Sunday, April 30, 2006

Goodness Gracious, Mercy Me!

I evidently need to take the time to watch what may be, from all reports, a brilliant piece of work by Stephen Colbert.

Crooks & Liars has the video, it's good.

Wasting Lives

Here is a measure of how much better things are going in Iraq.
Military officials said an Army soldier died Saturday when a roadside bomb hit his convoy near Baghdad. The attack raises to 70 the number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq during April.On Friday, officials at The Pentagon said that the American death toll in Iraq since the start of the war has topped 2,400.
This is an "improvement" over the 31 killed in March and the 55 in February.

BTW the Iraq Coalition Casualites website puts the number at 72.

This is nothing but madness but your Dear Leader says,
"Yet, the enemies of freedom have suffered a real blow in recent days, and we have taken great strides on the march to victory."
Cry for your country and the lives it is wasting.

Repeat Offender

In an excellent post Glenn Greenwald discusses the continuing efforts of Bush to ignore his responsibilities under the Constitution to uphold the law. In it he references an article in the Boston Globe by Charlie Savage that shines the bright light on the attempts to steal the power of Congress.

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed" . .
It is very frustrating to continue to see the administration flaunt the law with such impunity. Why can't we get more people with some backbone to stand up to this? Evidently Stephen Colbert stepped up and did some serious finger pointing at the Whitehouse press dinner. (video here - transcript here).

Here We Are

Ok back in the U.S, at least for a week, have to turn around and head back to Sweden for a couple of days week after next. Still trying to get caught up with everything including sleep. Turned really cool here in Atlanta, almost Sweden weather. We actually had to de-ice before takeoff Saturday morning. Only 61F and it is almost 3 in the afternoon. I'll check back in when I have caught up with everything else.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Planes Tomorrow

Travel day tomorrow. An o640 flight out of Gothenburg for Paris and then an almost impossible connection to Delta to Atlanta. The promised rain has finally arrived and it is raining like the proverbial cow on a rock tonight. It has also turned significantly cooler and I would guess it is in the mid 40's out there. I don't have to spend anytime exposed to the weather as I will be in a taxi or in the airport so it is really not a problem. Rain is forecast for Atlanta for the weekend so it should be a very quiet and restful return with much sleep and no pressure to get outside and maintain the homestead. See you folks afte the leap.

What Surprise?

The revelation that some of the payola going to the GOP from lobbyists was sex is a major Duh?
I had just always assumed that to be the case knowing what I know about big dollar business and the operating methods.
I am surprised that anyone would be surprised that these fuckwits are thinking with the johnson and making decisions base on nooky. I mean how else do you continue to make bad decision after bad decision if all of your thinking is done by your penis?
If you think about it that explains pretty much the state if the U.S. today. I'm a dickhead and I'm your President.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

How About a Bribe?

I really can't believe I am reading this! GOP Senators actually believe that giving you a hundred bucks will distract you from the fact that they have completely failed to address America's energy crisis and have done nothing but stuff more moeny in the pockets of oil companies. They think you are so money hungry and stupid that you won't notice that they want to add a few drops to the oil supply for a couple of years by destroying the last pristine wilderness in North America nad forget how badly they have failed to lead this country in the right direction.

Just how much is a $100 bucks going to help you out? I can fill my tank in the little Hyundai a couple of times if the gas prices stay where they are. How about you?

You have to wonder how stupid they think the average American is. This reminds me of the old joke about a man that offers a beautiful woman a million bucks to sleep with him. She thinks a minute and say yes. He then asks her if she will sleep with him for twenty bucks. She responds. "What do you think I am, a whore?" He responds. We have already established that now we are negotiating price."

So what's your price?

8.4 Billion is Pretty Good

Explain to me one more time why gas prices are so high

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, on Thursday reported quarterly profit surged, driven by rising oil prices.

Net income in the first quarter was $8.4 billion, or $1.37 a share, up from $7.86 billion, or $1.22 a share, a year earlier.

Revenue jumped to $88.98 billion from $82.05 billion.
Full disclosure: I have some Exxon-Mobil stock and yes I am ashamed.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sweden Stuff

Nine at night and once again the jet lag is kicking in so I won't be concious much longer. Long day at the client and I am still wondering why I am here but they are paying the travel and daily fees so I guess I shouldn't complain.

Again had dinner in the hotel tonight and had a very strange rendition of what the menu said was a club sandwhich. This one had some roasted chicken (kyckling) and underdone bacob piled on some toasted white bread with curry mayo. Very interesting interpretation. There was a little salad on the side and some "freedom fries" that were so hot when served that I couln't eat them. I probably don't want to know how they got them that hot.

You definitely have to adjust to the size of hotel rooms in Europe. I have seen closets in the U.S. that were larger than this one. Actually, the hotel room in Tokyo was bigger. I can deal with it as I am pretty used to it but at nearly $170 a night you expect a little more than a closet with a bath but that seems to be the going price here so you just deal with it.

Everybody have a great day and we will try and say hello again tomorow. I think I hear the little single bed( we call them twin beds) is calling. BTW the weather forecast that said it would be raining everyday here was completely wrong.

Gas Prices

This is a sore point for me. I have been saying for years that we were not paying enough for a gallon of gas. It is a non-renewable resource and it pollutes something horrible. That said, the current run up in prices is not good because it affects the guy (or gal) making a reasonable living in the 50K$ or below bracket so much harder as a percentage of income than it does the fuckwit driving a Hummer. I actuallt heard someone say the other day that even at $4/gallon it wasn't any skin off his nose since even at 4 bucks his gas expense was less that 1% of his income.
Anyhow...I think the price of gas should be twice or three times as high as it is now. I don't think, however,that this ought to be borne by the average Joe. The oil companies need to be straight and the media needs to pay attention. We are being screwed and you can see it in the profits. If you don't think so read the following.

Soaring gas prices are squeezing most Americans at the pump, but at least one man isn’t complaining.

Last year, Exxon made the biggest profit of any company ever, $36 billion, and its retiring chairman appears to be reaping the benefits.

Exxon is giving Lee Raymond one of the most generous retirement packages in history, nearly $400 million, including pension, stock options and other perks, such as a $1 million consulting deal, two years of home security, personal security, a car and driver, and use of a corporate jet for professional purposes.

Last November, when he was still chairman of Exxon, Raymond told Congress that gas prices were high because of global supply and demand.

Daily Snow Job

It's now official that Tony Snow is the new White House press secretary. Evidently he wanted to more than just be a parrot but wanted to be "an active participant in administration policy debates." So what am I missing here? I would think that as a talking shithead on Faux News wasn't he already an "active participant in administration policy"?

The story from the Whorehouse is that he is being brought on board to smooth over things with the press corps:
A senior administration official said last night that Bush is aware of the "perception of disdain for the institution of the media" on the part of the White House and wants a spokesman who will forge "a good working relationship" with journalists.

The official said the president is also looking for "a forceful advocate for the type of historical change he's trying to accomplish" and added: "We believe Tony fits the bill in both areas. He has a lot of experience on the air, which with the evolution of the briefings is something you have to take into consideration."
Talk about putting lipstick on a pig! How is this going to make any difference in the complete bullshit that comes out of the Whorehouse?

Another Sympton

This doesn't really affect me right now because I have a good job and it includes a comprehensive set of health care benfits. The reality for you and me though is that tomorrow it could all change and we will be in the same boat. A new report by the Commonwealth Fund clearly shows that the hardest working and backbone of American society is gradually( and not that slowly) being left behind in the search for security and freedom from fear of even a minor health crisis. This is the legacy that Bush and his henchman are leaving us. As long as the GOP and the major healthcare and drug companies control the agenda the bulk of America is at a high risk of being placed in the untenable position of being financially ruined by even a minor health crisis.

In a nutshell:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 40 percent of Americans making between $20,000 and $40,000 a year went without insurance for at least part of the year last year, according to a study published on Tuesday.

  • More than 40% of middle income Americans went without insurance
  • 20% of working adults paying off medical debt
  • 60% of uninsured adults with chronic illnesses skip medicine because they can't afford it

"The jump in uninsured among those with modest incomes is alarming, particularly at a time when our economy has been improving," said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis, who helped write the study.

"For an uninsured person who is unlucky enough to get sick, it is easy to see how quickly they can fall into a downward spiral of debt, forgone care, and poorer health," Sara Collins, Commonwealth Fund senior program officer, said in a statement.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

We Here

Ok, safely in Sweden. Uneventful trip but after being awake for 32 hours I am a little foggy. Obviously the hotel does have Internet so there will be some activity here this week. Right now it is time for a little serious sack time. Weather is not too bad. Not raining as the forecast said. All checked in with Madam Monk so all is well.

Monday, April 24, 2006

How many?

There are hundreds of soldiers in the international concourse waiting for flights out. I wonder how many will come back alive or whole? It makes me very sad. Such a tragedy.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Travel day today

BLOGGER was hosed this morning before I headed to the airport so there are a couple of posts that are hanging fire. Might have to wait until sometime tomorrow to try and get them to publish. More and more I am considering moving the blog somewhere more reliable. It always seems to go tango uniform when I have no time to mess with it. Oh well, on the way and should be changing planes in Paris in about 12 hours. Only a 2 hour connection in Paris so will be close since most of the time the plane parks somewhere out on the airport and the bus in to the teminal takes forever. Play nice.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Blogger Misbehaving

Blogger is misbehaving this morning. It always happens when I don't have the time to fool with it.

Confirmed Liar and War Criminal

Josh Marshall has a piece up discussing the 60 minutes interview with Tyler Drumheller the now retired CIA officer and former head of covert ops in Europe.

This interview basically confirms what we have suspected. Bush and Cheney cherry picked the intel to falsely lead the country into war and when Drumheller's team in Europe turned the Iraqi Foreiegn Minister Naji Sabri just before the war and he admitted that Saddam had no WMD's the Whitehouse ignored this high value intelligence because it didn't support their lies.

This interview is proof conclusive that the President and his staff deliberately lied us into war and further more deliberately ignored reliable intelligence that would have allowed us to avoid this disaster.

Here is a quote from Josh's piece:

"I was stunned," Drumheller told me, when so little of the stuff he had told the commission's and the committee's investigators ended up in their reports. His colleagues, he said, were equally "in shock" that so little of what they related ended up in the reports either.

What Drumheller has to say adds quite a lot to our knowledge of what happened in the lead up to war. But what it shows even more clearly is that none of this stuff has yet been investigated by anyone whose principal goal is not covering for the White House.

Every death and every casualty is directly on Bush's head. Every penny spent is his. There is no other way to describe Bush and Cheney's acts but as high treason and war crimes. When you pile the torture, false imprisonment, and murder of so many together this is the only thing that answers.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Another Hard Day

Another hard day in the yard cleaning up from out little storm. Another giant pile of stuff on the curb waiting for the city guys to pick up. Would have been a much larger pile but I decided to get out the chipper/shredder and crank it up. It makes an awful racket but grinds up limbs and small branchs quickly and leave a nice pile of mulch to boot. Grinding the limbs in the back forty saves carting them to the street. So things are looking pretty good. Still have to get the muscadine off part of the fence and clear a few more small trees. Noted several more big pines that are dead or dying so I think I have about 10 or so now to be removed. That will be a 3-4000 dollar job when I think I can afford it. Hopefully Mother Nature will see fit to leave them standing until I can get them cut. Only three could hit the house but they are large and would do a lot of damage.

Getting the final stuff done so I can leave town for a week with a reasonably clear conscience. Didn't get all the "honey-do's done but made a good dent in them. Off to Sweden for meetings next week and won't get back until Saturday PM. If this experience is anything like last I will be very lucky to find Internet access next week so the old blog will be pretty quiet in that case. Maybe a plug or two from the Blackberry but otherwise zilch. Who knows they may have added wi-fi or something to the hotel by now. It is becoming more common in Europe. The weather forecast is for rain the entire week. Bummer.

Sunday, Sunday

Forgot to wish Happy Birthday to the Queen so Happy Birthday your Highness. Today is Orthodox Easter so everyone Happy Easter, Cristos Anesti!
Not so good a weekend for out troops in Iraq.

Three U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb northwest of the capital, raising to eight the number of Americans killed this weekend in Baghdad area.

More than 20 Iraqis also died in other violence Sunday, including seven who were killed in three explosions that occurred just outside the heavily guarded Green Zone in Baghdad, not far from Iraq's Defense Ministry.
We really got to get the the hell out of there. We have done enough damage and spent enough money. It's over.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Saturday Review

All right, another hard day in the yard and I am once again totaled. Not much time tonight to review what is going on around the web but I did check on Steve Bates at Yellow Doggerel Democrat.
He commented on the price of gas in Houston which triggered one of my hot buttons. I commented that I thought the price was too low by a factor of 3 and that this too cheap gas is toasting our environment.
So far there is a lively thread stop in and give a whack.

Lumberjack Day

Got the jeans, suspenders and trusty ball cap (it says Ping and not John Deere though) and am all set for another day of tornado clean-up. New chain link fence is all installed and nice and shiny. Got the installers to leave me fifty or so of the wire ties so I can replace all the ones on the rest of the fence that have been chewed through by the squirrels. Little buggers just chew right through the aluminum wire and then the fence starts to sag. These new ties are steel so maybe it slow them down. Rodents like squirrels and rats have to keep wearing down their large front teeth since they never stop growing. If they didn't they would just grow through the bottom jaw.
Anyhow, should be quiet here today at least until I get too tired to continue the lumberjack schtick or it starts raining again.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Day Consumed

The day has been consumed with conference calls and meetings not to mention the new chain link fence installation. Now its time for a nice dinner out with Madam before I head back across the pond next week. Maybe later.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What is the "Common Good"?

Digby has an excellent post up discussing the "Common Good" it is well worth the read. She addresses Michael Tomasky's essay today in The American Prospect.

I don't mean to be dismissive. I think it's important to embrace big ideas and big philosophy and reach for some inspiration. The Democrats have been issuing stultifying laundry lists for as long as I can remember and I couldn't be happier that people are thinking in these terms. But I can't help but feel that we always end up back at the same spot somehow. The unions, the womens groups, the civil rights groups, trial lawyers, consumer advocates --- the whole array of narrow special interests being held responsible for the fact that half of this country really resents the hell out of minorities, women and working people getting a fair shake. And the Democrats continue to pay the political price for that resentment.

I'm all for finding our way out of it. Tomasky's message has real resonance; I like it very much. But I think that if the party stopped trying to figure out ways to get the "special interests" to shut up and started giving them some respectful assurances that they aren't going to be the sacrificial lambs in whatever the new paradigm turns out to be, they might find a little bit more cooperation.

Not a Warm Fuzzy

This does not make a regular traveler through the Atlanta airport feel all that good.

Federal officials say they never found a suspicious device that a screener said had appeared on an X-ray screen -- leading to a halt in flights at Atlanta's airport for more than an hour. Officials stopped planes from leaving Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and closed down all security checkpoints for about two hours yesterday afternoon. Willie Williams, the airport's Transportation Security Administration director, said a screener notified her supervisor of a suspicious image on the monitor of her X-ray machine at 1:15 p.m. T-S-A screeners hand-searched all bags that were on the machine's conveyor belt, but no dangerous items were found. Williams declined to say what the image appeared to be.

I think it might be time to do a little review of the procedures that should be followed when a screener spots something suspicious. Shutting down the busiest airport in the world for a couple of hours with nothing to show for it is just a little embarrassing. Eh?

Backbone Missing

Here is the headline from Rawstory "As rhetoric builds, Democrats in Congress lie low on Iran"
Most aides refused to speculate whether Democrats might support a military operation in Iran. Several aides acknowledged, however, that some Democrats in Congress could support a military strike. If it was presented with clear and damning evidence of an Iranian nuclear program, aides said, Bush might be able to get Congressional authorization for the use of force.

I can't say how disappointed this makes me. Now is not the time to pussyfoot around and wait for opinion polls and focus groups. Now is the time to make your opposition to another stupid war known high and low and loudly. This is criminally stupid folks.

I cannot imagine any evidence that would justify another violent, pre-emptive foray into the Middle East or anywhere. This kind of mincing around by the supposed opposition party is why we have ourselves mired in Iraq and spending lives and and ever increasing amount of treasure.
In another story from Rawstory

With the expected passage this spring of the largest emergency spending bill in history, annual war expenditures in Iraq will have nearly doubled since the U.S. invasion, as the military confronts the rapidly escalating cost of repairing, rebuilding and replacing equipment chewed up by three years of combat. The cost of the war in U.S. fatalities has declined this year, but the cost in treasure continues to rise, from $48 billion in 2003 to $59 billion in 2004 to $81 billion in 2005 to an anticipated $94 billion in 2006, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

The U.S. government is now spending nearly $10 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan, up from $8.2 billion a year ago, a new Congressional Research Service report found. Annual war costs in Iraq are easily outpacing the $61 billion a year that the United States spent in Vietnam between 1964 and 1972, in today's dollars.
(highlighting mine)
The is serious money honey! Can you imagine what it would do domestically? Hello...less than a month's worth of Iraq quagmire spending would repair and improve the levees around NOLA so that we would never have another aftermath like Katrina's.

I want some opposition to this mad man and I want it now! I disagree with the theory "Give the GOP enough rope and they will hang themselves." We gave them rope with Iraq and they have now managed to hang it around our necks and are dragging us over a cliff.

No more war period.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Trading Liars

McClellan has decided that he must go. Now Bush is faced with getting a replacement liar. Rumor has it that Tony Snow of Faux News is a potential new Bush liar. Makes sense since he has been practicing for a number of years. Not much of a career move though from unofficial liar to official liar and the pay is probably not as good. Well, the apparent/publicized pay anyway.

I'm sure that with a new liar in place we will see some actual progress in Iraq or at least some new excuses.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Decidin' Done

Your leader speaks this morning:
I say, I listen to all voices, but mine is the final decision. And Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job. He's not only transforming the military, he's fighting a war on terror. He's helping us fight a war on terror. I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld. I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of Defense.
One does not, obviously, argue with "The Decider". If "The Decider" thinks everything is just hunky dory in Iraq then by Goddess it is and no one but Don Rumsfeld got have done what we have done in Iraq.

There used to be a cartoon character that used the phrase "I'll do the thinin' around here." I can't remember right now which but Dubya's remarks don't fall far from that tree. We all know what hard work "decidin' is and when it is done right there is no question it is decided. Whatever. What a maroon!

Everybody is Going

Trying to schedule a last minute trip to Sweden this morning for next week for some planning meetings with a client and it seems everyone is going to Europe next week. Yep, the U.S. will be a lot like Paris in August next week with only the essential people still here. With the exchange rates what they are you wonder why anyone would go to Europe on holiday right now. Oh well, they are.

Seriously, there was absolutely no space on any flight from Atlanta to Europe on Sunday at least with Delta and any partner airlines. Forced to move to Monday and then it is a less than optimal connection through Paris. I won't get to Gothenberg until just after noon on Tuesday so I will miss the morning meetings and after flying all night ( I don't sleep well on planes) I will be a zombie for the afternoon. To add insult to injury when space gets this tight the airlines don't discount anything and you pay full boat for your tiny seat and crap food. I am priority waitlisted for an upgrade to business class both ways but don't hold out much hope if the flights are this crowded.

Meetings are over Thursday afternoon but the first flight out I could get is 640am on Saturday which will make for a long day of travel since that will mean getting up at about 9pm Friday night Eastern Standard in order to get back to Atlanta by about 3pm Saturday. Again have to go the the disaster that is Charles de Gaulle. With the new international terminal out of commission and being replaced you get to ride a bus around the airport for 45 minutes or so to get to and from your plane all through temporary facilities. My connections are tight so I will have to carry on all my luggage as it would never make it. This is when the travel experience in packing light pays off. It is always rather funny to see how much stuff most American tourists pack for their short trips to Europe.

The final insult is that the only hotel I could find that would guarantee me a room required a prepaid and non refundable payment for the entire four nights and it wasn't cheap. With the current exchange rates (very bad) a single room is 162 US$ per night. Ouch!

Tangled Web

If you haven't done so Billmon has several interesting posts up here and here discussing what some of the possibilites and ramifications of this dust up with Iran may mean. It is a complicated game and a lot of unknowns with some scenarios that are truly not pleasant to contemplate.

The frightening thing is that we have completely incompetent people on our side in this game and knowing that is enough to scare the juice out of me. I highly recommend reading what he has to say.

And as always the inside skinny on what is happening in the Middle East is from Professor Juan Cole.

Monday, April 17, 2006

It's a Freefall

The new Gallup poll is out and Dubya's job approval rating fell 1% to 36%. That's gotta hurt.

From E&P more interesting facts

Bush and the unhandling of Iraq - 32%

In a surprise, the new poll found that 44% of Republicans now back withdrawing some or all troops from Iraq. The number for all Americans, 64%...


In another finding, 57% of Americans say it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq...

Gallup too says:

57% say that the US "will not win in Iraq"

Gallup again:

23% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 70% disapprove

tip to Holden who has cornered the market in ponies.

How Long Can We Wait?

From the Washington Post

BAGHDAD, April 16 -- Iraq's top legislator postponed the meeting of parliament scheduled for Monday, putting off "for a few days" an attempt to resolve a months-long deadlock over the formation of the country's new government.

The move was not entirely unexpected, but it still represented a setback for U.S. officials and an Iraqi public losing patience with four months of political paralysis since Dec. 15, when the country held elections to form a long-term government.

The delay coincided with a surge in sectarian killings between Iraq's Sunni Arabs and Shiite Muslims. At least 37 Iraqis died in shootings, bombings and other attacks Sunday, according to police officials and news reports. U.S. military officials also reported killing five insurgents in a raid in which a woman also was killed, and said four Marines were killed in combat west of Baghdad.

The Marines, from Regimental Combat Team 5, were killed in two engagements in Anbar province.
(bolding mine)

While the news cycle is being consumed with Rummy bashing and bombing Iran the news from Iraq just keeps getting worse. Not only are we spending vast amounts of money sorely and desperately needed here at home, we are even more tragically spending the lives of our children.

Once again, the Iraqis have postponed the meeting of parliament. This time it is supposed to be only for "a few days." Wake up everyone that’s what…the probable death of what, 20, 30 more of America’s best and a couple of billion dollars and how many more Iraqis?

How long are we supposed to wait for the Iraqis to form a government of some kind? How long are we suppose to stand aside whiled they continue to piss away U.S. blood and treasure? Why can’t someone from our government explain the urgency of the situation to the Iraqis? Do you think that George and Condi don’t have permission from Cheney to exert some pressure on the Iraqis?

The most probable answer is that Bush and company have talked so long and so hard and so often about not leaving Iraq until the Iraqis stand up that they now believe that we won’t bail out now matter how long it takes for them to get straight. There is absolutely no pressure on the Iraqis to hurry and form a government because we’ll be there as long as they need. John Kerry had it right the other day when he insisted on a very timely deadline or we’re history. Bush is not putting any pressure on and therefore the Iraqis feel comfortable in taking all the time in the world. By not putting intense pressure on the Iraqis, Bush is guaranteeing that there is going to be more blood in the streets, both American and Iraqi, and that all out civil war will explode and not only destabilize Iraq but whole Middle East.

You’d think that the daily bloodbath or the reality of Shia and Sunnis fleeing the cities in desperate fear would kindle some urgency of action on the part of the Iraqi legislators or at least prompt Bush to crank up the heat. Unfortunately, both parties seem to waiting to see how bad it will get and how many American and Iraqi lives are finally deemed too high a cost to pay.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

More Debris

Another day of removing debris. I did honor the day with a roasted leg of lamb but other than that we spent the day with chain saw in hand removing the debris from the tornado.
I always remember Easter from my days in Greece and the roasted lamb and all the other traditions that come in to play during this time of year. Of course Orthodox Easter is still a couple of weeks away on the 23rd but to all the readers who may be Orthodox "Christo Anesti". I will try and remember when the actual observance hits. For those of you not Orthodox that means Christ is Risen and is the traditional greeting in Greece on Easter Sunday. Too bad all you christians with the small "c" don't embrace the meaning in those words.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Disgusting Money

There is an article in the AJC today on executive compensation. It is really disgusting. The chairman and CEO of Home Depot Bob Nardelli's pay for 2005 was 29.7 million a 4% increase of his 28.5 mil in 2004. This is his reward for Home Depot's stock falling 6% in 2005. In contrast the CEO of Lowe's made a paltry 6.5 million and the CEO of Wal-Mart only 12.6 million.

Since Nardelli came to Home Depot in 2000 he has been paid a total of 154.3 million dollars. Is it just me or does this level of pay seem insane? I sometimes wonder how someone like that justifies to himself that level of compensation. Somehow it just seems wrong.

I noted the other day that the just retired chairmand of Exxon-Mobil Lee Raymond has managed to get himself a whopping 686 million in pay and stock since he took the helm in 1993. Granted the company has done well under his guidance and its net worth increased by 375 billion. Exxon's net income in 1992 before Raymond was a paltry 4 billion while last year it hit a record 36 billion. He deserves a reward but holy cow! I can't even imagine spending that kind of money.

I can' t imagine these guys are feeling sorry for all of us who will soon be paying a dollar more per gallon for gas than we did at this time last year.

Tornado Mess

I didn't mention it here but a few tornados whipped through the neighborhood while I was away. Luckily, nothing hit the house but evidently one touched down for a moment in the back 40. My back neighbor lost about a dozen large pines the majority of which managed to land on my chainlink fence.

I have spent the day removing debris from the fence and my neighbor had a crew come in and remove the trees. Already have an estimate for repair and have contacted the insurance folks so I just have to give the go ahead. I consider myself quite lucky as the folks just north of here got whacked pretty good and several businesses and homes are pretty well trashed. I didn't lose any trees just the fence, and a couple of thousand will get it right pretty quick.

Not used to such physical labor and I am really feeling it this evening. The hardest is lifting the 14-16 inch diameter chunks of wood and piling it. Jeebus I'm wrecked. Anyhow, with blogger refusing to let me log in and all the yard work I have been rather silent today.

I will try and catch up later. Right now I have to check on my chicken which is roasting in the oven and decide if I will have another martini. Another one might send me down for the count before I even get le poulet out of the oven so I probably won't. Mrs. Fallen is out for the afternoon at a bridal shower( my step grand daughter) so I am just chilling tonight. If I don't have another martini I may even get some serious posting done. Cheers.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Five Makes a Chorus or is it Six?

It is now five and maybe even six generals saying that Rummy has to go. I think the Whitehouse is going to have trouble ignoring this chorus. So far we have Generals Newbold, Eaton, Zinni, and Batiste and I think is fair to count Ret. Army Gen. John Riggs, who told the Washington Post recently:

[Riggs] believes that his peer group is “a pretty closemouthed bunch” but that, even so, his sense is “everyone pretty much thinks Rumsfeld and the bunch around him should be cleared out.”

If Bush and Rummy really cared about the military and America, Rumsfeld would resign and Bush would apologize to the American people for it taking so long.

Try This Missing Link You Chuckleheads

There goes the Goddess again with with another bit of "Operation Mindfuck" for the creationists. She buried a bunch of transitional humanoid bones in a 4 million year old strata of sediment in Africa. She's a laugh a minute.

Silly Goddess just loves these pranks.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Don't Give Up on Me

I'm here. just awful busy trying to get caught up with everything after being away for two + weeks. You don't realize how many things distract you day to day until they pile up for two weeks. I still haven't read all the email that has accumulated and opened all the mail. Fortuneately I got the taxes done and filed before I left so I don't have to face that this weekend.
Tomorrow should be a little slacker and we'll have more time to devote to blogging.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Nukes Are Not Nice

The Union of Concerned Scientists has produced an informative animation concerning the use of Nuclear "Bunker Busters". This needs wider dessemination so if you have a blog give it a link. Everyone needs to understand the consequences of using any nuclear device.

thanks to Susie

Long Way Away From a Bomb

I am still trying to get caught up with everything after two weeks of travel but I happened onto something that I felt needed wider attention. The American people are being played for patsies one more time with an attempt by the administration to scare us into believing that attacking Iran is something we have to do because diplomacy has failed.

Most people are woefully ignorant when it comes to such things as weapons grade unranium and rightly so since it is not something most need to worry about. Unfortuneately with "tactical nuclear weapons" in the discussions about doing something to Iran 'cause they are making a bomb it is fortunate we have someone like Juan Cole to put it in perspective for us and actually tell us what is really going on.
The ability to slightly enrich uranium is not the same as the ability to build a bomb. For the latter, you need at least 80% enrichment, which in turn would require about 16,000 small centrifuges hooked up to cascade. Iran does not have 16,000 centrifuges. It seems to have 180. Iran is a good ten years away from having a bomb, and since its leaders, including Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei, say they do not want an atomic bomb because it is Islamically immoral, you have to wonder if they will ever have a bomb.

Likewise, Bush is trying to shore up his base, which is desperately unhappy with the Iraq situation, by rattling sabres at Iran. Bush’s poll numbers are so low, often in the mid-30s, that he must have lost part of his base to produce this result. Iran is a great deus ex machina for Bush. Rally around the flag yet again.
Read the whole thing and while your at it check out the more recent post concerning how well things are going in Iraq right.

I'm Back

Back from over the pond and just a little lagged today. Haven't had tome ot cruise the blogroll or even the news sites and therefore I have absolutely no idea what is going on. I can however guess that Bushco is busy trying to discredit Seymour Hersh and pretend that Iran is going to have an A-bomb in a couple of weeks while swearing that diplomacy has failed (while ignoring the fact that Bush has rejected every overture by Iran to talk).
The media is probably parroting the Whitehouse on how well things are going in Iraq while ignoring the probable 5 - 10 American deaths in the last 24 hours( be intersted to see how far off my guess is, hopefully there we none but....).
So let me finish up all my email and online banking and then I will look around and come back and comment.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Travel day today

On my back to the U. S. Today so nothing here until late tuesday night if then. Nice day in Paris so everything is on time.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Welcome Glenda to the Blogroll

Forgot to mention earlier a new addition to the blogroll. Glenda in the Land of Oz

Welcome Glenda and her sidekick PinkFem.

That make two more Texas ladies in the mix.

Since Mrs. Fallenmonk is a "Yaller Rose" as well, we should all get along just fine as long as I remember to keep my place.

Fired Up!

At least some in the Democratic Party are beginning to stand up. This is the Kerry I supported in the last election before the media and his incompetent political campaign turned him into some pseudo Democratic candidate. This is the man I saw in “Going Up River”. This is the man I wanted for President.

According to this article in the New York Times “Kerry made a slashing attack on the Bush Administration.”

Senator John Kerry made a slashing attack on the Bush administration yesterday, comparing it to the faltering government in Iraq and equating its war strategy with its planning for Hurricane Katrina, while also invoking Jesus as he criticized federal Medicaid policy. [...]

"The Bush administration is wondering when Iraq will have a functioning government. I want to know when we're going to have a functioning government," Mr. Kerry said, according to a transcript of his remarks.

Further on

Tell the truth. Fire the incompetents. Find Osama bin Laden and secure our ports and our homeland. Bring our troops home from Iraq. Obey the law and protect our civil rights," Mr. Kerry said in ticking off his list, which also included supporting health care, education, lobbying reform and alternatives to oil, as well as reducing the deficit.

It’s people like Kerry and Feingold that we are going to have to turn to if we expect to take back the Congress. They are standing up even though they know that they are going to be attacked and spun even by some in their own party. Yes, I know they are both thinking about 2008, so what, if they will stand up and be counted and make courageous statements then I will back either of them.

Some of you are going to say to hell with Kerry he had his chance and blew it but we need to face the reality of the situation. Kerry and Feingold seem to be the only people in the heart of the party who are willing to go out on a limb and ask the tough question and demand answers from this administration. They are currently the only game in town.

Feingold’s censure measure and Kerry’s call for troop withdrawal both needed saying and both took a lot of heat will take more.

Here is an example of the kind of personal attack Kerry got from Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado for his call to withdraw by May 15th or the end of 2006.

I would like to start off by saying I've been very supportive of the president on the war of Iraq because he has had a plan and he has stayed the course. That's what gives me confidence in the president.

I do think that what we see today in the criticism of the president from Senator Kerry, we're seeing an individual who's being spun in the political winds, unlike the president.

Now here is John Kerry’s response:

Well, let me make it clear to the Senator from Colorado and anybody who wants to debate Iraq, when it comes to issues of war and peace and of young Americans dying, nobody spins me period. And I'm not going to listen to the Senator from Colorado or anyone else questions my motives when young Americans are dying on a daily basis or losing their limbs because Iraqi politicians won't form a government from an election that they held in December. That is just inexcusable. [...]

I'm listening to General Casey, not to the Senator from Colorado. If General Casey tells me that the Iraqis would stand up faster if there were less Americans there, I believe him. Our troops have done the job. Don't come to the floor of the United States Senate and try to suggest to me that somehow when we come up with a plan to protect our troops and to make America stronger that we're somehow making their life more miserable. Ask the troops. 70% of the troops who were pulled -- polled in Iraq said that they thought within the next year we ought to be able to withdraw. [...]

I tell you one thing I know well, and I'll remind the Senator from Colorado, half the names on the wall of that Vietnam Memorial, half the names on that wall became names of the dead after our leaders knew our policy wouldn't work. Well, our policy isn't working today, and I'm not going to be a United States Senator who adds to the next wall wherever it may be put that honors those who served in Iraq so that once again people point to a bunch of names that are added after we knew something was wrong. We have a bigger responsibility than that.

That’s the kind of stand up and be counted Democrats we need. Russ Feingold and John Kerry are both realizing that we have got to get the other side on the defensive and no longer let them control the dialogue. We have to tell the truth, demand answers from the party in power and begin to act like an opposition party.

There is too much at stake for the Democratic Party to try and play nice with the GOP. You can see where that has gotten us. We are on the brink of another war and quite possibly the first use of nuclear weapons in more than a half century.

The article in the New York Times is worth reading completely if you want to see what we as a party need to be saying to the party in power and to the American public.

It's A Dictatorship Folks - Like it or Not

Jack M. Balkin, of Yale Law School has an excellent post summarizing the realities of the Whitehouse's claim to unlimited dictatorial power over at his blog Balkinization. One wonders why none of the overpaid pundits in the national media cannot think this through. From the media view you would think it is business as usual in Washington.

Here is an excerpt but read the whole thing.
This theory, taken to its logical conclusions, gives the President the ability to treat anyone living in the United States, including particularly U.S. citizens, as wartime enemies without having to prove their disloyalty to anyone outside the executive branch. In so doing, it offers him what can only be called dictatorial powers-- that is, the power to suspend ordinary civil liberties protections on his say so. The limits on what the President may do under this theory are entirely political-- the question is whether the American people will stand for what the President has done if they discover what he has done in their name. But if the American people don't know what their executive is doing, they can hardly be in a position to object. And so the President has tried to keep secret exactly what he has done under the unreasonable and overreaching theory of Presidential power that his Administration has repeatedly asserted in its legal briefs and public statements.
tip to Atrios

Another Rainy Sunday in France

Well another rainy Sunday here in southern France though I managed a couple of hours of walkabout this morning before it got going too badly. Things in Lyon are very quiet on Sunday, virtually nothing is open, not even in the big covered mall next to the hotel.
On my search for lunch I only found Micky D's and a Subway open so I opted for the Golden Arches. Seems kind of sacreligious to eat at McDonald's in Lyon but....I couldn't find anything else. I at least tried something you won't find in the states I believe and that is a Chicken Mythic sandwich. Not too swift. Kind of a giant flat McNugget on a bun with white cheese, lettuce and what I believe might be "special sauce". The quarter pounder is called a Royal over here but the Big Mac is on the menu. The place was doing a hopping business even though every other place in the three story mall was closed. Whatever.

"Safe for Civilians" My Ass

If you are interested here is some more information on the so called "Safe for Civilians" tactical nuclear weapon glorious leader is planning on using against Iran. This is from the site Global Security. As you can see, even though the Pentagon claims this bomb can be used close to civiliam populations they are just pumping sunshine up your kilt. Thousands if not millions of poeple will probably die if this weapon is used.

The B61-11 is categorized as a "deep earth penetrating bomb" capable of "destroying the deepest and most hardened of underground bunkers, which the conventional warheads are not capable of doing". The B61-11s can be delivered in much same way as the conventional bunker buster bomb, from a B-2. a 5B-2 stealth bomber or from an F-16 aircraft.

"military officials and leaders of America's nuclear weapon laboratories are urging the US to develop a new generation of precision low-yield nuclear weapons... which could be used in conventional conflicts with third-world nations.

Critics argue that adding low-yield warheads to the world's nuclear inventory simply makes their eventual use more likely. In fact, a 1994 law currently prohibits the nuclear laboratories from undertaking research and development that could lead to a precision nuclear weapon of less than 5 kilotons (KT), because "low-yield nuclear weapons blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional war."

... Senate Republicans John Warner (R-VA) and Wayne Allard (R-CO) buried a small provision in the 2001 Defense Authorization Bill that would have overturned these earlier restrictions... Senators Warner and Allard imagine these nuclear weapons could be used in small-scale conventional conflicts against rogue dictators, while leaving most of the civilian population untouched. As one anonymous former Pentagon official put it to the Washington Post last spring, "What's needed now is something that can threaten a bunker tunneled under 300 meters of granite without killing the surrounding civilian population." Statements like these promote the illusion that nuclear weapons could be used in ways which minimize their "collateral damage," making them acceptable tools to be used like conventional weapons." (See / click v54nl, italics added)

In an utterly twisted logic, the nuclear bunker buster bomb is presented as an instrument of peace-making and regime change, which will enhance global security. It is intended to curb the dangers of WMD proliferation by "nonstate organizations (terrorist, criminal)" and "rogue states". Pentagon propaganda has carefully distorted the nature of this bomb.

The B61-11 is casually described as causing an underground explosion without threatening "the surrounding civilian population".

The Pentagon has blurred the distinction between conventional battlefield weapons and nuclear bombs. Already during the Clinton Administration, the Pentagon was calling for the use of the "nuclear" B61-11 bunker buster bomb, suggesting that because it was "underground", there was no toxic radioactive fallout which could affect civilians.

The Bush administration has gone one step further in defining the use of tactical nuclear weapons, which are now part of America's preemptive arsenal. Essentially they are described defensive weapons. Under the preemptive nuclear doctrine, they are specifically identified for use in conventional war theaters.

The Pentagon claims that the use of the B61-11 minimizes the risks of "collateral damage". According to US. military planners, "potential adversaries" are hiding their WMDs in "fortified bunkers" below more than 100 feet of concrete. Yet test results indicate that the low yield B61-11 has never penetrated more than 20 feet below the ground (See also The Independent. 23 October 2003) :

"The earth-penetrating capability of the B61-11 is fairly limited. ... Tests show it penetrates only 20 feet or so into dry earth when dropped from an altitude of 40,000 feet. ... Any attempt to use it in an urban environment would result in massive civilian casualties. Even at the low end of its 0.3-300 kiloton yield range, the nuclear blast will simply blow out a huge crater of radioactive material, creating a lethal gamma-radiation field over a large area " (Low-Yield Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapons by Robert W. Nelson,Federation of American Scientists, 2001 ).

Saturday, April 08, 2006

About our Military Future

If you are not a regular reader of Pen and Sword then you should be. Jeff Huber the author is a retired Navy commander and brings some good writing and years of experience to questions around the security and military issues that continue to present themselves.
In his latest post Jeff discusses the future of American military power and makes some excellent points.

Mister Bush has become fond of saying, "We can no longer hope that oceans protect us from harm." As with so much of what Bush says, that statement is largely bunk.

Yes, terrorists can sneak into this country, hijack airplanes, and drive them into skyscrapers. But that was as true in 1948 as it is now. Rogue nations like Iran or North Korea may someday be able to strike American cities with nuclear tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, but the Soviets became capable of doing that during the Eisenhower administration.
It is refreshing to see a career military man ask these kind of questions and it gives one hope that we have a sufficient quantity of similarly thoughtful people still in the armed forces.

Developing Nightmare

Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker who is usually and unfortunately always right tells that

Bush is well into the planning for a massive pre-emptive strike on Iran focusing on its “nukular” capability. He and his pack of incompetent war mongers have convinced themselves that Iran will have a “nukular” weapon in the next few weeks or months.

Read the following slowly, word by word, and absorb all of the implications. These brilliant strategists believe that if we launch a devastating attack against Iran and embarrass the current government the Iranians will rise up against their own government and just like that another star in the crown of democracy in the Middle East. I’m sorry, but this is coming from the same crack team that has done such a brilliant job in Iraq and Afghanistan. Does it all sound hauntingly familiar?

From Hersh:

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.” He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”

How about this little gem?

A senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror expressed a similar view. “This White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war,” he said.

Just like Iraq, Dubya has already decided that diplomacy won't work even though he hasn’t tried any. He's already decided that the only way to deal with the Iranians is to declare war on them. Just like Iraq the evidence irrelevant. Just like Iraq world opinion is unimportant.

Not only is the above absolutely and obviously insane but one of the options the White House is considering is using tactical “nukular” weapons for the attack against Iran. You did not misread that, I did in fact, say “nukular”. Evidently in some of the initial planning last winter some idiot included the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against Iran’s underground nuclear sites. Bush latched on to that like an all day sucker.

Fortunately saner minds at the Pentagon are now trying to take that option off the table but predictably the White House is not interested, they want the “nukular” weapons.

If Dubya uses a “nukular” weapon against Iran the security of America is ancient history as is our standing with every other country in the world. There are nearly 2 billion Muslims in the world that might not understand why we bombed their brethren into the last century either.

Even if some modicum of sanity prevails and Bush only uses the new giant conventional bunker busters there are going be some serious repercussions. Has there been any thought about what might happen in Iraq? Afghanistan? The rest of the Middle East?

Do these folks think that Iran is without options? How about pumping more weapons and insurgents into Iraq and if not already extant insure a sectarian civil war?

How about funding the Saudi Shia and getting them to cut off the oil supply to the west by blowing all the pipelines?

How about supporting a Turkish invasion of the Kurdish in Northern Iraq to squash Kurdistan? Let’s not even talk about the level of international terrorism against American and allied targets.

I am not advocating that the U.S. just stand aside and let the Iranians develop the bomb but there is an awful lot of people in the business that think this eventuality is years away not months. We need an aggressive diplomatic strategy to sidetrack this. The unfortunate reality is that George Bush, Dick Cheney and Condi Rice are not capable of envisioning such a plan and wholly incapable of effecting it. This is a completely incompetent administration domestically and internationally. There is absolutely no evidence to the contrary and I defy anyone to produce it..

This is horribly serious and we need someone serious to handle it. Regardless of the solution to Iran and a nuclear capability, whether it is diplomacy or war, George Bush and company are the last persons in the world to handle it. It will be a disaster from the beginning.

I know it is too much to expect, but in the interest of the planet, Bush and company should resign and let the grownups handle this. Believing Bush is mature enough to realize that he is way, way beyond his level of competence is delusional but a guy can dream.

If there is any good news to be had, the Iranians most likely cannot develop a nuclear capability until after Bush is out of office. Unfortunately, we still have to live for a couple of years with a tin horn wannabe John Wayne in the Whitehouse with his itchy trigger finger on a pile of damn tactical “nukular” weapons and who is stupid enough to use them.

Everything is Out There

In light of the latest from the lawsuit brought by the EFF against AT&T you should really consider yourself completely compromised. You have no secrets and every piece of information you have ever communicated electronically is now Mr. Bush's and Karl Rove's to do with as they please. If the lawsuit is true there are no secrets.
Even though you might not use SBC or AT&T directly you should realize that AT&T is probably the largest provider in the world of bandwidth. Even if you use Charter, Verizon, BellSouth or any of the myriad other service providers chances are your actual traffic traveled over the AT&T backbone at least during part of its travels. If it touched their backbone, which it most probably did, then AT&T and Mr. Bush got a chance to read it.
This is why the whole domestic spying thing is a "BIG DEAL" as I have posted before. You cannot spy on just some calls or emails without being able to sort through them all. You have to be able to have access to every communication even though you only may only actually want one out of a million emails.
Finally, we should be monitoring communications by foreign agents or even Americans intent on no good. However it must be done with the proper supervision by the courts and that is exactly what FISA provided. Did you know you gave Bush a blank check to know everything about you and your friends and family?
This is some serious stuff.

Graphic courtesy EFF

Friday, April 07, 2006

How Low Can He Go?

I don't have a link but here is a snapshot of the AP:Ipsos polling from the Europeqn papers this morning. Remember that this is before they found out he was the guy behind the leaks!

Bush 36% approval overall
only 40% approveof foreign policy and war on terror
35% approve policy towards Iraq
30% approve of the GOP Congress
49%-33% prefer Democrats running Congress over GOP
41% tie on which party that people trust to protect the country

Good Old Days

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Remember this old wheeze? It comes from that old Constitional Amendment that King George threw out a couple years ago along with a couple of others. I think it was the fourth, if memory serves. I just thought I would post it here for old times sake in light of this from Abu Gonzales yesterday testifying before Congress. You remember them don't you? They used to be the part of government charged with balancing the power of the President.
Abu basically told Congress yesterday that the President was a law unto himself and that they could go take a long walk on short pier. Is it just me or are they now believing that they are untouchable and free to say or do anything they want?

High Crimes

The current revelations that Bush authorized the leak of classified information should come as no surprise to us on this side of the political fence. This kind of behavior has been the hallmark of this Whitehouse from the get go. Everything they do is for political reasons.It also follows that information they are getting from the illegal wiretaps is being used for political purposes either now or in the near future. If you don't think Rove will use whatever he can get his hands on from whatever source, legal or not then you are kidding yourself.
I am not sure that George W. Bush is the most dishonest President in history but the damage he has wrought through his dishonest dealings with the American people, the Congress and the rest of the world will surely set a very high benchmark. Goddess forbid we ever have another President give it a challenge.
It will be very interesting to see how this develops over the next few days. This cannot play out well in the heartland. When the base realizes how cavalierly Bush compromised national security for purely political reasons it will begin to dawn on even the slowest that Bush really doesn't have our security as close to his heart as he so loudly and often professes.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

She Is At It Again

The Goddess is at it again with one of her favorite gambits. She is tweaking the noses of the creationists again. This time she has impishly planted the fossil of a clearly transitional animal somewhere between fish and reptile in 375 million year old sediment near the North Pole. The little vixen.
Scientists have discovered fossils of a 375-million-year-old fish, a large
scaly creature not seen before, that they say is a long-soughtmissing link in
the evolution of some fishes from water to a life walkingon four limbs on
The anti evolution crowd often use the dearth of such fossils to bolster their claim that the earth and all life was created only 6000 years ago. They hate it when She does that.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Early Warning

It's late for me (nearly 10pm) but I have been thinking quite a bit about the latest focus on immigration that seems to have captured the news of late. I don't have the inclination to post a long post about this, especially after a few glasses of wine, but I thought it prudent to just share a few thoughts and maybe get your antennae up.

This whole focus on immigration, despite what it appears, is about race. Granted the large illegal work force is forcing down wages especially for those that might compete for a job with them. That is an economic issue that can be addressed.

What is distressing is that the (mostly Mexican) illegal workers provide a classic excuse for the GOP to practise "elitist politics" and drive this wedge between the voting public and the other issues that are really more important right now for America.

The religofascist right is never happy if they don't have a' them' to persecute. Last election it turned out to be gays. This time it has been decided that it will be illegal immigrants (code word for Mexican). The right and especially the religious right are not comfortable unless they have someone to hold out as an example of "not them". Whether it be "traditional values", race or religion they have to have someone else to blame for all that is wrong in their lives.

Despite their protestations they are not happy people. A major need in their lives is to have someone to look down on and instead of gays the brown folks look to be the chosen for the next election cycle. It is very subtle but if they can convince their base that these "brown people" are endangering their way of life and their traditional values then they will have the issue that will "gather the faithful" into the flock and provide a voting block against the dreaded liberals.
Don't overlook the amount of effort that has been expended over the last decade in painting, at least in the eyes of this particular group, how the Democrats want gay sex and marriage, gays in schools teaching the "gay lifestyle" to students and converting them to homosexual hell. Free condoms for all, and on and on.

So this is just an alert. Keep you eye and ear out for the clues. How these brown people are making your ATM speak two languages, how you now have to choose which language with which to interact with your cable company or drug store, etc. It will be subtle but watch for the signs in print or TV and radio. Don't forget to notice how many Mexicans are working in fast food. Pretty soon you will have to speek Spanish in order to get a Big Mac and fries.

This is the only way the GOP can hope to retain control of the Congress in light of everything else that is going on. FOCUS THE RUBES on something else like immigration while never letting on that the whole cluster fuck around immigration is government caused in the first place. Please!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Looking for Apathy in All the Wrong Places

Dubya, Rove and Cheney are looking for your apathy. They need it in the worst way. They need to fund another week or two in Iraq and need 6 billion or so dollars. They think they have a plan. The Army Corps of Engineers has just produced an estimate of 6 billion to repair the levees in New Orleans to a standard that would repel an0ther Katrina.
Bush and company think you aren't paying attention and will take the 6 billion for NOLA and spend it on killing more American soldiers and Iraqis and you will never know. You'll just wonder why more progress is not being made in NOLA. Don't expect Bush to tell you where he got the 6 Billion for Iraq next week.

You can do something. Write your Congress critters and if you want to have some fun you can send Dubya your Mardi Gras beads. This is an event sponsored by scout_prime over at First-Draft. If nothing else go over and read Scout's post and get pissed off.

Scouts has all the links to more info and help for in making your voice heard.

Damage Done

It's a good thing that the Bugman is out but the reality of the deal is that he has already done a lifetime's worth of damage to the American Dream. He will leave behind a legacy of corruption and slime that will forever stain the nation. DeLay may be gone but there are any number of well trained bastards that have studied at his feet.

The only answer is radical surgery. The GOP must lose control of congress in the next election. The residue of DeLay and his ilk permeates virually every aspect of business in Washington from KStreet and beyond. Tom Delay has poisoned the well with the help of Bush and Abramoff and all the rest and there is no other remedy but to dig another.

Our form of government works best when there is a balance of power in place. Two or more parties in place insures that there are people watching what is happening and willing to do something about it. With one party in power in all branches you get what we have. Corruption.
If you need an example, look at what was accomplished during the Clinton years inspite of the distractions of a stupid impeachment. That was when the GOP controlled Congress and there was a Democrat in the Whitehouse. It wasn't perfect but compare it to what we have now.

Bottom line...DeLay gone good...GOP controls all the branches bad. Gotta change.

Next Step Prison

The snake Delay is not going to run for Congress again. Here is a bit from Time

Rep. Tom DeLay, whose iron hold on the House Republicans melted as a lobbying corruption scandal engulfed the Capitol, told TIME that he will not seek reelection and will leave Congress within months. Taking defiant swipes at "the left" and the press, he said he feels "liberated" and vowed to pursue an aggressive speaking and organizing campaign aimed at promoting foster care, Republican candidates and a closer connection between religion and government.

"I'm going to announce tomorrow that I'm not running for reelection and that I'm going to leave Congress," DeLay, who turns 59 on Saturday, said during a 90-minute interview on Monday. "I'm very much at peace with it." He notified President Bush in the afternoon. DeLay and his wife, Christine, said they had been prepared to fight, but that he decided last Wednesday, after months of prayer and contemplation, to spare his suburban Houston district the mudfest to come. "This had become a referendum on me," he said. "So it's better for me to step aside and let it be a referendum on ideas, Republican values and what's important for this district."

This I take as a sign that the progressive part of the country is starting make its ideas known. It is a telling sign that he admitted that the issue is him, his morals and his behavior. Now if the tar and feathers will just continue to spread I may actually see our great ship of state make the long overdue turn to port and we can start back into the direction we should have been going for the last 6 years.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Gone Day

Wow, the day is over and I just got back to the hotel. It is already 1030 and I haven't even had a chance to do the blog tour. Long day, obviously, and not about to stay up for another couple of hours and stare at the laptop screen.
Didn't leave the client until about 7 and then there is the 40 minute bus and metro ride. Dinner and here we are. Ahh, the life of an international man of mystery or is that misery, whatever. Bed time and I will catch you guys on the other side.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


On a Saturday or Sunday in Lyon you go to the local sidewalk market to get your chicken. The vendors have a trailor fitted with a LPG powered cooker and they cook chickens, little pork roasts and other delights. I can tell you the smell alone is worth a walk by.

Houseplant Warning

This is a warning to all those folks who keep houseplants. You must limit the application of Miracle -Gro to no more than once every three months.

Seriously, I just thought this boat looked a little odd. Seems the owner either let the little on deck garden get a little out of hand or they really would rather prefer living in the bushes.

Note how swollen and swift the Rhone is with all the rain recently in central Europe. There are all kinds of things floating along as well including the occasional tree.

My First French Protest March

I got to see my first French protest march yesterday. This one wasn't over the new labor law but about some plan to build a new freight only railroad across Lyon. Evidently everyone doesn't think it is such a hot idea. This one marched right down the Rue Servient in front of the hotel but there was nothing but chanting, whistle and horn blowing. There was a significant police escort however.

'Nuff Said

From Pat Bagley at the Salt Lake Tribune.

grats Americablog

Good for Jill

Jill Carroll has issued a statement and you can read the entire thing here. All the idiots on the right like Jonah Goldberg and Howie Kurtz can go suck a lemon.

During my last night in captivity, my captors forced me to participate in a propaganda video. They told me they would let me go if I cooperated. I was living in a threatening environment, under their control, and wanted to go home alive. I agreed.

Things that I was forced to say while captive are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not. The people who kidnapped me and murdered Alan Enwiya are criminals, at best. They robbed Alan of his life and devastated his family. They put me, my family and my friends--and all those around the world, who have prayed so fervently for my release--through a horrific experience. I was, and remain, deeply angry with the people who did this.

Milestone After Milestone or is that Millstone

Hey Georgie keep telling us how great the economy is and how your freaking "compassionate conservatism" is making all our lives better. Tell me one more time so I can ignore the following and feel good about the direction my country is going and how I can stop being concerned for my fellow citizens. What a maroon!

Last year was the first year on record, according to an annual study conducted by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, that a full-time worker at minimum wage could not afford a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in the country at average market rates.”

Read more here:

if you are interested you can go here to see what the minimum wage is in your state.

Go ahead Georgie convince me.

TKS to Sarah at Corrente

Stupid Enough? Yep!

This is the result you get when you have an incompetent President who appoints incompetent advisors and incompetent people to posts such as SecSta and the U.N. Ambassadorship.

There was absolutely no truth to the warnings that Saddam was gunning for us but you can take it to the bank that Iran is completely capable of reverting to and effectively using terrorism to strike back at the U.S. if we were to be stupid enough to attack their nuclear installations.

The horror is that Bush and his neocon cronies have demonstrated that they are, in fact, stupid enough.

From Dana Priest at the Washington Post

As tensions increase between the United States and Iran, U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide.

Iran would mount attacks against U.S. targets inside Iraq, where Iranian intelligence agents are already plentiful, predicted these experts. There is also a growing consensus that Iran's agents would target civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they said.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Crying For the Future

Jay Bookman in the Atlanta Journal Contitution has a good take on where we are today as a country.
The telling part comes at the end of the article.

But more compelling to me than numbers are the e-mails, probably dozens of them in total, that have trickled into my in-box over the past year or so from older Americans all around the country.

“I am 79 . . . I am 84 . . . I was born in 1931,” they start out. “I fought with the Eighth Army in Korea . . . We lost our oldest son in Vietnam . . . My husband served in the Pacific . . . I taught school for 35 years,” they continue, each recounting their personal contributions to this country and establishing their own perspective on its history.

Then comes the statement that breaks your heart. The words vary from author to author, but the sentiment does not:

“This is not the country I wanted to leave my grandchildren . . . Is this what we sacrificed so much for all those years? . . . I really don’t understand how it has come to this. . . . We took for granted that in America it would always be better for the next generation, but I can’t see that’s the case anymore. . . . Where did we go wrong?”

These people are concerned not for themselves, but for what they may soon leave behind. And that concern for the future is all the more remarkable because it is so rare among those of us who are their children and grandchildren.

See what happens when I spend all day in the hotel room with free broadband. I get a chance to catch up with everything and everyone. Quite the luxury.

AOB is Hot

Excuse the sexual connotation in the title if it offends but the Angry Old Broad is back from her hiatus with a vengenance and has posted a second time in as many days a post that is worth a gander. This time she is taking on the christians with a small "c" and she rips it right through the tube.

She lays out just short of a dozen conditions that must happen before she will consider the christians under attack and makes a pretty convincing argument for it.

Number 1 and Number 9 are my favorites but all of them are good.
1)Brand new state of the art Coliseums begin springing up,stocked with hungry lions.Along with commercials on the TV advertising"Sunday,Sunday,SUNDAY!!!!It's the Christians vs. The Lions!!!Be There!Bring the Kids!Fun for the Whole Family!Sunday!Sunday!SUNDAY!!!!".And if the whole thing is also available on pay-per-view,then yes,I'd have to agree with you,the whole nation has gone 'round the bend,and we have a problem.
9)When you aren't the 80% majority of the country,aren't directly involved in government from the smallest local school board to the White House,aren't employed in large numbers in every locale from sea to shining sea in every occupation,and when you don't own huge pieces of property along with giant media outlets of all stripes.

The time away from blogging has definitely charged her batteries.

Give her a visit.

Word Verification Sucks

I have been meaning to get this off my chest for some time and now that I am just killing time on a rainy day far away from home it is as good as time as any.

More and more bloggers seem to be using this double damned word verification crap for comments on their blogs and it really sucks. With the plethora of good and interesting stuff to read and comment on the hassle of the word verification is really burdensome. I find myself running out of time to visit and interact with all the people I wish to and sooner or later I find myself subconciously shying away from blogs with this extra hassle engaged. It may be just me but I really don't like it.

I might be willing to go along with it if I could see some purpose in it but so far I do not see any value in it. It won't stop trolls who can just as easily read the magic word as the next guy or gal so what is it supposed to accomplish?

You will note that none of the major blogs like Americablog, Kos, Atrios, Crooks and Liars, Corrente, First Draft, Firedoglake and yours truly (couldn't resist) don't use anything similar. Granted some require some sort of registration but that is not comparable and many don't use anything.

If somebody will explain, in easy to understand terms, what this is supposed to gain the blog then I will reconsider my position but I for one find myself sometimes hesitating to comment because I don't have time to screw with the silly word verification stuff.

So bloggers if you want to discourage the free and open discourse that the blog is supposed to encourage and possibly inhibit people from even visiting your blog on a regular basis then keep the stupid word verification turned on. Enough said.

What's Missing

An Angry Old Broad has a new post up that is worth a visit. she is saying some things that need to be said with respect to what kind of world we are living in now. She, like me, was brought up acknowledging that each of us has a social contract with our community and nation and that that concept seems to have slipped away from the consciousness of the average Amercian...much to our detriment.

I, for one ,miss the time when being good, unselfish, compassionate and caring for your community was not seen as weak and timid. I still think the values I learned as a Boy Scout are meaningful and and if followed can lead to a more rewarding and caring society.

The Goddess knows that our current potpourri of no social responsibility and an environment that rewards and nurtures greed, hate, fear, sexism, racism, compassionless religion, lying, cheating and stealing is continuing to sicken and weaken what was a once vibrant and envied society. The previous post is evidence enough that there is something important missing from our lives today.

Worth Repeating

I stole this in its entirety from John at Americablog. It is apparently an email that is circulating. I think it is a pretty damn succinct piece of work and deserves repeating often. Everyone should stop and read it and ask themselves if they agree with the at least the majority of the content. If they do then they should resolve themselves to do something about it.

REMEMBER WHEN you displayed your flag on the front porch on the 4th of July, and you didn’t have to worry about whether it would be misinterpreted as support for a corrupt president and his administration?

REMEMBER WHEN ‘Support the Troops’ meant equipping our military with everything necessary for battle, instead of just being a catchy phrase that looked good on a bumper-sticker?

REMEMBER WHEN your tax dollars paid for things like improved education and social programs, instead of making Halliburton shareholders millionaires?

REMEMBER WHEN you watched movies about WWII, and it was the enemy who tortured captured American soldiers, instead of American soldiers torturing the people they’d allegedly ‘liberated’?

REMEMBER WHEN you heard something on the TV news or read something in a newspaper, and you didn’t have to go to the internet to find out just how much of it was fact, and how much of it was ‘spin’?

REMEMBER WHEN a politician was caught with his hand in the cookie jar and he resigned in disgrace, instead of excusing his own behaviour by claiming that his political opponents were equally as guilty of wrongdoing?

REMEMBER WHEN ‘Made in the USA’ labels on products were the norm, and not a total oddity?

REMEMBER WHEN you hitchhiked through Europe as a teenager, and you DIDN’T have to replace the American flag on your knapsack with a Canadian flag in order to be a welcomed guest in a foreign country?

REMEMBER WHEN organized crime figures had to make phone calls from the corner phone booth, because they were the only people who had to worry about wire-taps?

REMEMBER WHEN telling a fellow politician on the floor of the House to ‘go f*ck himself’ was considered behaviour unbecoming an elected official, instead of being accepted as the way a Vice President behaves himself?

REMEMBER WHEN you could pretty well count on the fact that if the president said it, it was based on sound intelligence and was probably true?

REMEMBER WHEN you could rely on your elected representatives to put your interests ahead of the corporations that filled their campaign coffers, or the lobbyists who gave them great basketball tickets?

REMEMBER WHEN you didn’t even KNOW what religion the people you voted for were, because it didn’t really matter? Remember when you didn’t know what party your neighbour belonged to, because that didn’t really matter either?

REMEMBER WHEN the pension you’d worked for your whole life wasn’t in danger of being wiped out by corrupt CEOs, assisted by respected accounting firms that made that corruption almost impossible to detect?

REMEMBER WHEN you could brag that as an American, you were guaranteed things like free speech and due process of law, without checking the nightly news to see whether those rights were still in effect?

REMEMBER WHEN the president upheld the law of the land, instead of coming up with ‘legal loopholes’ to support the idea that he’s above the law?

REMEMBER WHEN you could say, “I’m a proud American,” without qualifying it with a list of all of the things your government is doing that you’re not exactly proud of?

REMEMBER WHEN you actually thought that the people in charge of running your country were smarter than you were?

REMEMBER WHEN your parents worked all their lives to ensure you a better life, instead of worrying about how bad the life they’d be leaving their children might be?

REMEMBER WHEN the importance of clean drinking water and breathable air were unquestionable mandates, and not some crazy hippie agenda to be weighed against corporate profits?

REMEMBER WHEN questioning your government’s policies was seen as ‘participating in the process’, and not ‘giving aid and comfort to the enemy’?

REMEMBER WHEN the ‘enemy’ was a country or military force that posed a threat to American democracy, and not a nation of innocent civilians who whose destruction was dismissible as ‘collateral damage’?

REMEMBER WHEN your country went to war based on facts beforehand, instead of constantly-changing suppositions after-the-fact?

REMEMBER WHEN ‘patriotism’ was judged by your words and actions, and not by whether you were a member of the party currently in power?

REMEMBER WHEN the ‘American Dream’ was attainable through diligence and hard work, and not the luck of the ‘outsourcing’ draw?

REMEMBER WHEN the election of a president was considered the result of democracy in action, and not the result of Diebold executives doing the job they were expected to do?

REMEMBER WHEN you sang ‘God Bless America’ as a kid, and never thought you’d grow up to wonder if, in view of your country’s actions, asking God’s blessing was asking a bit too much?

I REMEMBER WHEN … and I wonder if these ideas will become ancient history by the time those of us old enough to recall them are dead and gone.