Friday, December 24, 2004

A Very AmCop Christmas 

I got back not long ago from a trip to Barcelona. The Catalunyans love Christmas, and as you’d expect, the streets and public spaces of the city are decked out with "Bones Festes" signs, festive lights, you name it.

Plus, nativity scenes, lots of them, in public spaces, storefront windows, churches.

The Catalunyan nativity scene is a little different from our own, though.

The setting is a manger, of course. Barnyard animals, three wise men, Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus.

But there’s also "El Caganer."

"El Caganer"? Is that a fourth wise man, an extra stable attendant, perhaps a Catalunyan nobleman?

In fact, "caganer" in English is "crapper." As in, a guy (typically a shepherd with a little red cap) crouching, with trou dropped, taking a dump.

Sometimes he's off to the side of the nativity scene, sometimes hiding behind a tree, sometimes right there in the manger, next to the Holy Family and baby Jesus.

"Caganer" figurines of all shapes, sizes, and styles are for sale in virtually every Christmas shopping fair in any marketplace in Catalunya (like Barcelona’s Santa Llúcia market, in front of the old cathedral) and are featured in just about every nativity scene you come across.

Explanations abound.

1. Some say the crapper is a symbol of historical Catalunyan defiance of the fascist regime of Generalisimo Francisco Franco. (Franco was an ardent Catholic, so the crapper symbolically craps on Franco’s religion.)

2. Others describe him as a Santa Claus-like figure, who bestows gifts on the children in his own scatalogical way.

(A child is presented with a wooden log swaddled in blankets. When the child is shooed out of the room, the "caganer" magically appears, performs his singular function, and out comes a wonderful gift, which then replaces the log in the blankets.)

3. There’s the Catalunyan secularist/humanist explanation which has it that, even while the "greatest event in human history was happening someone, somewhere, was having a crap."

4. Some say that the crapping shepherd symbolizes fertility, that he "represents the re-fertilization of the ground in the winter, in the hope of fertility in the spring" and thus "symbolizes fertility in general and hence good luck."

5. Then there’s this definitive explanation, from the website of an organization devoted, it seems, to the manufacture of ceramic crappers in a multiplicity of poses, costumes, themes, and styles.

The " Castellers ", witches and firs of Anna Maria Pla, have two things in common: the made kneel positions of their bodies and the excrements in spiral form " that pay the ground, and bring luck to the home until next Christmas " explains Anna Maria.These peculiar figures are not nothing else that three of more than 50 models of "caganers" that produces the factory. To the conventional old Catalan man with barretina (tipical red hat) and canvas shoes, all type of peculiar clubs has been added him. Anna Maria Pla shows with pride his long collection, in that they appear devils with wings, papas Noel, grandmothers, navigators, angels, nuns, clergyman and fans of Barça and the Español, (spanish football teams).
For "caganers" in all their varied and sundry forms, visit the galleries here. Or here.

Bones Festes and Happy New Year!

President Bush delivers his Christmas message to the world.

Support the Troops..."Count all the votes!" 

SEATTLE, Dec. 23 - With all the votes tallied after a recount in the roller coaster race for governor, Christine O. Gregoire, the Democrat who trailed in the campaign and in a previous recount, won by 130 votes as battered Republicans demanded more vote counting and vowed to use every legal weapon to reverse the extraordinary turnaround.

"This is the biggest display of democracy that I have ever seen," Ms. Gregoire, the state attorney general, said at a televised news conference Thursday evening at the State Capitol in Olympia, which was ringed by Republican protestors shouting "count all the votes!"

Ha-ha. HA-HA!!!

But an end was anything but certain, as Republicans made it clear that they did not consider the results a legitimate victory for Ms. Gregoire and said they were already considering contesting the election.

Taking a page from their counterparts in Florida in 2000, state Republicans quickly alleged that the votes of soldiers stationed overseas were among hundreds of rejected votes for Mr. Rossi, a former state senator, and should now be counted.

"If you can change the rules for the chairman of the King County Council," said Chris Vance, chairman of the state Republican Party, referring to Larry Phillips, a Democratic councilman whose vote was among the 735 ballots reviewed in King County on Thursday, "then you can change the rules for a marine wounded in Falluja."

Republican officials, accompanied by five veterans waving American flags, went into a meeting of the King County Canvassing Board on Thursday and lobbied the board to consider almost 100 rejected ballots for Mr. Rossi in King County.

What a bunch of yokels these Washington state Rethugs are! Everyone knows that when you go to disrupt a County Canvassing Board meeting you need at least a small, potentially violent mob. And any strategist even vaguely familiar with the formula "More military/militaristic trappings = Better/more right" would have arranged for a tank to plow through the door, preferably a tank with the head of an Iraqi insurgent mounted atop a stake affixed to the hood. Barring that arrangement, why not just produce the actual corpse of a Marine killed in Falluja, drag it into the Canvassing Board meeting room, hoist it onto the table, have one of the "veterans" place his flag in the corpse's stiff hand, and so declare "Dino Rossi" the natural and immutable Governor of the State of Washington?

Christmas Dreaming? 

From truthout:

Kerry to Enter Ohio Recount Fray
2004 Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry will file today, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, papers in support of the Green Party/Libertarian Party recount effort. Specifically, Kerry will be filing a request for expedited discovery regarding Triad Systems voting machines, as well as a motion for a preservation order to protect any and all discovery and preserve any evidence on this matter.

Make of this what you will...

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Xmas Cat Blogging 

Ape or President? Can you guess?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Inauguration: Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005 

Who's going to DC to stand up?

Info here.

(There's also the Thursday, Jan. 6 protest at the Capitol to challenge the Ohio returns.)

Roll call in "Comments."

What Are People? 

Gee, OK, so the massive arson at a MD housing development wasn't eco-terrorism after all. Well, what was it, then?

Walsh was arrested Saturday along with Jeremy D. Parady of Accokeek and Michael M. Everhart of Waldorf, each of whom is 20. Another man, Aaron L. Speed, 21, became the first to be charged last Thursday.

The affidavit, filed in support of the arrests of McCann and Gilbert, says the group Walsh allegedly led went by the names "The Family" and "Unseen Cavaliers." The affidavit identifies the group as "a gang operating in Charles County."

A Web site for "Unseen Cavaliers" says the group was founded in Waldorf by "Patrick and Brandon," whose last names are not given, for people with a shared interest in cars. It says there is a smaller chapter in Annapolis.

"The club is open to any cavalier [sic] owner that is just looking to chill with other cavalier owners," the site says. "We always meet on Wednesday nights at Wendy's in Waldorf."

Uh-huh. Well, now whenever I hear about any new arson attacks the first culprits I'll consider will be a)eco-terrorists and b) "The Family"/"Unseen Cavaliers."

Christmas at T.J. Cinnamons!!! 

You might feel small, but in your own small way, you can do something that, when combined with the efforts of other small people, will result in an impact somewhat larger than would have been achieved had you made that small effort alone.

For example, in making your last-minute holiday purchases, you can avoid spending money at evil companies, and instead spend at good companies.

Ruy Teixeira provides the following list.

Some highlights:

* Price Club/Costco donated $225K, of which 99% went to democrats;
* Magla Products (Stanley tools, Mr. Clean), $22K, 100% to democrats;
* Calvin Klein, $78K, 100% to democrats;
* Levi Straus, $26K, 97% to democrats;
* Gallo Winery, $337K, 95% to democrats;
* Triarc Companies (Arby's, T.J. Cinnamons, Pasta Connections), $112K, 96% Democrats;

WalMart, $467K, 97% to republicans;
K-Mart, $524K, 86% to republicans;
Home Depot, $298K, 89% to republicans;
Target, $226K, 70% to republicans;
Circuit City Stores, $261K, 95% to republicans;
Hallmark Cards, $319K, 92% to republicans;
Coors, $174K, 92% to republicans; (also Budweiser - sd)
Brown-Forman Corp. (Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels, Bushmills, Korbel wines), $644, 80% to republicans;
Outback Steakhouse, $641K, 95% republican;
Tricon Global Restaurants (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), $133K, 87%
McDonald's Corp., $197K, 86% republican;
Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Smokey Bones, Bahama Breeze), $121K, 89% republican;

In other words, you’re better off making your gifts and cards with materials you can find around the house.

(Note that he left off beer companies that are "WITH US," probably because there are none… but just so you know, Miller -- maker of crisp, refreshing products like Miller High Life and Miller Genuine Draft -- is owned by British company SABMiller, so it’s less bad than the bad ones here.)

A Cunning Plan 

Told, for no discernible reason other than that it pleases me to do so, in the overly parenthetical manner and supercilious tone of a Boorish Ass. To wit:

After devoting much thought to the administration’s grand vision of an “ownership” society. I must say I wish them luck. As I intend to make a killing in the market on stupidity if and when it becomes possible to own someone else’s.

I arrived at the scheme, the "concept" if you will, thus:

Just after the election a friend and I were discussing the possibilities and implications of Bush Unbound, sharp turn of phrase that, no pun intended, and he mentioned that one of the heartening aspects of this apparently unfortunate result was that at least now Bush would have to “own” his mistakes. I considered the logic of the claim and dispensed with it immediately. It was a tricky business, but in order to demonstrate that his attempt --to derive a rationale for hope by resorting to some absurd notion of historical dialectic or the now equally absurd notion of the requirements of basic honesty--was futile, and to spare myself the valuable time that I would have to spend making arguments, I chose as my weapon the quick and decisively dismissive jest. The blow proved more devastating than even I myself had expected.

“Ha! You think so?” Realizing that the conversation itself, much less my interlocutor, wouldn’t recover from the coming strike, I savored the moment, not unmercifully I might add, then spoke, “Well I believe you can expect to see politicians on the Right begin to blame the mess of the Iraq War on Bill Clinton before Christmas!”

There was a taut silence. My victory was Pyrrhic. The point was taken, but the jape unamusing; whether due to content, timing or tone I cannot say. We both looked down briefly at our pint glasses, and then gazed without focus through the window as Winter approached and darkness fell.

So you can imagine my delight upon learning in the paper the other day that my penetrating insight into the nature of things had proved prescient when I read this:

U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe said Thursday that cutbacks during the Clinton administration resulted in the lack of armor and other material faced by U.S. troops in Iraq.

Inhofe, you may recall, is the Senator from Oklahoma whose meta-outrage at the outrage of others during the Committee hearings concerning the incidents at Abu Ghraib was broadly and briefly flatulated across the nation’s broadsheets.

Dismay however, followed quickly on the heels of delight, as it occurred to me that if I had patented that prediction, I’d have turned a good penny in royalties from right wing Senators. Certainly a prediction is a piece of intellectual property as much as is any other written history. Predictions, when accurate, are simply the history of the future. And just as certainly if a future part of my genome can be owned, a genome that was spontaneously and unprofitably developed in the past, I could reap wealth from the future elements of History which also formerly occurred spontaneously, but now can be predicted and manipulated within certain limits and the usual caveats. And what, in the end, is History to the journals , other than what the powerful say about what they think and do? And why, in the final analysis, shouldn’t some of that corporate money that gets lavished on the Senators not trickle down to the man on the street?

It was thus that I imagined a flood of wealth filling my coffers, simply by documenting and certifying my predictions about which asinine nonsense will spew forth from the mouths of our rulers next.

My next prediction, although lacking in originality and not substantially different in kind to the first, will be that the “looming Social Securtiy Crisis” will also proclaimed to be the fault of Bill Clinton. As will discomfort, death, and inconvenience.

I am currently seeking “startup” capital in this venture to more fully devote time to predicting the future. Investment inquiries may be posted in the comments section.

"Honk if you love the newborn king" 

Recently AmCop readers offered an outpouring of suggestions for things judges might wear in lieu of the traditional, boring secular black robe. Well, it seems the rest of America has responded with equal enthusiasm on the matter of judicial fashion:

Judge's robe gets national attention
McKathan's office is getting supportive phone calls from all over the country

ANDALUSIA -- Two days after Presiding Circuit Court Judge Ashley McKathan donned a robe in court displaying the Ten Commandments on his chest, staffers were busy fielding calls from media outlets and supporters across the nation.

"We've had calls from Texas, Washington state, Arkansas, California, New Jersey and Tennessee, plus the local calls," explained McKathan's secretary, Susan Sansom, looking over a legal pad listing the callers early on Wednesday. "Every one of them is supportive of what the judge has done. We have not had a single complaint called in."

Then there were media calls from local papers, radio and television and even the CNN and MSNBC cable news networks. The south Alabama judge seemed a bit surprised at how quickly word of his gold-lettered robe traveled.

"This is only the third day," he said, smiling and still wearing the robe during a break in court proceedings. "I expected a little stir, but I never dreamed it would go so far so fast."


McKathan's secretary said he decided somewhere around the end of October to order the robe, paying for it with his own money. He then hired a local seamstress to embroider the Ten Commandments in bold letters on the front, she said.

McKathan said he even shopped for a robe with fewer pleats to better accommodate the sewing.

Ashley, you sly fashion-hound, you!

The judge said he wants the scriptural foundation of modern law to be acknowledged. Without the biblical "truth" he said, "there is no law."


Most people in Andalusia's downtown interviewed Wednesday supported McKathan and his stand. Residents said they respect authority, but at the same time admire people brave enough to buck authority for causes they champion.

"I read about it in the paper," said Shannon Thomas, who lives in nearby Sanford. "It's true the laws we have today are based on the Ten Commandments. But there is a difference in sinning and breaking the law. I really don't think there is anything wrong with him doing it. As long as he's going by the law, what he's got on his robe isn't going to affect anything."

"As long as he's going by the law, what he's got on his robe isn't going to affect anything." And yet what he's got on his robe is...The Law. Um, like, my head's spinning from tyring to parse this out. Is Kafka in the house?

Andalusia is a well-kept town McKathan described as "well-grounded" with Christmas displays featuring snowflakes, Santa and trees in the town square. A monument to fallen policemen featured a scriptural reference, but the only other religious signage invited motorists to "honk if you love the newborn king" -- posted by a religious radio station on a building. [Italics mine; one images that without such "displays" the town would lose its grounding and drift off into an etheral, pagan, Andalusian nowhere-land.]

Here, many people said, McKathan is a well-respected, even beloved homegrown son.

Family friend Fred Kelley Sr. said he knew 46-year-old McKathan's father and grandfather as "the finest people you ever have met." McKathan, he said, is of the same caliber. "If you are looking for something bad about him, you won't find it."

Indeed. What about the fact that he's a) crazier than a shithouse rat and b) a megalomaniac, narcissist and certified flaming asshole? Don't those count as "something bad"?

Monday, December 20, 2004


Good news--the opposition to the crazy right-wing extremists in Montgomery County, MD, is getting organized. There is now a website:


The site looks very good so far--lots of posts, lots of good info about what the loonies are up to both locally and nationally. I encourage every AmCop reader to visit the site, bookmark it, and send the link to anyone you know in Montgomery County, and ask them to pass the link along to everyone they know.

The tricky situation is that Montgomery County (and other Blue districts around the country) has a liberal majority and a fascist minority. The liberal majority is largely complacent, satisfied with the status quo, and not inclined to organize or act in any way. The fascist minority is furious, angrily dissatisfied with the status quo, rearing to organize, and seems to have a lot of free time on its hands to stir shit up. This is the national conundrum--it's how right-wing extremists start making in-roads and forcing their agenda into the mainstream--because the mainstream doesn't see what they're up to until it's too late, when the right-wing talking points have already been "accepted" as one "side" of a now-legitimized debate.

So please do what you can to spread the word about this site; I'll also put a permanent link in the AmCop sidebar.


Terms extended indefinitely. More than 1200 dead. Legions more injured, physically and psychologically.

Hategun.com pieces together the words, pictures, sounds, and ideas in a deft mini-doc, "Bush Won. Get Over It."
Ever since George Bush was re-elected, conservatives have been telling liberals to "get over it." Well, don't tell us. Tell these people.

View the video, explore the site, treasure your days until the draft.

Why I Heart Fafblog 

The Medium Lobster writes:

After years of losing the the battle for hearts and minds to the Islamist menace, leaders in the Pentagon are finally planning to fight back with a plan sure to win the trust and confidence of the Arab street: a massive propaganda campaign.

With the facts solidly turned against the war effort, the war effort's last option is to officially declare war on the facts.

Facts - and the transmission of facts - have consistently proven to be a deadly opponent in the global war on terror. When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, it was photographic proof - indisputable, hard evidence - that outraged the Arab world and forced a stunned America to ask the question, "Why did they take those photos?"

If you've never seen Fafblog, which you probably have by now, it is really worth reading regularly.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Buffalo Christ 

Please excuse the repeat if I've already told this story--then again, it demands another look. This is a fond memento of my drive down I-95 to visit my folks in Florida a couple of years ago. I was spending the night in a budget motel off the interstate in North Carolina, and needed to find some sort of dinner. The motel clerk gave me the number for a local pizza place, and I ordered delivery. I believe I ordered a sub and, as you see, some buffalo wings. After a sullen teenager came and delivered the food, I opened up the containers and found this religious pamphlet. No, I didn't put it there. It came that way--on the wings.

I think this event can, in retrospect, tell us a lot about the 2004 election. And if you take it as a sign that there probably is no hope for this country, I think you're right.


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