Saturday, March 31, 2007
In your food processor bowl,
1 nice large clove of garlic
1 tsp of salt
1 T of dry basil or 3 T of fresh Basil
1 tsp Tobasco
3 T of red wine vinegar
Pulse a few times to chop the garlic then add 2 28 oz cans of Italian plum tomatoes. (If you don't have a big enough processor then divide it.) I use the chopped or crushed tomatoes . Process until smooth then add half of the following ingredients reserving the other half to add after processing and process again until smooth.
2 stalks of celery chopped finely
1/2 a green pepper chopped finely
1/2 a cucumber seeded and chopped finely
1 green onion chopped finely
Add the final half of the chopped vegetables and chill for a few hours. You can then adjust the salt, Tobasco and vinegar to your taste. This will keep refrigerated for 3 or 4 days. Serve cold with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream and a nice sprinkle of chopped Italian parsley.
For a little variation try adding a 3 or 4 chilled, peeled and steamed shrimp to each bowl when served or even a few nice lumps of crabmeat. Another variation that is cheap and adds protein... just use canned beans like pinto, cannelloni, black or red/kidney and rinse them well in a colander. Add a few table spoons to each serving and you are almost complete nutritionally. If you are concerned about nutrition adding some canned or frozen 'niblets' corn that has also been rinsed will complete the nutritional profile. Enjoy!
Note: there are some who think a few table spoons of good olive oil in required in gazpacho in order to balance the acidity and to add 'mouth feel'. Try it both ways and see which you prefer.
Note 2: not all canned tomatoes are equal. I prefer Red Pack crushed with puree and Hunt's organic crushed with puree. Muir Glen is not bad and neither is Progresso but the later is a little watery.
Friday, March 30, 2007
At this point in a marriage, except for the major anniversaries , you do the nice mushy card and take her out for a nice romantic dinner. Tonight we went out to a new place VG Bistro and had a very nice dinner. Madam had the lamb chops and I had the duck confit cassoulet which was marvelous. This place has undergone several complete changes since we first moved here 25 years or so ago. VG Bistro used to be Van Gogh's which was preceded by Cashin's and even earlier the "Sun Grove".
All in all a pleasant evening.
Another highlight of this day is that it is Monk's mother's 79th birthday. Happy Birthday Mom!
A senior Bush political appointee at the Interior Department has repeatedly altered scientific field reports to minimize protections for imperiled species and disclosed confidential information to private groups seeking to affect policy decisions, the department’s inspector general concluded.
The investigator’s report on Julie A. MacDonald, deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks — which was triggered by an anonymous complaint from a Fish and Wildlife Service employee and expanded in October after a Washington Post article about MacDonald — said she frequently sought to reshape the agency’s scientific reports in an effort to ease the impact of agency decisions on private landowners.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Just a couple of pictures from my walk about the yard at lunch to prove that spring has definitely sprung here in Atlanta. The lack of rain in the last week or so has created a terrible pollen crisis for many with the daily pollen count of over 5000 per cubic meter (over 200 is considered high). No relief in sight rain wise for the next few days either so all the folk coming into town for the Final Four better be prepared for the worst if they suffer from allergies. It bothered me the first two days but since that time not a bit.
The dogwood tree pictured I planted over 20 years ago when we first came to Atlanta and the pic doesn't really do it justice. The azaleas are always brilliant but seem especially bright this year. Spring in Atlanta is it its prettiest as the whole city is covered in dogwood, cherries, redbud, and azaleas all blooming at the same time.
Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans — those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 — receiving their largest share of national income since 1928, analysis of newly released tax data shows.
The top 10 percent, roughly those earning more than $100,000, also reached a level of income share not seen since before the Depression.
While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.
The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more than $139,000, or about 14 percent.
The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.
Bye-Bye Circuit City!
A new plan for layoffs at Circuit City is openly targeting better-paid workers, risking a public backlash by implying that its wages are as subject to discounts as its flat-screen TVs.UPDATE: Circuit City Chief Executive Officer Philip Schoonover was paid $8.52 million in fiscal 2006, including a salary of $975,000.
The electronics retailer, facing larger competitors and falling sales, said Wednesday that it would lay off about 3,400 store workers_ immediately - and replace them with lower-paid new hires as soon as possible.
The laid-off workers, about 8 percent of the company's total work force, would get a severance package and a chance to reapply for their former jobs, at lower pay, after a 10-week delay, the company said.
We are talking about nothing less that a class war declared a generation ago, in a powerful polemic by the wealthy right-winger, William Simon, who had been Richard Nixon's Secretary of the Treasury. In it he declared that "funds generated by business... must rush by the multimillions" to conservative causes. The trumpet was sounded for the financial and business class to take back the power and privileges they had lost as a result of the Great Depression and the New Deal. They got the message and were soon waging a well-orchestrated, lavishly-financed movement. Business Week put it bluntly: "Some people will obviously have to do with less... .It will be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow the idea of doing with less so that big business can have more." The long-range strategy was to cut workforces and their wages, scour the globe in search of cheap labor, trash the social contract and the safety net that was supposed to protect people from hardships beyond their control, deny ordinary citizens the power to sue rich corporations for malfeasance and malpractice, and eliminate the ability of government to restrain what editorialists for the Wall Street Journal admiringly call "the animal spirits of business."
Looking backwards, it all seems so clear that we wonder how we could have ignored the warning signs at the time. What has been happening to working people is not the result of Adam Smith's invisible hand but the direct consequence of corporate activism, intellectual propaganda, the rise of a religious literalism opposed to any civil and human right that threaten its paternalism, and a string of political decisions favoring the interests of wealthy elites who bought the political system right out from under us.
To create the intellectual framework for this revolution in public policy, they funded conservative think tanks that churned out study after study advocating their agenda.
To put muscle behind these ideas, they created a formidable political machine. One of the few journalists to cover the issues of class, Thomas Edsall of the Washington Post, reported that "During the 1970s, business refined its ability to act as a class, submerging competitive instincts in favor of joint, cooperate action in the legislative area." Big business political action committees flooded the political arena with a deluge of dollars. And they built alliances with the religious right - Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition - who gleefully contrived a cultural holy war that became a smokescreen behind which the economic assault on the middle and working classes would occur.
From land, water, and other resources, to media and the broadcast and digital spectrums, to scientific discovery and medial breakthroughs, a broad range of America's public resources have been undergoing a powerful shift toward elite control, contributing substantially to those economic pressures on ordinary Americans that "deeply affect household stability, family dynamics, social mobility, political participation and civic life."
What's to be done?
The only answer to organized money is organized people.
The only answer to organized money is organized people.
The only answer to organized money is organized people.
It is horribly easy to get frustrated with the state of our nation. Goddess knows that I have struggled with despair since the election in 2000. It has been very difficult to maintain a positive attitude about America and everything that is happening. It is chilling and frightening to see how far we have gone astray in just such a short time and what kind of damage we have wrought upon the world. It is even more disheartening to see the scope of work needed if we are going to put it all right and put ourselves on the right track again.
It would be very easy as I approach my sixtieth birthday to sit back and let someone else worry about the future and despair on a daily basis about everything that I see going wrong and worse. Somehow though, when I get too comfortable, I get sent a message like this speech by Bill Moyers that reinvigorates my desire to make a difference and not let the world pass me by. I may have only a relatively few years left but I can still communicate and while I may not see the fruits of my labor I will know that I did what I could to make the world a better place. So as Steve so rightly says. "We have a world to save!"
Seriously, here we are with a war that has cost us more than $400 Billion so far and what's worse 90% of that $400B is on the credit card. Why should we worry that all during this horribly expensive war Bush has been giving the corporations and wealthiest in this country massive tax cuts? Don't forget to add to that increasing oil costs plus a crashing real estate market that has over $600 billion in sub prime loans rapidly going bad not to mention a growing list of existing homes sitting on the market. According to good old Ben we shouldn't worry about it everything, is going to be OK.
Sorry Ben but I'm worried. Sooner or later the Chinese are going to want to be paid back for financing Bush and Cheney's little war and there are only so many defaulted home loans the market can bear. There are only so many unsold houses sitting on the market before the home construction industry collapses and thousands and thousands of workers are on the street. There is only so much elasticity in the average household budget to absorb ever increasing energy costs and the concomitant rising costs of food and virtually everything else. No, sorry Ben, but the light I see at the end of the tunnel is a train.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Off-duty Shiite policemen enraged by massive bombings in the northern town of Tal Afar went on a revenge spree against Sunni residents there on Wednesday, killing at least 45 men execution-style, police and hospital officials said.I think not.
The policemen began roaming the town's Sunni neighborhoods on foot early in the morning, shooting at Sunni residents and homes.
A senior hospital official in Tal Afar said at least 45 men between the ages of 15 and 60 were killed with a shot to the back of the head and four others were wounded. He spoke on condition of anonymity due to security concerns.
Police said dozens of Sunnis were killed or wounded, but they had no precise figures. The shooting continued for more than two hours, the officials said.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The bill is not perfect. It's still non-binding, but it is a critical and symbolic vote to change the course of the war. The Senate bill will go to a conference with the House bill that passed last week.
Lieberman and Mark Pryor from Arkansas voted with the Republicans, of course. GOP Senators Oregon's Gordon Smith and Nebraska's Chuck Hagel voted with the Democrats.
The bill will be conferenced in committee but will, in some form, wind up on Bush's desk to sign or veto. He has already said he will veto it so when he does he will be the sole supporter of and endless war in the Middle East.
While we are all focused on the latest Rovian symptoms...this time the DOJ and Abu Gonzales we should not overlook the fact that the civil war in Iraq is charging ahead which is arguably the worst Rovian symptom there is.
All for nothing.
BAGHDAD — Two nearly simultaneous truck bombs _ including one detonated by remote control _ ripped through markets in Tal Afar on Tuesday, killing at least 48 people and wounding dozens, police said, as violence surged outside the Iraqi capital.
A mortar attack in the Sunni-dominated Dora neighborhood of Baghdad killed four people, including two children, a woman and a man _ the second deadly mortar attack on the enclave in three days. A suicide car bomber exploded his payload near Ramadi, killing 10 people, and two other attackers detonated explosives-laden cars in Baqouba, killing three policemen.
The attacks in Tal Afar, the second in four days, occurred about five minutes apart at popular markets in the northern and central parts of the city, 260 miles northwest of Baghdad.
At least 48 people were killed and 103 wounded, police Brig. Abdul Karim al-Jubouri said.
Bush administration officials throughout the government have engaged in White House-directed efforts to stifle, delay or dampen the release of climate change research that casts the White House or its policies in a bad light, says a new report that purports to be the most comprehensive assessment to date of the subject.
Researchers for the non-profit watchdog Government Accountability Project reviewed thousands of e-mails, memos and other documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests and from government whistle-blowers and conducted dozens of interviews with public affairs staff, scientists, reporters and others.
What, other than to protect their buddies in the oil and gas industry, does the White House hope to gain? What about the following oath says lie, distract and otherwise misinform the people of the United States about the most serious threat the nation and world will ever face?
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."I was too disgusted to watch the inauguration...did anyone check to see if Bush's fingers were crossed? Do you think Bush has even ever read the Constitution? Do you think he has even read the first sentence? It might be fun to have Helen Thomas ask him to repeat the first sentence of the Constitution and the next press conference.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.If he can recite it he sure as hell doesn't understand it. [bold is mine]
The thing is that even though the bill is completely flawed and doesn't go nearly far enough in getting the troops home it is more symbolic than functional. If just one of the wavering GOP Senators votes for the bill then it will say to the nation and the world that America is through with Iraq and it leaves Bush isolated. This will be especially true if he follows through on his veto threat. It will then be George Bush alone withholding the much need arms, armor and support the troops so desperately need. He will truly be alone in his ownership of this debacle.
"The vehemence with which the president opposed it made it clear to a lot of people that this was a change in direction and that it was significant," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee....But the president's uncompromising language and his effective imposition of an April 15 deadline for the funding bill -- after that date, he said, "our men and women in uniform will face significant disruptions" -- may solidify Democratic ranks without rallying new Republican support.
....With most counts showing Senate Democrats needing only one more vote to approve the call for troop withdrawals next year, antiwar pressures are growing on Sens. John Sununu (R-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). All face reelection next year, as does Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), who is already seen as leaning toward the withdrawal plan.
Monday, March 26, 2007
The "war on terror" has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration's elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America's psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the real challenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us.
The damage these three words have done -- a classic self-inflicted wound -- is infinitely greater than any wild dreams entertained by the fanatical perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks when they were plotting against us in distant Afghan caves. The phrase itself is meaningless. It defines neither a geographic context nor our presumed enemies. Terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare -- political intimidation through the killing of unarmed non-combatants.
But the little secret here may be that the vagueness of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors. Constant reference to a "war on terror" did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue. The war of choice in Iraq could never have gained the congressional support it got without the psychological linkage between the shock of 9/11 and the postulated existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Support for President Bush in the 2004 elections was also mobilized in part by the notion that "a nation at war" does not change its commander in chief in midstream. The sense of a pervasive but otherwise imprecise danger was thus channeled in a politically expedient direction by the mobilizing appeal of being "at war."
I recommend you read it all.
I wish I were sanguine about the possibility that there is anything that will change the use or effect of this phrase. The right has decided that we will have the GWOT at that it will perform as an effective fnord for the foreseeable future. I'm afraid, as they say,'it's a done deal'. I'd be interested, however, if anyone has any ideas about how to undo some of the damage this simple phrase has wrought upon our nation and the world. Left to it's own devices it is going to poison the dialog in this country for a very long time.
Reminds me of something that happened years ago when someone removed the label from their cat food can and found another label underneath for some store brand of tuna meant for humans.
Oh, and don't forget the recent peanut butter saga where it was revealed how many brands are actually made by some company here in Georgia.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Sorry for the quiet around here but it was the first weekend of spring and the first weekend in some time that I didn't have to head out somewhere on a Sunday afternoon. We got some yard work done so now it only looks like a band of gypsy's lives here part time. I went out and hit a large bucket of golf balls at the driving range which has awakened muscles I forgot I had and I managed a three mile walk both days. I feel like I actually had a life this weekend.
Madam Monk and I are on a project to document and photograph everything of value we own in Quicken Home Inventory and have come to the realization that we have entirely too much stuff.Madam's mother was an avid collector of 'things' and we have inherited it all. Problem is the woman had exquisite taste and a fine sense for what should be preserved so nothing we have is yard sale stuff and therefore not easily not willingly disposed of.
I have week in Atlanta from the looks of it coming up which is turning out to be excellent timing. Either all the pollen floating right now is whacking me good (which it never has before) or yours truly has another cold and I haven't even completely shrugged off the cough from the last one. That's what comes of traveling and getting too tired...you become easy prey for any rug rat with a few germs you pass in the airport.
Anyhow, I hope everyone had a fantastic first weekend of spring. You know in ancient times this was the time (immediately after the equinox) that the local farmers would take to the fields with their wives and upon the newly tilled ground remind the gods through demonstration what reproduction was all about. Just to insure good crops mind you. If any of you have been helping the gods remember their duty this weekend be thankful it is still too cool for ticks and chiggers.
It is interesting that the expletive most derided today as a disgusting and degrading term for intercourse was originally the word used to describe this particular type of love making meant to remind the gods of fertility and the need for a meeting of the sexes to produce new life.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Especially for PoP here is the food report for this week. Bertolini's is OK, not great Italian but good. McCormick&Schmick's failed two out of three this week but the high side is I got one of those meals comped because I complained to manager. Sunday night I just wanted something light so I ordered a salad and an appetizer of popcorn shrimp. The salad was ok but when the popcorn shrimp arrived it was over breaded and mushy and a great number of the shrimp were in little balls of shrimp and dough...not nice. The manager made the mistake of stopping by the table and asking how everything was. I showed him one my lump o' shrimp and he immediately said that not to worry the dinner was on the house and could he get me something else. Good experience other than the food.
The only other dining experience was at Alcatraz a restaurant/brewery. The Pelican Ale was very good (an India Pale that was kick ass at 7.6%ABV) the specialty burger of Kobe beef with applewood smoked bacon and brie on a croissant was a mess...greasy and way to complicated not to mention it was $16. I might have eaten half of it. Not a smart choice but I am a sucker for Kobe beef.
Anyhow, it is now 839p and I am going to try to go to bed. Do not expect anything here until mid morning and if you are awake at 5am think of me standing in the airport in Indy with no breakfast and no coffee and no sleep...it will make you feel better about yourself.
Nothing is going to change the course of her journey with cancer. She is going to get the treatment that she needs and she is going to move forward with her life. This event shows the mettle of her husband, her and their relationship. When faced with these events in your life the most important thing is to face the challenge and continue to live your life as best you can. Withdrawing from public life and feeling sorry for yourself is the last thing you need to do. Cancer survivor after cancer survivor will tell you that their salvation was accepting the news and then grasping life and all it has to offer and doing the best you can not to surrender to helplessness.
This event and the Edwards' acceptance of it and their conviction to not let it destroy their dreams but to add another reason to grasp their future fully has just strengthened my conviction that he is the right man to lead this nation during its next, very challenging phase.
I wish both of them the best and want them to know that they have my support.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The meme is basically that he is hysterical and calling for American industry to grind to a halt in order to prevent the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. First, Gore is and has stated that it should be a national priority to address the human impact on the environment but nowhere has he called for everything to come to a complete halt.
Everything from the attack today by the idiot from Oklahoma Inhofe to this article in the NYT times is calculated to spread doubt and uncertainty about the message that Al Gore is trying to get out. Bob Somerby does his usual thorough job of calling bull shit when appropriate.
I just finished watching Glen Beck on Paula Zahn(CNN) and he is preaching the same crap.
I'm not a scientist but I am trying hard to understand the problem. I am reading everything I can on the potential disaster of Global Warming and it just frosts me to see the MSM discounting this issue at every turn. They have also begun saying that the whole "Inconvenient Truth" thing was strictly political and meant to set Gore up to run for President in 2008. The Academy Awards are just another ploy by the "dirty fucking hippies" to get Al to run in 2008.
From everything I am reading we are already screwed and that all that's left to us is to try and ameliorate the effect and depth of our upcoming disaster. Gore is at least saying that it is not too late to do something. Everything I see says that if there is any criticism of Al Gore is that he is too optimistic.
To quote Digby:
I think my favorite thing about the know-nothing wingnut argument is that Al Gore is said to be all hysterical on this silly little problem by the same people who are screeching like howler monkeys that the oceans don't protect us anymore and "they're" comin' to kill us in our beds! The fact that ridding ourselves of our dependence on oil might mitigate both of these problems escapes their notice. But then, they are incredibly stupid.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
WASHINGTON Mar 20, 2007 (AP)— The White House offered Tuesday to make political strategist Karl Rove and former counsel Harriet Miers available for interviews but not testimony under oath before congressional committees investigating the firing of eight federal prosecutors.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, said he would still press for White House aides to testify under oath, saying that White House counsel Fred Fielding "indicated he didn't want to negotiate" whether Rove and others would have to appear in a full hearing. "That doesn't mean we're not going to try," Schumer said.
It sure sounds like they are afraid to me and they should be. Rove has had his fingers in every politically driven illegal and morally questionable escapade executed by the White House and this US Attorney thing is only the latest to come to light. Libby took the fall for the Plame outing but I guess they couldn't find anyone else to take the fall for this one. Bush is expected to make a statement when he gets back from Kansas City later today. Can't wait.
The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to end the Bush administration's ability to unilaterally fill U.S. attorney vacancies as a backlash to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' firing of eight federal prosecutors.I must say you can't get more emphatic than that without a mob and a rope.
....the Senate by a 94-2 vote passed a bill that would cancel the attorney general's power to appoint U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation. Democrats say the Bush administration abused that authority when it fired the eight prosecutors and proposed replacing some with White House loyalists....
Essentially, the Senate returned the law regarding the appointments of U.S. attorneys to where it was before Congress passed the Patriot Act, including the unilateral appointment authority the administration had sought in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.
A House committee released documents Monday that showed hundreds of instances in which a White House official who was previously an oil industry lobbyist edited government climate reports to play up uncertainty of a human role in global warming or play down evidence of such a role.The campaign of misinformation and of sowing doubt about the deadly seriousness of Global Warming has been very, very successful with the help of the White House for years and caused irreparable harm to efforts to get the world to wake up. Big Oil and Big Coal have funded a massive campaign of lies and distortion for years and years and it well past time that the American people realize that they have been repeatedly screwed and lied to.
In a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the official, Philip A. Cooney, who left government in 2005, defended the changes he had made in government reports over several years. Mr. Cooney said the editing was part of the normal White House review process and reflected findings in a climate report written for President Bush by the National Academy of Sciences in 2001.
They were the first public statements on the issue by Mr. Cooney, the former chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Before joining the White House, he was the “climate team leader” for the American Petroleum Institute, the main industry lobby.
He was hired by Exxon Mobil after resigning in 2005 following reports on the editing in The New York Times. The White House said his resignation was not related to the disclosures.
h/t to Americablog
Monday, March 19, 2007
Opinion polls aren't conducted very often in Iraq but the following chronicles our murder of a nation pretty well. Since today is the four year anniversary of the war it was judged beneficial to see just how the Iraqis are feeling;
- The number of Iraqis who say their own life is going well has dipped from 71 percent in November 2005 to 39 percent now.
- About three-fourths of Iraqis report feelings of anger, depression and difficulty concentrating.
- More than half of Iraqis have curtailed activities like going out of their homes, going to markets or other crowded places and traveling through police checkpoints.
- Only 18 percent of Iraqis have confidence in U.S. and coalition troops, and 86 percent are concerned that someone in their household will be a victim of violence.
- Slightly more than half of Iraqis 51 percent now say that violence against U.S. forces is acceptable _ up from 17 percent who felt that way in early 2004. More than nine in 10 Sunni Arabs in Iraq now feel this way.
- While 63 percent said they felt very safe in their neighborhoods in late 2005, only 26 percent feel that way now.
UPDATE: BarbinMD has an excellent post at Kos that follows Bush's comments about the war chronologically using the number of casualties. Puts the whole freaking mess and the insanity of George Bush and company in a clear and dreadfully saddening way.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
We bought her for my daughter as a yearling and completely unbroken when we lived in North Carolina. My daughter broke her to hunt seat and western and went on to win a boatload of trophies and ribbons in North Carolina and later in Georgia when they were both young girls. She has been out to pasture for the last few years as her age prevented any regular riding and my daughter has other horses but Kui was her first and very special. I can't tell you how many hours yours truly spent driving to and from horse shows and then standing around holding Kui while outfits were changed and all. I made a pretty competent hitching post if I do so say so myself.
So anyway, it is the end of another chapter in our lives and an especially meaningful one for my daughter. Kui did her job and did it well and lived a nice long life for a horse. She has nothing to be ashamed as she joins the cosmic herd. Those of us still confined to the physical plane can remember the blue ribbons and the not blue ribbons and the pleasure and completeness she gave to a young girl and feel good about our time together.
Friday, March 16, 2007
“In this entire century the Democratic Party has never been invested with power on the basis of a program which promised to keep things as they were. We have won when we pledged to meet the new challenges of each succeeding year. We have triumphed not in spite of controversy, but because of it; not because we avoided problems, but because we faced them. We have won, not because we bent and diluted our principles, but because we stood fast to the ideals which represent the most noble and generous portion of the American spirit.” - Robert Kennedy, U.S. Attorney General, Senator (D- NY)
The top US commander in Iraq has requested another Army brigade, on top of five already on the way, as part of the controversial "surge" of American troops designed to clamp down on sectarian violence and insurgent groups, senior Pentagon officials said today.Where are all these troops supposed to come from? One would think that it is the plan of the Bush administration to destroy our military completely.
The appeal -- not yet made public -- by Gen. David Petraeus for a combat aviation unit would involve between 2,500 and 3,000 more soldiers and dozens of transport helicopters and powerful gunships, said the Pentagon sources. That would bring the planned expansion of US forces so far to close to 30,000 troops.
News of the additional deployment comes about a week after President Bush announced that about 4,700 support troops will join the initial 21,500 he ordered in January. They are in addition to the estimated 130,000 troops already in Iraq.
"This is the next shoe to drop," said one senior Pentagon official closely involved in the war planning. "But you cannot put five combat brigades in there and not have more aviation guys, military police, and intelligence units."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- This has been the world's warmest winter since record-keeping began more than a century ago, the U.S. government agency that tracks weather reported Thursday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the combined global land and ocean surface temperature from December through February was at its highest since records began in 1880.A record-warm January was responsible for pushing up the combined winter temperature, according to the agency's Web site.
Just wanted to warn you to stand by for all the naysayers spreading confusion and lies as soon as this story gets around. Oh BTW...Polar Bear, Polar Bear.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt
2 cups of buttermilk
Grease an 8 inch glass pie plate and set aside. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and put the rack in the middle of the oven.
Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl and add the buttermilk. Stir until everything comes together and then turn the dough out on a floured surface. Knead the dough for only a minute resisting the urge to do more. The dough should not be overworked. Form the dough into a disk about 6 inches across. Place in your greased pie dish. The dough won't touch the sides. Cut a cross in the dough about a half in deep all the way across and then bake for about 50 minutes until the slash widens and the bread is a nice golden brown.
Cool the bread on a wire rack until it is completely cool before slicing. Wrap the bread in a moist towel until ready to serve. You can keep this bread for a day wrapped and at room temperature but by the end of the day even the little amount of fat in the buttermilk will cause the bread to become pretty hard.
Enjoy with some good Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage or the national dish of Ireland Colcannon.
This recipe for Irish Soda Bread comes from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan from a recipe by Marion Cunningham.
When a government has made a grand statement out of torture which rails against all the values our civilization hold dear and which virtually anyone with sense knows are unreliable you can't be too surprised when people are just a little skeptical of the torture induced transcripts of a terrorist's confessed plots. Plots which, I might add, are complete with all the lurid details about beheadings and plans to assassinate the Pope and Jimmy Carter. I won't mention the added difficulty of noting that these sensational revelations are released right in the middle of an exploding White House scandal especially since they have had custody of this particular terrorist for years.
Try and imagine what kind of impact these confessions would have had in a legitimate war crimes trial. If Bush and Cheney had followed civilized practices and maintained a shred of moral authority and credibility we might have had some actual information that we could use in the GWOT. Instead we have nothing but a picture of a grumpy man that looks like he just got rolled out of bed.
Lots of stuff piled up in just two short days and I am still digging and I am looking at heading back to Indy on Sunday for the week. Hoping to put it to bed next week for the most part and should only have to go back one or two more times in April to finish it all up. Need to get this project behind me as I was reminded by several clients that attended the Washington conference that I had promised them a week or two of my time and that they are getting impatient.
Anybody taking bets on how soon Gonzales resigns?
We know that Karl Rove is up to the pudgy neck in this and we'll just have to see if Gonzales takes the bullet for it. My prediction is that Gonzales will resign in a matter of days.
As Sidney Bluemthal notes in his piece in Salon.com, Mr. Rove is in charge of the plan to basically remake the federal government in the image of the Bush administration; a permanent Republican majority run by loyalists.
To the extent that the facts are known, Rove keeps surfacing in the middle of the scandal. And it is implausible that Sampson, the latest designated fall guy, was responsible for an elaborate bureaucratic coup d'état. Nor is it credible that Gonzales -- or Harriet Miers, who has yet to be heard -- saw or heard no evil. Neither is it reasonable that Gonzales or Miers, both once Bush's personal attorneys in Texas, getting him out of scrapes such as his drunken driving arrest, could be the political geniuses behind the firings. Gonzales' and Miers' service is notable for their obedience, lack of originality and eagerness to act as tools. The scheme bears the marks of Rove's obsessions, methods and sources. His history contains a wealth of precedents in which he manipulated law enforcement for political purposes. And his long-term strategy for permanent Republican control of government depended on remaking the federal government to create his ultimate goal -- a one-party state.
This effort began two generations ago with Richard Nixon's drive to forge an imperial presidency, using extralegal powers of government to aggrandize unaccountable power in the executive and destroy political opposition. Nixon was thwarted in the Watergate scandal. We will never know his full malevolent intentions, but we do know that in the aftermath of the 1972 election he wanted to remake the executive branch to create what the Bush administration now calls a "unitary executive." Nixon later explained his core doctrine: "When the president does it, that means it's not illegal." Karl Rove is the rightful heir to Nixonian politics. His first notice in politics occurred as a witness before the Senate Watergate Committee. From Nixon to Bush, Rove is the single continuous character involved in the tactics and strategy of political subterfuge.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
We had two better than your typical conference meals. The first was at Ebbitt's Grill, another famous old landmark, and also known for the view from the roof which overlooks the roof of the White House. Last night we ate at Sequoia which is right on the Potamac in Georgetown. Great view and for a buffet was very nice. Lots of glass which provides a fabulous view of all the activity on the river.
Up early and off to the airport and should be home around noon. We'll check in later.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Saturday, March 10, 2007
This is almost laughable were it not so sad. The Bush administration obviously thinks that if we don't hear about polar bears then there is no problem and Global Warming is not really happening since you aren't hearing any drowning polar bears stories.
Internal memorandums circulated in the Alaskan division of the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service appear to require government biologists or other employees traveling in countries around the Arctic not to discuss climate change, polar bears or sea ice if they are not designated to do so.BTW... Polar Bears,Polar Bears,Polar Bears,Polar Bears,Polar Bears,Polar Bears,Polar Bears,Polar Bears,Polar Bears,Polar Bears. There I said it! So come and get me if you think you can.
In December, the Bush administration, facing a deadline under a suit by environmental groups, proposed listing polar bears throughout their range as threatened under the Endangered Species Act because the warming climate is causing a summertime retreat of sea ice that the bears use for seal hunting.
Environmentalists are trying to use such a listing to force the United States to restrict heat-trapping gases that scientists have linked to global warming as a way of limiting risks to the 22,000 or so bears in the far north.
It remains unclear whether such a listing will be issued. The Fish and Wildlife Service this week held the first of several hearings in Alaska and Washington on the question.
Over the past week, biologists and wildlife officials received a cover note and two sample memorandums to be used as a guide in preparing travel requests. Under the heading “Foreign Travel — New Requirement — Please Review and Comply, Importance: High,” the cover note said:
“Please be advised that all foreign travel requests (SF 1175 requests) and any future travel requests involving or potentially involving climate change, sea ice and/or polar bears will also require a memorandum from the regional director to the director indicating who’ll be the official spokesman on the trip and the one responding to questions on these issues, particularly polar bears.”
The sample memorandums, described as to be used in writing travel requests, indicate that the employee seeking permission to travel “understands the administration’s position on climate change, polar bears, and sea ice and will not be speaking on or responding to these issues.”
Update: If you want some more Polar Bear Stories go see Maya's Granny
Friday, March 09, 2007
Another thing that is coming to light is that, once again, Bush lied to us about the 'surge'.
Have you stopped to notice that virtually everything Bush and his minions told us in January about his new[same] way forward[backward] in Iraq is already so much hogwash? Remember how it was going to be a 'surge' of only 21,500 additional troops and that would be enough to get the job done? Do you also remember that it wasn't but a week or so later that we discover that the phrase "combat troops" was actually the key point? That was when we discovered that there would also be another 7,000 or maybe even 20,000 or so more US soldiers required to support the "combat" troops. Now, here we are just two months later and the word from the Generals on the ground are hinting that maybe even the additional 30,000 or so is not going to be enough.
The new American commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, warned today that American troops here face a long road ahead, and left open the possibility that even more soldiers would be called to serve here, as he described the difficult task of bringing peace to the country.
Remember Bush telling us that the focus was going to be on Baghdad and that the 17,500 of the added troops would be sent to pacify Baghdad and the balance of cannon fodder would be sent to reinforce the Marines in Anbar Province? Do you think he knew he was lying when he was telling the American people this? Was Bush consciously pumping sunshine up our kilts when he was telling us that they would focus on Baghdad because securing Baghdad was critical and besides there weren't enough troops to do more? Reality Check!
Among the most vexing problems he described were how to deal with rising violence outside the capital. . . . He also underscored how important it is to prevent the insurgents and death-squad members who are believed to have temporarily fled Baghdad from exporting their violence to nearby areas like Hilla, where attacks on Shiite religious pilgrims on Tuesday killed more than 100 people.
“Anyone who knows about securing Baghdad knows that you must also secure the Baghdad belts — in other words, the areas that surround Baghdad,” General Petraeus said.
Remember when the Generals and others skeptical of the 'surge' warned that the Army and Marines were overstretched and under equipped to 'surge' and all their warnings were ignored?Here we are just two months later the 'surge' has turned out to be just delaying some poor bastard's trip home and the early departure of some folks that aren't even trained for urban combat.
With barely one-third of the promised additional American and Iraqi “surge” troops now available on the ground, the new security plan for Baghdad is only beginning to take effect.
The following paragraph tells us the true story. The 'surge' is really a pitiful attempt at an escalation. Bush's endless war is just getting bigger not better.
General Petraeus repeatedly stressed the long-term nature of the “surge,” as the current buildup of troops and operations has come to be called, and he was careful not to put a ceiling on the number of troops that may eventually be needed or how long they may need to stay in Iraq.
He said there were no “looming” requests for additional troops, and that he had not yet endorsed an assessment by the second-ranking commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, that the greatly enlarged American force should remain undiminished for at least one full year.
But General Petraeus added, “If you’re going to achieve the kinds of effects that we probably need, that it would need to be sustained certainly for some time well beyond the summer.”
An important part of the promises Bush made when he announced his new[old] plan was that the additional troops in Baghdad would help protect the Iraqi people. Was he lying about this knowingly as well? During last year's late winter holidays when thousands and thousands of people made pilgrimages to holy sites they were they protected, to a large degree, by sectarian militias. Note that this year, those very same militias are in hiding from the the US/Iraqi security forces with a very predictable result. Hundreds of pilgrims are being killed by bombs. This is known as shooting oneself in the foot.
Another apparently false promise by Bush was that our commitment to Iraq was not "open ended," but Petraeus is talking a little differently.
General Petraeus’s open-ended strategy appeared to be an effort to avoid a repeat of the pattern that has doomed past American efforts to halt the insurgency. In hot spots including Tal Afar and Diyala, United States soldiers have cracked down on insurgents and then reduced the American presence only to see insurgents retake old ground.
So what can we take away from all this "difference of opinion" between Bush and Petraeus? The first and biggest take-way is that the US military is so overstretched that a 'surge' isn't in the cards. They are doing their best but a 'surge' in Iraq or anywhere else is not an option.
Secondly, no matter how many troops are on the ground in Iraq a military victory is not possible. The only thing possible is more death and casualties.
Thirdly, Bush and his accomplices have no plan for Iraq but to continue to throw our men and money at it and will resist any plan that means withdrawing troops. This basically means an open ended occupation.
Lastly, it appears that, like Bush, Congress doesn't seem to be able to formulate a plan to end this catastrophe either. Because it is unwilling to withhold funding it appears that we can't expect them to get us out of this mess either.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Don't miss what Glenn Greenwald has to say about our favorite harridan.
The significance lies not just in this specific outburst on Friday but in the whole array of hate-mongering, violence-inciting remarks over all these years. Its significance lies in the critical fact that Malkin expressly acknowledged: "She's very popular among conservatives." The focus of these stories should not be Coulter, but instead, should be the conservative movement in which Ann Coulter -- precisely because of (not "despite") her history of making such comments -- is "very popular."
Ann is just selling what the conservatives want. Her routine to emasculate liberal men is what every good conservative needs. How else can they continue to sop their legions of cowering followers with promises that they will protect them. The liberals are all weak cowards...you can't trust them to protect you... you need a strong masculine conservative to protect you from the evildoers.
It is just a variation on the methods of the whacked out religious right. Denigrate everyone who doesn't march in lockstep with their beliefs. Label them sinners regardless of whether the sin be pacifism, homosexuality or belief in a woman's right to chose. Blame all the world's troubles on them. Circle the wagons and keep the sinners at bay. We follow the true word of God and if you don't agree then you are a heathen and sinner. Just because your religion is as old as theirs or even older, if it doesn't agree with theirs then you are going straight to hell.
Ann Coulter, James Dobson, Bill Donahue, Pat Robertson, Michael Savage, Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh are all just this times' snake oil salesmen. They have discovered a market for hate and poison and, by God, never let it be said they didn't know the value of a buck. All of these blights are feeding the desire for hate. They are feeding the desire for exclusivity. They are feeding the need of the weak minded and fearful for something or someone to look down on and hate. There is nothing even remotely like this "industry of hate" on the left. Sure, we use some foul language and say some hateful and thoughtless things but we don't have an organized aim to spread hate and lies across the nation.
No, the reality is that poison Ann and all the other hate mongers exist because that is the only way the conservatives can survive. The TV appearances and book sales are just symbols of the deep depravity that runs through the conservative right in this country. Ann and the rest are in business because there is a big market for their product. If there were nobody buying then they would just go away.
Ann Coulter and the rest of the hate marketers exist because the conservative movement is addicted to their brand of hatred. Ann and company just deliver the goods.
Michael Bains over at Silly Humans has an interesting link to an article in the Washington Post on the increasing futility of heavily armed countries trying to win asymmetrical wars such as Iraq.
Two centuries ago, Napoleon Bonaparte sent his armies into Spain to overthrow a monarch who had once been a French ally. Napoleon, who believed he was touched by the hand of destiny, predicted his troops would be welcomed as liberators by ordinary Spaniards. He was wrong. The resulting Peninsular War from 1808 to 1814 seriously undermined French prestige, handed Napoleon a stinging defeat and produced a raft of unanticipated consequences that included the outbreak of deadly civil wars.The article is by Shankar Vedantam and leverages off the research of several political scientists that have looked back over 250 asymmetrical conflicts of the last 200 years and clearly point out that as we move forward it is less and less likely that the big guys will be successful. Maybe Bush should have been paying closer attention in class.
Monday, March 05, 2007
The public spoke in the election. They said, "We want this thing to end; it’s not working." There’s been too much rhetoric, there’s too much optimism about this whole thing. We need to get this thing out of the way. - Rep. John Murtha
Here we are nearly four years into the supremely arrogant and misguided war in Iraq and two months after the Democratic Party took control of Congress. The election made it very clear about our desire to see an end to the Iraq quagmire and the sooner the better. Our elected officials still can't seem to figure out how to bring the desires of the American voters to fruition. We have a whole range of ideas from defunding the war to the idea of setting benchmarks for measuring progress on the table but there is really only one viable alternative right now.
It is pretty obvious that defunding is a non-starter as there just aren't the votes necessary. The suggestion of benchmarks is valid but the reality is that George Bush would just ignore them as he has every thing else he doesn't like from Congress. So, as people continue to die in this misbegotten war, what else is a realistic option for some forward movement on reacting to the will of the American people and damn soon?
Last month, Rep. John Murtha outlined a simple plan:
The legislation I'm putting together, first of all, puts restrictions on the President, on the administration, saying you can't send people back into battle until they've had a year at home...They must have the equipment and the training and they must be certified by the Chiefs of the various services before they can go back.
And yesterday, in an appearance on Meet The Press, Representative Murtha outlined it one more time:
...he’s got to certify that these troops are equipped, and they are trained, or it’s in the national interest. I am absolutely convinced the public and I agree, and the Congress agrees, we don’t send one troop into combat that doesn’t have the training they need. [...]
So we can’t send troops into combat without training, without equipment, and, and we can’t send them more than a year. [...]
We can’t send these troops in without equipment, without training. It can’t be done. If you do that, it’s a disservice to our troops and to the families, the small percentage of families that are fighting this war."
It's not a very complicated concept. After four years of over-extending our military, Murtha's plan would simply and effectively constrain Bush's capability to escalate and force him to redeploy the troops already mired in Iraq. What is now Bush's endless war could not be sustained if he had to follow the rules laid out by Murtha's legislation. Who in their right mind can argue against insuring that before we place our young men and women in harm's way that they are rested, trained and equipped before they are sent into battle? Right now it appears that the only people not in their right mind are the Bush administration and the entire Republican Party. The ugly reality is that the Republicans do not want to be forced into a vote that would make them to do what they so often chide us 'dirty hippies' about, supporting the troops.
Ever since Murtha outlined his plan, there has been a continuous attack against it by the GOP and their 'noise machine' that, for the most part, has gone unanswered by the Democratic party. They have been accused over and over again of trying to micromanage the war, enabling the terrorists and not supporting the troops. What I find hard to understand is why the obvious question goes unasked and unanswered. It is very simple...should our military be properly rested, trained and equipped before they are sent to Iraq? This is a question that we should be asking everyday of everyone involved, not just Republicans but any Democratic Congressman who opposes or wants to weaken Murtha's proposed legislation.
It is all very simple and we should not allow politics and fear of being branded a traitor to stop us from insisting that something be done about Bush's endless boondoggle.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Believe it or not I am once again Indy bound. Due to the heavy volume caused by the NCAA Womens Tournament I have to fly on Sunday afternoon. Could be worse...the only available seat this afternoon was first. Right now the seat I have (the last one) on the flight back Thursday is the center and according to Delta the flight is oversold by 13. They will free up some additional seats a couple of hours before flight time and I may snag an aisle.
I'll check back in when I get to the hotel in Indy tonight. Have a pleasant Sunday afternoon and don't forget to wash the ink off your hands after reading the Sunday paper before you touch anything in the house. All we need is black little finger prints everywhere.
BTW the picture is of the the Indiana World War Memorial in Indianapolis
By 2020, the United States will emit almost one-fifth more gases that lead to global warming than it did in 2000, increasing the risks of drought and scarce water supplies.
That projection comes from an internal draft report from the Bush administration that is more than a year overdue at the United Nations. The Associated Press obtained a copy Saturday.
The United States already is responsible for roughly one-quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse” gases that scientists blame for global warming.
The draft report, which is still being completed, projects that the current administration’s climate policy would result in the emission of 9.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases in 2020, a 19 percent increase from 7.7 billion tons in 2000.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Glad that ritual is over for a while. Makes me crazy.
I also finally lost the battle of the Levi's. I had three pairs of Levis stashed away and I admit that I haven't been able to fit into them in about 5 well maybe 10 years. I finally lost the keep them because they are irreplaceable American made Levis when she discovered that they were actually made in Columbia. My argument that that was still America and not China fell short. They're gone.
No comments on being a wuss. I have been married for 34 years this month and I know when it is futile to resist.
PORT KEMBLA, Australia -- Australia's cities are drought-parched and its desert outback drenched by floods, but climate change has not yet killed the country's famed surf beaches, or their promise of clean eco-power.
Australia's first commercial wave-generated power station will in weeks begin supplying homes south of Sydney with electricity and fresh drinking water, courtesy of the sea.
"The energy in waves is the densest of any natural sources of energy. It's pretty much always there and it doesn't go away like sun and wind do," John Bell, the Chief Finance Officer from station developer Energetech told Reuters.
Lying anchored just 100 metres (yards) off a popular surf beach near Wollongong, a city of around 200,000 people just south of Sydney, the 485-tonne plant will power 500 homes along the local grid.
Electricity is generated when waves wash into a funnel facing the ocean, driving air through a pipe and into a turbine capable of pumping 500kw of clean power each day into the local grid.
The A$6 million ($4.7 million) floating plant, built to withstand a 1-in-100 year storm, can also desalinate 2,000 litres of drinking water each day for almost as many homes as it powers.
"Our production units will be producing one million litres of water each day and we can produce at very low cost," Bell said.
The costs of power from the plant ranged below 10 cents per kilowatt of electricity and under A$1 per 1,000 litres of water.
The Portland plants, floating like an ocean-bound wind farm, would produce 10 megawatts, enough for around 15,000 homes.
Sounds pretty good.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Thursday, March 01, 2007
On Saturday night, March 3rd, there's going to be a total eclipse of the Moon. This means the Moon will glide through the heart of Earth's shadow and turn a beautiful shade of sunset red. Totality can be seen from parts of all seven continents including all of Europe and Africa and the eastern half of North America.
Next week is really up in the air. I have flight reservations which were twice the cost of this week's. Trying to make a hotel reservation (unsuccessful) I discover that the NCAA Big Ten Womens Basketball Tourney is in Indy next week. Now I understand why the airfare doubled...it did the same on Super Bowl weekend when the airlines knew there would be scrambling for tickets to and from Indy.
Have a great day.