Thursday, August 31, 2006

Last Day in China

Well, it has been challenging and very tiring. It has actually exceeded my expectations on the business side and I think the client got their money's worth from my time. I hope so. I was expecting communications problems and indeed that was the major obstacle along with the fact the users here in Asia are not as committed to the product as they should be. Still need training and encouragement to move to the next level.

On the personal front...yes I am exhausted and now have a pretty severe Asian cold which is not helping at all. I did find a drug store nearby and scored some Chinese Tylenol Cold tablets which have dried me up some so I am not constantly sniffing. Looking forward to being home though not to the 24 hours of travel that starts tomorrow morning. Leave here at 830a Beijing time (830p Atlanta) and don't expect to be back in Atlanta until 9pm Saturday. Ugh!

The hotel experience has far exceeded all expectations and I can heartily recommend the China World Hotel (a Shangri-La property). Service has been excellent and the place is superbly comfortable. I am staying in the premium Horizon Club which brings as little extra but everything about the hotel is designed to make the guests comfortable. I am spoiled a bit.

Off for the next to last hike to the meeting hotel and the challenge of Beijing traffic. If anyone ever takes away their auto horns this town is coming to a screeching stop.

Maybe chat later. Everyone have a great evening.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Screw You Donald

According to Dumbass Rumsfeld I am a Nazi appeaser. May please join Steve Bates over at Yellow Doggerel Democrat in wishing him a pleasant stay in hell. I dissent because it is my duty and a growing majority of Americans are joining me and the rest of the progressive left.

Fuck you Rummy and the horse you rode in on.

Thanks Steve for the link to the Seattle Times.

SALT LAKE CITY — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld compared critics of the Bush administration to those who sought to appease the Nazis before World War II, warning Tuesday that the United States is confronting "a new type of fascism."

Rumsfeld, speaking before the American Legion convention, delivered some of his most explicit and extended attacks yet on the administration's critics, provoking criticism from furious Democrats who accused him of "campaigning on fear."

By comparing U.S. foreign policy with World War II and the Cold War, Rumsfeld sought to portray skeptics of Bush's foreign policy as being on the wrong side of history. Rumsfeld again ridiculed U.S. officials who, before World War II, wished to negotiate with Adolf Hitler.

"I recount that history because, once again, we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism," Rumsfeld said. "But some seem not to have learned history's lessons."

He continued: "Can we truly afford to believe that, somehow or some way, vicious extremists could be appeased?"

His use of the word "appease" was particularly notable, clearly tying administration critics to the failed efforts of the pre-Churchill British government to mollify Hitler.

BTW Steve has moved the Yellow Doggerel Democrat to a new location and here it is. Change your bookmarks.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Still Here in Beijing

Sorry for the lack of posting but I am suffereing a time crunch. Long days and then time for prep for the next not to mention the sleep deficit. I sat down last night at 730 will all intent of getting some quality time on the web and managed only a marginal reply in comments before I fell asleep and woke up at 930 still sitting in front of the computer....went to bed still not prepared for today.
Woke up at two and reset the alarm for 4 so I could prep for today and now it is time to begin the adventurous walk to the meeting hotel and OH BOY it is raining. This ought to be interesting.

Maybe tonight will be better but I am not promising anything as the strain of conducting these meetings is evidently sapping the energy to a point where I need some extra sleep.

If I don't get taken out by a fast moving Hyundai taxi or a bus then maybe I'll chat a bit later.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Houston - We have Underwear

Ok the suitcase finally managed to catch up and I am now suffering an embarrasment of clean underwer and sox, etc. Makes the evening a little more relaxing not having worry about laundry.
First day went pretty well though being confronted with 21 Chinese who do speak English sort of is very tiring. I have to slow down and make sure everything I say is understood and that I haven't used any odd phrasing or words that aren't in their vocabulary. I also have a bad ear for accents and I really have to listen closely to catch what everyone is saying. It is going to be a tough four more days.
We are meeting in a hotel across and down the street and the commute is challenging. Walk signals across the street are seemingly just a suggestion, sort of like "Go ahead if you think you can make it!" No one seems to obey the signals and traffic comes at you from all directions. Everybody thinks they have the right of way. Thousands of bicycles, tricycles, buses, trucks and cars mingle with thousanda and thousandsof pedestrians to create a rivers of traffic that somehow manages to inch along. Mix in construction and hundreds of street vendors and it is a mighty mess.
Time for a little shut eye knowing I won't have to get up in the night and accept my laundry from the bellman in the middle of the night. Sweet Dreams.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Eating Posts and no Suitcase

Blogger ate the last post somehow. Was there then it wasn't...very strange. Anyhow no luck on the camera it needs a part and a week or so but went sightseeing anyway. Hired a guide and a car and went to the Forbidden City and a silk factory. Interesting.
Still no luggage this morning (Monday) so it is good that you can have laundry turned around in three hours here at a reasonable cost. I have clean clothes anyway. Maybe today sometime the suitcase will show. If not I will just have these clothes run through again. I carry a spare set of underwear in my carryon just for emergencies when I travel internationally so I don't have to wait around in nothing while I have the laundry done. The terrycloth robes provided in the hotel don't quite fit all the way around my 6'2" 250 pound body so it is not something you can wear if you would have to evacuate the hotel while your clothes are beeing done.
Supposed to have rain and thunderstorms today here so we'll see have the navigation goes. I can already see rush hour traffic from the hotel and it is not something I want to be involved way. Basically a gridlock from what I can see.
Everyone have a great day(evening) and we'll chat later.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Here We Are

Well I made to Beijing..too bad my luggage hasn't yet. Seems like American Airlines decided that I could wait a day or two. Promise is it will arrive tonight via Tokyo on the same flight I did last nite. I got here about 1030 pm local and I was off by twelve hours on the time difference. In the last post I said 24 hours difference between Altanta and Beijing. I didn't note the AM/PM thing. Actually only 12 hours earlier here.
To add insult to injury I got up this morning and tried to shoot some pics from the hotel window and the Nikon 5700 is on the fritz. Pictures are all blurry and looking through the viewfinder you get all kinds of wiggly lines and a green shimmer. Crap. Going to venture out and see what I can do about it. Travel half way around the world and your thousand dollar digital camera calls it quits. Not an auspicious start so far. If I can't get it fixed quick then I guess I am going to get another digital camera(though cheaper) and I will have one of Madam's Christmas presents early ;-). Just kidding lady.
Good news is that the hotel the client's travel agency booked me into is posh. Shangri-la China World right in the middle of things. The room is on the Horizon level (18th floor) and has every amenity. One of the nicer hotel rooms I've seen in a while. Then again it is costing 1,500 RMB a day which is pretty pricey(divide by 7.8 for US$).
Ok off to see what I can do about photography and getting at least some sights in. It's hot here and I hesitate to get the only clothes I have all sweaty and dirty but I probably won't be back here anytime soon so I gotta get what I can. I'll bet on getting my suitcase tonight.
I did venture downstairs to see what shopping is available in the hotel and it is very high end. Hermes, Van Cleef, Armani, Dior etc. Probably not any emergency Dockers and golf shirts to be had....we'll see.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Off to the Orient

Been busy trying to tie up all the loose ends before I head to China for a week. I think I have managed to get all of my carry on stuff sanitized of liquids and gels. When I am on these 24 hour airplane episodes I carry an small bag in addition to my briefcase that allows me to carry my prescriptions, camera, snacks and all in one place. Cleaning it out this morning I discovered a little tube of toothpaste ( dangerous - not allowed) and a hotel bottle of shampoo (dangerous too) and Goddess forbid a little bottle of mouthwash from my last stay at in a posh hotel London (purged).

I burned out this morning and stocked up on peanut butter crackers, peanuts, gum and a couple of nutrition bars. The Boy Scouts taught me to be prepared and even though I am flying business it pays to have a little insurance in the kit. I even have a handful of individually wrapped moist towelettes for moisture if needed. I think those are OK to go.

Charging up the camera, phone, spare laptop battery and iPod so I should be electronically prepared. I have even determined that the same power adapter I need for the UK is what I will need for the hotel. Best as I can tell Blogger is now available in Beijing and has been for a couple of months so I might be able to say howdy from there. You might even get a picture or two.

So we are off early tomorrow morning and fly to Chicago which is 2 hours. From Chicago we go to Tokyo Narita which is 13 hours and then on to Beijing in another 3 and a half hours. Should land in Beijing at about 9pm Saturday night which will be 9pm Friday night in Atlanta as Beijing is 24 hours ahead of Atlanta currently. The hotel should have a car waiting and I should be safe and sound and very ready to crawl into bed by about 10 pm tomorrow night Atlanta time.

That's the plan but with international travel you pay your money and take your chances. A friend just returned from Germany and should have been a one day trip turned into two since he had to change planes in London.

We shall see.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

My Psyche is Strained

Been having Internet problems at home and had to wait until I got into the office to post this.

After yesterday’s embarrassing press conference it is now entirely obvious that Bush does not have a plan for cleaning up or dealing with the disaster he and his evil minions have created in Iraq and truth be told, He most obviously never did. We are now at the point where he and the rest of the GOP are just looking for a way to minimize the political fallout from this mess. They are looking at how they can find the best “political advantage”.

President Bush said Monday the United States would lose "our soul as a nation" if it gave up on the Iraq war now, warning it would be a "disaster" if U.S. troops left before the new Iraqi government can control the country.

"We're not leaving so long as I'm president," Bush said in a White House press conference. "That would be a huge mistake." He conceded, though that the war was "straining the psyche of our country."

Hello! If we Americans are going to be losing our souls or getting our psyche strained it’s because the majority of Americans have figured out that we have taken a bite of something we shouldn’t have and know it is rapidly poisoning us. We know the antidote but George W. Bush refuses to acknowledge it.

If you will look back you will see that repeatedly Bush himself has openly admitted, in so many words, that he doesn’t give a flip what the majority of Americans want. He intends to keep our young men and women in Iraq until the end of his term, period. We're not leaving no matter what and it doesn't matter how many Americans or Iraqis die or how much money it costs. It doesn't even matter how much we have to sacrifice our needs here at home or how hopeless the situation becomes. He isn’t going to remove US troops from Iraq. He still seems to have some vision of victory regardless of how far that vision moves into the world of myth and dreams.

The frightening thing is that Bush is seemingly not even contemplating the possibility that victory could be an impossibility. He seems to believe that somehow we can snatch victory from Iraq no matter what.

While it's nice for us Americans to believe that we are invulnerable and I truly think George Bush and many in the GOP enablers believe this. It has been proven repeatedly in the last half century that we can and have been defeated. Bush and company are ignoring the lessons learned in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia. In each case we lost and had to withdraw. It didn’t matter what or how we justified out actions in each of those places we still lost.

The bottom line is that George Bush, a good part of the GOP and a few Dem enablers like Holy Joe are refusing to acknowledge the reality on the ground in Iraq. We are well and truly fucked here folks. This is a military and political disaster of epic proportions and threatens to engulf the entire Middle East. We are well on our way over the cliff and yet the current leadership (to use the term loosely) refuses to change course or even consider changing course. By all my definitions of insanity this sure fits the bill.

Speaking of insanity, there is another possibility and I am actually ashamed to believe it. That possibility is that Bush and crew really and for truly know that Iraq is lost but they are too embarrassed to admit it. In some kind of macho “war president” fevered logic they are refusing to consider withdrawal in an attempt to “save face”. Regardless of the continued rising costs in lives and dollars they are content to let the next administration handle the problem. Think about it…George Bush would rather see American men and women die in Iraq than admit the whole thing was a fiasco from the beginning.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Still A Disaster, Still a Liar

Despite the media's preoccupation with JonBenet the real world still exists. You don't even have to venture outside the country to see the legacy of lies and incompetence that are the hallmark of the Bush reign of terror. Despite all the bull shit promises from George Bush while standing in Jackson Square, New Orleans is still a disaster:
Nearly half of New Orleans was still under water when President Bush stood in the Crescent City's historic Jackson Square and swore he would "do what it takes" to rebuild the communities and lives that had been laid to waste two weeks before by Hurricane Katrina.

"Our goal is to get the work done quickly," the president said.

He promised to spend federal money wisely and accountably. And he vowed to address the poverty exposed by the government's inadequate Katrina response "with bold bold action."

A year after the storm, the federal government has proven slow and unreliable in keeping the president's promises.

The job of clearing debris left by the storm remains unfinished, and has been plagued by accusations of fraud and price gouging. Tens of thousands of families still live in trailers or mobile homes, with no indication of when or how they will be able to obtain permanent housing. Important decisions about rebuilding and improving flood defenses have been delayed. And little if anything has been done to ensure the welfare of the poor in a rebuilt New Orleans
This article from the AP documents the lack of progress in six areas: Emergency Assistance, Clean Up, Housing, Rebuilding, Levees, and Poverty.

As usual Bush's promises meant nothing...again. He knew he was lying while he was standing there. He knew he was never going to live up to the rhetoric. How can anyone think George Bush and his incompetent administration can keep us safe?

The Big Dog is 60

Happy Birthday Sir! While I did not always agree with you and thought you a little too "centrist" at times, I liked you and voted for you and still feel that you are probably the greatest President of my lifetime. Though sometimes I lean towards JFK for that honor most of the the time, on balance, you win. You won't win the award for most moral as that award goes to Jimmy Carter but in the big picture you are the Big Dog.

Looking at what we have now occupying the Whitehouse and remembering the America of your two terms and the promise and potential that we have lost is enough to bring one to tears.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

End of An Era

It was a somewhat stressful day here at Fallenmonk manor. Madam monk has finally decided to sell the 1974 Mercedes-Benz 240D that she inherited from her mother and she completed the transaction today. We have been keeping it in the garage, insured and licensed for some 25 years with an occasional trip out just to keep the juices flowing. The good news is she sold it to a friend that does restorations for a hobby and was actually thrilled to acquire it. Nevertheless, it was a tough separation but Madam held up and went through with it and didn't cry where I could see.

The buyer got a good deal and has promised to restore it to mint condition which shouldn't be too hard since it is already pretty close to that state already. One of his businesses is supplying vintage cars to movies and commercials so maybe the Merc has a good home.

Madam and her Merc were kind of an "item" around town as they churned around billowing smoke and several folks in town were aghast that she let it go. It was time but not easy.

Travel Travail

More personal stuff... and an update on the trials of getting to China. The client's travel agency had access to some secret fares so they got me to China for a little less than $5K which is half of what I managed. The kicker is I have to fly to Chicago and then to Tokyo and then to Beijing. With the extra lay overs this will add about 8 hours to the trip. C'est la vie! At least it is business class but the downside is it is on American Airlines and Japan Airlines which means I will get didly squat air miles on my Delta account. With my Platinum status on Delta this trip would earn a free domestic roundtrip in miles with some to spare. Can't win them all.

The good news is (I think) that the folks in Houston have emailed my that my passport with the visa for the PRC is on it's way back though I have yet to determine what the cost was.

Trying real hard to maintain a positive attitude about this trip but I am having troubling thoughts with respect to how valuable the client will feel it was at the end. Last week I was dealing with English speaking, folks for the most part, and a group of less than ten. I am being told that I will have a group of twenty plus in Beijing and I am having doubts about whether I can keep such a large group focused for 40 hours, especially with the language obstacle. I know that if I were the client and was paying what they will eventually pay for a week of my time plus travel my expectations would be very high. This self doubt always makes me go the extra mile so it is a "good thing" overall but it does tend to make the time leading up to these sessions a little stressful.

I will, of course, be brilliant but....

Glad About Iraq?

Josh Marshall has a very interesting question over at Talking Points. I had a similar thought when I heard about the "plot" in London last week.

Is there anyone in the country who can say honestly, in their heart of hearts, that when that moment of fear hit them after the recent reports out of London, they said to themselves, "God, I'm glad we're in Iraq"?
I think this same feeling and realization is starting to hit a lot of Americans. We can't resist the gut fear that hits when we hear about an imminent terror attack, reminding us of 9/11, but we can stand far enough away now to apply some reality and thought to our intinctive reaction. The conclusion that more and more people are coming to is that our government has let us down in the GWOT and that we are actually worse off because of Iraq both in the "pool" of available terrorists and the money and manpower to respond to the true enemies.

I doubt any of the readers of this blog will disagree but if you do speak up.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What a Pain!

Well, things are slacking up a bit. Just about have all the work caught up. Just have to propose an agenda for the Beijing sessions. The client set the agenda for the Chicago sessions last week and the post mortem is that we didn't make full use of the time, so now I get to drive.

It is a major hassle getting a visa for business travel to China. In my case I had to have the client have the People's Republic officially invite me to come for a visit. You need this "invitation" before you even apply for the visa. Evidently, when the U.S. made it so difficult to get into the U.S. a while back the Chinese got payback by making Houston the only consulate that can issue business visas. This, in turn, makes for a very profitable business for a company there. You have to pay them a lot of money(especially if it is short notice) to be the go between and get your visa. I don't have the final tally yet but every indication is that it will be on the dark side of half a grand.

Speaking of money...have you priced a business class ticket to Beijing from Atlanta lately? I am still researching but so far it looks like about ten grand is the going price. I have, in fact, purchased a refundable ticket at that price but hope to do better tomorrow as I have now been granted access to the client's travel agency. Since they will eventually wind up paying for it they saw the wisdom in such access. I hope to be able to shave a couple of grand off but we'll see. I actually use American Express Corporate Travel and they can usually find the best fares but in this case the client is a major global electronics company with large operations in China so maybe they have some swing. It is interesting that regardless of which way you go the fare is identical. The reservation I have is from Atlanta to Newark to Beijing but I could fly from Atlanta to Paris to Beijing for exactly the same price even though the eastern route appears a little further. Just another mystery.

Long day and it is now beddy bye. See yous' guys on the other side.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Lot of Work

Much work must be accomplished in short order this week. Need to write up my work from last week and prep for China. Got to finish up the paperwork for the visa and get it off to Houston so it can be back in time for my departure on the 25th. Therefore the blogging will be light until....

Monday, August 14, 2006

Doin' Their Duty

Look's like CNN has gotten it's marching orders from Karl Rove and will spend all of today trying to make you afraid. It's basically the only thing left in their playbook since they can't point to anything they have done right in the last six years.
We're bankrupt from their giveaways to the rich and the cost of their wars. We're hated by virtually everyone else on the planet...even our closest "allies". They've destroyed our military readiness and turned the middle east into hell of earth for millions.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Not Do...Seem

It's important to put this latest "Terrorism Rainbow" incident into perspective. First of all you must remember that the Bush administration is not really serious about your security or the threat of terrorism. If they were serious then we would have effective port security and they wouldn't be cutting the budgets for scanning equipment etc. They only want you to think that they are serious about security. They really don't care they just want to be seen as serious.

If they were serious then this article from 1995 surrounding the Clinton administration's foiling of the plot the to blow up American airliners would have played some signifigance in the post 9/11 "increased security". The following is from February, 1995 and I have highlighted the main point.

The U.S. government imposed its tightest security ever Friday on airlines flying from several destinations in Europe and Africa after a raid on a suspected terrorist group in the Philippines uncovered bombs and airline itineraries. A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration declined to identify which airports were subject to the stepped-up security.

The U.S. State Department said the action was considered sufficient to counter the perceived threat. Foreign carriers flying to the United States were also imposing the measures. Many of the measures have been kept secret for security reasons and will not be apparent to passengers, but officials said they included body checks, thorough inspection of all hand luggage and tighter scrutiny of checked luggage. Airlines were also told to scan gels, aerosols and liquids that could be explosives in disguise. In addition, cargo operators were told to tighten security.
Just take this little token of information into consideration as you digest the news.

Friday, August 11, 2006

No Title Stupid Enough

The MSM needs to start doing it's job and ask Mr.Bush how he can keep a straight face when his lackies spout gratuitous lies like this.How can we be expected to take anything they say seriously. From AP via Yahoo:
While the British terror suspects were hatching their plot, the Bush administration was quietly seeking permission to divert $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new homeland explosives detection technology.

Congressional leaders rejected the idea, the latest in a series of steps by the Homeland Security Department that has left lawmakers and some of the department's own experts questioning the commitment to create better anti-terror technologies.
The department failed to spend $200 million in research and development money from past years, forcing lawmakers to rescind the money this summer.

The administration was also slow to start testing a new liquid explosives detector that the Japanese government provided to the United States earlier this year.

Great Expectations - Dashed

Talk about failing to meet expectations! I was expecting a travel day from hell today and it was one of the smoothest I have had in a while. This is going between the two busiest airports in the world the day after the TSA changed all the rules and thunderstorms disrupting traffic across the eastern seaboard.

Since I gave a lift to the airport to two of the client team I was early. My flight was scheduled at 720p and I was at the airport at 330p. I checked with Delta and my flight was already scheduled late and not departing until probably 9p but they said they could get me on the 550p which was on time and since I was holding a first class ticket and I am a Platinum traveler I had priority. Long story short... first class on the 550p flight ontime and early into Atlanta and now home by 1030p. I was expecting to be back in Atlanta by midnite best case.

No hassles with security and no long wait..there were five people ahead of me. I was expecting to be able to whine and complain about all the crap and delays and now I am frustrated. They could have at least lost my luggage. Some days it just doesn't pay to be a worry whort.

Serious now. Everyone is checking luggage now. A lot of people used to carry on but this is not happening now and therefore the luggage claim is a zoo. Those familiar with Atlanta will understand what I mean when I say you couldn't even push your way through to the carousels as there were at least a thousand people waiting for luggage tonight at 10p. Allow some extra time at the destination to claim you bags.

No Fluids or Gels

Ok all packed and ready. I think I have sanitized my briefcase of anything remotely liquid. gluestick, chapstick all in the suitcase which I will check. Just to be on the safe side I took my little baggies of teas and Splenda and put then in the suitcase as well.

Final day of meetings with the client and then I'll head for O'Hare and see what unfolds. I'm going to give two of the client team a lift to the airport and both of these ladies are going international, one to London and one to Rio. If I were them I would be a little stressed thinking about the hassles they are going to face. From what I hear from others the lines are just longer and as long as you don't have any liquids or potential liquids you should be ok.

There is no internet access for me on the client network so I am off ine until late tonight or tomorrow. I may post via the BlackBerry from the airport just to report success in negotiating security. Everyone have a great day.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What a Maroon

I have had CNN on this evening while in the hotel room and I think they have played the clip of the Idiot in Chief sayihg

"This nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation,"

If I hear it one more time my head will explode. Going to have to turn it off.

Another Horse to Ride

I know I'm being cynical. There is no way a "real" American would suspect that the Bush administration would use foreknowledge of an imminent terrorist plot for political gain. I am a weak whining hippie yippie dirty commie insurgent and not at all serious about national security. But what am I supposed to think? ...

Weighed down by the unpopular war in Iraq, Bush and his aides have tried to shift the national political debate from that conflict to the broader and more popular global war on terrorism ahead of November 7 congressional elections.

The London conspiracy is "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation," the president said on a day trip to Wisconsin.

"It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America," he said. "We've taken a lot of measures to protect the American people. But obviously we still aren't completely safe."

His remarks came a day after the White House orchestrated an exceptionally aggressive campaign to tar opposition Democrats as weak on terrorism, knowing what Democrats didn't: News of the plot could soon break.

Vice President Dick Cheney and White House spokesman Tony Snow had argued that Democrats wanted to raise what Snow called "a white flag in the war on terror," citing as evidence the defeat of a three-term Democratic senator who backed the Iraq war in his effort to win renomination.

But Bush aides on Thursday fought the notion that they had exploited their knowledge of the coming British raid to hit Democrats, saying the trigger had been the defeat of Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut by an anti-war political novice.

"The comments were purely and simply a reaction" to Democratic voters who "removed a pro-defense Senator and sent the message that the party would not tolerate candidates with such views," said Snow.

The public relations offensive "was not done in anticipation. It was not said with the knowledge that this was coming," the spokesman said.

Snow said Bush first learned in detail about the plot on Friday, and received two detailed briefings on it on Saturday and Sunday, as well as had two conversations about it with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

But a senior White House official said that the British government had not launched its raid until well after Cheney held a highly unusual conference call with reporters to attack the Democrats as weak against terrorism.


"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big," said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't "look as appealing" under the circumstances.

So what is a sane person to think? They launch their Lieberman offensive yesterday knowing full well that this raid was coming. Bush and Cheney both knew that they were going to drag out the "Terrorism Rainbow" and that this was the time to start building the fear and weak on security Democrat narrative for the fall elections. Just like they have been using 9/11 since 2001 whenever it suited their political they are going to milk this for all it is worth.

No Democrat I know has said that we should turn our backs on terrorism and"hide behind our oceans" all we have said is that the war in Iraq is not the war on terrorism and is, in fact, making us less safe and that we should disengage and put our efforts and gold where it will pay some dividends. We need to remind "the people" that it is has been the GOP cutting TSA budgets and who has failed to protect our ports and critical infrastructure. Hey folks 9/11 happened on the GOP watch.

ht to AmericaBlog

Travel Hell

Don't have a lot of time this morning to comment but it looks like travel by air is going to get to be even more of a hassle. I don't usually carry on liquids except maybe a bottle of water but the security check process is going to be absolute hell. People will still try to bring on liquids despite the fact thay they have been told they can't so the screeners will be totally overwhelmed by the flood of new rules and the extra work.

Not looking forward to heading to O'Hare tomorrow and trying to get back to Atlanta.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Looks Like Lamont

I would not be surprised if the two blogs that were major supporters of Ned Lamont were suffereing Denial of Service attacks tonight. Firedoglake and MyDD are both effectively off the air. Kos is hinting at this as well and his server farm which is massive is getting mega hits per second and someone may be trying to swamp him as well.

Regardless, it looks as if Lamont is going to take this. At last check just a few moments ago at 11pm edt with 94% of precincts reporting Lamont was leading 52 to 48%. I would be surprised if this result changed much over the balance of the precincts considering the polling.

I have CNN on in the background and Joe Lieberman has just conceded at 11pm. He is now saying that he will be running as an independent. It's all about Joe.

Congrats to Ned and all the folks that have worked so hard.


While I am eager to see Ned Lamont win the Democratic Primary in CT from Holy Joe and will be horribly disappointed if he doesn't, the reality of the situation is that the left and progressives won the day when Joe realized that he was in deep guacomole and announced his intention to run as an independent. This was the defining moment in our march to return sanity to the political process and to let everyone know in the Democratic establishment that supporting the GOP's radical agenda and failing to present a unified front against it comes with a price.
Lierberman is just the most visible and significant example of the rising power of the netroots and the left blogosphere. Whether Lamont wins or not we will have made out statement that we are a force to be reckoned with.

Go Ned. I will be out of net touch all day in meetings and with clients for dinner after but I can't tell you how quickly I will be in from of the TV and laptop after. This is a big day for our side.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Big Day Dawns

Tomorrow is a big day with respect to the future of America. The voters in CT tommorow have a tremendous opportunity to strike a beat for reason. If Lamont should win the primary we will see a major shift in how the Dems walk and talk about the war, Bush and the rest of the cabal in power.
I will be trying to keep up with the vote during breaks and lunch but don't expect to able to see anything of merit until I am back ith "dinner with the client".
I'm really tired tonight as it akways takes a lot of eenergy to be "on" ll day.ha

Time for this insurgent to crawl into my bed. Just as soon as I figure out what to do with the 7 pillows on my bed. What is it with hotels these days? Every hotel chain is competing with the others on how many pillows they can put on the bed. I assume I am paying extra for the six extra even though I can use them.

Insurgent Reporting

Well this insurgent made it to Chicago late but in one piece. Internet problems last night when I checked in but seem to have it sorted now. I always seem to have trouble with the Globalsuite wireless in hotels this time it took a bridge.
Off to the client this morning so no time to play here today...maybe tonight. Looks to be a nice day here in the heartland.
Let's all remember to send good vibes (as Sumo says) to CT and Lamont.

Have a great day.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Now We're Pussy Insurgents

Newt was on Fox News this morning according to Think Progress. This is the money quote;
Third, you have what I think is a legitimate insurgency in Connecticut, which needs to be met head on and debated head on, which is people who say this is so hard, it is so frightening, it’s so painful, can’t we come home and hide? And I think if Lamont wins next Tuesday, it will be the beginning of extraordinarily important period in American politics, and in American history. For all of us to have this debate. How dangerous are the terrorists? How dangerous are the dictatorships? And what does America have to do in that kind of a dangerous world?
Congratulations boys and girls we have graduated from traitors or whacky lefties or dirty hippies into full blooded, card-carrying "insurgents". Should we expect the laser guided rockets next?
Seriously, this is a sign that the entrenched GOP and the small handful of Democrats who love them are running scared. Their little racket is falling down around their ears and they see their paychecks shrinking. Worst of all the neocons like Gingrich who want to see the world devolve into WWIII so that the U.S. can become the only force on earth and controller of all the oil are fearing the loss of their playground. They know if the sane people take over they are going to be hard pressed to continue their Project for a New American Century.

I especially like this little phrase "people who say this is so hard, it is so frightening, it’s so painful, can’t we come home and hide?"
This is classic Newt trying to paint us a "Cut and runners" can't you see the hidden visuals of us cowering in the corner and whining about how hard the war is. Real men don't hide from tough decisions and scary things. These "insurgents" are just pussies.

Let's keep our fingers crossed that the "insurgents" kick some serious ass in CT on Tuesday.

City of the Big Shoulders


HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders: 5

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning. 10
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Wrecking, 15
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle, 20
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

Carl Sandburg's "Chicago"
published 1916 in Chicago Poems

Guess where I will be this week. Getting on a plane in a couple of hours for a week in the "Windy City". One of clients wants a week of my time to help review the application and do some additional training and evaluation of the users. This is the same client that is having me go to Beijing later in the month to do the same thing with the Asia-Pacific group. Looks like it will be a little cooler this week in the midwest so it should be fairly pleasant.

I haven't been in Chicago much since I went to Navy boot camp there in the late '60's. I think I have only been there once a few years ago for a one day business trip that involved a meeting at a hotel by the airport. Since I was 19 years old and making a something like $60 a month before taxes I don't have fond memories of the place. I spent a lot of time in the Museum of Science and Industry as I recall and didn't do much else. The ride into Chicago proper from the Naval Training Center used to take a good chunk out of our little bit of money so it was a treat to go "into town". It was also the dead of winter and spending a lot of time out of doors in Chicago in January and February is tough. If I have time I might drive up to Waukegan and North Chicago and see how much it has changed in 40 years.

I will check in with you guys from the hotel tonight. BTW this is probably one of my favorite poems of all times and I love that I got a chance to post it and read it. It just sort of rolls over you like the city must have at the turn of the century.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Practical Liberalism

I talked a little bit the other day about the fatalism of a recent Billmon post and think I need to clarify where exactly I stand on being a liberal, progressive, Democrat , etc..

First of all, let's clarify my fundamental and quite unshakable belief. I believe the only way to govern a truly free society must be based on liberal policies. There is a lot of baggage in that phrase but there are, I believe, some underlying principles that are prerequisite to a healthy, progressive, secure and happy society. All these principles spring from the simple axiom of the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There is a litany of things implied in this such as equal access to healthcare, equal opportunity for education and employment, reasonable distribution of wealth and all of those things in the Bill of Rights that the majority of our current leadership find so easy to ignore. That's all I'm looking for...fairness and equality for everyone. You will never level the field completely but you can bring everyone closer to the middle. A few are going to lose some advantage but many more will gain. Everthing will be closer to balancing.

Now let's talk politics. There has been a lot of talk about how the Democrats have to move toward the center if they are going to win elections. Recently, the potential upset of Joe Lieberman in his bid for relection by Ned Lamont is being decried has a "jihad" by the radical left against the mainstream of the Democratic party. The DLC and the other party stalwarts are screaming that if the radical netroots and wacky liberals get a foothold in the party we will scare off middle America and never win another election. This is total bullshit. The GOP and the corporate shills that are currently running the Democratic party have tricked the American people into believing that liberalism and progressive government are dirty words and it is just not reality.

America is a fundamentaly liberal nation. Most Americans don't want their neighbors living in abject poverty. They don't want their friends and family suffering or dying for lack of adequate medical care. They don't want millions of children to suffer the fate of a poor education. They don't want their taxes going to killing people in other countries. They want good schools, healthcare, security, and a clean world to live in. The majority of America was aghast and embarrassed by the images we saw from New Orleans. Americans don't want to live in that country. Just ask them.

The reality is that they have been convinced by the media and many of their pastors and parents that liberalism equals communism and that consumerism is God's way and that wealth should be the goal of life. The have been taught "me first" and "us first" all their lives. They have been indoctrinated into believing that liberals believe people should be paid for not working and that unwed mothers should be rewarded for each bastard. They have been lied to about science, global warming, conservation, other races and religions. They have been told that America is the greatest nation on earth and that too is a lie. Just measure us against the rest of the first world on the percent of our people behind bars, infant mortality, access to healthcare and people living in poverty and the lie is bright. If they would just stop and ask themselves why the rest of the world hates us the light might begin to dawn. We liberals have a big job to do in convincing all these people that have been spoon fed lies from all directions their whole lives that most everything they know is false. A very big job.

So why am I a Democrat? In the current political environment it is entirely a pragmatic decision. The leadership we need to evolve our country into a truly enlightened and liberal society is not fully avaliable. There are too many elected representatives still beholden to corporate and wealthy interests on both the GOP and Dem side and this is not going to change until we have some meaningful reform. On balance, however, the Dems are prepared to move the country more in the direction that we liberals and progressives are looking for. I am not so deluded to imagine that the incumbents we now have, even with some new blood and with the GOP still a major force, are going to meet our expectations and deliver us the government this country needs. Not only that but there is a huge inertia of "liberal is bad" in the media and the nation, wrongheaded though it is, that will have to be slowly turned and nullified.

So, to borrow from Rummy, you go with the government you have(and can get)recognizing that you will have to compromise and yes even prostitute your ideals along the way in order to achieve the long term goals. This is the way it is. If we keep our eye on our ideals and push in that direction every chance we get, then sooner or later we will get there. The first step in the near term and down the road in 2008 is to win back at least partial control of the Congress with the priority goal of getting U.S. out of Iraq and our men and women home. The hell hole that is sucking our cash and the lives of our military and Iraqis has got to go away. If in order to achieve that goal we have to vote for someone who is anti-abortion, then so be it and we'll deal with that issue soon enough. There are going to be some tough choices and I, for one, am going to hate to cast my vote for someone who is diametrically opposed to some of my deeply held beliefs but I am in the game for the long term and not for short term rewards. I am going to support candidates that on the whole will advance my liberal agenda even if they don't measure up in all ways and that will mean "sucking it up" at times and just doing it.

It's going to be an uphill battle and a long one but I am ready for it. I am not going to give up on America.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Can't Be Good

Oh Crap...just realized that Bush is in Crawford. That never bodes well for the rest of us. I think it is funny and Tropical Storm Chris fizzled just as Bush got all set up to watch the destruction. The Goddess has a sense of humor.

Get Used to It

So is everyone surviving the "NSTAGW" weather. Here in Metro Atlanta is is 94 degrees and 50% humidity which makes it feel like about a 100. I have had to fill up the birdbaths twice today as every bird in the northern half of the county has stopped by for a splash. They are actually waiting in line for a chance in the water. The jays and robins have a tendency to hog all the space for themselves and some of the smaller birds have to sneak in under the radar for a dip. Even the normally shy bluebirds have come today. I think this is just a portent of our future so as the title says "Get Used to It".

I'm working (intermittently) from home this week but did go out and do a little shopping earlier and stocked up on some necessities.(Vodka, Gin, Vermouth etc.;-)) and even went by Publix to get a couple of small steaks for the grill tonight. Holy smoke the New York strip was $12 a pound as was were the ribeyes. I passed and went cheap and will experiment tonight with a couple of small top sirloins. It was half the price and I was feeling cheap. I will wrap it in bacon and cook it over the hottest fire I can muster. It won't equal the high priced steaks but we should be able to chew it. Vegetarian is looking better and better. (and no "I told you so" Steve) We'll see.

Speaking of vegetarian...I have tried it a few times for short periods(heavy Zen period) and Madam cut out dead critters for over a year a while back. Since I do most if not all the cooking when I am home I actually think I got to be a pretty good veggie cook. We also have some vegetarian friends that seem to like my cooking. I don't think I can give up meat completely and I can't tolerate the "faux meats" but I am seriously considering shifting to to a more vegetarian diet. The thing with the "faux meats" is mostly philosophical. If you are being a vegetarian because of moral reasons it is silly to eat pretend meat as I can't see a difference other than nothing actually warm blooded died for your dinner but philosophically something did. A lot of my vegan friends eat it though and rave about how it tastes just like turkey or beef or something...I find it kind of spooky. I've cooked them and tasted them and personally would rather just eat a plain old vegetable. Personal quirk I guess.

Everyone try and stay cool, drink plenty of water and try and stay out of the sun.

BTW "NSTAGW" is "No Such Thing As Global Warming"

Double Entry Books with a Vengeance

If you was just a short while ago the Bush was out bragging about how he and his minions had reduced the deficit to only $318 Billion. That was supposed to be good news. The truth however is, of course, something quite different.

The federal government keeps two sets of books.

The set the government promotes to the public has a healthier bottom line: a $318 billion deficit in 2005.

The set the government doesn’t talk about is the audited financial statement produced by the government’s accountants following standard accounting rules. It reports a more ominous financial picture: a $760 billion deficit for 2005. If Social Security and Medicare were included — as the board that sets accounting rules is considering — the federal deficit would have been $3.5 trillion.

Congress has written its own accounting rules — which would be illegal for a corporation to use because they ignore important costs such as the growing expense of retirement benefits for civil servants and military personnel.

Last year, the audited statement produced by the accountants said the government ran a deficit equal to $6,700 for every American household. The number given to the public put the deficit at $2,800 per household.

tip to Susie at Suburban Guerrilla

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I Disagree

Billmon has a post up that I just have to comment on. I have been stewing over it for a couple of hours and trying to see all sides. I spent quite a bit of time reading some of the comments on Steve Gilliard's rebuttal. Here is the last bit of Billmon's post.

Maybe that was true, once. But I've finally come to realize that in modern-day America there is no rock -- just a vast, featureless expanse of reactionary ocean, like something from the set of Waterworld, except without a gilled Kevin Costner.

So here's my confession: At this point I really don't give a flying fuck whether the Democrats take the House or the Senate back. No, wait, that's not true. The truth is I hope they don't. It wouldn't save us from what's coming down the road, in the Middle East and elsewhere. It wouldn't force President Psychopath to change course or seek therapy. But it would make sure that the "left" (ha ha ha) gets more than its fair share of blame for the approaching debacle.

That may well be the natural role of the Democratic Party in our one-and-a-half party system, but I don't want any part of it any more. Which means that when I say it's a bad sign (consensus opinion always being wrong) that Charlie Cook now thinks the Republicans are likely to lose their House and/or Senate majorities in November, I just mean that it's a bad sign for the Democratic Party and its professional hangers on.

For the rest of us, and for whatever is left of this country's soul, it doesn't really matter. We've already lost.

Like I said above I have stewed over this for quite a while and I guess it all boils down to whether I am willing to admit that we have failed to preserve America as it was envisioned to be.

In my case the answer is no. I recognize that regardless of which party controls the House and Senate next year and which party has the Whitehouse in 2008 that there are no easy answers or quick fixes for what is troubling our nation and the world. Regardless, there will be the CEO's with their unjust and obscene wealth and there will be the Fred Phelps and the Jame Dobsons. There will still be hate and greed...all of the worst of this country will still be here. I don't expect all of our troubles to go away as if by magic. I'm not looking for it all to change for the better overnight. I just want something to change.

I, by all rights, should be a raving GOP whore. I have a good job, nice house, money in the bank, 401K's and a new car. I am a member of a country club and don't hesitate to spend a $100 on a nice dinner out every once in a while. Most of my friends are Republicans as are most of my business colleagues. They all question why I am such a raving liberal and progressive as I have every reason to want to see less taxes and maintenance of the status quo. They all get a funny look on their faces when I tell them that I am awake and aware that I am not alone in this world. I know everyone can't have everything I have but if I can help narrow the gap for my fellows Americans and others around the world then I will benefit in the long run. So many of the painful and misery causing things in this world are easily addressable if we would just put a portion of the effort and gold into solving them that we put into preparing for and actually making war.

Even if the Dems take the whole enchilada in November there is not going to be a huge change in things overnight but things will begin to change. The poison and infection that is afflicting us is not going to be cast aside with the flick of a finger but just as lighting a single candle makes the world a little brighter the Democrats will begin to address some of the issues. One step at a time they will address healthcare, education, poverty, minimum wage, security, retirement, energy costs, global warming and all the other issues that are being worsened or ignored by our government today. We won't get it right the first time but each step will help thousands and millions of people in some way, small or large.

There are a lot of corporate whores in the incumbent Democrats but over time and if we pay attention we will identify and target them for removal. We will replace them with people that put their responsibility to the people ahead of their pocketbooks and egos. We have seen what turning our government over to the corporations has done for us and we will remember it.

Inheriting the mess that has been created by Bush and his cronies will be a monumental burden to bear and not solved easily but it can and will be solved. I am not ready to give up on my ideals and my belief in our country. I believe in what the banner at the top of this blog says and will not give up on the American Dream.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Reign of Witches, Indeed

Xan at Corrente has given us a snippet of a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a friend commenting on the passing of the Alien and Sedition Act (the PATRIOT ACT of the day). It is so completely appropriate I couldn't resist reposting it here. As Xan says, maybe it will help us through the next 900 or so days.
A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt…. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.
No offense to Wiccans meant. For those interested here is a link to the complete letter written by Jefferson to John Taylor in June, 1798. It is interesting to read the postscript and very telling about the 4th estate of the time.

P. S. It is hardly necessary to caution you to let nothing of mine get before the public. A single sentence, got hold of by the Porcupines, will suffice to abuse & persecute me in their papers for months.