Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dear Molly is Gone

But not forgotten and won't be for many a year to come.

Molly Ivins passed away today at age 62. She was a gifted, funny and powerful voice for the progressive liberal people of this country. Her voice and humor will be sorely missed. She was a hell of a lady and this loss is gonna hurt. The people of Texas and we have lost two great ladies in very short order the other being Ann Richards. Thanks for everything, Molly. Your words will live for years.

Steve Bates at YDD has some links with more information with the Texas connection. Steve also posts the last paragraph of her last column which is significant in countless ways.

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on January 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"

Love This Stuff

Running late this morning and will be in front of the client all day so very quiet here I expect. I did find this this morning in my quick check of things. This is so cool. I love the whole mystery surrounding Stonehenge and after visiting it a couple of years ago even more so.
Archeologists working near Stonehenge in England have discovered an ancient religious complex containing a treasure trove of artifacts that may finally illuminate the lives and religious practices of the people who built the mysterious monument 4,600 years ago, British archeologists said Tuesday
If you want a good read try Sarum which is a fictional account of the whole deal.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hot in Ohio

Ok, we are here. Long drive in the snow from Cleveland to Mansfield but not too bad. It is a balmy 12F here and snowing but otherwise very pleasant. Can't wait to step out tomorrow morning and experience the brisk.
Did the Outback thing for dinner with my colleague. Her choice...not mine. Just did the salad and the appetizer shrimp. I have decided that they are tenderizing their beef with something because it has that "mealy" texture that makes it taste fake. No beef for me at Outback.
Need to wander and see what is going on. Sure there is major reading at Firedoglake where Emptywheel is live blogging the Libby trial.
I may find something worthy of comment in a little while.

P.S. the title of this post is in deference to commenter Pekka who chided me for whining about the cold here in Ohio. Evidently 12F and snow is skip and go naked weather in Pekka's neck of the woods. I will refrain from whining about the cold henceforth.

Off We Go

Getting ready to head to the airport and off to Cleveland and the heartland. Current weather is snow and cooooold. Not looking forward to the drive to Mansfield in the snow and dark tonight. Such is life. I'll try and check in with you guys from the hotel tonight as the hotel is purported to have HS internet access.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Still Crazy

What's new, GOP Senators are playing procedural games with the minimum wage debate hoping to put off the debate on the anti-surge resolutions. That's the report from Bob Geiger:
The Republicans figure that if they can keep the Senate occupied indefinitely with an open-and-shut thing like a minimum wage increase, they can avoid the thing they fear most -- having to vote on any of the myriad Iraq-war resolutions waiting in the wings.
I'm sorry to say I will be flat out on clients this week on what appears to be a very interesting week in the Senate. Despite the Republican delaying tactics, there is going to be a debate on Iraq. They, the GOP, enabled this war and never challenged Bush's failed leadership and reckless wasting of American lives and treasure. The chickens always come home to roost boys and no matter how hard you try and avoid it, you are going to have to put your name on the line as crazy as Bush or just a little bit goofy.

Worked So Well the First Time

I've got a ton of work to do but I just had to post about this little tidbit that came arching across my bow this morning. According to the Sunday Herald our boy Bush will playing tin soldier one more time by launching an attack on Iran before the end of April:

PRESIDENT BUSH is preparing to attack Iran's nuclear facilities before the end of April and the US Air Force's new bases in Bulgaria and Romania would be used as back-up in the onslaught, according to an official report from Sofia.

"American forces could be using their two USAF bases in Bulgaria and one at Romania's Black Sea coast to launch an attack on Iran in April," the Bulgarian news agency Novinite said.

The American build-up along the Black Sea, coupled with the recent positioning of two US aircraft carrier battle groups off the Straits of Hormuz, appears to indicate president Bush has run out of patience with Tehran's nuclear misrepresentation and non-compliance with the UN Security Council's resolution. President Ahmeninejad of Iran has further ratcheted up tension in the region by putting on show his newly purchased state of the art Russian TOR-Ml anti-missile defence system.

Whether the Bulgarian news report is a tactical feint or a strategic event is hard to gauge at this stage. But, in conjunction with the beefing up of America's Italian bases and the acquisition of anti-missile defence bases in the Czech Republic and Poland,the Balkan developments seem to indicate a newphase in Bush's global war on terror.

Sofia's news of advanced war preparations along the Black Sea is backed up by some chilling details. One is the setting up of new refuelling places for US Stealth bombers, which would spearhead an attack on Iran. "The USAF's positioning of vital refuelling facilities for its B-2 bombers in unusual places, including Bulgaria, falls within the perspective of such an attack." Novinite named colonel Sam Gardiner, "a US secret service officer stationed in Bulgaria", as the source of this revelation.

Curiously,the report noted that although Tony Blair, Bush's main ally in the global war on terror, would be leaving office, the president had opted to press on with his attack on Iran in April.

Before the end of March,3000 US military personnel are scheduled to arrive "on a rotating basis" at America's Bulgarian bases. Under the US-Bulgarian military co-operation accord, signed in April,2006,an air base atBezmer, a second airfield at Graf Ignitievo and a shooting range at Novo Selo were leased to America. Significantly,last year's bases negotiations had at one point run into difficulties due to Sofia's demand "for advance warning if Washington intends to use Bulgarian soil for attacks against other nations, particularly Iran".

Romania, the other Black Sea host to the US military, is enjoying a dollar bonanza as its Mihail Kogalniceanu base at Constanta is being transformed into an American "place d'arme". It is also vital to the Iran scenario.

Last week,the Bucharest daily Evenimentual Zilei revealed the USAF is to site several flights of F-l5, F-l6 and Al0 aircraft at the Kogalniceanu base. Admiral Gheorghe Marin, Romania's chief of staff, confirmed "up to 2000 American military personnel will be temporarily stationed in Romania".

In Central Europe, theCzech Republic and Poland have also found themselves in the Pentagon's strategic focus. Last week, Mirek Topolanek, the Czech prime minister, and the country's national security council agreed to the siting of a US anti-missile radar defence system at Nepolisy. Poland has also agreed to having a US anti-missile missile base and interceptor aircraft stationed in the country.

Russia, however, does not see the chain of new US bases on its doorstep as a "defensive ring". Russia's defence chief has branded the planned US anti-missile missile sites on Czech and Polish soil as "an open threat to Russia".

If this report is true, and it seems at pretty credible, then it's time for Congress jerk Commander Codpiece up short and get serious about taking away little Georgie's checkbook. If there is any truth to this report then he is a certified madman by pretty much any definition you want to bring to the party. Are they going to do the job we elected them to do or are they going to wring their hands over their political futures and risk Bush launch the first strike in a global thermonuclear war? We shouldn't have to remind them that if we have global thermonuclear war, there will be no political future to worry about.

Road Trip!

Frozen solid in Atlanta this morning. Woke up to 20 degrees! Found out I have to go to Cleveland for a couple of the days (well Shelby, OH). Looks like I will get my first dose of snow this year. Supposed to snow off and on all week. Shelby is about an hour and a half south of the airport so it looks like a fun and cold week coming up.

These last minute trips always require a lot of emergency prep so I will be busy getting ready for the rest of the day and tomorrow morning. Don't fly until late tomorrow so I have a little slack.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Two Vegetarian Recipes

I promised Sumo that I would post these two recipes from my vegetarian week. Both are surprisingly tasty.

Spicy Walnut Tomatoes

1 TBSP raisins
2 TBSP orange juice
4 medium sized ripe tomatoes
1/3 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
2 Tsp curry powder
1 small apple chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Soak the raisins in the orange juice to soften.
Slice about a half inch off the stem end of each tomato and save the "lid".
With your fingers scoop out as much of the seeds and jelly as you can and then
scoop out the remaining pulp, chop coarsely and reserve.
Mix the reserved tomato pulp, rice, walnuts, drained raisins, curry powder and apple
and mix together.
Fill the hollowed out tomatoes with the mixture and top with the "lid".
Brush the tomatoes all over with olive oil.
Put in an oven proof dish and bake at 375 degrees for about twenty minutes.

You could use this same stuffing for other veggies like zucchini, small eggplant, or peppers. Just chop a whole fresh tomato instead of using the pulp.

Spicy Beet Soup

1 medium onion chopped
2 medium carrots chopped
2 ribs of celery chopped
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock heated
1/2 pound cooked beets chopped (I like the golden beets)
2 inch piece of fresh ginger minced
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
chopped parsely for garnish

Saute the onions, carrots and celery in a tablespoon of canola or olive oil for a few minutes.
Add the stock and simmer for about 20 minutes
Add the beets, lemon zest and ginger and cook for another 10 minutes or so.
Using a hand blender or food processor puree the soup until smooth.
Add the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar and reheat if necessary.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with the fresh parsley garnish.

I like to roast the beets to cook them as they develop a nice flavor, but you could boil them as well. I don't see why you couldn't use canned for frozen cooked beets in this recipe as well.

Molly Needs Some Help

If you are religious please pray. If you are not religious then send some positive energy her way. One of the great ones, Molly Ivins, who has been battling breast cancer, was hospitalized this week.

Molly Ivins is a national treasure. We need her voice in the worst way. So regardless of what you believe your influence with the Goddess or the universe to be, send whatever energy and good wishes you can spare her way.

We love you lady...hang in there!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Alone Again

Our visitors are safely away and on the way to Florida for a few days before they head back to London. Good visit and lots of laughing and gin and tonic put away not to mention my wine stores severely depleted. Got through the week of vegetarian cooking with no problems and since one of our friends does eat fish I didn't have to go completely vegan. I actually created some new recipes that are keepers even in a carnivorous world which I will share at some point. One is for a nice big tomato stuffed with brown rice, lentils, apple and raisins that turned out to be very tasty as well as a completely nutritious side dish. The other was a beet soup that was hearty and tasty as well.

I know it has been rather quiet here but life intrudes at times and I wouldn't have missed their visit for anything. Right now there is a plan to head their way in April or May and return the favor. They live about half way between London and Cambridge near Stanstead Airport and while it is still pretty much metro London it is on the fringes and you can still get a sense of the English countryside. We'll probably take advantage of the trip to invade our other English friends as well and they are truly in the wilds of England and actually live up north in Derbyshire in the Peaks National Park and it is truly bucolic and very restful...lots of stacked stone walls, sheep, cows and horses. I can almost taste the pub grub now, not to mention the fine English beer. Yeah, I know I can buy good English beer here with the little widgets in the can that make it appear to be freshly pulled from the cask but there is nothing quite like having the friendly publican putting it in front of you while you stand in a building that was serving good beer before Columbus was even a twinkle in his father's eye.

Have some post visitor errands to catch up on this afternoon but we'll be back and we might have to break down and pick up a four pack of Boddington's now that we're thinking about it... we'll be right there replenishing the Bombay gin supply so might as well. I think there might be a nice little New York strip in my near future as well.

More Lies

We on the progressive left and especially those of us that have been vocal about our opposition to the war in Iraq are constantly accused, in so many words, of being traitors. Just trust our president and the Pentagon to do the job and believe everything they tell you about how well things are going our detractors say. Well before Bush and company attacked Iraq we were saying not to take everything coming out of the White House and Pentagon at face value. The following from the AP via E&P is just one more example of why you should not trust your government to tell you the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They are lying liars.

BAGHDAD Contrary to U.S. military statements, four U.S. soldiers did not die repelling a sneak attack at the governor's office in the Shiite holy city of Karbala last week. New information obtained by The Associated Press shows they were abducted and found dead or dying as far as 25 miles away.

The brazen assault 50 miles south of Baghdad was launched Jan. 20 by a group of nine to 12 militants. They traveled in black GMC Suburban vehicles - the type used by U.S. government convoys, had American weapons, wore new U.S. military combat fatigues and spoke English.

In a written statement, the U.S. command reported at the time that five soldiers were killed while "repelling the attack." Two senior U.S. military officials as well as Iraqi officials now say three of them were found dead and one mortally wounded in locations as far as 25 miles east of the governor's office.
Why are we even considering sending another 21,000 of our children into this freaking mess?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Gonna' Remember

This list originated with Bob Geiger at the Yellow Dog Blog and was borrowed by Frederick at mccs1977 from whom I am, in turn, borrowing. We need to keep this list handy and remind anyone who brings up the lie of "compassionate conservatism" of the truth by shoving this down their throat.
The list below represents the18 Republicans who are up for reelection in 2008 that were part of the 43 Republicans who voted yesterday to deny the first minimum wage increase in a decade. I am sorry to say that both of the Senators from Georgia, Chambliss and Isakson voted no.
  • Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
  • Wayne Allard (R-CO)
  • Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
  • Thad Cochran (R-MS)
  • John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Larry Craig (R-ID)
  • Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)
  • Pete Domenici (R-NM)
  • Michael Enzi (R-WY)
  • Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
  • Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
  • James Inhofe (R-OK)
  • Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • Pat Roberts (R-KS)
  • Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
  • Gordon Smith (R-OR)
  • Ted Stevens (R-AK)
  • John Sununu (R-NH)
Please keep this list handy and drag it out when these people start their campaigns.

How Much Did Your Bag of Groceries Really Cost?

With a h/t to AmericaBlog there is an interesting article in the Guardian today that links back to a post the other day by Steve Bates at YDD. Do you know the "carbon footprint" or the complete environmental impact of the food you eat?

Tough question, but Tesco in the UK is giving almost $10 million to Oxford to figure it out so they can include such data on food labels.
In principle, the concept is easy. A so-called "life-cycle analysis" tots up the energy used to extract raw materials and turn them into products. The greater the energy use, the greater the carbon footprint, and the worse for the environment a product is. Tesco says such information would allow consumers to shop according to their environmental conscience. As demand for more damaging products falls, the thinking goes, so will the stocking of that product. The supermarket is not alone in coveting carbon labels: Duchy Originals, the food company set up by Prince Charles, is among those investigating similar schemes.

The problems start in deciding exactly what emissions should be counted. Direct carbon use is easy to measure, but indirect emissions are far more difficult. Should supermarkets include the electricity used to refrigerate products in their stores? What about the fuel in the tractors on a farm thousands of miles away? And if you think the answer is obvious, what about the fuel in the cars the farmworkers drive to get to work? "Boundaries are hugely difficult and, of course, the boundaries may not be in this country," says Dr Boardman. Some experts even argue the audited supply chain should extend as far as the ultimate source of energy - the sun.
I have been discussing this with our visitors from the UK and it is getting to be a hot topic over there as they are struggling with how to improve food labeling. You see this kind of article in the UK and European news but not a peep in the American press. Why is that? One would think that with the US leaving the largest carbon footprint of any other nation we would be keen to address this kind of thing.

I don't imagine it has anything to do about corporate ownership of the media does it? For those of you who aren't familiar with the UK, Tesco is probably the largest grocery chain there followed closely by Sainsbury (or vice versa). Somehow I don't see Kroger, Publix or one of the other big US chains spending this kind of money on something like this and Goddess forbid the Bush bunch suggesting such a thing as a knowledgeable consumer. The last thing they appear to want is for the American public to be able to make informed decisions.

The next time you take a run down the grocery aisle think about how much energy, from beginning to end, goes into getting that dinner on the table. When you make the choice of frozen vegetables over fresh think about all the energy consumed in keeping it frozen from manufacturing through transport and then while it waits in the store and your freezer at home for you to thaw it and consume it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Compassionate Conservatism Shines Through

Do you ever ask yourself how most Republicans in Congress can actually go to bed at night and sleep? What are they thinking when they think opposing extremely popular legislation is a smart political move.
The Senate Democrats are as one and voted to pass the same stand-alone minimum wage increase approved by the House of Representatives two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Republican minority voted against cloture on the bill thereby creating a roadblock until Democrats agree to more business tax cuts.

A clean minimum wage bill went to a floor vote after the line-item veto was killed and, despite the fact that the minimum wage has not been raised in 10 years and an increase is supported by the vast majority of Americans, almost all Republicans voted against the increase and it fell six votes short of the three-fifths required to reach cloture.

The vote was 54-43, with every Democrat voting to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour and only five Republicans -- Coleman, Collins, Snowe, Specter and Warner (Kudos guys)-- crossing the aisle to vote with the Democrats.

Don't the Republicans realize that continuing to suck up to business interests like this is going to give Democrats a big edge in 2008. Here is the list of Republicans up for election in 2008 who voted against a clean minimum wage bill: Cornyn, Dole,. Domenici, McCain, Smith and Sununu. I don't care if you are Jesus Christ voting against the minimum wage isn't winning votes. The only place keeping a throttle hold on minimum wage is popular is among business interests who will be donating to the election campaigns of these Republicans. Even in defeat and for the first time in many years a minority Republican still think government is just a way to reward the key money cows of their election machinery.

This bill will pass eventually. There is no way Republicans can hold out on this one indefinitely, considering how popular it is. Democrats need to keep pushing this as long and hard as possible until five more Republicans are forced to cave, even if that means the bill won't pass until 2009.

Welcome Ziem

Please welcome a new addition to the blog roll... Ziems Views. Steve Bates of Yellow Doggerel Democrat is now no longer at the bottom of the list. Ziem hails from upstate New York so now we have some additional voice from the north and another female which is always a pleasure.

Baby Steps

As you can see I took the final step with the new blogger today and updated my template so that the new design tools are avialable. I think I have most of the stuff that was there in the old blog back only in a somewhat different place. Still a little clean up to do.

Couple of things I need to figure out about the HTML though and thought one of you more experienced code hacks could help.

One, I would like to have external links open in a new window like they do on many blogs. I think that will help with navigation.

Two, I would like my quoted things to be isolated in a box instead of just indented.

Three, anything else you think I need.

Four, I think the sidebar is too wide and should shrink a bit and allow more room for posts. Maybe I could use a bigger font for the posts then as well.

While I try and figure this stuff out, if any of you wizards (male or female) can give me some guidance it would help. You would think that someone who makes his living working with and implementing web based solutions would be a little more savvy with HTML. I think we are getting into old dog territory with some of this stuff.

BTW any suggestions on improvements to the template are always welcome.

All Right Then!

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see either speech last night as I was busy entertaining my house guests. I probably wouldn't have watched the SOTU anyway as I don't think I could have stomached watching GeeDubya for that He just grates on my sensibilities. I am disappointed that I didn't catch Jim Webb's response. I did read the text of the speech and from what I have read around in a few places this morning it was hot and tight. This following quote is from Newsweek's Jonathan Alter and sums up how Jim Webb showed Bush how to give a speech:
For the first time ever, the response to the State of the Union Message overshadowed the president's big speech. Virginia Sen. James Webb, in office only three weeks, managed to convey a muscular liberalism—with personal touches—that left President Bush's ordinary address in the dust. In the past, the Democratic response has been anemic—remember Washington Gov. Gary Locke? This time it pointed the way to a revival for national Democrats.

Webb is seen as a moderate or even conservative Democrat, but this was a populist speech that quoted Andrew Jackson, founder of the Democratic Party and champion of the common man. The speech represented a return to the tough-minded liberalism of Scoop Jackson and Hubert Humphrey, but by quoting Republicans Teddy Roosevelt (on "improper corporate influence") and Dwight D. Eisenhower (on ending the Korean War), he reinforced the argument that President Bush had taken the GOP away from its roots.
I really like the reference to Teddy Roosevelt...
Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I am reminded of the situation President Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th century. America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines. The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth. The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt.

Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions. He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves "as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other." And he did something about it.
This is the way I like to see it done and it is mighty encouraging.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Run Away

Looks like the operative phrase in the GOP is "RUN AWAY". Susan Collins (ME), Norm Coleman (MN) and John Warner of Virginia. Warner was the former chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Collins is facing re-election and recognizes the liability of standing with Bush and Coleman is just being wishy-washy. He's criticizing Bush's Iraq strategy at the same time he's condemning the Democrats for opposing it. Warner is a different story. He is part of the old guard and a heavyweight on the hill. The fact that he's standing up to Bush is significant and his opposition to Bush's plans may have coattails and provide cover for some other Republicans too timid to go on their own. More from AP.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday, Monday

Another day of all day training. Bummer. Rainy and cold here in Atlanta and not the best of days to have to venture out. Everyone make the best of it. I'll check in when I can.

No Surprise Here

Just another reason NOT to shop at Wally World.

Wal-Mart, the controversial retailing giant, is under investigation in the US over allegations it is trying to pass off non-organic foods as organic.

It has been accused of using misleading labelling that is "tantamount to consumer fraud" by an organic farming watchdog, the Cornucopia Institute. The body has handed its complaints to the US Department of Agriculture (Usda).

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is also conducting an investigation into whether Wal-Mart is placing "natural" produce on shelf space labelled as containing organic items.

The Cornucopia Institute claimed to have found dozens of examples of Wal-Mart's mislabelling products - from "all- natural yogurt" to soya milk "made from organic soybeans".

Another Bad Day Over There

National Sanctity of Life Day was pretty much a bust.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least 75 people were killed and 160 wounded in a pair of nearly simultaneous car bombings in central Baghdad's Bab al-Sharqi district, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said Monday.

"Body parts everywhere, many bodies charred, it was horrible," the official said.

According to the official, the midday bombings targeted civilians in a second-hand clothing market, the site of several attacks in the past.

The explosions left DVDs and compact discs scattered on the street as black smoke rose into the sky, The Associated Press reported. Iraqi police sealed off the area as ambulances rushed to the scene to evacuate the victims.

Separately, mortar rounds fell on an elementary school in southern Baghdad's Abu Dhseir section, killing one woman and wounding eight children.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sanctity of Life Day?

Hypocritical to the point of absurdity. In a formal White House proclamation issued Friday, George W. Bush declared January 21 National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2007.

As you can see we are not making this up. He has the nerve, the unmitigated gall to do this whilst on a rampage to send even more of our finest young men and women into hell. Yesterday turned out to be the 3rd deadliest day in Iraq for U.S. troops. Sort of seems the Goddess didn't like the pronouncement any more than I do.

I am sure the 3,o30 American military that have died in Iraq are resting easier now as are the 35,000 Iraqi that died last year.

Here is a really stirring part of the proclamation...
"America was founded on the principle that we are all endowed by our Creator with the right to life and that every individual has dignity and worth," reads the stirring proclamation. "National Sanctity of Human Life Day helps foster a culture of life and reinforces our commitment to building a compassionate society that respects the value of every human being."

"I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to underscore our commitment to respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being,"
Please Geedubya no more proclamations!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Quieter for a Bit

Some of my alligators from the last few days are now safely asleep in what is left of the swamp. As you can see I actually had some time to post a few things. A little more normal.

Jane Hamsher got through her surgery without a hitch as far as is being reported which is great news. Go Jane! She will probably be in Washington at the Libby trial be the end of next week if she runs true to form.

Out friends from the U.K. arrive this evening for a short stay (6 days I think) so it is entertaining time and which also may cut into the blogging time as well. It is always a challenge when they visit as she is a complete vegetarian including no milk or cheese and he is vegan except that he eats fish. They have been friends for years and years but I always am scratching my head when I have to feed them for a week. Madam was a vegetarian for a couple of years so I am no stranger to it and we eat vegetarian meals regularly but entertaining for a week without some of my carnivore standbys is a challenge.

Tonight I think I have settled on grilled portabella mushroom caps on a nice bed of green lentils with carmelized shallots. The lentils will have been kicked up with a little garlic, dijon mustard and white wine so it should be nice. This is actually a vege take on a dish I fell in love with in Lyon. There, instead of the portabella cap, would be a nice slice of slow roasted pork that has been quickly browned on both sides. I have tried to reproduce the dish here in the States but our pork is too lean and doesn't respond well to this method. C'est la vie!

I will report on the success of the new dish. Never know until you try, right?

A Beacon of Justice?

This is going from the ridiculous to the absurd. Why are we even bothering to have trials at all? If we're going to just pretend to justice why don't we just stop pretending that we haven't become a banana republic? What would be the difference if we just lined these guys up against a wall and shot them? This is an absolute disgrace. The American people are better than this and should not stand for this from the country that is supposed to be a beacon of justice for the rest of the world.

If you have to rely on hearsay and coerced evidence in order to get a conviction, then maybe, just maybe you don't actually have a case at all? What this tells me is that the Administration doesn't, in fact, have strong or even reasonable cases against the majority of the Guantanamo Bay detainees. We else would it have to rely on phony evidence in order pretend to convict. You don't think they are trying to avoid embarrassment do you?

The Pentagon set rules Thursday for detainee trials that could allow terror suspects to be convicted and perhaps executed using hearsay testimony and coerced statements, setting up a new clash between President Bush and Congress.

The rules are fair, said the Pentagon, which released them in a manual for the expected trials. Democrats controlling Congress said they would hold hearings and revive legislation on the plan, and human rights organizations complained that the regulations would allow evidence that would not be tolerated in civilian or military courtrooms.

According to the 238-page manual, a detainee's lawyer could not reveal classified evidence in the person's defense until the government had a chance to review it. Suspects would be allowed to view summaries of classified evidence, not the material itself.

The new regulations lack some protections used in civilian and military courtrooms, such as against coerced or hearsay evidence. They are intended to track a law passed last fall by Congress restoring Bush's plans to have special military commissions try terror-war prisoners. Those commissions had been struck down earlier in the year by the Supreme Court.

At a Pentagon briefing, Dan Dell'Orto, deputy to the Defense Department's top counsel, said the new rules will "afford all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people."

In an interview, Brig. Gen. Thomas Hemingway, legal adviser to the Pentagon's office on commissions, said he doubted that most cases would rely solely on coercive or hearsay evidence.

"These case are pretty complex and it's not going to sink or swim, I don't believe, on a single statement," he said.

Rep. Ike Skelton (news, bio, voting record), D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he planned to scrutinize the manual to ensure that it does not "run afoul" of the Constitution.

"No civilized nation permits convictions to rest on coerced evidence, and reliance on such evidence has never been acceptable in military or civilian courts in this country," said Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First.

Losing Battle

Mother Earth is losing the battle with carbon dioxide. We need to get our heads out of our asses and get some serious and painful environmental policy in place yesterday. Tomorrow is going to be too late for us. Tell yourself everyday and several others that this is the only place we have to live and no one else is going to do it for us. Everything you can do, and I mean everything from turning off that light when you leave the room to turning down the thermostat and putting on another sweater, is necessary from from all of us to turn this mess around.
New figures from dozens of measuring stations across the world reveal that concentrations of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, rose at record levels during 2006 - the fourth year in the last five to show a sharp increase. Experts are puzzled because the spike, which follows decades of more modest annual rises, does not appear to match the pattern of steady increases in human emissions.

At its most far reaching, the finding could indicate that global temperatures are making forests, soils and oceans less able to absorb carbon dioxide - a shift that would make it harder to tackle global warming. Such a shift would worsen even the gloomy predictions of the Stern Review which warned that we had little over a decade to tackle rising emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

If you haven't changed out all of the incandescent light bulbs in your house for fluorescent then shame on you. (and me but the last couple will be done today!) If you are still making unnecessary trips to the store by car and on and on. We are in trouble folks. Let's get serious.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

True Colors

You would think that with all the negative publicity generated by corruption and it's effect against the GOP in the 2006 elections that Republicans would be eager to get on board with ethics reform. Surprisingly, you would be wrong. Yesterday, the Senate GOP voted as a group against ending debate on the Senate ethics bill. The GOP's first filibuster stops ethics reform. The Washington Post explains:
Senate Republicans scuttled broad legislation last night to curtail lobbyists' influence and tighten congressional ethics rules, refusing to let the bill pass without a vote on an unrelated measure that would give President Bush virtual line-item-veto power.

The bill could be brought back up later this year. Indeed, Democrats will try one last time today to break the impasse. But its unexpected collapse last night infuriated Democrats and the government watchdog groups that had been pushing it since the lobbying scandals that rocked the last Congress. Proponents charged that Republicans had used the spending-control measure as a ruse to thwart ethics rules they dared not defeat in a straight vote.

"It's as obvious as the sun coming up somewhere in this world that they tried to kill this bill," a furious Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said last night in an interview. "And all 21 Republican senators up for reelection are going to have to explain how they brought down the most significant reform ever to come before this Congress. They brought this baby down."

This extremely important ethics reform legislation is a priority this year for obvious reasons. The voters cited corruption over and over again as the reason for their vote last year. This doesn't seem to matter to the Senate Republicans. We need to stay on top of this and not let this GOP rejection of the voters stand unnoticed and undocumented. It would be a tragedy if the GOP manages to kill this and pay the consequences.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Up to my you know what in them today and tomorrow so probably not much here until tonight maybe. This is what you can expect in this business in January when everybody gets back to work after the holiday season and starts up all the things they put off until the New Year.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Three Time Winner

Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake is going up against breast cancer for the third time. Tough lady and tough deal. If you are so inclined, speak to whoever you think might make a positive difference. We need her energy and voice not to mention her positive karma and spirit. If you don't have a God or Goddess to talk to then think positive thoughts. Love is the most powerful force in the universe and you have the power to make it work for you.

Work Again!

Looking at three days of training for new hires. At least I don't have to conduct the training. My job will be to monitor the training(assisting where necessary) and evaluate the new instructor. Her first class and on a completely new version of the product so we are going to back her up and at the same time see if she is going to meet expectations. You never know... the last time I did this I just sat in the back of the class and only jumped in a few times to get the trainer over some esoteric business question so you never know I may have time to wander the blogs a bit. We shall see.
The only drag is I have to get all dressed and drive across town in the rain. Bummer. Later.

Castro Losing Ground

Looks like Castro is not doing too well. Let's hope Bush or Cheney don't see this as they will be aching to invade...assuming they can scrape up a few spare soldiers. Don't has been on the Neocon agenda for years.

Do Bad...No Pension for You

This change in the pension rules is brought to you by your new Democratic Congress. This is a good thing.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Brother Martin

It's been a horribly busy day but I am remiss in not posting some small tribute to Reverend Martin Luther King. I was born in the south and raised in the south and I am white and raised protestant. I was born in 1949 so I was growing up in the late 50's and early 60's when the message of Martin Luther King was changing our nation. I remember the marches and the singing on the courthouse steps and I remember the forced integration into my school.

Unlike many of my generation I cherish the experience of growing up in the south when the revolution was happening. The experience added to who I am today. I am a progressive liberal and firmly believe that everyone has the right to an even break. No one should be sidelined because they were born in the wrong neighborhood or the wrong color or to the wrong parents.

I have traveled many paths in my fifty some years and strayed wildly from my conservative upbringing as a good Presbyterian. I have spent years trying to grasp the message of the varied religions and philosophies of the world. One of the most important things I have learned is the tragedy of fear. As Frank Herbert said in the Dune novels "Fear is the mind killer." Fear destroys everything positive in this world and it is the one true evil that we all must face and conquer.

If there has been nothing else that has come from my wandering through "Chapel Perilous" is that it is crystal clear that religious conservatism and political conservatism share one overriding characteristic in common. They share fear. They are afraid of everything. They fear change, progress, love, equality, freedom of choice, and everything else that contributes to a full and happy personality. They seem to have found some refuge in feeling miserable and afraid. They have found their sorry version of happiness in denial and fear of new and different. What's worse is that they see it as their mission in life to make everyone else as miserable as they are and afraid of everything.

This is where Martin Luther King comes in. Nothing scared the religious right and conservatives more than the great progressive Martin Luther King, who faced them down peacefully and with grim determination. The courage of Martin's message was categorically opposed to everything they believed. Why, if African Americans could overcome the fear and prejudice and segregation, then what was to stop everybody from believing that "liberty and justice for all" applied to them also? Martin spread the message that fear and oppression were not the be all and end all and that love and peace had an ordained place in this world. Martin preached and taught that fear is the mind killer and has no place in a proper and progressive society.

Thanks, Reverend King for making it so.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Potato and Leek Soup

Time for a change of pace. No politics, no environment but something just as important to me and that is good food. Today I'm going to share my recipe for Potato and Leek Soup which is surprisingly easy and absolutely wonderful on a cold winter's day. The nice thing about this recipe is that you have a number of options depending on your mood. Hot, cold, simple and honest or enriched with cream and decadent. Serve it with a nice wine and some good crusty bread and maybe a nice salad and you have a complete meal. It is often my complete dinner.

You need:
3 leeks white part only well rinsed and sliced thinly in rings(leeks should be about an inch or so in diameter)
1 pound of russet or Yukon gold potatoes peeled and cubed in about half inch dice
4 - 5 cups of low sodium chicken stock (or vegetable stock will work)
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional) I sometimes us plain yogurt instead or nothing
3 tablespoons of butter or olive oil or a mixture
2 teaspoons of salt
additional salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley for garnish
2 bay leaves
couple of dashes of Tobasco

In your soup pot heat the butter and add the leeks and salt and saute for about five or ten minutes until softened ( will put the lid on the pot and sweat them a little. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two then add the potatoes. Add the stock to cover the potatoes by a half inch or so and the bay leaves along with a few grinds of pepper, bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 - 40 minutes until the potatoes are 'mashable'. Remove the bay leaves and using an immersion blender or food processor blend the soup until you have a nice smooth soup or if you prefer a little more texture lighten up on the blending and leave some lumps of potato. Add a couple of dashes of Tobasco but not too much. You don't want to taste the hot sauce. Adjust the salt and add the cream if you would like to jazz it up a bit and make it a little richer or as I say above I sometimes use plain yogurt. Garnish with some chopped parsley or chives and you are ready to eat.

You can chill this soup and serve it cold which is better known as Vichyssoise though I prefer it hot. If you want to make it ahead it keeps fine for a few days. Just don't add the cream until you heat it up to serve.

Another variation which is good is to add three chopped, seeded tomatoes when you add the potato or a cup and a half of canned chopped or crushed tomatoes.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

All Hail Eris!

Robert Anton Wilson has left the building and as was his way did it with grace and style and a laugh. This was his last post.

Various medical authorities swarm in and out of here predicting I have between two days and two months to live. I think they are guessing. I remain cheerful and unimpressed. I look forward without dogmatic optimism but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying.

Please pardon my levity, I don’t see how to take death seriously. It seems absurd.

Mass Murder Not "My Bad"

When I first read about this attack and posted my concern, I had that sinking feeling that we had "screwed the pooch" again but I thought it prudent to wait out the news. The blazing headlines trumpeting the U.S. air raid in Somalia that killed a top Al Qaeda leader so conveniently timed to coincide with Bush's "new" plan for Iraq set off all my warning bells. I was hoping that my pessimism was not warranted and that maybe, just maybe, Bushco actually got something right this time. Silly me.

Sadly, the non-Pentagon-hype truth is out and once again our much ballyhooed raid on purported terrorists with our guns blazing has turned out to be 70 innocent nomads who were just looking for water and some villagers and not Al Qaeda. Who the hell have we got running our intelligence operations? An even bigger question is who the hell is making the decisions to go blasting away on such obviously week intelligence? We have seen this scenario played out in in Afghanistan and Iraq over and over again. One would think that as many times as we have screwed this up somebody would be paying a little closer attention. I'm sorry but somebody somewhere needs to be held responsible for criminal negligence and mass murder.

The herdsmen had gathered with their animals around large fires at night to ward off mosquitoes. But lit up by the flames, they became latest victims of America's war on terror.

It was their tragedy to be misidentified in a secret operation by special forces attempting to kill three top al-Qa'ida leaders in south-ern Somalia.

Oxfam yesterday confirmed at least 70 nomads in the Afmadow district near the border with Kenya had been killed. The nomads were bombed at night and during the day while searching for water sources. Meanwhile, the US ambassador to Kenya has acknowledged that the onslaught on Islamist fighters failed to kill any of the three prime targets wanted for their alleged role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Secret War?

Updated below:

This is not a good omen. The buzz around security circles in Washington is speculating that Bush has already authorized a secret war with Iran and Syria. This from the Washington Note.

Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.

The President may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country.

If this is so then we are moving very rapidly into a situation where there are grounds for impeachment. This, on the surface, may seem like a good thing but what it really means is that the man is now completely out of control and has decided that he is king and can do whatever he likes. If this is true it is most assuredly Cheney's doing who has been itching for a larger war in the Middle East for a long time.
Here are two interesting reads (via Digby) that shed a little light on Darth Cheney. Here and here. Oh, and if you haven't read the latest from Mr. Blumenthal it is quite an eye opener as well.

The Dover Bitch very kindly reminds us that the AUMF that authorized the use of force in Iraq was the second version sent to Congress. The first AUMF was rejected by Congress because it wasn't restrictive enough and Congress felt that it gave Bush to much leeway to use force regionally. They were specifically worried about Iran and Syria and in the second revision of the AUMF made it clear that the AUMF was for Iraq and Iraq only. (h/t Digby)

Oversight Anyone?

This is getting real interesting and about time. Seems yesterday was pretty bare knuckled in the Senate Foreign Relations hearings.
From AP:
U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel offered Thursday what might have been the harshest criticism to date of President Bush's plan to commit more troops to Iraq, calling the president's Wednesday night speech "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder carried out since Vietnam." (bold is mine)

Hagel's comment drew applause in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in which members questioned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over the plan to commit 21,500 additional U.S. troops to Iraq.
In another rather heated exchange Hagel called Condi a liar.
Hagel told Rice, “Madame secretary, Iraqis are killing Iraqis. We are in a civil war. This is sectarian violence out of control.”

She disputed that Iraq was in the throes of a civil war. To that, Hagel said, “To sit there and say that, that’s just not true.”

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Wrong Man, Wrong Time!

I have back to back conference calls all morning but I just wanted to jump in and say that if the following excerpt from Bush's monologue last night is in any way true then we are in deep do-do.

We have the wrong person in charge!

The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Keeps On Ticking

Updated below:

The clock is still ticking on the 100 hours and while the 'escalation' hoorah has everybody's attention the Dems are charging ahead. The minimum wage bill is currently the target and while it looks like there are no problems in the House in passing a clean bill the Senate appears to be a different story. Rethuglicans, as is their wont, want to tack on tax breaks for small business and are threatening a filibuster if they don't get them.
Kennedy and Baucus are trying to push a clean bill through but they will need some serious help from some Republicans to do so. Even these two powerful committee chairs probably cannot hold off a filibuster.

My recommendation is to force an up or down vote and make the Republicans go on record as being opposed to to economic survival for thousands and thousands of their constituents. This is no time to pussy foot around. It is hard ball time.

Info: Here is a good summary at Media Matters on the myths of the minimum wage.

Jonathan Singer at MyDD has more on the latest developments. (And he agrees we should force the Repugs on to the record)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Let God Sort Them Out?

Is anyone else concerned about the reports coming out of Somalia that U.S. gunships are taking out whole Somali villages in an effort to kill one or 'suspected' Al Qeada guys. The articles I have read are very unclear with respect to the intelligence and are constantly saying things like 'possible' and 'may'. Have we become so hardened to collateral deaths that we feel justified in the GWOT to kill dozens of innocents in order to possibly get a suspected Al Qaeda. I hope this is not true.

I can clearly remember the same devolution in morals that justified, in the minds of some our soldiers, the justification to take out an entire Vietnamese village including the women and children in our desperate hunt for a few Viet Cong.

Trust me if you have ever seen one of these gunships in action there is no avoiding collateral damage. They can level a forest in just a few minutes and when they are used against something like a village there is no escape for anyone. They are a highly effective weapon against people and things on the ground.

Go Ted

Updated below:

Senator Kennedy has a post up at Kos discussing his plans to introduce legislation to put a stop to a surge without Congressional approval. Stop by and give it a read and a recommend.
Here is the text of the bill.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

Section 1. Prohibition on use of funds for escalation of United States forces in Iraq.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no Federal funds may be obligated or expended by the United States Government to increase the number of United States forces in Iraq above the level for such forces which existed as of January 1, 2007, without a specific authorization of Congress by law for such an increase.

He's got my support.

Here is the link to the speech in front of the National Press Club and some additional stuff from Kennedy's office.

Haloscan is Toast this Morning

Haloscan is reporting an internal server error when trying to post comments. I have been unable to post comments on several blogs that use haloscan this morning.

Monday, January 08, 2007

High Crimes

The Bush White House is in the closing days of another grand deception of America. When the ‘Decider’ finally announces his predictable and repeatedly leaked plan to escalate the war in Iraq, it will be the grand finale in another massive screw-job of the American people. Not only are we, those of us sitting safe and warm in our homes with our families, being betrayed but it will mark one more betrayal of our nation’s armed forces and their families. It continues the pattern of lying us into the war, misleading us as to the conduct and progress of the war, and misleading us about the tragic results for the people of Iraq.

You don’t even have to look back over the last four years; just look back to November 12th of last year. Just the day after the election the President admitted that he was a liar. Let this sink in…without the slightest embarrassment, the President of the United States admitted that he had deliberately lied about his pre-election plans to replace Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to avoid making this an election issue. Since that time news reports reveal that the President and his minions began, as early as September the Iraq strategy review that is now leading to escalation. They knew the majority of the American public was rightly against any escalation and they deliberately withheld their discussions from us. We may be a little slow to catch on but we will eventually realize that the only result that could come from this crowd would be exactly what the President will announce Wednesday. Any result that would entail accepting the reality of our loss in Iraq is impossible from these people. We know, or should by now, that the only kind of people this President listens to are those who tell him that he cannot conceive of losing and can still win by escalating the war.

You have to give them credit…the deception worked. The mission was to minimize Republican losses in the midterms, and thereby to undermine the potential for investigations, oversight and impeachment. The right wing noise machine convinced enough people that they had a plan to win the war, that the plan was working, and that within a reasonable time, possibly before the elections, we could begin to remove US troops from Iraq. All you have to do is look at the message Joe Lieberman used in CT to fool the electorate to see that he followed the Karl Rove tune. Any suggestion of escalation was dismissed by the White House, because the President was listening to his generals and the generals had not asked for more troops. It is now obvious that escalation was in the plan but that the American voters wouldn’t know until the elections were over.

The tragedy behind this grand deception is that the people we should be focused on are being totally ignored. The White House makes daily announcements reminding us that the President is talking to advisers about an ‘Iraq plan’. He is working through his Christmas on an ‘Iraq plan’ and now they have actually scheduled a speech to talk about the ‘Iraq plan’. Meanwhile we forget to ask, what's happening in that other war? You know the one. The only justifiable military action to go after the murderers who attacked us on 9/11. The White House is fervently hoping we don’t ask about Afghanistan and is doing its best to keep all the attention focused on surging more troops into Iraq. They really can’t afford for us to realize that for every additional ‘surge’ we do in Iraq means that even less attention is going to be paid to the worsening situation in Afghanistan. David Wood of the Baltimore Sun summarizes what we're not supposed to know: Commanders seek more forces in Afghanistan. Not only are the US and NATO forces already stretched for enough troops to deal with a resurgent Taliban, but some of the US troops already there are scheduled to be part of the "surge" into Iraq.
A US Army battalion fighting in a critical area of eastern Afghanistan is due to be withdrawn within weeks to deploy to Iraq.
Army Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata and other US commanders say that will happen as the Taliban is expected to unleash a campaign to cut the vital road between Kabul and Kandahar.
The official said the Taliban intend to seize Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city, where the group was organized in the 1990s. With NATO unable or unwilling to stem the rising violence, the Taliban are pressing their advantage.
Rather than withdrawing to regroup over the winter, intelligence officials and combat commanders said, the Taliban forces — clad in new cold-weather boots and fleece jackets — are fighting through the bitter cold months.
"It is bleak," said Colonel Chris Haas, commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan.
Conway said US commanders understand that the Afghan war is an "economy of force" operation, a military term for a mission that is given minimal resources because it is a secondary priority, in this case behind Iraq. [bold is mine]

So here we are. The new Democratic Congress is wondering what they can possibly do to force this President accept the will of the American people and respect the rule of law. They did the obligatory letter but they know it won’t do anything. They know that threatening to cut off funds for troops still in harms way is not acceptable. They are hoping that the continuing public exposure of all the past and ongoing crimes of this administration may be enough to stop them but the reality is that the noise machine is doing a fine job of obfuscating the message. All we are left with is “oversight hearings” and that is cold soup indeed when we are looking at the lives of how many more American soldiers.

As hard as it is for most of us to accept the hard fact is that we are looking at an unbelievable situation. We have multiple examples of our President knowingly and willfully lying to us, the American people. We are not talking about a blow job here but about the most serious of matters like taking a country to war and placing Americans and others in harms way. This is not merely a betrayal of trust but a complete disregard for our founding principles not to mention a complete disdain for the Constitution.

I’m sorry but enough is enough. When a President causes the deaths of thousands of America's finest and the maiming of tens of thousands more through repeated and systematic lying and then continues to lie as he plans to do more of the same, these actions are high crimes and felonies and by all that is right and good should be punished.

They've Lost That Loving Feeling

Still catching up from my 5 days of torture and now it is Monday morning and lots of work staring at me. I am sure many of you, that have not been in the wilderness for the last few days, have noticed that even hard-line conservatives like George Will and David Brooks are admitting that the Democrats were right over a year ago about Iraq. This is the last vestige of support for Bush outside the whack jobs at the AEI that are jumping ship and that should tell the hell spawn in the White House something. More from Editor & Publisher.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Big Bucks for Failure

The big news here in Atlanta is the resignation/firing of Bob Nardelli as the Chairman and CEO of Home Depot. In the 6 years that he was in charge the company’s stock price fell 8% while the stock market as a whole went up nearly 18%. He was a failure not only with respect to share holder value but also trashed the once great reputation Home Depot had for customer service. (I won’t mention the millions he funneled to Bush’s campaigns.) If you have shopped there in the last few years you know how bad the customer service has become. Nobody on the floor knows anything if you can even find someone to help you.

In order to get rid of him share holders had to give him a $210 million severance package. This giant pile of money was for failing. In other words, there was absolutely no accountability built into his compensation package. You see this scenario repeated over and over again at company after company in the U.S.

What has happened over the last 15 to 20 years in the United States in the rarified air of the corporate board rooms is that all the CEOs and Directors have formed a giant club. Everybody is on someone else’s board of directors and they vote on each other’s compensation. Just a giant case of incestuous greed that gets worse and worse. Nardelli is a perfect example of this greed run wild as there is no economic justification for this kind of compensation.

Adam Smith, the 18th century Scottish philosopher explained it quite well in the “Wealth of Nations” when he wrote “All for ourselves and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.”

Now that I think about it, it makes sense that he was a staunch Republican and big time Bush supporter. One can hope that some of this kind of crap will change with the new guard.

Rape and Pillage

I have to keep a copy of this in my pocket for the next time some GOP whacko tells me about how the war for Iraqi freedom is all about spreading democracy in the Middle East. This is what is has been about from the 'get-go' and this just proves it. Sickening, then again you have to be able to pay those $500 million severance packages and Bush, Cheney and Rice are going to need some serious cash to maintain their lifestyles in a couple of years. I wonder how much of this booty will wind up helping the disabled American soldiers that have been shouldering the burden of this rape and pillage of the Iraqi people?
Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.

The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.

The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. "So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies," he said.

Oil industry executives and analysts say the law, which would permit Western companies to pocket up to three-quarters of profits in the early years, is the only way to get Iraq's oil industry back on its feet after years of sanctions, war and loss of expertise. But it will operate through "production-sharing agreements" (or PSAs) which are highly unusual in the Middle East, where the oil industry in Saudi Arabia and Iran, the world's two largest producers, is state controlled.

Opponents say Iraq, where oil accounts for 95 per cent of the economy, is being forced to surrender an unacceptable degree of sovereignty.

Proposing the parliamentary motion for war in 2003, Tony Blair denied the "false claim" that "we want to seize" Iraq's oil revenues. He said the money should be put into a trust fund, run by the UN, for the Iraqis, but the idea came to nothing. The same year Colin Powell, then Secretary of State, said: "It cost a great deal of money to prosecute this war. But the oil of the Iraqi people belongs to the Iraqi people; it is their wealth, it will be used for their benefit. So we did not do it for oil."

Supporters say the provision allowing oil companies to take up to 75 per cent of the profits will last until they have recouped initial drilling costs. After that, they would collect about 20 per cent of all profits, according to industry sources in Iraq. But that is twice the industry average for such deals.

I'm Back...Finally

The saga of the broadband is finally over. I was stood up three days straight by the Charter service folks until I finally got someone to show up last night(Saturday) at about 7pm. The problem was that I was physically disconnected at the pole somehow??? He couldn't reach it with his ladder so this morning he returned with another guy and a bucket truck and re-attached it. I was not expecting anyone today and was pretty much set for a weekend with no TV or Internet. Jeebus what a pain in the ass.

Friday, January 05, 2007

No More Troops...Got That?

This is a good thing.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a letter to President Bush on Friday, leaders of the new Democratic Congress said increasing troop levels in Iraq would be a "serious mistake."

The open letter comes as Bush considers a new war strategy, shuffles his Iraq commanders and moves his spy chief to handle Iraqi diplomacy.

Sources with knowledge of the president's deliberations have told CNN that Bush may temporarily bolster the roughly 140,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq by an additional 20,000 to 40,000 -- a move loudly rejected in the letter.

"Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed," says the letter, signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake. They, like us, believe there is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution."

Junk Mail

How many of you seriously think a terrorist is going to use "snail mail" to plot some heinous act against the U.S.? Let's get serious here folks. Our new Congress needs to set a priority, among many others, to look into the use of signing statements by Bush to break the law.

From the New York Daily News:
President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the Daily News has learned.

The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.

That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.

Bush's move came during the winter congressional recess and a year after his secret domestic electronic eavesdropping program was first revealed. It caught Capitol Hill by surprise.


A top Senate Intelligence Committee aide promised, "It's something we're going to look into."

I hope to shout!

Instant Gratification

This is from the Washington Post this morning. On the first daywith the Democrats in control they have accomplished more than the Republicans have done in the last 6 years.

In the House, Democrats did not skip a beat between formally taking control and getting to work on what they have called their hundred-hours agenda. Last night, the House nearly unanimously approved a broad package of internal rules changes designed to sever the cozy links that have developed between lawmakers and lobbyists.

The changes would prohibit House members or employees from knowingly accepting gifts or travel from a registered lobbyist, foreign agent or lobbyist's client. Lawmakers could no longer fly on corporate jets. In addition, congressional travel financed by outside groups would have to be approved in advance by the House ethics committee and immediately disclosed to the public.

The measures were approved 430 to 1, with only Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) voting against it. This was a remarkable change considering that House Republicans could barely pass a far weaker measure last May and ultimately did not enact any measure because they could not reach agreement with the Senate. But voters in November identified corruption as one of their primary concerns, and the House responded yesterday.

I can't tell you how gratified I am at seeing some action. OK, now let's see some action on minimum wage and healthcare.

Early in the Office

Gave up on Charter even though they promised me a tech first thing. Madam is home this morning and she can handle them. They did apologize and credited me $20 on my next bill. That will cover exactly 1% of my daily billable rate that I will not be able to bill because I couldn't work.
Anyhow, an early run to the office ahead of most traffic and I am all set in a borrowed cube again. So until the owner shows up (she is a traveler like me so I might luck out) I am set to get to work. If she shows then it wandering around trying to find another place to land. You would think that a Senior Director in a company could find a place. Whatever.
Thanks for the encouragement whilst I was incommunicado and we'll keep our fingers crossed that I am not facing an entire weekend without connectivity. Crikey!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Still dead after all this waiting

Yep still tango uniform and communicating by BlackBerry. Charter just failed to show up with no excuse. Tomorrow is another day.

Still no internet

They are promising a tech this morning. We'll see.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Quick Hit

Up to my you know what in alligators here but have taken a few minutes break while I ate my tuna fish sandwich. Seem Pat Robertson has been chatting with God again and received a very nebulous warning about a terrorist attack after September this year. This man actually was a candidate for President once. I am going to take this with a grain of salt since I am pretty sure that if there is a higher being it is a she.

I glanced through Bush's op-ed in the WSJ and I can't say that is great writing and for fiction it doesn't have much of a plot. Truthfully, I think he reached his journalistic Peter Principle point with this little piece. These attempts by his handlers to make him some kind of intellectual are getting embarrassing.

Finally a little reality from the Neocon cabal. This from Dan Fromkin's White House Briefing:
Meanwhile, the intellectual architect of the “surge”, Frederick W. Kagan, admits to the Journal: “If we surge and it doesn’t work, it’s hard to imagine what we do after that.”
I can tell you right now Fred that it is not going to work unless you "surge" with 200,000 troops and then it will be a close one. Why don't you just admit that you are desperate and this is just a feeble PR stunt to show resolve.

No idea if I'll have my broadband working when I get home and if not it will be posting from the Blackberry again which is sub-optimal to say the least.

See you guys on the flip side.

No Broadband

Updated below:

The home broadband is down and has been since yesterday. Just so you know I'm not ignoring you guys. Heading to the office this morning so I should be back on the air later this AM.

Update: I just experienced a new low in customer service from Charter. After finally working my way through press one for English, press 2 for trouble etc., etc. I get a robot that wants to ask me questions about my problem. This took nearly five minutes and after finally determining that I was not an idiot and that yes I did have a problem I was told that if it did not fix itself in a few hours then call back and they would actually think about taking some action. Not happy right now.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Back to Work

Ok, it's back to work today after a nice long break. Kinda hard getting started this morning and the work on my plate is the tedious data analysis stuff that is really tough to stick to. Not only is the data tedious it is huge and I am unable to use Excel with its limit of 650,000 or so rows which means I am having to do it in Access. Bummer. It's a living.

Added Betty Cracker and Brilliant at Breakfast to the Blogroll this morning. If you haven't read Brilliant's top 20 of 2006 you should stop by. Betty is all fired up and ready to rock 2007 so we'll help where we can. Unfortunately, I had to remove the brilliant Billmon from the roll as he has taken his site down...too bad, it was always a worthwhile visit. He is going to be missed.

Everybody get cooking this is a New Year and there are things to do. We'll post something material a little later once we actually get some bread winning done.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Hottest Ever!

This article from The Independent does not bode well for our weather in the coming year and the scientists are predicting that the combination of El Niño and Global Warming will make 2007 the hottest year on record.

A combination of global warming and the El Niño weather system is set to make 2007 the warmest year on record with far-reaching consequences for the planet, one of Britain's leading climate experts has warned.

As the new year was ushered in with stormy conditions across the UK, the forecast for the next 12 months is of extreme global weather patterns which could bring drought to Indonesia and leave California under a deluge.

The warning, from Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, was one of four sobering predictions from senior scientists and forecasters that 2007 will be a crucial year for determining the response to global warming and its effect on humanity.

Professor Jones said the long-term trend of global warming - already blamed for bringing drought to the Horn of Africa and melting the Arctic ice shelf - is set to be exacerbated by the arrival of El Niño, the phenomenon caused by above-average sea temperatures in the Pacific.

Combined, they are set to bring extreme conditions across the globe and make 2007 warmer than 1998, the hottest year on record. It is likely temperatures will also exceed 2006, which was declared in December the hottest in Britain since 1659 and the sixth warmest in global records.

We really need to focus on this in the coming years and try and keep the pressure on our elected officials and the media about making a radical change in how we run our little spaceship.