Friday, March 31, 2006

Almost Synched

Here we are at 10pm in Lyon and I am still qwerty on my forehead. Just got back to the hotel after dinner. One of my favourite little bistros and within walking distance from the hotel. I am officially in Lyon now as I have had my crevelles du canut which is probably my favourite thing in the pantheon of good food to be had in Lyon. Creme fraiche with garlic, herbs etc served at the end of dinner. Sounds weird but it is ambrosia to me. I always know I am officially here when I have my first bowl. The next milestone will be steak tartare. I had the salade Lyonnaise last night so the trinity is almost complete.

I haven't had a chance to look around and see what is happening in the world so I won't have any political blogging tonight.

SDid send my first laundry out this morning and it always surprises my. three undershorts and shirts, three dress shirts, two trousers and 3 pairs of socks. 72 Euro or about a hundred bucks U.S. at the current exchange rate. Ouch! At some point you have to measure replacement costs into the formulae and I am not sure we are getting the best value by having the skivvies cleaned.

Well that is enough meandering chatter for now. I will now try and surf around a little before hitting the sack. No guarantees though as I did have a half litre of wine with dinner.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Whining for Fun

This is stupid whining but I am really cranked at the hotel. They make a big deal of the free internet and that's fine. They don't tell you about the hassle factor.

Check in Tuesday and get to the room. Plug in the laptop and launch the browser. Internet provider screen shows up asking for a voucher code for free access. I call the reception and the nice young lady gives me a number that will give me access for the next 24 hours.
Wednesday I stumble into my room and again call for the access numbers. Not allowed to give it over the phone they say. Have to come to the desk. Ok I get redressed and go down for it. This may seem trivial but this is either the tallest or close to the tallest hotel in Europe. The guest rooms don't start until the 33rd floor and I am on the 38th with one additional floor above so it is a trek to get back to reception. I am here for two weeks looks like they would figure out how to grant access for the duration. A real pain.

It's True If I Say So

The Goddess Molly is cracking the whip again. Here is a snip to whet the appetite.

Despite the huge international outcry over torture, so far the heavy hitters in the plot receiving real red, white and blue justice are Lynndie England, a 5-foot-3, 23-year-old woman with learning disabilities, and some noncommissioned officers. They were clearly the masterminds behind the entire international stink fest, from Gitmo to Afghanistan. England was put in prison for three years. Her baby boy will be walking and talking by the time Ms. England finishes doing her time, but no one in the upper ranks is responsible for anything that’s happened.

thanks to Susie

Hot Skinny

I am brain dead still. I am taking longer and longer to get over a continental shift. Used to be one day now it seems to be moving into three. Anyhoo, here is the allways brilliant Mark Morford who says it all.

Here is your must-read for the month. Here is your oh-my-God- I'm-sending-this-piece- to-every-smart-person-I-know hunk of outstanding, distressing, disquieting media bliss. Here it is: an absolutely exceptional inside scoop on the white-hot world of Sept. 11 conspiracy theories, writ large and smart by Mark Jacobson over at New York magazine, and it's mandatory reading for anyone and everyone who's ever entertained the nagging thought that something -- or rather, far more than one something -- is deeply wrong with the official line on what actually happened on Sept. 11.

Science Can't Keep Up with Bush

Reading this article it seem pretty clear that the GOP is raising the bar, as it were, on the growth of debt. Even the new National Debt Clock is having trouble keeping up.

Reminds of a company I used to work for that limited themselves to 4 digits in the data field that recorded the number of the system sold. The orignal programmers of the homebrew customer care system never anticipated we would sell more than 9999 systems.

Likewise technology never anticipated Bush.

Still Here

Still trying to get over the jet lag. My best intentions to do a little blogging and surfing lost out to sleep again last night. I might have been in front of the laptop for ten minutes and the next thing I know it's an hour later. Gave up and crawled into bed.

Last time I was at this hotel last fall it cost you 19 euros a day for access but it is now free so not a big deal to waste time online without doing anything.

Today is the second anniversary in a row I have been out of the country for. Madam is understanding but not exactly happy. This is 33 so it is not one of the "milestone" ones but I still hate to miss them especially from so far away. Somehow a phone call and email just doesn't count for much.

I hope I will be a little more active tonight. We'll see. Now for a rainy commute. Just midnight for you guys on the East Coast so you are all still cuddled up in bed. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hello from Lyon

Ok, We're here. 22 hours of travel mostly due to the general strike today in France. Cancelled my orginal flight from Paris CDG so I had to wait around for a little over 6 hours for another available seat to Lyon. Warm and sunny here but is was raining pretty good in Paris.

Safely ensconced on the 38th floor of the Radisson SAS Part Dieu. A good night's sleep and I will be ready to head into the client and see what's up.

I see while I was wiling my way along at 37,000 feet Andy Card went adios. What's up with that? Looks like I need to do a little blog around and see what the other godless heathen progressives have to say about it. I would not be surprised to find the root cause has something to do with rats and ships. It seems only prudent.

I'll do a quick run around the blog roll, take a shower and hit the sack. Tomorrow is another day and I am fragged. Can't sleep on planes so I am running on no sleep in the last 30 hours or so.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mother's In Trouble

The Huffpo has a good collection of articles around this coming global crisis. All of them are worth reading. As you can see Time magazine is now on board the global warming boat. The majority feels that this is a important issue and deserves immediate attention. We on the progressive side need to continue to hammer on this issue and remind everyone we can of how our government has ignored this issue since day one and even punished those who spoke out.


No one can say exactly what it looks like when a planet takes ill, but it probably looks a lot like Earth. Never mind what you've heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.

It certainly looked that way last week as the atmospheric bomb that was Cyclone Larry—a Category 5 storm with wind bursts that reached 180 m.p.h.—exploded through northeastern Australia. It certainly looked that way last year as curtains of fire and dust turned the skies of Indonesia orange, thanks to drought-fueled blazes sweeping the island nation. It certainly looks that way as sections of ice the size of small states calve from the disintegrating Arctic and Antarctic. And it certainly looks that way as the sodden wreckage...

Read the whole article here.

Something in the Air

From the AP

Police said more than 500,000 people marched Saturday to protest a proposed federal crackdown on illegal immigration.

Wearing white as a sign of peace, and waving flags from the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala and other countries, they came to show that illegal immigrants already are part of the American fabric, and want the chance to be legal, law-abiding citizens.

Police used helicopters to come up with the crowd estimate. "I've been on the force 38 years and I've never seen a rally this big," said Cmdr. Louis Gray Jr., incident commander for the rally.

In Denver, Colorado, more than 50,000 people protested downtown Saturday, according to police who had expected only a few thousand. Phoenix was similarly surprised Friday when an estimated 20,000 people gathered for one of the biggest demonstrations in city history, and more than 10,000 marched in Milwaukee on Thursday.

The demonstrators oppose legislation passed by the U.S. House that would make it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally. It also would impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants, require churches to check the legal status of parishioners before helping them and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border.

Probably most of you are too young to remember the late sixties when the protests against Viet Nam were gearing up and crowds like this assembled to protest something they really didn't like. This is similarly powerful stuff and the politicians that are trying to switch the focus from gay rights etc. to illegal immigrants better tread lightly.

The thing that most of the people pushing this war against immigrants (them using the "illegal" reference is just a smoke screen they want to punish all immigrants) don't realize is that a good part of the economic engine that is currently powering this country is represented in this group of people. Have you been to hotel, fast food or golf course lately? Have you looked at who is laying the brick and putting down shingles and building the stone walls in all of the ritzy neighborhoods going up around the country?

I am encouraged that these people are standing up for themselves and aren't afraid to let it be known that are not to be trifled with. Good for them.

Photo from the LA Chamberlin

The HuffPo has some more on this as well.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Last Minute Launching

Found out two days ago that I am needed in Lyon asap so I managed a flight out on Monday. Now I am rushing around trying to get all my ducks in a row so I can go without worry. Finished the taxes and they are filed electronically. Got a haircut. All the dry cleaning and laundry back and a dozen or so chores done around the manor. Got enough prescriptions to last for the two weeks so I think I am set. Got the limo set for the ride to airport.

Even went out and bought me a cheap baby guitar to take this time. Maybe I will actually get some practicing done instead of sitting in front of the laptop all hours surfing the blogs. I don't think I mentioned that I am trying to remember my lost skills. I haven't played since maybe the late sixties so needless to say I might as well be starting over. I was actually never very good but it is fun remembering and it is a hobby that doesn't involve eating or drinking which most of mine do. It will, I hope, give me something constructive to do.

Haven't had time to do anything but hit the high spots around the blogosphere. Notice Grace and Scriptoids is still fubar and nothing has been posted there in a week or so. Hope everything is OK.

Might have some time tonight to catch up and get some posting done. Turned cold here and expecting a frost so I still have to drag all the plants I dragged out last week back into the basement. Later boys and girls.

I you stop by Grace drop a line in the comments and let us know you are OK.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Lawless and Dangerous

The man and his advisors are demented and definitely not playing with all the cards in the deck. When Bush signed the Patriot Act reauthorization a few weeks ago he basically issued a "signing statement" saying that he wasn't bound by the law. I shit you not.
Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."
If I am not mistaken this whole deal is illegal. It's unconstitutional and otherwise bad form. The President can't just say he's going to ignore the law! When is someone going to call him on this shit?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Losing the Last of the Blog Roll

The last section of the blogroll is not showing up for some reason. Any blog on the list that is lower that "TalkingPoints" is not showing up. I don't know if it is a blogroll problem or a blogger problem. Blogger has been so shitty the last couple of weeks I am beginning to seriously consider going somewhere else. I own, and so I can move to a new provider pretty easily... I guess the old saw about getting what you pay for applies here.

I am not very informed about all the ins and outs of hosting a website so it would probably be a pain and cause much pulling of hair and stuff but it might be time to consider it.

I will see if I can figure out why the blog roll is hammered.

Love the Chicks

via atrios

Updated below

The Dixie Chicks have a new tune out. You can hear it here. I am so glad these ladies are out there and have the courage to tell all the dicks that still are not playing their music to take a walk. All Natalie said was:

Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.

She was sure enough speaking for me. BTW if you are so narrow and ignorant that you don't believe someone has the right to say that then you deserve not listening their music.

Very interesting piece of misleading journalism going on over on AOL.
Thanks to DownWithTyranny for the heads up.

AOL front page story on the Dixie Chicks. It's actually an A.P. story, just presented in the usual stupid AOL way for users.

"WILL DIXIE CHICKS PLAY NICE NOW?" says the AOL headline and the article goes on to say that "anti-Bush remark hurt trio; now they want a comeback."

This is such utter bullshit. You get the impression from the article that the whacko right was actually hurt the Dixie Chick's career in 2003 with their completely ineffectual boycott of the group's CD and concert tour. That is very, very far from the truth.

Granted that the radio station boycott, which to a greater or lesser extent is going on today, led to less airplay for the Dixie Chicks, the sales of CDs and concert tickets actually increased. In 2003 The Dixie Chicks won 4 Grammy Awards (their first ever): Best Country Album (HOME), Best Country Performance ("Long Time Gone"), Best Country Instrumental Performance ("Lil' Jack Slade") and Best Recording Package (HOME).

And guess what? All the attention made the Dixie Chicks music crossover into a fan base they never had when they were just a country band.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Back Along the Chattahoochee

OK home from San Fran and totally wiped. I am not used to being "on" 14 hours plus a day. These corporate affairs with all the clients that must be socialized and stuff really take it out of me. Starts out at 7am with breakfast, then the all day conference, roundtables and break outs, then dinner. Usually don't get back to your room until 10 or 11 and expected to do it all over again the next day.

I can hearily recommend the Jardiniere in San Francisco if you want a world class meal. I am still amazed that the restaurant managed to feed a little over 100 people that all showed up at the same time an absolutely fabulous meal. We actually had the whole place and the staff and service were super.

One special highlight was the cheeses that were served as appetizers. The most notable was an Irish cheese from the area around Cork. It is named for the farm upon which it is made...Gubeen or Gubbeen is derived from the Gaelic gobin meaning the small mouthful which refers to the bay, west of Schull, West Cork on which the farm is located. Gubbeen Farm has been worked by the Ferguson family for five generations. Tom and Giana Ferguson currently make the cheese.
Gubeen is a washed rind cow's milk cheese made with vegetable rennet. The milk is pasteurised and ranges from gentle and milky to pungent and savoury depending on its age. Texture is smooth and pliant. It is one of the most amazing cheeses I have ever tasted. I won't mention the blue veined Italian raw milk cheese from Alto in the Piedmont or the Brie from New York.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Eating Their Young?

Is it beginning? Has it gotten so bad that they can no longer keep it quiet? If you read this article in the Washington Post you might get the idea that all is not well in Bush's "Camp Sunshine".

Republican efforts to craft a policy and political agenda to carry the party into the midterm elections have stumbled repeatedly as GOP leaders face widespread disaffection and disagreement within the ranks.

Anxiety over President Bush's Iraq policy, internal clashes over such divisive issues as immigration, and rising complaints that the party has abandoned conservative principles on spending restraint have all hobbled the effort to devise an election-year message, said several lawmakers involved in the effort.

Not that I am advocating kicking them while they are down...I am more the "throw them an anchor" kinda guy.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Safe in San Francisco

Here we are back on the West side of things. This time in San Francisco at the landmark Fairmont Hotel high atop Nob Hill. Evidently this is a pretty historic hotel as this is where the initial delegates to the UN signed up.

Here for a company sponsored users group thingy so there is not going to be time for sucking up on San Fran's ambience, just work. I only have to do one presentation on Tuesday but will be on call to chat with clients and that kind of stuff. I did manage somehow to wind up in a suite on the top floor which is pretty big and quite nice. Still has that old hotel feel even though it had a huge renovation in 2001. It still looks like a well preserved old hotel if you know what I mean.

Have an hour or so to get settled before things get underway. Done the walkabout of the Lobby level and still have to scout out the famous Tonga Room which has been rated as one of the top bars in the nation by Gourmet and Travel and Leisure. It is even supposed to have periodic tropical rainstorms with thunder and lightening. Can't miss that.

I did try the BART from the airport. Cheap...about 6 bucks from the airport to downtown. Not very impressed otherwise. Very noisy and bumpy ride and the cars are kind of worn. Not stranger in town friendly either as I could not hear that they made announcement for stops and the stations are poorly marked. Not that Atlanta's MARTA is that much better but it seems a lot more user friendly. I guess Ijudge all such metro train systems from european standards.

Let me scout around and see what else is going on around the nets. Later

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Not Good

Why do I always stumble on articles like this when I am about to get on a plane tomorrow for San Francisco? is reporting that the Government Accounting Office had investigators try and smuggle the materials for an IED through the security and 21 U.S. airports over the last few months and all 21 airports failed to detect it. This is after the TSA assures us that this is their number one priority.

Since we have obviously been ignoring our ports I at least thought some of the billions of dollars being pumped into the TSA was actually doing something. Now that cockpit doors are hardened and we have sky marshalls flying everywhere exposives are the obvious answer for someone that wants to make some statement using an airplane.

The thing is these devices are going to be small and will not destroy the plane outright. They will only breach the hull or some such and we will all get to take a very long and cold 40,000 foot ride straight down. Bummer.

grats to Americablog and Explore for Truth

Friday, March 17, 2006

Change is Good

Jane Hamsher is now doing her good thing at her new digs Firedoglake (ReddHedd too!) and she, like me, is wondering if we have to use a 2x4 to get the attention of the "mainstream" Dems.

So let me speak in a language that even the dullest, the most remedial, most thick-witted Democratic consultant can understand.

According to a new Rassmussen poll:

“Initially, 22% of Democrats had a favorable opinion of him while 16% had an unfavorable opinion. However, knowing he advocates censure, Feingold’s numbers within his own party jumped to 52% favorable and 14% unfavorable.”

Every day that goes by and the party leaders do nothing but carp about an investigation that will never happen they are single-handedly delivering the loyalty, dollars and activism of the base over to Russ Feingold.

Are we communicating now?

Remember the old adage about doing the same over and over and getting the same results? The Democratic party has to see some different results and that means changing the "modus operandi" dig?

P.S> Don't forget to update the link

Just a Reminder has a petition drive going to encourge some follow through on the censure of Bush and the illegal wiretapping. If you haven't signed yet please consider doing so as we are very close to the 400,000 signatures. That is significant.


The orginal goal of 200,000 signatures was reached in less than 24 hours. A second goal of 350,000 signatures was set. That was met yesterday. Please sign today and help us push over 400,000 signatures, then _FORWARD_ the petition to everyone you know.

Surging Again and Again

EarlG over at the Democratic Underground noticed that he seemed to remember hearing about a "recent surge in violence" in Iraq more than a few times and decided to Google the phrase.

There are a few notable periods where violence is not reported as a "recent surge," (for example, Nov 2003 - Mar 2004) and there are a few notable periods where the violence is much worse (for example, May 2005).

But overall, it appears that there is a "recent surge in violence" reported in Iraq pretty much every few weeks.
Here are the results. The next time you see the phrase "recent surge in violence" try not to fall out of your chair.

September 3, 2003: Meanwhile, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac were to meet in Germany on Thursday to discuss ways for the West to respond to the recent surge in violence in Iraq and the Middle East.

October 31, 2003: Ansar is believed to be channelling into Iraq the foreign fighters who are behind a recent surge in violence in the country, officials say.

November 3, 2003: Bush blamed loyalists to ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and foreign terrorists for the recent surge in violence in Iraq.


March 4, 2004: A wave of bomb attacks in Baghdad and Karbala killing at least 171 people earlier this week has highlighted the difficulties in rebuilding the country and restoring peace. But Mr Blair, speaking after a meeting in Rome with his Italian counterpart, Silvio Berlusconi, said the recent surge in violence in Iraq did not constitute civil war.

April 14, 2004: U.S. President George W. Bush held a major news conference at the White House on 13 April in the middle of the deadliest month for Americans in Iraq since Baghdad fell a year ago. He spoke of the recent surge in violence there, but urged his countrymen not to lose faith. He also said he would adhere to the 30 June deadline for handing over sovereignty to Iraqis.

April 15, 2004: Pace said the recent surge in violence in Iraq is being driven by "terrorists" who see the June 30 deadline for turnover of sovereignty approaching rapidly and are petrified by the promise of democracy.

April 26, 2004: Lt. Gen. David Barno, the top American commander in Afghanistan, said Monday that the military has seen a recent surge in violence, but that most attacks were directed against soft targets, such as civilians or isolated Afghan security outposts.

May 12, 2004: Despite the prison abuse scandal and the recent surge in violence in Iraq, a majority of the public (53%) continues to support keeping troops in Iraq until a stable government is established

May 25, 2004: In his speech to the Army War College here, Bush warned that "there are difficult days ahead and the way forward may sometimes appear chaotic." Yet he vowed the handover would take place on schedule and that the US-led coalition would not be defeated by insurgents blamed for the recent surge in violence.

June 24, 2004: Compelled by the recent surge in violence, US Central Command (CentCom) has informally asked Army planners for as many as 25,000 more troops in Iraq, the Baltimore Sun reports.

July 22, 2004: Despite a recent surge in violence, including kidnappings, car bombings and assassinations, senior U.S. and Iraqi officials gave a relatively optimistic assessment on Wednesday of the security situation in Iraq since the transfer of political authority from U.S. to Iraqi authorities June 28.

July/August, 2004: In the short term, ongoing help will be required with the maintenance of security within the country. The response to the recent surge in violence must emphasise political solutions and not be just a simple deployment of military power.

September 9, 2004: "The recent surge in violence has been especially surprising because in the weeks after the transfer of power there was a phase that, for Iraq, felt to some almost like a lull."

September 17, 2004: The assessments, made before the recent surge in violence in Iraq and the US military death toll there topping 1000, appear to conflict with Bush's upbeat description of the US-led effort to stabilise and democratise Iraq.

September 22, 2004: The Iraqi leader also said that despite a recent surge in violence in Iraq, it is "very important for the people of the world really to know that we are winning, we are making progress in Iraq, we are defeating terrorists."

December 18, 2004: Mosul has experienced a recent surge in violence. On Friday, a car carrying Turkish security guards was attacked in the city, in Iraq's far north near the Turkish border, and four people were killed, one of them decapitated.


January 4, 2005: The incident marks the most senior assassination since the death in May of Governing Council president Abd al-Zahra Uthman Muhammad and should be seen within the context of the recent surge in violence ahead of national and provincial elections slated for 30 January.

January 17, 2005: The area around Kut has seen a recent surge in violence. In a separate attack, two Iraqi provincial government auditors were shot to death late Sunday after armed gunmen stopped their car in Suwaira, about 25 miles southeast of Baghdad, an official at a Kut hospital said.

March 2, 2005: Most of the victims were Shiites, the targets of a recent surge in violence, most notably a series of suicide bombings and other attacks that killed nearly 100 people during the Shiite religious commemoration known as Ashoura.

April 27, 2005: But he added it was too early to say if a recent surge in violence amounted to a concerted campaign, and insisted that US-backed forces were "winning".

May 10, 2005: The most-recent poll, conducted by CNN, USA Today, and Gallup, interviewed 1,006 adults between April 29 and May 1, 2005, before the recent surge in violence.

May 16, 2005: The insurgents' choice of adversary is unusual. But the recent surge in violence, at least, follows a time-tested pattern.

May 19, 2005: A senior U.S. military official told reporters Wednesday that the recent surge in violence in Iraq followed a meeting in Syria last month of associates of the Jordanian insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi.

May 20, 2005: It's unclear how much of the recent surge in violence stems from tribal leaders, but as Metz points out: "Local elites recognize that in a secular, modernized Iraq, their power would be challenged."

May 23, 2005: Even despite the recent surge in violence, in some areas -- downtown Mosul, for example -- Iraqi forces have begun limited independent operations.

June 17, 2005: It is also believed to be the main hideout of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant whose al Qaeda-linked group has carried out many of the deadliest attacks in Iraq and who U.S. forces believe is behind a recent surge in violence.

June 20, 2005: Mr. President, we were told that you planned to sharpen your focus on Iraq. Why did this become necessary? And given the recent surge in violence, do you agree with Vice President Dick Cheney's assessment that the insurgency is in its last throes?

August 4, 2005: His comments came as the 15-nation council unanimously adopted a U.S.-drafted resolution condemning a recent surge in violence in Iraq that has killed hundreds, ...

August 12, 2005: But a recent surge in violence and reports of growing public hostility to the Japanese presence are prompting many to question the prospects for continued humanitarian assistance there.

September 13, 2005: It's unclear how much of the recent surge in violence stems from tribal leaders, but as Metz points out: "Local elites recognize that in a secular, modernized Iraq, their power would be challenged."

September 17, 2005: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, has reportedly said the recent surge in violence is in retaliation for a coalition offensive against the group's stronghold in the northern city of Tal Afar.

October 31, 2005: The fresh U.S. effort to crack down on insurgents followed a recent surge in violence caused by the passing of the new Iraqi constitution in a referendum held earlier this month.


January 7, 2006: US officials have sought to downplay a recent surge in violence that on Thursday alone claimed the lives of more than 115 Iraqis and 11 US servicemen.

January 8, 2006: The recent surge in violence is "an anomaly" and Iraq is not on the verge of civil war, the top US commander there said yesterday, after one of the country's bloodiest days since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

February 1, 2006: Recently, five other members of Congress and I sat on a C-130 transport plane surrounded by soldiers going from Kuwait to Baghdad. The backdrop is a recent surge in violence.

February 4, 2006: Dozens of bodies have been discovered in various parts of Baghdad gagged, bound and shot repeatedly in the past week, amid recent surge in violence, which analysts have repeatedly described as initial stages of an open-ended civil war between Iraq’s ethnic groups.

March 1, 2006: AP reports that he was giving an unusually frank assessment of the stakes in the country's recent surge in violence.

March 4, 2006: The top U.S. commander in Iraq said yesterday that he hopes to make an assessment this spring about whether to reduce the number of American troops in Iraq. But Pentagon officials speaking anonymously said a recent surge in violence there has dampened hopes that force levels can be cut anytime soon.

I Feel Safer, Don't You?

Updated Below

Via ThinkProgress

Here is just one more example of how the Republican majority is dedicated to protecting you and I. Yesterday (3/16) the House of Representatives narrowly defeated an amendment proposed by Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN) that would have provided $1.25 billion in critically needed funds for port security and disaster preparedness. The Sabo amendment included:

$300 million to enable U.S. customs agents to inspect high-risk containers at all 140 overseas ports that ship directly to the United States. Current funding only allows U.S. customs agents to operate at 43 of these ports.

$400 million to place radiation monitors at all U.S. ports of entry. Currently, less than half of U.S. ports have radiation monitors.

$300 million to provide backup emergency communications equipment for the Gulf Coast.

Just to put this into perspective for you. The Bush budget, which will most assuredly be supported by those very same members who voted against this bill, contains an increase of $1.7 billion for missile defense, a program that has repeatedly proven that it doesn’t even work and most experts agree will probably never work. Have you done your taxes yet?

Update #1

Georgia10 at DKOS has more

Prophecy From An Old Onion

In a comment to the previous post Dr.Max reminded me of one of the greatest Onion pieces ever. It is worth a revisit in light of our new 9 TRILLION DOLLAR DEBT.

Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over'

January 17, 2001 | Issue 37•01

Here is a bit but read the whole thing

WASHINGTON, DC–Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address Tuesday that "our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over."

"My fellow Americans," Bush said, "at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us."

Bush swore to do "everything in [his] power" to undo the damage wrought by Clinton's two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Update Your Quicken

According to ABC News the Senate just added another 781 billion dollars to the national debt. It is now a record $9 BILLION. Divided among every man, woman and child in the U.S. that is $30,000 per so if you are married add 30K$ to your Quicken debt and if you're married another 30K$ for your spouse. Got kids? Add another 30K$ for each. If I add correctly the average family in the U.S. just bought another house and didn't know it.

The partisan vote also came as the Senate continued debate on a $2.8 trillion budget blueprint for the upcoming fiscal year that would produce a $359 billion deficit for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

The debt limit will increase by $781 billion. It's the fourth such move increasing the debt limit by a total of $3 trillion since Bush took office five years ago.

Happy days are here again.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Chicken Shits

At least Russ Feingold is speaking up.

Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold accused fellow Democrats on Tuesday of cowering rather than joining him on trying to censure President Bush over domestic spying
"Democrats run and hide" when the administration invokes the war on terrorism, Feingold told reporters.

Feingold introduced censure legislation Monday in the Senate but not a single Democrat has embraced it. Several have said they want to see the results of a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation before supporting any punitive legislation.

I am really having trouble believing that no other democratic representative in Washington is not prepared to take Bush's latest poll numbers out for a spin and see what they will do. What a bunch of chicken shits. Hey folks, we are talking about probably the worst presidency in the history of the country here. This administration has stripped of us our rights, spied on us, murdered out brothers and sisters in a terribly misguided effort to gain control over a large chunk of oil, destroyed our reputation in the world, bankrupted our treasury putting even our great, great grandchildren in debt and otherwise led this country over a cliff.

This is absolutely disgusting.

Molly Speaks for Me

My other Texas sweet heart Molly Ivins is cooking on all burners with this one and I agree with her 100% which is not unusual. This is a lady that knows Bush and his fake swagger as well as anyone and can tell you from personal experience what kind of son of a bitch Kark Rove is. The establishment Dems have got her shorts in a knot and that is not good news. When Molly turns her guns on you the only prudent thing to do is hide. There is more good stuff here. Read it.
Mah fellow progressives, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party. I don’t know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I will not be supporting Senator Clinton because: a) she has no clear stand on the war and b) Terri Schiavo and flag-burning are not issues where you reach out to the other side and try to split the difference. You want to talk about lowering abortion rates through cooperation on sex education and contraception, fine, but don’t jack with stuff that is pure rightwing firewater.

I can’t see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can’t even see straight.

New Fear Factor

There is a new fear factor in town. No longer will just some plastic sheeting and duct tape do the trick now you better get some canned tuna and powdered milk to put with it.

In a remarkable speech over the weekend, Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt recommended that Americans start storing canned tuna and powdered milk under their beds as the prospect of a deadly bird flu outbreak approaches the United States.
I guess I must be getting jaded or something. Is it just me or do I get the sense that since "fear of ragheads" is wearing thin the administration has latched upon something else to keep the rubes from sticking their heads out of the sand? I know they fear the day when the majoity of people in this country begin to figure out what is being done to them. From Georgie's lastest polls numbers that day might be approaching.

Anyhow, back to the issue at hand. Am I wrong in thinking that most prudent people keep a modest stock of emergency supplies tucked away? Don't most people maintain kind of a buffer stock of basic necessities that they can fall back onto in case they are trapped or otherwise unable to get to the store or if the stores shelves are empty?

I am not talking about six months worth of everything you might need here. I am talking about 20 pounds of flour, 10 pounds of corn meal, cooking oil, salt, dried beans, canned tomatoes, canned meats and fish and yes powdered milk and some other basics that could get you through for maybe a month. Don't overlook first aid supplies, aspirin, iodine, bottled water, batteries, candles, bottled propane, maybe some beer, wine and whiskey. Last but not least some tools like a hatchet, knives, saws, etc. and finally a small caliber rifle and some ammo.

It's really not hard to do and you don't have to go out and buy it all at once. If you start thinking about how you would get by in an emergency such as a quarantine because of bird flu or even the inevitable bad hurricane or whatever you can begin to add a little to each shopping trip and before you know it have a stock of stuff that will buffer you in case of emergency. Of course you have to think about rotating through the perishables like flour and cornmeal and even long shelf life stuff won't last forever but it is not hard to do.

It is a little simpler for me since it is usually only me and madam to think about. If you have kids and pets etc. it does get a little more complicated but not impossible. Just begin to think about the things you take for granted that are fundamental requirements for getting by and you will reach for an extra box or two of kosher salt and maybe an extra five pounds of flour the next time you are shopping.

If you are the head of a household it is actually kind of irresponsible to not be prepared. Didn't you learn anything in the scouts besides how to cuss and smoke?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Faux President

Barbara O'Brien over at Mahablog has a good post up about the Bush misadministration and how from the beginning it hasn't had much substance and has been more pageant that actual governance. Here is a chunk of the New York Times piece today by Elisabeth Bumiller and David Sanger

… senior staff members insist that Mr. Bush is in good spirits, that calls from his party to inject new blood into the White House make him ever more stubborn to keep the old, and that he has become so inured to outside criticism that he increasingly tunes it out. There is no sense of crisis, they say, even over rebellious Republicans in Congress, because the White House has been in almost constant crisis since Sept. 11, 2001, and Mr. Bush has never had much regard for Congress anyway. …

… “They have a transmitter but not a listening device,” said one well-known Republican with close ties to the administration who gets calls from White House staff members. “They’ll say, ‘What are you hearing, what’s going on?’ You tell them things aren’t good on the Hill, you’ve got problems here, you’ve got problems there, or ‘I was in Detroit and boy did I get an earful.’ And their answer is, ‘Everybody’s just reading the headlines, we’ve got to get our message out better.’ There’s denial going on, and it starts at the top.”

The article and Barbara's coverage really put into perspective what we have all suspected since the beginning. We have actually spent the last six years or so with a faux president and the world has just passed us by. If you think about it all the major events of this period have pretty much just as you would expect if no one was in charge. I am convinced that 9/11 would not have happened if we had someone in charge that was actually serious about the job and paying attention. The same goes for Katrina and all the other disasters that have befallen us.

I guess Iraq is the best example of how not paying attention and not listening to the experts and not thinking things through and just pretending to be serious can create a clusterfuck of "biblical" proportions. How much different would the world be today if someone serious had been at the wheel for the last murderous six years? Two thousand three hundred and seven of America's hope for the future would still be alive and some 16,653 would not have been brutally ravaged in a sensless war with no end in sight. Don't even think about the Iraqi dead and injured or the destruction and suffering.

What the hell is going to happen over the next three years?

Friday, March 10, 2006

No Sex Just Die

Behind the scenes the "jumped by Jesus" crowd is spreading love and support everywhere they go.
In the most recent New Yorker , Michael Specter tells us how they have been spreading all this love. They have waged a "below the radar" war against some very critical vaccines, especially the one against human papillomavirus or HPV. This vaccine has proven in clinical trials that it would drastically reduce the incidence of cervix cancer, in fact, almost to zero. The theowhacks opposes it as a mandatory childhood vaccination. Why do they oppose such a boon you ask? Because it removes a disincentive to having sex in teens and unmarrieds. That's right let's let hundreds or thousands of people die needlessly because we don't want any teens to be encouraged to have sex because they aren't scared of getting HPV. Keerist on a tricycle!

It doesn't stop there folks. If tomorrow our scientists discovered a vaccine for HIV they would oppose that too!
From the New Yorker (sorry no link)
"Religious conservatives are unapologetic; not only do they believe that mass use of an HPV vaccine or the availability of emergency contraception will encourage adolescents to engage in unacceptable sexual behavior; some have even stated that they would feel similarly about an H.I.V. vaccine, if one became available. 'We would have to look at that closely,' Reginald Finger, an evangelical Christian and a former medical adviser to the conservative political organization Focus on the Family, said. 'With any vaccine for H.I.V., disinhibition' - a medical term for the absence of fear - 'would certainly be a factor, and it is something we will have to pay attention to with a great deal of care.' Finger sits on the Centers for Disease Control's Immunization Committee, which makes those recommendations."
I know Jesus is mighty proud of these folks for their efforts in ridding the world of sex.

Nod to Atrios

Pitts on Hypocrits

Mustang Bobby over at BBWW highlights the latest from Leonard Pitts in the Miami fish wrapper. This time Leonard is taking on a hypocritical Miami Sunset Senior High school teacher by the name of Donna Reddick who does the typical jumped by Jesus condemnation of homosexuality using scripture. For my money here is the money quote;
They're so panicked at the thought that somebody accidentally might treat gay people like people. They run around Chicken Little-like, screaming, "Th' homosex'shals is comin'! Th' homosex'shals is comin'!" Meantime, people are ignorant in Appalachia, strung out in Miami, starving in Niger, sex slaves in India, mass-murdered in Darfur. Where is the Christian outrage about that?
This kinda crap always reminds me of something that someone sent me years ago. It's a letter to Dr. Laura (a world class hypocrit if there ever was one) and I think it is a hoot.

Dear Dr. Laura

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's law. I have learned a great deal from you, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord. (Lev. 1:9).The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. How should I deal with this?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as it suggests in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may buy slaves from the nations that are around us. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans but not Canadians. Can you clarify?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 10:10), it is a
lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 20:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear prescription glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Happy Friday

I just love it when my Fridays start off like this. It is a much welcomed lagniappe to add to the end of the week. While this is NOT good news for the GOP it sure tickles me. Is it wrong to relish someone else's misery? Normally, but in this case I am making an exception.

  • 70% of Republicans think civil war will break out in Iraq.
  • 70% of Americans think US is on wrong track
  • 37% approve of his job performance
  • 74% of Republicans approve his performance, down from 82% in February
  • 36% approval rating on domestic affairs, down from 39% last month
  • 43% approval on foreign policy and terrorism
  • 40% approval on Iraq and economy
  • 2/3 disapprove of Congress job performance

  • Not only is the above good news something to smile about but even the GOP spinners are starting to see the light. This quote is from a major GOP political consultant.
    "He has no political capital," said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster. "Slowly but surely it's been unraveling. There's been a direct correlation between the trajectory of his approval numbers and the -- I don't want to call it disloyalty -- the independence on the part of the Republicans in Congress."
    You won't see Rove or McClellan admit it but when the insiders start to bash Dubya then it is all over but the shouting.

    Via Americablog

    Thursday, March 09, 2006


    Grace Nearing over at Scriptoids links to an excellent post concerning the intellectual murder of one Jay Bennish, a high school teacher in Aurora, Colorado. His crime was trying to teach his students to think on their own. She links to an article by Michael I. Niman, Keeping Kids Stupid: The Intellectual Lynching of Jay Bennish and it very carefully and tragically describes the assault on Jay from the right for doing his job.

    It's something I have talked about here before and it is probably time to revisit it. The ultra conservative and/or religious right have a deep seated fear of anyone who can think and reason. Their whole world view cannot stand the light of reason and instead relies on fear and ignorance for it's life. They will go to any length to stifle those who would teach or enable rigorous and creative thought. I have known them all my life and I will tell you once again that if you think to challenge their belief in God/Jesus as master and punisher for sin they would just as soon have you dead. The only reason they don't do it themselves is because it is currently against the law. If they have their way with the law though, it soon won't be.

    Since the fundamental root of their miserable lives is fear, whether it be fear of death or fear of eternal damnation or fear of being wrong or fear of happiness or fear of freedom they have to have someone to point to as the source. Since their feeble understanding of the world cannot grasp the concept that their fear is self created then they have to have someone to blame. Guess's you and your liberal, heretical beliefs.

    How dare you accept the world as it is and resolve to make it better. Don't you know that there is them and us and we are better and Jesus says so. If Jesus loved them then why are they starving and diseased? Why do you accept him as other than the devil he is when he doesn't even worship Jesus? I could go on and on but you get the drift. They will not and cannot accept the reality of the world and therefore need a scapegoat to blame it on.

    Keep this at the forefront when you consider these people. They are the most dangerous thing this planet and society have ever faced. They can justify any act or crime with their belief that the ends justify the means. We have seen the results over and over again throughout civilization when the zealots get control. They will attack and try and destroy every bright light like Jay that rises above the hedgerow. We have to fight them at every opportunity and shine the light of reason and freedom on their black deeds. They will not tolerate light and will shun it or attack it with all their might. We have a responsibility to keep it burning.

    Remember Me Always

    If you haven't read Dr Max's latest missive on the South Dakota abortion fiasco it's worth a stopover. An excellent piece of satire and one the Doc's best. Go read the whole thing but here is a little teaser.
    I would really like to thank the South Dakota state legislature and Governor Mike Rounds in particular for recognizing this fact. By insuring that my victims carry the offspring from my violent act to full term I know they will never forget me. Where other states would callously allow victims an abortion to help them move on with their lives, the good people of South Dakota see me as a dad as well as a rapist.

    The Hits Keep Coming

    It's 1230 in the morning and I am just now settling down to see what I have missed in the last couple of days. I love my visitors dearly and they have been good friends for over 19 years but Holy Smoke am I exhausted from the constant on. They leave tomorrow but their 20 year old son comes to spend part of his spring break with us on Saturday. Who knows what we'll do to entertain him.

    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    Did That!

    Ok we have returned from the wilds of Alabama, Mississppi and Tennessee. Graceland is still there as is Sun Studios and the Rock and Soul Museum. Didn't have any BBQ or ribs this trip but had two nice meals at the 83 Grill and at LoLo's, both are worth a visit.

    Horribly long drive back to Atlanta from Memphis today. Took forever to get out of Memphis as the construction on I40 cost an hour and since Madam decided we should come back via Nashville and Chattanooga (the long way) we basically spent all day on the road.

    I think our friends enjoyed everything but the driving. American road tips don't register since you could fit the whole of England into say Virginia with room to spare. They can get anywhere in their entire country in 3 or 4 hours driving.

    Too tired to spend anytime commenting on the state of the world so that will have to wait until tomorrow. Sleepy time now.

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    Memphis Monday

    Up bright and early here in Memphis. Nice trip up via Birmingham and Tupelo and an absolutely gorgeous day to travel. The new car performed up to expectations and I have to say that Hyundai has done a great job with the new Azera. I get the chance to drive a lot of different cars as much as I travel and rent and the new wheels don't have anyone to apologize to. The new 3.8 L engine and redone suspension make you feel like you are driving an expensive Euro touring car in the BMW 525 or Audi A4 class. I made a good choice.

    Off this morning with our English friends for their first visit to Graceland to be overdosed on Elvis. It is, of course, just another trip for me but I'll be good and make sure they get the full treatment. As I mentioned in an earlier post one of my "things" about Memphis is the great BBQ and I can't say I am not disappointed not to be able to share my passion and knowledge of some the best food in the nation with my vegan friends. C'est la vie! I will be back though. Corky's ribs are almost as good as mine and I don't have to spend all day tending them which counts for something.

    BTW I am happy to see my choice for best actress won last night. I just love Reese Witherspoon and she did a marvelous job in "Walk the Line".

    Light posting for the next couple of days as we'll seeing the sights of Memphis today. Beyond Graceland there is Sun Studios, The Rock and Soul Museum, Gibson Guitars and other stuff to see and do. I will have to be careful though as Memphis has the distinct honor of being the place I got the only speeding ticket in my 40 years of driving (45 in a 40 zone..$35). I did get it on Elvis Presley Blvd so there was something to be said for it.

    Saturday, March 04, 2006

    Memphis Bound

    Our visitors from the UK are here and it seems they have an agenda. They want to see Graceland so it's off to Memphis (via Tupelo, of course) for the next couple of days. Using points for the hotel which I have in abundance so all it will cost is the gas and food. Mrs. Fallenmonk would visit Graceland every week if she could so she is quite excited. I have been twice and I think I have seen aboout all I care to. Oh well. We'll also try and hit some of the other sites like Sun Studios and such.
    The only reason I like Memphis is for Corky's ribs but our friends are both vegetarians so that won't be on the agenda. Darn it! I am just providing transportation and crude commentary.

    Special Visitor

    Look who stopped by to nibble on one of the pines in the back. A very rare pileated woodpecker. He stayed for quite a while and inpected this particular tree from top to bottom.

    Not a great shot but these guys are very shy and I was lucky to get close enough to get this one.

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Getting What You Pay For

    Getting a little respite from the last two hectic days. I would normally be half way to the airport to pick up our English freinds who are coming for a short stay but there is a little problem. In order to take advantage of some free tickets they had to connect through Newark instead of direct from Gatwick to Atlanta. What with one thing and another their arrival in Atlanta is now 1015pm instead of 755pm. Yours truly now has about 3 hours of unexpected slack with which to play. At any rate traffic wil be lighter.

    Making the rounds of the news and blogs it seems like it's been business as usual in my recent absence.
    • Bush and company lie some more.
    • We are dropping our pants at 21 ports and issuing tubes of Vaseline.
    • Mississippi is going to follow the pack of dogs from South Dakota and plan to issue a Rapist's Bill of Rights.
    • Atlanta can't find money to house and feed our homeless but have no problem coughing up 75 million for a NASCAR Hall of Fame.
    • Alito thinks Dobson is a swell guy.
    • Corn syrup sweetners are killing everybody.
    • More and more bacteria and fungi are becoming drug resistant and we are running out of new antibiotics.
    I shouldn't really harp on just the bad news though both FOX and CNN are confirming CBS news polls that show pretty much everyone now thinks Bush is a fuckup.

    Shell Game Redoux

    Didja think Bush and company were telling the truth about a 45 day review before they sold our souls to the UAE? Didja think the string of lies we have had from Bush and company suddenly came to an abupt end? Didja appreciate the extra sand they put in the KY Jelly as they slipped it to you one more time. I know you did 'cause I feel the love and appreciation or should I say adoration we all feel for GW and how hard he is working to keep us all safe from those scary terrorists.

    Read it and weep boy and girls 'cause we are screwed, blued and tattooed one more time!

    Here is the short if it.
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dubai Ports World's $6.85 billion acquisition of Britain's P&O will close on Friday or Monday, despite an additional 45-day review by the U.S. government in response to security concerns, a U.S. Treasury Department official said on Thursday.

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    Busy, Busy

    Under the gun to get some critical stuff finished by tomorrow for work so it will be kind of light around here with respect to blogging. Don't you just hate it when work intrudes on your blogging?

    Not to mention we have overseas visitors arriving tomorrow evening for a week and Mrs. Fallenmonk gets real cranky when yours truly spends too much time in front of the computer.

    Glorious day here in Atlanta though and things are starting to bloom. Best time of year in Atlanta in my thinking.

    There is plenty to read if you just hit my blogroll there are some real smart folks out there with important stuff to say. I'll do my part when I get some breathing room.

    Play nice.