Friday, November 30, 2007

Mandated Health Insurance is Not a Good Thing

Late getting started this morning(afternoon). Paperwork and personal business catch-up time. Time billing submitted and so are expense reports. Personal finance all caught up and all the bills scheduled for payment. All the follow-ups with health insurance done and the open enrollment process for next year all done(only health insurance went up by $5.00 per month which us a good thing). Doctor's appointment for next week made(they want blood or they won't renew my prescriptions). I think I am caught up.

Anyhow, speaking of health care, there has been some development in the Democratic health care discussion. As you may know(or not) both Hillary's and Edward's health care plans include a mandate that will require everyone to sign up for health insurance and Obama's doesn't. Recently Obama as resorted to what amounts to GOP talking points to criticize the other two plans mostly with respect to mandates. Yesterday, John Edwards explained how his plan would deal with that:

Under the Edwards plan, when Americans file their income taxes, they would be required to submit a letter from an insurance provider confirming coverage for themselves and their dependents.

If someone did not submit proof of coverage, the Internal Revenue Service would notify a newly established regional or state-based health-care agency [which] would enroll the individual into the lowest cost health-care plan available in that area....The newly covered individual would not only have access to health benefits but would also be responsible for making monthly payments with the help of a tax credit.

....If a person did not meet his or her monthly financial obligation for a set period of time (perhaps a year, perhaps longer) the Edwards plan would empower the federal government to garnish an individual's wages for purposes of collecting "back premiums with interest and collection costs."

Paul Krugman weighed in today and calls this a "terrific idea," but for once I am going to have to disagree with Krugman and also with Edwards with respect to mandates. There are two big problems with this approach and another less serious one.

I think it would be a huge mistake to get the IRS engaged in enforcing health care mandates. I like most Americans am not a big fan of the IRS and their methods and I sure as hell don't want them acting like some kind of "health insurance police". That's not what the IRS is for. Just let them continue to collect taxes in their own bumbling and unconstitutional way. The income tax process is already a nightmare and adding one more "gotcha" to it is not the way to be successful. Getting the IRS involved is not a good idea.

Having a universal health care program that has to be "enforced" is kind of absurd anyway. If we are really serious about getting every man, woman, and child in the country insured then why go through all this enforcement and opt in and out crap? All you need to do is add the funding mechanism into the existing tax system like Medicare and Social Security and everyone is enrolled automatically. No enforcement, no individual options to enroll or not enroll. You will get the results you want...everybody enrolled and it will be infinitely easier and less intrusive. I know all the wingers will call that "socialized medicine" but so what, that is what it is.

That last problem with the idea is that it entails punitive action against citizens who, for whatever reason, whether it be philosophical or financial, do not sign up. This punitive action will put these people on the same footing with criminals, deadbeat dads and others who are forced to do something they won't or can't do by garnishing their wages. This is just not the right way to go about it and once people realize what you are proposing will reject it on principal.

I know both Clinton and Edwards are trying to mollify the big insurance campaign donors with their plans but sooner or later we are going to have to realize that until we take the profit motive out of health care we are going to continue see rising costs. Not only are our costs going to continue to rise but the quality of care will continue to decline. More and more people will be unable to afford good health care insurance and the state will still wind up paying the bill somehow. It is the old "pay me now or pay me later" thing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

CNN MIA

No, I didn't watch the GOP debate. I did read some reviews and looked over the questions. Ask yourself why CNN, that selected the questions from those submitted, did not have a question for the candidates on the number one issue of concern to Americans. That would be healthcare.

We did get a good question about going to Mars however.

It is also funny this morning the the wingnuts are going crazy now that it turns out that some of the questions were asked by Democrats.

To quote Mad Michelle..."All citizens must be investigated before being allowed to ask questions of our leaders."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Giuliani Gone?

Interesting dynamic going on in the MSM tonight. After Politico broke the story today about Giuliani charging the costs of his affair with Judith Nathan to agencies within the NY government and claiming "security" as the reason for cover-up it is the lead story on the FOX News Web site and on Drudge but not a peep on CNN which is doing the GOP debate tonight.

Why does CNN think they can keep the lid on a story they surely know about? All of the questions for tonight's debate are already decided and in the can so Giuliani won't have to deal with explaining why he thought it appropriate to charge his extramarital sex to government agencies mostly supposed to be aiding the poor. He can still prance around and pretend to be the frontrunner. However the public likes nothing better than sex and money in the same story so Rudy is going to have to deal with this tomorrow at the latest. This story has all the attributes of one with legs so he is not going to sweep it aside with tales of derring-do on 9/11. Should be very interesting to see if his campaign can survive this. When you have lost Roger Ailes and Matt Drudge where do you turn?

Countdown to Baloney

I just got back to the hotel and turned on CNN and good old Wolf. They have a countdown ticker on the bottom of the screen showing the minutes and seconds until the Republican debate. WTF. I didn't watch the last Dem debate did they do the same thing? You would think it was the second coming.

Promises, Promises

The following is an exchange between Keith Olbermann and Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional Law professor. From Crooks and Liars

Olbermann: “With or without this new law, suppose one of the anti-wiretapping civil lawsuits succeeds, what does that legal victory actually mean then in terms of stopping the government or punishing Alberto Gonzales or any other top officials who were responsible for this?”

Turley: “Well, it can mean a lot and that’s one of the reasons there’s a lot of people, both Democrats and Republicans, who don’t want to see it happen. They don’t want a court to say that the president did something that is a federal crime. That’s why they’re trying to get all these cases thrown out of court because it is rather clear that what the president ordered was a federal crime, clearly defined in federal law. But that causes a problem because many of the Democratic leaders and Republican leaders have promised each other that they would not start impeachment proceedings, but when a federal judge says the president committed a crime, it’s pretty darn hard to ignore that.”

What I want to understand is what the hell this means...
many of the Democratic leaders and Republican leaders have promised each other that they would not start impeachment proceedings
Does this mean the Republicans have promised the Dems that they won't impeach Bush if the Dems promise not too? What the hell?

He is a criminal and needs to be impeached. At least one U.S. District Judge has already stated that Bush has broken the law...

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor struck down the NSA program, which she said violates the rights to free speech and privacy.

The defendants “are permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly utilizing the Terrorist Surveillance Program in any way, including, but not limited to, conducting warrantless wiretaps of telephone and Internet communications, in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Title III,” she wrote.

She declared that the program “violates the separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III.”

Her ruling went on to say that “the president of the United States … has undisputedly violated the Fourth in failing to procure judicial orders.”


source

Drop Dead Important

Christy Hardin Smith has a very important post up today over at Firedoglake. I want to emphasize the point though.

The next election will most likely determine whether the entity we know and love as the United States of America continues to exist in even the vaguest resemblance of what our founding fathers intended and what had become an example for the rest of the world to emulate in many ways.

The current administration has turned our fair republic upside down. The First, Fourth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution are in shreds. Our military is in trashed and our troops are dying for no reason everyday. We are a pariah nation and recognized globally as the number one threat to world peace. Our economy is shattered and we are hostage to China and others for at least a generation if not more. Millions in our country have no health insurance. Millions are unemployed or at best underemployed. The middle class in this country is gradually slipping back into lower class. The core of our government responsible for consumer safety, worker safety and security is a sham after being gutted and politicized by Bush and Cheney. Everywhere you look we are a lesser country than we were just 7 short years ago and we are still headed downward. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.

The leaders we elect in just 11 months and change will face a gigantic challenge and we don't have time for politics as usual. We don't have the luxury of "on-the-job" training. We don't have the luxury of even a misstep. The newly elected leadership will have to zero in on the problems created by Bush like a laser. They will need to be able to convince the majority of the country to accept the pain and sacrifice necessary to turn our ship around. Global Warming. War in the Middle East. Collapsing Economy. National Healthcare. Energy Crisis. All of these need and more immediate and decisive action.

We need to find and elect people capable of the challenge. We need to look beyond the spin and political posturing and focus on competence. We need to do everything we can to insure that the right people are elected. Democrat for sure, but the right Democrat.

Crony Capitalism at its Best

This from Bloomberg:

Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Countrywide Financial Corp. fell more than 10 percent in New York Stock Exchange trading after U.S. Senator Charles Schumer urged the regulator of the Federal Home Loan Bank system to probe cash advances to the largest U.S. mortgage lender.

Schumer said he was alarmed by the volume of advances the system's Atlanta bank has made to Countrywide considering ``the rapid deterioration'' in the credit quality of some of the Calabasas, California-based company's mortgages. Schumer expressed his concerns in a letter sent today to Federal Housing Finance Board Chairman Ronald Rosenfeld.

The Atlanta bank has made $51.1 billion in advances to Countrywide as of Sept. 30, representing 37 percent of the bank's total outstanding advances, Schumer wrote, citing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.


The Federal Home Loan Bank is a quasi-non-governmental organization. Although it isn’t legally backed by taxpayer money, it’s widely perceived as having an implicit federal guarantee. This appears to be another example of using the taxpayers’ trust to bail out one of the major contributors to whole the subprime mortgage disaster. Companies like Charter don't deserve to bailed out by the FHLB or anyone else. They have been a bad faith player in the mortgage industry and they and their stockholders should pay the ultimate price for their activities.

This is especially true when you consider just how bad a financial position Charter Communications really is in. You have to ask yourself why they are being propped up like they are.

Charter Communications (CHTR) Charter now has over $19 billion in debt and a market cap of only $486 million. It stock has recently fallen from $4.93 to $1.20. In the last quarter, Charter had $105 million in operating income on $1.525 billion in revenue. Interest expense was $452 million. Charter is up against increasing competition from satellite TV and telecom companies. It does not have the capital it needs to upgrade its infrastructure to stay in the competitive game.

If you're interested you can read a little more over at nakedcapitalism.com

A Friend Needs a Buck Up

Our blogging friend Enigma4ever has hit a rough spot in the road and needs a little buck up. Stop by and give her a hug and a pat on the back. We all run into the wall or stub out toes on the chair sometimes and it is always nice to have a hug. Goddess only knows that there can always be more hugs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thought Crimes are Next

Action alert from Jeralyn at Talk Left:

Contact your Senators today and urge them to refuse to pass the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. As I wrote a month ago, it’s a thought crimes bill aimed at preventing domestic terrorism by judging the thoughts, including those expressed on the Internet, of American citizens.


This is really a piece of work from a legislative point of view I cannot really understand how it passed with such a huge margin in the house. This is a very dangerous bill just on precedent and should be rejected completely. It is in direct conflict with both the first and fourth amendments. Hop over to Talk Left and see for yourself.

Eating the Seed Corn

The oil sheiks are sure having fun with all their profits coming from $97 - $99 oil aren't they.

NEW YORK — The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority will invest $7.5 billion in Citigroup, offering the nation's largest bank needed capital to offset big losses from mortgages and other investments.

The cash from the sovereign investment fund of the Gulf Arab state, which has benefited from this year's surge in oil prices, will be convertible into no more than 4.9 percent of Citigroup Inc.'s equity. Citigroup characterized the investment as passive and said the fund will not be able to name any board members to the bank.

The Investment Authority's purchase, announced late Monday, would make it one of Citi's largest shareholders.

Does this make anyone else nervous? We currently owe trillions to China and now we are selling off significant interest in our largest bank to a foreign country. I try not to get paranoid over this kind of stuff but it just seems that we are eating the seed corn here. We have sold our manufacturing capacity to mostly China and huge chunks of real estate to foreign investors already. Pretty soon we will be rummaging through the closets to find something else we can sell for pennies on the dollar.
If you think this is the last of this type of transaction to happen as a result of the sub prime fiasco you are probably being naive.
This is all the result of the Bush and the rest of the GOP insisting that big business can regulate itself and that there is no need for government oversight. It is not going to get any better anytime soon.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Forever Iraq

From TPM

The White House and the Maliki government have struck a deal for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely, protecting Maliki from enemies foreign and domestic. And it could make it hard for the next administration to get us out.



This really sucks...especially how the agreement seems crafted intentionally to leave Congress out of loop.

Some Retorts

George Lakoff at he Rockridge Institute has some suggestions on how to respond when hit with some verbal attack by a GOP wingnut on the order of "Aw you liberals just hate America."

Your retort should always express some progressive view that is hidden in the original attack and re-frame it positively.

No. We love democracy and we want to return it to America.
You want a presidential dictator.
We love liberty and we want to return it to America.
You want to tap our phones.
We love equality and we want to return it to America.
You think some people are better than others.
We love honesty and we want to return it to America.
You love lobbyists and corruption.
We love fairness and we want to return it to America.
You want to oppress the powerless.
We love openness and we want to return it to America.
You love secrecy and hiding the facts.
We love nature's glory and we want to return it to America.
You love the profit that comes from destroying nature.
We love community and we want to return it to America.
You want everyone to fend for himself.
We love public education and we want to return it to America.
You want to destroy public education.
We love civilian control of the military and we want to return it to America.
You want to militarize America.
And on and on...

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

Rainy Monday...Oh Boy!

Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend and didn't succumb to the urge to participate in the shopping crush. Quiet around here just a little left over pie and turkey strafing.
Actually raining this morning and I think it did pretty much all night. Good deal. I am not even going to complain about the commute to south Georgia this morning. I am just going to leave a few minutes early to compensate.
We'll check in from the client a bit later in the morning. What's going on this morning?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Too Expensive to Eat Out?

Another Symptom

The slowing economy is giving restaurants heartburn, with experts calling this the worst period for eateries in years.That's because consumers are having their pockets picked by high energy prices, declining home values, tightening credit from the sub-prime real estate bust and the falling value of the dollar, which makes imported goods more expensive.

"It's a perfect storm, with the industry being bit by several negatives at the same time. And we don't think gas prices are at the top of that list. Mortgage payments for people with adjustable rates are already higher. Couple that with higher interest rates for people who are maxed out on their credit cards and you have an immediate squeeze on income on a monthly basis," said Ron Paul, president of Chicago-based Technomic Inc., a food industry consulting firm.

Examples abound.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc. recently reported a nearly 20% decline in third-quarter profit from a year earlier. Panera Bread cafes predicted that fourth-quarter earnings were unlikely to surpass those of 2006. Brinker International Inc., owner of Chili's Grill & Bar and other chains, reported a 21% drop in fiscal first-quarter profit.

IHOP fell short of Wall Street expectations last month when it reported an $11.6-million third-quarter loss, contrasted with an $11.3-million profit a year earlier. Its conference call with analysts and investors included repeated references to the "difficult economic climate" faced by the restaurant industry.

Sales at eating and drinking establishments grew 5.6% during the first 10 months of the year, the Commerce Department said, the slowest pace since 2002.

"We are all facing the same pressures," IHOP Chief Executive Julia Stewart said in an interview. "There are things you can't necessarily control: the rising cost of gas, commodities, concerns about the war, concerns about layoffs. What usually winds up happening is that people look more selectively at their trips out of the house, and we are fighting for the same dollar."

National restaurant chains aren't the only ones feeling the pinch. Some smaller, local chains complain that business is even slower than it was in 2001, when the 9/11 terrorist attacks brought dining out to a crawl for about two months.

"We are doing about 30% less business than we ordinarily do. Since June, it has really fallen off," said Fernando Lopez, owner of Guelaguetza, a chain of four Oaxacan-style Mexican restaurants in the Los Angeles area that thrive on a strong following of customers from as far away as San Francisco and Las Vegas. On a recent afternoon, Lopez looked over too many empty tables at his 300-seat restaurant on Olympic Boulevard.

[...]

Higher-end restaurants remain relatively unaffected by the more difficult economic climate, experts said. As Randall Hiatt, a Costa Mesa restaurant consultant, put it: "The cream of the $5-million homeowners whose homes are now worth $4 million -- they really aren't feeling this pinch."



I travel a lot and eat in restaurants all the time but not by choice. When I am at home I very rarely go out to eat mostly because I like to cook and really don't like paying big bucks for food that I can make better and more cheaply at home. I am also trying to eat locally and organically and you just can't do that successfully by eating out. Madam and I know several people that eat out far more often than they eat at home and we know one couple that eats every meal out.

From what I gather of the readers here I don't think there are many that eat out a lot but are any of you making conscious decisions on dining out or at home for economic reasons? Are any of you cutting back on restaurants or downsizing to fast food as the article implies? For me it is not primarily an economic decision but I find it is beginning to take a more prominent place in the decision than it used to. I surely see that I am spending more on food than I used to. Part of it is trying to buy locally and organic but that is not the only contributor.

It could be that others are like me and trying to eat healthier or they are spending too much time watching the Food Network (Ahem!) and are aspiring gourmet chefs. I sure enjoy cooking and find a relaxing and enjoyable hobby. It will be interesting to watch how restaurants do over the next couple of years. Are we seeing a trend toward a return to home cooking or is it just getting too expensive to eat out on a regular nasis?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

How Many Turkey Sandwiches?

How many turkey sandwiches were consumed for lunch yesterday and today? I know of at least one. I only cooked a small turkey and we split the leftovers with the kids but there are at least two more sandwiches there. I am informed yesterday that Madam has decided that she "never" liked turkey so it is up to me to finish it off. I guess next year's menu has got ham all over it.
She actually prefers a dressing sandwich with cranberry sauce but I never think to make dressing without a turkey in the picture. Surely a dilemma.

Your Cell Phone Is Not Your Friend

I wonder why everyone that has commented on the following story about being tracked by cellular phone seems kind of shocked that you can do this. I guess I assume everyone that uses a cell phone has a fundamental grasp of the technology. My bad.

Under the older/earlier technology you could be triangulated fairly accurately if there were multiple towers within reach. With the new enhanced 911 this gets even more accurate. The newest technology includes a GPS receiver in the phone itself that can report your exact location within a few yards. You currently cannot turn it off without turning off the phone and have no control over when or to whom it is reporting your position.

The bottom line is that if don't want to be tracked everywhere you go then turn off your cell phone.

Federal officials are routinely asking courts to order cellphone companies to furnish real-time tracking data so they can pinpoint the whereabouts of drug traffickers, fugitives and other criminal suspects, according to judges and industry lawyers.

In some cases, judges have granted the requests without requiring the government to demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe that a crime is taking place or that the inquiry will yield evidence of a crime. Privacy advocates fear such a practice may expose average Americans to a new level of government scrutiny of their daily lives.

Such requests run counter to the Justice Department's internal recommendation that federal prosecutors seek warrants based on probable cause to obtain precise location data in private areas. The requests and orders are sealed at the government's request, so it is difficult to know how often the orders are issued or denied.

The issue is taking on greater relevance as wireless carriers are racing to offer sleek services that allow cellphone users to know with the touch of a button where their friends or families are. The companies are hoping to recoup investments they have made to meet a federal mandate to provide enhanced 911 (E911) location tracking. Sprint Nextel, for instance, boasts that its "loopt" service even sends an alert when a friend is near, "putting an end to missed connections in the mall, at the movies or around town."

With Verizon's Chaperone service, parents can set up a "geofence" around, say, a few city blocks and receive an automatic text message if their child, holding the cellphone, travels outside that area.

"Most people don't realize it, but they're carrying a tracking device in their pocket," said Kevin Bankston of the privacy advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Cellphones can reveal very precise information about your location, and yet legal protections are very much up in the air."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Slug Day

Pretty much of a slug today. After two plus days of getting ready for the the 30 minute feeding frenzy didn't feel like much activity. The Thanksgiving dinner was good and the offspring took a good share home. Still plenty of pie left over for anyone so inclined.

Finished Molly's posthumous book today. Her tales of abuse of the Bill of Rights by the government since 9/11 is enough to make your blood boil. How can this crap be happening my America? Short book but worth the read.

Rented"La Vie en Rose' today(a film about the life of Edith Piaf). While it was in French with English subtitles it was still a pretty enjoyable movie. My French is horrid so I was grateful for the subtitles. I can recommend it for those so inclined.

Haven't spent much time on the tubes today but I can recommend a visit to Adgitadiaries which as usual has a provocative piece about the current state of affairs. A good read as usual.

We did get some rain yesterday and it is much appreciated (thank you Goddess). Now we need another year or so of the same stuff. Madam and I are making a conscious effort to conserve but I often wonder just how many of our elected officials are foregoing a flush. When there are no "solids" to send away you are supposed to refrain. said some thing about 17 milllion gallons of water used by metro Altanta daily and I was off by a factor of ten. You definitely can't truck in that much.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Remember The Spirit

Bryan at Why Now? reminds us not to forget that November 22 is also the anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1963. I for one will always remember where I was when the news was broadcast. November 22, 1963 will forever be a defining moment in time for me. It changed my world view and it changed America.

Take a moment and try and recapture the spirit and optimism we felt on November 21st of 1963 and use it to strengthen your resolve to do what you can to bring America back from the blackness we now find ourselves in. Read the banner at the top of the page and remember how good and positive things can be.

Rain at Last

Woke up this morning to lightening and thunder and a damn fine rain. Happy Turkey Day! Got the bird to cook and a few other little stuff but it looks like we are a go for the feed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"T" Day Minus One

Okay, it is Turkey Day minus one...what Pop calls National Eating Day. While I don't do it every year I am cooking the traditional feast this year. The daughter and son-in-law are coming so at least it will be more than two of us to justify the indulgence and work involved.

Today is pie day primarily. A traditional apple, pumpkin and pecan pies are in the works. I made all the dough for the crusts yesterday so it will just be the rolling out and filling and baking today. Madam has ordered the pecan pie and tradition calls for the pumpkin. Mine is the apple. Sumo gave me a good recipe for a single crust Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie that is worthy but for Thanksgiving the traditional two crust is required.

What does everybody else consider the "must have" pie for Thanksgiving?

I am also going to mix up the cornbread and sausage dressing today and keep it in the fridge so I will just have to run it into the oven tomorrow at the last minute and I will also premake the gravy base so I can just deglaze the turkey pan and thicken it right before serving. I will also mix up my yeast roll dough today and keep it in the refridgerator until tomorrow morning.

Everything else, succotash, green beans, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and cranberries can all be done tomorrow.

Everyone have a great turkey day tomorrow and if you have any room left stop by for a piece of pie as there will be plenty.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Molly by Golly

The new book by Molly Ivins, Bill of Wrongs came yesterday. Just through the first two chapters and it is not disappointing. It was published after her death but it is definitely the old Molly. I was missing her and glad I have a chance to read some new writing. I read about it on a blog somewhere and ordered from Amazon immediately. You can see a link to it over on the left.

What's the Plan

From the AJC this morning.

Lake Lanier on Monday night dropped to its lowest point since the reservoir was constructed in the 1950s.

The lake hit 1,052.64 feet above sea level, about 11 feet below average.

The old record of 1,052.66 was set in December 1981, also during a severe drought. The next year, an El Nino weather pattern pumped monsoon-like rains into the metro region and refilled the lake within six months.

That's unlikely to happen this time. The opposite weather pattern is in effect, La Nina, which typically creates a warmer, drier winter here.

There is a story about metro Atlanta's water crisis in the news everyday. Everyday there are news stories about how to conserve water. What is bothering me is that there is no talk or discussion about what will happen when I turn on my faucet in a few months and nothing comes out. No one, that I know of, has mentioned a plan for the almost guaranteed event that we will have no water in three or four months no matter how much we conserve. Currently the metro area uses about 17.5 millions gallons a day. That is a lot of water and how in the hell are we going to replace it? You can't truck in that much water a day so what are we going to do?

Personally, I have been preparing for a couple of weeks for the emergency. Experts say that in an emergency you can get by on about a gallon of water a day per person for drinking and cooking. That doesn't include water for flushing, bathing and laundry...just survival. I have been buying one gallon jugs of spring water at Publix ($.87/gal) and so far I have a weeks worth for Madam and I. I will continue this practice for a while but the question is how much will be enough and where will I store it? With the current long range forecast saying we will suffer drought conditions for another year or more am I supposed to invest in 800 gallons of water which would be enough for the two of us for a year?

It might seem an overreaction but I am beginning to believe that it soon will be everyone for themselves because I sure don't see the government accepting the reality. Well, Governor Sonny Perdue did pray for rain last week and we got less than a quarter of an inch a day later so there is something being done, I guess. Maybe I should just relax and let our Fairy Sky Father deal with it. There are an awful lot of good Christians here in Georgia as evidenced by our attempts to ban Harry Potter and Beatrix Potter and after all didn't Shrub carry this state with a huge margin. No Worries!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Japan Whaling Once Again

Unfortunately, The annual Japanese whale hunt is setting sail again. What an terrible waste. Under the excuse of scientific research the fleet is looking to take 50 humpbacks, over a thousand minke and others. None of the whale populations are secure though they have recovered since the 1963 ban. these are intelligent and beautiful creatures and to have them ruthlessly hunted just really pains me.

It might be somewhat different if the Japanese themselves actually ate the whale meat or depended on it for protein. The reality is that it's becoming less and less popular and last year most of the whale meat ended up in school lunches because it failed sell in the markets. This is all about the ego of a few political extremists and not the will of the Japanese people who would be very happy not to have whale meat.

Gettysburg Address

Jim DeRosa reminds us that today is the anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

How casually have our leaders cast aside the fundamentals of our Democracy in the name of cowardice.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. - President Abraham Lincoln

Cowardice

cow·ard·ice· (ko̵u′…ôr dis′)

noun

lack of courage; esp., shamefully excessive fear of danger, difficulty, or suffering

Synonyms
pusillanimity, cowardliness, cravenness, timorousness, timidity, faintheartedness, baseness, fear, abject fear, weakness, quailing, shrinking, cowering, fawning, groveling, sniveling, abjectness, bullying, recreancy, dastardy, dastardliness, want of courage, spinelessness, poltroonery, desertion, apprehension, dread, diffidence, apprehensiveness, fearfulness, suspicion, baby act*, white feather*, yellow streak*, yellowness*, lack of guts*, gutlessness*, funk*, cold feet*;

Here is an exchange between Wolf and Senator Dodd in last week's debate...

BLITZER: What is more important, human rights or national security?

DODD: Obviously, national security, keeping the country safe.

When you take the oath of office on January 20, you promise to do two
things, and that is to protect and defend the Constitution of the
United States and protect our country against enemies both foreign and
domestic. The security of the country is number one, obviously.

BLITZER: All right. OK.

If any other candidates happen to stop by and read this post...Wrong Answer!

Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution:

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.

The job of the President is to defend the Constitution. Read it carefully. It doesn't say "except when I am scared spitless that the brown hordes will kill me". It doesn't qualify the responsibility in the least.

I am really getting tired of "national security" trumping The Constitution. In the last two hundred plus years The Constitution has been defended with the loss of thousands and thousands of lives and it deserves just as much defense today as it ever has. This almost casual setting aside of The Constitution out of cowardice is the same as admitting the defeat of the ideas that founded this nation and that have preserved it through revolution, civil war and two world wars. It makes lies of everything that made this country great. If we give up the Constitution and with it our rights, we are defeated.

This is the purpose of terrorism and each time we prostitute our Constitutional rights in the name of fear we are defeating ourselves far more effectively and completely that Osama could ever hope to do directly. Even a dirty bomb in New York or LA would not do the damage that giving up on the Constitution would. Lincoln knew this in his heart and struggled with the damage he wrought to the Constitution during the dark days of the Civil War.
"At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide." -- A. Lincoln, 1838

h/t to Devilstower at Dkos

A Smile In His Lifetime

Mokugen was never known to smile until his last day on earth. When his time came to pass away he said to his faithful ones: "You have studied under me for more than ten years. Show me your real interpretation of Zen. Whoever expresses this most clearly shall be my successor and receive my robe and bowl."

Everyone watched Mokugen's severe face, but no one answered.

Encho, a disciple who had been with his teacher for a long time, moved near the bedside. He pushed forward the medicine cup a few inches. That was his answer to the command.

The teacher's face became even more severe. "Is that all you understand?" he asked.

Encho reached out and moved the cup back again.

A beautiful smile broke over the features of Mokugen. "You rascal," he told Encho. "You worked with me ten years and have not yet seen my whole body. Take the robe and bowl. They belong to you."

Officially the Holiday Season

I have my first batch of Chex Party Mix in the oven this morning so that means the holiday season is officially engaged. Just sayin'.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

All Moved



The old Hembree Farm house is now in its new location. This farmhouse was one of the first permanent structures in the area and was built in the first half of the 19th century sometime. It has been in the same family since it was built. Now the last parcel of land that made up the 640 acre Hembree Farm is to be developed into 6 or 8 high priced McMansions. Fortunately the girl who inherited whats left of the farm wanted to see the old family home preserved. She donated the house and out buildings to the Historical Society as well as an acre of land. The Historical Society will restore the house and kitchen to a mid 19th century condition and use it for a museum and teaching tool. We are fortunate that the same family had the property for its entire life because they have the farm records and a lot of tools from the earliest period and all of it has been donated and is being preserved by the Historical Society. We are also fortunate that the current owner has the vision and willingness to forgo a short term profit in favor of preserving something irreplaceable.

The top picture is of the house underway on it's 500 ft journey to its new home. The second is looking down the very deep hand dug well that was beside the kitchen. All made with hand made bricks as were the 3 fireplaces on the house.

Leonid Meteor Shower Tonight

If you are so inclined, and the sky is clear where you are tonight, you can see a fantastic display of meteors in the eastern sky. The Leonid Shower officially kicks off around November 13th and runs until the 21st but the peak will be tonight the 17th and the 18th. Discovered in 1833 they are the biggest meteor shower and sometimes product as many as 10 meteors per hour.

So if you stay up late or get up early, early on Sunday morning and the weather cooperates you can see some. Here is a site that talks about them and their history and there are some handy graphics to tell you where to look. We are in the first quarter of a new moon but it should set before the peak of the show begins.

Have fun and don't forget to make a wish or two.

House Moving

Never got back to the blogging yesterday. The Historical Society is trying to save one of the earliest houses in the area and yesterday was supposed to be moving day. The house movers said they would begin the move yesterday at one. One thing and then another and it finally got too dark to work. So my afternoon was spent waiting for the movers to get rolling. Maybe today. They still have one set of wheels left to put on and then I think they will get it going. I'll post some pics.

The bad thing is I ignored a lot of the things I was supposed to do yesterday and so this morning I have time card, expense report, general accounting and electronic bill payment scheduling to do. It is the twice monthly task to make sure "outgo" is not greater than "ingo". Sure seems that it is getting harder to do.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Chores

Another Friday of catching up. When you are out of town all week everything needs to be done on Friday. Madam is back from Texas with a Lone Star state sized cold so she is pretty punk. I have a dentist appointment first thing (just the 6 month cleaning and checkup) and then a whole line up of things to do.
Looks like the debate was pretty much a snoozer. I didn't watch but after reading some of the live blogs it seems that HRC held her own and no one really put out any ammo for the GOP to hang their hats on.
Telecom immunity looks to be a dead issue for the time being but it ain't over yet. There seems to be some spine taking root in the Democrats in Congress. This is good and we need to keep it up. Just send Bush the bills and let him veto his face off. The GOP will then have to fish or cut bait.
The American people want action and every time they see Bush and the GOP block progress it will register. Look out 2008.
We'll check back in here a bit later with something more substantive but in the meantime you can occupy your time with the good folks on the blog roll. You can probably even find a picture of a cat or two.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Drought is Serious

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue is getting a lot of flak on the nets for his little pray for rain stunt the other day and deservedly so. That kind of stuff doesn't have a place in governance in this country. We did get a tiny bit of rain last night but nothing near what is needed.

All that aside, the current drought has claimed its first major victim. Pike Family Nurseries has filed for Chapter 11. Pike's is one of the largest privately owned nursery and garden stores in the country and they have a bunch of stores here in the Atlanta area. It will be a bad thing for all us gardeners if they go all the way down. Right now Pike's, Home Depot and Lowes are the only good sources of garden supply stuff and Pike's was nice in that it carried a nice line of organic garden supplies. Home Depot and Lowes sell pretty much the same stuff but the quality and knowledge of the sales personnel are really lacking.

Sidney Signs on for HRC

Sidney Blumenthal has posted his final article for Salon before he joins the Clinton campaign as senior advisor. It is definitely worth the read.
In his waning year, Bush is pointedly indifferent to the predictable consequences of his collapse. According to those who have met with him recently, he envisions himself as a noble idealist having made moral decisions that will vindicate him generations from now.

Despite the obvious shortcomings of his policies, he has startlingly succeeded in reshaping the executive into an unaccountable imperial presidency. And Bush's presidency is now accepted as the only acceptable version for major Republican candidates who aspire to succeed him. All of them have pledged to extend its arbitrary powers. Their embrace of the imperial presidency makes the 2008 election a turning point in constitutional government.


This campaign pits two parties running on diametrically opposite ideas of the presidency and the Constitution. There has not been such a sharp divergence on the foundation of the federal system since perhaps the election of 1860.

h/t Sumo Merriment

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Education for Everybody

Maybe someone can explain why the U.S. Military is asking the University of Maryland to prepare proposals for in country military training for Iran, Syria and France. The U of M is the primary vendor for providing US Military personnel college level classes. I can understand Iran and Syria, considering the propensities of our dear leader, but France? WTF?

More Poison for You

I cannot believe this decision!! Monsanto has won another suit that prohibits us from knowing what is in our food. This only affects Pennsylvania but it is the "camel nose under the tent". Monsanto, in case you don't know, is the corporate villain who fights any information that a chemical-free existence might be the healthy and wise choice. It has brought us such hits as soybeans and corn that produce their own insecticide and myriad other assaults on healthy food. Hello, there is a reason this crap is banned in the European Union, Canada, Australia and Japan.

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania is stopping dairies from stamping milk containers with hormone-free labels in a precedent-setting decision being closely watched by the industry.

Synthetic hormones have been used to improve milk production in cows for more than a decade. The chemical has not been detected in milk, so there is no way to test for its use, but a growing number of retailers have been selling and promoting hormone-free products in response to consumer demand.

State Agriculture Secretary Dennis C. Wolff said advertising one brand of milk as free from artificial hormones implies that competitors’ milk is not safe, and often comes with what he said is an unjustified higher price.

“It’s kind of like a nuclear arms race,” Wolff said. “One dairy does it and the next tries to outdo them. It’s absolutely crazy.”

Agricultural regulators in at least two other states, New Jersey and Ohio, are considering following suit, the latest battle in a long-standing dispute over whether injecting cows with bovine growth hormone affects milk.

Effective Jan. 1, dairies selling milk in Pennsylvania, the nation’s fifth-largest dairy state, will be banned from advertising on milk containers that their product comes from cows that have never been treated with rBST, or recombinant bovine somatotropin.

The product, sold by St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. under the brand name Posilac, is the country’s largest-selling dairy pharmaceutical.

It has been approved for use in the U.S. since 1994, although safety concerns have spurred an increase in rBST-free product sales. The hormone is banned in the European Union, Canada, Australia and Japan, largely out of concern that it may be harmful to herd health.

Monsanto spokesman Michael Doane said the Pennsylvania labeling restriction is “a landmark decision.”

Monsanto is very experienced at this sort of thing, according to this 7-year-old blog post:

Were improved research techniques responsible for rBGH’s rapid approval? How about a sudden sympathy for the rats? Recombinant bovine growth hormone was approved so quickly simply because employees of Monsanto (namely, Monsanto’s attorney, Michael Taylor) went to work for the FDA, approved the hormone and then went back to work for Monsanto.

Well, just let me know what milk comes from cows injected with rBGH and what milk is “rBGH-free,” and the problem is solved, right? No. Monsanto has a vested interest in making sure you know nothing of the origins of the milk you drink. They’ve fought tooth and nail against rBGH labeling by suing dairy farms that label their milk “rBGH-free.” And Monsanto has been winning. They’ve paid members of Congress to kill bills that would require “rBGH-free” labeling. They’ve even gotten the FDA (read: Michael Taylor) to regulate against “rBGH-free” labeling.

How can it be justified that you do not have a right to know what you eat or drink? Why does the profit and interest of Monsanto outweigh your right to choose the quality of food you eat? This is absolutely insane.


h/t Susie

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nothing for Butter, All for Guns

Bush has just vetoed a bill that would add $10Bn to health and education using the excuse that America can't afford to spend the money. He did, however, sign a defense spending bill that spends four times as much. Not even included in the $40Bn defense bill is a request for another $200 billion for his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This kind of bullshit will not play well with the American public (if the MSM ever tells them). Every poll you see says that people are sick of this war and sick of Bush. They are tired of seeing money flow out of America and into Iraq. In a normal world there would be riots. How long can this insanity play out?

From AP:
President Bush, escalating his budget battle with Congress, on Tuesday vetoed a spending measure for health and education programs prized by congressional Democrats.

He also signed a big increase in the Pentagon's non-war budget....

Since winning re-election, Bush has sought to cut the labor, health and education measure below the prior year level. But lawmakers have rejected the cuts. The budget that Bush presented in February sought almost $4 billion in cuts to this year's bill.

Democrats responded by adding $10 billion to Bush's request for the 2008 bill. Democrats say spending increases for domestic programs are small compared with Bush's pending war request totaling almost $200 billion.

The $471 billion defense budget gives the Pentagon a 9 percent, $40 billion budget increase....

Huge procurement costs are driving the Pentagon budget ever upward. Once war costs are added in, the total defense budget will be significantly higher than during the typical Cold War year, even after adjusting for inflation.

Priorities

Just so you don't miss it...of the bullets under "Latest News" on CNN's website "Video appears to show Britney run red light" is number10 and number 12 is "Blind teacher gauges students by their "auras". Both are burning topics I know and I just can't understand why they aren't higher.

Update: I forgot to mention that the banner reads "OJ arrives in court." Glad to hear as we all need to know where the hell OJ is.

Miracle Vinegar

Killing time while the client folks are in meetings...

BoingBoing has an intersting post about all the uses of vinegar. All kinds of things... though some I have issues with. (I added some comments in Bold)

It is a mild acid and has a bunch of valid uses around the house. I highly recommend the Bragg brand organic apple cider vinegar which in addition to being very nice as a food vinegar it also comes with the "mother". Some of the recommendations suggest mixing the vinegar with baking soda which makes me wonder since acetic acid + sodium bicarbonate = sodium acetate (a salt) and carbonic acid (a very weak acid which decomposes to water and CO2). The one below about using vinegar and baking soda to clean copper is a good example since you should use vinegar and salt.

One thing I use vinegar for is cleaning fruit and vegetables. In a spray bottle mix one part vinegar to two parts water. Use this instead of those expensive things you see in the store for cleaning veggies. It is cheap and has been shown to be more effective in lab tests. Just make up a batch and keep it handy to remove surface bacteria before you consume raw food. Rinse the food in cool water after giving it a good spray.

Here are a couple of sites that also provide some good uses for vinegar.

http://weirdfacts.com/fun-facts/50-uses-for-vinegar.html
http://odyb.net/food-cooking/62-little-known-uses-of-vinegar/



Here are some of the uses posted on BoingBoing .

Make creamy scrambled eggs: as eggs thicken when scrambling, add a tablespoon of vinegar for every two eggs. (Comment: That is a lot of vinegar and I think you might want to sneak up on this one by starting with a teaspoon for 4 eggs.)

Add a tsp. of vinegar and sugar to correct a too-salty taste (in any recipe).

Pour a dash of white vinegar on a cloth and lay it over a burn, including sunburn.

Try vinegar ice cubes to clean and deodorize a garbage disposal.

Pour a cup of vinegar into the dishwasher and run the empty machine through the whole cycle to get rid of soap buildup and odors.

Use a paste of vinegar and baking soda to clean tarnished brass, copper, and pewter, or the scorch marks on the bottom of an iron. (Comment: This must be a misprint as you should use vinegar and salt)

Renew sponges, loofahs, dingy white socks, and dish rags by letting them soak overnight in dilute vinegar.

Remove grease and grime from fan blades, oven interiors, tops of refrigerators, etc.

Pour 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar into a sandwich-sized or quart-sized plastic bag and tying over a scummy shower-head for an hour. (Comment: Just use the vinegar alone. Mixing it with baking soda neutralizes the acidity.)

Clean toilet bowl rings by turning off the input spigot, removing water from the bowl, and laying vinegar-soaked paper towels on the ring for an hour or more. (Comment: Chlorine bleach is more effective)

Stretch any commercial window cleaner by combining it with 1/3 water and 1/3 vinegar.

Decrease static or dust accumulation of plastic or vinyl surfaces by wiping them down with vinegar and water.

Use vinegar on mildewed garments that cannot take bleach.

Wash new clothes with 1/2 cup white vinegar to eliminate manufacturing chemicals.

Remove odor and perspiration or deodorant stains by spraying vinegar on underarm or collar areas.

Get salt stains off shoes with a dilute vinegar wipe. (Comment: Water alone is better at dissolving the salt.)

Stop itching from insect stings or poison ivy by dabbing or spraying with vinegar. (Comment: household ammonia is more effective at cooling stings.)

Pour vinegar wherever you don't want ants to congregate.

Tighten the cane in a sagging chair by sponging it with a heated solution of 50/50 vinegar and water.

Add vinegar to a pet's drinking water to discourage fleas and mange.

Sorry We Missed You


I got this over at Mahablog. Wouldn't it be a hoot to print up a bunch of these as door hangers and leave them on the door of some your wingnut GOP friends (if you have any). It would be interesting to see their reaction. It could be made a little "official" looking but it might be fun.

No Wonder

I rolled out of bed this morning after glancing at the time on the microwave across the room thinking to myself that I had overslept. Jumped in the shower and then while getting dressed turned on the TV to CNN Headline News and there was Glenn Beck and William Donahue. WTF! They repeat Glenn's disaster of a "show" early in the morning and I avoid turning on the TV until I know it is safe. It was then that I looked at my watch and realized that the microwave as an hour and a half fast. It is no wonder I am so sleepy. Going to be a long day.

More Lost Opportunity

The previous post mentions the lost opportunities for positive action with respect to costs of the war in Iraq. As tragic as it is it is not the whole story. It just talks about the billions requested and approved by Congress. The reality is that the true costs are much higher...nearly twice as high in reality. A recent survey by the Democrats in Congress puts the cost much higher.

From DKos

The economic costs to the United States of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so far total approximately $1.5 trillion, according to a new study by congressional Democrats that estimates the conflicts' "hidden costs"-- including higher oil prices, the expense of treating wounded veterans and interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the wars.

That amount is nearly double the $804 billion the White House has spent or requested to wage these wars through 2008, according to the Democratic staff of Congress's Joint Economic Committee. Its report, titled "The Hidden Costs of the Iraq War," estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have thus far cost the average U.S. family of four more than $20,000.

Now harken back to 2003 and while you let the $1.5 billion sink in remember what Paul Wolfowitz told Congress.
...spent much of the hearing knocking down published estimates of the costs of war and rebuilding, saying the upper range of $95 billion was too high, and that the estimates were almost meaningless because of the variables. Moreover, he said such estimates, and speculation that postwar reconstruction costs could climb even higher, ignored the fact that Iraq is a wealthy country, with annual oil exports worth $15 billion to $20 billion. "To assume we're going to pay for it all is just wrong," he said.
It is really easy to let the current reality ignore the past lies. We have been sold down the river by this administration and I cannot understand why we are just standing by and ignoring it. This should have people in the streets.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lost Opportunity

I try not to think about this too much as it is just too depressing. All of this money(on the Chinese MasterCard BTW) is already down the toilet with nothing to show for it except dead Americans and Iraqis and millions of lives ruined. Iraq is further from "Democracy" than ever and the Iraqi people will hate us forever. So much lost opportunity. So much waste. Such a tragedy.
To add insult to injury, I just turned on CNN in the hotel room and there was Wolf with John Bolton. Bolton was beating the war with Iran drum. It is time for civil disobedience I think.

From the Boston Globe via E&P:
"If the Bush administration succeeds in its latest request for funding for the war in Iraq, the total cost would rise to $611.5 billion, according to the National Priorities Project, a nonprofit research group," the staff stated in an online introduction. "The amount got us wondering: What would $611 billion buy?"

Among the findings, from college tuition to free gasoline -- each posted with an accompanying photo -- staffers revealed the following:

• "U.S. drivers consume approximately 384.7 million gallons of gasoline a day. Retail prices averaged $3.00 a gallon in early November. Breaking it down, $611 billion could buy gasoline for everybody in the United States, for about 530 days."

• "In fiscal 2008, Medicare benefits will total $454 billion, according to a Heritage Foundation summary. The $611 billion in war costs is 17 times the amount vetoed by the president for a $35 billion health."

• "According to World Bank estimates, $54 billion a year would eliminate starvation and malnutrition globally by 2015, while $30 billion would provide a year of primary education for every child on earth. At the upper range of those estimates, the $611 billion cost of the war could have fed and educated the world's poor for seven years."

Another Monday

Another Monday and back to the grind. Did my morning commute and am back at the client for another week. I was absolutely worthless this weekend. Madam is in Texas visiting an ailing aunt so I was a slovenly bachelor all weekend. I did do the dishes and straiten up before I left this morning so Madam wouldn't have a huge mess when she arrives home tomorrow. You and I both know that a man can't clean a kitchen properly but at least the big stuff is up.

I did try a new yeast roll recipe on Saturday...don't ask why I made two dozen fat rolls for one person...they turned out pretty nice and the good news is I only ate 4 or was it 5.

Everybody have a great week and here is a piece of advice. If you have a 401K or other investments that involve stocks or mutual funds...don't look at them. Trust me on this.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Arrianna Tubes Warning

Something weird at the Huffington Post. Almost every time I connect there I get some kind of Malware PC protection advert that takes over the browser. Click on close and it get worse with child windows(that don't behave) and the only way to get rid of it is to close Firefox.
Just a heads up.

Veterans Remembrance Day

I was one of the lucky ones.
I went to war and came back home.
No missing limbs, no missing eyes.
Reasonably sane I guess,
for all its worth.
So many cannot say this.
So many cannot say at all.
My father came back
disabled for life
still proud of his service.
His brother came back too
but not quite right
his problems challenged his happiness for life
he died alone
no one to hold his hand.
My uncle left his life in a field in Germany
his bomber couldn't make it home.
All these close to me were touched by war
and in their case a war for reason.
Many of my generation left their lives,
either completely or partially,
in South East Asia,
in the first modern war for no purpose.
Now their children are leaving theirs
in the second great useless conflict.
It is a tragedy twice over.

For all these who have and are sacrificing their lives in the honor of service whether the conflict is true and just or not.

I will remember.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae (1872-1918)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

RIP Norman Mailer

Dead at 84.
One of my favorite quotes, though there are many...

“Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor.”

Friday, November 09, 2007

Covering All The Bases

Grace over at Scriptoids appears to the one person in the world that reads the Terms of Service stuff they always put on new software. She very helpfully points us to this paragraph in the T.O.S. for Delicious. I am glad I stopped by and caught the warning because I was just about to light off my reactor after upgrading the control system to Delicious. Close call.

(iv) use the Delicious Software to operate nuclear facilities, life support, or other mission critical application where human life or property may be at stake. You understand that the Delicious Software is not designed for such purposes and that its failure in such cases could lead to death, personal injury, or severe property or environmental damage for which Delicious is not responsible. [emph added]

Tragedy upon Tragedy

1 out of 4 homeless are veterans

This is a tragedy? Bush/Cheney and the rest of the Republicans idea of "supporting the troops" is to send them to die in a poorly-planned and poorly-equipped war with no exit strategy and no reason. If they somehow survive and make it home then it is "Fuck you very much!" This is an issue the Democrats need to seize and run with at every opportunity. They are always being accused of "not supporting the troops" so let's see the GOP try and stop them from doing something. Where is the outrage? Where is the help and support our veterans need? Where has it been all this time? Where is our humanity? When are we going to see action?

Goddess! This pisses me off.

Keep Digging

The following reminds me of the old saw..."When you find yourself in a hole the first step is to quit digging."

Late last night, by a vote of 53-40, Michael Mukasey was confirmed as the next Attorney General. I think it is a pretty safe bet that he will continue to allow Bush/Cheney to run roughshod over the Constitution, ignore the laws of the land and torture whomever they choose. Of course, it will all be done in the great war on terror in order to protect us from the hordes of non christianist hordes massed upon our borders just itching to kill us in our sleep, rape our mothers, wives and daughters all the while outlawing cold beer and pork BBQ.

We should not overlook the special efforts of Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein, without whose decision to support Bush and Mukasey this would not have been possible. Thanks, really guys, you shouldn't have.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

$100 Million A Month! In Cash!

Why does this seem like a really bad idea? While I am sure Musharraf is as pristine as Snow White I just like to dot the i's and cross the t's, as it were. Surely no one on this side of the pond is getting any kickback. From TPM:
In fact, however, a considerable amount of the money the U.S. gives to Pakistan is administered not through U.S. agencies or joint U.S.-Pakistani programs. Instead, the U.S. gives Musharraf's government about $200 million annually and his military $100 million monthly in the form of direct cash transfers. Once that money leaves the U.S. Treasury, Musharraf can do with it whatever he wants. He needs only promise in a secret annual meeting that he'll use it to invest in the Pakistani people. And whatever happens as the result of Rice's review, few Pakistan watchers expect the cash transfers to end.
Chances are this payola is not going to stop over some silly "extraconstitutional measures".

Morning George

I was wondering this morning as I was driving in to the client if, when George Bush gets up in the morning and picks up the paper or flips on Fox News, he ever ponders what his time in office has wrought upon America and the world. Do you think he ever says "shit, shit, shit" I am such a fuck-up that pretty much every sane person in the country thinks I'm an idiot?

I am so incompetent that the rest of the worlds is laughing(or crying) at what America has become. Nearly 4000 American boys and girls are dead and thousands more horribly disabled because I wanted to prove my manhood by attacking Iraq. Thousands in NOLA are still homeless and have had their lives wrecked because the people I put in place to help them were incompetent fools just like me. The American economy is poised for a recession if not a full blown depression and I am still spending a billion dollars a week on the credit card to play war in Iraq. Everything I touch turns to shit. The military is is shambles and the Middle East is going up in flames. My legacy will take generations to put right, if ever.

Nah...he probably just looks in the mirror and sees the leader of the free world, the embodiment of Churchill. He probably sees the shades of Lincoln, Washington and Reagan behind him with approving smiles. He's the "decider" and all is well on his watch. Look out Iran I'm gunnin' fer ya!

Uh Oh!

Updated below:

If this is true, and who knows, then we are just seeing the beginning of a serious drop in the dollar and a real live depression, not just a recession.

Currency traders gave the dollar a thorough pounding today after a Chinese official suggested that the country could begin to diversify its huge foreign-exchange reserves.

The euro broke the $1.47 barrier before retreating a little and the pound climbed above $2.10, a value it had not reached 26 years ago. Other currencies also posted gains against the dollar.

Remarks by Cheng Siwei, vice chairman of the National People’s Congress in China — a colossal dollar investor by virtue of its $1.43 trillion in currency reserves, most of which are presumed to be denominated in dollars — helped drive the dollar lower.

The Chinese have us by the proverbial "short hairs" and if they make a serious move to diversify then there will be absolutely nothing to support the dollar. Don't forget that the entire cost of the Iraq war is on the Chinese issued MasterCard. How else do you fight a war and lower taxes and the same time?

Great job Bushie!
Update...more good news

From the International Herald Tribune:
In short, markets appeared firmly in the grip of a mood that seemed to scream for any investment other than the dollar, a reflection of a broad lack of confidence in a U.S. economy that could not seem to put the subprime mortgage crisis behind it. Unusually, powerful new Chinese investors appeared to endorse the idea that the U.S. currency was bound to fade as a result.

The European Central Bank seems set to stand by the strong euro when it meets Thursday to set interest rates - offering a credible alternative to a U.S. currency that now seems less indispensable than it has in some time.....

"We are experiencing among our clients an awakening that the United States is in big trouble," said Erik Nielsen, chief Europe economist at Goldman Sachs. "It is not just the mortgage market."

Just A Couple of Kids, No Worries

Can someone explain to me how this toy got past the government inspectors?. I would think that a toy containing beads that can be ingested by children would be a pretty good candidate for some kind of testing to see what might happen when kids ate them. This is insane.
U.S. safety officials have voluntarily recalled about 4.2 million Chinese-made Aqua Dots toys contaminated with a powerful "date rape" drug that has caused some children to vomit and lose consciousness upon ingesting the contents.

Scientists have found the highly popular holiday toy contains a chemical that, once metabolized, converts into the toxic "date rape" drug GHB (gamma-hydroxy butyrate), U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) spokesman Scott Wolfson told CNN.

"Children who swallow the beads can become comatose, develop respiratory depression or have seizures," a CPSC statement warned.

"Anyone with Aqua Dots at home should throw them out," CPSC spokeswoman Julie Vallese said. The toy was named toy of the year in Australia and recently made Wal-Mart Store Inc's list of top 12 Christmas toys.
How long do you think it will take for some Republican tell us onemore time to let industry self-regulate. They tell us how "the market" will work out the problems and everything will be just hunky dory. Never mind those kids who are being rushed to the hospital near death and pretend they are just incidental byproducts of industry self regulation and cheap toys from China. No worries they were poor kids anyway. What is really going to make me mad is that the Democrats will just sit back and let this roll by because they are afraid to call out the GOP on their murderous failed policies.
I guess I just want to know how many poisoned kids is the magic number before someone gets serious about controlling what is coming in from China and other countries with no oversight?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Mokusen's Hand

I have been remiss.

Mokusen Hiki was living in a temple in the province of Tamba. One of his adherents complained of the stinginess of his wife.

Mokusen visited the adherent's wife and showed her his clenched fist before her face.

"What do you mean by that?" asked the surprised woman.

"Suppose my fist were always like that. What would you call it?" he asked.

"Deformed," replied the woman.

Then he opened his hand flat in her face and asked: "Suppose it were always like that. What then?"

Another kind of deformity," said the wife.

"If you understand that much," finished Mokusen, "you are a good wife." Then he left.

After his visit, this wife helped her husband to distribute as well as to save.

Oil Will Go Over $100 Today

Updated Below:

I am not a financial wizard but I think it is pretty safe bet that oil will pass the $100 mark today. It may fall back below a bit but at some point someone is going to push the price to this point and once it is broached it will tend to stay there. The dollar continues to soften and this, along with increasing demand is pushing the dollar based price up.

The thing is the Federal Reserve will again have to balance their desire to lower interest rates to help promote buying against all of the global downward pressure on the dollar. The Fed is between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Realistically, the US can't satisfy everyone but this won't stop Bernanke from trying.

The lower the interest rates, the lower the return for investors who will also see the cuts as a lack of faith in the economy. Lower faith in the economy leads to investors searching for better markets which leads to a further softening dollar. The softening dollar is linked to oil prices heading north and higher energy prices pushes up inflation. (Note: The dollar index against six leading global currencies hit a 34 year low yesterday.) We are in trouble.

The Bush administration didn't create this economic problem overnight and it's not going to solve it overnight even if it is willing. Here is a hint. When two of the richest, most successful American investors (Buffet and Soros) talk about the problems with the US economy (and put their money where their mouth is) there is damn good reason to get tense.

When you hear Bush and his GOP lapdogs talk about how fiscally responsible they are you can call bullshit. This pile of economic problems is completely their fault and it is time get them out from behind the wheel. They have trashed the US economy by their failure to control the credit markets, maintain peace in the middle east and reign in U.S. deficit spending. They have sold our heritage to the lowest bidder and are now spending our great grand children's money in Iraq.

It is recession time folks so gird your loins or something.

edited to correct spelling at 0840est.

Update: I missed... from CNN

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices pulled back Wednesday after a weekly report showed that U.S. supplies fell less than expected.

U.S. light crude for December delivery was down more than $1 to below $96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after setting a new trading high overnight of $98.62. The price stood at $97.60 just before the inventory report was released.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Finally, His Value is Being Recognized

Not just anyone could reach this level of failure...to be more unpopular than Nixon.

Meanwhile, Bush reached an unwelcome record. By 64%-31%, Americans disapprove of the job he is doing. For the first time in the history of the Gallup Poll, 50% say they "strongly disapprove" of the president. Richard Nixon had reached the previous high, 48%, just before an impeachment inquiry was launched in 1974.


I guess this is called "New Heights of Low" then again "Mission Accomplished" seems appropriate as well.

Why has it taken so many so long to recognize that Junior reached his "Peter Principle" point somewhere about the time he learned to walk...maybe sooner?

Extraconstitutional Measures

In case you haven't heard...there is a new term for martial law. Here is a quote from Condi yesterday:
"The U.S. has made clear it does not support extraconstitutional measures because those measures take Pakistan away from the path of democracy and civilian rule," Rice said after attending an Iraq neighbors conference in Istanbul, Turkey. "Whatever happens we will be urging a quick return to civilian rule."
The next time you hear that phrase it may be Bush/Cheney's reason for putting your dirty, traitorous, hippie, tree hugging, liberal, gay loving, subversive ass in jail. Just consider this a public service from the old Monk.

Who Is Daniel Levin Anyway

If you, like me, wondered who Daniel Levin was after watching Olbermann's Special Comment then you would be disappointed in the coverage his story got in the mainstream media. As far as I can tell it was only covered on the ABC News website and nowhere else. I am not even clear if it made the ABC broadcast news. It was covered on a few blogs but not much even there.
This is a travesty. Here is what can be found from the ABC News website.
A senior Justice Department official, charged with reworking the administration's legal position on torture in 2004 became so concerned about the controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding that he decided to experience it firsthand, sources told ABC News.

Daniel Levin, then acting assistant attorney general, went to a military base near Washington and underwent the procedure to inform his analysis of different interrogation techniques.

After the experience, Levin told White House officials that even though he knew he wouldn't die, he found the experience terrifying and thought that it clearly simulated drowning.

Levin, who refused to comment for this story, concluded waterboarding could be illegal torture unless performed in a highly limited way and with close supervision. And, sources told ABC News, he believed the Bush Administration had failed to offer clear guidelines for its use.

The administration at the time was reeling from an August 2002 memo by Jay Bybee, then the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, which laid out possible justifications for torture. In June 2004, Levin's predecessor at the office, Jack Goldsmith, officially withdrew the Bybee memo, finding it deeply flawed.

When Levin took over from Goldsmith, he went to work on a memo that would effectively replace the Bybee memo as the administration's legal position on torture. It was during this time that he underwent waterboarding.

In December 2004, Levin released the new memo. He said, "Torture is abhorrent" but he went on to say in a footnote that the memo was not declaring the administration's previous opinions illegal. The White House, with Alberto Gonzales as the White House counsel, insisted that this footnote be included in the memo.

But Levin never finished a second memo imposing tighter controls on the specific interrogation techniques. Sources said he was forced out of the Justice Department when Gonzales became attorney general.
As Keith says, it is all about protecting Junior. The Constitution, American values, the rule of law, all are secondary to making sure Bush and Cheney don't have to answer for their war crimes. Today, once again, the Dems are going to roll over and let Bush have his way when they approve Mukasey as AG. What the hell have we become?

Keith Speaks

You might want to head over to Crooks and Liars and listen to Keith Olbermann's Special Comment from last night.
No matter how thorough you might try to brand disagreement as disloyalty, Mr Bush, there are still people like Daniel Levin who believe in the United States of America as true freedom, where we are better not because of schemes and wars, but because of dreams and morals. And ultimately, sir, these men, these patriots will defeat you and they will return this country to its righteous standards, and to its rightful owners: The People.
It's a keeper!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Beyond Belief

Somehow between feeling up their granddaughters, spanking the monkey and boinking their secretaries(both male and female) Don Wildmon and the American Family Association have found time to get their thongs in a knot over another crisis facing America. I kid you not, they are lobbying Congress over U.S. troops’ access to adult materials.

Ten years after Congress banned sales of sexually explicit material on military bases, the Pentagon is under fire for continuing to sell adult fare, such as Penthouse and Playmates In Bed, that it doesn’t consider explicit enough to pull from its stores.

Dozens of religious and anti-pornography groups have complained to Congress and Defense Secretary Robert Gates that a Pentagon board set up to review magazines and films is allowing sales of material that Congress intended to ban.

“They’re saying ‘we’re not selling stuff that’s sexually explicit’ … and we say it’s pornography,” says Donald Wildmon, head of the American Family Association, a Christian anti-pornography group. A letter-writing campaign launched Friday by opponents of the policy aims to convince Congress to “get the Pentagon to obey the law,” he adds.

I must be missing something here. American soldiers both male and female are fighting two wars and dying in each thanks to the incompetent leadership of Bush and company. Both wars are being lost and our boys and girls are dying and being mutilated daily and the American Family Association’s biggest concern is what kind of magazines the troops can purchase on base?

Let me explain the reality...those wearing the uniform and putting their lives on the line for their country can read anything they want! If they want to see naked ladies, naked men or Goddess forbid naked ladies and men together on the same page possibly pretending to have sex then go for it boy and girls. It is none of the christianist's business even if the magazines show the Apostle Paul strapping on Jesus or Jesus going down on Mary Magdalene. None of your fucking business people.

If they are so worried that someone, somewhere might have some fun then maybe they should spend some time getting their holier than thou preacher's hands out of the pants of the Sunday School kids.

Not the Surge

A diary by Brandon Friedman over at Kos points out that it is not the surge that reduced American deaths in Iraq in September and October but the fact the the Sadr army has called a halt to fighting. They were the force behind over half of the violence in Iraq especially the IEDs. Despite what the right wing blogs or the conservative pundits say it is not the surge that is reducing violence but the fact that the folks behind more than half the attacks on American forces have quit fighting.

You will notice that this "minor" detail is not mentioned in the media or by the pundits.

Very Successful Jerk

Looks like there is a big market for being an asshole and a jerk.

On his daily radio talk show, Glenn Beck portrays himself as an average guy, a recovering alcoholic and a comedian who regularly injects humor into his conservative politics.

This week he can add another description: very wealthy.

Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, is expected to announce today that it is extending Mr. Beck’s contract. Two sources with knowledge of the deal said it was valued at $50 million over five years, through a combination of salary and profit-sharing from syndication.

Just another reason not to listen to a Clear Channel Station. The Dixie Chicks trashing made me tune them out forever but just in case you are still listening to one of their stations maybe this will be the straw.

He' Ours and We are Going to Keep Him

This is so typical and indicative of where Bush/Cheney's head is really at. We don't really care that millions of people are going to be denied their civil rights and constitutional government we are still going to prop up this dictator. Screw the people. Musharraf is just doing what we would like to do(and may still) if we thought we could get away with it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New Week, Same Drill

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I am off again at o'pumpkin thirty to the client south of Atlanta. It has been an "entertaining" weekend as we have a house guest from the UK for a few days. While her husband is in Lost Wages at a conference our friend decided to forgo the temptations of Sin City and hang with us. Let me just say the $2/pound exchange rate has influenced her activities a bit though we have had a bit of cultural stuff thrown in the mix.
Had a nice visit from the daughter and son-in-law today. I fixed potato and leek soup and an apple tart in payment for them cleaning the gutters. I think I got the better part of the deal and their efforts are much appreciated. This old 58 year old chubby guy is not optimal at gutter work.

Anyhow, as has been for the last 4 or 5 weeks I will check in here when I can but at least in the evenings from the hotel. Have a great Monday and don't forget about the time change last night.

The Godfather

If by some quirk of the tubes you are reading this blog and currently support Giuliani for the nomination you should read this piece in the NYT. It is about the relationship with Bernie Kerik.
Giuliani thinks he is the Godfather or in plain English is absolutely insane.

Mr. Kerik followed Mr. Giuliani downstairs to a dimly lighted room. There waited Mr. Giuliani’s boyhood chum Peter J. Powers, who was first deputy mayor, and other aides. One by one, they pulled Mr. Kerik close and kissed his cheek.

“I wonder if he noticed how much becoming part of his team resembled becoming part of a mafia family,” Mr. Kerik wrote. “I was being made.”

The man is as crazy as a bed bug and supporting him makes you even crazier. If you think I am being a little extreme we can talk about firefighters and radios or emergency response centers.

Bad Foreign Policy Gone Haywire

The situation in Pakistan has turned to shit and the pigs are eating it. And, it's getting worse:
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule on Saturday, deploying troops and sacking a top judge in a bid to reassert his flagging authority against political rivals and Islamist militants.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan's internal security has deteriorated sharply in recent months with a wave of suicide attacks by al Qaeda-inspired militants, including one that killed 139 people.

State-run Pakistan Television said Musharraf had suspended the constitution and declared an emergency, ending weeks of speculation that the general who seized power in a 1999 coup might impose emergency rule or martial law.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on a visit to Turkey, criticized the measures as "highly regrettable" and said she hoped Pakistan would have a free and fair election in January as promised.

Bush's idiot foreign policy has been to support Musharraf at all costs when every time you turn around the guy is basically telling Bush and Condi to take a long walk on a short pier. Do not overlook the fact that this guy has nuclear weapons now. Bush is focused all of his "foreign policy" on the non-nuclear Iran. I would have thought it be prudent to deal with Pakistan before turning on Iran (or Iraq for that matter). The U.S has showered this idiot with billions of dollars mostly in the form of military aid and he is using American money to overthrow the country. Great Job Bushy!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

More Bad Beef

The hits keep on coming!

MINNEAPOLIS — Cargill Inc. said Saturday it is recalling more than 1 million pounds of ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria, the second time in less than a month it has voluntarily recalled beef that may have been tainted.

No illnesses have been reported, said John Keating, president of Cargill Regional Beef.

The agribusiness giant produced the beef between Oct. 8 and Oct. 11 at a plant in Wyalusing, Pa. and distributed it to retailers across the country. They include Giant, Shop Rite, Stop & Shop, Wegmans and Weis.

Cargill learned the meat may be contaminated after the Agriculture Department found a problem with a sample of the beef produced on Oct. 8, the company said. The bacteria is E. coli O157:H7

A spokeswoman for Cargill said 10 states are included in the recall _ Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
I just bought some ground beef today but it was raised locally and organically raised on grass and not grain finished. Yes, it cost me about a dollar more a pound but I can feel pretty sure it is as safe a ground beef can be. Here is a picture of the Will Harris family who raised it in Bluffton, Ga.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Pizza Anyone

While I wouldn't touch a frozen pizza with a stick a lot of people seem to eat quite a few. I see them in grocery carts all the time and not just one but usually a stack of them. It is so simple to make your own and they are so much nicer I find it hard to justify paying someone else to do something for me that I enjoy and that includes all your Domino's, Papa John's and Pizza Hut as well. I will admit that a properly made pie baked in a traditional 'real' Italian style pizza oven(preferably wood fired) is pretty nice...Margherita for me please.
Anyhow, to get to the point...

MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills on Thursday recalled about 5 million frozen pizzas sold nationwide under the Totino's and Jeno's labels because of possible E. coli contamination.

The problem may have come from pepperoni on pizzas produced at a General Mills plant in Ohio, the suburban Minneapolis-based company said. It said the pepperoni itself came from a separate supplier, not produced at the plant itself, but it declined to release the name of the pepperoni distributor.

The voluntary recall covers pizzas containing pepperoni that have been produced since July, when the first of 21 E. coli illnesses under investigation by state and federal authorities emerged.

Nine of the 21 people reported eating Totino's or Jeno's pizza with pepperoni topping at some point before becoming ill. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that eight of the victims have been hospitalized, and four have developed a type of kidney failure.

If you perchance are one of those who do, in fact, buy and consume these frozen things then here are the ones being recalled. That number behind is the SKU (stock keeping unit).

Totino's Party Supreme, 42800-10700.

Totino's Three Meat, 42800-10800.

Totino's Pepperoni, 42800-11400.

Totino's Pepperoni, 42800-92114.

Totino's Classic Pepperoni, 42800-11402.

Totino's Pepperoni Trio, 42800-72157.

Totino's Party Combo, 42800-11600.

Totino's Combo, 42800-92116.

Jeno's Crisp 'n Tasty Supreme, 35300-00561.

Jeno's Crisp 'n Tasty Pepperoni, 35300-00572.

Jeno's Crisp 'n Tasty Combo, 35300-00576.