Thursday, November 30, 2006

Charlie Brown Syndrome

I know I said earlier that I have a lot of work to do and I do but something is nagging me and I have to get it off my chest.

Everyone is waiting for a solution to Iraq. We are each praying in our own way for a solution. We know in our heart of hearts that we are completely screwed and that while we can hope for some miracle it probably isn’t going to happen. We waited to see what was to come of Bush’s meeting with al-Miliki and now we will wait for the long awaited findings of the Iraq Study Group (ISG). Then we will be waiting for the Democratic Congress to wade in.

It should be clear by now that what we are waiting for is not going to happen as we desire. If you take a serious look at who makes up the ISG it should be clear that this is going to be just another political spin job and the true goal of the ISG is to soften the reality of what this administration has done to America and the Middle East. Its leader tells the whole story…James Baker the ace Bush family political operative and trouble shooter. Once again the American people are going to be treated to a shell game of propaganda. The propaganda being that this panel of “experts” knows the truth and will point the country in the right direction. It is a damage control effort plain and simple.

Nothing will change. The same champions of the PNAC (Project for a New American Century) are still in place (sans Rummy) and their ambitions for a global American hegemony and the willingness to make it so with armed intervention are still alive and well. Secondly, by throwing up this panel of so called experts they are telling the American electorate that “we don’t care that the great majority of you want us the hell out of Iraq and soon” we are going to do it our way. The current administration wants the American people to mind its own business and leave the driving to them. The election be damned. He’s the decider and he has decided that we will be in Iraq until…

The ISG is not really a serious attempt to address Iraq or the assumptions, lies, and organization that led to the debacle. If it was a serious attempt to remedy the disaster it would have elected officials, military experts, Middle East experts, Iraq war veterans, family members of soldiers killed in Iraq and finally people from the antiwar movement. It has none of these. Not one person on the panel possesses specialized knowledge of Islam or the Middle East. The media has bought in to the idea that some magical solution is forthcoming but the reality is that these aren’t the people capable of the kind “out-of-the-box thinking” that is necessary for us to change the game.

The ISG is merely a vehicle that will provide the cover necessary for the Bush administration to shift course in Iraq without admitting defeat. Its number one goal is to insure no one is held directly responsible for the war and its vast ramifications. Secondarily, it will not change the system that is responsible for the war in the first place. Everyone that played a role in the march to war will still be right where they were and ready to do it again.

The sad thing is that the majority of Americans are likely to fall for this song and dance one more time. We are like Charlie Brown and the football when it comes to stuff like this. It has been ingrained in us to “trust the experts” and we generally do even when evidence like Iraq, Katrina, and Afghanistan are staring us in the face. We really, really want to believe that our leaders know what they are doing and will act rationally. We really, really want to believe that our leaders know what they are doing.

Why do we believe that our leaders are going to do right when all evidence points to the contrary? The idea that our leaders are capable of acting in irrational and destructive ways is too scary for most of us to take seriously, much less to accept. History has shown us over and over, and recent history has underlined the fact, that our leaders can make stupid decisions and are even incompetent. Their decisions regularly lead to a large number of deaths and massive destruction but we always fall back and defer to them and hope that this time our trust is not mislaid.

So what’s the moral of this story? We all need to recognize and accept that our leaders are not gods. Their poop stinks just like yours and they put their pants on one leg at a time. We should resist the desire to trust them as if they were more intelligent and better informed that we are. If we are knowledgeable and think clearly as citizens we can make sound decisions and are just as capable as the “so-called” experts of knowing the best course for us to take. We are capable of judging our leaders’ decisions and we should do so and we should loudly let them know when we think they are wrong. Our founding fathers knew that a well informed populace was the best guarantee a country could have in insuring that the government was of the people and for the people. Pay attention and scream when you think you should.


Just taking a moment while the laptop runs some database scripts, otherwise it is still busy with work stuff.
It's the last day of November in Atlanta(and in many other places) and it is 61 degress outside with a warm rain falling. Very odd weather and not a good omen. I am not a big fan of cold weather but this spooks me just a couple of days after watching "An Inconvenient Truth".
Seriously, it should be twenty or so degrees cooler.

Even the wildlife is confused. Just last week as I wandered the manor I noted all the chipmunk dens that had been boarded up for the winter. The little guy or gal that lives under the front walk had piled up dirt and sealed themselves for the winter, same for the little creature that lives under the stump out front and the one in the Patrick Swayze rocks out back. They are Patrick Swayze rocks because madam gathered them from the roadside on our last trip to Mountain Lake where Dirty Dancing was filmed which is only about 10 miles from my birthplace. Anyhow, yesterday I noticed that everyone had unsealed and was back to foraging again. Normally, when they button up for winter they stay that way until spring.

Gotta get back to work. I'll be in and out of here all day since I have a lot of testing to do and it takes about 20 minutes to run the set of scripts. I make a few changes and rerun everything...look at the results...tweak something else and go again. This on and off again lets me swing around and wander the blogs for a few minutes and maybe even post something if I am inspired.

P.S. Sorry but it looks like Haloscan is tits up again this morning so I can expect no comments... except it appears PoP got in for a moment. Beginning to seriously doubt the use of this for comments as it seems as if it has been down or limping more than it has been solid lately. Keep checking and maybe it will heal. BTW my Firefox has started acting up again and is truncating my blogroll right after the first "T". Created a new profile the other day and that fixed it for a day and now the new profile is hammered as well. Very strange.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Strange Happenings

Very busy with actual work today and as such not much activity here. I have been getting snippets of news here and there and it seems as though something, though who knows what, is happening in the high circles of power in Washington, Iraq and Jordan.
If I have it straight...
  • The Whitehouse purposely leaked a secret memo calling al-Maliki an ineffective leader.
  • Bush is supposed to meet with al-Maliki today to consult about solving the "not civil war" in Iraq but someone scrubbed the meeting and it is now supposed to be tomorrow.
  • Al-Sadr jerked his troops out of the Iraqi Parliament just as he promised if al-Maliki met with Bush even though he hasn't yet.
  • al-Maliki cancels his dinner date with Bush for tonight.
  • Oh, and Colin Powell says it's a civil war.
  • Iran is saying they will step in to prevent the Shia from being abused in Iraq.
  • Saudi Arabia is saying the same for the Sunni.
Let me make a wild guess here and say that the Whitehouse is beginning the laying of cover for Bush to bail on Iraq with a story line something on the order of "We did what we could but we just couldn't over come the weak leadership in Iraq."

Looks like the Iraq debacle is spreading into a regional conflict and that is why Cheney was summoned so that he could be given the bad news and read the riot act.

There is even a chance that the meeting between Bush and al-Maliki won't happen at all.

This ought to be real interesting.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Penquin Wars- Seriously!

This is so ridiculous I am not even believing it — Media Matters is reporting that the Christmas warriors have turned on the penguins .

Not content with their annual discussion of a supposed “War on Christmas,” conservative talking heads have taken on a new issue this season: environmentalist propaganda in children’s movies. CNN Headline News’ Glenn Beck and Fox News’ Neil Cavuto recently spoke out against Warner Bros.’ new animated children’s movie Happy Feet; criticizing the film for its alleged pro-environmentalist content. Media Matters for America spokesman Karl Frisch responded to the criticism, lambasting the conservative talking heads for their return to holiday-season absurdity.

“The idea that anyone would make such comments against a children’s movie about a tap-dancing penguin shows just how low the bar has dropped for what the media consider real news,” Frisch said. “Conservatives seem to have abandoned their traditional coverage of the supposed ‘War on Christmas’ for a ‘War on Penguins.’ “

With all the other crap in the world going on. These guys have to invent issues to get incensed about. Who cares if it promotes an "environmentalist agenda". Is it a sin now in the right wing to be concerned about the environment? Did I just ask that question?

Who Me?

It seems to me as if George W Bush is trying to distance himself from any responsibility for the clusterfuck he and his minions have created in Iraq. Now he is saying that he is going to push al-Maliki for answers to the violence in Iraq. He says he’s going to ask al-Maliki for a plan to reduce the violence which is kind of odd. You would think that the war was now al-Maliki’s bright idea and that Bush is now going to take his hand and lead him out of the valley of death.

Hey George, this war was your idea. You invaded al-Maliki's country for heaven’s sake. al-Maliki should be the one asking you for a plan. You are the one who should have had a plan to prevent the civil war that is now raging in Iraq.

President Bush said Tuesday morning he will press Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a plan to contain the escalating sectarian violence, though he refused to characterize the situation in Iraq as a civil war.

Previewing the message he will carry with him to Amman, Jordan, where he will meet Maliki for a summit later this week, Bush said he will ask Maliki, "What do we need to do to succeed? What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence?"

Bush and Cheney started this war without a plan. The Republicans in Congress never asked for a plan. American soldiers and Iraqi citizens are paying the ultimate price for Bush’s incompetence and he is acting like none of this is his fault. Jeepers what a load of crap.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Technical Troubles

It always seems to run in cycles. My best laid plans for the day went far astray and I spent virtually all day trying to solve what turned out to be a very simple problem. Just in case any of you reading this have an opportunity to work with Microsoft SQL Server 2005 this is a free tip. If you are using applications or converting databases that were on SQL 2000 try changing the compatibility mode in SQL 2005 to SQL 2000. There appear to be some "features" in 2005 that are not supported in apps that were developed to use SQL 2000. I spent 4 hours today discovering this fact.

Second, it appears my profile in Firefox on the home computer is not healthy. I don't know what happened to it but it is the reason I don't see all of the blogroll on the fallenmonk page. IE and other Firefox implementations (my laptop) work fine and I see the whole blogroll. I can start Firefox from the command line with the -P option and create a new profile and everything is fine only all of the bookmarks are missing. I really hate these days when the tech Gods are feeling frisky.

Anyhow, I can at least now see my homepage as it should be though it appears I have some template problems. In my troubleshooting today I discovered a tool on Firefox that lists the problems with the page you are viewing (Tools/Error Console) so I obviously need to take some time on the template. With the new Blogger beta there are some options to create a new beta compatible template that will support all the new features but I hesitate to jump off that pier for fear of losing what I have...if I disappear for awhile you will know I took the dive.

So here we are at 10pm and bruised and battered by the complications of technology and absolutely no energy to spend in my regular blog cruising. There is some good news though... the last of the turkey was consumed tonight for dinner. PTL!

UPDATE: It now appears that Haloscan is Tango Uniform again. It's one of those days.

Post Holiday Monday

Here we are on the Monday after a four day holiday and it is very hard to get rolling this morning. Have meetings in the office this morning which means fighting Atlanta traffic which is always a bad way to start the week.

Just noticed that my Blogroll is truncating in the "T's" for some reason. I haven't messed with the template so I am assuming it someone else's problem. We'll watch it and see if it fixes itself.

Hope everyone had a great holiday and is ready for the slide to Christmas. This is always a tough part of the year for some reason. Really don't want to start any business projects since you can't get anything done until the first of the new year with everyone taking holiday but you hate to just drift along. I only have one engagement scheduled so far in the next 30 days and that is just a couple of days in Boston with an existing client.

OK, off for a quick blog around and then hit the streets. If I am lucky I can get everything wrapped up by noon and escape. Supposed to be in the lower 70's and clear today so I definitely don't want to spend all day in the office.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Need a Refresher?

Sumo has a link to a powerful YouTube flick about Iraq by Burnt Page. Not an easy view but it manages to slam home the message about how screwed the war in Iraq really is as if you didn't already know it.

Impending Doom

This is most likely the beginning of the end in Baghdad. I am afraid we are about to see a mass bloodbath in Baghdad between the Shiite and the Sunni. This is very likely the end of a unified Iraq. Losing control over state radio is an extremely ominous development. Losing control of the airwaves is a classic symptom of a government that has completely lost control of the country.
The McClatchy wire service is reporting that followers of Shiite radical Muqtada al-Sadr have taken over a radio station in Baghdad and are urging attacks on named Sunni leaders and neighborhoods.

Followers of the militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took over state-run television Saturday to denounce the Iraqi government, label Sunnis "terrorists" and issue what appeared to many viewers as a call to arms.

The two-hour broadcast from a community gathering in the heart of the Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City included three members of al-Sadr's parliamentary bloc, who took questions from outraged residents demanding revenge for a series of car bombings that killed some 200 people Thursday.

With Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki relegated to the sidelines, brazen Sunni-Shiite attacks continue unchecked despite a 24-hour curfew over Baghdad. Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia now controls wide swaths of the capital, his politicians are the backbone of the Cabinet, and his followers deeply entrenched in the Iraqi security forces. Sectarian violence has spun so rapidly out of control since the Sadr City blasts, however, that it's not clear whether even al-Sadr has the authority - or the will - to stop the cycle of bloodshed...

Sunni politicians vowed to file complaints against the channel for inciting sectarian violence. Ordinary Sunnis were shocked to hear their neighborhoods singled out for attack on the government's station.

"I got four phone calls from friends telling me to change the channel to Iraqiya and see what's happening," said Mohamed Othman, 27, a Sunni resident of Ameriya, one of the districts mentioned in the program. "I think this is an official declaration of civil war against Sunnis. They're going to push us to join al-Qaida to protect ourselves."

Hagel Making Sense

This is some pretty good stuff from Republican Chuck Hagel in the WaPo:

There will be no victory or defeat for the United States in Iraq. These terms do not reflect the reality of what is going to happen there. The future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis — not the Americans.

Iraq is not a prize to be won or lost. It is part of the ongoing global struggle against instability, brutality, intolerance, extremism and terrorism. There will be no military victory or military solution for Iraq. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger made this point last weekend.

We have misunderstood, misread, mis-planned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government…read on

Saturday, November 25, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Well the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" is now out on DVD so I had the opportunity to see it for the first time yesterday. All I can say is that it is a must see. Get yourself down to the local Blockbuster and check it out right this minute. You will be glad you did.

The downside is now I feel even guiltier about my efforts at conservation. Even though I consider myself a fairly diligent steward of our planet I am now embarrassed to admit that there are things I know I can do better. I will do them.

Soft Molasses Cookies

In the spirit of the upcoming holidays and my interest in cooking and heritage foods, I am presenting the first of some traditional holiday recipes from my family. This one is for soft molasses cookies. It comes down from my mother's side of the family which is the notorious Hatfield clan of West Virgina. This is very simple recipe and makes the house smell wonderful. The goal is to not overcook them so that they will still be soft. If you like gingerbread you will love these cookies. They always bring back memories of the big old family Christmas celebrations that we used to have.
Keep in mind that we are talking about coal miners and farmers. There was not a lot of money to spend on toys so most of the joy of the holiday was around the family and good food. Certain recipes were always reserved for this time of year and as such will always be associated only with the holidays. Maybe you can make a memory with these cookies.

Soft Molasses Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup Crisco
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsulphered molasses
2 eggs slightly beaten
4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Cream butter and shortening with sugar in a large bowl and then beat in the molasses and eggs and set aside. In another large bowl mix the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices with a wire whisk to mix thoroughly. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until well blended. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls (or 1 1/2 inch for big cookies). Roll the balls in granulated sugar and bake for 10 – 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Don’t overcook as you want them soft. Store in tins tightly covered. You might want to put a slice of apple in the tin to keep the cookies soft.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Out Of Control

Out of control
Worshippers, mosques torched

Worshippers, mosques torched

  • Sunni men burned to death leaving a mosque
  • Gunmen attack Sunni mosques and homes
  • Two reported wounded from U.S. helicopter gunfire
  • White House calls Sadr City attacks "senseless"
This is the lead on the CNN web site right now. You'll read the stories soon enough but the bottom line is that Iraq is rapidly spiraling down the civil war toilet. Presumably in response to yesterday's bombing that killed as many as 22o in the Sadr neighborhood of Baghdad a group of Shiite men grabbed some Sunni leaving worship and doused with them petrol and lit them afire right in the plain view of Iraqi police.
Note the last bullet....What's senseless is this whole damn war, that's what's senseless.

JFK Legacy

Updated below:

I was remiss in not mentioning the anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination here. I can only claim laziness and the excuse that I was doing other things. But it is quiet today and I have the time to do what I should have done two days ago.

I was in the ninth grade in Wilmington, NC at the time. The family was moving around a lot in those days as Pop was in chemical construction and if I remember correctly was building a nitrogen fertilizer plant. I was in biology class at the time, my favorite, when the principal came over the intercom and made an imprint on my life forever. Not a complicated sentence...not a pearl of wisdom...just a profoundly jolting and searing phrase. "The President has been shot in Dallas and is being rushed into surgery." It wasn't until a bit later, maybe it was an hour or maybe a year that the speaker crackled out the word DEAD and the world surely changed forever.

I am not alone in that virtually everyone of my generation remembers clearly where they were and what they were doing on that day. The human mind knows when to mark something as a profound and life changing event. This is the speech that JFK made upon his acceptance of the nomination of the New York Liberal Party in 1960. You'll recognize part of the first paragraph as the banner on this blog.

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label “Liberal?” If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal.” But if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”

But first, I would like to say what I understand the word “Liberal” to mean and explain in the process why I consider myself to be a “Liberal,” and what it means in the presidential election of 1960.

In short, having set forth my view — I hope for all time — two nights ago in Houston, on the proper relationship between church and state, I want to take the opportunity to set forth my views on the proper relationship between the state and the citizen. This is my political credo:

I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man’s ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.

I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job and do it well. But I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.

Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies. And the only basic issue in the 1960 campaign is whether our government will fall in a conservative rut and die there, or whether we will move ahead in the liberal spirit of daring, of breaking new ground, of doing in our generation what Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson did in their time of influence and responsibility.

Our liberalism has its roots in our diverse origins. Most of us are descended from that segment of the American population which was once called an immigrant minority. Today, along with our children and grandchildren, we do not feel minor. We feel proud of our origins and we are not second to any group in our sense of national purpose. For many years New York represented the new frontier to all those who came from the ends of the earth to find new opportunity and new freedom, generations of men and women who fled from the despotism of the czars, the horrors of the Nazis, the tyranny of hunger, who came here to the new frontier in the State of New York. These men and women, a living cross section of American history, indeed, a cross section of the entire world’s history of pain and hope, made of this city not only a new world of opportunity, but a new world of the spirit as well.

Tonight we salute Governor and Senator Herbert Lehman as a symbol of that spirit, and as a reminder that the fight for full constitutional rights for all Americans is a fight that must be carried on in 1961.

Many of these same immigrant families produced the pioneers and builders of the American labor movement. They are the men who sweated in our shops, who struggled to create a union, and who were driven by longing for education for their children and for the children’s development. They went to night schools; they built their own future, their union’s future, and their country’s future, brick by brick, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, and now in their children’s time, suburb by suburb.

Tonight we salute George Meany as a symbol of that struggle and as a reminder that the fight to eliminate poverty and human exploitation is a fight that goes on in our day. But in 1960 the cause of liberalism cannot content itself with carrying on the fight for human justice and economic liberalism here at home. For here and around the world the fear of war hangs over us every morning and every night. It lies, expressed or silent, in the minds of every American. We cannot banish it by repeating that we are economically first or that we are militarily first, for saying so doesn’t make it so. More will be needed than goodwill missions or talking back to Soviet politicians or increasing the tempo of the arms race. More will be needed than good intentions, for we know where that paving leads.

In Winston Churchill’s words, “We cannot escape our dangers by recoiling from them. We dare not pretend such dangers do not exist.”

And tonight we salute Adlai Stevenson as an eloquent spokesman for the effort to achieve an intelligent foreign policy. Our opponents would like the people to believe that in a time of danger it would be hazardous to change the administration that has brought us to this time of danger. I think it would be hazardous not to change. I think it would be hazardous to continue four more years of stagnation and indifference here at home and abroad, of starving the underpinnings of our national power, including not only our defense but our image abroad as a friend.

This is an important election — in many ways as important as any this century — and I think that the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party here in New York, and those who believe in progress all over the United States, should be associated with us in this great effort.

The reason that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson had influence abroad, and the United States in their time had it, was because they moved this country here at home, because they stood for something here in the United States, for expanding the benefits of our society to our own people, and the people around the world looked to us as a symbol of hope.

I think it is our task to re-create the same atmosphere in our own time. Our national elections have often proved to be the turning point in the course of our country. I am proposing that 1960 be another turning point in the history of the great Republic.

Some pundits are saying it’s 1928 all over again. I say it’s 1932 all over again. I say this is the great opportunity that we will have in our time to move our people and this country and the people of the free world beyond the new frontiers of the 1960s.

— Sen. John F. Kennedy, acceptance of the New York Liberal Party Nomination, September 14, 1960.

Update: If you will think closely about what JFK is saying in this speech from 1960 you will notice how it reverberates with the situation we progressives and liberals are facing today. Many of the same issues facing Kennedy are facing us. They are changed somewhat by the setting but it most respects still the same issues and the guidance we are given here should be taken to heart.

Post Holiday Post

Ok, It's over. Had a nice meal and visit with the daughter and son-in-law as well as the two dogs. Everybody stuffed themselves and then did the obligatory moaning about how much they ate. We just laid around after getting everything cleaned up and put away. It is always the same...two days of preparation and 45 minutes of eating and the two hours of cleaning up. It's great. We did watch a movie "Over the Hedge" which was kinda cute.
Already had my small piece of pumpkin pie this morning with the second cup of coffee. Just a half slice really. Even though I made the pie with Splenda Brown sugar (1/2 Splenda and 1/2 real brown sugar) I can't eat too much or it will take me days to get the blood glucose back to good levels. Wasn't too bad this morning...only 30 points up. Probably going to have turkey for lunch. We only ate part of one of the two turkey breasts that I cooked.
Gorgeous day here in Atlanta and perfect for a walk. Just what the doctor ordered on the day after.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Haloscan Problems

Looks like Haloscan is hosed this morning so comments are likewise unavailable. We'll give it a few hours.

Update: Well, it is nearly tomorrow and Haloscan still seems fried at least from where I sit. I tried to ignore the mess all day and got a jump on the cooking demands of tomorrow. All the pies are done and the dressing ready for baking. Squash casserole is likewise idling in the fridge.
Doesn't appear that anything truly groundbreaking happened today to comment on so maybe we are safe to go to bed and see if the commenting system heals itself overnight.
If we don't talk to you have a great holiday and don't eat too much. Hopefully, all the readers here have a little "Food Security" at least for today.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Saving Face

Unsurprisingly, as Kevin Drum points out, the Iraqi people want us to leave and leave now and it is not by some slim majority. It is significant. (74% of Shiites and 91% of Sunnis want us to leave within a year (the number is 80% for Shiites in Baghdad). It is clear that they believe our presence destabilizes Iraq and fails to protect them. They support attacks against American troops! Why in the hell are we still there?

That is the million dollar question after all. What is the overriding reason we should still be there or there at all? Can someone tell us what is so important to our national interest that we continue to occupy a country that not only hates us but murders our soldiers daily?

The reason no one can give you an answer other than some vague mumble about the central front on terror or fighting them over there so as not to fight them here is because there is none. It is quite simple. There is no good reason for us to be in Iraq…just as there was no good reason for us to go there in the first place. The 411, as they say, is that we are staying in Iraq because the current Administration is afraid admit that they gravely misunderstood the ramifications of attacking Iraq and have subsequently blundered repeatedly. They stubbornly refuse to admit that we have lost all control of events in Iraq and are just dodging bullets. We are staying in Iraq in a useless attempt to save our national self-esteem.

While we have soldiers in Iraq, there's always the chance, no matter how remote or pie in the sky that the debacle will calm down and miracle of miracles we will be able to declare “Mission Accomplished” and back out without too great a loss of reputation. Leaving now, on the other hand, would be admitting defeat and all the loss of face that comes with it. So here we are in a position where no one in a decision making position is going to call for such an admission. You can’t expect the Bush folks to savage their so-called legacy by such honesty nor can you expect the generals protecting their high positions to engrave such humiliation on the monument of American history. If I were in their shoes I too would hesitate to speak the unspeakable and admit our ignoble defeat. What it means, however, is that we’re not only asking men and women to die for a mistake, we're asking them to die for our pride.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sooner or Later Guaranteed

It is very frustrating to see the latest “Big Push, Go Long, Go Big” or whatever else you call the latest blue sky thinking on Iraq. Everybody seems to be assuming that we can bide our time and things will just stew along…a bad month here and there but things will stay pretty much the same. If not today or next week then soon there is a very good chance that things will get considerably worse. Suzanne Nossel points out something over at Democracy Arsenal that is getting no mention in the media at all. While running through all the options available to us in Iraq and acknowledging that none of them have a chance of succeeding she reaches point number 9.

9. If we don't begin a planned exit, there's a good chance we'll find ourselves in an unplanned one — It's surprising that by now we haven't experienced the Iraqi equivalent of the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut or the dragging of a corpse of an American soldier through the streets of Mogadishu a decade later. But it seems likely that that day will come.

The conventional wisdom that naively assumes that the worst that can happen in Iraq is a continuation of the current low-level civil war is sorely wanting. True, we will probably continue to lose of thousands of Iraqi lives and dozens of U.S. soldiers each month but we seem to be ignoring the fact that the American occupation has actually made the Iraqi situation continually worse since it began. There is not one reason to suspect that this trend will not continue.

As the situation gets worse, and it will, what are the odds that we won’t be caught square in the middle of a full blown civil war? How many thousands or American and Iraqi lives will that cost? But that's not all. The Kurdish situation in the North could lead us into an all out confrontation with Turkey and we will have to takes sides in a shooting war with a NATO ally. How long before Iran decides it is time to step in and invades? As the violence in Iraq continues to escalate the more likely some of these scenarios become. That’s just reality.

When our so called planners and policymakers are adding up all the costs and benefits of leaving or staying in Iraq they really should consider some of these worst case scenarios. If they decide that we might as well try a “Last Big Push” because it can't make it worse then they are just ignoring the reality of the situation because it can get worse in myriad ways. The bottom line is that the longer we stay in Iraq, “Big Push” or no, the worse things are likely to get.

Did I mention that Afghanistan is rapidly degrading as well and that ignoring it will not make it go away? Again, it may not be this week or this month but as the situation deteriorates the potential for “really ugly” gets greater and greater.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

When Do We Admit Defeat?

Now it is Henry Kissinger saying that it's not possible to win in Iraq:

Washington Post -- Military victory is no longer possible in Iraq, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in a television interview broadcast Sunday. ... In a wide ranging interview on BBC television, Kissinger presented a bleak vision of Iraq, saying the U.S. government must enter into dialogue with Iraq's regional neighbors including Iran if any progress is to be made in the region.

While I do not hold everything that emerges from Kissinger’s mouth either profound or true, in this case he is only the latest to accept the reality that the war in Iraq is a folly and lost. He joins a growing chorus of politicos and military experts that are saying the war was ill-conceived from the beginning and only went south from there due to an extraordinarily incompetent execution. He tries to cover for the current “stay the course” strategy by injecting the required “we cannot leave right away” or Iraq would “descend into civil war and chaos.” If I was on the ground in Iraq I would seriously question the sanity of staying put and getting shot or blown-up knowing that I could not win no matter how many of my mates died trying. Think about the logic of sacrificing more American lives and gold on a lost cause.

The Bush-Cheney administration assures us constantly that Iraq is the “Central Front on the War on Terror”. Fine, if pretty much every expert in the world says that it is lost does that mean we have lost the “war on terror” as well? Does that mean, as we so often have been told, that we will soon be fighting them in the streets here in America?

Over and over the Bush-Cheney bunch abetted by the GOP drones in Congress that their media mouthpieces have assured us and even rebuked us by telling us that all is well, that "Iraq is the Central Front in the War on Terror," that we have to win or we'll be fighting them here, and that the not only that but Mother of God the fate of civilization as we know it depends on victory in Iraq.

I guess the question boils down to whether we continue to spend billions of dollars and thousands of lives on a lost cause or cut our losses and admit defeat while trying to make the best out of a bad situation. While we have a "Pottery Barn" situation here I think we need to decide pretty quick how long we are going to linger before we head to the checkout and take our medicine.

Food Sunday

I feel kind of guilty shopping for food and preparing for Thanksgiving after my last post on "Low Food Security" knowing that so many of my fellow citizens aren't as fortunate. If I could help them more than I am I would. It must count for something that we think of them as we sit down next Thursday for the annual feast.
This is my turn to cook though it will only be the two of us and my daughter and son-in-law. Decided to go traditional this year and do the turkey, dressing, mashed potato thing. Did a good part of the shopping yesterday at Whole Foods but today I have to make the final run to Kroger for some stuff. Will make the cornbread for the stuffing/dressing this afternoon so it will have a chance to get good and stale and dry before I have to use it Wednesday. I can do the cranberries today as well since they like to rest for a few days. All the rest will have to wait until Wednesday or Thursday. Pumpkin pies can be done on Wednesday too, and the dough for the rolls can get started as well since it needs 24 hours of rest.
Going to be strictly southern this year with cornbread and sausage stuffing, crookneck squash casserole, southern style creole sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and green beans and of course turkey though only the breast. Pumpkin pie with whipped cream for dessert.
The wine selection is a nice German Riesling.
Off to Kroger now for the next to the last shopping (there is always something last minute).

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Low Food Security?

After you get over being incensed and disgusted with our government’s cavalier dismissal of the fact that 35 million of your fellow Americans are starving to death with deigning to refer to it as having "very low food security" think about what we are spending a day($177M) in Iraq for nothing. Think about the current proposal to spend 30 BILLION dollars for a damn useless fence that won’t do anything for illegal immigration. Think about the fact that the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, which is up from 8% in 1980. That's double people. Think about the fact that the federal minimum wage of $5.15 is currently at its lowest real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) value in over 50 years. Think about the fact that:

  • If the minimum wage were increased nationally to $7.25:
    o 14.9 million workers would receive a raise,
    o 80% of those affected are adults age 20 or over, and
    o 7.3 million children would see their parents income rise.
  • Families with affected workers rely on those workers for over half of their earnings.
  • 46% of all families with affected workers rely solely on the earnings from those workers.

According to yesterday's Washington Post:

The USDA said that 12 percent of Americans -- 35 million people -- could not put food on the table at least part of last year. Eleven million of them reported going hungry at times. Beginning this year, the USDA has determined "very low food security" to be a more scientifically palatable description for that group....

Maybe the election wasn’t about Iraq after all but merely the current Republican establishment overlooking Juvenal's dictate about effectively controlling the masses with a steady provision of bread and circuses.

(bolding mine)

H/T to Georgia10

Dodd Stands Up

It's about time the patriots stepped up to the plate. Senator Chris Dodd's office just released the following press release.

November 16, 2006 202-224-5372
Washington- Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), an outspoken opponent of the
Military Commission Act of 2006, today introduced legislation which
would amend existing law in order to have an effective process for
bringing terrorists to justice. This is currently not the case under the
Military Commission Act, which will be the subject of endless legal
challenges. As important, the bill would also seek to ensure that U.S.
servicemen and women are afforded the maximum protection of a strong
international legal framework guaranteed by respect for such provisions
as the Geneva Conventions and other international standards, and to
restore America’s moral authority as the leader in the world in
advancing the rule of law.
“I take a backseat to no one when it comes to protecting this country
from terrorists,” Sen. Dodd said. “But there is a right way to do this
and a wrong way to do this. It’s clear the people who perpetrated these
horrendous crimes against our country and our people have no moral
compass and deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But
in taking away their legal rights, the rights first codified in our
country’s Constitution, we’re taking away our own moral compass, as well.”
The Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act:
* Restores Habeas Corpus protections to detainees
* Narrows the definition of unlawful enemy combatant to individuals who
directly participate in hostilities against the United States who are
not lawful combatants
* Bars information gained through coercion from being introduced as
evidence in trials
* Empowers military judges to exclude hearsay evidence the deem to be
* Authorizes the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to review
decisions by the Military commissions
* Limits the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and
application of the Geneva Conventions and makes that authority subject
to congressional and judicial oversight
* Provides for expedited judicial review of the Military Commissions Act
of 2006 to determine the constitutionally of its provisions
“We in Congress have our own obligation, to work in a bipartisan way to
repair the damage that has been done, to protect our international
reputation, to preserve our domestic traditions, and to provide a
successful mechanism to improve and enhance the tools required by the
global war on terror,” Dodd said.

Big Push - Please No

Well enough of chili and cornbread and Beaujolais it is time to get back to the real world. It seems my fears that FUBAR Bush was not going to react kindly to his Daddy and the Democrats taking away his war were warranted and now he is calling for one more BIG PUSH in Iraq. From The Guardian,

President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make “a last big push” to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers, according to sources familiar with the administration’s internal deliberations.

Mr Bush’s refusal to give ground, coming in the teeth of growing calls in the US and Britain for a radical rethink or a swift exit, is having a decisive impact on the policy review being conducted by the Iraq Study Group chaired by Bush family loyalist James Baker, the sources said.

Although the panel’s work is not complete, its recommendations are expected to be built around a four-point “victory strategy” developed by Pentagon officials advising the group. The strategy, along with other related proposals, is being circulated in draft form and has been discussed in separate closed sessions with Mr Baker and the vice-president Dick Cheney, an Iraq war hawk.

Lastly, the sources said the study group recommendations will include a call for increased resources to be allocated by Congress to support additional troop deployments and fund the training and equipment of expanded Iraqi army and police forces. It will also stress the need to counter corruption, improve local government and curtail the power of religious courts.

It sure seems to me that this is basically what “the plan” has been for the last three years. I sure don’t see any “new” strategy for changing the dynamic. Put more troops on the ground and get the Shia and Suni to play nice. Give me a break.

Funny thing…yesterday Gen. John P. Abizaid told the Senate that the phased troop withdrawals being proposed by Democratic lawmakers would not be good and that an increase in troop strength might have a “temporary” positive effect. Then he also said that the American military was stretched too thin to make such a step possible over the long term. And he said such an expansion might dissuade the Iraqis from making more of an effort to provide for their own security.

We can put in 20,000 more Americans tomorrow and achieve a temporary effect,” he said. “But when you look at the overall American force pool that’s available out there, the ability to sustain that commitment is simply not something that we have right now with the size of the Army and the Marine Corps.”

This is going to be the big test for the new Democratic Congress. Are they going to be willing to stand up to Bush on the Iraq war and put their foot down when it comes to increasing troop levels and throwing more money into the cesspool? If they falter here I can guarantee you that they will not be back after 2008. The message from the American people was loud and clear. Change the Iraq situation for the better and change our situation at home for the better. If you can’t do it then out you go.

When I saw the Newsweek cover with Daddy Bush muscling toward the front with Dubya cringing in the background, my first thought was: How is GW going to react to this? It is no secret that GW resents his father and is way too vain and insecure to take this meddling from his Daddy’s men.

Bush has, more than once, tried to diminish and belittle his father's influence and political record. Truth be told, the Newsweek cover was probably a bigger slap at his self image than the election results. As a matter of fact, I was surprised that there wasn’t more of an uproar over his obvious contempt for the American people during his post-election press conference with his blatant put-down: "I thought when it was all said and done, the American people would understand the importance of taxes and the importance of security." The implication here is that the American people were too stupid to realize their good fortune during his reign as dictator president.

Bush's reaction to Newsweek and the rest of the media pushing the line that Daddy's men are moving in to rescue his administration was just a week after the election. He didn’t wait long to try and take back the initiative and prove he was the “decider”. What is amazing to me is that the new conventional wisdom seems to be that somehow through the magic of television or something an incompetent and very corrupt gang of thieves is suddenly transformed into a wise, moderate and accomplished bunch of saviors of the American dream and can rescue this presidency from its own disastrous failures. Truly amazing.

Beaujolais Nouveau Today

While it's mostly marketing and rather gimmicky and the wine often terrible, it is a special day nonetheless. No one really takes it all very seriously except the marketers like Georges du Boeuf and Beaujolais nouveau really is not a good representative of some of the great wines of the Beaujolais. If you have not explored them they are especially wonderful with a cervelas (local sausage) or some other regional food like my favorite Cervelles de Canut.

It's not like we don't have a reason to celebrate this fall so why not pop a few corks of the nouveau with some friends.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Great Day for Chili

I had a request from a colleague for my chili recipe and since I had to type it anyway and it is such a miserable day I thought I would share it with you guys as well. It is easy and makes a pretty hearty dish with some homemade buttermilk cornbread. It makes a good batch and since there is only two of us I always freeze half as it will keep fine for a month. Enjoy.

P.S. You can make this vegan by substituting veggies for the meat...see at the bottom.

Beef Chili with Beans


2 tablespoons canola, olive or peanut oil (see below for using bacon instead of this oil)

2 medium onions, chopped fine

I medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into ½ inch cubes

6 medium garlic cloves, chopped finely

¼ cup of good chili powder

I tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander(you can eliminate this if some folks don’t like the heat)

I teaspoon red pepper flakes

I teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can eliminate this if some folks don’t like the heat)

2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef or 2 or so pounds of lean chuck or top round cut up into ½ inch chunks and trimmed of most of the fat.

2 (15-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (You can also use other beans such as red, black or even pinto beans but kidney beans are what is usually seen in chili like this.

I (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

I (28-ounce) can tomato puree


Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown this should take about about 10 minutes. Cooking the spices like this really adds to the depth of the dish so don’t leave this step out.

Crank up heat to medium-high and add half the beef and cook, breaking up the chunks with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the remaining beef and cook, breaking up the chunks with the wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Adding the beef in two stages like this reduces the amount of moisture released at one time and prevents the meat from boiling instead of frying. Nowadays it seems all the meat has extra water.

Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, and stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove the cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if the chili begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, stir in ½ cup water and continue to simmer), until the beef is tender and the chili is dark, rich and slightly thickened.

Good choices for condiment’s include diced fresh tomatoes, diced avocado, sliced scallions, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro leaves, sour cream, and shredded Monterey jack or cheddar cheese. The flavor of the chili improves with age. If possible, make it a day or two in advance and reheat before serving.

Leftovers can be frozen for up to a month.

Here is a variation that will add a little smokiness to the dish. Instead of the oil use 8 slices of breakfast bacon cut into ½ inch pieces and cook in the Dutch oven until reduced and starting to crisp. Drain off all but 2 or so tablespoons of the bacon fat and make the recipe as above. Leave the bacon bits in the pot and finish the recipe.

Another way to add smokiness is to use dried chipotle pepper powder in place of the cayenne.

A note on spices: I am a sucker for quality spices and the best available are by mail order from Penzey’s. I use their regular chili powder.

Finally, for you vegetarians out there, this makes great vegan chili as well. Just substitute four or five cups of your choice of vegetables for the meat. Try a mix of zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, and corn (you can use frozen “niblets’) or whatever you like. I would tend to shy away from cruciferous things like broccoli or cauliflower as they don’t store well and their flavors don’t always play well with others.

Don’t forget the homemade buttermilk cornbread.

Hump Day In More Ways Than One

Raining cats and gods here in Atlanta and has been since early morning. Just as well since I have been head down all morning writing up the results of the trip to Danville, IL Monday and Tuesday. Haven't had time to do the daily blogaround or pretty much anything else.

For you techies I did take a few minutes this morning and switch my laptop over to use the SSL VPN and disabled the old one. Seems cool so far. I also had to switch Outlook over to SSL from RPC and so far that is ok as well. Sometimes these leaps of technology are tricky and consume hours and hours of time to get working...if at all. An example being the wireless NIC on my other desktop which is still causing the black screen of death.

Another couple of hours of actual work and I will be able to take a breather and scoot around and see what everyone is up to. Just taking a quick lunch and tea break right now.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Life On The Road

Well, I can't say much for the culinary world here in Danville. The two or three hotels here are all clustered right off I74 ( goodly ways from town) and the only dining to be seen is the Big Boy. I think this is some kind of spin off from Shoney's or something. Not too exciting. Typical road food. Burgers, and some new taste sensations from south of the border like Chicken with Salsa and cheese and pepper quesadillas, etc. I made the mistake of having the Fiesta Chicken Salad. It was pretty much some well done chicken breast (can you say dry?)over iceberg lettuce and some shredded cheese. It did come with some soggy corn chips though, and a side of salsa. There might have been some chili powder on the chicken too.

Not nice.

To top it all off this county is DRY so I couldn't even have a glass of wine or even a beer to wash it down with.

Pretty much your typical travel day from hell. Up at 230a to catch the 7am flight to Indy. Just as we are about to board. Cancelled for mechanical reasons. Did manage to standby on the next flight at 9am and only my Platinum status on Delta got me a seat. Didn't get started at the client until 2p so I lost 3 hours today.

I think it is bedtime even though it is only 9p my time and 8 local. I get very confused with the time here since Indiana voted this year not to observe Daylight time and stays on eastern time all year even though they are in the central time zone. Danviille is right on the Indiana-Illinois line so it is on Central time.

I should be back in Atlanta tomorrow night and it may be vwery, vwery quiet here until then.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Monday's Here!

Hope everyone is having/had a nice weekend. We had a little rain (which mercifully stopped my yard work Saturday afternoon) but otherwise it has been nice. It did turn off a little cooler today but the mid 70’s on Saturday was a little too mild for even Atlanta.

My non-travel hiatus ends tomorrow morning with a 7am flight to Indianapolis and a rental car drive to Danville, IL. Never been there but it looks to be decidedly in the “heartland”. I’m just meeting with a client Monday and Tuesday and back to Atlanta Tuesday night. The only thing about starting our so early is that it means crawling out of bed at about 3am. Arrrgh!

Last week and the emotional roller coaster of the election followed by the overwhelming sea change in what this country can expect will be remembered by a lot of us on the left for a long time. I am sincerely hoping that it marks the beginning of the long road back to the American dream.

You guys have a good Monday and maybe I’ll get the chance to check in here on Monday night from Central Illinois.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Solemn Promise

From President Bill Clinton's 2000 Veterans' Day Address:

This was when we had a real President.

We [] honor our veterans by cherishing with all our hearts the freedoms they paid such a price to defend. If ever there was a doubt about the value of citizenship, and each individual's exercise of the freedom of citizenship to vote, this week's election certainly put it to rest. And if ever there was a question about the strength of our democratic institutions in the face of healthy and natural political argument, it has been answered by the measured response of the American people to these extraordinary events. [...]

[W]e honor our veterans by meeting our part of the solemn compact we have with each and every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman, regardless of the conflict in which they fought, that we will do all in our power to find them and bring them home if they are captured, missing in action, or fallen on the battlefield. [...]

When history looks back upon the records of our age and our nation, centuries from now, I believe it will be written that once there was a great nation of free people who sent their very best young men and women out to serve on the frontiers of freedom in uniform. They went forth to defend their nation and its ideals, giving up the comforts and conveniences of home. Too many never returned to their families, but none who served ever sacrificed in vain.

They led lives of great consequence, for they kept the torch of liberty burning in the oldest democracy on Earth. Each and every one of them were heroes, and gave to every child born thereafter a precious and irreplaceable gift. And their nation remained eternally grateful.

Wartime Prayers

Thanks to Steve over at YDD I find out that Paul Simon has a new CD out, called Surprise. (Like Steve it was just that; I didn't know he had one in the works.) Check out the track called "Wartime Prayers"; it seems appropriate to the day.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thanks and a Promise

Updated below.

Today or tomorrow is Veteran's Day, and as a veteran myself it has meaning beyond a flag on the garage and a sticker in the window. This is especially true in light of the changes just effected at the polls. All of the veterans, me, my father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather and on and on have tried their best to do what is right for the country. In the last few years it has become quite apparent that the current administration, while happy to spend our blood in Iraq, is not all that grateful for the sacrifices we have made. Benefits have been cut and access to healthcare reduced. Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are finding that there are no resources available to help them transition back into everyday society. It is a tragedy that will shortly be remedied.

I heard a story that on Election Day, Jim Webb and his brother along with a couple of staffers who had served our nation in uniform walked around in the rainy drizzle in Arlington National Cemetery among our fallen heroes for a few hours. You have to ask yourself why these men would spend a soggy and miserable afternoon doing this. This was not a publicity stunt…there were no reporters and cameras. To me that speaks volumes about his priorities while waiting for election results. While many are unaware, because it was not a campaign issue, Jim Webb's son is currently serving in Iraq, and I will guarantee you that he understands the fear, pride and respect military families and friends feel daily as they watch the news and pray for their loved ones.

We now have a new leadership in Congress. In January there is going to be more thoughtful and committed leadership. They are committed to making things better for our troops and their families. These are not hollow promises for political gain. There is reason to hope that with the addition of the experienced voices of Jim Webb and Joe Sestak and all the other fighting Democrats that have just been elected, our veterans will have a renewed voice in Washington.

While the honor and purity of our noble nation has been sullied in the past 6 years it does not diminish the sacrifice and dedication of our veterans past and present. We that are benefiting from your sacrifice are truly thankful and are dedicated to insure that it was not in vain.

For those folks who are currently in uniform and in the field stay safe and know that we are thinking of you daily. We honor your sacrifices today, and we know that with our efforts it will be better for all of us in the days to come.

Update: The pictures are of my grandfather WWI Navy, My Uncle, WWII Army-Air Force killed in action over Germany, and lastly my father WWII Navy SeaBee and wounded at Pearl Harbor and then again in the Pacific. Thanks guys and thanks to Sumo for reminding me that I had some pictures that should be posted.

Time for the Grownups

As much as I hate to agree with my former Congressman Bob Barr he puts forth a good analysis in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this morning.

[In 1994,] Many in the new [GOP] House majority incorrectly concluded that their 1994 victory was a mandate for all they had campaigned on: dramatically smaller government, quickly achieved; significantly lower taxes; and a complete rollback of many policies instituted in his first two years in office by their nemesis, President Bill Clinton (whom we repeatedly underestimated).

What many congressional Republicans failed to realize until much later was that their November victory was less of a vote of confidence in them and more a vote against Clinton. This miscalculation led to costly blunders in our first year; including trying to do too much too fast, which placed us far ahead of where the American public wanted us to be and where it felt comfortable being....

The Democrats will do everything in their power to avoid a return to second-class citizenship. They will be more likely than were the Republicans a dozen years ago to take modest steps, and to be careful lest rhetoric overtake feasible action. The goal for Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her battle-hardened team will be to spend two years laying the groundwork for further gains in 2008, and to push an agenda that will provide a solid and likely centrist platform for their party's standard-bearer.

Some the proposals the Democrats ran on, like increasing the minimum wage and implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission are good and necessary and they did resonate with the electorate. However the vote was more about Bush’s incompetence and arrogance along with GOP corruption and over-reach. Of course we also had the issue of Iraq and the fact that the country realizes a change in course is needed and Bush was not and apparently will not react to the will of the people.

What this means for the Democrats is that they need to keep focused in the beginning and meet the expectations of the voters on such things as minimum wage. We cannot fix all that is wrong with America in the first few months. We need to show the public the difference between true leadership and what they have been experiencing over the last 6 to 12 years. We have two years to initiate the process of reversing the damage the Republicans have done to our country and our position in the world. Yes, we need to address the Iraq problem as a high priority but there are myriad other things that need attention as well. Iraq is an awful mess with no easy solutions. The Democrats need to demonstrate that they are serious about solving it and all of it’s ancillary issues like our broken military and the hate and disgust Bush has generated in the rest of the peoples of the world. There is not a quick fix and the Democrats need to think in the long term and about the future. If the Democrats waste this opportunity to demonstrate the proper way to govern they will be thrown out of office again in 2 years and any gains made will be undone by the GOP. It is time for the Democrats to demonstrate how grownups run a country.

I am not saying we should hesitate to make waves or not push the agenda America needs. I am not saying we need to turn into Republican light either. I’m saying we have to be mature and make decisions that are the best for the majority of Americans now and in the future. The legislation that comes out of Washington in the next two years should be the correct legislation for our time. It should be fair and explainable to the masses. It should be the “real deal”. The American public has had it’s fill of double talk, outright lies, and laws that are not meant for the best of America as a whole but for the corporations and fat cats that the GOP has catered too. Americans like straight-shooters and they are tired of being misled, ignored and lied to.

I’ve seen a lot of talk about immediately trying to impeach Bush and Cheney. Nancy Pelosi is already taking grief for supposedly taking it off the table. Nancy Pelosi is smart. She knows that the people are expecting changes from the Democrats. Real government. Our government. There is no upside to trying to impeach Bush right now. The public might support impeachment some day but that is extreme politics and without a proper foundation and the rule of law it would not fly. It might make a lot of people feel good but it would be very short term. It is much better to get on with turning the country around and maybe down the road enough evidence will come to light that will convince the public of the need and justification of an impeachment and they will ask for it and support it.

While many of us might feel the need for retribution that is not why the Democrats were placed in charge, we were placed in charge to turn the country around. Never forget that in only two years the public will, once again, have to opportunity to change the game. If we can show them how grownups lead then we will increase our power and widen our opportunity to move America in the right direction. We are going to falter at times and we will meet stubborn resistance from Bush and the GOP on important issues but if we stick to our agenda of doing right for America and can show progress then we need not fear the next election. If we give Bush and the GOP the opportunity to work with us for America and they refuse it will be they who need fear the next election.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Last Shoe has Fallen

Now there is no doubt. Now there is no question. Both Conrad Burns and George Allen have conceded their races in Montana and Virginia and the Senate is officially ours. Now that is what you call a mandate for change. All I can say is that the new majority leaders in the House and Senate better not forget that the American people want a change of direction. We will not tolerate more of the same crap from them and we expect some action on minimum wages, homeland security, health care and all the rest. We also expect some damn oversight of the faux cowboy in the Whitehouse. He has strutted around thumbing his nose at the Constitution for six years without anybody feeling it necessary to ride herd on his incompetent ass. We expect him to be on a very short leash for the next two years.

It has been twelve long and painful years since the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and we intend for this horse to be ridden.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post Partisan Depression

I think I am having a bout with Post Partisan Depression. Now that we have finished the long slog to the election and chewed our nails down to the quick. Now that we have railed and railed against the GOP and the need for change. Now that we have endured 6 long and painful years waiting for change. Now we have to wait until next January!

What will we do until then? It is kind of cruel and certainly not in my temperament to kick a man when he's down. So now we just wait. Oh sure, there will be little moments of glee such as today when Rummy bailed and we can look forward to a few more indictments and maybe Libby's trial but these will be hard pressed to measure up to the relief we saw this morning.

We can always look forward to watching Bush and boys squirm and dissemble like puppies trying to cover up their mess on the floor. They will continue to amuse us as they try and make nice and pretend that they will change their spots and work with the opposition on moving America forward but I have my doubts that they can make the leap.

There are two holidays for some to look forward to but both have devolved to such a point that they really aren't such a rush as I remember from times gone by.

I guess I'll just have to be patient and try and hold on to my excitement for as long as I can but January seems a long way off.

Is anyone else feeling like this or am I alone? Have I become a victim of today's society and the constant need for more, more, more and instant gratification? Maybe so.

Rummy is Leaving...Finally

Breaking news just now on CNN is that Rumsfeld is stepping down. None too soon and about 6 years too late but better than continuing on. I just wonder what knothole Bush will try and put in his place.

UPDATE: I guess I got too excited and didn't read far enough the new guy in the barrel is Robert Gates formerly of the CIA.

Update 2: this from KOS. Shades of Negroponte look what the cat has coughed up. Bush looks to another corrupt Iran/Contra hack to make nice in Iraq. What a loser.
Robert M. Gates was the Central Intelligence Agency's deputy director for intelligence (DDI) from 1982 to 1986. He was confirmed as the CIA's deputy director of central intelligence (DDCI) in April of 1986 and became acting director of central intelligence in December of that same year. Owing to his senior status in the CIA, Gates was close to many figures who played significant roles in the Iran/contra affair and was in a position to have known of their activities.

A Changed America

All I can say is that it has been an amazing night. The American voters gave Bush and his evil minions notice that they expect and demand change. The Lamont loss in CT was disappointing especially as it will give Holy Joe some significant leverage in the Senate. With definite control of the House and apparently control of the Senate as well, we now have to see if the Democrats can begin the monstrous task of putting the country back on the right path.

Don’t overlook the fact the 2.6 Billion dollars of corporate money was spent on this campaign and while most of it went to the Republicans and good bit was showered on Democrats as well. We will just have to see how beholding everyone is.

I can’t help but be positive and hope that we can begin to see the change so many of us have looked forward to for so long.

Congratulations to all of you who worked on a campaign, gave money or made phone calls and, of course, voted for a different America.

Now we need to move forward and begin to change America back to a country we can be proud of.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Little Humor

Sumo Merriment has posted a YouTube of George Carlin's bit about we are a warlike people. It might cheer you up for a bit as we wait out the day. Plus she's hosting a little house party on election day so stop in a see what's happening on the left coast.

Into the Universe

I have served up my wishes to the Diebold this morning and no I don't have a paper trail. Now something so simple as a fast shuffle across the carpet and undo what generations of my ancestors have fought and died for. Centuries of struggle and countless lives are now subject to the mere faintest impression on some questionable electronic device manufactured and programmed by my arch enemies. What me worry?
Here's to the first step in the revolution! What are we going to do tomorrow if nothing changes my friends? Can we face another two years of imbecilic rule? Can the world survive another two years of Bush and company unchallenged? We should know our fates in 15 or so hours or at least a taste of it.
I want fingers crossed along with toes. Pray to whatever spirits you think might even give a shit about what happens to us mere mortals. Sacrifice of small animals excepted do whatever you think might help. May the force be with us! All Hail Discordia! Hail Eris! 23skidoo! Whatever!

Monday, November 06, 2006


It always seems to happen. Just when I had slotted this afternoon and tomorrow morning to make more calls for Call for Change the job interrupts. It has been pretty quiet up until Friday when issues arose with several high profile clients. In all the cases there are big bucks on the table and the year end is closing fast. My best laid plans just went astray and I will be spending the next couple of days resolving issues. I will take the time to vote however and the polling place is within walking distance so I'm gold there. Since all of the senior management of the company I work for are big time conservative Rethuglicans I have a hard time not getting paranoid when stuff like this happens but what are you going to do.
Blogging is going to be slight to non existent for the next few days while I try and sort this stuff out. Life is always interesting when you live on the bleeding edge of technology.

Busy Monday

Meetings all day to day so it will be light here. Tomorrow is the big day. Don't for get to vote early and often. Hope everyone had a great weekend. Out to face the Monday morning Atlanta traffic hell. Later.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Time to get on the Phone

If you haven't volunteered to participate in Call for Change using Moveon's call tool, shame on you. It is really easy and you can do it right from home. All it will cost you is some time and a few dollars on your phone bill. It can make a big difference in the outcome of the election.

All of the other stuff has been done and now it is time to "Get Out the VOTE" The work you do on the phones is the most important work of the campaign and it WILL determine who controls Congress when the polls close on Tuesday. We're calling enough progressive voters that don't always vote in midterm elections like this one to get them to the polls and tip the balance our way.

You don't have to make hundreds of calls...just spend an hour or so on the phone everyday between now and election day and you can be a part of this historic change.

That's what I'll be doing a good part of the day.

Friday, November 03, 2006

French is Better In More Ways Than Wine and Cheese

Thanks to a tip from Steve Bates over at Yellow Doggerel Democrat I have just finished reading one of the best synopsis' of why a single payer health system is what we need in the U.S. If you have a few minutes you should go read it. It is at MaxSpeak


Here is the lead paragraph...

Healthcare is a right, not a luxury like caviar. Healing the sick is a moral obligation. But, the American medical system is broken for all of us – not just for the uninsured.

People in more than forty nations live years longer than we do, and see fewer of their babies die[1]; people in twenty are ill fewer days[2]. We have fewer doctors, nurses and hospital beds per patients than many other rich nations[3]. In high tech medicine, where we used to excel, France and Japan have more access to advanced devices such as MRIs than we do, without wait times3. Most U.S. patients treated for serious illness receive around half the procedures high quality treatment would require[4]; this applies not only to poor and middle class patients, but even to wealthy ones. Private health insurance does not provide Americans with the high quality health care most other rich nations routinely receive[5].
I've talked about my experiences with the French single payer system here a couple of times. It is recognized by the WHO as the best system in the world. The French pay half of what we pay for health care and everyone is covered, have access to many more doctors and hospitals and are healthier and live longer than we do. I have been ridiculed by my GOP/conservative colleagues for speaking positively about the French system. To them anything French is bound to be inferior but the reality is that we are stupid if we don't adopt the exact same system.

Already Eight and No Apology

Eight US soldiers and marines have been killed in Iraq already in November. I'm certain no apologies will be forthcoming. Jeebus, this is no way to start out a Friday morning.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

No Fishing! Ever!

If all the rest of the crap in the news is not enough to crystallize you into action maybe starving to death will do the trick. It's something that we who actually pay attention to the news coming out of the science world have known for some time but today even the Washington Post manages to stumble upon it.

The world will run out of seafood by 2048 if steep declines in marine species continue at current rates, according to a study released today by an international group of ecologists and economists.

The paper, published in the journal Science, concludes that overfishing, pollution, and other environmental factors are wiping out important species across the globe, hampering the ocean's ability to produce seafood, filter nutrients and resist the spread of disease.

"We really see the end of the line now," said lead author Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Canada's Dalhousie University. "It's within our lifetime. Our children will see a world without seafood if we don't change things."

This is serious stuff you realize how much of the world's protein comes from the sea? We had better get some people in Washington that can understand and react to the future we are creating for ourselves.

Give 'Em Hell Keith

If you haven't read the latest Keith Olbermann's Special Comment then you should. You can via Crooks and Liars . this man is emerging as a true American hero. Here is a taste.

So now John Kerry has apologized to the troops; apologized for the Republicans' deliberate distortions.

Thus the President will now begin the apologies he owes our troops, right?

This President must apologize to the troops — for having suggested, six weeks ago, that the chaos in Iraq, the death and the carnage, the slaughtered Iraqi civilians and the dead American service personnel, will, to history, quote "look like just a comma."

This President must apologize to the troops — because the intelligence he claims led us into Iraq proved to be undeniably and irredeemably wrong.

This President must apologize to the troops — for having laughed about the failure of that intelligence, at a banquet, while our troops were in harm's way.

This President must apologize to the troops — because the streets of Iraq were not strewn with flowers and its residents did not greet them as liberators.

This President must apologize to the troops — because his administration ran out of "plan" after barely two months.

This President must apologize to the troops — for getting 2,815 of them killed.

This President must apologize to the troops — for getting this country into a war without a clue.

And Mr. Bush owes us an apology… for this destructive and omnivorous presidency.

We will not receive them, of course.

This President never apologizes.

Caught Again

Once again the Bush misadministration and his enablers are crying treason on The New York Times for publishing state secrets. The Times published this graph which shows, contrary to what we are hearing from Bush and Cheney and the rest, that Iraq is rapidly descending into complete and utter chaos.

The reality is that Bush and Cheney and all the rest of the warmonger, chickenhawks are mad because The Times had the audacity to let the American people see the truth and point out, once again, that the Whitehouse is lying to us.

How is it treason for the American people to know that we are fighting a losing battle in Iraq? How far have we sunk as a nation when our government is more obsessed with finding out who enabled the press to illustrate government lies than to prosecute the liars?

Let’s hope some of this changes soon