull her out to safety.

Even if he does, by the time he gets around to it, it will probably be too late.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Heath Ledger-A Method To The Madness

The death of Heath Ledger occurred for about the most bizarre reason, apparently, from which anyone could ever die. If you wrote his obituary in the most concise manner possible, it might well read-

Cause Of Death-Overacting

That is pretty much the truth of the matter. It would be too easy to make an ironic statement to the effect that he was a real life victim of DC Comics villain The Joker. Yet, there is some merit to this as well.

When Ledger worked on the role of the Joker for the soon-to-be-released film The Dark Knight, he threw himself into his role, as he always did. To those who are more than vaguely aware of Hollywood, acting, and movie terminology, this is a well-known theatrical device known as “method acting.”

Ledger was an acclaimed master of the art. In one recent movie, he researched his role of a drug addict by getting to know a real life heroin addict, whom he befriended and who gave him much pertinent information of a technical and real-life nature.

No, I will not make any off-color jokes about how he might have researched for his role in Brokeback Mountain. Let’s just assume he researched cowboys and leave it at that.

As for the Joker, Ledger’s version is reportedly one of the darkest, probably the overall darkest version of them all. There was none of the camp of Caesar Romero’s television Batman version, and for all of the menace of Jack Nicholson’s Batman movie role, Ledger reportedly approached this role with an extra intensity even Nicholson’s version did not attain.

In most versions of the Joker, the villain’s power and menace derives from the prospect that no one would take such a ridiculous looking or acting character seriously, until it is too late. This Heath Ledger version of the Joker, however, is far from ridiculous. This is the archetypical “evil clown” writ large.

In method acting, you are required to “become” your character. You reach deep down into the furthest depths in order to find that identity, and you make it your own. It literally becomes a huge part of who you are. In this case, the Joker was, to Heath Ledger, a psychotically deranged mass murderer, a paranoid schizophrenic maniac and criminal genius.

How far down into the depths of his subconscious did Heath Ledger reach-and what exactly did he dredge up to the surface in reaching down to those depths? Whatever it was, it had a disturbing effect on his psyche, so much to the point he barely managed to sleep two hours a night at the most, even with the aid of prescription medication-overuse of which was evidently the ultimate if at the same time merely the technical cause of his death.

We may and more than likely will never know what dark demons Ledger dredged up from his subconscious, but if anything, this should serve as a caution to anybody that engages in this style of acting. It seems that many if not most actors that engage in this technique tend to be brooding loners. Maybe there is a reason for that. Unfortunately, the brooding loner type might be the very ones who, though most naturally adept at such an intense endeavor, are at the same time the most vulnerable to its ravages.

It is, in a very real sense, a kind of magic. As we have seen here, it can be a very dark and destructive magic.

John McCain-A Glimpse Of Hell Within A Tortured Mind

John McCain is perhaps one of the unique figures in American politics, and there is a very real chance that he might be our next President. What kind of President he would make is open to a great deal of debate. Many independents, and even an appreciable number of Democrats, assume he would be a consensus builder, a man able to “reach across the aisle”, a man of honesty and integrity, in addition to a man of deep courage and conviction.

Many of his most vociferous detractors are those in the Republican Party itself, who view McCain as a backstabber and “RINO”. His qualifications for this are many and varied, and I will not go into them here. I will say this though. McCain might well be the most dangerously deluded individual ever to run a serious candidacy for the office of President, while having a real chance of winning. The problems with McCain as I see them-

He suffers from an advanced and barely disguised case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. On top of this, he might as well suffer from the ravages of Stockholm Syndrome. Some might question this hypothesis due to McCain’s success in public life. I would remind them that there are many drug addicts and alcoholics who are functional in their daily lives, in their careers as well as their personal lives. At the same time, they suffer from a private, personal hell that is killing them every day. An addict can never be truly free, and in my opinion, they can never be truly happy. Their careers are a necessary means to an end. Their families constantly play the roles of enablers, in one way or another.

The fact that John McCain finds so much common cause with Democratic leaders is a sure sign of the influence of Stockholm Syndrome. They have replaced his Vietnamese captors with whom he identified at one point in order to find validation and retain his sanity. They give him a sense of acceptance, while the Republican Party faithful have replaced the American military elites he subconsciously loathes for sending him to a years long ordeal of torture and deprivation, and deep in his mind allowed him to languish throughout that period. He also identifies them in his psyche with his father, the Navy Admiral whose level he could never hope to attain on his own merits.

McCain felt obliged to follow in the military footsteps of his father and grandfather, and yet was toward the bottom of his graduating class. Only in captivity and the experience of brutality could he ever hope to measure up to their standards. He rode the hero welcome home and from there to the halls of Congress, but he never really got over his ordeal. He has been reaching out to those Democrats who are technically supposed to be his enemies, and attacking those who should be his friends, ever since his arrival there. He has done this to some degree of acclimation by targeting pork barrel projects and other kinds of runaway spending. This however is an obvious and easy thing to attack, and he has used this as a vehicle with which to attack the very fiber of conservative politics.

It will be interesting to see the result regardless of whether or not he wins. He has a long hard road ahead of him, but soldiers on against his own party, the leaders of whom have no desire for John McCain to represent them. Most Democrats would prefer him, not only for the reasons I said, but in some cases, because they assume he can be easily defeated. If John McCain wins the nomination, you can expect an October Surprise meant to destroy his candidacy. You can be assured the matter of his involvement as one the so-called ‘Keating Five” will provide much fodder.

Yet, the media promotes him to a great extent. Over the next several months, if you want to know if there is a Republican Presidential primary contest due on any given Tuesday, just tune in to Meet The Press on the preceding Sunday. If you see John McCain being “interviewed” by Tim Russert, you can bet there is at least one Republican primary somewhere the following Tuesday.

Like I said in an earlier post, John McCain might well in a sense be the Republican candidate who is most representative of the Republican party as a whole, in that they are both fragmented entities with a divided personality that has lost it’s way. If McCain wins the nomination, count on this becoming evident in quick fashion. Most of the same media pimps pushing him now will waste no time tearing him apart. In that case, remember this-you read the words Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Stockholm Syndrome, in connection with John McCain, from me before you heard it from them. Just for good measure, I’ll add Alzheimer’s Disease. I won’t go so far as to suggest advanced syphilis of the brain traceable to his time in a North Vietnamese prison, during which time it turns out to be a fact after all that he aided the enemy under duress of torture. At the same time, I will not be surprised if they do-nor for that matter would I be surprised were it the truth.

As for the Republicans, as a party they might provide the first instance of a fragmented party healing and coming together-not in support of one of their own candidates, but in opposition to him. If John McCain wins the Republican Party nomination, the Republican Party will lose-regardless of whether John McCain wins or loses in the general election.

On the other hand, it could help them in the long run.

John McCain might in fact follow in the footsteps of President John Tyler, in becoming only the second President kicked out of his own party while holding office. Imagine if you will the prospect of a spate of off year congressional elections, the Republican candidates of whom run on an overall conservative platform in opposition to their president and standard-bearer. There is a great likelihood that they would do so successfully.

Imagine a future impeachment proceeding in which just enough Democrats cross over to support the ultimately successful impeachment of a Republican president, yet one that is initiated by Republican officeholders. Do you think that it is unlikely, that such a scenario is all but impossible? Well, if John McCain wins the Republican Party nomination, it is not only possible, but also probable. It is just a matter of time. It would almost have to happen during his first term, however, as I seriously doubt he would have a second one.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Westboro Baptist Church To Picket Heath Ledger Funeral

I don't know who this pisses off more, God or the Kansas City Royals, but it's a moot point. It pisses off a lot of people, and the people of Westboro Baptist Church seem to be fine with that. They are now planning to violate the funeral of recently deceased actor Heath Ledger by protesting it. The reason-Ledger's role in the recent "gay cowboy" film "Brokeback Mountain", a scene from which is pictured below.

Of course, Ledger was not really gay, he was merely an actor portraying a gay character, but that is all lost on this Christian cult that fancies itself a "primitive" Baptist Church. According to them, "God hates fags", and since America has become increasingly tolerant of the gay lifestyle, then it naturally follows that "God Hates America".

They therefore insist that all soldiers killed or injured in the Iraq War is due to God's wrath, hence the picketing at military funerals. They have even gone so far as to picket the funerals of a family that died in a house fire in Kentucky, which contained many innocent children, as young as two years old, but so far as I am aware, no homosexuals.

I guess it stands to reason they would protest Ledger's funeral. Here is the release of their announcement to do so in pdf format. I strongly encourage that you read this.

As if that were not enough, they also have, on their blog section, a blog post that goes into extraordinary detail as to what they perceive to be the final, ultimate, eternal fate of Heath Ledger-complete with random little smiley faces tossed in here and there, just for good measure.

All of this reads almost like a parody. Sometimes I wonder if Westboro receives financing from some far leftist group that wants to make all socially conservative Christians look like schmucks.

You might also want to read this web site, which contains a lot of background information on Fred Phelps and his family, who comprise the vast majority of the Westboro Baptist Church members. As of now, I can't vouch for it's accuracy, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Hat Tip to Fenix Mage

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Roe v Wade-25th Anniversary Reflections

This year is the twenty fifth-year anniversary of Roe v Wade. In the twenty-five years since the decision came down, there have been a series of laws before the courts challenging some aspect of state abortion laws, which you can view here. You might also want to read the original decision along with the majority and dissenting opinions.

In the meantime, I have a few words to say to Republicans, and especially to social conservatives. My advice to you is-don’t do as I do, do as I say.

Now, what do I mean by that. Well, it’s simple. I have thoughtfully concluded that, all things on balance, women have a constitutional right to an abortion, based on the prospect that it is a privacy issue. Most importantly, I hold that no one has the right to force a rape victim to carry a baby. Yes, I know this is a rare occurrence. I am also aware that, in reality, there are few teenage girls who become pregnant because of incest. Well, at least there are few who become pregnant due to incest that comes about against their wills. Bear in mind, not all incest occurs between a sweet innocent young girl and an adult male. Sometimes, your little girl might be doing things with “Cousin Johnny” out in the woods besides picking wildflowers and berries, ya know.

That being said, I agree that most abortions are the result of situations where an unwed woman, for the most part adults, just decide for whatever reason they just aren’t ready to have a child. In some cases, they are married, or engaged, and fear the financial obligations. Perhaps there are legitimate health reasons, some which connote serious consequences, others that might not be so serious. In some cases, the child might not belong to the husband or boyfriend.

How can you sit back and allow our culture to sink down to this level? Yet, that’s what many of you are doing. I have heard rumors to the effect that you might sit this election out, or even worse, vote Democratic, if the Republican Party nominates a man you personally, for whatever reason, feel is not worthy to lead your party into the next presidential election cycle.

Think about what you are going to cause. Think of all the young girls who will be encouraged to have abortions without notifying their parents-those same parents they would be obliged to inform were they decide to get a tattoo or piercing.

Think of the late term abortions. Think of those poor babies, near birth and half born, their skulls pierced with forceps, their brains suctioned out of their skulls. Think of all those fetuses past the four-month stage, and the pain and terror they feel while mercilessly butchered in the womb with their mother’s consent.

Think of how the abortion industry is as we speak making plans to fight against those laws requiring informed consent. They don’t even want a woman to be informed of the facts, or to view an ultrasound of her living, breathing fetus, it’s little heart visibly and audibly beating as it kicks, sucks it’s thumb, in some cases makes tentative attempts to explore it’s surroundings-a sure sign of consciousness.

Yet, you would vote for a woman, or a man, whom you know will appoint judges guaranteed to uphold these laws, or at the very least you would stay home and not vote against them. How are you going to feel when the Supreme Court, due to your obstinance, upholds Roe v Wade for possibly decades to come?

How many babies are you helping to abort? Might it be in the millions? Any baby aborted is not just a single death, you know. You have also aided and abetted the destruction of the many generations of their potential descendants that now-thanks to you-will never come about.

You had better think about what you are doing. What are you going to say to God when you stand before the throne of judgment? Yes, I know, I’m a pagan, and don’t believe in that, but on the other hand-what if you are right? If you are, maybe I’ll be seeing you after the last judgment. I think you are going to have a hard time explaining to God how you refused to vote for Giuliani or McCain, even though they have promised to appoint strict constructionist judges. What will your excuse be?

“Well, God, I thought I should ‘make a statement’”.

I’m just guessing here, but I have an idea his reply might well be somewhere along the lines of-

“Well, you made your statement, and now I will make mine-depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, into the eternal fires of hell and damnation reserved for the devil and his angels.”

Don’t take all this the wrong way. This is not an attempt at humor. I might well be there when you arrive, but as you get there, that laughter you hear will not be mine.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Eli's Coming

Throughout the entire football season, almost everybody assumed the AFC Championship game, in all likelihood, would be a contest between Tom Brady’s New England Patriots and Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts. For most of the season, it looked almost as certain that the NFC Championship would be a match-up between the Dallas Cowboys, headed by Tony Romo, and seventeen-year veteran Bret Favre and his Green Bay Packers. Some sports analysts were so convinced of this alignment, they had all but written the various scenarios while writing all others out. In both cases, they were only half-right

Both the Cowboys and the Colts won their respective conference divisions, and the Cowboys were at the top of their conference, and thus drew home field advantage. Nevertheless, both the Cowboys and the Colts lost their first post-season games. Peyton Manning and his Colts went down to a shocking defeat at the hands of AFC West champions the San Diego Chargers.

Perhaps the biggest shocker, however, was the domination of the NFC playoffs by the New York Giants, who started their post-season playoff schedule as a wild card team. First, they beat AFC South champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They went on from there to defeat Dallas, their fellow NFC East rivals, who actually led that division with a record of thirteen wins and just three losses, as opposed to the Giants relatively lackluster record of 9-7.

Then came last nights NFC Championship game, which the Giants won against NFC North division champs the Packers, in overtime, by a score of 23-20, in a brutally cold temperature and wind-chill that, at Lambeau Field, would seem to favor Favre and crew- but, it was not to be.

Had anyone said halfway through the season that a Manning would play in the Super Bowl, only not the Manning everyone assumed, most would have laughed at such a prediction. Eli has spent his professional career, if not his life, in older brother Peyton’s shadow. It had to be a little embarrassing last year, on some level, when Peyton guest hosted Saturday Night Live and, at the beginning of the show, introduced little brother Eli sitting in the audience-the New York City audience, mind you. Many of them had probably joined in the chorus over the last two years that the younger Manning was highly overpaid for his production and effort as the Giants starting quarterback. No one believed for one second he would be around were he not the son of famed former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning.

Yet, there he was that night, not long following Peyton’s spectacular performance in last year’s Super Bowl as leader of the Colts as they trounced NFC champions the Chicago Bears. He stood and waved at Peyton’s introduction, this shy young man-comparatively awkward, and unassuming, maybe just a little out of his league-pretty much the way he strikes you during a typical Giants game.

Something happened though during the last third of the season, something that culminated in their last defeat, during their last regular season game of the year against the Patriots. No one expected them to win, of course. The last ones that expected them to win were probably the Giants themselves. Where most teams would have folded, however, barely going through the prerequisite movements, the Giants-and Eli Manning-came alive. It was almost as though some kind of team spirit permeated the crew, and whispered in a still, small voice-well, no need in worrying about it, let’s just go out and do our best.

Yes, they still lost-but what a game. It may have been the best regular season game of the year, one of the few times this season that the Patriots came close to losing. The Patriots also played, and defeated, Peyton and the Colts, last years Super Bowl champions. That game was obviously a heart breaker for Peyton, and a reaffirmation of Tom Brady’s claim to, once more, acclamation as the league’s greatest quarterback.

Without a doubt, the two of them are yet rival claimants to the title. Manning is a virtual offensive driving machine. The same is true with Brady, who combines his skill and ability with a kind of inner resolve and courage that is almost rebellious towards any kind of accepted conventions. This inner confidence led him to support the re-election of George W. Bush against Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. This of course contradicted the conventional wisdom that would suggest he either support the seemingly obvious choice of most New England fans, or stay out of it.

The football world looked with relish toward the prospect of the clash of these two titans of the AFC, and one of them going on to face off against, hopefully, the legendary Favre. Again, the conventional wisdom held this more than likely would be Brady’s Patriots. The quarterback of the future would then write finis to the career of Favre, the legendary Packer desperate to retire with one final Super Bowl ring to cap a final winning season. It would have been like an ancient Celtic tribal ritual, where the young chieftain ends the life of the fading elder in a bloody rite of succession.

It was not supposed to be this way. The old chief was to fall at the hands of a worthy successor, not a mediocre at best upstart like Eli Manning. Maybe the Giant’s management knows more than we realized. They have resisted the calls to bench Manning over the last couple of years, ignored the insistence of most fans that Eli just is not the quarterback Peyton is.

Nevertheless, the team has stayed by Eli and showed faith in him, and worked with him through thick and thin. It looks as though their faith and patience has paid off. Make no mistake about it. Eli managed his team through this post-season playoff run. It was not just luck accentuated by a great defense and some fortuitous interceptions and fumble recoveries. To be sure, the defense played a role, as did the offensive line, and the team as a whole. Well, that is what makes a great team, of course, overall depth. The greatest quarterback in the world can only do so much with a mediocre team-and that so much is not a lot.

Instead of seeing a rite of tribal succession in this years’ Super Bowl, we may instead be privy to a David and Goliath scenario. Unfortunately, I feel pretty safe in betting Goliath will win this round. I look for a score of somewhere in the neighborhood of 24-13, the Patriots wining their fourth Super Bowl, thus ending this season with a perfect record.

However, I would not bet the farm on it. The biggest rap against Eli has been his lack of consistency. Well, so far he has been pretty damn consistent through this play-off season at making us all look premature in our judgments and assessments. I would not be very shocked if he does it again.

Patriot's Head Coach Bill Bellachik-"Just get out there and do your job".

Tom Brady-Conceivably the greatest quarterback of all time.

Tynes kicked the winning field goal for the Giants, in overtime. About time-he missed two before this one, though he got two others earlier in the game.

Bret Favre-The end of a long and distinguished career?

Eli Manning and fans-Hey, yeah-Whut do ya think of me now?
Pictures from Reuters

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Guilty Rant When None Accusseth

Bill can rest a little easier tonight. Hillary won a clear if not too convincing victory over Barak Obama in the Nevada primary today, garnering more than half of the vote at 51 percent. Unfortunately, through some arcane reasoning I'm not sure I understand yet, Obama might yet get a majority of the states delegates. This might well have Bill in an uproar after all. He has been kind of ill-tempered over the last couple of weeks, hasn't he?

He got pretty agitated when it looked like Hillary would lose the New Hampshire primary, demanding "give me a break" while calling Obama's candidacy a "fairy tale".

He almost lost it again when a court challenge to the rules set up by the Nevada State Democratic Party to allow casino workers to caucus at their work sites was thrown out. He seemed to think this gave the casino workers an unfair advantage-especially after their unions supported Obama.

Some people think Bill is losing it, that he can't deal with the prospect of losing the White House-er, his wife losing the White house, I meant to say, of course. Actually, I think there's another factor in his recent displays of bad temperament. This factor has not gone unnoticed or unmentioned. Yet, no one seems to have made the correlation. When you stop to think about it, it certainly has to be bearing heavily on his mind-especially as it also involves his wife, and is transpiring at a pivotal point in her run for the presidency.

This week, in fact, happens to be the tenth year anniversary of-

Seriously, is it possible that he has been expecting somebody to bring this up to him? Well, actually, Hillary has been questioned about it on at least one occasion, on a network interview program. Will somebody now please ask Bill, so he can go on a good rant and get it out of his system?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Divine Comedy My Ass

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)High
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Low
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Very High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)High

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test
Hat Tip-Nichole

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Doctor Robert Jarvik-Affairs Of The Heart

Doctor Robert Jarvik, world renowned inventor of the Jarvik artificial heart, may be in trouble. He may be summonsed to testify before Congress about his role in commercials advertising the cholesterol lowering drug Lipitor, according to this report from ABC News.

The report cites that "Michigan Reps. John Dingell and Bart Stupak, both Democrats, sent a letter to drug company Pfizer last week, questioning Jarvik's credibility".

"Is he entitled to appear here and prescribe or give the impression he can prescribe prescription pharmaceuticals for patients?" Dingell said. "I think the law in every state says, no he's not, because he can't prescribe medicine in any state we can find."

So there you have it. Jarvik, according to these Congressmen, should not be recommending Lipitor, since he himself, though a medical research specialist, is not actually licensed to practice medicine or to prescribe medication.

As opposed to, for example-

World renowned medical bone expert and osteoporosis specialist Sally Field.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Nevada Democratic Debate-A Nuclear Waste Of Time

The Nevada Democratic Presidential debate was a predictable snoozefest. Or, if you were a Democratic voter, it was the greatest thing since Novocaine. Take your pick. One thing is for sure, if you take all these candidates at their word, you will never have the pleasure of taking part in a guided tour such as that pictured at top, of people entering the north portal of Yucca Mountain, where the nation's radioactive waste is stored.

This has been a hot button issue for Nevada voters for some time now. American politics works this way. If you want to win over the voters of Nevada in a primary or caucus contest, you can do so in part by promising to shut down Yucca Mountain. If you want to win the general election that comes later, you can do so in part by convincing the voters of the country that you were talking shit to the voters in Nevada, which has all of five electoral votes. See how it works? Just ask John Edwards, who as a Senator voted for maintaining Yucca Mountain as the national go-to place for nuclear waste, before he turned against it as a struggling Democratic Presidential candidate desperate for a win. The trick in the general election is to not come right out and admit you were lying. We get it. What happens in Yucca Mountain, stays in Yucca Mountain.

In other Nevada debate news, Hilary Clinton agreed with Senator Obama that the greatest event of the nineteen sixties civil rights movement was not Lyndon Johnson's great "I Have A Scheme" speech.

Giant Rat Ancestor Of South America

It lived more than a million years ago, when it roamed the jungles of South America. At a size estimated at ten feet long and five feet tall, with a weight of about a ton, it's easy to see why mankind developed such an overpowering, subconscious fear and loathing of rats. This one, that seemed to look like a cross between a beaver and a guinea pig, was the granddaddy of all rats.

They say it probably lived in the water, like a hippopotamus, and going by the size of it's teeth-which never stopped growing-it lived off soft plants and fruits, using it's large fangs probably as a defensive weapon.

Click on the picture for a bigger view. Notice the scale image of a modern mouse.

No wonder our ancestors left the jungles.

Hat Tip to The Drudge Report

Lauterbach-Did Obsession Lead To Murder?

When Cpl Maria Lauterbach went missing on December 15th, a note she left her roommate turned in two days later gave the Marines sufficient reason to think she left on her own. In the letter, she said she was tired of the Marines. Now that her burnt remains, and those of her unborn child, have been found in a pit in the yard of Cpl Cesar Armando Laurean', it comes to light she had earlier accused Laurean of raping her. Moreover, blood splatter found on Laurean's ceiling suggested the 20 year old Lauterbach was killed by blunt force trauma.

Still, it must be asked, what was she doing in the home of a man she insisted raped her? Why did she tell Marine investigators that she did not feel threatened in any way by Laurean? Why did Lauterbach engage in sexual relations with Laurean on at least one occasion two weeks after the incident of the alleged rape?

Was she bi-polar, as her own mother suggested in a televised news interview?

Finally, where is Laurean? The last account of his whereabouts suggests he was in Texas, and may be on his way to Mexico.

I'll come right out and say it. Is it possible Lauterbach lied about the rape as a means of attaining and keeping her hold over Laurean? If so, did this induce him to snap and murder her in a rage? Looking at everything that is known about the case so far, it sure looks that way to me.

Tom Cruise-Gaydar, Scientology, and the Reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard

According to the newly published and soon to be released Tom Cruise-An Unauthorized Biography
it would seem that Tom Cruise is not gay after all-in fact, he is quite the ladies man. He's just scared to death people will think he is if he is around gay men-especially the gay men he is around from time to time.

There are other nuggets purported to be in the book. Come to find out, there are several different levels one must aspire to in Scientology, and it's not until you get to the highest level that you discover the religion is based on the proposition that space aliens visited earth's distant past and somehow played a role in mankind's development.

Cruise allegedly struggled with this information upon first learning it, and there was a rift between him and the higher-ups in the sect, but he evidently came to terms with them.

Perhaps the most compelling thing said to be in the book is that Katie was never pregnant by Cruise. In fact, she was impregnated by the frozen sperm of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and that it was seriously believed by cult members that little Surrey Cruise would, in fact, be the reincarnation of Hubbard.

The book will not be on sale in England due to British libel laws, and it is rumored that the Church of Scientology might be preparing a lawsuit against the author and publisher.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


It's not often that you read a balanced view on the Greek war god Ares, but this post is one that offers such a perspective. The author of this Witchvox article suggests that Ares achieves his greatest use when paired with a moderating influence. In her example, she uses the goddess Hestia, goddess of the hearth, as an example of how Ares might well be paired with a deity with whom, at first glance, he would appear to have little in common.

Nor does she marginalize Ares' more sanguine aspects in doing so. Ares indeed is a deity who might be useful in many endeavors that require extraordinary effort, courage, and strength. Attuning with him while making the attempt to stop smoking or some other bad habit-the cessation of which requires considerable willpower, courage, and determination-is only one example.

I have long been of the opinion that the bad rap this god has received over the centuries is due mainly to an ancient cult rivalry between his adherents and the devotees of the goddess Athene.

At the same time, it would be a grave mistake to imagine that Ares should never be utilized as a literal war god the way he is generally conceived. That he was a violent blowhard, bully, and even a bit of a coward, can not be denied-nor should it be. He exulted in violence, combat, and bloodshed. Yet, when the tables were turned, he was wont to go screaming off in pain and terror. Often he was humiliated.

All of us have had days like those, and Ares perfectly represents these aspects of human existence. He is someone you can turn to when you have had one of those days. He has been there.

At the same time, he always manage to recover, to pull himself up by his bootstraps, dust himself off, and go on to fight another day.

There is a great lesson there to be learned as well. Ares represents that force in nature that marks a determination to survive, and to thrive. In the grand scheme of things, death awaits us all, but the strong survive, passing their genes on to the next generation and beyond.

It is not always a violent, bloody endeavor. A good many times, however, violence and bloodshed are not only unavoidable necessities-they are sacred duties.

Psychic Date Rape And The Downward Spiral Of Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan, over the course of the last year, almost took a back seat to the shenanigans of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, even though she certainly did her part to keep her name in the tabloids. Out of the three of them, I have the most sympathy for her, because I feel that she is by far the most talented of the three, whom I dubbed in an earlier post the “trio of trashiness”

She is a good actress, and in my opinion a better singer than Britney. Still, for some reason, once the tabloids latched onto her story, they could not get enough, and she could not find enough reasons not to feed their mania. She has hit various rehab facilities, but it never seems to take. Her prison parolee father, who claims to be a born again Christian, seems determined to steer her life back onto a path of disciplined sanity. Assuming he is for real, he has his work cut out for him.

Because of her youth and the fact she is truly talented, there is hope for her, but a reflection over the last year of her life suggests she needs to work hard to put the past behind her and start anew. At the same time, perhaps we can forgive her a swig of champagne at a party over the last New Year’s Eve.

The kind of psychic rape perpetrated by the tabloids and their photographers-and voyeuristically swallowed up by their readers-will take any opening presented at any given moment and look for any sign of weakness in order to impose their will. Nor does it necessarily have to present itself in a violent format. Most rapes, after all, are probably not conducted by violent strangers, but by people the victim knows, and to at least a point, likes and trusts. So it seems to be with the tabloid news industry. They start out as friends, feeding on their would-be victim’s egos and insecurities. Then, once they have them in their clutches and establish a level of trust, and possibly even dependence to some degree, they make their move.

The psychic rape of Lindsay Lohan, therefore, we can see from the vantage point of a history in pictures. It starts out like a date to the prom, and ends in a revelation of the long-range goal, which would be a kind of psychic date rape by way of tabloid news and photography.

Although many people decry the process, and rightly so, still others will willingly pay money to feed an industry that produces what a thoughtful person should legitimately view as crime scene photos produced by the perpetrators, and eagerly devoured by a society of gawkers.

To illustrate the point, the daily viewer stats of this blog have tripled over the last month, based primarily on a photo I earlier published on a post here of Britney Spears flashing her pussy. The vast majority of readers who view this post read no other pages on the blog. This being the case, I felt I should offer some kind of rational explanation as to the psychology behind this cultural phenomenon. I am no Doctor Phil, and this is just my unprofessional opinion. At the same time, I consider it as valid as any Doctor Phil or anyone else might offer, and for what its’ worth, it’s free.

Britney Spears-A Puzzling Case Of Stockholm Syndrome

I’m starting to fall under the Britney curse, finding myself growing more fascinated by this woman every day. Now, she has affected a British accent, though not a good one. When I hear her, I actually feel embarrassed for her, and I am sure I am not alone. It’s almost as though she, having no sense of shame, nor wanting one, has told the world, here, you take this. When Madonna affected her accent, it was bad enough. It was obviously phony. Britney’s is something else again. I can only think of one way to describe it-Valley Girl Cockney. If you heard anyone else but Britney Spears uttering something in this absurdly fake accent, you would know not to take it seriously. If you were British, you might understandably feel belittled.

So, is she crazy? Has she finally gone completely over the edge? Is it a coping mechanism? Is she just in love, therefore engrossed by her boyfriend’s accent, and so determined to get close to him in the only way she really can on anything like an intellectual level?

I personally feel she is exhibiting the signs of a rape victim that falls in love with her rapist. In her case, it is not necessarily so much a physical rape as a psychic one. Subconsciously, she feels all her detractors and voyeurs are witnesses and to an extent willing participants in her psychic rape, and she has latched onto to the strongest and most aggressive of her assailants, as she sees it, as a form of protection. It is almost a classic yet heretofore unknown variant of Stockholm Syndrome. Her boyfriend just happens to be a British photographer named Adnan Ghalib. There currently are rumors circulating to the effect that she is so much in love with him, she might well convert to Islam.

If he happened to be an Islamic radical-or for that matter an openly practicing Satanist, an old-fashioned Mormon polygamist, a vampire practicing Goth, or a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan-I have no doubt her life and mannerisms would in some way reflect whatever lifestyle he lives and beliefs he has.

She has, according to some insider gossip, even considered faking her own death and afterwards re-emerging, and then "re-inventing" herself.

At the rate she's going, she might not have to fake anything. She might be doing well to live long enough to see her thirtieth birthday.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bennie Lee "Ben" Ferguson For President-The Candidate Of Change

It seems that a large segment of the voting public are attracted to candidates that call for and promise "change". Well, don't just take them at their word. Vote for the candidate who doesn't just call for change. Ask yourself, what candidate, more than any other, embodies the concept of change. I think I may have found the answer in Bennie Lee "Ben" Ferguson-the candidate of change.

I can almost hear you asking, "okay, I get it. But what about his-er, her-er, it's other qualifications for office?"

Well, Bennie Lee should be more than qualified to defend our nation and engage in the war on terror. After all, after spending some time as head of a local Log Cabin Republicans group in Kansas, Bennie Lee worked as a security guard. So, what else could you ask for-more or less?

Now, Bennie Lee is a member of the Libertarian Party, and is a write-in candidate for President of the United States. So, come on, write in Bennie Lee "Ben" Ferguson. After all-

What have you got to lose?

Tato Nano-A Car For India's Growing Middle Class

At a price of roughly the equivalent of $2,500 US dollars, about 200,000,000 new drivers might soon be driving the Tato Nano.

Of course, the global warming crowd is up to their usual brand of histrionics over this, but what else is new? If they had their way, people in the US would be back to the horse and buggy and outside toilet days, while the people of India, where the car was created, would be living like people in-well, India. You can't please these fucktards. The Nano doesn't have air-conditioning, so you'd think that would please them, but they are too busy bitching about the prospect of poor Indian families finally being able to get around on something besides-if they are lucky-motor scooters with sidecars.

They insist that India should develop public transportation. Yessiree, I know for a fact there ain't nothing I enjoy more than shopping via city bus.

This blog post from India will tell you all about the various features of the Tato Nano, which doesn't eat hay and doesn't shit on the streets.

The Shaft

Things like this are the main, almost the only reason I keep my registration to vote Democratic up to this point. Think it couldn't happen here? Well, actually, it could, and unfortunately the Democratic Party is growing ever more useless by the day to do anything about it.

Notice the Mexican Labor Boards excuse to deny higher wages for their workers, even in the face of worldwide increase in copper prices. They want to keep wages low to "attract investors".

What it all amounts to is, that's as good an excuse as any, I guess, but if it wasn't for that, there would damn sure be another one to take it's place.

Things like this are why:

*The Middle Class keeps dwindling, here and everywhere.

*Jobs are sent overseas (after all, no matter how low wages get in the US, corporations can always find someplace where they can hire cheaper labor).

Mexican workers and the common person there can't propser in their own country, and so they come here, illegally if they have to (which actually, for now, is easier than coming here legally).

I fucking hate Mexico and want to overthrow its fucking useless, racist government, which consists of, or at least is controlled by, families who are the wealthy descendants of the Spanish conquistadores who have little use for the Indian, Mestizo, and mixed population at large.

Now they've found a loophole in the law to close down the strike, and so they've moved in with armed thugs to intimidate the workers, while twenty people have been injured, some seriously.

Oh yeah, and five workers are missing.

All because the company that controls their copper mines in Sonoma don't want to improve worker health and safety conditions, and don't want to pay a living wage.

Oh, and by the way, the same fucking company is buying mines in the US.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Radu-Chapter XXXIV (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)

Previous Installments-
Part One
Prologue and Chapters I-X
Part Two
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Radu-Chapter XXXIV (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)
11 pages approximate
Phelps van was making noises again. Time for a tune-up, he thought, as the outline of DC came into view.

“You know, it’s a shame,” he said. “I’ve lived practically within walking distance of this place almost all my life, and I’m a news photographer, yet I’ve been here a total of four times. The last time I was here was 2003. All I have to show for it is a picture of the Lincoln Memorial.”

Grace tried to steady herself, but her nervous anxiety, to say nothing of her dizziness and nausea, made it difficult.

“It really doesn’t do you any good to come to Washington if you can’t bring an authentic press pass,” she replied. “Even then, it’s not easy. This place is murder on a struggling reporter with no connections. Trust me on that.”

She realized she probably sounded more dismissive than she intended, and looked toward him and tried to put on her best smile.

“I really appreciate you driving me here,” she said.

“Well, I couldn’t very well let you come here yourself, even by plane,” he said. “You look like hell, and I know you feel like shit. You really should take some time off.”

“That is not an option,” she said.

“So, who is the father, anyway?” he asked. “By the way, I thought you told me you couldn’t have kids.”

She wondered whether she should tell him. What could it possibly hurt? She decided against it.

“I have no idea whose it is,” she replied. “All that matters to me is that it’s mine.”

Phelps maneuvered in the midst of the oppressive traffic onto the Georgetown exit. The identity of the father of Grace’s child was the least of his concerns.

“So, just what is the reason for all of this secrecy, this hiding from public view?” he asked. “You know everybody in Baltimore has been looking for you, and you say you’re innocent of any involvement in the deaths of Karinsky and Lawson, so why not just come forward and give a statement and clear it all up?”

“One of these days, I just might do that,” she replied. “For now, I’m working under deep cover and I can’t afford to allow my whereabouts to be known by certain parties. It will be clear soon enough, you’ll see.”

“So you’re working on something that important huh?” he asked. “I take it that it must be a really big story for you to go to all these extra pains. Does it have anything to do with what happened at Khoska’s Church at all, or was that just an incidental something that just happened to get in the way? Oh, and by the way, just what was all that about anyway?”

“You got involved in the wrong department of the journalism business, Phelps, you should have been a reporter. I went to the church to confront Sierra, and she attacked me. Then, she started acting crazy. She turned the Church into her own private music studio, without benefit of a band or even a karaoke machine. Karinsky and Khoska tried to make her stop, but she would not.

“I got bored with her making a spectacle of herself, and left. Mainly, though, I got bored with the mosquitoes. They were thick in there that night. I could not take that. Whatever happened afterward, I have no idea. I only know it had nothing to do with me, regardless of what Khoska told you. I heard she stabbed herself to death, right there in the church. I sure didn’t do it, though I would have like to at the time. I can certainly promise you I didn’t hoist Karinsky up on top of the spire of the cross and impale him on it.”

Grace was hiding something, and Phelps knew it. She had no idea of the extent of his conversations with the old Priest, or at least so he hoped. Yet, when she called him to ask him to drive her to Georgetown to see a friend, he remembered Khoska’s entreaties to help her. He did not want to do it, but felt it was incumbent on him to do what he could to get to the bottom of what certainly was the most baffling mystery he ever encountered.

“So who is this friend of yours?” he asked. “Is he a contact, some kind of reliable news source?”

“No, actually, he is nothing but a friend, one I haven’t seen in a good many years. When he learned of my current predicament, he offered to help, and I more than gladly decided to take him up on his offer. There is nothing at all mysterious about it.”

Soon, she was giving him directions to what eventually lead to an old three-story Brownstone on the outskirts of Georgetown. As he pulled up into the driveway, he peered back toward the back of the van.

“By the way, I have something I want to show you,” he said.

After he parked the van, he reached back and grabbed hold of the handle of the item he earlier procured from the old cabin in the woods of West Virginia. When she saw the old aluminum bat, she did not blink an eye, her bland expression more of wonder as to why he would should someone such a thing as this.

“I’ve seen bigger ones,” she said with a shrug.

“You could really bash someone’s brains in with this,” he said. “Would you like to have it? It might come in handy here in DC.”

“That is a point,” she said as she reached for the bat. “Would you like to come in for a few minutes?”

“No, that’s all right,” he said. “I’ll just wait long enough to make sure your friend’s home so you won’t have to wait alone out here too long, then I’ll be on my way.”

“If he’s not here, someone will be, and I am expected,” she replied. “Still, as I said, you are welcome to come in.”

Phelps was busting at the seams to accompany her inside, but something deep inside of him was wary of entering that house. Besides, it was unnecessary. Soon enough, he would find out all he needed to know. Therefore, he declined her invitation.

“So, I take it this aluminum bat can be considered a baby shower gift?” she asked as she opened the door.

“Yeah, pretty much,” he replied. “Just don’t swing it around too much. You can do a lot of damage with that thing.”

She stood there looking at the bat, and Phelps realized she did not seem to have a clue as to what he was getting at. Could Khoska have been wrong, he wondered? He said himself he was not at the cabin during the time Grace allegedly murdered Karl Emil Grozhny. Was it not possible someone else committed the deed? Phelps realized of course he wanted to believe that, but on the other hand, Khoska’s accusations pertaining to Grace and the murders of her entire adopted family were hard to refute.

He sat there and watched her, holding the bat, as though trying to understand the connection she felt with the object-or, possibly, trying to figure out just why he was acting so mysterious about it. Phelps told her goodbye, and that if she needed anything else, to give him a call. She thanked him and said goodbye as he started to drive off.

However, Phelps was not really returning to Baltimore-not right away. As he drove toward the city of Washington, he placed a call to Cruiser Dietrich, the wizened old editor-in-chief of The Baltimore Explorer, who agreed to pay Phelps’s expenses. He gave Cruiser the address of the house in Georgetown at which he had dropped Grace off, as well as the license number of the Lexus parked in the cobblestone driveway of what looked to be a Pre-Civil War era mansion. It took under half an hour for Cruiser to call him back.

“You need to get back here as soon as you can,” he said.

“What’s up?” Phelps asked, hiding as best he could his concern due to the overtly frantic tone in Dietrich’s voice.

“These are the big leagues, boy,” the old man replied.

“Okay, so who is this guy anyway?” Phelps demanded.

“Edward Akido,” came the reply. “He’s a registered lobbyist for a pharmaceutical firm, as well as several foreign governments, including the Sudan, as well as India, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, Cuba, China, and Turkey. He has also lobbied extensively on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.”

“What about Romania?”

“I’ll have to check on that to be sure,” Cruiser answered. “Why is that important?”

“I’m not sure,” Phelps answered as he just now pulled onto the lane indicated as the route to Ronald Reagan Airport.

“Is there anything else he represents?”

“Some energy companies, for the most part,” came the reply. “Also, some banking and investment firms, insurance, and contract arms suppliers. All of this though is almost incidental. I have not even gotten to the really juicy part yet. This guy just came on the scene eight years ago. He just more or less appeared out of nowhere. Before this, he was an insurance and investment company executive, a mid-level manager of a mid-sized firm. He was an apparent nobody, somebody that would never show up on anybody’s radar screen.”

“You’re right, that’s really strange,” Phelps agreed. “Maybe he’s got some kind of pull with some political family, like maybe with the Morrisons, for example.”

“Or, how about with the CIA?” Dietrich replied. “While we’re at it, what about the DEA and the ATF?”

“Oh, fuck!” Phelps said. “You are fucking kidding me, right?”

“I wish I was, boy,” Cruiser responded. “I really wish I was. I don’t know how this guy ever gets any sleep, because he’s in bed with some really nasty bastards-including, it’s rumored, the Taliban. Do you remember the recent deal between India and Pakistan?”

“Uh-huh, I remember-what about it?”

“He brokered that. He evidently did this by twisting some arms of some people the Taliban has in high positions in the Pakistani military and security services. Phelps, I am telling you, this is not somebody you need to be fucking with. Back off, boy.”

“How in the hell did you find this shit out so fast?” Phelps asked, his head spinning to the point he came close to missing the exit ramp to the airport.

“I just put the address and license number through the computer and his name popped out. Then, I ran him through a list of lobbyists, and his name comes up in connection with Briscoe and Lamont Ltd, which is the insurance and investment company that he worked for. They were a successful firm, but not a major player until a little more than ten years ago. Now, all of a sudden, they have offices all over the place, including all those countries I mentioned. He is not with them anymore, but suddenly he is a registered Washington lobbyist. Put two and two together Phelps.”

“So, you put two and two together and this somehow adds up to an Indian-Pakistani treaty?”

“Phelps, that’s no secret, that’s a selling point. That’s practically on his resume’.”

For a minute, both men were silent, as Phelps tried to digest the information he received, in an attempt to ferret out how much of it was actually the truth.

“All right, why in the hell would the CIA and those other agencies need lobbyists?”

“Partially for funding, but also for legal clauses-exclusions in bills that might regulate some of their more clandestine activities, especially those ones that ain’t necessarily in the public interest, if you know what I mean. Phelps, this guy knows how to get things done precisely because he knows the major players. Of course, there’s no way you can be involved in so much dirt without some mud sticking to you.”

“It still doesn’t make any sense,” Phelps insisted. “If he has that much influence then he can keep his name out of the public spotlight. This smells like some kind of facade.”

“All right, that’s a point,” Dietrich said. “I’ll look some more into it, but in the meantime, you need to get your ass back here quick.”

“Cant do that, Cruiser” he replied. “I’m on my way now to New Jersey. The only thing I am missing is the plane. Oh, that reminds me-check and see if he has any connection to Phillip Khoska and Voroslav Moloku.”

“Yeah, I’ll say there’s a connection,” Dietrich said. “Akito works for the same pharmaceutical company those clowns embezzled funds from. He is a lobbyist for them, too. Look, Phelps-wait a minute, why are you going to New Jersey?”

“I have an appointment with Khoska,” he replied.

“Now wait a minute”-

“I really have to go, Dietrich,” he said. “My plane leaves in an hour.”

“Phelps, wait, listen to this-Akito has been hired at the State Department. That is why all this was made public. Okay, now it all makes sense. Well, it does, but it does not. How would Grace be involved with somebody like this? Are you sure you gave me the right address? Are you sure you even pulled into the right driveway?”

“I’ll talk to you later, Cruiser,” Phelps said, not about to allow Cruiser Dietrich or anyone else to talk him out of a story that could finally be his big ticket out of the tabloids and into the relatively respectable business of actual journalism. He already had his ticket to New Jersey, so all he had to do now was arrange for transportation once he got there. He quickly found the Alamo Car Rental agency and arranged for a vehicle to be waiting for him upon his arrival. He left his van in the lot, making sure he left nothing behind before he locked it up and made his way toward the terminal.

Cruiser called him four times by the time he caught the plane, and another three by the time he touched down in New Jersey. When he finally made it off the plane, he decided he had better call the old fart one more time.

“Phelps, something ain’t right,” Cruiser insisted. “Why would Khoska agree to talk to you?”

“I know his father for one, and for another I know Grace,” he explained as he drove in his Alamo rental toward the home of Phillip Khoska, currently under house arrest pending an appearance before the Grand Jury.

“So in other words, you ain’t so much interviewing him as he is interviewing you,” Dietrich observed. “Boy, you had better watch your ass good.”

“I’m an expert at that, Cruiser,” he replied. “I got to get off of here for now. Hold the presses, boss. If this works out, you’re going to be publishing a story that might well be Pulitzer material.”

“With all the crap that’s been going on around Baltimore for the last few months you would think something would qualify for some kind of award,” Dietrich said. “I ain’t counting on it though. Just be careful.”

It was another twenty minutes before Phelps arrived at Phillip Khoska’s house, which impressed him with its sheer cold ostentation. This man wants the world to know he is rich, an irony in its own right seeing as to how he made an appreciable amount of it-allegedly, of course. That, of course, he wanted no one to know about, which was understandable owing to the fact the government would soon likely auction it off.

When he walked up to the front door, he looked around, almost positive one van and two cars parked down the street contained federal agents. He waved in their direction, shook his head, and rung the doorbell. He waited more than a minute before the door finally opened, and the younger wife of Phillip, whom he recognized from the papers and looking hard and cold, stuck her head out and asked what he wanted.

“I’m Everett Phelps, from the Baltimore Examiner,” he replied. “I have an appointment with your husband.”

“Good,” she replied. “You can keep him company while I finish packing. I am out of here in thirty minutes, maybe less. You can come on in if you want.”

Ordinarily, Phelps would consider a woman like this one cold bitch, but under the circumstances, he could hardly blame her, though he found it hard to have much sympathy for her. Had he not known already her name was Pamela, he might expect her to introduce herself as “Buffy”.

He entered the house, which overwhelmed him with a sense of solitude and despair. There was no furniture outside of a love seat and one recliner with an end table. The wall was devoid of clocks, mirrors, or pictures. There was not even a throw rug on the bare, hard wood floor, which looked previously carpeted, owing to lack of waxing. There was not so much as an ashtray, and so Pamela walked back toward the den flicking her ashes on the floor.

“Oh, Phillip, love of my life, you have company, break out the chips and dip,” she said sarcastically. Yeah, she is a cold bitch at that, he thought.

Then, they both reacted to the sound of a loud crack, the sound of a gunshot, and looked at each other in a unified look of stunned awareness.

“Mr. Khoska, are you all right?” Phelps asked. Pamela tried the door only to find it locked from the inside.

“Phillip!” she shouted. “Oh shit, mister, we have to do something.”

“Get away from the door,” he ordered. “You’d better call 911.”

She moved, and Phelps, after ramming his shoulder against the door several times, began to kick. After the fourth time, he threw his entire weight against it, and again, and a third time, but the fourth time finally sent the door flying open. Phelps lunged into the room sideways from the force of his lunge, and there was Phillip Khoska lying on the floor with a derringer at his side, a pool of blood at the back of his head.

He heard Pamela rummaging through her bags and assumed she was attempting to retrieve her cell phone, but he saw the phone on a table in what was evidently a private study.

He placed a call to 911, and wondered whether he should call Dietrich. First, he had to take some pictures. He took a series of them, and then noticed something. Khoska moved, and groaned. He breathed in deep, short gasps. Phillip Khoska was still alive.

“Mr. Khoska,” he said. “It’s me, Greg Phelps. Don’t try to talk or move. Someone should be here shortly.”

“The-phone-erase-the tape,” he said urgently and in obvious pain.

“What are you talking about?” he said, but then Khoska opened his eyes and seemed disturbed when he saw for the first time Phelps standing over him. He angled his eyes over toward the phone. Phelps went to the phone, but then Pamela entered, took one look at her husband lying there on the floor, and screamed.

“Mrs. Khoska, you really shouldn’t be in here right now,” Phelps said. “I already called 911, an ambulance and the cops should be here in a few minutes. You should really wait outside.”

“Is-he dead?” she asked but then saw he was in fact still alive, if barely. Then, before Phelps could move or speak another word, she was at his side, begging him to hold on until help arrived.

“You can’t die now,” she insisted. Phelps considered this display based probably not on concern or affection so much as a determination to secure her portion of community property, which would probably be considerable, even if the government took at least ninety percent of it. There was even a better than average chance he had more in offshore accounts she was after.

“You’d better go outside and wait for them,” he advised her. “I think I can keep him going until they get here, but I need space, and I need to keep him calm.”

She looked at him, then rose and stomped out of the room, for which Phelps was grateful. He walked over toward the phone, and noticed Khoska seemed desperately forming words at his lips. Phelps watched him carefully, and could make out the silent, deliberately slow accentuation of his lips.


Phelps played the answering machine, which yet contained one recent message.

“Hello, Phillip-you know who this is. It is over, after all this time. You lost. Soon, everything will come out-everything that you ever did, not only to me but to others as well. Your life is over. You have lost everything. Your family is gone now, and so is your money. You have nothing left to live for. Watch the DVD, Mr. Khoska. Click on the link. When you are through, do the right thing. For once in your life-just do the right thing.”

Phelps erased the tape. He then walked over to the DVD player under the plasma screen television, and ejected the DVD. He knew he had the right thing when he saw the name of it-Rappin’ With The Chairman by Toby Da Pimp. What would a man like Phillip Khoska be doing with something like this, he wondered. More ominously, what could possibly convince him to kill himself in such a fashion? Then, he saw the box, opened on the end table where Khoska had sat. He looked at it and saw that whoever addressed it to him had included no return address. He was no firearms expert, but the indentation inside the carved oak box told him all he needed to know. Someone had sent Phillip Khoska the Derringer in this box, obviously with the expectation he would do exactly what he had done.

Yet, why a Derringer? They were notoriously inefficient. John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln with a Derringer, true enough-but the sixteenth president lingered for hours before he finally died. Even now, Phelps could hear the distant yet approaching sounds of ambulances. Khoska would more than likely survive, may even conceivable make a full recovery. It made no sense.

As the ambulance even now pulled up in the driveway, Phillip leaned down toward the yet conscious Phillip Khoska, who struggled to keep his eyes open.

“Mr. Khoska, why did Grace want you to shoot yourself?” he demanded. “What is this all about?”

Khoska finally strained to speak, desperately trying to tell Phelps something-but what?

“Warn-my father,” he said with an urgently strained whisper.

Phelps kept his eyes peeled on Khoska, hoping for more information. What should he warn Aleksandre Khoska about that the old Orthodox Priest already did not know about, or at least did not strongly suspect?

“Warn him about what?” Phelps said, as even now he heard the sounds of footsteps through the opening door.

“Daniel,” Khoska said with a voice now already so weakened he seemed barely strong enough to speak above a whisper.

“Berry-is going-to kill him,” he continued, as suddenly a team of EMT personnel entered the room followed by an officer of the New Jersey State Police.

“Mr. Khoska, what are you talking about? Who’s Daniel?”

The EMT’s however quickly took over, before Khoska could respond. They were all over Khoska, in fact, and fromthe looks of him, it was unlikely at this point Khoska could have responded anyway. He seemed to be fading fast. Now, a police officer was questioning Phelps. Luckily for him Buffy was here when the shot was fired, he considered. Otherwise, he might be in for a long night.

The police were suspicious of Phelps, but allowed him to leave after four hours of questioning. They could not seem to comprehend why Phillip Khoska would agree to an interview with a muckraking photographer-a paparazzi, of all things-when he on the advice of legal counsel denied all interview requests from legitimate journalists. The fact that he just happened to be present during a suicide attempt looked all the more suspicious, despite the fact that Phelps made the 911 call.

Before he returned to Baltimore, he went to the hospital where Khoska now lingered on life support, having lapsed into and out of, and finally back into a coma from which he was yet to recover. The hospital called Aleksandre Khoska, but Phelps thought he as well should phone the old Priest. He did so, but Aleksandre seemed coldly uninterested in the fate of his wayward son.

“I am glad he survived, of course,” he said. “Perhaps he will recover sufficiently to see to the welfare of his soul, though I tend to doubt it. There is nothing I can do for him regardless.”

Phelps now found himself in the incredible position of feeling pity for a man credibly accused of running a sex-slave ring, of child prostitution and internet child pornography, of drug smuggling, embezzlement of corporate funds, of money laundering, of murder, and God only knew what else. On the other hand, he tempered his sympathy with the knowledge that Phillip Khoska had, throughout his life, carved out a cold, hard niche for himself.

“He had something he wanted me to tell you,” Phelps said. “Do you know somebody named Daniel or have a relative by that name? If you do, according to him, our good friend Detective Berry is planning to kill him. He was adamant that I tell you about it.”

For a brief moment, Khoska was silent, though Phelps could discern a sudden audible gasp.

“Are you sure about this?” he finally asked.

“Well, that’s what he said anyway,” Phelps replied. To his dismay, Khoska told him he had to hang up, and did so before Phelps could respond.

“Son of a bitch!” he shouted.

By the time he made it back to Washington, where he quickly retrieved his van, he found himself listening to and watching the entirety of the DVD on his van’s player as he drove around Washington. Nothing he saw or heard made any sense to him. Why on earth would Phillip Khoska be interested in this kind of thug garbage?

Then he saw it, on what was supposed to be Da Pimp’s version of Strangers In The Night. It was the usual second rate, in Phelps’s opinion, rap rip-off. At one point, however, it featured a girl-a young, Oriental girl, dressed in nothing but a black leather thong and tank top, strolling down what seemed to be an unusually large alley between large and ramshackle tenement buildings, lined with junkies, winos and whores who regarded her curiously, as she made her way up to Toby. She had one line that she repeated several times as she looked around, and into the video camera.

“Lick-lick-lick-lick-lick-lick-lick-lick this,” she said-over, and over, and over again.

“I know I’ve seen you somewhere before,” he said, and backed up the tape. It then occurred to him that as she recited her one line, she seemed to indicate the area of her vagina, which seemed to have a subtle glow to it.

She would then walk up to Toby, who while reciting his rap, took her in his arms, turned her around, and shoved her into the arms of a waiting wino as he walked off continuing his rap while a background vocalist sung the chorus to the actual song in a falsetto voice.

Screw it, he decided. It probably had nothing to do with Khoska anyway. The DVD might well have belonged to his idiot wife. On the other hand, he had to remind himself to consider the unlikelihood of such a coincidence, especially when there was a connection between the Seventeenth Pulse and Khoska’s own cutthroat gang. There had to be a correlation, he decided.

He went to one of the DC area libraries and got on-line. While he was here, he decided he might as well check out the available information regarding the mysterious Edward Akito. This as well turned out to be a waste of time. Aside from a number of pictures of the Japanese man, including one with his late wife, there was nothing new. He decided he would return to Baltimore. Unfortunately, there was a problem. His van refused to start.

“Phelps, why don’t you just junk that damn thing,” Cruiser demanded when he called. “How the hell old is that thing anyway?”

“Look, it’s no big deal, according to the mechanic it’s probably the computer. Once I get that done, with a tune up it should be as good as new. Well, it should be good enough to get me back to Baltimore at least. In the meantime, I want you to see if you can hook me up with some kind of interview with somebody that knows this Akito.”

“Who do you think I am Phelps, Bob Woodward? I am telling you, this is not somebody that you can just have a casual off-the-record chat with, and he sure as hell ain’t going to tell you anything on the record. What would you ask him anyway? There is no conceivable reason to interview somebody like this to begin with. He is going in as an under-assistant secretary of some little niche agency at the State Department. I don’t think he even has to be confirmed by the Senate. He’s a minor player at best-technically speaking, of course.”

“Well, maybe some people in the government might be interested in his connection with Phillip Khoska, and with the Russian Mafia. I’m sure the President and his staff would find that highly interesting, to be sure, assuming they don’t already know it.”

“Yeah, as if-remember when I told you to watch your ass, Phelps? That is exactly what I was talking about. Come back to Baltimore, boy. Sometimes digging in the dirt will only make you dirty. If you ain’t real careful about six foot of it ends up on top of you-kapish?”

“Alright, damn, I’ll come back as soon as the van is fixed,” he promised.

Of course, Phelps intended to keep that promise, but in the meantime, he decided it couldn’t hurt to make some use of his time. He returned to the library and played the DVD, whereupon he made a discovery. The young Japanese girl seemed to be pointing to her crotch area as she recited her one repetitious line. He noticed something else-her crotch, for a brief instant, seemed to glow. Then, it finally occurred to Phelps.

“She’s saying “click this,” he said. Looking around, he decided to back up the DVD, and he did just that. It had the effect of pausing the DVD at first, but then something else happened. A new window seemed to open, and there was the girl, in the same alley, surrounded by shadowy, unseen figures. She was now naked, apparently in a great deal of pain, bruised and bloody. She had obviously been badly beaten, and probably raped. Her eyes glared with pain, humiliation, desperation, and abject terror. She seemed to force herself to look into the camera. Then, as Phelps thought he could hear an animal growling in the background, she spoke.

“Long live the Seventeenth Pulse. Long live Securitate. Long live The Sacred Order Of The Dragon. Long live The True Church Of The Sacred Blood Of The Crucified And Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. Death to the heresy of the false church and world governments. Please, forgive me my sins on this night of my death.”

She broke down and cried pitifully as suddenly, the animals came into view. There were dogs, countless numbers of them, ranging from pit bulls, Doberman Pinschers, and other breeds, which all ripped mercilessly into the hapless girl, ripping her to shreds in a matter of under a minute, as she begged to no avail.

As Phelps watched in an aura of helpless confusion and dismay, he found himself unable yet to turn from the computer screen as the window closed and returned to the exact spot at which he clicked on the hidden link. Phelps now once more looked upon the revolting face of Dwayne Lecher.

“You son-of-a-bitch,” he hissed.

He walked back outside the library and phoned Cruiser, who was now adamant that he return to Washington.

“Do you know what has happened?”

“Khoska is dead?”

“No, Khoiska is still in a coma. The FBI is looking for you now. What in the hell is wrong with you? Why did you erase the message on Khoska’s answering machine? Do you think you can get away with stuff like that?”

Phelps muttered under his breath as he tried to block out the sound of Cruiser’s rant.

“Never mind that, Cruiser,” he said. “I’m sending you a copy of a DVD. Check your e-mail. Pay attention to the version of Strangers In The Night. There’s a girl there, a Chinese girl. When she keeps saying “lick this”, move your browser over her crotch and click it. It’s a hyper-link to a snuff film. It’s incredible. I’m not sure, but I think the girl is Susan Chou-in fact I’m positive that’s who she is.”

“My God, Phelps, are you serious?” he asked. “Is that what you took from Khoska’s house? Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, they are after you for that too. You need to get in here right now, boy. We’ll try to work something out for you.”

“Fine, I’ll be there, but first you have to promise me that you’ll look at the DVD, and the link. Please.”

Dietrich promised him he would do so, and Phelps told him he was on his way back to Baltimore. By the time he found a cab and made it to the garage, his van was ready, and so he drove off as he wondered if he could possibly make it to The Examiner’s office building before the feds picked him up. He might be in real trouble, but he could not afford to worry about that now. He had tried to protect Grace while in the process of undertaking his own investigation. He told himself Grace was a witless pawn in over her head. Now he wanted to ring her neck. How could he have been so stupid?

By the time he made it back to Baltimore, it was approaching nightfall, and he decided to make one quick stop at the now almost completely restored Krovell Funeral Home. He knew from searching Grace’s apartment earlier that there was a connection in some way with the people involved in that business. Martin and Louise Krovell especially were under suspicion since the death fo Grady Desmond. He parked far enough away for no one to see him-he hoped-and he waited.

Soon, and luckily from another direction, he saw the car of Lieutenant James Barry pull up to the front of the building. He had someone with him-a female. He zoomed in with his camera lens, and saw, to his horror, there was a third person in the back seat. It was a young girl, who looked as though bound in some manner. Suddenly, he saw someone else standing outside the funeral home.

Marlowe Krovell, he realized, was alive. It was him, standing outside the house, in plain sight, and looking very anxious, as Phelps began shooting roll after roll of pictures. The woman who rode with Barry looked to be in horrible shape, yet she seemed well at the same time, though she walked with a stiff gait. The girl cried. Phelps called Cruiser on the phone.

“Now where in the hell are you?” Dietrich demanded. “Damn you boy, are you determined to be charged with a federal crime? I’m telling you one more time to get your ass in here now-pronto!”

“I’m sending you some pictures, Cruiser, of Marlowe Krovell and James Berry. There’s a couple of other people too, a young girl and some woman that looks like something out of the pits of hell. I don’t know what’s going on here Cruiser, but I think the girl is in danger. You should call the police as soon as you can. Have you seen the DVD yet?”

“Yeah, I saw it,” he said. “You’re right, it’s the Chou girl. Your pictures just came over. Hold on. You need to get away from there though, it might be dangerous there.”

However, Marlowe had disappeared, and so had the girl. Now, Barry and the strange, horrid looking woman got back into Barry’s car and drove off toward the same direction from which they arrived. Phelps hurriedly continued shooting the pictures of the back of the car, being especially careful to capture Barry’s license plate.

“Phelps then left, and made his way toward the Examiner office. He knew it would be a waste of time attempting to return to his own apartment. He considered briefly the idea of going to Grace’s apartment, since he did have a key, but decided that would be risky as well.

As soon as he got to Phelps’s office, he turned over the original DVD. Suddenly, Cruiser seemed delighted.

“That was great work, boy,” he said. “You really had me going for awhile. I think you’re off your rocker about Krovell, though. You do need to get some rest.”

“I know it was Krovell-I saw him with my own two eyes. He’s on the film. You can see for yourself.”

“That’s just the thing, I did see it. Well, you were right about Barry at least,” Cruiser said. “I don’t know who the other people are, but if the other man is supposed to be Marlowe Krovell, he sure has changed a hell of a lot. I guess death will change a person, but this is a little much.”

He handed Phelps the newly developed photos, copies Phelps e-mailed him earlier. While Barry, the strange woman, and the apparently kidnapped girl looked the same, the person he took as Marlowe had decidedly changed. Instead of Marlowe Krovell, he now looked upon the form of a man who looked to be in his fifties, yet with dried leathery skin that in death would easily pass as mummified. His hair was long, thick, wavy, and blonde. The only resemblance to Marlowe was the eyes, which showed up now the same bright green. In his own way, he looked even more horrible than the woman, who looked worse in the photo than she did from the distance at which Phelps saw her in person. She looked, in effect, not only to be a walking corpse, but one at a preliminary stage of decomposition.

“I don’t know what in the hell is going on here, Cruiser, but its some bad shit.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” the old editor replied. “I ran some of these pictures through our database of photos. That woman came back as Raven Randall. I would almost have to say that is just as impossible as the man being Marlowe as you insisted. The only thing about that is, it just so happens that, by the way, her body is missing from the morgue. Her corpse was one of those the morgue was checking for signs of post mortem sexual abuse by Brad Marlowe. Well, evidently, if that was true, it gives a completely new meaning to the term “waking the dead.”

“So, this is it,” Phelps said. “I’m here, just like you insisted. I guess I’m toast. Go ahead and call the feds. I’m ready.”

“I wish I didn’t have to do this, Phelps,” he said. “Still, if I don’t go along with them I could face a charge myself. I promise you, I’ll make sure you have access to the best lawyer I can get you. Just don’t lie to them about anything. Tampering with evidence is a serious charge under any jurisdiction. Don’t make it worse by engaging in perjury, by lying to the FBI in the course of a federal investigation. You’re just lucky that the New Jersey Police answered the 911 call you put in-which, by the way, is another thing in your favor. The Feds don’t really have a reason to charge you. Don’t give them a reason, boy, I’m begging you. If you play your cards right, they can get you out of hot water with the New Jersey authorities.”

“I think I need to go out and have a smoke before they get here,” Phelps said.


“I promise, I’m not going to run away,” he assured the old editor.

“All right,” Dietrich said. “Go on, I’ll give you ten minutes before I call.”

Phelps reluctantly walked out and lit up a Winston. He breathed in deeply. How could he have let things get so out of control, and all for Grace Rodescu at that? He was under no illusions about her. Grace would hang him or anyone else out to dry without a second thought, if the price was right. Fore that matter, it would not have to be an astronomical sum before it qualified as “right”.

It was now dark, and Phelps felt as though someone watched his every move. It was cold, too, and as he inhaled the cold air along with the thick warm smoke of his cigarette, it hurt his lungs. He coughed harshly. He wanted to go back inside. Surely Cruiser wouldn’t deny him the time and space to have one smoke in comfort. Before he made it to the door, he realized someone moved behind him. He could feel the presence of another person. He turned, and there he was.

It was a man, judging by his size, in a dark gray burlap robe. He could make out no features through the hood, as the streetlight seemed to illuminate only the shadows of the hood that hid his features.

“Who in the hell are you?” he asked.

The man gave no answer, but Phelps could see his eyes, glowing like red-hot embers, burning into him, piercing into his consciousness, making him uncomfortably hot despite the cold night Baltimore air.

“I asked you a question-who the hell are you?”

Phelps was suddenly paralyzed, and found it impossible to turn from the burning gaze of the man. Soon, his features came into focus. Phelps realized then, as he looked upon his terrible, ungodly countenance-he somehow knew this man. He came closer to him, walking slowly and yet steadily towards him. Phelps wanted to run, but could not, as the man, with a speed that belied his seemingly ponderous size, seized him by the neck and, with an iron grip under his chin, hoisted him off the ground with one hand, as Phelps flailed helplessly in the air. At first he made several ineffectual attempts to strike back, to kick, but it was all to no avail. The man kept his eyes focused on Phelps’s own eyes, as Phelps saw his entire life flashing before him. He saw the time he was a kid in the second grade. One of the older kids, a twelve year old, caught him after school and held him up in the same manner and shook him until Phelps, in front of everyone in school, it seemed, pissed all over himself.

He saw the time his own father did the same thing to him when he came home and caught him beating his mother, and remembered how he threatened to beat him to a pulp if he ever told anyone. He saw then how later on his father gave him his first camera for his birthday, and how he used to go all over Baltimore taking pictures of street scenes. Later, he would sell pictures of dating couples at the outdoor cafes. He tried to open his first photography studio, a business venture that ended in failure and debt-until he started work as a freelance news photographer, a job that led to his first and only full time job with the Examiner.

He saw all of these things, in the flash of an instant, his life in pictures, a still-life collage, distilled down to enough snapshots to fill a shoebox, but otherwise, a life of little substance.

Now, he was helpless, and limp as a dishcloth, until he found himself laid out on the sidewalk, barely conscious. He wondered now-who am I? He looked around and saw no one. He vaguely remembered a man in a gray robe and hood. Where did he go? Had he seen him at all? Why could he not remember where he was? Why could he not remember who he was?

“Your name is Phelps, right?”

He looked around to see the large black man reaching toward him with his tattoo-marked wrist, while looking at him earnestly. Of course, he was right. His name was Phelps.

“Yeah,” he replied. “That’s me. Do I know you?”

The man shook his head in the affirmative.

“Come on, man,” he said. “I’ve been sent to take you home. You’ve had a hard night. You’ll be alright after a little rest.”

The man motioned toward the open door of the vehicle. Phelps rose, but he was shaky and weak, so the man helped steady him. He helped him to the Land Rover. Phelps got in and, after the man closed the door, he got behind the wheel and drove away.