Rumsfeld: Cynical and Morally Confused

"My ass is caught in a crack, so let the vilification begin!" I could have sworn I heard the statement being whispered in the background during the Decider-in-Chief's recent interview. But even if I only imagined it, I hear the manifestation of it loud and clear in the latest words and deeds of Team Bush.

Secretary of Asshatery, Rummy D. Dumby, fired the first volley on Tuesday when he compared people having an honest disagreement with the administration's policies to Nazi appeasers. His History According to Rummy posited that those who disagree with the administration's policies are no more than "blame America firsters" who hate their country. The implication that anyone who dare brook the idea that perhaps the best thing to do in Iraq is to leave was clear. His suggestion that there is a "certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion" similar to the 1930s in today's debate is well taken though.

I agree there is a "certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion" in our great country, but I think if Mr. Rumsfeld looked in a mirror - and providing the mirror didn't crack from his ghastly visage - he would see that "cynicism and moral confusion" staring back at him wearing a pair of Ben Franklin bifocals.

It seems to me the greater cynic is the one who continues to make happy talk about a patently obvious military fiasco in attempt to win the hearts and minds of a populace long ago soured on it. I think a man who continues to send thousands to their death while lecturing them on going to war "with the army you have, instead of the army you might like" is on about as solid a moral footing as a child-abusing priest.

But aside from those historical precedents, I have another - Pearl Harbor.

Many in this administration, from El Jefe down, have accused those not supporting the war as being gutless cowards with no stomach for fighting a war. They lament the fact that people are appalled by casualties and are agitating for his bicycle-toned Crawford ass on a platter. But they conveniently forget that if moral clarity is present, Americans are more than willing to go to war.

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Americans became a single body fighting a war with solid moral underpinnings with all the awesome power the country could muster. When the Twin Towers were attacked and the terrorists who supported it hid in Afghanistan, Americans again banded together and went to war, even many who personally found the Shrub an odious little Warren G. Harding.

But before the job was done in Afghanistan, the Chickenhawk-in-Chief decided to charge forward on the back of his great steed Cheney. He swung his sword high over his head and yelled to the Americans, "Onward, onward into the valley of death! We must crush Saddam!"

And a good percentage of people said, "huh?"

They asked, "What about Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden?" "I don't even think about him no more," the Commander said.

"What did they do to us," they asked? "Nothin' yet, but they gots them WMDs," the Commander said.

"Are you sure," the Americans asked? "Slam dunk," he said.

"Do you have a plan to win," the Americans asked hopefully. "Yup, they's gonna throw flowers at our feet," the Commander said.

"Um, why don't we enlist the help of our allies? Surely they will see the validity of our cause and help us," "Nope. Don't need 'em. They're a bunch of pansies anyway. Strictly old Europeans..except those Poles. I love a good polka," he said.

And so America charged on, leaving a good piece of the American populace behind with legitimate and unanswered questions and taking with them people who believed what they were told because the Commander "seemed like such a nice Christian man".

We went to war and the Commander and his generals began to lose each battle. When someone asked what happened, they told happy stories about all the corners turned and the successes blooming out of the scorched earth. "Why dontcha write more about all them candy bars we hand out to the refugees? People would be for the war if they knew that."

When the people asked again about the war, the Commander got more than a little testy and said, "Trust me, this thing'll turn around any minute." When things dragged on several more years, the Commander and his generals were pretty damn snippy when asked again. "You impertinent gutless, swine! How dare you question the Decider-in-Chief?! Rummy, tell them what Nazi sympathizers they are!"

And Rummy did, just last Tuesday.

I though the speech was vintage Rummy, very cynical and morally confused.

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, August 31, 2006

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A Decision Reevaluated

It's no surprise that the mess in Iraq is at the top of the news. Many people thought it was a bad decision from the get-go and even some of the President's most ardent supporters are now wondering just what in the hell he's doing.

At the time of the invasion, I thought it was a mistake. I believed:
  • Far more important work in Afghanistan was incomplete.
  • The run-up to the war was recklessly fast and based on sketchy intelligence.

  • Saddam was not the immediate threat he was said to be, even though I wouldn't have been surprised if he had been working on WMD.

  • And finally, that the administration appeared to be dangerously unprepared to "win the peace".
Although I was against the war, I agreed with Colin Powell who warned of the "Pottery Barn Rule" - you break it, you pay for it. I believed that once we crossed the border, we should fix what we'd hamfistedly brought down on the Iraqis. After all, they were innocent bystanders. They hadn't asked us to invade. We took it upon ourselves to decide what was best for them and they were caught in the cross-fire.

Since then, much has changed. The rationale for the war has morphed from a search for WMD, to building a democracy, to fighting terrorists over there instead of over here. The near-daily reassurances from the administration have evolved from, "they'll greet us as liberators", to "mission accomplished, to building a democracy, to democracy taking a long time to build to, "We're not leaving Iraq while I am in office".

And during that time, the Iraqis and American have suffered and all the photo ops and catch-phrases doesn't change that fact on iota.

Today, Iraqis have few of the day-to-day things they used to take for granted - dependable electricity, clean water, kids being able to play outside. Sectarian violence kills them by the thousands while we debate the finer linguistic points of whether we have a civil war on our hands. They spend long days looking over their shoulder for the next car bomb or firefight and we hear a steady chant of "stay the course".

Our own troops have fared no better. They're dying by the thousands defending a place that's increasingly indefensible. Meanwhile, our troops stay longer and longer. Our military is stretched like a camouflaged rubber band, and new and potentially worse challenges wait in the wings.

Many, including me, have criticized the democrats for not being more active in proposing a successful exit strategy. Before rot crept into the administration's Iraq "strategery", I hoped that someone - democrat or republican - would be courageous enough to come forward and propose a more workable solution than, "let's keep keeping on". Unfortunately, none did and now I believe it's too late.

So, I find myself reexamining my position on not leaving before Iraq was pacified and rebuilt. I still agreed that the effort would be long and arduous. I still understood that plenty of Americans and Iraqis would die on the rutted road to "democracy". I still felt that leaving Iraq to chaos was morally wrong. Yet, I changed my mind.

Today, I believe we should leave Iraq. I'm still troubled by abandoning the Iraqis. I'm still troubled that Iraq will be a stinking morass for years to come. I'm still troubled by how many people will die in a war that was avoidable to begin with.

Yet, I changed my mind. All of those reasons to stay are still true, but they are trumped by one thing - staying only makes it worse for everyone.

At this point, regardless of what we do, Iraq will remain in chaos. The only unification the warring sects will find is a hatred of the American infidels. Their civil war will almost certainly spill over into surrounding countries. And, the terrorism Bush currently uses as a bludgeon on his questioners will only intensify.

If people want to call that cutting and running, so be it. I prefer to see as a competent general might. We're up against a superior force causing a rapidly deteriorating situation only made worse by our very presence. Any good general - or Commander-in-Chief - must evaluate that situation and decide if an orderly retreat to fight another day is a better option than killing thousands of our own and many more thousands of Iraqi lives on a lost cause. This is not a fear-based position, but one of simple war strategy. You don't continue to waste your forces in a single battle at the expense of the wider needs of the war.

I've reevaluated my position and come to peace with it. I would hope that our Commander-in-Chief would do the same, but I expect I'll be as disappointed in that outcome as I was with the original decision to invade.

Unfortunately, it's a familiar feeling.

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, August 30, 2006

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So Many Questions Never Answered

Airplane crashes like the one in Kentucky always hold a special interest for me. I was once an aircraft mechanic. First, in the Air Force, then as a civilian working for the Navy, and finally, as a licensed mechanic for Comair, the airline involved in the latest crash. When planes go down, I follow the news with interest because I find the science and technology fascinating and familiar and the impact on the business interesting.

However, the biggest reason is the lives involved.

While I was an Air Force mechanic, a flight crew from my base met their end when lightning hit their C-130 and blew approximately 24 feet off of one wing. The plane went down, leaving a large smoking hole in the ground and five families grieving over the loss of their husbands, fathers, and sons. Back at the base, the maintenance Crew Chief who cared for the airplane on a day-to-day basis was also hit personally.

He took the crash quite hard, especially during the days when there was no known cause for the crash. He stayed awake at night wondering if something he had done - some seemingly inconsequential detail - may have caused those five men to die. To "stay busy", he requested to be assigned to cleaning up the debris for the investigation. Shortly before he left, I talked to him and he explained that it was his responsibility to be there and to answer questions. But, I knew the real reason - he wanted to answer the question of whether he had some part in the crash.

I could understand his intense interest. Like me, he knew the members of the young crew. We'd both traveled around the world with them, sharing stories and beers and hotel rooms in far-off locations. We knew the names of their children and that the loadmaster had recently broken up with his wife. We shared our lives in a way much deeper than a typical office relationship. We also knew them as husbands, fathers, and sons because they were our family too.

It turned out the young airman's experience cleaning up the debris didn't soothe his fears. While pulling some pieces of debris from a pile of twisted and melted metal, he found the remnants of a deployed parachute. Investigators determined that at least one member of the crew had enough time to don the parachute and try to jump before the plane hit the ground. Analysis showed the parachute had opened in a doorway, pulled the wearer out, and caught on the fuselage before the crash. Investigators could never determine who the crewman wearing the parachute had been.

Cleaning up the debris also didn't provide a quick technological answer. It took several months to determine that lightning had been the culprit, but investigators we're able to determine why the wing exploded. After all, aircraft are regularly hit by lightning and the damage usually amounts to no more than a little scorched paint.

The aircraft was known to have small leaks in the fuel tanks inside the wings. Again, this isn't unusual and the amount of fuel that leaked appeared to be small enough that an explosion should never have occurred. Analysts tried for several more months to replicate the explosion, but finally gave up. The official cause of the accident was chalked up to bad weather with a probable cause a lightning strike. Some of the remains were never recovered and the airplane's young mechanic continued to worry until the day he left the Air Force - he probably continues to worry today.

For my part, I don't worry, but I do think of the incident whenever airplanes crash. I think about how long the crew had to think about the crash before they ploughed into the ground. I wonder if they spent it screaming or praying. I wonder what they were thinking before the ground grew large in the windshield. Did they think of ways to save themselves? Their families? Or, did they just go blank in a panic?

I even thought about these things when the terrorists rammed the World Trade Center. I wondered what went through their minds as they purposely sacrificed themselves to a cause I didn't really understand. Did they think of the innocent lives they were taking? Were they scared? Had they come to peace with the act and were they waiting patently to meet Allah?

The story was the same for the recent crash. It involved an airline I used to work for and an airport I'd flown into and out of many times. I could see the hill where they came to rest in my mind and implicitly understood the intersection of the runways and what they probably looked like in the morning darkness. I could feel myself crunched in behind them, on a jumpseat, watching their hands on familiar knobs and buttons, watching the routine of just another takeoff turn into something terribly, terribly wrong. But part of me also skipped back nearly 25 years to another crew on another airplane and what their last moments on Earth may have held.

As I vividly see myself sitting in both airplanes, I still wonder about all the same questions. And, the answer is always the same...I don't know.

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, August 29, 2006

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Can His Numbers BE Any Lower?

In what the administration will probably find a stunning piece of news, a new Gallup poll shows Presidential advisor Karl Rove with a -16 net approval rating. At 38%, his unfavorable rating is at the low end of its range. He has moved between 34% unfavorable and 50% favorable. Big Karl's worst favorable rating was during the height of Plamegate, when he hit -38%.

Karl can take cheer in the fact it could have been worse. A large percentage said they either don't know who he is, or didn't know enough to form an opinion.

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, August 28, 2006

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I Reckon He Is

Rejoice! Let Them Sing His Praises!

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, August 27, 2006

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As We See It: Katrina Edition

Even Cowboys Can't Swim

Nagin Will Stop at Nothing (Except Possibly a Plate of Bignet) to Rebuild New Orleans

Compassionate Conservatism on Parade

The Cowboy Crooner Giving a Benefit Concert for Katrina Victims

Say Cheese!

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, August 26, 2006

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Back by Unpopular Demand

Back by popular demand - and because it's been a long day - herewith...more randomness:
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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, August 25, 2006

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The Man in the Mirror

I don't look into mirrors much. I'm the type who gazes into windows and sees what's on the other side rather than my own reflection. I never maneuver myself to show up on closed-circuit TV at the bank or on the lenses of a friend's reflective sunglasses. I'm generally not very interested in myself and have only a fleeting acquaintance with primping.

When I do look in the mirror, the person who looks back is - more often than not - a distant relative I haven't seen in years. I recognize the outline of a face and vaguely remember he's on the well-padded side. Of course, I don't remember the clothes. Who does? I find myself not looking at the Poobah, but some celebrity impostor with an uncanny resemblance to me.

I notice the beard first. It's turned from dark brown, to salt and pepper, to Santa Claus white. I have to look excruciatingly close to see the few remaining dark hairs holding their ground below my nose. Then, I notice the hair up top. It's gone through a change of sartorial seasons and is now firmly entrenched in late autumn. The grey hairs, like the fall leaves, mix in among the brown as winter draws near. My hair drops like leaves, leaving wide swathes of my head as bare as the cold October ground.

Gravity's work is evident too. There's a chin I never used to have and my ear lobes gently sag like the swing doors on an old barn. The barn seems to have fared well though. Not too much weathered skin and the color is still as true as the day it was built.

Finally, I take stock of the whole spread. I'm much lumpier than I remember. Apparently gravity has been at work on the rest of my body too. My love handles are big enough to impress even the most jaded, grasping lover. Maybe some day they'll come in handy when I slip at the edge of a cliff and a savior grabs them just before I hurtle off the edge.

I also notice the scars, payment for a lifetime of hard living.

There's the delicate, light one along my hairline, scene of 13 stitches at the age of five when a playmate accidentally hit me with a toy wagon. Hidden beneath my beard are the three stitches I got when I fell, chin first, on some ice at 12. I broke a tooth and got a permanent cleft in my chin from that one. The ice scar is just below a small puncture received as a toddler when I fell and jammed my only tooth through the skin of my lip.

Over on the left arm, there's the place where a doctor surgically removed a cyst when I was 16. It was gross and had ganglia, but was otherwise harmless. On my right foot is a tiny scar acquired in Germany during a drunken Fasching party. Someone threw a knife at a door and it bounced off and twanged into my foot, nicking one of the large veins in the process. Ever-resourceful, my friends poured vodka on it and patched me up with a chunk of sheet and some duct tape. By the next morning, the cut filled my boot with blood and I limped everywhere I went.

But the biggest scars are on my right leg and chest, the results of a heart bypass a five years ago. The biggest goes from just below my neck to just above my belly button. It is a large and angry red scar that looks like a zipper. Below it, in my soft expanse of belly, are the three incisions that held tubes carrying the post-op poisons out of my body and into a box on the floor. The three incisions on my right thigh - where they harvested the veins for the bypass - are perhaps the most intriguing. When they itch, I sometimes scratch them only to find the skin is numb. It's a very odd feeling to scratch and not sense the pressure on your skin. I understand amputees experience something similar with aches from a leg that has walked off without them.

When the inventory is through, I look back at the mirror and feel reacquainted with the distant relative in the mirror. I'm good for another few weeks of not looking at myself and good for the rest of a lifetime at wishing I looked different. I certainly don't have a pretty boy body or a matinee idol's face, but what I have are serviceable. I've learned to be comfortable and to wear my sags and scars with a little gentle pride. I could have the fat sucked, the scars lightened, and the belly tucked, but then I wouldn't be me.

And if I wasn't me, I wouldn't recognize the guy in the mirror at all.

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, August 24, 2006

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A Good Walk Spoiled

I was run into by a roving cell phone pedestrian this morning. He was apparently rushing to take care of something too important to delay another moment - Iraq disarmament negotiations perhaps. As he ran headlong into me, he merely careened off and kept walking, sparing just enough energy to give me a sideways glance that showed who he thought was at fault for the collision. It's bad enough that people yammer on cell phones when they drive, but now they've taken to wearing those small, Bluetooth headsets and yammering while they're walking. They're called "hands free" phones, but if you ask me, they're "brain free" phones.

It's true that the average American must cope with huge amounts of information, but do we really need to become radio-controlled drones maneuvering to a faceless voice played at high volume into our ears? Is it not enough that computers, television, radio, GPS, and all sorts of other technology control our every waking moment. Mark Twain once said, "Golf is a good walked spoiled." Now it's a case of, "A walk is a good walk spoiled."

Humankind has certainly invented millions of useful devices that make life easier, safer, or healthier. We've invented many more that are dubious, stupid, and banes to the entire species. Perhaps the Luddites were right. Smash all the machines now before they take over - exhibit A, the "Brain Free" phones. We invented pretty much everything that was truly a necessity centuries ago, despite what we modern society citizens think. Look at it this way. If Iran eventually lobs a few nukes and World War (fill in the blank) breaks out, who'll be more prepared to deal with the nuclear winter - a Kahlihari tribesman well-versed in surviving on nearly nothing or a Manhattanite who's never walked more than four blocks and who would insisted on taking their GODDAMN CELL PHONES with them on the trek to safety?

I'm betting on the tribesman, who I will immediately befriend so that I can learn his oh-so-wise ways.

Because humans are so inventive, we've also become inventive about why we need all these toys. And one of the inventive excuses is that we need the devices to be "efficient". The problem is, it's other devices that require new devices to stay inventive.

Humankind did quite well for centuries just using what they had at hand. Cave paintings gave way to stone tablets which gage way to paper and pencils. The lowly pencils morphed into typewriters that eventually begat computers. Those computers can now operate without any human involvement, even if they do mostly just talk to other computers. Can the next step after the Bluetooth headset be far behind? Perhaps we'll be born only as unattached brains to which computers will stick electrodes so we can converse with other brains, and of course, other computers.

There's some efficiency for you! We even cut out breathing!

So the next time you see one of those radio-controlled drones, stop and confront them. Reach up and yank that deadly bug from their ear. Squash it underfoot. Pull out a simple piece of paper and a pencil and hand it to them as you walk away on your "walk that is still a good walk".

We'll all - including the drone when he gets over the shock - be glad you did.

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, August 23, 2006

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McCain: Was Former POW MIA on Iraq?

Guess Who's Sleeping on the Couch Tonight?

Senator John McCain came out earlier today to chide the administration for misleading the American people into believing Iraq would be "some kind of day at the beach". Frequent and loud administration protests to the contrary, I have to go with McCain on this one.

However, McCain's statement leads me to question whether the former POW and many of his colleagues were actually MIA on this issue. He, and nearly everyone else in the Congress, stood idly by during the run-up to the war and handed Shrub everything he asked for while cheering him on. They did this as long it looked like the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight might just pull victory from the jaws of defeat, but when RummyCo started pulling defeat from the jaws of victory, they began slinking, running, jogging, or crawling away as fast as their previous statements of support would allow.

Some of them took the McCain approach. Let's call it the "I'll keep saying I'm for the war while pointing at El Jefe and talking about what an incompetent ninny is" approach. In some ways, this approach seems the most disingenuous of all, yet McCain is frequently cited for his "brave stand on the issue".

"I think one of the biggest mistakes we made was underestimating the size of the task and the sacrifices that would be required," McCain said. "Stuff happens, mission accomplished, last throes, a few dead-enders. I'm just more familiar with those statements than anyone else because it grieves me so much (emphasis mine) that we had not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be." Really? Who knew?!

I have to agree with McCain on this point too. However, I'd be willing to cut him a little slack if he'd said it as part of a speech explaining why he wouldn't support the war back before it started and before we were eyeball deep in a vat of self-mixing quicksand.

He stands silent on that point today. That's a "brave stand" for you.

What I'd like to know is when McCain and the rest of the Congress, including BOTH sides of the aisle, will be willing to stand up and say "no mas". When will they and their supporters admit the situation is beyond a simple "we made a miscalculation, but time will cure all" scenario and see that things won't get better?

I guess they're as silent on that point as McCain has been.

Hmm, imagine that.

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, August 22, 2006

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Come Streak With Me 2: The Final Chapter

The following clip is from one of the family albums the Omnipotent Dad has been sending me. As the "official" streaking beat reporter for the Kentucky Kernel, I covered the collapse of the streaking fad that had taken the University of Kentucky's campus by storm.

'Chief Streak' Withdraws Support of Record Attempt

March 8, 1984 - UK's premier streaker has struck his colors according to a statement released Thursday.

In an effort to obtain a megaphone to direct a record breaking streak that was to have been held today at the Seaton Center, Streak Chief contacted the Dean of Students Office for assistance.

Instead of a megaphone, he got an interview with Dean Jack Hall and Frank Harris, Associate Dean for Student Affairs.

During the 45 minute session, they discussed several topics.

In addition to charges of indecent exposure, which could be leveled against all streakers, Streak Chief learned he was also in a position to be charged with inciting to commit unlawful assembly. As a result, he offered the following statement:

"Because my name is known (by the media and the authorities) and by my actions of the past few days, I have become vulnerable. If I were to appear to rally the crowd, as I had planned, it would be a simple matter to be confronted by authorities. I am pretty well tied into the whole thing. I would be labeled as a conspirator. The law frowns on such things. "Therefore, I have chosen to withdraw my official support and fade from the limelight."

The possibility of formal charges was discussed with Chief Streak because of pressure from UK officials and Lexington residents. "Small streakings can be kind of soft-soaped without a word of complaint because of their spontaneity. What they act on is complaints," Chief Streak said.

"It's mostly a play-by-ear thing. He (Hall) says we're forcing their hand and they could be compelled to take action. It really can't be predicted," Chief Streak said.

"As long as it's spontaneous, he feels it's still all in fun, but here we are organized, and he feels I've taken all the fun out of it. The fact that it is organized seems to make it all a little sinister," the Chief continued.

Streak Chief said, "I just hope people won't think I'm copping out. It's my hope that whatever occurs will be peaceable, non-destructive, and happy."

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, August 21, 2006

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The Poobah Files: Come Streak With Me

Amongst the odd bits of family history the Omnipotent Dad has been passing along is a scrapbook filled with letters to the editor and clippings that relate to someone in the family. The following clip is one I wrote for my college newspaper, The Kentucky Kernel, at the University of Kentucky. It was my modest attempt to import the then-popular student fad of the day, streaking.

UK: Best of the Barest?

March 4, 1974 - The perfect campus sport is elusive. The more research one does, the more difficult it is to find a single sport in which everyone can participate.

Some of the moldy oldies rule out certain people. For instance, goldfish swallowing rules out all those with weak stomachs and vegetarians - although the local pet shop owners would presumably be for the idea. Phone booth stuffing would eliminate all people with claustrophobia and those who are overweight. Besides, GTE booths are notoriously uncomfortable. We could try having campus demonstrations again, but there don't seem to be many stray wars to get involved in. (Ed: A little youthful over-optimism there.) All this elimination leads to a single sport. America's newest. S-T-R-E-A-K-I-N-G!

Streaking, or flashing in the singular sense, involves running (healthy) to some object that is somewhere close to you (non-tiring), in the nude (fun). What more could anyone want?

With new records being set daily at campuses smaller than ours, UK, with its size, could sweep in and take over the title of Streak Capital of the World.

Think of the monetary gains for the athletic department - endorsements for Official UK Streaking Gear (whatever that might be) to the money that would roll in from huge gate receipts and fees for the University of Kentucky Invitational Streaking Tournament (UKSIT). Lexington merchants would be able to literally smell the money when Commonwealth Stadium opened for UKSIT.

Controversy about some things might be cut short too. For instance, who would go to see The Best of the New York Erotic Film Festival (Ed: Recently closed by the Lexington cops for obscenity.) when outside, 200 streakers were truckin' down Limestone St.? Feminists couldn't complain about unequal treatment - when you're nude, everyone has the same number of pockets. And finally, dorm visitation rules could be abolished under the principle of if you can trust them to streak, you can trust them in the privacy of their own rooms.

The height of the sport on campus would come when UK streakers would use these classy lines reported in the Sunday Courier-Journal, "...the group of six naked Stanford gentlemen who, the story goes, were carrying golf clubs when they encountered a fellow student and his date.

"May we play through?" they politely asked.

What class. What a sport!

Ed: On March 5, the University of Kentucky experienced its first mass streak. Approximately 500 naked kids, accompanied by about 2000 onlookers showed up, causing the cops to call out extra officers to keep the peace. Additional mass streaks continued for several weeks until a student called "Streak Chief" - whose identity I withheld from authorities - was finally discovered and threatened with arrest. More on that another time.

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, August 20, 2006

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Poobah's Journal: The Last Post

The experiment of reading the journals I kept as a young man is done. I've read all 620 pages, most of the time blushing at how vapid I was. But hidden amongst the leaves was a picture of who I was then - a young man with a troubled mind who felt lonely much of the time and confused the rest.

I kept the journals on a near-daily basis throughout my late teens and 20s. The next-to-last entry is a short one. It came about a year after my mother died and when the Omnipotent Dad and I continued to struggle with the grieving:
July 13, 1982 - The humidity covers everything in a wet, tropical pall. I can feel the individual little droplets lighting on me. It's a mostly sensual feel, making everything hazy and familiar.

A night on the town with Dad. Ribs. A movie. A good way to unwind I think.
The journal inexplicably skips forward more than three years. I don't remember what caused the long pause, but I suspect it was because my life had changed from one in which I was alone and able to spend long hours writing, into one in which I had a family, a demanding job, a house to take care of.

During that pause, I fell in love and married Mrs. Poobah. My Dad fell in love with my first stepmother and married her. I changed careers, leaving my previous profession as an aircraft mechanic and going to work as a technical writer. My life was fuller than it had ever been, yet there were some constants.

I still felt older than my years and suffered from frequent - and as yet undiagnosed and untreated - bouts of depression. In five more years, the Poobette would be born and I would finally emerge into what I belatedly recognized as full adulthood.

When that happened, I never returned to regular journaling until I started this blog in 2005. Today, my "journal" is less a diary than a mish-mash of political commentary, personal remembrance, and reflection. I'm still not sure that it reflects the average 51 year-old man and I think there's still a touch of the confused young adult mixed up in the mish-mash. I still wince when I read what I've written and still question a world that I frequently find confusing and scary.

This is my last journal entry. I don't remember if this was a belated closing that I realized I hadn't written in 1982 or an attempt to get back into the rhythm of regular writing to ease some of the devils I battled at the time. The thing that strikes me now is the poignance it carries. A 30 year old man still uncomfortable in his own skin:
November 2, 1985 - Things change and don't change all at the same time. I used to use these books as a way to categorize, feel, and think through the events at hand. I would sometimes go through periods when it seemed there was no real need to carry on the debate and others when it seemed the journals were all there was. Call this one of the in-between times.

I'm quite a bit older now. I've acquired a new life, a wife, and a home. I'm not the same person I was just a few years back, and therein lies the rub.

Lately, I've got the oddest feeling that I'm drying up bit by bit. That plasma that I was is now leaking away and leaving an empty husk behind. I don't write, or read, or just sit and think anymore. I don't do any of those odd little things that I used to do so much of. I've gradually become someone else, but somehow, I've neglected to get to know him.

The time is far past that I should make that attempt.

With age, I'm getting more savvy in the ways of technospeak. Before I just wrote. Now I recognize it for a form of stress management.

O, the wonders of the modern world.

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, August 19, 2006

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As We See It: The Tappin' Fool Edition

Can You Hear Us Now?

Airliner Makes Emergency Stop After Liquid Found Onboard

"Aw Hell, It's Jist a Lil' Scrap Ah Paper"

The Don't Come Any Sharper Than This Tack, Do They?

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, August 18, 2006

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Randomness Is Alive and Well

Randomness is alive and well and living in my head:

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, August 17, 2006

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We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us!

One of my recent posts at Bring It On garnered plenty of comments action, even though it was merely a short blurb. The little-reported story - which broke the same day as the London bomb plot was revealed - detailed Bush administration attempts to yank $6 million dollars earmarked for developing bomb detection technology from the Homeland Security department.

I intended the post to demonstrate how disingenuous the Bush administration can sometimes be - a view the story confirms is shared by "lawmakers and some of the department's own experts". In my mind, Bush's attempt to block this funding was a demonstration of how style trumps substance all too often in the current White House. The administration has told us repeatedly for the past five years that everything is hunky dory and the world is much, much safer thanks to his practical and heroic actions against what he's taken to calling "Islamic fascists". The point was not the relatively small amount involved nor whether I thought the $6 million would be the end all to the problem.

And, it certainly wasn't about any of the subjects that eventually crept into the discussion thread.

The comments on the post - 24 and counting as I write this - were a little surprising to me, although I suppose they shouldn't have been. A flame war erupted when one commenter suggested the $6 million was a drop in the bucket and went on to charge that more than that amount was wasted in "office supply theft by union government employees".

Somehow, the subject had taken a sudden right turn into paper clip theft by unionized government employees. I was a bit confused as to how a discussion thread on bomb detection technology turned that corner. I was even more surprised when the commenter then went on connect the funding question and union employee theft to government-run health care.

I thought, as Mr. Bush is so fond of saying, "we've turned another corner" - apparently one which leads to subjects not even being discussed.

The comments continued - becoming more vitriolic with each post - and began incorporating plenty of other topics having nothing to do with the original - budget surpluses, the methods the would-be bombers were going to use, whether the government is as efficient as the private sector, economic theory, and plenty of discussion about who was an idiot, stupid, fuckwit, troll, lunatic left-wing fringe nut, pompous bag of hot air, and stupid.

By the end, I thought "stupid" was almost quaint given the context of the discourse.

So let me make the point to this post abundantly clear. Passion about these topics is a good thing. It is the oil that keeps the cogs of a democracy running. It has a place and in some cases, can do a world of good.

It's one thing for a bunch of amateur pundits - and I include myself in that description - to sit around calling one another idiots, it's quite another for the politicians we elected to do the same thing. Many times they demonstrate the same inability to stay focused on a topic as this discussion thread showed. You start out talking about bomb detection technology and end up in an insult-laden, circular discussion about health care with the result that the country ends up neither safe nor with viable health care.

As I stand back and look at the mess our country has become I can't help but borrow a line from the old Pogo comic strip, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, August 15, 2006

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Girls Gone Grabblin'

And just as a little break from the routine, we present:


Nuff said.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, August 14, 2006

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Poobah's Journal: The Oldest Young Person Ever

To all those I've met and to all those I've yet to meet, may we meet again some day.

-- Omnipotent Poobah, April 11, 1975 dedication in his journal

I've started to read the old journals and I'm finding the writing poorer and myself far more knowledgeable about the world than I am now.

Youth is like that.

I've chosen the following entry to share because I think it says much about who I was then and now. Be gentle kind readers, be gentle:

April 22, 1975 - Well, I missed out on the 21st and I didn't even notice. I didn't even notice all the other things I missed either.

Here I am at 19, and already I'm tired and aching. Before long, I'll begin to notice the white hair in my beard and the sound of crackling arteries.

I'm old. I feel it. Possibly what is wrong with me is what is wrong with the world in general. Maybe, just maybe, the world and most of the people in it are all used up. That's why people don't complain anymore.

"Oh well, it's the third economic crisis this week, and lookie here, Canada sank yesterday when the Chinese invaded Ottawa." Off hand, nothing is surprising anymore.

Today, people have done most of what they wanted to do by the time they're 30. Old before their time, they curl up at the ripe old age of 30 and wait until they're 70 or 80 before dying, screaming and kicking about how shitty life treated them.

I know what I need - a vacation. A little sun. A little fresh air. I'll be a kid again. Maybe that's the solution for everyone else too.


As of this minute, everything in the world will stop to take a vacation. Then, in a week, maybe two, the Great Nazz flips the old "Dig Infinity" switch and everyone comes back to real life.

A great plan, except that people don't know when to quit - just throw in the towel and stone-cold-sober quit.

Well I do know, by God, and as soon as I can quit, I'm taking a vacation.

The first thing I'm going to do is find a place to live at a leisurely pace, then I'm driving home (except someone else will have to drive because I hate it so much). Then, it's off to some quiet park or a museum or something, right in the middle of the week.

And then, AND THEN, when I'm on vacation in the middle of the fucking week, I'm going to sit on the nearest sitting thing, maybe the ground, and I'm going to thumb my nose at all the rest of the poor bastards who were too dumb to admit defeat.

It'll be great. I'll be refreshed and ready to go back to my niche.

But all that's on hold for the moment. I have a summer cold.

Summer colds look nothing like the pudgy balloons in Central Park in the Contac ads of old. They are rotten, and dirty, and a pain in the ass. They are not "different animals" at all, just the same old plague that has infested mankind since we graduated from bearskin duds.

So much for the philosophy of the cold. It could be worse. It could be the clap.

That, Dear Reader, is that for the night, and probably the next day, week, or any other given measurement of time.

Stay tuned. Some day I'll discuss my theory of THEY.

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, August 13, 2006

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He's a Legend in His Own Mind

I Love It When a Man Knows Himself in His Own Heart

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, August 13, 2006

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As We See It: Hell in a Handbasket Edition

Lebanon: And the Children's Games Continue

"The Decider" Decides Who is Responsible for Breaking Up Terror Ring

Diplomacy is Never Having to Say You're sorry...for Not Doing Anything

Now We Know What BP Stands For

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, August 11, 2006

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Congrats to the Good Reverend

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Reverend Billy Bob Gisher at Less People Less Idiots.

The good Reverend fights the good fight and does it damn well at it too. If you haven't been there, or you haven't been there for awhile, stop and take a look. Rev has branched out to become a video impresario and has just passed the 1 million views mark with his spot on cinemas.

As he says, a million of anything is a lot.

I agree.

Go see.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, August 09, 2006

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They Call Me Carnac the Magnificent!


The late Johnny Carson, dressed in his ridiculous Carnak the Magnificent getup, is handed an envelope by Ed McMahon. Johnny, with his usual flourish, holds the sealed envelope up to his head. There is a twinkle in his eye and his bejeweled turban glitters cheerily in the studio lights.

"And the question issssss," Johnny says theatrically. "Complete chaos!"

He opens the envelope and blows open the end. He removes the card inside and reads, "And the question is, what will be the result if the US invades Iraq!"

Ed shouts HEYOOOOOH! The audience laughs and Johnny goes on to the next question.


How about that? I'm the reincarnation of Johnny Frickin' Carson!

I knew the answer to that question long before we set foot in that hellish place. I could see quite clearly that Iraq was a place that even a world-class thug and dictator like Saddam had trouble holding in check. The country was a giant, national version of the board game Clue. Fanatical religious faction against fanatical religious faction in the kitchen. Ethnic group against ethnic group in the living room. Pro Saddam against anti-Saddam factions in the bedroom. When it came to killing, all Iraq needed for the complete game was Colonel Mustard in the study. GAME OVER! I wasn't the only one. I can remember more than a few articles that made exactly the same point.

I guess I have some competition for the Carson gig.

As soon as the wheels began coming off the bus in the early days of the occupation, military and political honchos alike quickly dropped the whole, "they'll greet us like conquering heroes" schtick and started dreaming of ways to deflect the criticism that they might have been wrong.

When there were questions about adequate troop strength for the invasion and beyond, all of them said, "No worries. We've got it under control." When the burning, looting, and pillaging began within days of US troops entering Baghdad, they said, "Mission Accomplished!" When the place devolved into complete anarchy and careened into civil war, they said, "There was no way for us to have known."

Well, if they believe that, I've got a wrecked house and a few acres in the soggy Ninth Ward of New Orleans to sell them. That's exactly the same excuse they used for their hamhanded handling of Katrina.

So here we are, months later and several thousand military and civilian deaths into the conflict and with no end in sight, the same tired-assed story goes on. Last week the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the overall commander of the Iraqi debacle repeated it line for line before Congress. A shrug of their star-studded shoulders and a, "Who knew?"

If they'd just watched a few reruns of Carson, we wouldn't be in this mess now.

Here is a fact: Generals don't make it that high up the ladder by being incompetent boobs. Unlike a President, or the asshats who vote him into office, they can't afford the luxury of being a trillion dollars short and a few years late. The can't blithely get by on dramatic photo ops and the advice of hare-brained neo-nimrods with idiotic political theories. They have real problems. They have to decide who lives and who dies. I choose to believe the Generals are honest competent men, but it's awfully hard to square that with their public statements in front of Congress.

I think this is the problem.

From his first day in office, the Asshat-in-Chief has usurped just about every article of the Constitution, every check or balance, and every government department as though he is ruling by imperial decree. I think he believes he has more power than the Japanese Emperors of old - and people thought that were descended from God for chrissakes! I think he's just about co-opted every useful portion of the government and starved the rest on the vine - the military was simply the coup-de-gras. That's the only way I can explain how a group of powerful, intelligent, and patriotic men can stand up and say such damning things about their own performance. The Emperor made them do it. They aren't just, "taking one for the team", they're letting the coach fire mortar rounds at them and then lie about it as they smolder on the fields of political carnage.

It's time to put the Child-in Chief's delicate ego aside, stop supporting his inane behavior, and start admitting we've got a problem and we need to deal with it pronto.

With a new crisis arising every day or so, we have way too much on the national plate to be dallying around with a once-avoidable problem that distracts us from all the other fiascos the Dufus-in-Chief has gotten us into.


The late Johnny Carson, dressed in his ridiculous Carnak the Magnificent getup, is handed an envelope by Ed McMahon. Johnny, with his usual flourish, holds the sealed envelope up to his head. There is a twinkle in his eye and his bejeweled turban glitters cheerily in the studio lights.

"And the question issssss," Johnny says theatrically. "George Bush!"

He opens the envelope and blows open the end. He removes the card inside and reads, "And the question is, what do you call an imbecile who can't admit a mistake?"

Ed shouts "UH OH!" and the audience sits in stony-faced silence.

FADE TO BLACK (unfortunately)

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The Poobah also appears at Bring it On!

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, August 08, 2006

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The Reluctant Archivist

Scrolls of the Poobah

Way up on one of my top bookshelves are a half dozen old ledger books that I used as journals when I was a youngster. The oldest I can find begins in Lexington, KY on April 11-12, 1975 - I apparently started on one day and wrote past midnight into the next - but I know there were earlier volumes. I seem to recall beginning them sometime in 1968 or 1969 at age 13 or 14.

I wrote them during a tumultuous time. I was a school-age kid with a schizophrenic mother, a Dad who struggled to keep up with odd work shifts and holding the dysfunctional family together, and a sister who dropped her child off with us (well, usually me) and disappeared for weeks at a time.

And of course, I wrote about the same things any other school kid writes about too - girls, the terror of the neighborhood bullies, my pet Boston Terrier, and the loosening grip I felt I had on my own sanity.

I devoted quite a few hours in that pre-computer world writing out all my feelings in cramped long hand. In between the journals, I found time to write excessively bad poetry - a couple of large volumes of that too. It was so bad I burned it at 18 because I feared someone would find the embarrassing crap.

I've never looked back on the decision. I'm a professional writer and I can still remember a few lines. Trust me, this was really, really bad poetry.

The journals haven't been opened in at least 25 years. All that time they've been sitting up there, a blueprint to the person I was and not so interesting to the person I've become. I'm sure my therapist would find it quite the treasure trove - a sort of ancient pyramid filled with all the dusty old pots and mummies any diligent therapist could hope for. Something to sink her Jungian teeth into.

Recently, the Poobette pulled one down, read a little piece, and gently and innocently teased me about the depth of my young angst - thankfully so different from her own. I hadn't thought about them in years and I began to wonder what I was thinking in that distant time and place.

It took me a few weeks to find time to pick one up, turn a few of the brittle pages, and read some of what I'd written. I found it very difficult.

I'm not normally a reflective person. I keep few family pictures and I've never kept any of the professional shots I took when I dreamed of a career as a photojournalist. I find it tedious when friends or family sit and talk about times past. I don't spend much time thinking about what might have been if I'd done this or that thing differently.

Frankly, I never really felt the need. My memories are in my head and more vivid than an old picture or a crumbling journal, sometimes scarily so. I've spent most of my life struggling to manage the present, glad to avoid the past, and feeling dubious about the future. As a kid, I used to aspire to a career doing something hermit-like - working in a fire tower perhaps. My goal was to put as many miles between myself and society as I could. Time has softened my stance a little, but I'm still not what you'd call a sociable kind of guy. I'm long on silence and short on small talk when it comes to social groups and I have little patience for making friends or influencing people.

But now that I've taken them down, they're laying there like some kind of challenge I never signed up for. The fleeting thought to torch these too crossed my mind, but if memory serves me correctly, they were pretty well done (unlike the poetry). And I'm sure they were more accurate than my poetry that soared more like a chicken that like an eagle.

Should I read them? Should I share portions with you? Should I expand my trip back in time and collect some of the old newspaper clippings also floating around our overstuffed house? What happens if memory fails me and they're crap too? Burn them? Bury them in the yard?

The Omnipotent Dad is also bundling up and shipping all his old photos to me too. I guess I'm becoming the keeper of the family archives. On the one hand, I'm not so sure I want the job, and on the other I feel a little obligated to the Poobette and Mrs. Poobah to fill in the holes in my fractured background.

Or maybe I do want the job and just don't know it. It's at times like these that I wish I still kept a traditional journal. They were perfect for working out this sort of thing. But that's a post for another day.

Advice anyone?

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The Poobah also appears at Bring it On!

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, August 07, 2006

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NSFW: Speaking of Sex Blogs

Anyone with a nodding acquaintance with the blogosphere knows there's a niche blog for everyone.

Underwater basket weaving? Got it.

Durian smoothies (thanks Hiromi). Yummy.

George Bush is an alien? Got that too.

Sex blogs? Got 'em 39, 700,000 times at Google.

Anything that's been created 40 million times has got to be a topic of interest and sex blogs most certainly are.

Rather than being the exclusive domain of those with socially odd predilections, they can also be places of great art. For every pervert, there's someone producing high quality writing that just happens to be about sex.

At the risk of it sounding like a lame excuse, I really do read them for the stories. For me, the best of the genre stays away from the tired cliches of the world's most successful types of blogs and sites to write about something close to home.

Quite often, sex is just part of the brew. Always Aroused Girl writes about her problems with being on top one moment - apparently it's all about the grinding motion - and the meaning of truth the next. In a virtual world filled with all sorts of illiterate miscreants, her writing is a breath of fresh air. And though she has plenty of banners pointing to sex blog directories, her taste in "erotic" photography seems to lean more toward beautiful flowers than T&A. Perhaps that isn't an intentional metaphor, but it works.

Sexy is as sexy does.

Over at Goose and Gander, you can read the trials and tribulations of a couple in love with each other and with bondage. It might sound salacious, but there's something a little endearing about the juxtaposition of posts on rope and pain with everyday posts about life around the house. Their easy - and sometimes not so easy - transitions between the mundane and the erotic can make powerful reading.

While almost all of these blogs carry a heavy load of exhibitionism, some of them can reveal more life than skin. Life of a Demure College Student does a little of both. A few pictures and plenty of stories about the adventures of being, well, a demure college student - only not so much emphasis on the demure. Watching her adventures is sometimes a little like watching a kid learn how to walk. You find yourself poised for the next stumble, but appreciate the fact that she's feeling her way along.

As you might expect, there's a high mortality rate for sex blogs. The types of relationships some of them portray can be full of pitfalls for average mortals. Happily, some seem to navigate the dangerous waters. But others, like the Cuddle Slut's Den, simply stop one day, proving the ephemeral quality that many modern relationships have.

Hiromi X is a good example of the evolution of sex blog into personal story. Her original blog was co-authored by her lover and combined sharp writing and wit with recipes evoking her Okinawan heritage and tales of sexual adventure. One day, a simple page appeared saying that things were over and the blog was through, but just as mysteriously it reappeared soon after.

Since then, readers have learned about the sexual and emotional intimidation her former lover/blogger inflicted upon her. Through her posts, she's recognized addiction, began treatment for a bipolar disorder, and now is seeing the sun for the first time in years. Her blog plays out the unbroken circle one day at a time - sex, death, rebirth, life.

All these bloggers might be derided for writing filth by some, but you'd be hard-pressed to find as many honest and talented writers in any forum. Personally, I think they have much to tell us - especially those who see it as mere filth, thereby denying an important part of the human condition.

So go. Have a read. Just make sure you practice safe-computing out there.

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The Poobah also appears at Bring it On!

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, August 05, 2006

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