Monday, July 31, 2006

War Crimes?

Updated: Full disclosure below.

I know I haven't said a lot about the war crimes being committed by Israel in Lebanon and there is a reason...maybe two. First, there are people like Billmon and Juan Cole that are more informed and better writers than I. Second, The whole charade makes me almost physically ill. Israel is merely executing American instructions using U.S. provided weapons. If the U.S. was serious about wanting peace we would close the 2.5 - 3 billion dollar a year checkbook we give Israel every year. Without U.S. aid Israel would not exist, would not have a state of the art military and would not be blowing up women and children. That is the raw truth. There is neither time nor inclination to argue the viability or justice of a Jewish state. The situation is what it is but to continue to sanction this bloody mess by rush shipments of precision guided missles and mouthing such crap as "birthing democracy in the middle east" is bullshit. Human Rights Watch pretty much wraps up my view:

A New York-based human rights group says the Israeli military is fully responsible for its air strike that killed nearly 60 civilians in Lebanon, calling such attacks a "war crime."

In a statement released in Beirut Sunday, Human Rights Watch said Sunday's air strike in the village of Qana was a product of an indiscriminate bombing campaign amounting to a war crime.

The statement calls on the U.N. secretary-general to establish an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate violations of international humanitarian law during the conflict.

Update: In the spirit of full disclosure I have never been a big fan of Israel. I lost several good friends on the USS Liberty and I have never forgiven the Israeli's for that wicked act.

Distaste for Losing

The lack of coverage in the news about the continuing degradation of the situation in Iraq somehow is being translated in the minds of many Americans into "it's getting better". No people it is not "getting better" it is getting markedly worse. And this is just the Americans, I can't begin to keep track of the parade Iraqi death.

The Marines, from Regimental Combat Team 7, died Saturday in Anbar province, the heavily Sunni Arab region west of Baghdad that includes such flashpoints as Ramadi and Haditha, a U.S. statement said without further details.

So far this month, 44 U.S. service members have died in Iraq -- including 10 in Anbar province during the past week. That underscores the threat to U.S. troops from Sunni insurgents, despite the attention paid to recent sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Baghdad.
Granted all the coverage of the Israeli/American murder of women and children is taking a big chunk out of the news cycle but a whole lot more people are dying in Iraq than in the tragedy we are creating in Lebanon.

Another phenomenon currently unfolding in America is the "ignorance is bliss syndrome". Americans don't like to lose and the don't like losers. You can pump as much sunshine up their pinafores as you want but Americans are finally beginning to see Iraq in the harsh light of reality and are seeing D E F E A T in blood red flashing neon ten feet high. They are also beginning to see the Bush circus for exactly what it is..."a bunch of ducks trying to fuck a football". The net result is that they are simply turning off the news and tuning out the bad, worse, worst. It can't bother you if you don't know about it, right?

Frank Rich in the New York Times has a good article this morning discussing how the media is basically ignoring Iraq.

CNN will surely remind us today that it is Day 19 of the Israel-Hezbollah war — now branded as Crisis in the Middle East — but you won’t catch anyone saying it’s Day 1,229 of the war in Iraq. On the Big Three networks’ evening newscasts, the time devoted to Iraq has fallen 60 percent between 2003 and this spring, as clocked by the television monitor, the Tyndall Report.
The steady falloff in Iraq coverage isn’t happenstance. It’s a barometer of the scope of the tragedy. For reporters, the already apocalyptic security situation in Baghdad keeps getting worse, simply making the war more difficult to cover than ever.
The tragedy is that none of it is going to go away until we run Bush, Rummy, Cheney and Condi and all their pals out of Washington on a rail. Until we get some serious thinkers and rational people in charge we are faced with a continuing melt down in Iraq and anywhere else Bushco has dabbled in foriegn policy.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday Travelogue

Here are a few pictures to contemplate and rest your thoughts upon. On the bottom is the village bowling green in Bakewell , Derbyshire. UK. Madam has just returned from a couple of weeks with friends. The town always makes an effort to plant it with all manner of flowers for the summer including many varieties of roses. Bakewell is "famous" for the Bakewell Pudding which is a custard filled pastry that must be an acquired taste.
Also for your viewing pleasure is the panoramic view from the Curbar Edge overlooking the Derbyshire dales. It is very restful and bucolic. You can look closely and see the River Derwent as it flows along.
First, we have a view of the "bustling village center" of the famous plague village of Eyam in the Peak District of Derbyshire where our friends live. The plague arrived in Eyam in 1665 and the villagers bravely quarantined themselves within the village until the plague subsided in 1666 but not before 259 of the 350 villagers had succumbed to the scourge. Many of the cottages where the villagers lived and died are still occupied as homes in the village but are marked with small plaques noting who died there during the plague. The familiar children's rhyme "Ring Around the Rosie" comes from the plague and tells about the symptoms and experience of the plague.
"Ring a ring of roses
a pocket full of posies
atishoo, atishoo
we all fall down"
The ring of roses refers to the signs of plaque on the victim's body; posies were the nosegays they carried to try and ward off the disease; the sneezing was a symptom of the disease; and once the victim fell they never got up again...cheery little thought.

Have a nice Sunday.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Not Listening and Don't Care

Well, the least (or most) you can say for these cretins is that they are consistent. Rummy announced today that he was extending the deployment of 3,500 troops in Iraq for at leat 120 days. One of the outfits affected was the Alaska-based 172nd Stryker Brigade which already had begun rotating out of Iraq when the order came to stay put. This announcement pretty much locks in the fact that there will be no reductions in force this year. This sucks big time!

It is interesting that this announcement comes on the heels of the admission yesterday by Bush and Hadley that the men dying in Iraq are no longer dying in the war on terror but in trying to quell a religious civil war. Do they think we are not paying attention or what?

As a kicker you get Cat Killer Frist announcing today that the GOP message going forward is "Stay the course on Iraq and the war on terror."

Either these yahoos are not paying attention to the American public or they just don't care(my vote) because the latest New York Times poll says that 66% of Americans think we are going in the wrong direction. Hello?

If you like war then stick with these dipsticks for as long as it takes them to work down to your son or daughter or grandson and granddaughter or think about a "New Direction" with the other guys.

grats to AmericaBlog for the links

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Disturbance in the Force

Pissed Off Patricia over at Morning Martini is feeling the pressure of the "dark side". The overwhelming amount of hate, death, dispair and pain in the world today is coming through the news and whether she realizes it or not is actually disturbing the "force" in the world. George Lucas borrowed from many things in constructing his Star Wars universe and a whole lot from Joeseph Campbell. A common theme that runs throught the long line of myth and religion in the world is the concept coined as "the force" in Star Wars .

You'll find that, on average, those of us on the left are more sensitive to the pain and dispair of others. Our reactions to disasters such as Katrina and the war in Iraq are more focused on the human suffering and needless death than on such abstract areas of combat ops or infrastructure damage. It is part of the territory as you grow into a full participant in the dance of life. You begin to feel and appreciate your connectedness to all things and feel their pain and anquish much more acutely. On the upside you also get to share in their love and joy when it happens. The tough thing right now is that the balance is tipped to the "dark side" and we all feel the disturbance in the quote Yoda.

All of you that are feeling the "disturbance" whether it be as a general unease, bad dreams or just a background noise of fear and dispair should take heart in the fact that the universe seeks balance at all times and the force of good will once again strengthen and return the equilibrium. You can already see the beginnings of the swing in the growing global disgust with the way things are going. It is just going to require a little more patience.

By the way, it always helps if we focus on love, beauty and balance in our thoughts and actions. Resist the urge to hate those causing the pain. The "dark side" feeds on hate and fear...don't feed it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It's the Planning

Finished up my deal here in Sunnyvale but couldn't get anything but a redeye back to Atlanta today. No thanks! I'll just chill and catch an extra 40 winks tomorrow morning and catch my original flight at noon.

Gorgeous weather here today. Only got to maybe 78 or 80 and a clear blue sky.
Not much I can add to the great discussions going on around the leftie blogs, so I won't even try. All I want to say is that if Al Gore had taken his proper place in 2001 we would be in a whole different place right now. It is all going to get worse before it gets better. Nobody in their right mind is going to step in as a peacekeeping force and the 8,000 additional troops headed to reinforce Baghdad are a token.

It is really embarrassing to be an American in this day and age.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What A Guy

In another demonstration of his concern about the morale of our troops in Iraq, President Bush has announced an "in country R&R" program in an effort to do more for the boys and girls giving it their best in the fight against terror.

In a special announcement today Bush said that an unknown number of personnel serving in outlying areas of Iraq and in Kuwait will get the opportunity to enjoy the nightlife and ambience that Baghdad has to offer at no cost to them. the length of these "special" visits has not been determined. This new program takes advantage of the progress we have made in turning Baghdad into a showplace of democracy and progress in the Middle East, Bush said.

Interviews with potential candidates for this new program produced "mixed" results. Many of those interviewed felt that they were not deserving of such special attention and offered to give up their spots to others. That's the spirit...always thinking of the other guy.

Just Lovely

I know all of you are as relieved as I over the following. I sometimes lay awake nights worrying about these poor oil companies and how they are going to make it with gas getting so expensive and everyone cutting back.
BP, one of the world's largest oil companies, posted a net profit of $7.3 billion for the three months ended June 30, up from $5.6 billion a year earlier. Revenue rose 24 percent to $73.5 billion from $59.3 billion.
Whew! I can rest easy tonight.

Personal Exposure

It was actually a very nice day here in Sunnyvale, clear skies and not too hot. This fact didn't seem to help the PGE folks with their power problems though. Three out of four of the clients buildings were shutdown today due to the lack of electricity. Fortuneatly the servers I am working with are hosted away from the Silicon Valley or I would have been a very expensive ornament. Tomorrow things are supposed to be better.
So California has now treated me to plain vanilla blackouts, mud slide blackouts, earthquake blackouts over the 30 years that I have been periodic visitor.
If nothing else these escaplades are good for memories.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Enough is Enough

This is so absolutely, breathtakingly absurd that I had to read it twice to let it register. Senator Inhofe is comparing the facts of Global Warming to the propoganda used by Nazis in WWII. He actually had the temerity and stupidity to say that global warming is
“the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”

This is the man that is charge of the Senate Environmental Committee for Goddess' sake.
Does this man believe the earth is flat or that babies are found under cabbages? Probably so.

How can someone in such a position be so far away from reality and still function in a rational society?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I Know the Way

Doing the final prep for hitting the road again. Taking the evening flight to San Jose. Why is it everywhere I am going is experiencing record high heat? The forecast for San Jose today is 102F. That's insane.

This was a bad week for the world as nothing but bad news is coming out of the middle east. Now even the Brits have broken with the Cheney cluster fuck and condemned the Israeli actions. Condi has some new shoes and is on her way though. Probably wants to get in some Muslim bashing on her own. "Birth pangs of democracy" my ass.

At least something happened this weekend to bring reality closer. Tiger won the British Open. It is some evidence that sanity is till existent...somewhere.

Madam Monk is back and all vacationed. She was unpacking her suitcase and packing mine simultaneously. Don't get to San Jose until about 10 or so PDT so I doubt there will anytime for anything but sleep tonight. Later.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Saturday Stuff

Busy Saturday so won't be much here today. Madam is returning this afternoon from the U.K. so the temporary bachelor must make neat. I have already done two loads of laundry, loaded the dishwasher and it is going. Still have to make the bed and run the suck broom in a few places.

I also have to get myself organized to go to Sunnyvale tomorrow afternoon for a week so there is the drycleaner to visit, the ATM and the pharmacy to replenish my meds. Somehow the morning has slipped by and I still haven't had the walk so that too remains. Madam hits the ground at about 4pm so I will have to leave here by about three which means I have four hours in which to get all the errands done including a run to Whole Foods.

BTW welcome a new addition to the blogroll Pissed Off Patricia and her blog Morning Martini. Welcome PoP.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Finally, A Real Terrorist to Arrest and Torture

How long are the media and GOP going to put up with having a terrorist speakon their programs and at their high priced functions. According to Editor&Publisher AnnThrax has lived up to her name and admitted sending a letter with white powder to the New York Times. This is not the first time Ann has made terroristic threats (McViegh should have blown up the Times, the Times editor should be executed, Supreme Court judges poisoned, to name a few).

If I am not mistaken they just arrested 6 - 7 guys in Miami for just thinking about blowing up something. I can't see how mailing even harmless white powder to someone even as a joke is not considered an actual terroristic act. Her bony ass ought to be in a lockup somewhere right now. Gitmo is probably appropriate and then maybe she could witness first hand how her buddies deal with accused terrorists.

But, as always, nothing will happen because IOKIYAR.

tip to AmericaBlog

Eating Their Own

Looks like Ralph Reed has reached the next stage in the typical Religious Reich and GOP perception of reality. He is now blaming John McCain for his loss in the GOP primary for Lt. Governor here in Georgia. Seems the report of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee that McCain chaired that showed that Reed had received more than $5 Million from by two casino-owning Indian tribes -- both clients of lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- to rally Christian voters against other tribes opening competing casinos reminded voters that he was a lying, stealing, scum 'o the earth hypocrit and caused them to vote for the other guy.

This is so typical of the species. Never take responsibilty for your own actions and their effects on your life. Always find someone else to blame. Hey Ralph, you can blame McCain, the devil or sunspots for your problems but the reality is that you lied, deceived and took the money you knew was dirty so take your licks like a man. Nobody else pooped in your pudding it was all your doing.

Rich Lowry: "Here's the view of what happened from the Reed camp: Once the Abramoff stuff exploded, it was going to be a very tough road for Reed. Glen Bolger did a poll for the campaign in January showing that it was possible for Reed to win, but his negatives were very high and he would have to squeak by. Reed had a choice to make, and decided to stay in the race and try to make it happen. In the end, soft Republicans appear to have broken very strongly against him in the suburbs. There may have been some cross-over Democratic votes in the open primary, but that alone can't account for a 54-46% loss. Reed's connection to the Abramoff stuff had broken back in the summer of 2004, so it couldn't have been predicted that it would be such a huge deal even now. But it was. The Reed camp blames John McCain for playing payback for his 2000 primary defeat with a campaign of leaks, and the press, of course, was happy to pile on."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Good Gracious...Serious Bats

I was being a little tongue in cheek when I said we were going to see the bats. A lot of times these local "events" are subject to inflation by local pride. Well, it is truly impressive when at sundown these bats decide to fly. Wave after wave emerge from under the over pass and clouds of Mexican Freetail bats waft off across the area. All of them headed southeast at first but you could see them start to break up in the distance and fan out in different directions. I'm impressed. The event only lasts for 10-15 minutes but it is one continuous stream while it is happening. During the day you can drive by this overpass and not see a thing as the bats are hidden up between the girders but come sundown they just erupt. Neat.
Got to get packed and ready for an early flight tomorrow back to Hotlanta. Plane is 805a so that means piling out of the sack about 4am.

P.S. Dining tip. Salt Grass Steak House ( at least the one here just north of Sam Bass road along I35) is an excellent choice if you want a good steak, good service and a reasonable price). I had the small filet(tenderloin) and it was the best steak I have had in a restaurant in many moons. I was impressed by the service as well. My colleague had the New York Strip and he ate everything but the moo and he is almost as big a food snob as me.

Bats...Lots of Bats

Finished up all the meetings a little early. So my colleague and I have decided to take advantage of our few moments of freedom to have an early dinner and then drive down to where I-35 crosses McNiel and watch the millions of bats emerge at sundown from underneath the freeway bridge. Evidently this is one of the largest concentrations of bats in a surburban area anywhere. There is a bridge in downtown Austin that is famous for it's bats as well but our sources say that there are more bats out here than downton. It is only a couple of miles from the hotel down the access road so why not? You have to do something when you spend so much time on the road to break the routine. I understand the Texas DOT makes a special effort to build these bridges with habitat for bats. I will give a full report later if I can stay awake.

I have been surfing around trying to catch up with the world today and not much good news to be had. More bad news from the Middle east and now Turkey is threatening to invade Northern Iraq to quell the Kurdish terrorists that are raiding in Turkey. Not a good sign.
Bush vetoed the Castle bill (stem cell funding) but he did it hiding in his reporters, no photos. I will keep my fingers crossed that Congress can find the few more votes needed to override. Polls show that the majority of Americans (66%) support increased funding for stem cell research. It is just like Bush go against the will of the people in order to throw a bone to the rabid Christo-fascists that are what is left of his base. This will swing some of the races in November even more to the Dems.

Tragically Wrong

Up really early this morning. Already done the walk, showered and dressed and it is only 630a here is the hill country of Texas.

The latest reports show that I missed the mark by thousands when I estimated the number of civilians killed in Sunni versus Shiite violence in Iraq. My guess of 500 was a little low...turns out it is more like 6000 in May and June.
How can anyone in the administration claim with a straight face that Iraq is moving in the right direction? This is so insane and tragic that I am almost speechless. There is no way you can spin this into "good news".
"While welcoming recent positive steps by the government to promote national reconciliation, the report raises alarm at the growing number of casualties among the civilian population killed or wounded during indiscriminate or targeted attacks by terrorists or insurgents," the U.N. said in a note accompanying the report.

In the last two days alone, more than 120 people were killed in violence in Iraq. In the worst attacks, fifty-three perished in a suicide bombing Tuesday in Kufa, and 50 were slain Monday in a market in Mahmoudiya.

According to the report, 2,669 civilians were killed in May and 3,149 were killed in June. Those numbers combined two counts: from the Ministry of Health, which records deaths reported by hospitals; and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad, which tallies the unidentified bodies it receives.

The report charts a month-by-month increase in the number of civilians killed, from 710 in January to 1,129 in April. In the first six months of the year, it said 14,338 people had been killed.

Someone explain to me how this is good news. If this is "almost civil war" I don't want to see the real thing.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bye Ralph

UPDATE: Ralph is now officially the loser. He still managed to pull 44% of the Republican vote which should make the Georgia GOP embarrassed. 175,000 GOP voters are either stupid or so morally corrupt that they don't care if Reed was the poster boy for corruption and hypocrisy.
The question is what a Republican figure has to do to turn off some voters?
Since I am currently a Georgia resident...only been there 25 years...I am keeping tabs on the primary races in my home state. As of now, 9pm eastern daylight Mark Taylor seems to have the edge on Cathy Cox for the Democratic Governor's race. Only 14%of precincts reporting but he has a nice lead. Still too close to call.

Of special interest, of course, is how old Ralph Reed is doing against Casey Cagle in the Rethuglican primary for Lt. Governor.... the good news is that Ralph ( I Love Them Indians) Reed is getting his clock cleaned by Cagle. With 13% of the precincts reporting we have Cagle ahead by a large margin (74% to 26%) and it seems pretty clear that all the baggage that Reed is justifiably carrying is trashing his chances. There is a Goddess.

Reed is another one of those smarmy Georgia smart ass white boy types that is a fundamentalist Christian only when it suits his pocket book that I know so well. I spotted the phony schtick the minute I say him and he hasn't disappointed.

It's Not Good

I am getting tired of waking up and reading this kind of news. I can't even imagine how terrible it must be to be an Iraqi and wake up every morning living it and knowing that nowhere are you going to be safe and that even going to market is a gamble with life? What has out blighted country done?

Just when does the misadministration decide to call a spade a spade and admit that we have a full blown civil war in Iraq?

This morning anothermarket bombing in which 45 are killed and 60 or more wounded in the Shia holy city of Kufa. I don't have the time to research it now but my estimate would be near 500 in the last few weeks have been killed in such attacks.

Not only is Iraq going deeper and deeper into hell but Afghanistan is as well. The Taliban, you know the ones we defeated, have captured two towns in southern Afghanistan.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Texas Found

Ok , found my way here and had too much BBQ. Trying to blog but I have awakened twice whilst sitting here in front of the computer three long necks seem to be the ieal formulae for sleepy time. Now having trouble keeping a single image of the screen in focus so it is time for bed. I 'll be fresher in the morning.

Texas Bound

Gotta go to Austin, Tx this afternoon (actually Round Rock) for a couple of days. Just checked the weather and it is forecast to be 102F. Right now they are reporting the humidity at 77% which means the 102 will feel a lot warmer. Atlanta only supposed to get to 93F today and the humidity is a little lower at 66%. Just a couple of days of discussions on some extension of our work into Latin America from what we are already doing in the U.S. and Canada.

Good thing about Round Rock is that there is a very good Texas BBQ place almost next to the hotel which will be the destination for tonight. The place is called Rudy's and while it is not the absolute best to be had in the Austin area it is very good and will suffice to allow me to satisfy my periodic desire for some good smoked brisket. Since I spent my formative years in eastern North Carolina I have very fixed ideas about BBQ and while I love good Texas BBQ I am still a whole hog with a vinegar based sauce guy. If you spend anytime in Austin there is a place called the Salt Lick which is probably the best in the area but it is too far from Round Rock for this trip (about 50 miles). I have driven further for good BBQ(as in hundreds of miles) but I'll settle for Rudy's this trip.

I'll check in after the BBQ tonight. I won't comment on the disaster expanding in the middle east, both in Iraq and Lebanon other than to say that, with respect to Israel and Lebanon and Palestine, this is just the next phase in the battle that was started at the end of WWII when the Allies decided to give Israel someone else's land in compensation for the holacaust. This may be the final episode or just another war in which the civilians get the short end of the stick. We'll see. Regardless, it is a tragedy.
As to Iraq...what can you say but "stupid is as stupid does".

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Drought Too!

Speaking of warm and fuzzy...this sure makes me feel better about our future.

The first half of the year was the warmest on record for the USA.

The government reported Friday that the average temperature for the 48 contiguous United States from January through June was 51.8°F, or 3.4°F above average for the 20th century.

That made it the warmest such period since recordkeeping began in 1895, the National Climatic Data Center reported.

No state was cooler than average and five states — Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri — experienced record warmth for the period.

Not only is it hotter and getting more so but it is getting drier. The same article reports that "As of June, 45% of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate-to-extreme drought, an increase of 6% from May."

Stabbed in the Back

I tried to find something to excerpt but it is a whole cloth and an excerpt won't do it justice. The thing is that it’s one very long continuous story. It needs to be read as a whole . It is really nice of Harper's to put this piece on the web.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Milestone and I Missed It

I've been so busy and traveling the last few weeks that I missed a milestone at Fallenmonk. On June 30th we surpassed 10,000 discrete visits and 20,000 page views. June 23rd also marked the second anniversary of the first post here at Fallenmonk. Since no one visited me back then I will repost it since it is where I get the name for the blog. BTW just so you of the first commenters here was the mighty and fabulous Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake fame and I do cherish my place on her now powerful blogroll.

Thanks to all you regular visitors and especially the commenters. I enjoy hearing from you and will try and reciprocate as best I can.

Now the first post:

"Now I understood for the first time that all these problems are caused by a race asleep and thrashing about in its panicked nightmares. There will be wars and holocausts and genocides as long as God is portrayed and thought of as a tight-minded legislator, a feudal lord, an offended King, a hypersensitive Artisan – even if church managers condescendingly tack onto that ridiculous list the not-very-convincing footnote that He is also loving. As long as people dream that they are insecure and needy in some sort of eternal jeopardy, there will be atrocities. But as the human race grows up spiritually, and as individuals gain a personal experience of the God they have been worshipping in fear, they will recognize that much of their theology and philosophy is built on nightmares. That will be the day of peace. I suddenly found myself unwilling to sit it out in the mountains of Utah. I wanted to play an active role in the process of the world’s awakening. – George Fowler, "Dance of a Fallen Monk"

It's a War

After spending all day staring at spreadsheets full of numbers I am now braindead.but I just made a quick scan of the news and I can officially declare that in my humble opinion we have another war erupting in the middle-east. The over-top-response from the Israelis, which was just what was hoped for byHezbollah will continue to escalate.
Don't be surpised if Syria and even Iran get into the mix and expect that supporters of Hezbollah in Iraq and Afghanistan take this opportunity to punish American soldiers for the continued unquestioning U.S. support of Israel. We have Palestinian and Lebanese blood on our hands as well. The military and financial aid we have been pumping into Israel for last 5o years or so are the ONLY reason it has the capability to do what it is doing.
It is just so tragic that such a beautiful and historic land was placed in the impossible positition it is in by the Allies after WWII. I am not sure we can see peace there until one side is destroyed so completely that there is no one left to fight.
A lot could have been done by Washington to keep the lid on this but in their incompetence and ignorance they continued to support the radical elements within Israel and ignore the weakness of Lebanon's new government. Our failure to support the fledgling Lebanese government is a primary driver of the desperation fueling this outbreak of violence. We have a lot of responsibility for the state of affairs there.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Catching Up with the Day

Home again after driving a good bit of the day and trying to catch up on the events of the day.

The stock market is not looking too kindly on the oil prices and Israel's hyper response to the kidnappings taking a 167 point dive.

Comedian Red Buttons is dead at 87. Cool guy and he gave us some good laughs. Thanks Red.

Looks like Little Georgie is embarrassing us again overseas.

From the little bit I have been able to gather it seems to me that Israel is going way overboard in their response to this kidnapping. Bombing the airport into uselessness is going to be a tragic blow to the Labanese economy as it was kind of a symbol of the rebirth of the country. The U.S. and every other country should be condeming Israel for this out of proportion response but all Bush did today was blame Hezbollah and said Israel had a right to "defend itself". I sure wish I new what the Israeli Secret Police have on Bush and company...

Oh, and it looks like our Canadian friends have another confirmed case of "Mad Cow" on their hands. Not good news.

I catch up a bit more and check in later. Right now I have to find out if Madam left anything for me to rustle up for dinner. She only left yesterday afternoon for the U.K. but she likes things pretty minimal when she leaves. I haven't eaten since breakfast and that was melon and coffee so I am getting hungry. Not to mention that the cocktail I have just consumed hit bottom with a jolt.

Travel Day Today

On the road today back to Hotlanta from Greensboro. Should be back later today if the creek don't rise. Really hurt at the pump last night as I can't remember ever having to shell out 40 bucks to fill up my car. The only saving grace is that I will be reimbursed at 44 and a half cents a mile which if you don't consider the 6 hours of drive time means a profit of about a $100 bucks which is better than minumum wage.
You guys play nice.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Cabbages and Kings

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings and why the sea is boiling.

So spoke our purported leader today as he revealed the great accomplishment of the regime so far. The deficit, the glorious deficit, is only 296 BILLION dollars this year and this is a wonderful and joyous thing as we thought it was going to be much larger(423 B$). Granted it is the fourth largest deficit in history but it is better than last year's 318 BILLION dollars and much better than the other years I have ruled the kingdom.
How low does Bush think our intelligence has fallen under his command? Since when is any deficit good news but yet the he was touting what a great thing this was and how it was all due to his visionary tax cuts. I got the lipstick now where is that pig?

Here are the top five budget deficits of all time;

  1. 2004 (George W. Bush) $413 billion
  2. 2003 (George W. Bush) $378 billion
  3. 2005 (George W. Bush) $318 billion
  4. 2006 (George W. Bush) $296 billion (projected)
  5. 1992 (George H. W. Bush) $290 billion

Just to remind ourselves how totally incompetent and deluded this bunch is... in 2001 they inherited a surplus estimated by both White House and congressional forecasters at $5.6 trillion for the next decade.

Supposedly most of the reduction in deficit is due to higher tax receipts from the wealthy and corporations. This translates to the richer are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and the middle class is just that "caught in the middle".

Worse? Yes It Can Get Worse

The Iraqi government is asking the U.N. to lift the immunity of U.S. soldiers in Iraq so that they can be tried locally for crimes against the Iraqi people. It just got worse folks. What do you think will happen once an American GI is arrested, tried, convicted and hanged in Iraq for some crime?

This ought to be interesting. Bush used the U.N. to justify invading Iraq and now Iraq wants to use it to punish American soldiers. Welcome to reality boys and girls.

First Veto? Take Aspirin and Don't Call

Well, well, well, it seems Bush is ready to execute his first veto. According to Karl, Bush is "emphatic" about stem cell research not being funded or extended and will veto the Castle Bill if it passes the Senate.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 238-194 last year to pass the legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del. If the Senate approves the bill, it will go to the president's desk.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who backs the bill, has said he will try to bring it up for a Senate vote soon.

If, in fact, this comes to pass you could consider this a defining example of what the Bush presidency is all about. Along with everything else here is a great chance to screw over a hundred million people with just the stroke of a pen. It is, I think, especially significant that he would use his first and probably only veto in 8 years of office to reject something supported by so many. It would be very rewarding to see this particular veto overturned.

Just when you think you have seen the bottom of the barrel these guys come up with another.

tip to huffpo

Monday, July 10, 2006

With the Tar Heels

No time for extended time on the net this morning. After the walk and getting dressed it's time for some breakfast and head to the client for another day of meetings. Not very exciting but it's a living. Everyone have a great Monday and maybe pray to whatever God or Goddess you think might help prevent the hellhole in Iraq from getting any worse. They are really stretching the definition of "not civil war".

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Work Harder and More Often

Getting ready to launch back to Greensboro for the week. Nice easy 5 hour drive and no rushing. Put on some good CD's and set the autopilot. I'll check in this evening from the hotel.

Just read something in the AJC Sunday business section that is really sobering to think about.

If you are working for the current minimum wage of $5.15 per hour and work 40 hours a week for all 52 weeks of the year then you still won't earn as much as the average CEO in America makes before lunch in a single day. That should be embarrassing to the current administration but I will bet you that they never even give it a thought and if they had their choice, and could, they would lower the minimum wage or abolish the requirement altogether.

Sucks. Later

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Of Zits and Other Irritations

Hey folks, I hate to be the party pooper around here but their is a war on big time in Iraq and one simmering in Afghanistan. The North Koreans are pumping sunshine up our kilts. The economy is tanking. We owe the Japanese and mostly the Chinese our total output for untold in we are writing checks our great-great-grand children are going to have to cash. Millions of Americans are below the povery line but are working 60 - 80 hours a week just to fall further and further behind the American Dream. We are slowly poisoning our skies and waters and actually reversing the efforts we began making 10 -15 years ago to change. The world hates and fears us as you would a rabid dog. That's just for starters...

Face it folks we are very similar to a giant ZIT on the face of civilization. You know the kind that stares back at you from the mirror in the morning and actually throbs. You know the one that signals to everyone who sees you how diseased and unclean you must be. You know the kind.

Hey GOP Congress, all or any of the above you could be tackling before the mid-terms. But NO, your agenda for the rest of the year is to vote on family tax breaks, prohibiting any government from using federal money to confiscate guns during emergencies; ensure that local governments do not have to pay damages or lawyer fees in court battles over public expressions of religion, and protect the Pledge of Allegiance from being found unconstitutional by a court.

Oh, you are also going to address two of the major crisises facing America by banning human cloning and requiring that those performing late-term abortions to inform women that the fetus could feel pain and could receive anesthesia. You also haven given up trying to solve another severe crisis and plan another vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, even though it could not be adopted in this Congress since it has already been rejected in the Senate.

I have actually been talking to some reasonably thoughtful Republicans recently that are almost too embarrassed to admit they voted for this crowd and Bush especially. And speaking of Bush... don't expect him to do anything to address the major, catastrophic issues facing us and the rest of the world. He and Karl have one thing on their minds for the rest of the godforsaken term and that is pump up the base. If you think trashing the NYT was bad you ain't seen nothing yet.

Getting back to the zit metaphor...once you got it, you can squeeze it, smear antibiotics on it and just try and pretend it isn't there but you know and everyone else knows it is. You just have to buck up an hope it won't linger. The good thing is Bush and this Congress will go away but it will seem like forever before they do. Neosporin anyone?

Free Saturday

Ok back in Atlanta for Saturday at least. Have to drive back to Greensboro again tomorrow for another 3 and half days. Takes about 5 hours depending on the traffic in Atlanta and Charlotte which can add an hour plus. All caught up on the banking and chores. Car is all gassed up at $2.949/gallon...ouch. Expenses and time card are all complete and filed so I now have some time to play around on the Internet and maybe blog.

There are so many blogs I enjoy that I am really frustrated when I can't get to them all. Not only do I enjoy them but when I have something to add I enjoy the interaction. I need to consider cutting back the sleep I guess and it wouldn't hurt me to miss a meal here or there.

What I really need is direct feed. You know an embedded chip or two, dual processors for redundancy and a 20 - 30 gig of novram for caching when I am out of wireless range. Power from direct conversion of stored glucose and fat. The more you surf the more you can eat or the more weight you lose. I have read some pretty good scifi with this theme and it is interesting to consider the posibilities. Instant access to any bit of information you need from anywhere. Instant communications without clumsy hardware. Download music, movies or even a complete vacation without leaving the comfort of home. Want to get to know someone better? Nothing like a direct connection if you know what I mean.

Anyhow, something to think about. It could be pretty slick until the NSA got involved.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Going Ninety in a Sixty Zone

Busy, busy and no time to indulge the blogs. Already late this morning and still not completely ready to go. I am sure there is some good reading available on the blogroll so visit some of them.

I was kind of looking forward to having Ken Lay spend a little time behind bars on this side but the Goddess has spoken and she obviously has other plans. Oh well.

Wonder where all the money is going now?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

For the People

I have now enjoyed happy hour(with crudite) in the hotel and declined dinner with my colleagues. I am now free to spend a little time talking about the Fourth of July and the current state of our confederation.

Our forefathers had a very clear view of what it takes to make a success of government. They had spent some 30 odd years petitioning the Parliament to recognize the colonies as legitimate citizens of the Empire and failed. It is only after the extended effort to “work within the system” that they recognized the futility and took the alternative course.

The Declaration of Independence is the result, and defines the democracy we have had until now. It defines government as an man-made system, established by the people and for the people, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” and charged by the people to ensure the equal right of all to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” More pointedly the Declaration says, “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.” The rabid right and the Christofascists of today have conveniently forgotten this attribute of freedom. The attacks this past week on the New York Times clearly point to this failure of the right, and by default the GOP, to embrace to this admonition.

We now have a government needlessly wasting the lives of its young men and women for nothing but money and power, all the while claiming a fictitious moral justification. They are telling us daily that we are safer by their efforts when all the evidence clearly tells us the opposite. They tell us daily how much better things are going in Iraq only for us to hear today the Iraq government asking for the UN to step in and protect them from the ravages of the U.S. occupation. The “Global War on Terror”, or GWOT, as defined by our current government is recognized as a failure and mistake by the majority of America and even more so by the rest of the civilized world. “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is violating the government’s promise to enable us “life, liberty and happiness”. How many mothers, fathers and wives are weeping tonight over their overwhelming loss in the debacle of Iraq?

We liberals and progressives are not alone in our disgust for our current government. The nations of the world are also holding us in contempt and derision. We, who while supporting the sacrifice of our military in Iraq and Afghanistan, are foaming at the mouth over the war itself, are in not in poor company.

The same has been experienced by many over the years. For instance Mark Twain was called a “traitor” for criticizing the U.S. invasion of the Philippines. In not a dissimilar situation he said: “The gospel of the monarchical patriotism is: ‘The King can do no wrong.’ We have adopted it with all its servility, with an unimportant change in the wording: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ We have thrown away the most valuable asset we had — the individual’s right to oppose both flag and country when he believed them to be in the wrong. We have thrown it away; and with it, all that was really respectable about that grotesque and laughable word, Patriotism.”

It is very frustrating to be on our side of the fence and know so truly in our hearts what is the right answer for our country. We see the death and futility of our efforts in Iraq and cannot see any end to the carnage. We also know our responsibilities as Americans. The government is there for us and by us and has no legitimacy other than through the good graces of the governed. We, as Americans, are required to recognize and support this truth and though an awesome responsibility, it cannot not be shirked.

If the government is not meeting our needs with respect to “life, liberty and happiness” then it is our duty to try and change it. We are not traitors but patriots. This Fourth of July we need to remember that our democracy has benefits but equal and impelling responsibilities and we cannot ignore them for fear of being branded a traitor by some half-wit with no understanding of what it means to be an American patriot other than waving a flag and getting drunk on the Fourth of July.

Happy Fourth.

Mother Nature’s fireworks have just started here in Greensboro and she is doing yeomans’ work. I am on the sixth floor of the hotel and it is a great view of the thunderstorm.

Some Fourth

Come to rest in Greesboro. Nice visit with Mom. Hard to believe the improvement in just a few short weeks. Spent most of the day on the road but traffic was not too bad and safely ensconced.

New record set for downing hotdogs today at 53 and 3/4 by the Japanese kid again. Closest competitor was a Californian with 52.

Shuttle launched successfully and that was a first launch for the fourth of July.

Seem Bush has neglected to tell us that he gave up on Osama sometime last year and disbanded the CIA team that was tracking him. So much for the "Dead or Alive" bit. I wonder if he thought the story would ever get out? If you are a Mexican looking for a better life look out....if you killed 300 American civilians in on fell worries.

Tired and going to try and make an early night of it. Already have run into some of the Swedes here for the meeting as they were all gathered in the bar watching the Worldcup and being raucus. They probably have something planned for later which I will beg out of as I intend to use this week to try and recover a bit. Looks like I have 6 - 8 weeks of travel ahead of me and possibly a week long trip to China is cooking...not looking forward to that.

Might change my mind and hang out bit here tonight but otherwise R&R.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Road Warrior

Traveling today. Off to see my Mom in West 'by God' Virginia and then bounce back to Greensboro, NC for Meetings that start on Wednesday. Strange for me to travel by car for business where I don't have to worry about what I can carry. Just through it in the car.
Taking my full size guitar and everything.
Really not bad drive to W.Va. from Atlanta. Straight I75 through Chattanooga to Knoxville and just northeast of Knoxville pick up I81 to I77 North. Going to actually get some miles on the new car. I have had it since February and it still only has 2800 miles on it. Spends a lot of time parked at the airport.
Hopefully the hotel will have Internet tonight and I can report in.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Devil Corn

There is a great article in this month's Smithsonian Magazine by Michael Pollan. 'What's Eating America' that discusses the impact of the ability of man to manufacture nitrogen and the resultant impact on the culture of corn. It's something I never really thought about but knew somewhere in the back of my mind. Fascinating reading and a good argument for organinc farming.

Descendants of the Maya living in Mexico still sometimes refer to themselves as "the corn people." The phrase is not intended as metaphor. Rather, it's meant to acknowledge their abiding dependence on this miraculous grass, the staple of their diet for almost 9,000 years.

For an American like me, growing up linked to a very different food chain, yet one that is also rooted in corn, not to think of himself as a corn person suggests either a failure of imagination or a triumph of capitalism.

Or perhaps a little of both. For the great edifice of variety and choice that is an American supermarket rests on a remarkably narrow biological foundation: corn. It's not merely the feed that the steers and the chickens and the pigs and the turkeys ate; it's not just the source of the flour and the oil and the leavenings, the glycerides and coloring in the processed foods; it's not just sweetening the soft drinks or lending a shine to the magazine cover over by the checkout. The supermarket itself—the wallboard and joint compound, the linoleum and fiberglass and adhesives out of which the building itself has been built—is in no small measure a manifestation of corn.

There are some 45,000 items in the average American supermarket, and more than a quarter of them contain corn. At the same time, the food industry has done a good job of persuading us that the 45,000 different items or SKUs (stock keeping units) represent genuine variety rather than the clever rearrangements of molecules extracted from the same plant.

It has been less than a century since Fritz Haber's invention, yet already it has changed earth's ecology. More than half of the world's supply of usable nitrogen is now man-made. (Unless you grew up on organic food, most of the kilo or so of nitrogen in your body was fixed by the Haber-Bosch process.) "We have perturbed the global nitrogen cycle," Smil wrote, "more than any other, even carbon." The effects may be harder to predict than the effects of the global warming caused by our disturbance of the carbon cycle, but they are no less momentous.

The flood of synthetic nitrogen has fertilized not just the farm fields but the forests and oceans, too, to the benefit of some species (corn and algae being two of the biggest beneficiaries) and to the detriment of countless others. The ultimate fate of the nitrates spread in Iowa or Indiana is to flow down the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico, where their deadly fertility poisons the marine ecosystem. The nitrogen tide stimulates the wild growth of algae, and the algae smother the fish, creating a "hypoxic," or dead, zone as big as New Jersey—and still growing. By fertilizing the world, we alter the planet's composition of species and shrink its biodiversity.

You Made the Bed

Stranger of speaks for many of us:

Dear Media,

I hope you all enjoy lying in that bed you’ve made.

All those years of making excuses for George W. Bush’s ineptness, inadequacies, and illegalities have earned you absolutely nothing. You brushed aside his lack of experience and intellectual incuriosity in 1999 and 2000, mostly because you didn’t like Al Gore. Your behavior gave him a much better position from which to steal the 2000 election.

You bought the spin from Bush’s minions, ignoring the crisis that was taking place in Florida after the election. You believed every lie they came up with, from ‘The votes have been counted and re-counted and re-counted’ to ‘Al Gore is trying to steal the election,’ and you decided that letting Bush take office (in the most literal sense possible) was ‘best for the country.’

You papered over the fact that he was scared out of his mind on September 11, 2001 - to the point where he flew to Idaho to hide - in favor of painting him as a ‘resolute leader.’ You swallowed, hook, line, and sinker, every lie that came out of the White House in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq - in many cases embellishing the lies to make them sound more plausible. …

… And after all this, Bush and Cheney and Congress and Coulter and every wingnut pundit, whom you’ve coddled and accommodated every step of the way, show their appreciation how?

They want to muzzle you. They want to imprison you. They want to try you for treason.

tip to Barbara at Mahablog